Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Cut Above

A few weeks ago while out in the bush processing some Fatwood I realized that my small personal draw saw and my Hultafors Classic Axe just weren't the best tools for the job. 

The folding draw saw is great for small limbs and more precise work. It's lightweight and pack ability make it a great tool for almost every job. However, processing larger limbs which are infused with high amounts of resin tend to slow the process dramatically. 

Although my Hultafors Axe is an amazing tool for felling, limbing, splitting and finer bushcraft skills it's not the best choice for a job that often requires climbing to access the Fatwood shoulder. 

What I needed was an aggressive cutting tool which was lightweight, portable, packable and was efficient to use.  

Recently I had spent an evening watching videos produced by bushcraft icon Ray Mears. I remembered that while Mr. Mears had been paddling in Ontario he had used a collapsible bow saw to harvest the materials necessary to carve his canoe paddle. 

So, with an idea in my mind and a plan in place I set out to create a similar collapsible bow saw. A few days later I travelled back into the bush with my new saw in hand. Made from Canadian Western Red Cedar the saw was extremely lightweight and incredibly efficient to use. 

With an aggressive tooth design the 21" blade made quick work of the material allowing me to cut, collect and carry on with minimal energy spent. This saw has now become a welcomed addition to my bush pack. 








Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Practice provides Knowledge

The old saying that practice makes perfect is a great teaching methodology. However, any good sporting coaching will quickly correct that by stating that practice doesn't make perfect - rather perfect practice makes perfect. 

Whether involved in the pursuit of bushcraft skills or the skills necessary for survival in the harsh Canadian wilderness the principles are the same.  Skills are the ability to take your knowledge and abilities and apply them to a task successfully. Therefor knowledge is so very important in the equation. 

In my journey through bushcraft I gain knowledge and wisdom from so many different places. Most importantly I gain it through my practice with different materials, in different conditions and with different tools. With each new day I look to challenge myself. I look to learn from my failures. 

It is from the failures that we will gain knowledge and experience so very crucial to our very survival. 

Whether experiencing different shelter designs, using different bow drill materials, attempting to use primitive trapping methods or simply by using different tools, stepping outside of that comfort zone will undoubtedly open your eyes to the world around you. 

This winter has been a wonderfully long one which has provided hundreds of hours of dirt time to teach, to learn, to practice and most importantly it has provided me with a deeper connection to the materials which surround me. 

As winter turns quickly to spring take the time to explore and to practice your skills. That practice will give you knowledge you don't currently have. 

It's the journey not the destination that matters. 






Thursday, February 26, 2015

My Bush Pack

During a recent course I was instructing on one of the students pointed out that everywhere I went I carried a backpack. Several of them joked about what they might find if they looked inside. Some of the ideas were incredibly entertaining. 

After some ribbing and a reminder from me about how I was in charge of their level of suffering over the next 8 days they got serious and asked what I carried. 

"It's my bush pack. It goes everywhere I go. When I leave the pavement and venture into the bush it comes with me. Like a good friend - it's always there when I need it". 

With their attention I continued by speaking of the 5 'C's' of Survival. You can never know when you'll find yourself in a survival emergency so you must be armed with the knowledge, skills, abilities and the tools to get to work. 

The 5 'C's' of Survival

1.  Combustion
2.  Cutting tool
3.  Cordage
4.  Container
5.  Cover

I explained my firm belief based upon years of experience that if you possess these items and some general bushcraft knowledge you can survive and seek rescue from your emergency situation. 

With experience comes the knowledge that often times thing break, malfunction or fail to work in less than optimal conditions such as winter. So often I carry several of each of the 5 'C's'. Make no mistake, you can carry a rucksack with 40-60lbs of kit into the bush however it's not practical. Therefor your pack must be light enough to forget its on your back while containing all the items necessary to put your knowledge and skills to work. 

As the students nodded in agreement with my principles I took the items out and laid them out for display. They are self explanatory. With this pack and my skills I know I can survive or self sustain long enough to allow weather to pass or until rescue comes to find my team. 

Never underestimate the importance of carrying a small bag containing your 5 'C's'. 





Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mora Bushcraft Survival Knife

After recently testing the Light My Fire - Fire Knife I was pleasantly surprised by the high quality Mora blade. Although I don't carry knives that are not capable of survival tasks I was happy with its bushcraft capability and integrated fire steel. 

I spent a little time navigating the web researching the Mora product lines. I've always used, promoted and reviewed the ESEE line of survival knives. However, I came across the Mora Bushcraft Survival Knife and thought it was well worth the test. 

With the sun shining and the thermometer hovering around -15 degrees I took the dogs and new knife out to the cabin for some outdoor enjoyment. 

The Mora Bushcraft Survival Knife is a combination setup which includes the knife, robust sheath, diamond sharpener on the sheath as well as a ferro rod attached to the sheath. The blade appeared thick enough to split wood yet sharp enough to create feather sticks.  The back side of the blade is designed specifically to work with the attached ferro rod. 

We've always tested survival knives to ensure they were capable of completing tasks and withstanding the abuse necessary to yield confidence. 

Today I used the Mora Bushcraft Survival Knife to split firewood, create feather sticks, create a bow drill set, open a can of stew, scrape the bark of a cedar and light a fire. The rubberized handle made the knife comfortable and slip resistant. The blade took a beating with the baton to split the wood. The knife was robust yet light enough to reduce fatigue. The blade maintained a razor sharpness after splitting wood to allow me to transition right to making feather sticks.  The ferro rod produced ample sparks to light cedar shavings and birch bark. 

After the day in the bush spent testing this knife and ferro rod I can confidently state that this has replaced my ESEE blades as my EDC survival knife. 











Saturday, January 24, 2015

Survival Fire Starters

A few years back while working with a fellow survival instructor to setup an element of a course we took a break to start a fire and make a bush coffee. 

As I started collecting materials it was obvious that everything was wet from the recent weather. While piling our supplies my fellow instructor setup up the tinder in preparation for ignition. That's when he pulled a small candle looking item from his pack. 

As he lit the item I watched as it produced a large thick flame that seem to last forever. This flame lasted long enough to ignite not only the tinder but the thicker twigs as well. 

As we tended the fire and brewed our coffee we discussed fire starting, adverse conditions and survival products. I was so impressed with the simplicity, ease of use, natural materials and confidence this Survival Candle provided in adverse conditions. 

While preparing for our upcoming course I decided to make a few of these beauties for the students to carry and use. 

Ingredients:


  • Paraffin wax
  • Birch Bark
  • Jute Twine
  • Wood pieces
I've heard of endless production methods with specialty items and wicks but I prefer simple ingredients to produce a max flame. I don't want a small candle wick flame. I want a fire !!







Friday, January 16, 2015

Light My Fire - Fire Knife

After the surprising results of the Tinder on a Rope evaluation I was eager to see if Light My Fire was for real. There is no doubt that Light My Fire is a very successful product designer and manufacturer of camping use gear. However, this success rarely translates into the type of equipment which can be trusted in a survival emergency.

I decided to purchase and test the Light My Fire - Fire Knife. The product is a unique combo containing a Mora knife with an integrated Light My Fire Scout Fire Steel built into the handle. There are numerous YouTube reviews showing the product and how to use it. So rather than produce a similar video I decided to just list the Pros and Cons of the product from a survival perspective.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Mora quality blade
  • Rubberized sure grip handle
  • Simple yet functional resin sheath
  • High quality Scout Fire Steel
  • Excellent spark production
Cons
  • Not robust enough to be a survival knife
  • Difficult to draw knife from sheath
This combo offers a great option as an everyday carry. Although I'm a huge believer in carrying a knife that can withstand countless blows while splitting wood I see the value in this piece of kit. 

Anytime you can reduce weight and the number of items you carry without reducing functionality of your kit than you've succeeded. I think this is a great piece of kit and suggest that if you're a camper, hiker or outdoor enthusiast this is a must have. 


Prepare Today ... Survive Tomorrow. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Show Us Your Fire Kit

With only 2 days left in our most recent poll I thought it would be a great idea for our followers to send us a picture of their fire kits. 

There is no one size fits all fire kit or survival kit. It's perfect if it works for you in the moment when you need it to work the most - when your life is on the line. 

The poll results are a great opportunity to discuss carry options with their pros and cons. 

Until then please lay out your kits, take a picture and send them to beyondthefire@bell.net.