Housepaint Touch-Up Bottle

We’ve been painting all the rooms in our house and when we finish I save a small container of it, like a cup’s worth, in this little bottle and then just stash it in a drawer of whatever room we painted in. If you drill a hole or remove a painting and pull a nail out, you can spackle it and paint it over with the paint in this bottle rather than leaving big jar somewhere rusting away.

-- Gareth Branwyn  

[[This is from the Cool Tools Show podcast with Gareth Branwyn. See all of Gareth's picks here. – Mark Frauenfelder]]

2 Ounce Touch-Up Bottle

Available from Amazon

Kamik Men’s Dawson Waterproof Winter Boot

I moved to Washington state last summer from California. I knew the winter would be quite wet living in the Pacific Northwest. And my wife and I decided to have a “shoeless” house as many folks up here do to keep things cleaner. So I wanted boots that were warm, comfortable, and easy to get on and off. These fit the bill in all areas. I happen to think “duck boots” look pretty cool, so I liked the look myself. And they are incredibly comfortable and really easy to kick off when you get home. Driving in them is great. On long road-trips my feet stay feeling very relaxed.

I have fallen arches and wear orthotics, and I was able to replace the insole with those. I wore these nearly every day throughout the winter. And when we went sledding with the kids at the cabin the kept my feet toasty warm. The only thing about them is that they run 1 size too small. I wear an 11, and ordered a 12 and it was perfect.

I wouldn’t take them on any serious hikes with lots of grade, as they aren’t as supportive as hiking boots (I go back to my Vasque for that). But I’ve worn them on multi-mile walks with the family and felt totally comfortable the entire time.

Now that spring has sprung, some days are just too warm to wear them. But I find myself wearing them whenever I can tolerate it because they’re so comfortable.

-- Cameron Dawson  

Kamik Men’s Dawson Waterproof Winter Boot

Available from Amazon

Leatherman Charge Multitool

I’ve carried a Leatherman multitool, in one form or another, for the last 20 years or so. It’s the one thing I use every single day. There are plenty of multitools on the market and each person will appreciate different aspects of each. There are a number of features I like about the Leatherman Charge:

  1. Externally-accessible blades. The 154CM clip-point straight knife, 420HC serrated knife, wood saw, and file are all accessible without opening the multitool at all. Considering how often I use the blades (usually several times a day) this is a winning feature for me.
  2. Interchangeable screwdriver bits. The Charge comes with a basic flat/Philips reversible bit but there is an additional kit with another 20 bits of various sizes. The bits are unique in that they are flat so they fit into a holder that slots into its own pocket in the belt holster. This allows me to carry a variety of bits right along with my Charge.
  3. A bit-extender option available which fits into the holster as well, that serves 2 purposes: a) it gives about a 3″ extension to fit these bits into tight quarters and B) it has a standard hex socket for standard screwdriver bits. So if you need a bit not available from Leatherman or a specialty bit such as a “security Torx” the extender will accept those and many more. This makes the Charge extremely flexible for many different tasks.
  4. There is a second bit holder for miniature screwdriver bits, including is a reversible flat/Philips bit, which is great for tiny screws such as for eyeglasses, portable electronics and such. The fact that these bits are replaceable is fantastic because I don’t have to worry about damaging a bit that can only be replaced at the factory.
  5. Ccissors. The Charge’s fold-out scissors are sharp and precise, capable of cutting many soft materials. The scissor blades are about 1″ long — not suitable for extended cutting sessions, but great for small jobs.

The rest of the tools included in the Charge are typical across the Leatherman line: a bottle/can opener; two types of wire cutters; pliers that taper from a standard size suitable for bolt heads etc. to a needle-nose size; an 8″ ruler stamped into the handles; a file with an aggressive side suitable for wood or metals and a diamond-coated side for fine surfaces or even sharpening a blade. The saw has very sharp teeth in an aggressive pattern which make short work of even sizable branches.

The Charge is a mid-size multitool approximately 4″ long; it fits comfortably in the hand with rounded edges to keep from digging into your palm and fingers. There are 3 different versions of the Charge available, labelled the AL, the ALX and the TTi. The AL and ALX are almost identical, the difference being a ripping hook on the tip of the rope knife for cutting seat belts, linoleum and leather. The TTi has titanium handle scales instead of the black plastic of the AL and ALX. Also, both the TTi and ALX models add a crimper section in the pliers. In addition there are options for stainless steel or black anodized components to suit your tastes.

Overall I find the Charge to be a great mix of durable, useful tools; it’s comfortable in the hand and sized appropriately for many tasks without being too large or heavy to carry easily. The adaptability of the interchangeable bits and convenience of carrying a selection of bits in the holster make it a winner in my book.

-- Victor Reiner  

Leatherman Charge TTi Multi-Tool with Leather Sheath and Bit Kit

Available from Amazon

pStyle Female Urination Device

I have used the pStyle female urination device for over two years. Initially you might think it is gross but I think it is fantastic and I’ll explain why. If you are a guy you have no right to judge or snicker since you don’t have to completely drop your pants to pee while out in the wilderness.The pStyle is a plastic trough that allows girls to pee standing up without dropping their pants.

I carry mine in a little mesh bag with a small squirt bottle of water for rinsing. I keep it in one of the side water bottle pouches on my backpack and one in my glove box.

  1. Before you say this is gross, remember urine is sterile (unless you have some nasty infection).
  2. Imagine not having to drop your pants to pee in the jungle, avoiding getting your butt bitten by insects in the process.
  3. You don’t have to go on a trek to find cover as far away just to pee. In many places cover doesn’t exist.
  4. They come in a rainbow of colors.
  5. You don’t need toilet paper to pee. When done you just pull it forward and out if your pants and it acts like a squeegee. Then you simply rinse with the little water bottle and put away. Your fingers never touch the pee or any nasty bits.
  6. Imagine not having to hold it for long periods for lack of privacy.
  7. You will finally really know how easy guys have it.
  8. You can now tell people “I just don’t pee, I pstyle!” Or “I’m stylin with my pstyle!”
  9. Two years ago a woman I was with on an Amazon trip fell in the river, pants down, trying to pee off the side of the boat. All could have been avoided with the pstyle.
  10. I’ve been doing field work/trips for a long time and just want to make you aware of a product I find very useful and wish I had discovered sooner.
  11. I have researched other types and styles of these devices and I think this is the best. Don’t bother with the other kinds (Go-girl, lady j, etc). They are too soft and flexible so you practically have to drop your pant to get them in place and use them anyway. For me its a p-style or nothing.

I am completely serious about how much I like the pstyle. I have given one to my sister and other field biologist friends and while skeptical at first, they love it after trying it in the field.

-- Margy Green  


Available from Amazon

Chapman Deluxe Industrial Mini-Ratchet Set

About ten years ago I was doing field service on biomedical equipment, this little tool kit got more use than all of the other tools put together. It has 90 percent of what you need for all types of fasteners, and many add-ons are available for specialty fasteners. The tools are rugged and made in America.

For assembly and disassembly, Chapman miniature ratchet kits are ideal for working in tight spaces and are unsurpassed in versatility and speed.

The mini ratchet gives you the balanced leverage you need to loosen frozen or rusted parts without damaging them.


-- Bill Schmalzer  

Chapman Deluxe Industrial #5503 Mini-Ratchet Set

Available from Amazon

Schwinn Smart Phone Bicycle Handlebar Bag

I was looking for a way to securely mount my smartphone to my bicycle to record the details of my workouts. I wanted something that would protect the phone from rain, but still allow for basic touchscreen functionality. I did not want to spend a fortune on this either.

My wife found this on a clearance rack at a local Target and it is perfect. There is a decent sized pocket that can hold a few protein bars, wallet, etc. The phone slides into a clear pocket that folds over the top and secured by velcro. It is impossible for the phone to fall out and having the plastic pocket over the top of the rest of the bag increases the bags ability to keep water out.

I am sure it is not completely water proof and I would not chance it, but I have been stuck in a few minor rain showers and everything stayed dry. There are fancier versions out there, but for the price this is perfect for me.


-- Matt Schirmacher  

Schwinn Smart Phone Bicycle Handlebar Bag

Available from Amazon

Long Nose Vise-Grips

Everyone who is into tools knows about vise-grips (or locking pliers) and most of us have at least one in our tool box. But don’t overlook the small long-nose version. I think it’s one of the handiest tools I own. I’ve had the 4″ version for over 20 years and I go to it for all sorts of things: an improvised handle for my air pump valve lock when it broke, a way to turn a small nut in a hard-to-get to location, a clamp to hold small parts together while the super glue sets. If don’t have massively strong hands and fingers, they are just the thing to get a better grip with. Put some finger tips from a rubber glove over the jaws for a cushioned grip. When they went off to college, I bought my daughters a pretty complete tool set from Harbor Freight. The only thing I added was a 4″ long nose vise grip.

-- Jamie Windham  

Long Nose Vise-Grips

Available from Amazon

American Weigh Digital Scale

I needed a scale to weigh the powdered supplements I take (powders are cheaper than capsules). I bought the AWS 100g x 0.01g Digital Scale in January. It’s about the size of an iPhone and measures up to a limit of 100 grams in 0.01 gram increments.

I also bought a 100 gram weight ($7) to calibrate the scale.

The first thing I did was weigh some coins. A Nickel is supposed to have a mass of 5 grams (here’s a page that lists the mass of different coins). All the Nickels I weighed had slightly different masses. Same with Pennies and Half Dollars.

I also weighed Bicycle playing cards. Each card has a mass of about 1.75 grams. I weighed all 26 red cards: 45.51 grams. The black cards came in at 45.57 grams. The four Aces had a combined mass of 7 grams on the nose. Would the Tens weigh more, since they have more ink than the Aces? I measured them: 7.03 grams. I tried a different deck. Aces: 7.03 grams. Tens: 7.03 grams. (I’d love to weigh these cards on a 0.001 gram scale!)






-- Mark Frauenfelder  

American Weigh 100g x 0.01g Digital Scale

Available from Amazon

Point It

It’s just a bunch of tiny little color pictures so if you can’t communicate with somebody you whip this out and point at a picture. There’s so many pictures in it that you always get the idea across.

-- Tim Jenison  

[[This is from the Cool Tools Show podcast with Tim Jenison. See all of Tim's picks here. – Mark Frauenfelder]]

Point it: Traveller’s Language Kit

Available from Amazon

Sample Excerpts: