Posts Tagged gear

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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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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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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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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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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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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REVIEW: First Tactical Tactix 1-Day Plus Bag

REVIEW: First Tactical Tactix 1-Day Plus Bag

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

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VIDEO: Choosing an Air Rifle Scope

VIDEO: Choosing an Air Rifle Scope

Choosing an Air Rifle Scope Over the last 12 months or so we have made a couple of visits to Tonys Camo in Saltney to take advantage of his generosity and create some short videos on buying an air rifle, choosing an airgun caliber and how to

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UKH Review – Mammut Ayako High GTX Boot

UKH Review – Mammut Ayako High GTX Boot

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.com

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UKH Review – MSR TrailShot Microfilter

UKH Review – MSR TrailShot Microfilter

MSR TrailShot MicroFilter Review Compact pump microfilter for fast-and-light travel It looks like a medical appliance and promises impressive performance – how does it hold up in the field? I reviewed it for UKHillwalking.com, and you can read the full review here.

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UKH Review – MSR Access 2 Tent

UKH Review – MSR Access 2 Tent

MSR Access 2 Tent Review Lightweight 4-Season Backcountry tent The MSR Access 2 tent is lightweight, innovative and comes with a lot fo features – but is it worth that hefty pricetag? I reviewed it for UKHillwalking.com, and you can read the full review here. The video

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REVIEW: Helko Werk Black Forest Pack Axe

REVIEW: Helko Werk Black Forest Pack Axe

Simple pack axe from the Helko traditional range
My collection of axes needs to be carefully monitored. If I don’t keep it in check they will spread out of the workshop and take over the rest of the house. There are a number brands in there – Gransfors, Hultafors and even a few Elwell hatchets that I keep meaning to rehandle. Do I need another axe? No. Do I want another axe? Well, I could follow the tried-and-tested n+1 rule, where ‘n’ is the number of axes currently owned…
Helko UK offered the Black Forest Pack Axe for me to try out over the winter – will it make it into regular rotation or will it just become part of the collection? Continue reading

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How to camp in the woods – a time lapse tale!

How to camp in the woods – a time lapse tale!

How to camp in the woods Setting up tarps and living by firelight with Kevin Field In this short time lapse bushcraft instructor Kevin and I set up two DD Hammocks 3mx3m tarps, light a fire between and settle down for the night in a simple woodland

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REVIEW: Snugpak ML6 Softie Smock

REVIEW: Snugpak ML6 Softie Smock
Snugpak Venture ML6 Softie Smock Review A thermal overlayer from a British manfacturer I'm always a little wary over equipment marketed for 'outdoor professionals'. It is normally shorthand for "here is something we already sell, but with patches on the knees and oh, it's also now 20%Read more...

REVIEW: Fortis SAS Waterproof Smock

REVIEW: Fortis SAS Waterproof Smock

I like this coat. I wear it pretty much every week and it has been deep into the mountains, dragged through forests and buried under piles of kit. But it has some serious issues…

Back in the middle of 2016 we visited the Fortis Clothing factory shop and this is the coat I walked away with. I wanted an all-round tough outdoor jacket, and the Fortis SAS Smock fitted my needs. I ended up with one of the last with the older ‘Country Covers’ branding, Fortis being the new name for the family business run by Oliver Massey-Birch, but as far as I can tell this is the same build and design as the current Fortis SAS Smock. It’s worth noting from the outset that I have sewn a patch onto the arm pocket, through the outer pocket layer only. Continue reading

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Gift ideas for an outdoors person!

Gift ideas for an outdoors person!

Gift ideas for outdoorsy people Christmas present ideas for that tricky adventurous person on your list There’s always one. That person who is always a bit untidy, always either just off on or back from an adventure. They are always a pain to buy for, and you

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VIDEO: The new Paramo Velez Jacket

VIDEO: The new Paramo Velez Jacket

Paramo Velez Jacket Having a closer look at OTS 2016 Last year I spent a bit of time speaking with Helen from Paramo at their stand at OTS 2016 about their Alta 3 jacket, and we were drawn back over their for this year. The new Paramo

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MindShift Gear Rotation 180

MindShift Gear Rotation 180

MindShift Gear Rotation 180 Innovative gear bag for outdoor photographers At the Outdoor Trade Show at Stoneleigh Park earlier this year we stopped and had a good look at the photographer bags and accessories that Snapperstuff.com had on offer. Helen from Snapperstuff was kind enough to give

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VIDEO: How to zero an airgun scope

VIDEO: How to zero an airgun scope

How to zero an airgun scope Setting the sights on your target Tony from Tony’s Camo and Airgun Centre in Saltney comes back for this second video on the use of airguns. In the shooting range adjacent to his shop he shows me how he teaches people

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VIDEO: How to choose an airgun

VIDEO: How to choose an airgun

How to choose an air rifle Buying your first airgun Tony Dobson from Tonys Camo and Airgun Centre in Saltney kindly gave us some time to explain the basics of buying an air rifle in the UK. The video details the different types of air rifle commonly

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UKH REVIEW: Exped Scout Hammock Combi

UKH REVIEW: Exped Scout Hammock Combi

Exped Scout Hammock Combi All in one hammock, tarp and bug net Our friends at UKHillwalking.com sent us the Exped Scout Hammock Combi to review – to find out what we thought you can read the full review HERE.

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Snugpak Torrent Jacket and Travelpak Sleeping Bags

Snugpak Torrent Jacket and Travelpak Sleeping Bags

Snugpak Torrent Jacket and Travelpak Sleeping Bags We went back to the Outdoor trade Show at Stoneleigh Park to chat with a few of our favorite brands – and the first we bumped into were Snugpak. Snugpak are known for their sleeping bags and insulated clothing but

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