25.2.10

Swedish Military daysack! (with class)




The Swedish Military make a few items the dedicated bushcrafter will be familiar with - the firew steel and the mess kit being two of the most prominent, after all what self respecting outdoorsman with go without either (especially if you've read the swedish army survival manual!)




Like wise I think the 40l swedish military daysack my soon join the list. Why?? Why would you want a old fashioned external framed canvas and leather sack over a karrimor sabre 45??




Well dear reader the answers is simple - because its a old fashioned external framed canvas and leather sack!




Canvas can be treated with something like greenland wax and made rot and water proof - its repairable with a needle and thread - its hard wearing - wont melt around your campfire.




Leather can be treated with neats foot or other dubbin to make it supple and give is a rich chestnit brown, like canvas its repairable and easily adapted or replaced - leather unlike plastic buckles wont freeze and become brittle in extreme cold either!




External frame keeps the sack off your back whilst walking so avoids sweaty wet patches and chilling when you stop - the sack can be removed and the frame can be used on its own to gather fire wood or carry back sections of butchered game. It can also be used in such areas as first aid for example.



Volume - 40 litres in old money seems to be much more than 40litres in new money so you get a sack that will hold more - my sack easily holds all my kit for a weekend camp out!! But if your a kit junky there are strapped mounting points of the side and bottom for extra gear too!




Last but not least is the aesthetics - these sacks cry bushcraft - just wearing one makes you look like a long in the tooth bushcrafter who shuns all the fussy expensive modern bushcraft gear in favour of tried and test gear you know works!! And these come at a price you cant sniff at either - available from Bearclaw's trading post they even come with a free block of greenland wax and so are a fantastic bargain!

23.2.10

Cadets - advanced training



This weekend we had the first advanced course from one of the Royal Air Force cadet squadrons we train. The guys arrived early saturday morning for a very intense weekend of survival training.





Not really knowing what to expect the lads and lasses were catapulted into a survival situation where kit seperation anxiety syndrom was instantly at the fore!




Dressed in only what they were wearing and kited out with only the knife around their neck and the contents of their pockets they had to rapidly adapt to their new situation.



Fortunately they did and over all did very well.




Indeed our assessor was pleased with the results - and we look forward to the award ceremony some time in March.


Backwoods knife spooning


Never judge a man by his knife - judge him by what he can do with it!!


When testing the Backwoods knife I carved several spoons from Birch but didnt take any pictures - so this weekend I decided to quickly knock one up out of HORNBEAM!


If the knife can make short work of hornbeam for a spoon what better proof of its ability to carve!

14.2.10

Bushcraft Knife.


Back in the days when God were a lad every bushcrafters goal was to learn the skills what would enable him to go off into the woods with just a billy can and a knife. As an assistant instructor with Woodlore my aim was always to raise up enough to be awarded the coveted Antler handled Woodlore knife by Ray Mears himself - as this was the knife that the billy can equipped bushcrafter needed in those by gone days of yore - sadly I left Woodlore and started Bearclaw bushcraft before such an event took place!
Unpreturbed, I initially designed the BFK - a cracking knife incorperating all the design features a good bushcraft should have. Sadly the BFK was a victim of its own success and eventually we had to drop the project as demand outstripped supply!
Time and not a little scandinavian influence then took me off to design the Bearclaw Camp knife again a great tool and again a hand made tool which demand rendered unsustainable in the market!
Alas my search for best bushcraft knife continued.
Always interested in cutting tools with the now contempory Bushcraft design I recently came across the A Wright and Son of Sheffield Bushcraft knife.
On initial inspection I was quite impressed, however proof of the pudding is always in the eating so i decided to test one out.
The Rosewood handled Buskcraft knife is every inch your typical bushcraft knife while the STAG handled more is a dream, but with a price tag much kinder to the wallet.
Does this mean that it is an inferior knife?? Well, no actually, having cut my teeth and paid my dues at Woodlore and with a woodlore knife I was totally impressed with the Wrights tool in every conceivable way.
The Wrights bushcraft knife has a thick spine which will throw out one of the best showers of sparks from a fire steel I've ever come across - easily as good as the F1! Yep, that was the first test I did - I'd never even bother going any further if that wasnt case.
So, I can make the sparks for a fire but what about the fire wood?
Batoning with this baby is a pleasure, the tool cleaves wood with a guilty ease that makes you almost feel sorry for the wood - a standing dead hornbeam and a standing dead birch where batoned to tidy quarter sections in mere moments! It feather sticks like a pro too!
Can the tool carve then ......... yes it can - one spoon and two trap triggers later I was happy with that result!
Edge rention, ha, no sweat. Razor sharp out the packet, I still sharpened the knife out the packet using my fine waterstone just to confirm the edge and ensure no wire was present - I need not have worried but its a old and good habit to have so I'll make no apologise for that! Suffice to say edge retention was excellent again easily equal to my woodlore, BFK or camp knife and thus far after many trials and tests both in the field, the kitchen and back yard I am yet to need to resharpen the tool whose edge is still as good as ever!
In all the tests I can think of this tool shone (obviously I didnt abuse the tool or try using it for something its not designed too be used for) - yet theres more to it than the functional side.
Firstly, its hand made in England by a long established family business, and dealing with John and Michael at A Wrights I can honestly say their customer service is second to none. Being a long established business they have the techinical ability to produce bushcraft knives by hand in a quantity which doesnt not force quality to suffer (something I wish the BFK could have boosted) - something no custom maker can do.
So if you want a excellent bushcraft knife but dont want to wait for a few years to get one this is the knife for you.
Further more these tools are made by apprentice trained craftsman in the traditional way - English craftsmanship at its best, (and in this day and age I think we should all be supporting such businesses)
I'm a great fan of scandinavian knives especially the Mora's and the Fjallkniven ranges but these tools blow them out the water in terms of usage, quality and aesthetics.
Lastly, but for many, my self included, is the price - coming with a leather sheath with fire steel attachment (and a free firesteel) these knives are around half the price of the more well known makes of bushcraft knife and equally well priced to compare to the top end scandinavian cutting tools so favoured by some.
So did I like it?
The answers simple - YES, its a cutting tool which will do everything I ask of it at a price I think is very reasonable indeed. The best of both worlds!
I liked it so much that after 15 years of searching I have made this the official Bearclaw Bushcraft instructors knife too and was pleased to award the first one to Steve Wiggin's in recognition of his hard work and loyality over the last 6 years.
Available from both Bearclaw Bushcraft http://www.bearclawbushcraft.co.uk/trading/wright.htm
or direct from A Wrights themselves I throughly recommend this bushcrafter to any of my readers, friends and former students who are looking for a great bushcraft all rounder.

Bushcraft camp weekend/ filming



This weekend we had another pleasurable bushcraft camping weekend in our woods surrounded by friends old and new in some of the weirdest weather imaginable.
(check the bearclaw website for the next bushcraft camp weekend dates if your interested in joining us!)


Hail, snow and rain all in one cold and windy weekend - lucky us!




Still as ever the food was excellent and saturday nights venison bolognaise send us all to bed with warm full tummies.


A interesting twist to this weekend was the addition of a film crew down to make a small corperate promotion film for us - these guys had us up pre-dawn filming sunrises as well as a relentless schedule of interviews and demo's all to be filmed - 6 hours of footage to be edited down to a short 15/20 minute film!


Still great fun and my thanks to all the students who braved the weather and came along to help out!!