I only discovered Merino baselayers a few years ago when I picked up a long sleeved tee in the sales. I wore it so much that Christmas resulted in a second slightly heavier weight long sleeved tee ended up in my wardrobe. These two have served me well and given me a real love for merino wool which has stretched to my feet also. When the opportunity arose to invest in a Keela Merino long sleeve top, nothing could stand in my way. Continue readingRead more... →
In this, the first proper week of January (let’s face it, the bit before everyone goes back to work doesn’t count) we are all bombarded by messages trying to flog us gym memberships, holidays to far-flung corners of the earth or just a thing to wear on your wrist that tells you if you’re tired yet. Continue readingRead more... →
Buying a gift for somebody who loves nature, muddy trails and The Great Outdoors is always tricky. Chances are that they already have the equipment and clothing they need for doing what they want to do – what the bl**dy hell do you buy that you know that they will LOVE and remember for years to come? Continue readingRead more... →
This blog post is primarily aimed at those who have just attended one of our Level 2 (Mountain) Navigation courses, either on a public course or as a private client. That doesn’t mean that the information below is ONLY of relevance to those who have just visited us in North Wales, but that is the intended audience. Continue readingRead more... →
A few weeks ago I was asked a very pertinent question:
“Do you really need another sodding torch?”
Open on my browser was the page on the TRC Outdoors website for the Polymath Products OmniTorch – a cube-shaped LED cliplight with multiple attachment options. I have enough LED lighting scattered around the office and my truck to light up the Western Hemisphere. Do I need to spend £12.99 on another lighting source? Continue readingRead more... →
We took a call from a producer working with international music video and film production company Great Guns to help out with finding locations for their new production – the music video for James Blunt’s new song “Cold”. We launched straight into recommending, shortlisting and then recce-ing locations for them along the coastline of North Wales on Anglesey and the Llyn Peninsula. Continue readingRead more... →
If you have visited the mountains of Snowdonia, in particular the area around Snowdon itself, you will probably have come across one of these small, blue circular plaques pinned to a gatepost or stile. Their purpose is fairly self-explanatory, with “CYFEIRNOD GRID/GRID REFERENCE” printed around the edge. Continue readingRead more... →
This is a common question from clients who are heading out for their first ‘wild’ camping trips in the mountains and forests of the UK – what am I going to eat?
We have normally gone through the laws of wild camping and taken a good look at the other parts of the equipment list, but food can sometimes be a bit of an afterthought. Wet or dry, bought or made – and just how much do I need to bring? Continue readingRead more... →
I reviewed the 2019 Mountain Equipment Firefly down sleeping bag for UK outdoor news and discussion site UKHillwalking.com. It’s small, light and cleverly designed – but is it warm enough for a Welsh spring? Continue readingRead more... →
In this blog post I will do my best to explain it, pick out the relevant parts of the legislation and steer a forager, bushcrafter or ethnobotanist in what is (hopefully) the right direction.
At the bottom of this blog post is the shortened explanation (a tl;dr), but for those who want to know exactly where that came from here are some blocks of legal text:
After reviewing their Raptor waistcoat I was contacted by UK brand Country Innovation to take an early look at their brand new waterproof smock design – the Woodlark. It’s listed on the Country Innovation website as being “made from a tough cotton outer fabric, which, when combined with the waterproof/breathable lining, offers great protection from wind and rain“.
With the wet and windy months of December and January coming up I accepted the offer and did my very best to try and kill, or at least maim, this waterproof outer layer. I was mildly surprised with how good the Raptor waistcoat was, so would I be as impressed with a sub-£300 waterproof from a smaller British brand?Read more... →
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
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 readingRead more... →
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 readingRead more... →
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 readingRead more... →
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 readingRead more... →
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 readingRead more... →
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
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 readingRead more... →
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 readingRead more... →
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 readingRead more... →
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 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... →
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 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... →