Quick Tip #20

If you’re tired of getting smoke in your face and wasting your breath get yourself a V3-pocket bellows. They are awesome! It will help direct your air exactly where you want it to go and you can get a longer sustained blow. Instead of having only a little of your breath of air actually reach the dying fire you can now have all of it reach the base of the fire with no smoke in the face or burnt eye brows.

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Flint and steel failure with a waxed disk in the rain

This past weekend I went out with my dad for an overnighter. After we hiked in and got our camp all setup, it was time to process fire wood and get a fire going for dinner. We got plenty of firewood processed down into all the different sizes we needed and then of coarse it began to rain steadily.

My favorite way to start a fire is with flint and steel with a piece of char cloth. I had one piece of char cloth left in my tin, so I decided to use a fluffed waxed disc. Every time a spark hit the fluffed waxed disk it just went out. I could not get it to light. After a few minutes of trying, I decided to grab my last piece of char cloth and use that. I turned the waxed disk into a sort of birds nest to receive the lit char cloth. The char cloth lit with only one strike of the steel on the flint. I blew on the char cloth to make sure and sure enough the spark took. I then placed the char cloth in the birds nest made from the waxed disk and blew. The char cloth kept burning but the disk just would not light. I’m not sure why but I was shocked. After blowing and getting a lot of smoke and light from the char cloth I got nothing from the waxed disk. Once the char cloth was fully consumed I gave up on the flint and steel and grabbed my fero rod. All it took was two slides down the fero rod with my knife, sparks rained down on the waxed disk and shavings and everything lit right up. From what I can gather from this experience is that these waxed disks are great for use with fero rods and lighters but I’m not so sure they’re any good when you’re trying to start a fire with flint and steel. I will definitely be testing this out again to see if my suspicions are true or not. Thus far, when starting a fire with flint and steel, I’ve always had luck with a birds nest made with natural materials and char cloth for the ember. What has your experience been like when using flint and steel? What is your favorite way to start a fire?

After we got the fire going for awhile and had some nice coals built up, we cooked some venison backstraps and potatoes over the fire. Dinner was delicious! The rain mostly stopped once we started cooking. We had a great time and this was definitely a learning lesson for me. Hope you all have a great day and get a chance to get out and enjoy the wilderness well testing and learning some new skills.

 

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Cooking over a fire with my Bushcraft grill

The more time you spend cooking over an open fire the better you’ll become and be able to fine tune your cooking skills. I’ve learned over the years that cooking over hot coals is not only a better way to cook or heat up liquids, but it also saves on equipment wear and tear and saves you from having to eat a burnt meal. This also makes cleanup much easier.

I start out by getting a good rip-roaring fire going and once I have larger logs on, which give me larger lasting coals, I let the fire die down a bit. I congregate a bunch of coals so that they will allow my grill to lay over top and allow for even cooking. I keep the fire going much smaller off to the side so that once all of my cooking is done I’m able to get a larger fire going again much more easily. This also allows me to get more coals for cooking if needed.

Cooking on the grill over the coals is so much nicer. Once the meat or vegetables are fully cooked I just lift the grill off the coals with my Hidden Woodsman meat fork and lay it on some level rocks to cool. I do any cutting right on the grill and eat right off of the grill as well. No extra dishes to clean. Once everything is gone I just hold the grill over the flames to burn off anything left. Then I lay it off to the side again to cool. Once cooled, I put the grill in the pouch it came with and throw it in my backpack. You can’t ask for an easier cleanup than that. So far I have nothing bad to say about this grill and absolutely love cooking on it.

Cooking a perfect meal in the wild, over a fire you made yourself, is so satisfying and energizing. If I’m camping in or backing through an area that allows fires I always prefer to cook this way instead of using any modern portable cook stoves. I guess it just helps me to feel more connected to the land and my primal self. What’s your favorite way to cook when you’re in the wild? What cooking tips do you have that you’d like to share? I hope this helps energize others to get out into the wild and cook a meal over a nice hot bed of coals.

 

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MY “SIMPLE KIT”

Sometimes it’s nice to just move about in the wilderness with less weight on your back and minimal supplies. Partly it’s to be challenged and on the other hand it’s the simplicity of it. I thought I’d share with you today what I carry in my “simple kit”.

Carried On Me

  • Fixed Blade Knife (attached to my side)
  • Pocket Knife or multi tool in my pocket
  • Small Fire Kit
  • Small First Aid Kit
  • Compass

 

Bedroll

  • Wool Blanket (Rothco or Pathfinder Blanket)
  • DD Hammock Superlight Tarp
  • Klymit Inflatable Sleeping Pad
  • Boreal21 Saw in a waxed canvas sheath
  • 550 Paracord Bedroll Strap to carry everything in the bedroll
  • Food Pouch

 

Water Bottle Pouch

  • Stainless Steel Bottle and cup with reflectix cozy
  • Eating Utensil
  • Sawyer Mini Water Filter
  • Fire Kit
  • Cordage
  • Bug Repealant
  • Pace Beads
  • Snacks

 

I carry my bedroll to the right of my body, strap over my left shoulder, and the water bottle carrier to my left with the strap over my right shoulder. The straps create an X on my back and chest. I find this to be a nice simple kit for me. There are some things I could cut out and there’s always things that can be added but sometimes it’s nice to get outdoors with just a basic kit. If for some reason I want to carry my small axe, I could carry it in the axe pocket of my Fjallraven Vidda Pro pants but with a good knife and a saw I really don’t need the axe much in the wilderness where I live. What “Simple Kit” do you carry? What would you add or take out and why?

Simple Kit

Quick Tip #18

Take whatever knife you regularly carry in the wilderness and check the spine on it. If it is rounded over or doesn’t have a good 90 degree edge on it, modify it. Of course this is only if you are willing to make adjustments to your knife. Well wearing proper eye and hand protection you can either use a file, belt sander or grinder to put I nice 90 degree angle on the spine of your knife. With the adjustment to your knife done, you’ll now be able to use a ferocerium rod more efficiently and you can now use the spine of your knife to make fuss by running the spine of your modified knife down certain types of wood. The fuss will just make it that much easier to start a fire. Hope this was informational and someone finds this helpful. Thanks for reading! What modifications have you made to your knife and why?

The Science and Art of Tracking by Tom Brown Jr.

I’m reading through Tom Brown Jr.’s book “The Science and Art of Tracking” again. If you are not familiar with this book or with Tom I highly recommend this book as well as many of his other books. This book is about so much more than just tracking. This book is great for anybody that spends time in the wilderness. It will even help you become more aware of your surroundings in everyday life. It is more about being aware of your surroundings and the impact or signs left behind by humans, animals or even the elements. It’s a change in mindset. You become more aware of the story of what happened prior to you entering the current place you find yourself standing in. You learn that there is so much more to the story of that animal track you found. Was that fox running frantically to get away from something? Was it wounded? Was it hunting? Was it strolling through the woods without a care? Was it female or male? You get the point. There’s more that can be gleaned from a track than most people will ever see if they even notice the track at all.

 
Why is that limb on the tree broken? Why are there no limbs on one side of this tree? How was this hill formed? Is this path man maid (cut in) or worn in? How did that trash end up there? There are clues to the answers if you look close enough and learn to observe all that goes on around you. Watch the people around you as they go about life. Be aware of how a man might affect the environment differently than how a woman does. Children will have a different affect as well. Now notice how someone stronger affects things differently than someone weaker. It all tells a story. By noticing these things in everyday life you’ll begin to notice things in the wilderness you never noticed before. You’ll notice where that fox bedded down last night, that deer that was chased through the woods by a pack of coyotes, the squirrel that was sitting on the tree branch through the rain and how that tin can ended up on the side of the trail.

 
There is so much more to see in the wilderness than to just “suffer” the trail to get to some gorgeous view. Take the time to really enjoy the time you spend in the wild whether it is to hunt, backpack, hike, camp or for whatever other reason you may find yourself in the wilderness. There is so much more to see and there’s a story there waiting to be reed. Do you or have you ever taken the time to really read your environment? Have you taken the time to learn how to track? If you’ve read this book, what are your thoughts about it?

Inexpensive Quality Knives

You don’t have to spend a ton of money for a decent bushcraft or survival knife. Now I do agree in most cases that you get what you pay for but there are some exceptions to the rule. I own some expensive knives but this year I have mostly just carried my Mora companion, with attached fire kit, and an Esee Avispa folder. Both of which are fairly inexpensive, not overly heavy but are very well made knives. I also usually take a small hatchet for cutting up firewood so I’m not using my knife to baton wood (I just prefer to save my knives from this abuse if I can).

Mora makes great quality products that can take abuse but at an expense that you wont mind if you loose or damage it. I have added a fire kit to the outside of mine. The fire kit consists of a ferocerium rod, 1 piece of quik tinder (burns for 2 minutes) and is attacked with a 1 1/2″ ranger band. The Mora knife I carry is made of high carbon steel. This is a great quality for bushcraft or survival but also means the knife blade needs more care and cleaning. It is highly worth it in my mind.

The Esee Avispa is a great addition to the Mora. I carry a pocket knife on me daily because I find I use it and need it a lot. So it’s only natural for me to be carrying a folder. The blade on the Avispa is made of Aus-8 stainless steel. I like to have a stainless steel folding knife as a companion to any high carbon steel fixed blade I would be carrying because it saves me from pulling out my fixed blade knife every time I need to cut something and the stainless blade needs less care and upkeep than the high carbon steel blade needs. Also I like the fact that if I loose one knife I’ll still have one available to me instead of loosing my only knife and having nothing else to use.

These two knives together weigh less than one more expensive bushcraft or survival knife by themselves. For about $50-$70 you could have a great set up for your wilderness adventures. Before anyone complains, what about this knife or that knife, I know there are many great and expensive bushcraft and survival knives out there as well as better folders but these just happen to be what I’m carrying a lot these days and I think this is a great setup for those that can’t afford much or don’t want to spend a lot on one or two knives. These are fairly inexpensive knives but are better quality than their price portrays.

I hope this was helpful to some and an encouragement that you don’t need to spend a ton of money on gear to go out and enjoy the wilderness. Feel free to let me know what your favorite knife or knives are to carry on your wilderness adventures. As always get out there and enjoy the wilderness and maybe even relax and unwind a bit.