This morning, with rain pouring down I sat drinking a coffee when I heard someone knocking at my door - curious as I wasnt expecting anyone I jumped up and answered the door. The stood the postman with a small package.

As soon as I saw the writing on it and the address I knew it had come from my very good friend Mikko in Finland - a outdoorsman of great experience who I envy for his access to the finnish wilderness.

But I digress, back indoors now I hurriedly tore open the package and lo and behold inside I found a M95 Sissipuuko and a little cloth Finnish flag (nice touch Mikko!)

Now, firstly let me point out that SISSI - in Finnish translates as Ranger, or commando - and Puukko (while this isnt a true scandi grind type knife) in Finland is now a common term for knife, becoming generic.

The knife itself had been used and my first task there was to sharpen the edge - easily done with a dc4, some autosol and a strop! Next as you can see from the picture above my friend had whipped a small leather sheath to the front, this was light brown so being a bit ocd I decided to dye that black to match the sheath. Once that was done and dusted I tucked a firesteel, sharpening steel, GI can opener and a little beta light into the pouch and popped over the woods to play.

Now I've had this knife all day so my review isnt "in depth" but I have to say thus far this knife has done everything I asked of it - and well.

Firstly I tested it chopping and it hacked its way through a standing dead Birch in minutes - then I tried a spot of batoning and again it was like a knife through butter.

Lastly, to my mind always a good test of a cutting tools finese and usability is the carving of feather ........... and again this baby had no trouble completeing the job with ease .............

Lastly kitchen duty - woodlore clones with their chunky spines arent generally good all rounders and often come unstuck in the kitchen not a flaw in this knife - it peeled spuds, sliced mushrooms and tomatos and carved a roast lamb shoulder all with now expected ease and effortless ability I had quickly ground to expect!

Oh ya the specs are - Blade: 150x25 mm, 6x1" Total: 275 mm, 10 3/4" with a teflon coated carbon steel blade.

So all that remains is for me to thank Mikko for the gift and to say that without a shadow of a doubt this knife will definately become my new trusted companion!! 

It will need a few more tests, and a little more time before I can definately say this is the knife for me but thus far the future looks promising.

Cracking little poem - hope you dont mind me sharing.


Well dear reader as you know I'm a fan of the Trail Hawk - its proving to be a versatile tool 

Now heres a new thing I gotta try ............................



The Dakota fire pit is a fire management system designed to use minimal fuel and with minimal signature - it requires a little elbow grease to produce the pit but once completed would last in a static camp fire a fair few days.

Below is the "classic" diagram for the pits layout.

Basic routine for making a fire pit is firstly select a site - obviously peaty or sandy soil or no good, avoid rooty ground too. Then we dig out two pits - one (the fire pit) is slightly parger than the draw pit. Make the draw pit big enough for you to get your hands into as the second task is to tunnel between both holes. Make the tunnel big enough that you can use it as a feed for extra fuel if needed.

Next prepare your fuel - basic fire lighting principles apply but bear in mind (depending on you scourse of ignition) you may need to light it via the tunnel as I did.

Once the fires established which is quite quick with the air being drawn into it via the tunnel and depending on your hole/chimney size you might want to as a couiple of cross bars (green wood would be ideal)

And now we're ready to rock and roll - place our cooking vessel over the pit.

The cooking time - ie the heat generated is quite impressive and brought this frying pan of water to a boil in less time than it took me to dig the holes .........

All in all a very effective set up from start to boiling water in just over 10 minutes but obviously the pot size etc would dicatate overwise.

The idea of cooking below ground is to minimise the fires visibility and cut down on the smoke but I would advise the use of a crane to lift and lower the pot if you intended on cooking something more complicated than just boiling water as the heat generated is quite intense and there might be a risk of burning your food until you become familiar with controlling the burn.

Overall an excellent set up well worth investing a little time in to construct as its much more fuel effecient than an open fire and once your finished you just back fill the holes and theres no trace of your ever being there.


Weekend in the woods

This weekend myself and Steve decided to venture into pastures new - so we packed ourselves off to a large woodland area in Essex for a few days well needed R+R .......... NOT MUCH to report - weather was dry and sunny with cold nights - most importantly we both had a great time and Steve learnt an important lesson "a stool is never more important than a sleeping bag"

Myself and Steve at our camp

Preparation of the fire is important before you light the fire.

Sleeping without a bag after you realise your cold

My shelter

Sleeping without a bag

A cold night and a cold morning .......... before the sun was fully up (below)

As we were moving out quickly we let the fire die in the night and then cleared away the fire circle cooking our breaky and morning coffee on stoves like good sensible woodsmen!

A great weekend all in all and I look forward to the next one!

US Army Large ALICE pack

I'm a fan of the external frame pack and recently decided to swap my Swedish LK35 for a ALICE pack, the pack in question was the large model and after buying a new set of shoulder straps (my old ones were missing??) I packed it and took off for a weekend in the woods.

Some basic info on the ALICE pack and US webbing in general can be found here -

And a good article on packing your ALICE pack can be found here -

Now i'm not sure of the capacity of the pack - some say its 70 litres others 50 litres - personally I'd be inclined to below 45 - 50 litres which is fine as thats easily enough for a weekends gear. These packs are designed for troops working in extreme winter conditions and as such are robustly made with some excellent features. The two lower left and right bottom external pockets are ideal for taking a 58 pattern waterbottle - while the middle and slightly larger pocket will take a set of German mess tins or my preference a set of british mess tins (with room for a few items stuffed around them) the three smaller top pockets appear to be designed for the addition of extra magazines of ammunition but are ideal for your possibles - mine contain, first aid kit, note book, sharpening stone, para cord, matches, fire steel, hi viz marker flag, mini parafin lantern, torch, whistle, light sticks, tinder etc - or if I'm carrying my jack flask with something hot inside it then that goes int he middle pouch for easy access during a lunch stop for example.

The lid has a small pocket ideal for mapps and such but I usually store my wash kit and housewife (sewing kit) in there as its a low bulk kit.

The main sack has a large inner pockets mounted high at the back and this is wear I store my rations and a 2 qrt canteen keeping the weight high on my back and shoulders - in the main sack I then packed my therma rest, polish army tent, down jacket and sleeping and bivi bag.

While appearing bulky the pack is surprisingly comfortable and stable on the back. The external frame has a comfortable hip belt and keeps the pack off the back 100% - in fact after a days carriage hiking through the forest the only two wet points where a small area across the shoulders and on the hips which is excellent as I hate a wet back after hiking and the horrible sensation of chilling as the cold wind dries the sweat dampened clothing ...................

I'm not a fan of the smaller medium sized ALICE pack but I am really pleased with the large one its a comfortable carry and fits my back perfectly so for bushcraft purposes I think this is a excellent pack which will be hard to beat and one I'm sure to use again and again in the future.


You might be a redneck if .............. ;)


With the promise of bad weather this week thought i'd take another days hike in the forest - Scampi and I clocked up 8 miles (according to the GPS) and we found Muntjac deer, fallow deer and we even got to see the Birds of Prey, diving for the kill!!

Picture heavey but hope you enjoy.


After a self imposed period of abstinence and the epic realisation that my kit is finally about as good as its gonna get I've decided to get a new knife.

The plan is the sell off ALL my old knives (except three made for me by my friend Mr Bliss) and then have the pleasure of rediscovery (of course if I need a good bushy I can always whip a Mora triflex out of the shop stock!)

Now, as you may be aware, I like a big un, A CAMP KNIFE ..... 4 inch bushies dont do it for me, their all same old same old copies of each other nothing new and over priced to boot - so after some research I decided to go for one of these ...........

The M95 Finnish Ranger knife.

Way back in the 1990's - around '93 I bought myself a knife hailed as being designed by Lars Falt (who?? in those days I didnt know the name) but it was a well received knife so I ordered one.

This isnt the one I had but it looked similar (above) - it was a excellent knife, I spent many hours wandering the German forests trialing it, I took it to Bosnia and used it for everything from clearing mines to helping villagers butcher a cow which was roasted in celebration of the UN finally getting through to their beleaguered homes. But unfortunately it was lost during a move from one base to another and never replaced due to (pre internet days) not being able to find the seller I bought it from .............

Anyway the Sissipuuko M95 is called the Finnish Ranger knife and as such was originaly designed for the finnish army - oddly it was Swedish Military units who bought it before it was ever issued to Finnish troops but to my mind that just gives it more credance!!

So watch this space - I'll do a out the box review and then trial it and review it again ........... looking forward to it!!