Archive for the All Blog Posts Category

REVIEW: Grayl Ultralight Water Filter

REVIEW: Grayl Ultralight Water Filter

Water filters are becoming increasingly popular in the Uk hiking and outdoors market, and what was once seen as a niche item for overseas travel and expeditions are now starting to be habitually carried in the UK by adventurers of all types.
The Grayl Ultralight purifier bottle is a bit of a hybrid between a filtration bottle and something that can be used to transfer that cleaned water to another container – something that dedicated water filter/purifier bottles often struggle with.
I have been trying it out since late summer, using it on wild camping trips and expeditions with clients in Snowdonia, the Lake District and Scotland. Continue reading

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Examining a wild camp site – tracking and reading the ground

Examining a wild camp site – tracking and reading the ground

So there I was, wandering through the woods with the dog. This is one of several woodland sites that we occasionally rent to run some of our bushcraft, survival and other wilderness skills courses in North Wales. I am far from any of the footpaths, both the public ones and the ones made by locals through the trees. It’s about 15 minutes after sunset and the light is poor – nearly time for the head torch. Continue reading

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17 Different ways of making fire

17 Different ways of making fire
17 Different Ways of Making Fire A selection of natural and artificial ignition sources, tinders and accelerants to help with your next fire Anybody who has attended one of our bushcraft, survival or campcraft courses will know that when we teach the skills of firecraft and firelightingRead more...

Pacing, timing or ticking off – measuring distance when navigating on foot

Pacing, timing or ticking off – measuring distance when navigating on foot

On our navigation courses we always end up coming around to the subject of distance. Indeed, it’s one of the ‘D’s of navigation and unless you intend to just stand still and survey the surrounding countryside you’ll need to deal with the problem of measuring distance both on the map and on foot at some point or another.

There are three ways that we cover in depth on the EST Framework navigation courses – ‘pacing‘, ‘timing‘ and the enigmatically named ‘ticking off‘. They each have their merits, but also a few drawbacks. Like pretty much every other navigational technique – they are just a tool in the toolkit, and it is up to you to select the right one for the right task Continue reading

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UK Wild Camping Laws Explained

UK Wild Camping Laws Explained

Can I Wild Camp in the U.K?
Good question. I suppose it depends on what you mean by ‘can’.

If you mean ‘is it physically possible to find somewhere to camp?‘ then of course the answer is ‘yes’. I wild camp somewhere in the UK about once per month and have a decent success rate. I have been camping in the mountains and forests and on the coastline of the UK since I was about 18 Continue reading

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The Six-Bundle Fire Lay

The Six-Bundle Fire Lay

This fire lay requires six bundles of dry, straight dead wood and a good ignition source. It relies on good airflow at the beginning, and the fire lay ‘collapsing’ in on itself in the later stages to ensure a good bed of coals and ash to cook over.

It is also a good option for making a ‘One Match Fire’. Continue reading

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REVIEW: Helikon-Tex Bushcraft Satchel

REVIEW: Helikon-Tex Bushcraft Satchel

It won’t take long to run through the features of this bag – but that is, I suppose, a feature in itself; the Helikon-Tex Bushcraft Satchel is pretty simple.

There’s an unpadded adjustable shoulder strap running between two clips, and slightly curved ‘ends’ where these clips attach. There is no padding anywhere on the bag, and it hangs symettrically – it isn’t contoured or ‘handed’ to fit on one side of the body or other. Continue reading

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Extreme Low Tide Foraging – How to find the lowest tides

Extreme Low Tide Foraging – How to find the lowest tides

Extreme Low Tide foraging is becoming popular and one of the increasingly common requests we get for a private coastal foraging course over here in North Wales. It’s easy to understand why – when all of the most interesting and edible parts of the beach are under the water for part of every day then there’s a lot more to see when the water has retreated to its lowest point.
The UK is home to one of the biggest tidal ranges in the world – the Severn Estuary can have a difference of as much as 15m (49ft). The tidal range of one particular spot can be dependent on several factors, ranging from the shape of the bay, inlet or estuary where the range is being measured to the underwater geology and topography, and even the direction it is facing relative to the prevailing winds. Continue reading

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Survival Tips for Travellers

Survival Tips for Travellers

As you have probably guessed – what Lonely Planet wanted was somebody to write some unique content for them (for free) and then for them to make money from selling that content as one of the ‘expert voices’ in the book. Apparently they “never pay interviewees (they benefit in terms of exposure)“. Well, quite. Exposure can be a dangerous thing – too much of it and it can kill you. That’s why our survival courses always include some training in awareness and prevention of hypothermia.

However, it prompted me to write this post – are there any generic survival tips I can give for people travelling the globe? Something quick and easy to read and as applicable to someone travelling to Mongolia as it would be to Mali? Tips that would work in Belgium or Belize?

It turns out I can. So here are some of those top travelling survival tips – given away to you for free – but I like you, so it’s OK. Continue reading

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REVIEW: Country Innovation Raptor Waistcoat

REVIEW: Country Innovation Raptor Waistcoat

Photography waistcoats like this are basically load-carrying vests and systems for a very civilian market, and the Raptor waistcoat from Country Innovation seems to be pitched straight at that market of photographers, birdwatchers and anybody who regularly points optics at wildlife.
I admit from the start that Country Innovation was a new brand for me, but a quick look through their website shows that their kit is trusted by the outdoor and wildlife photographers that I admire – so if it’s good enough for the likes of Simon King and Bill Oddie then it might be good enough for a scruffy outdoor instructor in North Wales? Continue reading

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REVIEW: GP Xplor PHR15 Head Torch

REVIEW: GP Xplor PHR15 Head Torch

Head torch technology has come on a long way since I started working in the outdoors. My first ‘proper’ head torch was a Petzl Zoom. It had a massive alkaline battery and came with a spare bulb – it was also like a candle in a jam jar.

LED head torches started to creep in soon after, with the early ones being fairly disappointing affairs – and quite expensive. Now it seems we can’t move for fear of tripping over inexpensive and fairly powerful LED headlights – is the new Xplor range from pocket-power supplier GP Batteries worth a look, and does their 300 lumen Xplor PHR15 rise above the competition? Continue reading

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REVIEW: Wunderbird Gyrfalcon Hoodie and Kestrel Tee Shirt

REVIEW: Wunderbird Gyrfalcon Hoodie and Kestrel Tee Shirt

The two Wunderbird items I have been trialling are the Gyrfalcon Hoodie and the Kestrel Short-Sleeve Tee. Both garments have some interesting design features, including slightly padded shoulder areas and zipped pouches on the chest and similar pouches on the front of the stomach area. The Kestrel is a technical base layer and the Gyrfalcon is more of a thermal mid-layer shirt.
The idea with this range of garments is to provide the user with technical outdoor-appropriate clothing that also supports (literally) the use of binoculars. The chest and stomach pouches both support the weight of binoculars when worn from a neck strap or chest harness (what some of our instructors call a ‘Binocular Bra’) and stop them from bouncing around too much when walking over rough ground or uphill. The padded shoulders give some relief from tripods and similar long, heavy items being carried across the shoulder. Continue reading

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Sharpening Bushcraft Knives and Axes – a 2018 update

Sharpening Bushcraft Knives and Axes – a 2018 update

We cover knife and axe sharpening at different levels on our bushcraft and campcraft courses, and it’s one of those subjects where the course participants ‘lean in’ to the topic – most of those who attend the course have tried to sharpen their own equipment and had, shall we say, a variety of results? Continue reading

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REVIEW: Wisport Raccoon 45L Rucksack

REVIEW: Wisport Raccoon 45L Rucksack

Wisport is one of those brands I had heard of or seen in product catalogues and on websites, but had no direct experience of. Military 1st offered the Wisport Raccoon 45L rucksack to me to try out on some of our courses and I gladly took the opportunity. It’s not like I NEED another rucksack, but it’s a different style to what I am used to and I was curious to see how it performed. Continue reading

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COURSE REPORT: Woodcrafter Course July 2018

COURSE REPORT: Woodcrafter Course July 2018
COURSE REPORT: Woodcrafter Course July 2018 The Woodcrafter - our original and long-established 2-day bushcraft and campcraft course - remains one of our most popular courses. The July 2018 course was a mixture of rain, sun and smoke - but everyone seemed to survive and have aRead more...

REVIEW: Firepot Dehydrated Meals

REVIEW: Firepot Dehydrated Meals

Firepot are a relatively new supplier in the UK expedition food market but the information both on their website and what I had heard from other users was encouraging. I’ve been trying them out on wild camping and bivvying trips over the past few weeks – and so far I haven’t died. Continue reading

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Can you eat mussels straight from the beach?

Can you eat mussels straight from the beach?

When you teach people about foraging and ‘wild food’ you often run the risk of sounding negative or over-cautious about the potential hazards that come from eating shellfish, or fungi,or whatever else it is that you are solemnly warning people about. I do this with good reason – people are paying to attend on of our North Wales foraging courses to learn more about the subject, and I have a duty of care towards them as an instructor, and just as a (mostly?) decent human being. That said – there IS a difference between laying out the potential risks and telling somebody that they shouldn’t/can’t do something. Continue reading

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REVIEW: Olight I1R EOS Key Ring Torch

REVIEW: Olight I1R EOS Key Ring Torch

Cheap, stupidly-bright Chinese LED torches have been around for several years now and there are many to choose from. I’ve used several over the years with varying degrees of success – and to be perfectly honest my hopes weren’t THAT high for this tiny keyring torch from Olight when it was offered as a review item. But it turns out to not be that bad – in fact, to be quite good. With a few important caveats that I will come to later… Continue reading

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Course report – Wild Camping Weekend June 2018

Course report – Wild Camping Weekend June 2018
Course Report - Wild Camping Weekend Photos and notes from our June 2018 Snowdonia Wild Camping Weekend Last weekend I was joined by Richard, Allan and Amy for our 2018 Mountain Wild Camping course in the hills of Snowdonia. This course has two learning outcomes - planningRead more...

Elderflower Foraging Recipes

Elderflower Foraging Recipes
Elderflower Foraging Recipes A selection of our favourite foraging recipes for Elder flowers As I write this I can look out of the office window and see literally hundreds of elderflower heads in the hedgerows surrounding the neighbouring fields. The late snows and dry spring of 2018Read more...

Why tracking doesn’t work for misper SAR in the UK

Why tracking doesn’t work for misper SAR in the UK

Here we go… this post will attract a minimum of two types of response:

1. “you don’t know what you’re talking about, if your skills were as good as mine you could follow a flea across a glacier”
2. “tracking is too slow/doesn’t work/is overrated”

Well, quite.

Both views have some validity, and that’s the point of this post.

Tracking, within the context of SAR/non-combat scenarios, is often represented by evangelists who want to present tracking as a panacea to locating any human OR by those who have sworn off it having tried the techniques (sold to them on a course) on a live operation and found that it just slows everything down and eats up resources. Each side will defend their own hilltop to the last man – neither attitude being actually that helpful to achieving the end goa Continue reading

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UK SAR Courses – Training the Wales USAR Team

UK SAR Courses – Training the Wales USAR Team
Training with the Wales Urban SAR Team I'm very, very lucky in that I get to make my living by doing the things I love to do. One of the highlights of my working year are when I get to use my skills to help those whoRead more...

2018 UK Knife Law Changes

2018 UK Knife Law Changes

In the past weeks the news has featured several stories on UK knife crimes, knife law and the perception of knives as weapons as well as tools. This was followed by the announcement of a new Offensive Weapons Bill which will begin the process of changing of what is considered a legal knife, where they can be used/carried by the general public and how they can be acquired.
Last year a consultation on offensive and dangerous weapons was published, which caused a lot of discussion online from knife makers, owners and collectors from all sectors.

Whilst this is currently a bill (not yet an Act of Parliament, see the differences here) it is likely that some significant changes are coming for those who collect knives or purchase them for outdoor use. Continue reading

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MSR WindBurner Group Stove System Review for UKHillwalking

MSR WindBurner Group Stove System Review for UKHillwalking

The MSR WindBurner range has been updated for 2018 with a wind-resistant remote canister stove, new pans and even a huge 4.5L stockpot. Richard Prideaux has been reviewing it in the mountains of Snowdonia and Scotland over the winter of 2017-2018 for UKHIllwalking.com Continue reading

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REVIEW: Helikon-Tex Classic Army Fleece

REVIEW: Helikon-Tex Classic Army Fleece

Rugged fleece jacket with windproof membrane
Helikon-Tex have been on the radar of outdoor enthusiasts and professionals, hunters, military personnel and security contractors for a couple of decades now, and they produce good kit. I have been wearing the Helikon-Tex Classic Army fleece for nearly 5 months and I think I’ve got a good angle on it now – it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty damned good. Continue reading

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GPS, Smartphones and Operational Security – is Strava the only problem?

GPS, Smartphones and Operational Security – is Strava the only problem?

The recent hullabaloo over the Strava heatmap reminded me of a strange case from a few years ago…
If you have any kind of interest in GPS, fitness apps, unusual maps or just technology news then you were probably at least vaguely aware of a story about the fitness app Strava and some analysis of the heatmap they published last month. This publicly-viewable heatmap of anonymised user data isn’t new – but the last update was from 2015 data. The 2017 data release included over 1 billion activities and 10 terabytes of raw data. The total distance clocked up was 27 billion KM – 180 times the distance from the Earth to the sun. It’s an impressive piece of user-generated information and it’s quite good fun to see which are the most popular routes to the summit of Snowdon, or the tracks made by people swimming, kayaking or SUP’ing in Llyn Padarn.

There’s also potentially a bit of a security risk – but that’s something I’ve got prior experience of, and it’s still a potential problem for those who work in ‘sensitive’ areas of the world. Continue reading

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The mystery of the Cwm Tryfan ice axe

The mystery of the Cwm Tryfan ice axe

The trip to the summit and back was uneventful (apart from my stirring rendition of Auld Lang Syne on the South summit), but as we descended the path out of Cwm Tryfan alongside the stream leading to Gwern Gof Uchaf something strange occurred… Continue reading

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Outdoor Fashion Shoots in Snowdonia

Outdoor Fashion Shoots in Snowdonia

It seems like 2017 was the summer of location work for Original Outdoors. We have been putting our experience of working in the world of outdoor adventure in North Wales to use as consultants and location scouts for several years, but this was a busy summer for us.

We were contacted by Claudia from German production company Natural Born Explorers for a project they were working on for a European outdoor clothing and equipment retailer. They had already chosen Snowdonia as a general area for their shoot but wanted some help finding locations, gaining permissions and just the logistics of shooting in a different country. After several Skype conversations and emails we narrowed it down to some key areas in the mountains and forests of Northern Snowdonia.

Then it was down to the usual pre-shoot planning – working with landowners to gain permissions for commercial photography on their land, timelines to make sure we had enough time on location to get what the client needed and be in the right place for the ‘golden hour’ at sunset. We also needed to keep an eye on the weather and make sure that the entire crew were equipped for several days in the mountains. Continue reading

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A Private Adventure on Anglesey

A Private Adventure on Anglesey

Every year we are asked to put together a private training day or adventure for somebody. This particular client first came to us in 2016 and asked for a 50km day in the mountains of Snowdonia for him and his friends – which we put together and executed one cold day in November.
This year he wanted to push it a little further, and asked for something a little more exciting. After compiling a few route options they picked a run along the Anglesey coastal path – but how to get them to the start?
We had spoken to the team at Rib Ride earlier in the year at a North Wales outdoor tourism event where we were both delivering sessions. After a bit of planning and holding out for the weather we came up with a plan – a dawn pickup on the Menai Straits and then hooning it over to a point 51km further up the coast where we could jump (literally) ashore and start the run.

The morning of the trip promised calm weather on our side of the island and everything was set for the trip. We climbed aboard and set off along the Menai Straits out past Beaumaris and Penmon before turning westward, the sun breaking through low clouds over the Carneddau behind us.

As we pulled away from the relative shelter of Red Wharf Bay and Moelfre the sea became a little rougher, crashing over waves and steering into the swell as we neared our destination – Point Lynas and the hidden cove of Porth Eilian.

We motored into calmer water as we entered the cove, and our skipper carefully placed the bow on the beach, giving us a short window where we could disembark and get safely ashore before the waves carried him over to the rocks. Once on dry land we set off – retracing our outward route on through the fields, dunes and beaches of the western shore of Anglesey.

The rest is a bit of a blur, as they put down a good pace from the very start. We dodged falling pheasants and were showered by lead from a shoot next to the Dulas estuary and fought through overgrown paths above Moelfre. We hit the halfway point at Red Wharf Bay in good spirits, refuelling on everything from chicken soup to marzipan stollen (doing events this close to Christmas does make food shopping a little more interesting). I had thought that the big climb from Traeth-coch to the hillfort of Bwrdd Arthur was going to be one of the most challenging sections – but I hadn’t reckoned on the energy-sapping boulders of the beach section before Beaumaris Continue reading

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We want your outdoor questions!

We want your outdoor questions!

We want your outdoor questions!
Pretty much every week we receive an email, Facebook message, Twitter DM or comment somewhere that is asking for advice, information or just somebody asking for help with their own adventure.
Of course we try to help as much as we can, and it’s not unusual to find ourselves on the phone for quite a while talking through one subject or another.

This has given me an idea – why not make this more of a public process? The questions we get are often very similar to each other and I know that more people would possibly benefit from those answers.

So this is the idea – you can submit your questions to us via one of the following sources, and we will do our best to answer them in our upcoming videos: Continue reading

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Original Outdoors is an established outdoor activity and training provider in North Wales.
We are passionate about the outdoors and share this through our training courses, activity days activity days and outdoor services.

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Original Outdoors
Maes Gwyn
Rhewl
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LL15 1UL

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