Survival - its practical not posh

Well at least its not about brand names and gucci gear ..........

Over the last few years bushcraft (my other love) has been taken over by commercialism (I know I sell gear too but there has to a limit) but survival being less "popular" with the TV watching population as yet and thus far, never has been about the brand names and long may it be so, survival is about improvising, adapting - its about using your brain not your wallet.

And that labourisly brings me to my point - Clothing, and cost to wear ratio's ......... or in english what clothing is worth spending good cash on and what are you better off adapting or spending less on!

Boots - footwear is important - bad or poorly fitting boots can cripple and reduce you to painful hobbling and tears - what are best - well I say in temperate conditions wear you can get by with ok footwear (but not top notch stuff) the British army boot is best value for money - these are my summer boots! But if the weather ont he turn or your going somewhere wet or cold - Lundhags win hands down - they cost a few bob but remember they will carry you everywhere and will be hard pressed daily - being waterproof too they may seem expensive but are actually pound for pound and mile for mile great value for money.

Trousers - like bots these are going to be on your body 99% of the time - they will get dirty - they will be scratched by scrubs and scorched by the fire - they will be expected to preform no matter what the weather. So whats best - well the old Britsh army lightweights used to be the thing - but loo and behold they are rarer than hens teeth these days - so whats replaced them? Well like boots I think you get what you pay for and being an item thats hard used your better off buying well - Fjellraven greenlanders are my favourites but in truth any good poly cotton trousers will do - go for trousers that are 65/35 mix and these will be fast drying and tough!

Base and midlayers are much of a much ness - ignore the idiots who say "oh but cotton kills" - cotton doesnt kill the idiot who wears it in the wrong conditions or without adequate waterproof clothing kills themself - not the cotton, soldiers world wide are clad in cotton in the worst conditions on earth and they survive so its not the cotton its the idiots lack of common sense. That said if you have the choice wool mix works best in winter! In summer I like to wear a t-shirt and a standard shirt of cotton or similar!

Outer Layers - windproof and waterproof - ok if boots and trousers are pound for pound and mile for mile worth heavy spending heres where we meet the great con - the great modern rip-off - people generally spend more money on their jackets than they do on any other item - indeed I have seen folks whose jackets cost more than all their other gear together! And why? Goretex for example isnt all its cracked up to be (I know at least one american outdoors man who calls it FLAWTEX)- I've been soak through to the skin in goretex thats become saturated and ventile while good and comfy is only cotton with a high price attached to it - and again will eventually allow water in especially if not reproofed - worse once soaked its like cardboard to wear and clammy!

The answer - well lets think about what we want a jacket for - its a shell to protect our layers and keep in the warmth - and something to offer a handy pocket or two - maybe we want a windproof and something to wear around the fire to stop our synthetic fleece melting from a errant ember! In that case you really cant bet a cheap, light cotton jacket - cotton Gaberdine was popular with the forces for its drying speed and as such any old surplus jacket would do - a M65 fishtail is good as the liners removable and its not camo - a swedish army snow parka or smock works well and if you dont like em in white dye em - make them individual!! More to the point you could buy 10 snow parkas for the price of one ventile wind shirt - or 20 for the price of a ventile parka ......................

For that waterproof here there is two options - goretex is good but as said above isnt 100% and is expensive - pu nylon is 100% and cheap but suffers condensation problems - sooooooooo if you need a jacket weigh up your options - or 99% of the time I find a poncho to be the answer - these can be pu nylon and 100% waterproof as air flow allows the condensation to disperse - best of all a poncho as every soldeir knows can also be a tarp - a floatation device - a shelter door - a leaf littler carry - a stretcher .............amd more - and best of all all these thing for least than the fith of the price of a goretex!! Another good option is a jacket made from EXEAT a nylon treatment used industrially - I have a waterproof jacket in this and its about 10 years old - still waterproof and breathable and still in regular use - and a fifth of the price of a flash goretex - if image matters spend the pennies if function matters think outside the sales and marketing box!

Practical or posh - you decide but think on it - as a survivor your not worried about being a fashion victim and while buying the best you can afford makes sense I'd say focus the pennies on the stuff you'll get the wear out and not items you'll wear only if the weather turns dodgy!!

Buy the best you can afford doesnt mean but the most expensive item - it means buy the best item suited to your needs ...................


Jonathan Blackmore said...

working out whats good for you is what its all about and if you make a mistake be able to have the courage to fix it. Good article Gary.


Perkunas said...

This sure is one of the wisest writings,and my favourites.Im always intrested to test new gear,no matter the brand but i am very suspicious to buy something just for the brand name it has.And i sure am almost fanatic military surpuls hoarder,and i like the rough and tough old cotton mixed clothing in the wild,as it stands against time very well,its good,reliable to hangarounf fireplaces with cotton clothing,as gore tex is most likely to catch a spark and its gone then,and so on.But i realize also that if i had the funds,id buy some techical stuff too,but as im pretty much broke 24-7,i have to manage with what i have without crying.Ive seen alot of damage happening with modern ultralight backpacks and clothing stuff so it might be also one reson to stand bit against the evolution of gear to me :).But then again,different strokes for different people,hah.

Nice article you have put up.