Quick Tip #21

So, you made it to where you want to camp for the night, and you’re all setup, then you realize it’s going to be dark soon and you start scrambling around to gather natural tinder and wood to get a fire going. Does this sound like your normal routine? It used to be mine years ago until I started carrying a tinder pouch on my belt. Now as I hike along, I gather natural tinder, birch bark, small twigs and anything else I might be able to use to make a “birds nest” and get a fire going. I also grab a few pieces of wood (sticks) that are slightly thicker than my thumb and break them short enough to fit in the pouch. I use these for making feather sticks.

Carrying a tinder pouch and filling it as you hike makes for a less stressful time later trying to get a fire going and it means you’ll most likely have better quality material to work with. Some advantages to carrying a tinder pouch are that everything you put in the pouch gets mixed together and ground together as you hike and if anything is damp it will help dry it out by the time you get to camp. Also, if it starts raining along the way or by the time you get to camp or before you get a fire going, you’ll have a bag full of quality dry tinder to work with instead of trying to scrounge around in the rain.

I highly recommend training yourself to grab natural tinder as you hike, whether you put it in your pocket, pack or designated tinder pouch, you’ll thank me later when you have a much easier and relaxed time starting a nice warm cozy fire. Do you already carry a designated tinder pouch? If so, what natural things do you grab to fill your pouch? Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment with your answers to the previous questions.

Homemade Pulk Sled

I’ve wanted to make a pulk sled for winter camping for a while now, so I decided making a pulk sled was next on my list of D.I.Y. projects. I was excited to find that my local Runnings store was running a sale on Jet Sled Jr’s so I grabbed two of them. I figured I’d make two sleds so that either, one of my sons could use one or my brother. I crafted brackets out of some steel stock I grabbed from the hardware store. After shaping the brackets and painting them, I mounted them on the front of the sled with stainless steel bolts and fasteners.

sled10.jpg

I added a fin, made from aluminum angle stock, on the rear bottom of the sled. I used galvanized fasteners to attach the fin. This helps with tracking in the snow especially when in hilly areas.

sled4.jpg

sled5.jpg

I used plastic electrical conduit for the poles that connect to the sled and a leather belt for pulling. I used two pieces of conduit because I wanted six foot poles. If I were to make the poles five feet instead of six feet I would have only needed one conduit. On one end of each pole I epoxied a tie rod end and the other end epoxied an eye bolt. Prior to adding epoxy, I heated up the conduit so that I could push the nut for the eye bolt and the nut for the tie rod end in, to make a more secure attachment. The tie rod end connects to the bracket on the sled using a locking pin.

sled8.jpg

sled7.jpg

The eye bolt on the other end of the poles connects to clevis pins which I mounted on either side of a leather belt I made. I put a washer on both sides of the belt before installing the clevis pin and then added a heavy bushing which fit perfectly inside the eye bolt and over the clevis pin. Lastly, I added a hitch pin to keep the eye bolt in place but to also make it easily removable once at camp.

sled13.jpg

sled11.jpg

sled12.jpg

sled3.jpg

All in all, I think this project went well and the pulk sleds turned out great. I can’t wait to get out and test my new pulk sled. This should make snowshoeing a bit easier without the extra weight from the pack on my back pushing down on the snowshoes. Do you winter camp or snowshoe? Have you ever used or thought about using a pulk sled for winter camping? Let me know in the comments section if you liked this D.I.Y. project and if you’d like to see more.

Sled 1.jpg

sled9.jpg

Tarp Shelter

The tarp I used for this shelter was a Warbonnet Superfly Tarp with the tent pole mod. I originally bought the tarp to use with my hammock because it has “doors” which help block wind and rain out. Plus, with the tent pole mod it gives me extra head room. I’ve used it plenty of times with my hammock, and love it for that use, but this was the first time on the ground. I decided to use it on the ground instead of one of my other tarps because of the doors to block the wind out and because it would be roomier for two people with the tent pole mod. This tarp worked out great as a ground shelter. We dealt with high winds that constantly changed direction and the tarp held up great and kept the wind out with the help of the “doors”.

This tarp in conjunction with UST’s heavy-duty emergency blanket as a ground cloth are a great combination for a winning ground shelter or tarp shelter. If you are on the fence about getting one of these tarps it is well worth the money in my humble opinion. I love this tarp for hammocking and now for ground dwelling as well. I will most definitely be using this for a ground shelter again in the future. What’s your favorite tarp or tarp shelter and why? Thanks for reading and remember to get out and enjoy some wilderness time.

 

786

The Hidden Woodsman Deepwoods Ruck

My dad and I have both purchased The Hidden Woodsman Deepwoods Ruck. Mine is mounted on a frame from http://www.tacticaltailor.com with their shoulder straps and hip belt. My dads is mounted on the military issue alice pack frame with straps and hip belt. It is definitely worth getting the straps and belt from Tactical Tailor. The pack rides so comfortably with all of the extra padding and padding coverage. My dad will definitely be upgrading soon. You can see bellow how much nicer the Tactical Tailor shoulder straps ride and cover than the military issue ones do.

1.jpg

3.jpg

2.jpg

We both absolutely love these packs. There’s plenty of room for everything we prefer to carry. I like the sleeve on the front for carrying a small axe or hatchet and the molle webbing on top and bottom for adding sleeping pads or bedrolls as well as attaching most anything we’d want to. The side pockets have ample room for needed gear, first aid kits, cook kits, water bottles or whatever else you’d like to put in them. The separations inside the main compartment are perfect for my uses and not over done like a lot of packs these days. The quality of materials is also a plus. I like that I don’t have to worry about abrasions or being rough with this pack. I can hang it on a tree, set it on the ground or hike through dense wilderness or brush with no worries about it tearing holes in the pack.

4.jpg

5.jpg

13.jpg

14.jpg

I can’t recommend this pack enough or any of the other quality gear I’ve purchased from http://www.thehiddenwoodsmen.com My dad and I are both looking forward to years of service from these packs. We both also own Dayrucks and like those as well. I use my Dayruck for warmer camping and wanted this pack for colder weather camping since I knew I’d want to carry more gear/clothing. Its also a huge plus to know that these packs were made not to far from where we live. I love supporting people that I’ve met, live in the same country as I do and that make high quality products. Hopefully you’ll be seeing these packs featured in photos of more trips over the coming years. If you own one of these packs, what are your thoughts about it? What do you like or not like about it? Thanks for reading and I hope you all get a chance to get out and enjoy some wilderness wandering.

Camping With My Dad

A few weeks ago I went on an overnighter with my dad. We both had new Deepwoods Rucks from The Hidden Woodsman that we wanted to test out and it had been many years since my dad has been able to get out and camp. He had gotten seriously hurt on a construction site when I was younger and it really took a toll on his body, which meant backpacking and camping and any of the outdoors stuff he loved doing were out of the question for a long time. It’s only been in recent years that hes been able to slowly try to get back into some of the outdoor activities that he loves. Since other plans I had that weekend fell through and instead of doing some side work, I texted him and said lets get out for an overnighter and cook some steaks over the fire. He replied with YES! LETS GO! So the planning ensued.

I knew the night time temps would be in the low 30’s with windchill around the low 20’s and since it was his first time back out in the woods in years, I decided to go to one of my favorite spots to camp that was maybe a 20-30 minute hike in so my truck would be close in case we needed any extra supplies for warmth. I gave him my 0 degree Hammock Gear over quilt to use and I used my 20 degree over quilt. We used foam pads with  Klymit insulated static V blow up pads over top so that based on the R-value I new we’d be good down to 0 degrees and we’d be comfortable since we both have back issues. I set up my Warbonnet Outdoors Superfly tarp since it has “doors” and I knew it was going to be very windy. We used reusable heavy weight emergency blankets as our ground sheets.

We camped near a large pond with a great view. It rained a bit after we got camp set up and stopped just as we started to cook our steaks over the fire. The steaks (Venison backstraps cut into steaks) and potatoes came out perfect and tasted amazing after being cooked over the fire. We enjoyed some time around the fire and headed to bed. We slept pretty decent all night. The wind gusts got going pretty high which concerned us because the trees creaked like crazy all night and we could hear some trees and limbs falling in the distance. The wind was constantly changing direction all night. Otherwise it was a pretty good night. We both got up around 4 am to go to the bathroom and I loaded up the makeshift fire pit with wood so that we’d have coals to get a fire going later that morning. After I got the fire going again and warmed my hands up, I headed back to bed for a few hours.

I think we ended up getting up around 8-8:30 am. There was a little bit of snow on the ground, on our tarp and on our packs that were hung on the trees. The low that night was 32 degrees with a windchill of 18 degrees. It was so windy when we got up that we both decided we’d just pack up and have breakfast when we got home instead of getting a fire going and trying to cook over it in the wind. Plus I didn’t want to have to worry about the fire being reignited after we left because of the high winds.

We enjoyed our hike out and had a great time. It was nice seeing my dad be able to camp again and enjoy the things he use to be able to. We had a fun successful trip. We ate great food, had a great time and slept pretty well. We only needed our rain gear for a few hours the night before. We both love our new packs. My dad will eventually upgrade his pack frame to the same one that I have because mine has much more padding and is very comfortable. My dad’s already looking forward to our next trip, and to me that always means your trip was successful when anyone you took out enjoys themselves so much that they look forward to the next trip.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the attached photos of our trip. What extra little things do you do to ensure you have a great trip? Heres a link to the video of our trip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rbbY5vnuW0

2.jpg

3.jpg

9.jpg

8.jpg

7.jpg

6.jpg

12.jpg

11.jpg

10.jpg

14.jpg

 

13.jpg1.jpg

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

Gear I’ve Recently Acquired

I’ve recently acquired three pieces of gear that I’m excited about using and testing. The first one is a Casstrom Knives Lars Falt Bushcraft knife. I can’t speak to its durability over time but out of the box this knife is a beauty. I love the curly birch handle and the knife comes razor sharp out of the box. The knife also comes with a nice simple leather sheath. I also ordered a dangler to add to it because I just prefer my knives to be on a dangler for ease of movement. I’m really looking forward to testing this knife out over the next year and then I’ll post an update of how it holds up to use over the long hall. Based on my first impressions I don’t anticipate any issues with this knife.

 

Lars Falt Bushcraft Knife

 

The second item I recently received is a Bushcraft Essentials Bush Box LF stove kit (stainless steel version). I ordered the kit instead of just the stove because I wanted the grate for the top to be able to cook meat or other things right on it without needing a pot or pan. Because of what it is, it’s a bit heavy, but I expected that. It’s really well made and I anticipate it holding up to years of use. The stove also comes with its own pouch which makes storing it in your pack nicer and cleaner. I do still use an alcohol stove and a butane stove as well depending on the type of trip so it’s not like this will be used as my only stove, but who knows, it’s possible I may like this stove enough to stop using my other cooking methods. Only time will tell. This is my first venture into twig stoves so we’ll see how it goes. Most places I hike and camp have plenty of branches laying around so I like the idea of not having to carry all of my fuel.

Bushbox LFStove Kit

 

The third item is an Expedition Research Bushcraft Grill (regular size not mini). My preferred way of cooking is right over an open fire but I’ve tried other small campfire grates and they’ve always failed because they lacked the grid pattern that this grill does have. There’s not much to say other than I’m looking forward to testing this grill out and will probably christen it with some bacon (one of the things the other grills failed to handle as bacon shrinks as its cooking and would fall through the cracks). It does come with a lightweight pouch so that you can easily store it in your pack without getting other things dirty.

Bushcraft grill bushcraft grill 2

All in all these are three pieces of gear I’m really excited to get in the woods and test out. Hopefully after the holidays are over and with hunting season nearing its end soon here in New York, I’ll have a chance to get out and give these new pieces of gear a try. What new pieces of gear did you acquire that you’re excited to use? Have fun in the wilderness and take time to just “be” and enjoy it.