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.

onsdag 6 september 2017

Some (better) alternatives to the common outdoor knots

There are some very commonly used knots out there. Some which almost everyone uses but which are not really the most efficient when we are out in the wild. The most common problem is untying them. When you set up and take down camp everyday for many weeks all these small things gets tiresome.

So here follows some knots to replace the most common ones. I don't know the name of all of them unfortunately.

Before I start. Here are some terms I use which is good to know. Explanation taken from wikipedia.


A bight is any curved section, slack part, or loop between the ends of a rope, string, or yarn.

Standing end

The standing end is the longer end of the rope not involved in the knot, often shown as unfinished. It is often (but not always) the end of the rope under load after the knot is complete.

Standing part

Section of line between knot and the standing end (seen above).

Working end

The active end of a line used in making the knot. May also be called the 'running end', 'live end', or 'tag end'.

Working part

Section of line between knot and the working end.

The Sami knot

Replaces: Sheet bend and sometimes square knot.
I found this one in a poorly translated book, if someone knows another name of it, please let me know.
This knot is extremely simple. It's great for joining lines, both of same and different thickness. It's less prone to slip than the sheet bend and square knot and it has a quick release end which works amazingly well. Try it and I promise you'll love it.
Great for extending tarp lines or pretty much any situation when you need to join two ends.

Make a bight on one end (the thicker one if using different lines)

Go over and then under the bight with the other end as in the picture.

Using the same line, grab the middle (between the end and the knot) and pull it through the bight. But don't pull the end through.

Tighten it by pushing everything towards the top of the bight.

Finish it up by pulling the parts to tighten it. The right end on the picture is used to release it.

Angler's loop

Replaces: Bowline knot
Angler's loop is a fixed loop which is quick and easy to tie. Here I show two methods. The first one if you are not tying around anything and the other one when you are. I've added a small quick-release on this one too which I've not seen others use.

Put the line as shown. The lower (big) loop is the fixed final loop we get in the end.

Take the middle of the loose end and make a bight over the intersection.

Take the big loop over the bight you just made and put it through the small loop.
Tighten everything up. You now have a quick release. Though it won't release the whole knot.

Here is how you make the angler's loop around an object.

Make an overhand knot on the standing part then move the working end around the object and back.

Put the line through the overhand knot from above. Then cross the standing part.

Make a bight on the working part and move it from the left through the two loops in the overhand knot.

Ferrimond Friction Hitch

Replaces: Tautline hitch
This one is my new favorite! I used to use the taut line hitch a lot, for like everything. But it takes a while to make and it takes a while to undo. This one is faster to make and it releases in an instant.
This is used for tarps and tents and has the fantastic ability to be easy to adjust the tension with.
This one was too hard to explain with photos so take a look here:

Quick release hitch

Replaces: Timber hitch
Timber hitch is another one of those knots which are easy to tie and easy to untie, but really could be a bit faster, especially with a long end.
Honestly I don't know the name of this one. I've read quick release hitch sometimes and sometime I heard something about Siberian hitch or something which I forgot.
This one does about the same thing, it's easier to release and it can even be tied and released with gloves.

Put the line around the tree or anything else. Make sure you have the working part away from yourself.

Loop the working end around your hand. First over then back under and over again.

Bring the loop around the standing part and grab the working part.

Pull it through, but not the end of the line.

Tighten it up and slip it against the tree. Pull the quick release to untie.

Tripod lashing

Replaces: Traditional tripod lashing
This is another one I don't know the name of, it's from the same poorly translated book as the Sami knot. So let me know if you know, I'm sure it has a name.
There is nothing that annoys me more than to undo someones tripod made with triple 8s around the poles and lots of fraps. That kind is extremely effective but not very efficient. It uses a lot of line and it takes a long time to make and undo. Not ideal if you make a new tripod at each camp. But very good for one you keep standing the year around.
This one is easy to make and undo, really tight and with only half the line used in a traditional lashing.
Put the poles as in the picture, two side by side and one crossed over.
Set the line under them like in the picture. Measure the distance of one end of the line so it's a good length for the pot loop if you hang the pot from the same line.
Move the ends through the opposite bight. What you have now are actually two opposite Munter hitches.
Move the two hitches next to each other and tighten them by pulling to the sides, not up.

Now cross the lines over to the opposite side, tighten it a bit at this stage. Then continue under the poles and back. Pull hard at one end at a time to tighten it more.
Finnish it off by tying a square knot while keeping the tension. Here I've coiled the excess line so it won't hang in the fire.