Hi Sean, I'm André and this is the first Edit of your Owner Review.
First off: Congratulations on writing a very good first draft, your
experience in writing obviously shows. Good work. You'll be picking
up the particulars needed for a backpackgeartest.org report pretty
Here's how it works (you've read this already, but it never hurts to
set it out plainly): "EDIT" indicates something you have to
change/add/whatever; "Edit" indicates something you should think
about changing/adding/whatever; a "Comment" is just that.
Full disclosure - this is the first time I edit a first Owner
Review. Email is a funny medium, so I hope you take everything I
mention below in the spirit it is offered - hoping to help,
providing a bit of guidance regarding what's the norm here in this
--- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com
> Gerber Gator Combo Axe
> Owner Review
> February 6, 2007
> Name: Sean Spicer (aka: Blackpacker)
> Age: 31
> Height: 5'11
> Weight: 160lbs
EDIT: you'll need metric conversions for these measurements. A handy
conversion tool can be found at
At the bottom of that chart, you'll also see how we usually write
the abbreviations - note that we do not use the plural, so it should
be "160 lb", not "160 lbs".
> Email: think23(at)yahoo(dot)com
> City: Redwood Valley, California
> Background: I have been camping since before joining the cub scouts
> but really caught the bug in my late teens while serving in the
> military where I took up endurance racing and a love wilderness
EDIT: "a love *of* wilderness survival"
> survival. I have been a militant pedestrian most of my adult life
> have no clue how many miles I have walked or packed. My Guerrilla
> Camping blogs, written at GuerrillaNews.com
EDIT: There's a rule at backpackgeartest.org which states that the
only links in reports are to other reports or to the manufacturer's
top level domain (the latter being required). The one exception is a
permissible link to one's homepage, but taking a look at
GuerillaNews.com I'd say it doesn't qualify as that.
were very well received
> and I am currently working on turning them into a book when I'm not
> busy setting up a permanent campground in the mountains of northern
Edit: That you used to write a blog about camping doesn't really
help the reader understand your backpacking style, which is the
purpose of the bio. Maybe you'd like to try and put a one-sentence
description in of the general bent of your blog.
Comment: I'm sure reading the blog would do a lot to make your style
understood, but as the focus of our reports is on the gear, the idea
of the bio is only to give a - short! - idea of where the tester is
coming from to help understand the tester's point of view.
I, on the other hand, would be quite interested in taking a look at
your blog, but was unable to locate it (though I admit I didn't try
> Gerber Gator Combo Axe
> Weight: 19.2 oz (544 g)
> Length: 8.75" (22.15 cm)
> Blade Length: 2.63" (6.68 cm)
EDIT: Again, metric conversions are needed. You also need to post
your own measurements (which requires you to measure and weigh the
axe). It would be useful for the reader if you did this separately
for the axe and knife.
> MSRP: $33.10 US
> In the age of ultra light hiking, in a world where most campgrounds
> are over developed
and the notion of whacking a limb off a tree is not
> only distasteful, but likely to get one of your own limbs removed
> other campers should you try it, it would seem that hatchets have
> become a superfluous addition to a pack. However, as a backpacker
> is never above strapping an extra fifteen pounds of firewood on the
> bottom of his pack for an eight mile hike, it's my most frequently
> used tool behind my standard issue multi-tool.
> The Gator seems to be an attempt to make a multi-tool hatchet.
> textured handle that conceals a small knife, ostensibly for shaving
> tinder or striking a flint, the hatchet is quite light compare to
> traditional wood handled cousins. The 19.2 ounce hatchet
EDIT: Again, metric conversion needed - and please use your measured
> constructed much better than your typical hardware store hatchet
> features a wrap around coating that assures that the head will not
> separate from the handle under "normal use".
EDIT: This is where we're approaching something we
call "projection". Projecting means stating your own experiences as
though they were true for everyone. I'm not sure that the typical
hardware store hatchets I encounter here in Germany have the same
shortcomings you've encountered (for all I know, ours might be
worse). All you know (I presume, thereby projecting myself) is that
the wrap-around coating is *meant* to assure this and has succeeded
so far in your experience (which I take it has gone a wee bit
beyond "normal use").
It is important to phrase things accordingly, like saying: "...
features a wrap-around coating meant to assure that the head will
not separate from the handle" and going on to describe your
impression of how well it's done that job in your experience.
> However, hatchets are not normal use tools. Hatchets are heavy,
> balanced wedges used for chopping and splitting wood, throwing at
> targets and opening beers. While nothing will compare to the forged
> steel tomahawk I learned to throw as a boy, I was amazed at how
> the gator threw after learning to compensate for the light handle.
> After a bit of practice, I was able to teach a number of my friends
> how to throw the gator, with the surprise of the night being when
> fiance was able to bury the blade all the way through the kitchen
> door. The accuracy and impact depth are both remarkable for such a
> light hatchet and after adjusting for weight is more effective for
> throwing than traditional wood handled hatchets.
EDIT: "adjusting for weight *it* is more effective"
Comment: LOL! I'm not sure whether the manufacturer would agree with
your assessment of what such a tool is made for, but it describes
*your* use of the tool well, so I'm inclined to let it slide.
> The Gator is brilliantly designed. The angle and thinness of the
> make it easy to sharpen with a regular knife sharpener and can be
EDIT: "and *it* can be"
> sharpened with some electric kitchen knife sharpeners, allowing
EDIT: this is a fine point to illustrate the "projection" thing I
mentioned earlier. It has allowed *you* to do something - whether it
would allow fumble-fingered *me* to do the same is beyond your ken.
I have found that projection is most easily avoided by not using the
words "you", "your", "yours" etc. at all. In the above example, you
could simply substitute "me" for the word "you" and you're golden.
> keep the blade honed well enough to shave with.
Edit: Which blade are we talking about now, the hatchet blade or the
one in the handle?
Dings in the blade are
> infrequent but file out easily when they do occur.
Edit/Comment: From my point of view (and you're welcome to call me
an anal-fixated German if you like) this is borderline projecting,
because you report this as though it's a matter of course. If I were
to write this review, I'd report that dings (not sure that's a word,
really, how about "nicks"?) in the blade have been infrequent and
that I was able to file them out easily when they did occur.
Comment: That's another thing about projecting: In my opinion, past
tense conveys a lot less projection than present tense.
> The carrier is made a thick durable nylon
EDIT: "is made *of* a thick durable"
which is imperative when you keep you tools
EDIT: it would be "your" tools, except that's borderline projection
again. How about "because I keep my tools sharp"?
> sharp, as I can't even imagine what the blade would do to my pack
> left unsheathed.
> The clever alligator gator skin
EDIT: I guess the "alligator" is superfluous in that sentence.
texture on the rubber handle is
> gimmicky, but effective. I have never had the hatchet slip from my
> hand. The rubber is obviously not as rugged as the blade and
> but the nicks and mars it has received only serve to increase the
> grip's effectiveness.
EDIT: "nicks and *marks*".
Comment: What makes it "gimmicky", then? Sounds to me as though it
does exactly what it was designed to do.
> The only major design flaw in the gator is the magnetic latch
> mechanism that holds the knife inside the handle. The magnets are
> small and only glued in. A few weeks after I bought the hatchet,
> inner magnet fell off and the knife disappeared into the woods.
Comment: Hmm, I guess that makes weighing it difficult. Still,
please weigh the hatchet without the knife and include a remark to
that effect up there with the product data.
> Gerber, and the outfitters that I purchased the hatchet at both
> lifetime guarantees, I opted not to return the hatchet, since I had
> already gone far beyond reasonable use. Before loosing it,
EDIT: "before *losing* it,"
> me anyways, as you would have to remove the knife before splitting
> wood or risk having it fall out onto your foot on impact.
EDIT: projection again. Try "I would have to" and "my foot".
> knives are even sharper than their hatchets, it would not be a good
> situation to catch the knife with a pair of light hiking boots. If
> Gerber redesigns the handle anytime soon, I hope they find a better
> way to hold the blade in place.
> All and all;
Edit: I assume you meant "All in all"?
The gator is a good tool and accompanies me on nearly
> every trip. It is also one of those rare camping tools that has
> into my tool box. I have frequently used the tool as a chisel and
> wedge and most recently used it along with a circular saw to chop
> half a dozen 2x4s behind a wall during a bathroom renovation.
> banging with a 3lb sledge had no visible effect on the head or
> and after thirty seconds with a knife sharpener I was able to shave
> with it again.
Comment: So you do shave with the hatchet? Man, I'm such a wimp. ;-P
> Great Balance
> Light Weight
> Superb Blade
> Extraordinary Ruggedness
> Poor knife retaining mechanism.
> This is my first post, first review. If I screwed up, please let me
> know, the directions seem straightforward, but verbose. Couldn't
> figure out how to upload the HTML version. I have some great
> including my finace posed with the hatchet through the kitchen
Comment: Sean, for a first attempt this was very good indeed. You
understand that you have to be signed in to be able to upload
something to the test folder? If you have serious issues with
uploading, please post at
where a bunch of very knowledgeable people will be able to help you
So - please take care of the above edits and repost to this list,
with "REPOST:" substituted for my "EDIT:". Also please try and get
an html version available in the test folder. For one thing, it's
required, and for another I really want to see those pictures!
If you get it uploaded by the time you repost, it would be nice if
you could include a tinyurl or similar shortened link to it.
One final comment: I've been rather nitpicky with your report,
remarking on a number of points (particularly borderline projecting)
that I might have left for a second edit so as not to overwhelm you
and which one might arguably have let slide. But your first draft
had few other issues, so I felt that as someone writing a book you'd
probably take it in stride.
Your report was entertainingly written, I enjoyed it. I'll be
looking for your REPOST.