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”
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 readingRead more... →
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 readingRead more... →
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 readingRead more... →
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
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 readingRead more... →
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 readingRead more... →
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 readingRead more... →
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 readingRead more... →
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 readingRead more... →
What’s with all of the gun videos? Is Original Outdoors a gun channel now?
Well… No. But for the UK it’s closely related to one of the subjects that we ourselves are closely associated with – foraging and wild food.
Due to a number of UK laws the most accessible, legal and ethical source of wild meat for the keen forager is probably via a sub-12ft/lb air rifle. It’s potentially a huge subject with a lot to explore, and to be perfectly honest there is a lot of very poor information online.
We are pulling together a series of videos running through the basics of buying, owning and using an air gun in the U.K. which we can refer our customers to in the future – but rest assured we’ll also be creating more mountain, survival, bushcraft and other wilderness skills content in the coming weeks. Continue readingRead more... →
For a decade our foraging and wild foods courses are filled – but why?
My name is Richard Prideaux, and I am a forager.
It’s not much of a confession really – through Original Outdoors I have been leading foraging courses and walks for a decade or more, as well as working as a supplier of foraged plants from a local organic estate and working with chefs and restaurants to find new ways to use wild plants, fungi and lichens in dishes served to the most discerning of clients. It is safe to say that a large part of my working life outdoors has been linked to foraging and wild food, even if peripherally on our bushcraft courses. But none of that would have been possible if there hadn’t been such a demand for information and training in this ancient activity – so with shops and food suppliers all around us, why is there such a cultural draw towards edible plants and fungi?
I have two theories on this, and they require a little unpacking. They may also be complete cobblers, but allow me to explain… Continue readingRead more... →
The 2018 Courses are now live! Around this time of year I normally find myself pretty much locked in the office working out course dates and descriptions for the courses next year. We’ve found that a good number of our course participants attend our courses after receivingRead more... →
MOLLE Day pack with versatile compartments
From a distance the First Tactical Tactix 1-Day Plus looks like pretty much any other MOLLE daypack – webbing systems along the vertical surfaces, zipped compartments and compression straps. I admit to having a bit of a prejudice towards MOLLE packs. The MOLLE/PALS system (Modular Light Load carrying Equipment) works well with small packs and pouches, and is great for quickly changing the gear carried on say, body armour or a tactical vest. It doesn’t work as well when it comes to… Continue reading
Foraging and Wild Food with 16 Hospitality Last year we teamed up with 16 Hospitality for their first external training course – a day of foraging and wild food cooking in the woods. For 2017 they wanted to push things forward a little and really challenge theirRead more... →
We’ve hit 1,000 YouTube Subscribers! On Tuesday morning I noticed that we’ve just hit 1,000 subscribers on our YouTube channel. That’s not bad considering we were on only 138 this time last year! Thanks for your continued support – here’s to the next 1,000!Read more... →
UKH Review – Fjallraven Kaipak 58 Rucksack Review During this summer I have been trying out the the Fjallraven Kaipak 58 rucksack in the mountains and forests here for our work with UKHillwalking.com There is enough padding on the waist and shoulders for them not to beRead more... →
Bow Drill Skills: Are they worth learning? One of the skills most associated with the world of ‘bushcraft’ is that of making fire by friction. The image that normally accompanies that description is somebody crouching over a contraption that looks like a fiddle crossed with a rollingRead more... →
Private Expedition Training with Mike and Wayne In the winter of 2016 I was contacted by a gentleman (Mike) who was enquiring about the possibility of some bespoke private training. Funnily enough, Mike had found us through the review of the Katadyn Gravity Camp Water Filter weRead more... →
The Great Outdoors Blogger Network I have been reading TGO magazine since I first started drifting towards the mountains and forests nearly 20 years ago, and I’ve always valued their unique content and honest reviews and editorials. So I was interested to see that they had launchedRead more... →
Track and Sign Awareness with North Wales Police A training and skill-sharing session with the NWP Rural Crime Team A few months ago I was joined by police officers from the North Wales Police Rural Crime Team for a session on track and sign awareness and toRead more... →
Mammut Ayako High GTX Boot Review A hillwalking boot that performs well on the rocks I have been using the Mammut Ayako High GTX boots for a few months and they are sticking equally well to rock and to mud. The full review is on the UKHillwalking.comRead more... →
How to save your own life A tale of everyday survival from a friend If you have attended one of our courses or engaged me in conversation about the idea of survival training or prepping for potential survival situations then you will probably remember my having someRead more... →
How to put together a first aid kit outdoors Wilderness personal medical kits How do you put a first aid kit together for the outdoors? Or a bushcraft first aid kit? Are first aid kits for mountain biking different to ones for kayaking? Carrying a first aidRead more... →