fredag 22 juni 2018

Wooden packframe, improvements after 2 years of usage



It's soon been 2 years since I built the Wooden pack frame. We've since spent over 60 days on various trips and I've learned what works and what does not. I've made lots of changes since then which i want to share with all of you!

The lacing

The lacing was previously made by thin hemp cord. Both the joints and the netting. Over time the cord stretched slightly and became a bit loose. I've since changed all the lacing to rawhide which shrinks and gets tighter when it dries. I got the rawhide from dog chews. It's a simple process to soak them and cut along the edges to create a lace. For the joints I cut it to 4mm thick laces and stretched them as much as possible before tying. For the netting I cut 5-6mm wide lace which I only stretched a little. I did a so called babiche in the same pattern as the Huron canoe seats as described by Mike Elliott.

Close-up of lacing

Since rawhide gets wet and soggy from water it needs some treatment. The tradition one is to use varnish, Mike suggests spar varnish. Since I prefer not to use any chemicals I did a mix of equal parts boiled linseed oil and beeswax which I applied by hand. I've yet to try it in rain but it seems promising.

The gear tying

My old system of tying gear to the pack got a bit tedious after a while since I had long cords hanging and every time I removed something something else fell off. Also, the rope rings I'd made started falling apart after a while.
So I replaced the rope rings with metal rings, which are laced in place with rawhide. The ropes going through the rings are replaced with elastic cord. The only synthetic part of the frame. The cord is tied in each ring so it won't affect other parts when unfastened.

The buckles

The gear tying buckles (the crooked ones with holes) have worked amazingly well. One broke but I replaced it and it's been there since then.
The waist strap buckle was slipping, not staying tight, so I replaced it with a metal buckle. Not as pretty but more practical.
The shoulder strap buckles were slipping too so I replaced them with double O-rings (I prefer O-rings over D-rings because the D-rings tend to turn 90 degrees so they look messy and doesn't work.
I also made new shoulder straps to be able to place them further from each other, before they joined in the middle which made the pack sway when moving. These new ones also feature load lifter straps which use wooden buckles (now that I knew the secrets I could make them without slippage). The shoulder straps are made from vertically folded pieces of leather, with the fold in towards the neck. This is soft to the skin and very strong.
The new metal waist buckle, bought online

Shoulder strap O-rings

If I made another frame

There's really not much I'd like to change on this frame. But if I did make another one I'd avoid having a cross piece right behind the head. A fall or sudden swing backwards with the head could result in some damage. I think tying a thick rope or rawhide back and forth a few times should suffice.
I think this is the beauty with experimenting and making your own things. You find what works and what does not and little by little the piece of gear turns into an optimal tool, all the time changing to fit your needs. This is a process most gear on the conventional market does not go through. That gear is designed indoors, maybe tested a few times and adjusted. But it needs to get out to the consumer as soon as possible, setting a stop to the evolutionary process. And when something breaks you don't have the tools, materials or motivation to fix it.

Start using a pack frame

Whether it's bought, quickly tied together from branches or carefully made from select materials a pack frame is an amazing asset almost forgotten. And I don't mean a backpack frame. I mean a frame where the gear is tied directly to it. Either in smaller bags or wrapped up in a blanket. I've numerous times just unstrapped everything from the frame then taken it to gather firewood, to carry a big log, to bike with huge loads or transport anything that won't fit or is too dirty to put in a backpack.
On last summers 6 week canoe trip we had a very big and heavy baker tent (with built in floor and mosquito netting). We did all transportation of that on the pack frame. Including the first 7 days when we portaged over the mountains to get to the source of the stream. It made our lives much easier!

And some more pics

Shoulder straps fastened using Chicago screws. And one of the gear hooks in the middle.

I've reinforced the waist belt holder with leather to avoid tearing.

To keep the lower part of the shoulder straps in place.

lördag 16 juni 2018

Some paddles for sale

I'm about to move to Sweden again, and now I'm thinking of easing my load a bit by selling off ten of my paddles.
These are all hand made by me, some are used and some are completely new. If you are interested let me know here or on Etsy.

Nordic Wildwood on Etsy

onsdag 6 juni 2018

Review of Bison Bushcraft wool forester shirt

For a long time now I've been looking for a good woolen bushcraft shirt. I wanted one hand made of local durable materials. Wool that had been minimally processed and a good fit.
After days of research on the net I finally found the Bison Bushcraft Forester Shirt, it had great reviews so I decided to order one. The price is £97.50 but I expect it to last, hopefully for generations.
As always when you order on the net it's a great surprise what you will get. These are hand made on order so delivery time was a few months, this is no problem for me. If I've survived without one my whole life I can wait a few months more.

Fit and design

I'm quite thin and according to the sites' chest measurements an XS size would fit me (I'm normally M so I was a bit skeptical) but I ordered an XS anyway.Upon arrival I tried it on, the fit around the chest was perfect, the sleeves were a bit short and the collar too small. So I contacted them and sent it back, a few months later I got a size S. I didn't even need to pay the delivery cost of the new one, just the return since I live outside of UK.
The S fit nicely, both the sleeves and the collar. The chest is a bit big but not horribly. The design is obviously made for people with a bigger body. For reference I'm 175 cm (5'9) long.
The only thing I find worth mentioning are the end of the sleeves, where there is a button letting you close them or open them to pull them back. When opened they work very well and can be far pulled back. When closed they are quite bulky and annoying.
The bulky sleeve


The material is thick wool fabric from the UK. It come in 4 colors named after the seasons. Mine is Autumn color. The colors are nice natural ones and the fabric is woven in different colored threads unlike other wool shirts which are colored after the weaving. This gives an older more genuine feeling.
I'm a bit disappointed in the actual material. I expected it to be minimally processed wool. But it feels very dry to the touch without any smell. Pretty much all the lanolin is washed away, and with it many of the great properties of wool. For example, it starts smelling (sweat/dust) quite fast, much much faster than my wool sweaters which almost never starts smelling. Even when wearing a t-shirt underneath.
I haven't had the opportunity to try it in rain yet and I'm very curious how it will handle that. It feels less insulating than my wool sweaters, I'm not sure if it's because of the processing of the wool, the weaving or the little too big chest part.
I saw a forum post of someone washing it in the washing machine which made it shrink. This is in my opinion a good sign. Wool which does not shrink is usually treated with a thin plastic layer around each fiber. Effectively preventing most of it's good properties.
If you're sensitive to itching it may be too rough for you. I have no problem with that however, but it's not soft like merino.
Close-up of the material.

How I use it

I enjoy the shirt and I use it almost everyday when the weather is chilly enough. It's tough and can handle fire and rough treatment. I've yet to try washing it but I'll do it by hand in cold water to avoid shrinkage. I wear it as second layer or as a semi-windproof, semi-waterproof third layer.
As far as I know this is the best alternative for a wool shirt out there.