Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Unboxing: The DD Frontline Hammock Review

900g and fairly small although it can easily be modified to be smaller and lighter

I first slept in a hammock about 25 years ago [so no one could accuse me of rushing into this] and everyone I've ever known who has one rates them over a tent any time. As usual I started researching the options online and realised that by getting a hammock and tarp, I was basically getting a rig I could use as an ultralight tent too, with just the addition of a pair of hiking poles. I've already got a tent I really like (cheers BoB) but while it's not the lightest by today's standards it's too good to chop in. While sleeping under a tarp is fine most of the time, when you want a built in mosquito net you REALLY want a mosquito net. So after a scout around I settled on the DD, I chose the Frontline model. Here's for why:
1.Cheapness: at £50 they are really good value, quite a bit cheaper than the alternatives and DD were kind enough to do me a deal on a group buy which made it a no-brainer
2. Lightness: They also make a waterproofed version that's a little heavier, but as an old fart when I sleep on the ground I sleep on a mat so I wasn't that fussed and went for the slightly lighter 'frontline' version.
3. Delivery time: I thought I needed it in double quick time (sadly plans for winter camping got kiboshed) FYI-I've read a few reviews from US buyers who got their's shipped within a week and if you're ordering a whole set up they send them Fed-Ex which is only 2 days.
4. Pablo's recommendation: you can see his video here, he's had one for ages, has tried most of the other brands, and swears by it. Good fella that Pablo and a serious kit-tart
5. Nick and Penny are well travelled outdoors people, they sell a product that does what is says on the tin at  a price they can only do by being online only. They might not be your, or my, neighbours in a geographical sense but they are in every other way.

DD supply the hammock in the simplest possible configuration, if you want to get all gadget-tastic and pimp it to your spec you can, or you can just take it out of the bag, tie it to a pair of trees and you're good to go.

Straight out of the bag it's obviously very well made, all the stitching is strong and the built in mosquito netting feels like it's going to last. The webbing that you tie around the trees to hold it up seems easily adequate to tow a small car with, and the zips are reassuringly robust. It's going to stay up all night and last and last. [That's what she said]

You and I might have imagined a hammock to be a simple device, you know, an old sheet of cloth and some string, right? No. Oh no. Its just not that simple, or rather it is, but only making/buying cool little gizmos that we can we reveal it's true simplicity. Sounding a lot like a kit-tarts dream come true, no? If you want to know more about the myriad ways the design can be tweaked
have a look on to be truly astounded at the gadgeteers and their inventiveness.

There is usually a group buy on BCUK so you too can save a few quid.

So that's the unboxing over, I'm still tinkering with my set up - and choosing accessories, so you'll have to wait for the field test.

Your Pal

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Deer Hunting In The UK Pt6

Zombie Jesus weekend dawned warm and dry and with it our last chance to hunt Fallow bucks this season. I'd finished [for the time being] the works on the Ex Mrs SBW's house, so I seized the chance to get out of town and hooked up with The Bambi Basher for another trip to Jinx Wood. 

The entry point to Jinx wood is very convenient, you can park at the farm house and usually stop for a chat with the couple who own most of the wood and then walk into the wood over a meadow or up a bridle way depending on the prevailing wind. Prevailing! Prevailing my arse. This time the wind was more changeable than bank-holiday-weekend train timetable, it blew hither, it blew thither, we stalked into it, only to have it change round and announce our arrival.

Bluebells were out in force, but the ground was bone dry and we crunched our way into the woods for an afternoon stalk. A mile or so away some kind of super pneumatic excavator had thoughtfully been laid on to drown out the worst of it, but it wasn't our sneakiest hour by a long way. I was once again the winner of 'biggest stick' this time by sitting on a hurdle made of 4 inch thick telegraph poles, how was I to know it was going to make that much noise?

We saw movement in the thick stuff several times, but nothing daft enough to confirm itself as a deer.

Still that's why it's called Hunting rather than Shopping or Killing, and that's why it's called Jinx wood.

More soon
your pal

Kifaru And Mora

One of those Kit Tart's 'gear shots' we like so much. Sad isn't it.

I saw this sentiment on a forum the other day and thought that sometimes sitting in front of the laptop chatting with other kit tarts actually does do some good, and of course it enabled me to bask in the smug glow of I-told-you-so.

"When I first got into bushcraft I bought a £300 knife and had a £50 pack, now I've got a £300 pack and £10 knife"

If this doesn't make sense to you, perhaps best not stray too far from the car.

More sad kit-tartism and occasional outbursts of yer actual kit-usage to follow

PS I also saw this one "Please, no bad mouthing the next guy's pack, it's like badmouthing his GF. I'm sure it's perfectly fine, unless you have to carry it."

Sunday, 24 April 2011

It Is One More Word Uttered By Nature

“For some people, perhaps especially for Englishmen and Russians, what we call “the love of nature” is a permanent and serious sentiment. I mean here that love of nature which cannot be adequately classified as simply an instance of our love for beauty. Of course, many natural objects – trees, flowers, and animals – are beautiful. But the nature lovers whom I have in mind are not very much concerned with individual beautiful objects of that sort. The man who is distracts them. An enthusiastic botanist is for them a dreadful companion on a ramble. He is always stopping to draw their attention to particulars. Nor are they looking for “views” or landscapes. Wordsworth, their spokesman, strongly deprecates this. It leads to “a comparison of scene with scene,” makes you “pamper” yourself with “meager novelties of color and proportion.” While you are busying yourself with this critical and discriminating activity, you lose what really matters – the “moods of time and season,” the “spirit” of the place. And, of course, Wordsworth is right. That is why, if you love nature in his fashion, a landscape painter is (out of doors) an even worse companion than a botanist.

It is the “moods” or the “spirit” that matter. Nature lovers want to receive as fully as possible whatever nature, at each particular time and place, is, so to speak, saying. The obvious richness, grace, and harmony of some scenes are no more precious to them than the grimness, bleakness, terror, monotony, or “visionary dreariness” of others. The featureless itself gets from them a willing response. It is one more word uttered by nature. They lay themselves bare to the sheer quality of every countryside, every hour of the day. They want to absorb it into themselves, to be colored through and through by it.”

CS Lewis
Hat tip to Wandering Owl who found this.

Off to the milds of East Sussex in search of Roe Bucks and Muntjac (don't you wish you had our interlocking deer seasons?)
More soon

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Weather - You Predict It

Here's a thought:
The last two summers have been very wet, and the last two springs have seen HOOJ amounts of frog spawn in the Ex Mrs SBW's pond - this year not a lot, still tadpoles, but not as many.
In for a hot one? Hmm we'll see?


Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Yea Mini Crossbow!

Border line filler post I know but ..............

Do you remember the Mini-Cannon (Part1 and Part 2)?

The same dude is back with MINI CROSSBOW!!!!!! Perfect for mouse hunting.

Warning: the sound track is the worst kind of euro techno, but I have to forgive him because of his outstanding commitment to pocket weaponry. Literally Outstanding!

More safari stories from East Sussex in the offing.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Skinny On .50cal Pistol Shooting

During one of his rare periods of productive employment SBW used Blogger's 'post options' function to continue with his 'filler posts' series, justifying this example he was quoted as saying
 'when it happened to me you all laughed'. 
Regular readers decided to persevere in the hope that he'll start posting actual blog posts rather than relying on silly videos to fill in for his lack of blogging productivity. Rumours that the readership are better looking, cleverer, and more charming than he deserved were well founded.

More soon

Credit to Funny Videos

Friday, 15 April 2011

Kifaru Regulator Sleeping Bag Guest Review

Well folks something special for you this time. Very Special.

Long-time commenter Goofy Girl has taken a break from organising play-dates and tidying her house to put together this review of the Kifaru Regulator Sleeping Bag which is wending it's way towards me. She said she was going to do a guest review  - you've got to hand it to her, this is probably the best sleeping bag review on the web.

More soon

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Tales Of A London Poacher Book Review

Here in old Blighty the term 'poacher' is loaded with very different resonance's to the US of A, here there is a long tradition of the peasant taking a few of the land owners animals for the pot, and the poacher is a kind of rural anti-hero specialising in hunting with extreme stealth.

I slowly, very slowly slid my gun into position, eased off the safety, took aim and fired! 'Crack!' went the gun and 'Daylight!' went the scene as lights came on in three different positions. 'Police!' Whether it was just a fluke, a coincidence, or whether I had become too much a creature of habit and had gone over there too often on the same night of the week I will never know, but what I did know was that these coppers' meant business and had been in wait for me and the chase was now on!

Tales Of A London Poacher is a fantastic set of tales - transplanted from the rural setting of most poachers tales, to the outlying London suburbs in the early 60's. I met up with Cleve and over a couple of pints he regaled me with tales his life afield, from his initiation into field craft and hunting as a young lad in the early 60's. Cleve's book is set in a time before firearms hysteria, when two teenagers walking into a suburban cafe with their shotguns was perfectly normal and no one batted an eyelid or called the armed response unit. A time where the checks and balances of the boys respect for the water-board guy were enough to limit their hunting to unobtrusive, and as long as it stayed that way the water board guy never ran too fast to catch them.

Hunting on the reservoirs of east london with an air rifle and later an Anschutz  'garden gun' [which is basically a very small shot gun for pest control without perforated cabbages], he learns his chops from the older brother of a girl he was at school with having already honed his marksmanship from the age of eight as a professional snail hunter - ridding his dads vegetable patch of the evil curse of the Helix Jardiniere. 

What comes alive in the book is Cleve's passion for wild places, even if those wild places are little pocket of land surrounded by the city. He's also a bit of a Hugh Fearlessly-Eats-it-All introducing dozens of people to the delights of eating wild game. Sometimes with hilarious results.

Could this be The Real Suburban Bushwhacker?

You can see his site HERE and then buy his book HERE

More soon

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Unboxing: Sigg Flask Review

Trad Sigg on the left - New insulated Sigg on the right 
[but you've probably worked that out]

Despite my ambivalence about their durability, the iconic Sigg bottle has always been part of my kit - abet a severely dented part of my kit. I still store fuel in one that belonged to BoB that must be twenty years old but due to crumpling, I'd sworn I'd never buy another. Times change and now they've brought out a double walled stainless steel version I thought I'd revisit the brand. Nothing like being COB when afield [Coffee on board].

First impressions:
That same iconic shape
Quite heavy
Feels like it'll last a lot longer than the aluminium classics
Being stainless steel it might not take on the flavour of the last drink you had in it

I'll be revisiting this one in the next few weeks for a true test of the company's claim that it keeps drinks hot for two hours and cold for four. We'll see.

your pal

Friday, 8 April 2011

Some Consideration For The Lobster

From an amazing piece about David Foster Wallace's visit to the Maine Lobster Festival, where he chews over PETA's role in publicising the festival, the misconceptions about a lobsters experience of pain, the rules concerning feeding lobster to inmates, and the ethics of that pot of boiling water. Consider the Lobster
Well worth a read
More soon

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Unboxing: Byrd Wings Slipit Knife Review

Serrated or not s'rated?
I got this one in a trade a while back and I really like it, not too expensive, bastard-sharp out of the box, and  a handy EDC size. Not the premium knife of the enthusiast, but for the money great value. If you need your EDC to cut a lot of man-made materials i.e nautical or climbing rope, the serrated blade comes into it's own, saving the straight edge for finer work.

More soon

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

You know that 'next blog' button?

You know that 'next blog' button? Well for the first time ever it just pointed me to a blog that was both of interest to me, and in a language I can read. I have read both the blog and the post before, but it's a start.

Four Seasons Of Bird Hunting is good too, this post Uncle Larry's Model 99 features a Firearm of Interest - that I'm guessing is pretty rare as it's the work of one 'smith. A Model 99 that's been re-barrelled to fire a.270 sitting in a .300 Savage case AKA the '.270 Titus'.

Putting riflery to one side - it's a great short-story featuring: the rifle, a mule deer, the author's dad, an uncle Larry and some very unobservant passers-by.

Coming to think about it all short-stories should have an Uncle Larry. Well worth a read.

More soon

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Libyan Storytelling

“Uncle Curly’s Junk: All For Sale.”
A bit off the beaten track of bushcraft, kit tart-ness, hunting, fishing and stuffing my face but I've just found an amazing voice, the blog Revolutionology: observations by a sociologist in Libya.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Bark River Knife and Tool Customer Service Review

From the first time I visited the Bark River Knife and Tool website I've wanted one of their knives. They do a massive range of styles, handled in a whole host of different materials, gorgeous woods and Micarta/G10's all beautifully photographed.

When The American Bushman first had his gear sale I bought a Micro Canadian II, a small fixed blade knife with a blade in the style of a 17th century surgeon's scalpel.
The blade dinged the first time I used it to sharpen a piece of Lailandaii, [I have heard other reports of the blade temper not being all it might be, but it may have been a batch  defect as there are a lot of very happy owners], the mosaic pins had been installed out of alignment, and the fit of the handle scales was less than perfect. Nice knife, but it looked as if it had been made on P.O.E.T.S day [Piss Off Early Tomorrow's Saturday].

The website offers this reassurance to perspective customers.

Lifetime Warranty All Bark River knives and axes are guaranteed against manufacturing defects for life. If you have any problem with our product, just return it to us and we will repair or replace it. If you would like us to refurbish or re-sharpen the product please enclose shipping and handling fees — $12 Lower 48 States, $25 Alaska, Hawaii and Canada, $30 All other Countries. Mutliple knives may add to charges.

Conspicuously it doesn't say anything about the time-frame over which this will take place.

I sent them my knife (from the USA) and the tracking note showed that they received it on the 9th of November 2010, having heard the sum total of NOTHING from them I called in the first week of January of this year and was told they'd be getting to it later that week and they would email or call me to discuss remedial works. No communication ever came.

Finally in the first week of MARCH my knife dropped on to the door mat, and yes they've made a great job of refurbishing it, it is really nicely done. I appreciate that no purist could countenance anything less than quarrying the metals for the pins with stone-age tools, it's just that I question the business case for growing each piece of hardwood to order.

My advice: if you see one of their knives you like, and it's finished to a standard your happy with, yeah buy it, they are very nice especially for the price, however I would strongly recommend not buying one online. You need to make sight of it before you buy it.

Sorry guys but the way I've been treated just isn't commensurate with the spirit of the offering to perspective customers.

Your pal

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Crap Outdoors Pt2

This is one of those ideas that seems to come around every few years;

'twas crap, 'tis crap, ever will it be crap.

Most disturbing is that this kind of product offers a false sense of preparedness to people who perhaps would be better advised not to stray too far from the car. If you bought it to keep dry sitting in the bleachers watching sports, yeah great idea, but then why the 'tent' bit? It doesn't look like a viable alternative to a proper jacket, a sleeping bag or a tent - which you could buy (not the best but you could) and have change from the $250. Crap.

This crap is everywhere, more soon
PS It seems I've been a little remiss: a measly thanks to Goofy Girl for sending me this video knowing I'd love it