Winter kit part 2

With clothing listed in my  previous post now I will cover equipment.

From top left my log book, a silk liner ( I will not be taking a sleeping bag because I already have one there), wash kit, water bottle, mug and lid, thread for making nets and below that my bone netting gauge and needle (I have been asked to teach net making), my Gorilla Pod and camera, the kit I wear around my neck, sun glasses, Leatherman Wave, Opinal and firesteel, my knife, Gerber folding saw, then below my tinder pouch, a pouch containing spare batteries for my phone and camera, my sewing kit, lip balm and possibles pouch.

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Again from top left fruit leather, hot chocolate, sharpening kit, parachute cord, below my flint steel firelighting kit, a reusable tea bag for natural teas, GPS, compass and maps.

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Finally a cattail doll I have made as a gift, as is the whiskey, my Swedish dictionary and the most recent kuksa I have made.

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Total kit weight 18.5kgs

Winter kit Part 1

Just in the process of preparing for my next trip to Swedish Lapland and thought it might be of interest for you to see what I will be taking with me.  There will be deep snow and the  temperatures I encounter could be anything from around zero degrees to minus fifty degrees.  At the time of righting this the temperature there is currently minus 16 degrees.

Firstly I have three grades of merino wool thermals which will be warn in combination, depending on temperature.  I will wear the light-weight set to travel and carry the medium grade in my hand luggage  (just in case my main bag gets lost)

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Next I have six pairs of merino wool socks in two different grades of thickness and two pairs of the merino wool shoe liners I made.  I will be wearing one pair of socks and boot liners for travelling and carrying two pairs of socks in my hand luggage.

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From the top left I have Swedish army worsted wool trousers (very very warm), next to them a pair of Fjallraven trousers which I will wear while travelling, below them my zoot suit and a set of braces.

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I have a fur hat for travelling on a snow mobile, a wool hat for general use, a shemagh (which I will also use as my towel) and a wool neck tube.

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From top left a Canadian military wool shirt, my Swanndri hooded bushshirt, below that my leather mittens, merino wool mittens and a pair of pilots gloves and finally my Swedish army winter parker with a coyote fur trim I have added around the hood.

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Now for footwear; Top left my Canadian military Mukluks, next to them my walking boots which I shall travel in, and below the felted wool liners for my mukluks.

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Very good customer service….

The other day while walking around a discount department store I came across a “Midi Multi Active” bag made by Highlander, hanging on the end of a clothes rail.  When I looked at the price it was reduced from £15 to £4.88 so I decided to purchase it for use as a day bag (especially when in Sweden).

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Once home I investigated my new purchase and clipped the shoulder strap into position.  Unfortunately as I did so, part of one of the clips broke off.

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I knew I could not take it back and change it because I had bought the only one in store, so as Highlander give a lifetime guarantee with their products I decided to email them, explaining the situation and I attached the two pictures above .  Within an hour I received a reply from Barry at Highlander saying they would send a spare clip in the post to me.  These days unfortunately it is rare to find decent customer service, but clearly this is not an issue when dealing with Highlander!

The following day a parcel arrived and not only did they send me a new clip, but in fact a completely new strap!

I cannot thank the staff at Highlander enough and thoroughly recommend them as a company.

The bag itself is also very good.  With its 6 litre capacity it holds all my kit shown here daily kit plus a blanket as well.

It can be carried as a shoulder bag

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or around the waist

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We shall see how it performs during my next visit to Lapland.

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Breakfast in the woods

I had breakfast in the woods the other morning.  I got a fire going to provide a good bed of embers

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and then needed a fork to toast my crumpets.  I could not find a suitable forked stick, so decided to make one.  I split the end of a piece of Sycamore with my knife and carved both halves of the split into points.  Then I made a small wooden wedge.

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This is what it looks like when finished (you could tie cordage around the base of the split to prevent it running further down but I did not find it necessary).

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I toasted the crumpets over the embers

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and finally spread cheese on them.

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Coppice bough bed

While out in some woods the other day I found an area where the  owner had recently been coppicing (coppicing is a traditional method of woodland management involving cutting trees and bushes down close to ground level.  Multiple stems will then shoot from the stump and these in turn are harvested every 3 – 40 years, depending on the species and product required.   Here are a couple of links for more information 1, 2).   This method of management is very beneficial to associated fauna and flora.

The materials laying around gave me the opportunity to experiment with a bed design I had in mind.  Using my axe I cut an Ash log in half and arranged the two pieces into a “V” shape.

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I then cut some stakes to drive into the ground to secure them in place.

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I started to cut a series of “V” notches along the length of both pieces of Ash, into which I placed pieces of springy saplings.

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Now I collected the springy tops from Birch and Hazel and arranged on top as a matress

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I will make the next one slightly longer, but I must say it was very comfortable!

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My 200th post!! – Bone-drill

I found this bone which I think belonged to a Muntjac deer.

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Using a piece of flint I scored around the ends

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to remove them both

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Then I made wooden tips from Ash and Hazel for making fire by friction

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My flint knapping skills are not good unfortunately but I can do most of the things I need to with the right flake.

One end of the flake in the video below I used as a scraper to shape the wooden plugs to fit into the ends of the bone and the sharpe edge of the flake I used to cut throught the wood.

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Woodburning stove

I had a woodburning stove fitted into my living room just before Christmas and having used and experimenting with it for almost a month I think it is one of the best purchases I have made.

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The stove itself was £270 but the flue and labour to fit it all to meet building regulations, brought the total cost to nearly £2000!  However I do not have to use my electric heating now or my kettle (as I boil water on the stove top) and my electric cooker is rarely used because I cook on the top as well.

I use my cast iron dutch oven as an oven and for making stews

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and my frying pan for such things as pancakes

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Outside I have made a lean-to where seasoned wood can be stored

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and I’ve made a saw-horse for cutting up logs

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which folds flat and can be stored up under the lean-to roof, as you can see here

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It has taken quite some time to discover a way to keep the fire inboth at night and when I am work.  When staying outside and using a campfire I can often find glowing embers deep inside the pile of ash, so I took the ash from the ash tray in the bottom of the stove and covered the fire with a thick layer and this has proved very successful.  I can in fact keep the fire in for 10 hours.