Unboxing the ETCH, an axe designed for back-country self-rescue

Peter Biddle writes, "I get I myself into trouble. I don't claim that bad stuff happens to me more often than others - it's more that I find more ways to happen to bad stuff. I actually found a way to get severe hypothermia in 105°F heat."

There are people who claim that the only reason BitLocker exists is because I kept losing my laptop in business trips. They are at least partially right.

Last summer I rode my Yamaha WR450F off of a narrow single track trail in Cle Elum WA and down a very steep embankment. As I stood on the trail looking down at the bike, I thought about how hard it was going to be to get that bike back up onto the trail.

Fortunately I had friends with me, but that crash got me to thinking about how I could be better equipped to deal with that situation and ones like it in the future. Downed trees, scrub brush, stuck vehicles, and flat tires are things everybody has to deal with sooner or later if they go off the beaten path. If you wind up actually stranded then building a shelter and a fire can go from "nice" to "critical".

So I combined what I know about making products, my love of axes and the outdoors (I had my first axe - a real Hudson's Bay boys axe - when I was 7) and my propensity for discovering new ways of getting into trouble and six months later the ETCH was born.

To support self-rescue in the back-country, the ETCH includes:

* an axe blade

* an integrated mechanical advantage device (4:1)

* 3/8 inch socket adapter for changing tires for axle bolts

* bottle opener (of course!)

* hammer

* window breaker

* fine motor grip for shaving or chopping

* folding and locking 9 inch arborist saw

* rescue hook for self- or other- belay

* modular design

Primary materials are AR400 steel and 7075-T651 aluminum, with kydex polymer for the handle scales.

Etch Axe