2017 in Review

2017 in Review

Hiking the Na Pali Coast Waterfalls

What better place to celebrate a birthday than in paradise. Kevin Estela standing under Hanakapiai Falls in Kauai, Hawaii

It’s that time of year when we wrap one up and get ready for the next. We set New Year Resolutions and hope we stick to them. Well, 2017 was a great year of traveling, writing, and training. 2018 is already lining up to be a great year with more writing scheduled for publication, travel lined up for more exotic locales, and survival training picking up after a brief hiatus to focus on writing. There may even be one or two surprises and new endeavors and products in development for many years. Trust me on that last one!

Remington 700 at the SIG Academy

Kevin spent a lot of time at the SIG Sauer Academy training in various firearm skill sets. Pictured is his custom Remington 700.

Belt Promotions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Kevin Estela, Sifu Chris Smith and John G.

Estela Wilderness Education writer and photographer

37 articles in one year. Published in 6 magazines simultaneously. 2017 was a busy year.

2017 was a full-throttle year with more writing published in a single year than in any year prior. It felt like there was always something to review, a skill to break down in text and photo format, and topics to shed light on. New contacts and regular writing assignments with MISSION Knives and Prometheus Design Werx expanded my audience to new readers. In 2017, I officially broke 100 published and printed articles and at the time of this post, I am officially on #105. The feedback from companies who frequently utilize my writing/photography services has been outstanding and I’ve settled into a solid pace in delivering top-notch content.


Sawtooth Lake diving into the glacial water

Kevin Estela diving into Sawtooth Lake in Idaho

Diving into frigid waters

Diving into Grinnell Glacier Lake in Glacier National Park in Montana. I admit, I have horrible form in this one!

In 2017, I was fortunate to travel to the greatest tropical destination I’ve ever seen, Kauai, Hawaii. On my birthday, I swam underneath Hanakapiai Falls along the Na Pali Coast and I experienced some great SCUBA diving while I was there. Later that year, I traveled all throughout Idaho including the Sawtooth Wilderness and up to Glacier National Park in Montana. For reasons, I decided to jump into a glacier lake on two occasions because once is simply not enough. Toward the end of the summer, I sought out warmer climates and water and visited St. John only weeks before the hurricanes ravaged it. My heart and my prayers go out to the beautiful people of that island.

Logan Pass Estela Wilderness Education

Kevin hanging out in Montana near Logan Pass in Glacier National Park


Diving in Hawaii

Kevin Estela striding off a boat along the Na Pali Coast in Hawaii in April 2017


This year wouldn’t have been possible without my friends Dwayne Unger of Dwayne Unger Outdoors, Mike Travis of Blue Mountain Bushcraft, Mike Lychock, Ben LeGrande, and John Brown who have never tired of helping me out. Look for a new course in 2018 called “instructors’ choice” where these gentlemen will teach their particular interests and take all the spotlight. Also, look for more classes offered right here in Connecticut on the property of Parabellum Firearms Training in Columbia, CT. Of course, my continued success is due in large part to my Sayoc Tribe I can rely on and will always be loyal to.

Kevin Estela teaching budget Bushcraft

Kevin teaching during the Budget Bushcraft course. Knife-hand skill level of 11.

Estela Wilderness Education Budget Bushcraft in NY

After a brief hiatus from instruction, full class enrollment is proof EWE courses are still in high demand

EWE Land Navigation with Map and Compass

EWE Land Navigation classes were extremely popular in 2017.

See ya 2017 and watch out 2018 because here I come!

-Kauai, Hawaii
-St. John USVI

-37 published in-print articles for various titles under Beckett Media, Engaged Media, and Athlon Outdoors Media
-Continued monthly blogging for Fiddleback Forge
-New blogging for Prometheus Design Werx and Mission Knives

Survival Instruction:
-Vermont Outdoor Guides Association Winter DOE Camp
-Fundraiser for Haiti Mission
-Fiddleback Forge Users Weekend Hiawassee, GA
-Specialized Private Training in Canadensis, PA
IMBCT Camp out/Survival Training New Hartford, CT
-Budget Bushcraft Ilion, NY
-Private Land Navigation with Map and Compass Pleasantville, NY
-Land Navigation with Map and Compass Columbia, CT

-Guro Dan Inosanto 2-day seminar with Progressive Martial Arts
-Purple Belt Promotion Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
-Sayoc Kali Sama Sama 2017 in Pennsylvania and Winter Sama Sama 2017 in Texas
-Rolling for Puerto Rico Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Fundraiser
SIG Sauer Academy Low-Light Rifle Skill Builder
-SIG Sauer Academy Advanced Precision Scoped Rifle
-SIG Sauer Academy Mid-Range Carbine
-SIG Sauer Academy Bullets on Vehicles
-SIG Sauer Academy Dynamic Performance Rifle
Defoor Performance Shooting  2-Day Pistol

-NRA Great Outdoors Show Harrisburg, PA
-BLADE Show Attendee Atlanta, GA
-Podcast with Modern Combat and Survival #132 “Stranded” Survival Strategies
-Attendance at Wilderness Learning Center “W.A.R” and “P.E.A.C.E” Chateaugay, NY
-NY Custom Knife Show Attendee
-Attendance at Gosstoberfest IX Whiteford, MD


Dwayne Unger Outdoors Wood Burning for EWE

A custom wood burning done for Estela Wilderness Education by Dwayne Unger



2015: A Banner Year for Estela Wilderness Education

2015: A Banner Year for Estela Wilderness Education

In April 2011, I started Estela Wilderness Education with the intention of bringing all my outdoor educational pursuits under a single banner. Since 2011, I’ve had the opportunity to train, travel and write always seeking to grow from these experiences. Each year, I’ve expanded business in different directions and 2015 took on a very writing-focused theme. In 2015 alone, 25 of my articles were published with many more in the queue for publication in the coming months. It is hard to believe how far I’ve come in just under 5 years. It’s a lot to process so I’ll just focus on 2015. In retrospect, this year was truly exciting and it means there is so much more .

Spyderco Mule Team Estela

Kevin Estela with the Spyderco Mule Team CTS B70P in Zion National Park atop Angels Landing Trail.

2015 saw the establishment of the Estela Wilderness Education Fund. Thanks to the generosity of many, the fund became permanent at the Main Street Community Foundation and in 2016, will begin providing camperships to underprivileged children to the educational summer camp programs at the Environmental Learning Center of Connecticut. This fund will never run out and each year more and more students will have the opportunity to build a passion for the outdoors the way I did when I was just a child. Even though the fund has met its initial fundraising goal, in life you can level up or level off. There will be more charity events coming to build the fund even more and help even more children.

Kevin Estela and Scott Heth

Environmental Learning Center of Connecticut Trustee, Kevin Estela with Environmental Learning Center of Connecticut Director, Scott Heth at the Main Street Community Foundation the day the initial fundraising goal was met.

In April 2015, I fulfilled a childhood dream to “play like Rambo” in a way only a true movie geek can understand. I traveled to Hope, BC to the exact filming locations where the movie was shot and thanks to the great folks at Martin Knives, Hank, Newt and Ed, I was equipped with a modern day version of the famous Lile knife. I later wrote about the experience for this website and one of the photos taken in the same gorge Rambo ran through ended up as the lead photo for an article I wrote for American Survival Guide. The trip was part fun and part business and after all the years of being a movie fan, I was able to test the skills portrayed in the film and compare them to realistic skills I’ve honed over the years as a survival instructor. Hope is a great destination I’ll always remember and if you travel there you’ll learn what I did. There is so much more to that beautiful mountain town than a movie’s history. I’ll definitely make it back to Hope again.

First Blood Survival Skills

Martin Knives MCE2 set against the same backdrop as seen in First Blood


ASG-1510-HOLLOW.D.R (2)

During the summer of 2015, I worked closely with the folks at Hornbeck Boats in Olmsteadville, NY and learned all about the modern ultralight canoe inspired by the traditional “Nessmuk Canoe”,Sairy Gamp. After traveling to the ADK museum and gaining access to the Nessmuk exhibit, paddling where George Washington Sears did, and writing about the experience, I ended up with one of the Hornbeck boats a month later. I wasn’t planning on it but I absolutely embraced the ultralight canoe philosophy. My Hornbeck was eventually used on a handful of trips during the remainder of 2015 and was the subject of my premiere article in OFFGRID magazine about the ultralight canoe as a bugout option. There are going to to be more canoe trips offered in 2016 and I’m sure those who come with me and try out the canoes will see why I fell in love with that 15 pound wonder.

Estela Wilderness Education, Kevin Estela, Hornbeck Classic 9

Kevin Estela of Estela Wilderness Education Paddling the Hornbeck Classic 9 Canoe on Raquette Lake in NY State. George Washington Sears, AKA Nessmuk, paddled these same waters in the late 19th century

Yet another highlight of 2016 was building new friendships and sponsorships with various companies well known in the outdoor/survival industry. In 2015 I continued my relationship with Mountain Khakis as a Professional Ambassador. I also was selected by Ultimate Survival Technologies (UST) as one of the first “class” of Brand Ambassadors. In the last quarter of the year, I joined the ranks of ColdPruf, an up and coming baselayer company, as a Survival Athlete and the roof rack THULE company started to sponsor me as well . These relationships helped me deliver better training to the public by providing me gear, donations for prizes and social media coverage. I can’t thank them enough and look forward to representing them in the years to come.

Kevin Estela THULE Sponsorship

In Q4 of 2015, Kevin Estela became officially sponsored by THULE products.

There are many highlights to the 2015 year but overall, it was a banner year. At the end of every year I make adjustments and plans for the year to come. As I type this, I’m already planning exciting trips, ways to challenge/better myself through training and very unique articles to write about. I’m certain 2016 will be another year for growth and I know Estela Wilderness Education will reach new audiences with more and more people spreading the word about what I do. I’m no actor but I would assume the same nervousness an Academy-Award winner faces with the possibility of leaving someone out during their acceptance speech is what I’m sensing now. There are so many more people I need to thank and I know I’m going to accidentally forget someone. So here is the laundry list of those I want to make sure to include. My crew: Big John, Lt. Mike, Ben “Sweet Bologna” LeGrande and Dwayne Unger, my mentors/teachers Marty Simon, Pamana Tuhon Chris Sayoc, Guros Rich and Sue Smith, Sifu Chris Smith, all of the Estela Wilderness Education Associates who have earned patches and spent time around the fire with me, my friends and family and all the 3000 plus followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that keep up with my antics.

2015 is wrapping up and it is also getting out of the way for 2016. Stay tuned folks. So much more awesome is on its way!


The short list for those too lazy to read…

Kevinestela.com reviews and Blog of Education
Mountain Khakis MK Livin’ Blog
Blog Posts for Andy Roy and Fiddleback Forge
Joel Lambert.com Contributions
Access to Nessmuk Canoe and exhibit at the ADK Museum
BLADE Show and New York Custom Knife Show (NYCKS) Travel
25 articles for various publications including American Survival Guide, RECOIL/OFF-GRID and Harris Publications.
Misc. posts on Facebook

Martin Knives Sponsored Hope, BC Trip to filming location of First Blood
National Parks Trip AZ, UT, WY
Acadia National Park
Grenada (Rest/Relaxation and some Eco tourism/research)

Vermont Outdoor Guides Association Winter and Fall Doe Camp
4-H Haddam/Killingworth Science of Survival (Firestarting)
ELCCT Advanced Fieldcraft at Indian Rock Nature Preserve
Budget Bushcraft at Gossman Knives (Featured in January 2016 American Survival Guide)
Intro to Winter Camping in Fish Creek, NY
Dave Beck Tracker Knife Training in Pennsylvania

Mountain Khakis Professional Ambassador
Thule Sponsorship
UST Ambassador
ColdPruf Sponsorship

Permanent establishment of the Estela Wilderness Education Fund
Promotion to Associate Instructor Level 2 in Sayoc Kali
Promotion to 3-Stripe Blue Belt in BJJ under Sifu Christopher Smith

Estela Wilderness Education on Newsstands Now!

Estela Wilderness Education appears in Survivor's Edge, Self-Reliance Illustrated and American Frontiersman simultaneously!

Estela Wilderness Education appears in Survivor’s Edge, Self-Reliance Illustrated and American Frontiersman simultaneously!

It is an exciting time for Estela Wilderness Education. Right now, there are 6 different articles in 3 different magazines featuring my writing. Learn how to create makeshift perimeter alarm systems, how to outfit your vehicle for an emergency and what you can do to challenge your fire starting abilities in the pages of Survivor’s Edge. Learn how to pass along friction fire skills in Self-Reliance Illustrated. If you want to learn how to make a leather belt knife sheath or what to put inside your practical fishing kit, you will read about it in American Frontiersman.

There are more articles in the works right now and new ideas and assignments coming my way daily. From product reviews to trip field reports to how to’s, my portfolio of in-print articles is stacking up. Coupled with my first cover appearance, 2014 is a great year for EWE Writing.

Thanks to my friend Erin at SRI, here is a copy of the friction fire article. Please share this with anyone interested. Thanks also to all my friends, family and supporters. Your support is what drives me to be a better instructor and source for quality information!

SRI 21 Teaching Friction Fire Skills

Keep reading and I’ll keep writing!


Kevin Estela teams up with Joel Lambert of “Lone Target” on Discovery for Web Project

In the next few weeks,  the host of the Discovery Channel’s show “Lone Target” and former Navy SEAL, Joel Lambert, will be launching a new website www.joellambert.com. Joel is incorporating information from a select group of authors, experts in various fields and backgrounds, to make this site one of a kind. According to Joel, the authors are “SEAL buds, SAS guys, MI-6 etc.”. Topics ranging from tracking and counter tracking, wilderness survival, primitive skills, blade selection/use, gear reviews, weapons and tactics, the Discovery Channel shows and much more will be featured. Joel recently asked me to team up with him on this venture and I enthusiastically accepted. I’ve known Joel for a couple years and am impressed with his ability and character. I know this new site will not disappoint!

Kevin Estela and Joel Lambert

Joel Lambert (Left) and Kevin Estela (Right) discuss the attributes of the Sayoc/Winkler RnD tomahawk in Los Angeles in the Summer of 2012


Kevin Estela and Joel Lambert in LA

Kevin Estela and Joel Lambert discussing survival and evasion

I first met Joel back in 2012 in Los Angeles. I was out there on business taking general meetings, meeting producers for drinks and shopping ideas around. A good friend, Zee, asked me to meet up with a friend (Joel) about some wilderness survival topics, tomahawk use and general know how. I showed up, we drank coffee and talked about the pre-production of “Manhunt”, the international name for “Lone Target”, and the atributes of the Sayoc Kali/Winkler Knives RnD Tomahawk. I explained a way to carry the hawk based on an old article found in American Survival Guide from the late 90’s, my experience in using it based on my Sayoc Kali training,how the beak of the blade improves cutting and penetration and a few other ways to utilize the attributes of the blade which I’ve learned through teaching survival skills. We shot the proverbial you know what and then I was off to meet up with another friend on the set of Bones. Little did I know this brief encounter would lead to this.

I kept in touch with Joel over the next couple years and was happy and enthusiastic when Lone Target came out. The show came out great and the second season has been announced (WAY TO GO BUDDY!). We messaged back and forth over Facebook and Twitter about the show and how everything worked out. Prior to heading back out to Los Angeles in 2014, Joel reached out to me, told me about the project then put me in touch with his webmaster. He introduced me to the webmaster as a “Wilderness guru, high fieldcraft munga munga and blade guy” which I could live with. We met up again at Sayoc Kali’s Sama Sama annual gathering and discussed other projects we both have in the works and the content for this site. Joel told me the entries are going to be simple single ideas that are covered thoroughly by the authors. We discussed a few topics lined up and how they will be presented. Again, this meet up was quick and I was yet again on my way out to meet up with a production company for a show idea and to tour Northern California for a business/pleasure trip.

Kevin Estela and Joel Lambert in Los Angeles 2014

Kevin Estela and Joel Lambert in Los Angeles 2014

The new website is coming out soon. I’ll be busy providing content for it and I know Joel will be crisscrossing the globe for Discovery. The combination of Joel’s skills and mine will surely not disappoint. Get ready for REAL skills and REAL knowledge from guys who actually own their craft. You won’t find posers on www.joellambert.com.

Bark River Knife and Tool Bushcrafter and Ultra-Light Bushcrafter Named Official School Knives!

Estela Wilderness Education

Official School Knife of Estela Wilderness Education, The Bark River Knife and Tool Bushcrafter

It brings me great pleasure to announce the official school knives of Estela Wilderness Education. These knives have been carried by me personally for multiple seasons and have surpassed all of my expectations. Chosen for their exceptional edge retention, comfort in the hand for extended cutting tasks, simplicity in form that lends itself to ease of use in a variety of grips and a warranty that will back them up for life, these knives deliver great value for an affordable price. The Bark River Knife and Tool Bushcrafter is the standard school knife while the Bark River Knife and Tool Ultra-light Bushcrafter (ULB) is a smaller scaled down size available for those with smaller hands (women/youth) or those who wish to utilize it as a neck knife or backup in their pack. While I have access to many knives from many makers, I put absolute faith and trust in these from Bark River Knives. They receive my highest recommendation and biggest damn seal of approval!

Budget Bushcraft Course, Estela Wilderness Education, Kevin Estela

Kevin showing a method of feather stick making

Both Bushcrafter and ULB feature CPM3v steel construction that is a carbon steel but with great attributes not found in standard (O1 and 1095 for example) non-stainless steels. Both knives are available in a variety of handle materials and although there isn’t an official type I recommend, black and green, black and natural micartas are my favorites. The type of grind on these knives is called “Scandivex” which is a hybrid grind marrying a short flat grind commonly known as a Scandi with the strength of the convex grind/edge that puts the maximum amount of carbides behind the edge. Thickness is just right on both of these and they are far from the “sharpened pry bars” some makers insist on. The knives I’ve chosen have been chosen because they work. Their form is completely backed up by their function and you will not have to regrind or sharpen these when they come from the factory. I recommend light stropping after each use on black compound then polishing on green compound. Of course, if you don’t maintain your knives, you can always send them back to the factory for free sharpening for life. Just pay the return shipping cost.

Official School Knife

Official School Knife of Estela Wilderness Education, The Bark River Knife and Tool Ultra-Light Bushcrafter

These knives should be your primary knife but by no means do I recommend carrying just one type of blade. Compliment these with a multi-function pocket knife/tool, a large chopping tool depending on the season and a good buck saw. As a primary knife, you will find ways of utilizing these blades for many cutting task but never abuse your knife by making it do more than it is intended to do. You will find methods to use just the belly or tip and ways to choke back on the grip for snap cutting through some material. You’ll be amazed how strong and how well these knives work for just about any bushcraft and survival task. I have been amazed and that is why I am confident in having my Burning Star logo stenciled on the flat of the blade.

To purchase one of these knives, I recommend buying through DLT Trading. They are located in Michigan and the Owner, Jason, is a supporter of EWE and the Estela Wilderness Education Fund. When you order one, specify “Estela Special” and it will be stenciled before being sent to you. Please keep in mind as well that in the near future, a limited run of EWE Charity Knives will be available with a portion of each knife sale going directly to the EWE Fund. When you like how the Bushcrafter and ULB handle, maybe you will consider one of those as well.

Finally, if you require more reading about these knives before you commit to one or both, I suggest the following reviews hyperlinked here and here. I hear the guy that wrote them is pretty cool, good looking, charismatic and a real stud when it comes to outdoor skills (wink wink). I hope you will enjoy using your’s as much as I do mine.


Welcome to KevinEstela.com!

Thank you for visiting KevinEstela.com, your new resource for all things regarding wilderness learning and bushcraft!