Inspired by our bushcraft blog? Osprey has partnered with four wilderness-expert brands to offer the chance to win an awesome package of bushcraft kit so you can hone your own skills at home during lockdown. Here’s their top tips for the optimum use of the gear in the competition.
MSR: Build Your Shelter
For MSR, the key to wild camping, and the foundation of bushcraft, is shelter. Specifically, setting up your tarp to suit the environment (and the weather), ensuring it offers the best protection possible. Pitching your tarp in an “A” frame (with an added ground sheet or MSR Mesh House) can help keep heavy rain away from you and your kit. This also provides you with ample living space too! For added protection from the wind, lower your tarp on one side so it meets the ground, or the ground sheet. When setting up, knowing some basic knots can also help and means you can configure and release your tarp with ease.
If you’re looking to save space and weight on your trip, we suggest leaving pegs and stakes at home, and opting for surrounding sticks or wood instead. You can even choose a large branch or stick to help pitch your Mesh House, rather than using a trekking pole. But remember to stay away from wood that sparks, like spruce! And as always, leave your surroundings as you found them when you leave.
Drytech, Real Outdoor Food: Eat Well To Perform Well
In the wilderness time efficiency is important. Consuming a hot meal as soon as possible after a long hike ensures recoverability well ahead of the next day and, often more importantly, boosts morale. Our most straightforward tip would be to start boiling water and preparing the freeze-dried meal as soon as you arrive at the place you want to stay, before you make the shelter for the night. In this way, the time will work in your favour, the freeze-dried meal is ready to eat when you are finished with your other tasks, and you ensure the process of re-hydration is complete.
We also always recommend having an emergency meal in your backpack for your trip. Real Turmat meals are light weight and take very little space due to their vacuum packaging and freeze-dried nature.
If a situation arises where you do not have the opportunity to heat water, use cold water in the pouch three to four hours before you are planning to eat the meal. In this way you ensure some re-hydration of the meal. In a survival situation like this, we also recommend to save the main meal to the evening before you go to sleep. Then body will benefit from the intake of balanced nutrients, with time to digest the meal while sleeping.
ESEE Knives: Feather Sticks and an Introduction to the Tools
Whether day hiking, back packing, spending a day on rope or in water a dependable fixed blade knife is a key piece of gear. More than a item of convenience, a sharp blade is a vital piece of survival gear should your day long adventure turn sporty.
A great place to start with your knife is something simple such as feather sticks. Feather sticks, thin shavings of sticks from your surroundings, are an excellent way to support your fire starting. With your knife take a stick (stripped of bark) and shave with the grain and away from your body. Leave the ‘feathers’ of kindling attached to the stick so that it can be placed in a fire.
When it comes to wilderness chores, sometimes simple and straightforward is the best approach. The ESEE Camp-Lore PR4 is Patrick Rollins’ take on Horace Kephart’s classic design. The original prototype was made by James Gibson and tested extensively by Patrick during survival classes, off-trail backpacking, hiking and camping.
The made in the U.S.A. Gibson Axe was designed by James Gibson as a small, compact axe that will easily fit in a backpack. Gibson’s stated goal was a comfortable using tool that could do most camp chores, as well as being used as a carving axe. The Viking bearded head allows for close up work and the finger grooves / textured scales along with the swell on the end provides an excellent gripping surface when chopping. The 1095 high carbon steel frame is about as indestructible as you can get for an axe this size.
Kupilka: Fire with the Modern Fire Steel
When you think about bushcraft, one of the most essential skills is making a fire. As with our hunter-gatherer ancestors, fire still keeps us warm, cooks our food and keeps predators at bay.
One of the easiest ways to make a fire without matches or a lighter, is to use a fire striker. This simple tool, used since the invention of iron, consists of an iron rod and a flint used to strike against it, in order to create the sparks.
A great tip if you want to position all the sparks in a small single location is to use the firesteel for scraping and not the supplied scraper or your knife. Pull the firesteel along the scraper or knife, this results in many sparks being directed in one place.
The Kupilka Fire Steel 8 is made in Finland and it won both the ISPO and SOG Awards in 2019. Thanks to the ferrocerium rod, the Firesteel 8 will produce big sparks up to 3000 degrees C, even in wet conditions. The ample thickness of the rod translates to long lifespan of up to several thousand strikes.
The handle is constructed of Kupilka´s own Kareline® biomaterial, making it light yet strong. Thanks to its ergonomic shape, it has an excellent grip and it can be used even with your gloves on.
The striker itself is a byproduct of the Finnish steel industry, and the reindeer leather cord that comes with the package is ethically produced, making the FireSteel 8 also a sustainable choice.