23.9.12


22.9.12

Sparse pickings in the library ........................

Today I spent several hours sorting out my library ............... yes folks I've decided that with my move to Hampshire looming ever closer the time to start sorting out the wheat from the chaff has come. Over the last few months I've sorted out rucksacks full of surplus gear that I have passed on to my bestest buddy Steve, whose supposed to be selling it all on ebay (when he can pull his finger out and stops working his arse off) ...............so with all my bushcraft and outdoors gear finally sorted out - ok ok pared down to a managable size at least - I now turned my attention to the library.

Now I am a keen and constant reader and over the last 30 or so years collected many many books including many about bushcraft and its related subjects - to be honest I've only ever bothered to keep the good ones and so have also given away (or shipped off to the charity shops) a lot of others. Now before I gripe about the arid desert of modern or new good reads heres the books I have decided to keep - these to my mind are the best of the best and the ones I have often used for reference.

1. SAS Survival handbook - by Lofty Wiseman
2. ap3456j vol,1 RAF Survival manual
3. The Survival handbook by Raymond Mear (The green one - watch this space for a little treat regarding this)
4. Overlevand (the original in Swedish and a copy I translated into English)
5. The Complete Outdoor handbook by Raymond Mears (the white version of the later reprint Ray Mears Outdoor Survival Handbook)
6. Snow Walkers Companion by the Conovers
7. Survival Advantage by Andy Lane
8. Bushcraft by Mors Kochanski
9. Woodcraft and Camping by Nessmuk
10. Bushcraft by Richard Graves
11. Animal Tracks and Signs by Preben Bang
12. Edible and Medicinal Plants of Britain and Northern Europe
13. Plants with a Purpose by Richard Mabey
14. 101 Wilderness Hints by Lars Monsen
15. Survival by Martyn Forrester
16. Complete book of Survival by Eddie Mcgee
17. NO NEED TO DIE by Eddie Mcgee (my first ever survival manual and one I've kept and used ever since even whilst in the army)
18. Explore Wild Australia with the bush tucker man (just in case I ever get there)
19. Trees of Britain by Roger Phillips
20. Wild Flowers of Britain by Roger Phillips
21. The Woodlore instructors training manual (not a officail book but a folder collection of printed handouts given to me when I was a assistant instructor with woodlore covering all the lesson subjects of the courses they ran at the time)

And thats it - that is all I am keeping. (One charity will inherit three bin bags of books and I have also sorted out a few of the better ones to give to friends next month when we have a little get together/course for the RAF cadets over in Kent/East Sussex.)

I am sure many of you have other books you would recommend but to be honest in my opinion ALL other bushcraft, survival and wilderness living manuals or books are either copies of these - rehash the info in these or are just pale shadows of these. BUT I WANT YOU TO PROVE ME WRONG ................and thats the reason for this post, I've just spent a couple of hours scouring Amazon and Google looking for a book I havent read, something that might be interesting, something new and I found NOTHING SO PLEASE SUGGEST AWAY.

Now my little treat for you, from the list above you might note the third title - The Survival Handbook by Raymond Mears, the green one as many people call it. This is a out of print manual which, as Ray doesnt appear to own the rights to it, is likely and sadly never going to be reprinted. It is to my mind one of the best books on the subject ever written, it was written in a pre-commercial period for Mr Mears and as such is about the subject and not geared up to plug "woodlore" products. The section on "kit" is about the kit he used at the time and the kit from which he later developed the now common "among bushcraft folk" gear we all know so well. My favourite quote from this section is, "of the students I have taught it is often those who cant afford the fancy gear who learn bushcraft the quickest and most thoroughly - and in doing so gain in experience and confidence" Raymond Mears the survival handbook Wise words all you gear hounds might do well to heed!! The rest of the book is equally as in depth and well written. Its just oozing with his enthusiasm and experience if you've never read this book I recommend it to you.

http://www.countryside-anarchist.co.uk/GreenAnarchy/Survival%20Handbook.pdf

 ....... ENJOY!

And again, let me ask you, dear reader - what would you recommend, what book on survival, bushcraft or Wilderness living has inspired you??

16.9.12

2 x Fallkniven F1's for sale - Bargain prices!!

Yes folks, I'm selling 2 of my Fallkniven F1's (photo's below) - both are used but in excellent condition - one comes with a left hand zytel sheath and one comes with a right hand zytel sheath .................. details below!
Left hand - left handed sheath, comes complete with knife - paracord whipping under rubber sleeve with a jukka stick fire steel (RRP £112) FOR SALE AS LISTED £80 Right hand - right handed sheath comes as sold with Knife. (RRP £112) FOR SALE AS LISTED £70 Postage for either will be £5.99 for UK readers (recorded delivery) and £10 for overseas readers and will be sent the closest to recorded delivery available.
Also for sale is a Kydex neck sheath for the F1. NOTE KNIFE NOT INCLUDED!! Kydex sheath (for left or right hand usage) with paracord whipping, rubber sleeving and a jukka stick - £30 postage as above Also open to offers or swaps so message me if your interested!! Both knives and the sheath etc gone - thanks for the interest I hope the new owners enjoy their tools!!

13.9.12

Inspiration comes in many forms, over the years I've been inspired by Ray Mears, Eddie McGee, Preben Mortensen, I've been inspired by books about mountain men, i've sought more knowledge from the saami and friends Sweden or Finland or Canada - always the thirst for knowledge has been there and been fed - that is one reason I enjoy bushcraft so much as always there is something new to learn.

One of my first, earliest inspirations were the peoms of Robert Service and the stories of Jack London - and this short movie of one of Londons short stories - I vaguely remember seeing it in my youth and was over the moon to find it on you tube ............

ENJOY .............


10.9.12

Recently, I was reading a blog where the author listed 7 essential items he never left home without - it was a good read but the more I considered the authors options the more I started to think about it and to disagree with him and the more I disagreed the more I wondered at the type or view we take of what we consider or call essential items.

ESSENTIAL = items we can not do or live with, i.e essential to our survival is oxygen, without it we will die!

I'll explain why shortly but first let me give you the list -

1 First aid kit
2 knife
3 sharpening stone
4/5 waterbottle and metal mug
6 fire steel
7 compass

Now I have nothing against this list - its his list and he is perceived to be a knowledgable fella - i dont know him so I cant say overwise, but his choice of kit is in my mind limited. It doesnt matter if your highly experienced or a complete novice the items you leave home with which will save your life if your stuck out over night or longer are the same, maybe the rating will change from summer to winter but the basic items are the same.

These would be -

1 A shelter - tent or tarp for example - making a natural shelter is hard work. Even a poncho or space blanket will save you hassle and keep the wet and wind off you if its raining or snowing.
 
2 A sleeping bag - summer bag for warmer climes, winter bag for colder

3 A ground mat to insulate you from the ground

4. A cutting tool - preferably an axe, but as Sir Ranulph Fiennes says, "generally speaking a swiss army knife will meet most of a outdoorsmans needs"

5. A reliable means of ignition - firesteel if you know how to use one for example

6. A stove - can you light a fire 100% of the time?? On a snow covered hillside in the cairngorms, above the tree line??

7. A cooking pot - goes without saying its uses
 

Now think about it - what do these items all do or enable us to do?? They help maintain our core body temperature - why are they essential more than a compass or a sharpening stone? Because "mountain exposure" as the old term used to be, will kill you in less time than your knife will go blunt or you'll need to worry about your bearings.

So the essential kit is really your basic camping set up! After all if it werent essential why would every person who has hiked or camped out for the millenia or so carried a version of these items?

If thats the case whats this all about knives and compasses and first aid kits then??

Well I think its not the essential term we should tag them with, but useful in the right enviroment tag and even that might not be 100% accurate for example if I had to have one cutting tool I'd rather an axe than a knife and a compass is only of limited use without a map and the knowledge to use both!!

I'm not putting down the blog post or anything like this I am merely trying to point out dear reader that sometimes our view or the view of ours which we hear or read about may be either slightly off course or more specific to them and not really pertinent to us. A skilled woodsman can do wonders with just a knife and a billy while a novice will need much more gear to achieve the same ends (potentially)

And thats the reason for my writing folks - beware the information, some people say knowledge is power - some good people will share information with you that reflects their experiences and their experiences mught not necessarily be of any use to you. While others, mostly lacking in experience, will just rehash information (right or wrong) they read elsewhere or worse they believe to be correct in theory.

I can understand what the author was "getting at" and agree the relative merit of each item in the first list, and agree my day sack kit list isnt so far different but it would be wrong to suggest you can live happily ever after with just those items - they are not essential to your survival (in the right hands they will aid your survival of course)

And the growing you tube experts are just as bad - I remember for example the outdoors expert who posted a video telling folks how wonderful the civilian trangia was/is ............ even as he put the set together in completely the wrong order and way - proof it if were needed that the guy wasnt actually as "good" as his own ego believed he was or at least in this case he'd never actually used the trangia - so how can his opinion be counted??

Mis-information in some respects can be fun - especially if you know better but it can also prove deadly if you blindly believe everything to read or are told!

So next time you read a blog, google so some info, watch a tv programme or similar take the info given with a pinch of salt and temper it with your own skill and knowledge - there in lays the path to outdoor wisdom and a true essential kit that will work for you.




2.9.12

To be able to travel, on foot, across country the outdoorsman needs a pack! For hiking and bushcraft I personaly like a sturdy pack with an external frame. I also want a pack that isnt to small nor to large.

My favourite design of pack is the ALICE model - but the frame sure does suck something awful pa!

My favourite design of external frame however is the Swedish LK35 - the to sack is a tadge to small for extended trips.

So whats the answer??

DA DA!! Mix the two - a ALICE/LK35 hybrid - the ALKICE pack- and I tell you what its a cracking combo!!

 I also added or changed a few minor bits as well to shape the pack to my needs - for example as you see below I added quick release catches on the sacks lid straps, however unlike some who make this "mod" I didnt cut and stitch the original straps. Instead I used a pair of utility straps to improvise this. The use of utility straps means I can go back to the old closure system is I want to - but also the utility straps can be used for other tasks for example as straps on the external frame should I wish to use this without the sack attached.

Speaking of the attachment of the sack to the frame - firstly let me point out its a tight fit getting the frame inside the ALICE's sleeve but a little wiggling and curses gets it there. This sleeve on the ALICE is a recognised weak spot especially if your tempted to lift the sack by it so to protect this I made a simple carry handle from some 7mm paracord.


I decided to keep the LK35 shoulder straps as these are stronger and less fussy than the ALICE ones


But to make these fit better and allow a little more scope for adjusting the fit I also used another pair of utility straps to allow straps and sack to fit better.


 I keep the belt hip pads from the ALICE pack and this fits perfectly onto the LK35 frame so no worries there.


Overall the tweaks have given me what I consider to be the best bushctaft pack I have ever had - it meets MY needs, is confortable to carry. The two packs needed to make the hybrid are both excellent in their own right and neither is expensive so the merging isnt beyond the pocket of most people should they want to and with no cutting of materials the option to change either sack back is still there should the hybrid not suit the user .............

I've tested this out now for a few weeks - taken it for a weeks hiking int he new forest and I have to say its met and excelled my needs.