A GREAT TERM ..............

Heard a new term today, which is a great way of looking at what we carry and why ................

DIMINISHING RETURN ............. This simple term speaks volumes!!

What does it mean? Well take a blanket for example, a light 80/20 US army blanket is a great item to carry as a emergency cover, a match coat etc etc and weighs say 1lb - but lets say the temperature drops and we need to carry more or thicker blankets if we plan to sleep under them. Well the point of diminishing return is reached when the weight of the blankets carried becomes great than the weight and uses of a standard sleeping bag ...............a blankets diminishing return point is when its weight and bulk outweigh its uses ..............

Same can be appealing to knives - axes - cookware etc etc ........... great term!


Now heres a few thoughts to ponder

The wilderness that may seem so stressful to you in a so called "survival" situation may have met the daily needs of native peoples for eons of time.

What seems "survival" to us may be just plain everyday living to others.

It is conceivable that your knowledge can become so extensive that the term "survival" can no longer have any meaning. (does this become bushcraft?)

If you starve to death for example it is not because of lack of knowledge or skill on your part - it just happened that the vagaries of nature left nothing for you to eat!


And finally .............

OK I might be a bit behind the times here but if this isn't one of the best combo's out there I'm a monkeys uncle ........

For the beginner and for the professional this type of combo is ideal ..............


Sour dough .............. picture paints a thousand words

 Bread after proving ready for oven
 Out the oven 35 minutes later
Ready to eat - food that is the building block of life from a little flour water and a pinch of salt - a real survival skill!


EXPERTS AND THEIR OPINIONS they count for anything??

This morning I was watching a few bushcraft video's on you tube, randomly selected but several were from guys who work in the industry some in UK others in USA and as I watched the films I started to wonder at the information given. (Oh and I include myself in this)

For example one guy was explaining what he carried in his rucksack, some items made sense, axe, mora knife etc - then he brought out packet after packet of fire lighting items, some brand names plugged etc - however in the same clip he had already explained he'd been collecting birch peelings and was a smoker so had a lighter point here why carry so much fire lighting equipment?? As a expert I am sure he wisely carried a back up fire lighter - but 7?

Another example is a UK guy who was demoing basic skills on a night out, at one point he covered fire lighting and carved excellent feather sticks then went to light them with one type of man made tinder - his fire steel technique was really bad too point here, why not light the feather sticks with a lighter or if using a man made tinder why carve feather sticks??

Watching these video's and offers I find myself wondering why the guys do what they do as they seem to OVER complicate things. My own search is looking for ways to simplify my bushcrafting and as such lighten my load both on my back and wallet!

Take cutting tools - Nessmuk had his trinity, Mr Mears the same - DC says two is one and one is none and I can identify with this. Personally I carry a pocket knife, a Laplander, triflex and a axe, but recently even this, in my opinion, is over kill - a axe and a pocket knife could meet all my needs - or the triflex and a saw (which I travel with most of the time in Sweden etc)

Is there a risk of us losing the plot here - some experts have another agenda too as they are plugging products they sell.

In the end I guess only your experience counts for anything - sadly the phenomenon of the expert is a result of the fact so few people actually get the quality dirt time to form their own in depth knowledge but can easily access you tube or worse one of those egotistical forums full of equally computer bound dreamers - but (and again I am guilt here) bear in mind that all these experts are often still on their own journey of discovery and the knife they say is the best knife in the world in May might be the forgotten has been by July when they discover a new one!

My top tip today is look at the items "experts" have been using for the long term - ie Mors Kochanski and the Mora knife, Ray Mears and his woodlore knife, Cody Lundin and the Mora classic .........for only in their longevity can we be sure that these items are worth our consideration.

Just a thought


Big is beautiful

Way back in the day, just after I left Woodlore and went solo I had a dream of designing a bushcraft knife and fortunately for me I had the chance and the BFK was born. Unfortunately the knife proved too popular and the maker couldn't meet demand so after about the 230th tool this spelt the end of that - even though now there are two clones out there that I know of, so the design I came up with must have been pretty good.

Time and experience changes ones perception and with the end of the BFK I found myself liking a bigger knife design - commonly called a camp knife or Leuku in Scandinavia these tools sport a bigger blade around 7 - 9 inches, Lars Monson for example is a man who also highly rates such a tool, so I designed the BCK. Again a popular design but again circumstances conspired to limit the production.

Knife makers who use the tools they make are rare - and among those who do some have limited experience in the field or strange ideas as to what is what - so I was chuffed to Naafi breaks when Jan Ververs turned up on my Summer WEISS course. Jan is a coffee drinking, chain smoking Dutch man who is tough as old boots and knows how to use a knife, ergo knows what makes a good bushcraft knife too. So naturally it was Jan I approached with the idea of a new camp knife.

The concept was simple - (KISS) - I wanted a big knife, robust and business like. A full tanged work tool which would be a jack of all trades and a tool to stake your life on - so no pressure.  Jan and I shared ideas and profiles, Jan suggested a flat grind with a micro secondary bevel but I wasn't sure about that as I wanted the common scandi grind single bevel but he talked me into it and I'm glad he did.

So let me introduce you to the BCK Mark II

Now for the geeky stuff - steel is O1, 5 mm thick. full flat grind with micro second bevel, about 25 degrees, blade is 115mm in length. Hardened and tempered between 58-59 Rc. Flat spine for use with a fire steel. Sheath is Kydex and leather. Leather belt loop is sewn hollow so a sharpening stone or survival items can be stored there.

Now I hate reading reviews with pictures of shiny knives where the author tells you how wonderful the tool is but the pictures clearly tell the reader the knife has never been used. SO my first mission was to get out there and use the knife.

Before testing the tool I sharpened it - this is a good practice to get into so that if a wire is left during the manufacture you remove it before use and thus make re-sharpening easier in the future.

The Leuku as mentioned earlier is literally a Sami butcher knife so the first task of a camp knife in my book is the carving of meat (plus I once came unstuck when I had a deer haunch to carve with only a Mora and spend the whole trip wishing I had a bigger knife to carve meat with) - for the test I had a roast leg of lamb, as you might know this is a greasy knobbly piece of meat and a good test. The knife as I am sure you already guessed was spot on. Its hard to carve around bone with a longer bladed knife and initially I had a bit of trouble there but once the eye became accustomed to the blade length and the wrist to the weight the joint was soon reduced to a succulent pile of meat and a lovely set of hinged bones for the dog.

Next the usual bushcraft tasks - can she carve a spoon? Or just for fun can a big knife carve a small spoon, because lets face facts small fine work with a big knife is much harder .............. I selected a piece of green Holly which the forest wardens had kindly cut scant minutes before as part of a programme to open up the forest floor! 

Yes she can - not the prettiest spoon blank but then I was testing the knife not carving a spoon and produced that in about 3 minutes from splitting the wood.

Can she batton -

Like a knife through butter - although I didn't really test this other than for the picture as a knife this size it goes without saying.

Can she carve feathers for a feather stick - this is one task students find hard even with a mora so for a bigger tool with a more robust but less wood carving orientated blade this is a good test.

Here we have a piece of well seasoned Ivy - the characteristics of the wood aren't great for the task, if I wanted a easy test I'd have chosen a nice long straight grain like a willow - but lets face facts in the real world when you really need a fire you might not have the best, most ideal wood to hand so ..........

Yes she does - practice makes perfect but I was impressed with fine tight curls I achieved.

Can she caste a spark from a fire steel - boy can she, I lit the feather stick I made with them!!

Can she be used to chop and hack or pry? Now this is my main concern, primarily due to the fact that with modern travel and security measures a bushcrafter can not necessarily always carry his axe. So the tools robust ability to deal and process wood is essential - a small pocket knife will whittle and prep food but you need a big knife if you plan to venture far off the beaten track.

Why worry about this? Well in fair weather I have happily spent weeks in the woods with only a opinel or british army knife but for winter training where the camp fire is king, where insulation beneath the feet or for sleeping on needs to be cut from the lower limbs of spruce and pine, a heavy chopping tool is essential so for this knife to be a good all rounder it had to do this with ease. And boy did it -

Two chops went through inch thick green holly ............ a dozen and a seasoned piece of ivy was in half. It isn't a axe substitute for wilderness living where loads of fire wood need processing but for the short term it certainly would make life easier and I'd rather have it than a smaller 4 inch Mora or Woodlore clone!

So I am very pleased with the BCK MKII - there is nothing I would change about the tool which is well made by NUK knives and sure to be the belt knife I depend on for a long time into the future.

Sadly I have no plans to sell this fantastic tool - but should you wish to have Jan make one for you to your own spec's I am sure he would be more than happy to discuss it with you - visit his website and contact him here ....................