This time of year is miserable to me - its the pause in the season between being out and about and the Christmas break and always leaves me yearning to get out doors again - so naturally I've been thinking about my kit.
More to the point what I carry and why!
Cutting tools - sleep system, even my pack are all under the stop light at the moment. What I want to achieve this year is
1. To lighten my load by carrying only versatile kit
2. To simplify my load by carrying robust kit
3. To carry only essential kit.
Ross Gilmore and a few others have written excellent pieces along these lines and I aim to re-read these and trial my own ideas too.
More to the point I am also thinking about how I over complicate my gear. As an example my stove, for bushcraft 99% of the time I cook over an open fire whether in UK or Sweden so my main cookware needs to reflect that - but the 1% of the time I am not I need a stove that is both effective, fast and inexpensive. So I have made myself a 12cm Billy with a bail from a stainless steel biscuit barrel - this is better than the brand name option aka a zebra billy in as much as its lighter, the steel is thinner there for conducts heat better and the bail army fits under the stove for easier packing - its also the perfect size for a 250 gas canister and a primus micro stove as well as a few addition tubes of spices and tea towel. So this covers or ticks all three boxes above - added to this I will carry two 58 bottles with the plastic mug attached then I have water and the options of a mug and plate (bowl) or two mugs if I want to share a brew with someone on the trail!!
One thing that is perplexing me at the moment is my sleep gear - I appreciate the need for a good nights sleep, and sleeping warm is important but I cant help wondering if the modern way is best? As a for instance is the bulky sleeping bag ideal? After all it is a item which serves but one purpose. Looking back and further afield I see other options ............. for example I can always remember my dad mocking me when I told him the army issued us sleeping bags because in his day they slept in their great coats with only a blanket as cover - Preben once told me that the Swedish called a certain jacket a tent coat as that was all they slept in when in the winter army tents with the wood stove. Looking back further the wool blanket was the standard item - it was a sleep system, addition warm clothing etc - before this the dark age warrior used his wool cloak or the proper highlanders their kilts as their sleep system and as functional clothing. More recently the Poncho and liner combination has been used - so why do we now seem to think only Sleeping bag?
I'd be interested to hear readers views on this - at present I am pondering a 1 season sleeping bag with the addition of a woobie and if needed a army issue snuggy jacket and trousers - this will reduce my load size and weight while still offering my a sleep system which will cover all my option and yet offer me the ability to add or remove layers and use items for other uses too .................
I'll be testing this idea out soon so will write more but I wonder have any of my experienced readers tested other combinations of sleep gear and if so how did you get on??