Author Archives: Mint Outdoors

LED Lenser P7.2 Professional Torch

One of the most essential pieces of equipment you need when you are camping in the woods or out in a remote location is a good quality torch. A torch can be a lifesaver, it can help you signal for help if you find yourself in a difficult situation and it can give you piece of mind when you are in a remote location on your own in the dark.

The first time I went on a solo camp to the woods, I had a tiny lamp to hang under the tarp, but I hadn’t considered all the strange noises that hear at night. It was a very long night as I had no way of looking around the area to see if anything had snuck into my camp, of course nothing had. It wasn’t long after that I purchased my first good quality torch. I researched the Led Lenser P7.2 Professional thoroughly before making it my my choice.  This torch is very robust and is often used by the military and police services due it’s tough reputation. The Led Lenser P7.2 is also waterproof making it a good choice for hiking in wet conditions, or use in heavy rain.

The Led Lenser P7.2 Professional  uses four aaa batteries, so they are readily available at most local shops if you find yourself short. I always carry a spare set in the top compartment of my rucksack, just in case. The batteries do seem to last a good while. Two things I really like about this torch are the bright beam at around 320 lumens and the beam focus slider which takes the beam from wide to a tight focused circle.

I have my P7.2 for about four years now and it has had some punishment over the years, but to look at it you wouldn’t think so. It still looks in almost new condition. I can definitely confirm that this torch lives up to it’s rugged reputation. This torch is currently on sale, see the latest price in the link below. I have had a lot of other torches and none of them have lasted as long as my P7.2 Pro.

If you decide to purchase the Led Lenser P7.2 Professional you will not be disappointed. It is another one of my core pieces of equipment and it is cheaper than you might expect for a professional quality torch.

For more information and reviews please click here

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Victorinox Huntsman Swiss Army Knife

I first got interested in Survival and Bushcraft through watching Ray Mears on the TV. I never thought I would get the opportunity to get involved in these kind of activities until I saw some Youtube channels of other people out and about doing their own kinds of Bushcraft and Wild Camping videos. Naturally, I thought to myself, if they can do it then why can’t I. The initial problem for me is that I didn’t have any equipment or spare money to buy any equipment.

The very first piece of equipment that I did purchased was a Victorinox Huntsman Swiss Army Knife. The reason i chose this model was because it came with a saw blade and scissors and tweezers plus two cutting blades and a range of other tools, plus it was relatively cheap. I found the saw to be quite decent at cutting through smallish pieces of wood and the tweezers are ideal for removing splinters and thorns from fingers and hands. The knife blades on the Victorinox Huntsman came razor sharp and while they are thin they are useful for shaving wood and cutting string and cordage.

The Swiss Army knife is one of the very few knives that it is legal to carry in the UK so it’s a very handy knife to keep in your jacket pocket as an emergency backup. I have been using my Victorinox Huntsman for years know and it is still as good as new and as sharp as the day I got it.

When I go wild camping this is the only knife I take and it has saved me on more than one occasion when I have had to make emergency guy lines, and once when a shoulder strap snapped on my backpack in the Lake District i had to cut slots in the pack to make a temporary strap repair, I would have been in trouble without this little knife.

Everyone that heads outdoors for Camping or Bushcraft should have a Swiss Army Knife as an emergency backup and I can highly recommend the Huntsman, it’s still one of my favorite knives and is much loved even though I now have a selection of hand made custom knives.

Have a look at the reviews for the Victorinox Huntsman Swiss Army Knife on Amazon and you will see that hundreds of other people also think this is a five star knife. If you are considering buying a Huntsman now is a great time as they are currently on sale so you can grab one for the same price I paid over five years ago.

Buy Victorinox Huntsman Swiss Army Knife

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Tried and Tested

Over the past few years I have continued to improve my outdoor equipment and as a result I have used a lot of different options. When I first started out I had very basic equipment and now I have finally acquired some of the best equipment available. In this section I will show some of the equipment that I highly recommend, equipment that has been tried and tested.

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Wild Camping Kit List

Oven the next few weeks I will be listing all the current kit I use for wild camping. It has taken me quite a few years to establish my kit so there is quite a lot of items to go through. I will be showing the tents I use, the sleeping mat I prefer and the my favorite sleeping bags which enable me to wild camp all year round. I will also show all the other pieces that I use including lighting, cooking, backpacks, boots and waterproof equipment that I use.

I do have different kit options for winter and summer camping but I will list all of what I use and explain when I prefer to use it and why. Stay tuned.

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Ray Mears Fundamental Bushcraft Course Review

Without spoiling the experience for anyone that is thinking of doing this course, I would like to give you an insight into the Woodlore Fundamentals Bushcraft course in Scotland that I attended in November 2016. This information is taken from memory and from notes that were taken during the course so the order may not be completely accurate.

We met at the Birnam Hotel in the small village of Dunkeld in Perthshire, Scotland on a Sunday evening. You can easily identify others that will be attending the course by their khaki and cammo  clothes. At about 5.30pm the guys from Woodlore drove up in their Saburu 4×4, they introduced themselves and advised us that we would need to drive to the course site about 3 miles away. Those that had traveled by train could jump in the 4×4 or with one of us that had driven.

We arrived at the site at 6pm and there was a parachute canopy suspended over a small fire with a metal tripod and a large kettle hanging on a chain. Around the fire were several logs that could be used for seating. Dan one of the course instructors advised that there was no taps or potable water and that we would need to purify all the water that we use. He pointed to two jerry cans and said we could use them to store purified water.

We were based on a private estate which lay within the Boreal Forest which is a huge area of forest in the northern hemisphere. The trees on the estate were mainly coniferous made up of Scots Pine, Larch and Spruce trees but there was also a wide selection of hardwoods including Beech, Horse Chestnut, Birch and Willow.

Monday

The next morning, Monday, at 8 am we met at the main camp after breakfast, which was provided. We were each given a Mora Robust knife and sheath, and a tool roll containing: flint and steel, ferrocerium rod, carving knives and a Laplander saw. We were given instruction in knife safety and basic cutting techniques. Soon after this we went for a walk down the track and were introduced to some plant and tree species and their uses. We were told their main identification features which I was busily trying to write down while also looking at the specimen.

In the afternoon we were put into two groups and shown how to build and emergency shelter from dead wood and other natural materials available in the forest. This took us most of the afternoon to complete. For the rest of the evening we were given various lectures and had food until about 9 pm when we were again given some free time.

Tuesday

We met up again at 8 am on Tuesday morning and were shown how to make feather sticks and how to light fire with a ferrocerium rod. We spent some time battoning wood and creating feather sticks. We were also shown other tinder’s we could find in the wild and how to prepare them and dry them.

After lunch on Tuesday we were each given a Tarp and showed how to set it up and which knots to use etc. We spent quite a bit of time learning the knots and setting up the tarps correctly, we were a;so shown how to make pegs for the guy lines. Later that evening we were asked if we would spend the night under our tarps, it wasn’t compulsory to do so but I was quite used to sleeping under a tarp so me and another lad set out into the Forrest to find a suitably flat location. We spent the night under out tarp’s and enjoyed hearing the stag Deer’s barking as it was the rutting season.

Wednesday

On Wednesday morning we were back at the main camp and were taken on a walk to an open area where we learned about natural navigation and using a watch as a compass and other interesting techniques. On the way back to camp we stopped and collected red nettle stems, we needed to collect about 10 – 15 stems each at the end of the exercise my hands were numb with nettle stings.

On Wednesday afternoon we were shown how to process the nettle stems into cordage which was done with numb fingers. We were also shown the first stages of spoon carving and we had to go out and select a suitable piece of dead wood and to start creating my first spoon. The instructors had told us that we should always try to keep busy, there should be no point when you have nothing to do and this was quite tough for me at first.

Thursday

Thursday is when things started to really tough, the estate ghillie had needed to shoot a deer that had been knocked down on the road so he though it would be a good opportunity to show us how to process the deer for food etc. He also had a bunch of Mountain Hares which he had caught and showed us how to skin and process those. He gave us one between two and we had to skin and get the meat cleaned ready for cooking. We discovered later that we would not be getting any food provided except for the hare meat and that we would need to cook it ourselves. We also discovered that we would need to forage for food and try and catch our dinner from the lake as it would also not be provided. We were shown how to make bannock a simple leavened bread and were given the ingredients to make our own.

We spent the rest of the day fishing and foraging. We managed to catch a trout and we were given some dry rice. Our dinner was boiled rice and trout which we cooked on a small fire and some bannock which we had made. Thursday was quite a difficult day and was tiring but very rewarding.

Friday

On Friday morning we learned about trapping and tracking, we spent some time looking for rabbit and hare tracks and other animal tracks and then we came back to camp and learned how to make snares and the laws around snaring in the UK.

In the afternoon we spent most of the time trying to make fire with a bow drill which we had made from scratch. At first we tried to get fire in pairs and once we had done this we tried individually. I found it very rewarding to get fire using this method but it is not an easy process and requires considerable practice. We also continued to work on our spoons and were shown the steps required to finish it off. We were shown how to carve fishing hooks bind the pieces together with processed spruce roots which we also had to find.

Saturday

Saturday morning was spent tidying up the camp and making sure everything was ready for the next group which would arrive the next day, we had to dismantle our shelters, take down our tarps, hand in out tool rolls and tidy up any fires that we had made. We also had to pack our tents and equipment. Later in the afternoon we were awarded our certificates and lead back to our cars.

 Feedback

The course is quite expensive at £650 for the week, but I would say that it is excellent value for money. This course is not a holiday, it is designed to push you and to put you under pressure. It was hard work and being on the go almost non-stop from 6.30 am to 9 pm ever day is quite demanding. There are lots of things that I have not mentioned, I have only covered the main areas of the course, but it should be enough to give you a flavor of the course.

The instructors Dan, Keith and Dave are very knowledgeable and have lots of real world experience, they are also very skillful and make difficult tasks look easy. However, they are very understanding, helpful and approachable.

Advice

If you are planning to do this course there are some pointers that will help you get the most from it:

  1. Learn some basic tree and plant identification before you go
  2. Practice carving with a Bushcraft style knife, spoon carving, feather sticks – it takes along time to build the required strength in the hands to be able to carve and cut effectively with a knife
  3. Buy a copy of Ray Mears Essential Bushcraft and practice some of the skills in the book. This course does not have any axe work so you do not need to practice that for this course.
  4. Keep everything you make on the course in a safe place, the instructors will ask to see everything that you have made at some point.
  5. Practice fire lighting with a ferrocerium rod in both dry and when it’s raining
  6. Try and get some practice with a bow drill, even if you don’t get fire the practice will help.

It was obvious that some people on the course had prior knowledge of what was expected and had practiced those skills so I would recommend doing the same.

If you have an interest in Bushcraft or Survival  this course is a must.

More information about the course can be found on Ray’s website at:
https://www.raymears.com/Bushcraft_Course/Week/Fundamental_Bushcraft_Lochside/

 

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Ray Mears Woodlore Fundamental Bushcraft Lochside Scotland

It is now confirmed that I will be attending the Woodlore Fundamentals Course in Lochside, Perthshire, Scotland in the Autumn of this year (2016). This is the first Fundamental Bushcraft course that Woodlore have run at Lockside so it will be a great adventure for all those attending.

The course lasts for seven days and involves many aspects of woodland survival such as, wild foot, tracking, trapping, foot preparation and cooking. In addition to this there will be instruction in knife use and carving plus shelter building plus a wide variety of other Bushcraft skills.

It will be a very interesting experience and I hope to come away from the course with a lot of new skills and knowledge plus a better understanding of woodland survival, and a stronger connection with nature. I have not camped in a woodland for more than a couple of nights so a full week of camping will hopefully help me me feel much more at home in that environment.

There will also be a wide variety of wildlife to observe including Roe and Red Deer, Otters, Badgers, Foxes and Ospreys. Hopefully I will be able to capture some of these in photographs to share with you on my blog.

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Green Bothy, Kielder

I’ve watched a lot of videos on YouTube about people staying in Bothies but I had not stayed in one myself, so I thought it was about time that I did, the Bothy that I chose for my first stay was Green Bothy in Kielder.

A Bothy is a building that is made available for people to stay overnight, usually free of charge. Bothies are most often maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association. You can join the Mountain Bothies Association for a small fee and the money goes towards the upkeep of Bothies.

I had asked a friend of mine (Mick) if he wanted to come along for a trip to Green Bothy in Kielder and he said he would, so I planned the route we would take from a small village called Stonehaugh. As usual I used OS Maps to plan the route and then downloaded the route into my phone.

GreenBothy

Route to Green Bothy

I had arranged to meet Mick at 2 pm but I got a text from Mick saying he was going to be late and he would meet me at the Bothy, so I set off on my own. It was about 4.5 miles to walk from Stonehaugh to Green Bothy.

It was about a two hour walk to get to Green Bothy, a lot of the route was up hill and there were some quite steep sections. The scenery on the way there was beautiful and there was a beautiful fragrance from the pine trees.

Once I got there I had a quick look around and then started unpacking my bag, There were three rooms which were available for people to sleep in, each with a raised platform. I setup my sleeping mat in the main room where there was a log burning stove. Mick Arived a couple of hours later and picked the room just off the main room.

One we got settled in we got the log burning stove lit and cot some extra fire wood, we sat around the stove and discussed our adventures and shared knowledge. Mick has an excellent YouTube Channel and would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the outdoors: 12thSagitarrian YouTube Channel

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Camping Equipment

Taking the correct camping equipment is essential for a good camping experience. If you are new to camping or have not been camping for quite a while it is not easy deciding what

Camping Equipment - Tent

Camping Equipment – Tent

camping equipment you need to take. The camping equipment that you will require depends on a number of factors, including; Considerations for children, amenities available at the camp site and how long you will be camping for. In this article I will provide a list of basic items that you will need, you may need to add additional items or multiply the items by how many people will be going on the camping trip.

Camping Equipment Checklist

– Tent Family/Backpacking.
– Camping Mats Family/Backpacking.
– Water Bottle Family/Backpacking.
– Table Family/Backpacking.
– Chair Family/Backpacking.
– Stove Family/Backpacking.
– Fuel for Stove
– Food  (Breakfast, Lunch and Evening Meal plus Snacks)
– Wash Kit.
– Plates, Knives, Forks, Spoons, Kettle, Pans, Cups, Chopping Board and Sharp knife.
– Towels, Dishcloth, Washing up liquid.
– Tea, Coffee, Sugar and Milk.
– Sleeping Bag (Must be warm enough for camping conditions).
– Waterproof Clothing.
– Hat
– A Change of Clothing.
– Bedtime Clothing.
– Warm Clothing and Footwear (It can sometimes be wet and muddy).
– Lamp, Torches (Head torches are useful) Family/Backpacking.
– First Aid Kit.
– Batteries and Chargers for phones and torches.
– Games (Useful if children are camping).
– Books.
– Plastic Bowls (For washing dishes etc.).
– Plastic Bucket or Portable Toilet.
– Toilet Paper.
– Hand Wipes , Hand Wash.
– Sanitary Items.
– Toothbrush and Toothpaste.
– Backpacks.
– Maps and Compass, GPS.
– Sunscreen.
– Insect Repellent.

New camping equipment can be quite expensive and sometimes you can pick up a bargain and find some excellent Used Camping Equipment

I hope this camping essentials checklist helps you decide what you need to take on your next camping trip. Camping is a wonderful experience especially for children and I am sure the experiences they have will stick with them throughout the whole of their lives as it has done for me.

Some of the items in the list may not be suitable of you are a backpacker camping on your own but I have tried to provide a reasonable basic list of camping equipment requirements that will help a family going on a camping holiday.

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Harrop Tarn, Lake District Wild Camp

Earlier this year, I decided it was time to visit the Lake District in Cumbria, UK. I had been thinking about going for quite a while but had been waiting for the weather to improve. The forecast for the coming week was clear and sunny so I packed my kit and set off. The place I had chosen for my wild camp was called Harrop Tarn. A tarn is a body of water left over from the ice age, in the case of Harrop Tarn it is quite small compared to some of the other tarns in the Lake District.
Thirlmere
When I arrived at Thirlmere, the large man made reservoir which is the starting point of my climb to Harrop Tarn, I discovered that the road down to the chosen car park was closed. I would need to park my car at the Thirlmere Damn and walk the 4.5 miles to the car park where the ascent to Harrop Tarn begins. I was pleased that I had packed plenty of additional water as it was a hot and sunny day.
ThirlmereI set off on my walk at about 1 pm and it took me about 2 hours to get to the car park, I had stopped several times to take photographs of beautiful Thirlmere and to just take some water on board, I was aware that dehydration was a real possibility in the heat of the sun.

I arrived at Dobgill Car Park at about 3 pm, the trail to Harrop Tarn is signposted from the car park. The trail is quite steep and winds its way up past a small waterfall, the trail has in the past had some work done on it with stone laid along the route but it didn’t appear to have had any maintenance for some time, some of the stones were loose and required careful consideration. This walk would be quite tricky in wet conditions as the stones were quite slippery even in the dry. It is not a long walk and you are soon rewarded with the stunning view of Harrop Tarn. The tarn lies in a high corrie and is surrounded by impressive crags which provide a great deal of shelter, particularly from westerly or northerly wind, with coniferous woodlands almost completely surrounding the tarn.

It didn’t take me long to find a suitable spot for my tent, it was just on the tree line and was completely flat. this was quite a surprise as most of the grass surrounding the tarn was thick sedge and was marshy underfoot. By the time I got setup it was almost 5 pm and it was time for a sit down and a hot drink. It was extremely peaceful with not another person for miles and only the sound of the wind swishing through the trees to keep me comfortable. There were a lot of deer tracks but I wasn’t lucky enough to see any while I was sitting enjoying the ancient landscape.

A few hours later, after some food, the sun was starting to disappear behind the crags, it didn’t take long for the darkness to sweep over the tarn giving it a completely different atmosphere under the streaming silver light of the moon. It wasn’t long before I was asleep.

The morning was bright and sunny and the crags shone with a golden hue as the sun moved across their rough surface. I packed up my equipment and checked that I had not Harrop Tarnleft anything behind. I quickly found the trail head and started to descend, looking down towards the car park I was overjoyed to see a couple of Roe Deer just standing there grazing on foliage. They eventually noticed me and started to wander into the deeper cover, but not before I had managed to capture them on video.

I eventually got back to DobGill Car Park and set off on the 4.5 mile walk back along the road running beside Lake Thirlmere. A couple of hours later I was back at my car.

Kit List for This Trip
Lowe Alpine  Airzone Trek + 55-65
Luxe Hex Peak V4
Thermarest NeoAir All Season
Kathmandu Columbus Down Sleeping Bag
Alite Mayfly Chair
Alpkit Bruler Stove
Alpkit Splitta Table
Luxe Single Groundsheet
Alpkit MyTi Mug
Adventure Food Pasta Ai Funghi

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Deadwater Fell, Kielder, UK – Snowy Solo Wild Camp

Deadwater Fell is located at the north or Kielder Reservoir at an altitude of 1873 feet. My walk to Deadwater Fell began at Kielder Village near the library.

The start of the walk takes you past Kielder Castle and visitor centre which is open seasonally between March and September.  There is also a cafe and public toilets, that cafe is open between 9am and 5.30pm.

If you are planing on doing the Deadwater Fell trail for the first time it is advisable to take a GPS and mapmap your route before hand or go with someone who has done the walk before. The route is marked with a red arrow but there are many crossing paths at Kielder and it is quite easy to take a wrong route.

Deadwater Fell is a moderate walk and walking boot are advisable as the terrain is varying. The temperature can vary greatly from down in the village to up on the top of the fell so it is advisable to take warm clothes, even in the summer the fell can be cold with strong winds. The last section of the trail is quite steep and has loose stone surface, this is designed for mountain bikes to descend form the summit. If mountain bikers are around it is advisable to take the spiraling longer route around the back of the summit   Please leave plenty of time to make your trip, if you are planning to walk there and back in the same day it could take a considerable amount of time, the distance is about 8 miles round trip and naturally it’s mostly up hill on the way there,  in some places it is quite steep walking. You do NOT want to walking in the dark. It took me over 2 .5 hours to walk there and just under 2 hours to walk back.

My first trip to Deadwater Fell was in mid April and I wanted to stay the night on the fell to see the legendary sunrise. I knew it was going to be cold so I was well prepared. I had two sleeping bags which were nested together for additional warmth and also a bivvy bag to prevent the sleeping bags from getting wet.  I knew there was a kind of shelter that I could use to get out of the wind so I didn’t take a tent. The temperature dropped to around minus 6 centigrade and the wind added a lot of wind chill. I would not recommend trying to camp out in these temperatures  unless you have the right equipment for cold weather and are experienced in cold weather camping.

Check out the videos below to see how I got on…

Please watch Part 2 to see the awesome sunrise and views from Deadwater…

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