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Oct 15, 2018

How to Make Decent Coffee in the Wilderness

camping coffee makerEtymology often helps shape thought: when you're aware of a word's origins, you're in touch with the full context of the words that filter your inclinations. For example, did you know that wilderness comes from the Old English for "wild deer"?

Think about that for a moment: it's a place filled with animals unaccustomed to human contact, where humans have minimized their prints on the world. So when we go out to the wilderness, we're immersing ourselves in the beauty of nature, we're adventuring outside of civilization, and we're escaping from the creature comforts that can dull our sense of connection to the cosmos.

Well... maybe not 100% escape. Because while I love taking a break, I've never been interested in taking vacation from a good cup of coffee. If you're the same, read on for how we at ManMade make decent coffee in the wilderness, and our choices for a great camping coffee maker.

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Oct 01, 2018

Food from Fields and Forests: How to Get Started Foraging

Image: Halfpoint/Shutterstock

For my whole life, the idea of foraging has had a romance that I can't quite put my finger on. Way before it became a punchline about hyper-local hipster foodies, to be a forager was a signal of a deep wisdom about the land. To know what could be eaten was to have access to riches that were all around us. In a world beset by industrial foodways, foraging is a reminder that the world can sustain us (or at least some of us) without our machines, if we would simply let it. 

The trouble with foraging, though, is that unless you grew up in the style of Katniss Everdeen or the Girl of the Limberlost, most of the earthly wisdom and insight needed to forage well is beyond you. And this is definitely a wisdom that you need to gain through practice. Ideally, some Italian-born wood elf––someone like Angelo Pellegrini or Angelo Garro (who at least is still alive)––would appear to teach a willing learner how to gather and find and hunt out the best things available on the earth. But that's pretty unrealistic. So, the only thing to do is to just do it––after all, if we start small, build up some confidence and awareness, and then keep going, before long we might rediscover some of that lost knowledge so that we can pass it along ourselves.      

So, from the experience of one free food fan who hopes to be more, here's how to get started as a forager.

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Oct 01, 2018

How to Pack Your Backpack Like a Pro

how to pack backpack

Turns out, getting fully outfitted is only half the battle. Once you've selected all your gear, it's important to pack it up right for both balance and ease when carrying and access when you need it.    

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Sep 06, 2018

How to: Make a Beer Can Camping Stove

For my money, this is the best time of year to spend a few nights outdoors. The bugs have died down, but the weather is still sunny and dry. The days are  warm, but the nights are cool enough that you can snuggle down into your sleeping bag and not sweat it out in a roasting hot tent.

Perhaps you'd like to try a few nights backpacking or minimalist base camping, but you don't want to invest a ton of cash on the gear to make it happen. #Understood, friend. 

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Aug 29, 2018

How to: Revive Your Waterproof Rain Jacket

created at: 05/25/2016

If your water resistant rain shell doesn't seem as water resistant as it use to be, it's time to give the coating a little revitalization to keep those beads forming, and your body dry.   

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Aug 07, 2018

Happening This Week: Get Out and Enjoy the Perseids!

Stargazing is a hobby that comes with a bit of a learning curve. It requires real intellectual engagement, specialized (and expensive) equipment, and a lot of free time when the sky is dark. So its understandable that only the truly dedicated might get into it in a meaningful way.

Or...is it? Because looking at the stars at night is one of the cheapest, oldest, and most egalitarian hobbies that's out there. Because the sky belongs to everyone, and people have been marveling at it for a very long time.    

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Aug 06, 2018

"Maker" Has a Whole New Meaning in Light of Primitive Technology

Some three years ago, an Australian man named John Plant started filming his hobby of spending time in nature and learning to subsist without any tools. He posted his videos on Youtube as a kind of documentation of his progress and they served as a venue for a kind of education, though only in the most minimalist sense. Taken without context, its a strange, new genre of media that has found an audience––something pretty standard for the internet. (There are now countless channels on the internet where people have ripped off Plant's original premise.)

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Aug 03, 2018

How to: Start a Campfire with One Match

how to start a campfire

Knowing how to start a campfire is an essential life skill, for sure, and most of us have our preferred technique: the lean-to, the tepee, the log cabin. But, even though most fires aren't started in emergency, or even in one-match situations, that's part of the fun. Once you've learned how to do it without turning a gas knob or lighting one of those Duralast logs, lighting a fire with one match (or spark from a starter) becomes part of the game, even if you have a whole box at your side.    

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Jul 05, 2018

ManMade Recommended: This is the Paracord You Should Be Taking on All Your Adventures

Even if you don't know it by name, you likely already know paracord. Chances are very good that you've seen it, either in the aisles at your local craft store or knotted into a survival bracelet.

It's a classic example of how a military-specific product found new life as a civilian utility item. Originally designed with airborne units (the name is portmanteau of "parachute" + "cord"), its strength, durability, and versatility lend well to all sorts of other functions. It's especially useful for survival and adventure situations, which means that enterprising outdoor gear companies have begun including other materials in the core of the cord besides the standard separate nylon yarns: in the case of ParaTinder, a waxed thread meant to be used as a firestarter.

I got a package of this as a stocking stuffer last Christmas and wanted to give it a whirl—it's important to test out your survival gear when the stakes are low rather than trying it out for the first time in an emergency. 

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Jun 08, 2018

The Ultimate Relaxation that is the Alaskan Sauna

This summer, ManMade is organizing a Alaskan adventure for our community, where we'll gather for DIY workshops and day trips to some of the most beautiful places in North America. In homage of the trip, each of our team members will be reflecting on their own impressions of Alaska.  

The sauna, correctly pronounced “sow – nah,” is a Finnish word that means “bath” or “bathhouse.” They are believed to have been around for over 2000 years. (!) The process is quite simple, you build a fire to heat the Sauna room to 165-190° F and then sit in the room for approximately 20 minutes.  Then you cool down by taking a cold plunge in a lake.  Then repeat, at least two-four times.  Of course, that is over simplifying the process, but there are hundreds of articles and videos out there how to properly prepare and enjoy the Sauna.  So this article is geared more towards the Alaskan experience of the Sauna.

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Jun 06, 2018

Why You Should Still Keep a Paper Map in Your Glovebox

Somewhere in that no-man's land between technophile and -phobe, I've pitched my tent and pass freely between the borders. I juggle my professional work on Google's G Suite (especially Gmail, Keep, Calendar, Docs, and Sheets), but one of my most effective planning tools is a wood pencil and minimalist bullet journal in a blank notebook. I'm thrilled every time I thumb through magazines like WIRED, but I totally think A.I. is a crapshoot. In short, I keep a dynamic dialogue between new and old tech, because elegant solutions to the world's challenges lie at just about every point in its history.

A perfect illustration of this is the fact that though I regularly rely on Google Maps for real-time driving directions, I still keep paper maps of my home state, some neighboring states, and even an atlas in my car. What's the point? Read on for four good reasons.

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Jun 01, 2018

On "Into the Wild:" This Soundtrack Provided Some of the Best Songwriting of the '00s

The Alaska of my dreams... Photo: NotYourAverageBear/Shutterstock

This summer, ManMade is organizing a Alaskan adventure for our community, where we'll gather for DIY workshops and day trips to some of the most beautiful places in North America. In homage of the trip, each of our team members will be reflecting on their own impressions of Alaska. 

In honor of our upcoming Alaska excursion, I was revisiting the media that resonates with Alaska. In all fairness, there isn't that much. I mean, I vaguely remember watching some episodes of Northern Exposure when I was a kid. I liked Jewel a lot, back when Jewel was a thing. Did that

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May 31, 2018

Heading Outside: I Wouldn’t Go on a Backpacking Trip Without These 9 Things

Spending some time outside is a big deal. Disconnecting from everyday life is what allows you to return to it focused, refreshed, and ready for new challenges. While a weekend in the wilderness might leave you feeling physically exhausted (and hopefully leave you a bit dirty, too), it's guaranteed to positively impact your mental clarity and up your level of good feelings in the weeks that follow. 

Sure, you can head into the woods with some sneakers and your book bag from high school. If that's what it takes to get you out, we're all for it. However, when you decide to upgrade the experience a bit, there are a few things you should be sure to bring with you. Quality gear is comfortable, more durable, and supportive on rough terrain. So go ahead and grab a few pieces at a time to make all you future adventures more enjoyable ones.   

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May 08, 2018

Hey! Do You Want to Go to Alaska with ManMade? Here's Everything You Need to Know

This summer, ManMade is going to Alaska, and we want you to come with us. 

In an effort to continue to build community, I decided it might be fun to do something together. Like, in real life, with actual handshakes and conversations that don't involve QWERTY keyboards. And, if we're going to do something, we might as well connect somewhere amazing.

So, we chose Alaska for its mix of natural beauty and DIY attitude. We'll spend seven (or ten) days in Anchorage, Seward, and Denali going on hikes, craft beer tours, woodworking workshops, staying up late, and seeing some of the best terrain in North America.    

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Mar 29, 2018

​How to Build Your Own Altoids Tin Survival Kit

I'm sure the original makers of Altoids had no concept of survivalism, let alone having any inkling that they were providing a vessel for emergency lifesaving tools. Yet here we are: this humble, yet curiously strong, breath mint has inspired scores of tutorials for intrepid would-be wilderness warriors.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, we at ManMadDIY have scoured the tutorials, and we've honed in on what we think are the best basics for that quintessential Internet favorite, the Altoids tin survival kit.

Let's dig in!

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Mar 15, 2018

ManMade Recommended: I Think I Just Found My New Favorite Spring Jacket


Some days, I wish I just had to wear a suit to work. I probably don’t actually mean that, and I’m sure you true 9-5ers would laugh at the possibility of giving up working in sweatpants for wingtips. A hardhat and steel-toed boots would work just as well. See, I'm interested in the ease of it. "Oh, I'm at work. Here's my work uniform." Instead, on any given day, I could be several different diverse work environments, both indoors and out, wet and dry spaces, with temperature fluctuations of upwards to thirty-five or forty degrees. 30° F when I leave in the morning, and 65° by 3pm.

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Feb 14, 2018

This is a Seriously Good Deal on a High-Quality Cast Iron Skillet

In the normal research/note-taking/formatting process of working on a upcoming gear roundup post this morning, I went to check the price and availability of one of my favorite tools: the cast iron skillet. I've always known cast iron is a pretty amazing value, performing nearly perfectly for generations if you follow a few simple rules. At $30, an American-made Lodge skillet is a great buy-it-for-life piece of cookware that works for nearly everything.    

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Jan 26, 2018

The Three Basic Knots You Actually Need to Know

Knot tying. It’s a thing. If you read any "men's lifestyle" content, you've no doubt seen an exhaustive list of "essential knots every man needs to know." You proceed to read their list of seven, or ten, or fourteen, and by the time you get to the bottom of the list, you can't even remember the name of the first one, let alone how to tie it. 

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Dec 12, 2017

DIY Gift Idea: How to Make a Travel Cocktail Kit

When you're on the road, the trail, or up in the air, it's not always easy to procure a high-quality cocktail. At least not without paying the room service kid $17 plus tip for some watered-down mess. 

It is, however, fairly easy to locate, or pack, some reasonably drinkable spirits and a glass. And once you have that, you can make simply make yourself a proper drink with this DIY travel, carry-on friendly cocktail kit.   

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Nov 03, 2017

How to: Make a Custom Leather Case for Anything

This tutorial from Matt Pierce for A Continuous Lean is a winner. It walks you through the process of using stiff leather to create a stylish and protective case for small items, kits, and gear. Here, Matt designs his case for a compass and some other wayfinding goodies, but you could scale and adapt the project to fit your needs. 

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