Sunday, 1 December 2013

winter car preparation

Winter car preparation

          With Jack Frost spreading his icy grip slowly across the country the inevitable "traffic chaos" caused by half a centimetre of snow wont be too far behind, usually caused by drivers going far too fast for the conditions and spinning off the road, I will be spouting the usual rhetoric within the lines of this blog as well as some observations I have made along with some ideas and equipment for if you do find yourself stuck on the side of the road.

Driving and road conditions

          Most of the time arrogance is the number one cause of accidents in these conditions, having a 4x4 or traction control or a powerful engine does not excuse poor driving and doing 70 mph on an icy ungritted dual carriageway overtaking everyone is just asking for trouble and this is coming from someone who has owned a 4x4 and done an off road driving course, with the mass of a 4x4 once it starts sliding it take a lot longer to stop (unless you`re going down a closed off farm track with absolutely no one else around then sliding sideways under control becomes a lot of fun!) rear wheel drive only cars such as BMW and Mercedes Benz are more or less useless in icy conditions as the back end tends to slide around as no weight is over the driving axle creating friction so if you do own a rear wheel drive car be very careful as you drive and those mysterious dials in front of you with numbers saying 20,30,40 mph that are normally ignored, difficult as it is try and keep the needle in those dials as low as possible and don`t overtake that way we wont be laughing at you as we pass you on the side of the road. If the phrase "I`ll be alright I have ABS" enters your mind, think again, I`ll write this in capitals to emphasis the point ABS DOES NOT WORK IN ICY CONDITIONS! This is due to the computer needing to sense forward movement from the wheels to release the brakes and if your wheels are sliding then there is no forward movement to sense. to prevent sliding when you first pull away keep the revs as low as possible and use as high a gear as you can, most manual cars can pull away in second gear but it may take some effort without reving the engine too high, another trick that works is pulling away using only the idling revs of the engine, this does take some skill but it can be done and naturally keeps the revs at there lowest, when you are driving along select the gear up from what you usually drive in, so if you usually use 3rd in a 30mph zone use 4th instead, the engine may not appreciate it but it will keep the revs low.
          When it comes to road conditions plan your route and allow extra time, so if it takes you half an hour to get to work leave an hour before your due in, sounds obvious but guaranteed someone wont do it and end up in trouble. planning your route also means trying to use roads that will be gritted even if this means going slightly out of your way to use them. there is only a limited amount of grit available straight away to the councils so they tend to prioritise roads and although they don`t tell us these roads its not hard to figure out, motorways are first, the responsibility of which is shared by the councils the motorway passes through, then dual carriageways, then A roads, bus and lorry routes and then if there is any grit left some of the more minor roads, even if the road you are using is gritted plan ahead and keep in mind some of the hazards you will encounter, one of the roads I regularly use not only goes down a steep hill but also has a sharp corner at the bottom before going back up hill (John de Bois hill/bridge) which last year lead to an almost unwritten rule of one car attempts it at a time.


          If the unfortunate does happen and you find yourself on the side of the road then you`ll need to have some equipment to try and get yourself out of the situation and some equipment if you can`t and need to wait for rescue, for all this equipment you`ll need a bag or box to store it in, 4 things you`ll need to get you out of the situation are a shovel, some salt, something to put under the wheels and a tow rope. The best shovel is a snow shovel these however tend to be on the big side so anything that fits into your car will do,
most people will recommend a bag of salt to melt the snow and ice which if you have space is fine, some people may not have the space to store this so a large pot of salt will suffice, you can buy commercial snow treads to put under tyres but you can also use burlap sacks or similar or even old carpet which will do the same job.

 the tow rope is to help pull you back on the road if someone comes along that can help and vise versa.

          If you can`t get the car back on the road you may end up spending some time in your car and this is when you really do need to have some equipment in the back of your car and be prepared to wait for help, if you intend to use the cars engine to keep you warm make sure that the exhaust pipe is clear at all times even if that means getting out every once in a while to clear it as a blockage may stop the engine.
3/4 season sleeping bag, the reason for this is because a car will intensify the cold weather and a 2 season may not be enough,
said I`d find a use for the Nanok

          Hat, gloves, thick socks and warm jumper.

          Ice grippers, to stop you slipping over when you are walking around I use Yaxtrax for preference.

          First Aid Kit, this should be in your car anyway.

          Wind up torch, why a wind up and not a battery powered one? because the cold will drain battery life quicker than normal (this goes for the car battery as well) and when you come to need the torch it may not work whereas with a wind up there is always power available at the turn of a handle.
          2litres of Water, this needs to be put somewhere near the centre of your equipment to prevent it from freezing.
          Stove, this needs careful consideration as there a number of things to think about, a gas stove might not be a good thing to have as gas becomes very inefficient and slow in cold conditions it also means carrying a gas canister around which could have an unfortunate affect in an accident, a petrol/diesel stove could be a better decision after all what does your car run on? however if you are not regularly going to use it can you really justify the cost? better than both of these are the Trekmates flameless kits or the self heating meal kits, these dont require gas or liquid fuel to run nor do they produce flames and are not susceptible to weather conditions.

          Food, If you choose to take your own food rather than rely on the self heating meal kits choose high calorific food to help you stay warm, warm drinks also need to be considered and this can be what you would normally drink however if you take milk or cream you probably will need to replace it everyday (obviously UHT and powered milk are the exception to this) for preferance I have Earl Grey tea, same as for all my expedition work, for the simple fact that no milk is required.
         Phone charger, although you can obviously get car chargers that run off the car battery this may end up draining your cars battery in the process, there are emergency chargers available on the market both rechargeable and battery powered and these are prefrable to in car ones      

         Book, yes seriously, keeps your mind occupied and helps pass the time while you wait for rescue.
         Another piece of equipment I would recomend is a 12 volt  tyre inflater, although it does have particular application and is required in one situation only, occasionally and ONLY IF you have spun off the road you can sometimes gain more traction by letting some of the air out of the tyres to get back on the road as soon as you have done this use the inflater to reinflate the tyres and when you are reinflating the tyres leave the engine running to avoid battery drain.

         One more piece of advise I would give is if you can, book some time on a skid pan this will give you the training to get you out of a spin should it happen.

Hopefully none of this will happen to you but if it does its obviously best to be prepared and if you follow the advise above it will make it easier for you and remember rescue services may be swamped with call outs so you might be waiting start on that book

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Trangia Triangle part two

Trangia Triangle part two

          As I mentioned in my last blog I`d sent the supporting ring away to be measured for an idea that I had in mind and the result is shown in the pictures below along with some other pictures to show how the supporting ring should be used used with the rest of the triangle, the project I had in mind was to turn the Trangia Triangle from a meths burning stove to a multi fuel stove capable of burning wood and hexi blocks, another idea I had in mind with this system is how it could be used with a penny stove. The disc is a direct replacement for the supporting ring and fits in the same slots designed for the supporting ring, the steel that the disc is manufactured from is heavy and weighs more than the rest of the triangle but it needs to be like this to withstand the potential heat generated, so why not just have a small fire on the ground contained within the triangle? with the fire off the ground air can be drawn in to the fire better helping wood burn hotter and more completely.
original Trangia Triangle burner ring

burner in place

fire plate in place



The only issue that I`ve discovered with using the triangle in this way is that you have to take the pot off to feed in wood but this is really only a minor inconvenience.


Sunday, 17 November 2013

Trangia Triangle

Trangia Triangle (part one)

          This is going to be a two part blog that will hopefully be completed next week, the reason for this is because the Trangia Triangle comes in 4 parts not 3, I have sent the burner frame away to be measured as I have something in mind for this stove.
          The second blog I wrote was entitled "is there still a place for Trangia stoves in the outdoors" and whilst I said yes I also said that Trangia would have to respond to the growing lightweight community and they have done just that with the Trangia Triangle, weighing just 115g (without the burner) this is potentially one of the lightest systems on the market. As usual with Trangia simplicity is the keyword and the Triangle is about as simple as it gets, three pieces of flexible steel are interlocked using slots and tabs around a frame which in turn holds the burner.

          There are slots in the side of the pot support/ wind shield where the frame goes and although the instructions say to build the shields around the frame I found it easier to build the shields first and then wedge the frame in place.

 as you can see from the pictures its quite a tight fit for the burner but this does mean that no space is wasted and the bulk is cut down on, 

          The great thing about this set up, like all Trangias, is little to no maintenance is required, (aside from cleaning dirty pots, which is a breeze if you know the trick). This being a Trangia obviously means a slow boiling time, around 15 minutes for a litre of water, other disadvantages to the system are the fact that the weight does not include the weight of the burner itself or any pots, the product does not come with a burner meaning you need to source one yourself (easy enough on the Internet or the bigger outdoor stores) usually around £10 - 15 fortunately the case that comes with the system is big enough to hold the burner as well as everything else,  nor does it come with any pots again meaning you have to source them yourself, not a bad thing as you can choose which pots you want to use, a couple of people have mentioned the thickness of the steel and how it might deteriorate after heating and cooling, as this is a new product to me I can`t tell yet but should be able to report about this in the future. 
          As with the mini Trangia I wouldn`t recommend this for group use as although it is smaller and lighter there is the potential for accidents, the main reason though is that part of the reason for using Trangia stoves in a group environment is to encourage communal cooking and this stove system is obviously for the lightweight or solo backpacker.
          Given the fact that there are already many lightweight stoves on market based around Trangia burners is this too little too late from Trangia? I don`t think so but they are going to have to work hard if they want to catch up to other products such as the Honey Stove and only time will tell.

As I mentioned at the start the supporting frame for the burner is missing, although the stove functions perfectly well without it, this is because I have spotted a potential and hopefully useful modification that can be made to this set up and will blog about this when I get it through. 
This blog has now been published as the Trangia Triangle part two 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Orthosole insoles

OrthoSole insoles

          A few months ago I wrote a short blog about superfeet insoles, this week I am going to write about their main rivals, OrthoSole. I was actually given a pair by the OrthoSole rep for free at the place I work and whilst I stick by my superfeet I thought I would at least give these a try and see if there was any real difference, there is one major difference between these and the superfeet but I will come onto this later, the first difference to note is the heel cup, on the superfeet they are rigid plastic, on the OrthoSole this heel cup is much softer, this makes it easier to bed down and makes it feel more comfortable underfoot straight away.

there is also a sizeable pad pad directly under the heel to cushion heel strike which the superfeet do not have as they use the body`s natural fat pad to cushion heel strike.

 moving to the front of the insole under the ball of the foot and the toes the insole itself is nearly twice as thick as the superfeet which did cause a few problems when I put them in my shoes as it forced my foot up into the very top and made my foot very uncomfortable, luckily this didn`t happen in my boots and so they remained in these for the duration, having twice as much padding does provide a more comfortable feel underfoot but may push your foot up the same as it did mine.

A couple of other things that OrthoSoles have an advantage over superfeet is that they can be bought straight from the shelf and do not have to fitted to your heel or have any part ground down to fit the shoe.
           The unique selling point of the OrthoSoles is the fact that the arch support and mid foot support can be customised to how you want and when you buy them all of the pieces to do this are (usually) included, these range from light through to firm support (not all of these pieces came with my insoles but I can`t complain as they were free).

The soles themselves have a recess to allow the pieces to fit and have velcro to prevent the pieces from falling off, to compare them to the superfeet I used the firmest of the pieces.

          So how do they actually compare? well being softer than the superfeet they were comfortable straight away and they had no breaking in period so "pebble under the foot" sensation and they certainly provided the same support as the superfeet insoles, however about an hour or so of using them the edge of the left insole started pinching the sole of my foot against the side of my boot which became more irritating as time went on this of course could lead to all sorts of issues in the future, the other thing I found with the OrthoSoles is although they don`t need it, my pair could probably do with some trimming to fit properly in my boots.
          Overall I am not entirely convinced by OrthoSoles and will be sticking to Superfeet for the time being, this doesn`t mean that they don`t work or aren`t any good, they may indeed work for you the only way to find out is to try them.  
          One more piece of information is OrthoSoles can be used by people who have a range of foot problems, although it is best to consult a podiatrist before using them as they may not be suitable.

follow the link below to go to the Lone Wolf Mobile Bushcraft website:

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Zombie Apocalypse

Zombie Apocalypse

(This one is just for fun to celebrate Halloween, please note, the guns you see in the pictures are air soft guns and therefore not real, except the air rifle....which is a real air rifle and under the UK legal limit of 12lb foot of air pressure and registered to me)

          Its finally happened, well something happened anyway and now the undead are walking the earth and feeding on those of us that can`t escape them or fight them off, we don't know what attracts them, sound, smell or vision.
          I`m one of the lucky ones I`ve managed to survive but it hasn`t be easy and now I want to pass some of this advise onto you.

          The first thing needed in this situation is to stay positive, even if you end up on your own, there is always something to be positive about, trust me on this. even if its only the fact that you`ve found somewhere secure to stay for a few days.

          The second thing to remember is the four priorities of survival,


          This means protection from everything, including protecting yourself from those...things, the weather and other humans, of these the undead is the main priority, there are at the moment at least four different types of zombies that we have identified and each needs a different strategy to cope with.

  • Undead, most numerous zombie type, these can be easily avoided as they move slowly and usually in packs, they are also easily put down
  • Fatboys, easily identified by bloated stomachs, these move even slower than undeads but have a deadly sting, they tend to explode when hit, spreading infected entrails everywhere, even easier to avoid, if you have to put them down make sure you are at a far enough distance to avoid the explosion.
  • Crawlers, as the name suggests this types crawls across the ground usually as the result of an undead falling over and not having the sense or strength to pick themselves up, this type is more dangerous as they are quieter than undead and being closer to the ground a little harder to spot. A kick to the head usually sorts this type out
  • Berserker, this is the most dangerous type, fast and agile, springing from nowhere and usually with little to no warning, they are the very devil to put down, not because they are any stronger but because they are so damn fast its hard to target them, the only people I`ve seen put Berserker`s down at any distance is the armed forces or armed police, the best tactic is to avoid, which is hard.      

  The easiest way to avoid all of the above is to simply stay away from them even if you have to go miles out of your original route but the best way is of course to arm yourself...

          What I have here is a Beretta 92, a Smith and Wesson .38 revolver, a .22 rifle a machete and a knife...that of course is a lie, at least the 2 handguns are seeing that they are illegal in the UK, unless you`re in the armed forces, armed response unit of the police or a farmer it is highly unlikely you`ll come across any form of firearm and good luck trying to persuade any of them to loan you one, believe me I`ve tried. it isn`t all bad news though, with some bolt action rifles and shotguns still being legal, it is possible to get hold of some of these and if you are one of those people that are lucky enough to have one can I be your friend...please?
          So what can you do to protect yourselves from the undead? well at long range not an awful lot it really boils down to two things, bows and crossbows, I prefer bows simply because I grew up using them, they do of course have downsides they are slow, they can be unwieldy  and they do take a lot of practise to use properly and to be accurate with, on the plus side they are silent and its fairly easy to make more arrows, crossbows are easier to use and quicker to become accurate with but the bolts are harder to make. if you do manage to get hold of something like this LEARN HOW TO USE THEM EFFECTIVELY nothing worse than seeing someone who can`t use a weapon. 

          Thankfully close range weapons are easier to source and easier to improvise but it does mean letting them get close which has its own problems, remember one bite is all it takes, the list of things that you could use is almost endless from cricket bats and iron pipes through to knives and axes, of these try and use something that will keep at least a small amount of distance between yourself and them it`ll help believe me, I`ve even seen people improvise pikes and spears for this reason and remember whatever you use aim for the head.


          At some point you will have to move from place to place and this will more than likely mean that you will need to walk which inevitably means encountering different weather, dressing in layers will help with the differing situations, try to avoid cotton wherever you can as it holds onto water and and makes you colder, high collar or neck gaiters not only helps stop the wind coming in but can help stop them from biting you, especially if you stitch some metal plates into the collar... boots are better than shoes even if they are heavier, they are generally waterproof, you can use them for kicking and they give better protection from crawlers biting your ankles, for waterproofing use soft shell, if you can get hold of it, because although they are shorter and often not fully waterproof, they do not rustle and therefore decrease the chance of attracting them, you`ll also need to find some way of protecting your equipment, at one time plastic dry bags would have been the way forward and whilst these still are the best I have my doubts, they make a lot of noise when being opened and closed which could attract the undead, which is why I have bartered for heavy duty canoe dry bags, they do the same thing but make less noise, the downside to these is they are heavy.

Other people

          It may seem strange to have to protect yourself from other people after all we are all survivors...while this is indeed the case there are some that have become...not exactly the nicest around, the vast majority of survivors have chosen to stay in and around towns and cities behind walls and gates others have chosen to move around trying to make the best of what they can find, I fall into the later category, both of course have there issues, if you`ve chosen to stay in towns make sure you know all the exits are because when...sorry if the walls are breached you will need to bail out quickly whether that be through undead attack, bandit attack or something else, which leads me on to the next thing if you choose to stay in towns, have a bail out bag ready to go at all times something you can grab that contains a few days worth of kit to survive with including some kind of weapon, the good thing about staying in towns is that you have a lot of resources to go around and others to defend you, you`ll probably have to spend some time on the walls yourself in defence of the town but its not too much of a hardship, the downside to having these resources and defences is everyone knows where you are and they will inevitably want to take some of those resources for themselves usually without bartering or consent. 
           If like me you choose to go it alone you still have to be aware of certain things number one is the random undead, thankfully these are few and far between as they tend to congregate together in packs but there is always one, deal with these as you come across them, number two perhaps more importantly is bandits, these people are more dangerous, they only have one rule and that's to look after themselves, there is usually no bargaining with these people, they ambush, take what they want and leave you to your fate, if you`re on your own there is no defence other than being prepared and being suspicious of everything, this isn`t so much of a problem if you`re in a group.
          You may be lucky enough to come across a group of friendly survivors, if this happens you may be able to barter for things that you need, if you are really lucky you may even be invited to join the group that of course is your choice.         

           Its safe to say that most of you will be thinking that its best to stay in your houses and while this may be true for some of you, you have to think if you can defend it not only from the undead but from other people after all you`re going to have things that others want, stay there and help other survivors if they come along...if you can trust them, if you are forced out or decide to leave then use buildings as much as possible they have strong walls and are easily defensible but make sure there are two exits, needless to say what will happen if you get trapped inside. Also make sure that the building has good all round vision from all floors especially the upper floors, if you can, board up the ground floor windows regardless of whether they have glass or not it may buy you a few precious seconds, something I have found really desirable is a fireplace, its meant I`ve managed to light a fire in relative safety as the sound and light is hidden by the fireplace and the smoke has drifted above everything else, unfortunately thanks to a lot of modern buildings fireplaces no longer exist so this is becoming a rare luxury. If you do manage to find a fire place block all the windows into that room so that no light can spill out and gather all the combustible materials you can before night fall so that you don't have to venture outside after dark but also be aware of the downside to this you`ll have no idea about attack before it happens
          I can`t count the times I`ve been forced to sleep under canvas since this all started and I`ve learnt a few things, the first one of which is unless you are in a group don`t sleep in a tent, if you are attacked by a group of the fast ones (berserkers) you may not get out in time, I`ve seen it happen countless times so just don`t. Second try and have all round vision even if it means compromising your shelter slightly you will not regret it, third don't do your sleeping bag up all the way, this is for the same reason as the tent, forth keep all your weapons inside your sleeping bag , this will keep them dry, stop rusting if you`re lucky enough to have a firearm and in the case of my bow it will stop the string deteriorating, if you have a gun, unload it, remove any round from the breach and safety it, sounds obvious but better than shooting yourself. If you end up on your own don`t leave a fire burning overnight, this may attract them, but also attract anybody else in the area some of which will releave you of everything...

          You still need to know if something is coming your way, human or otherwise and its best to set up a perimeter, this doesn't have to be elaborate just a simple trip wire will do but it does need to make some sort of noise.
          I use some old tin cans with something inside to make it rattle.

         Again this is not needed if you are in a group but you will need to set up sentries to guard you while you sleep.

          Although I have listed both protection and shelter as more important priorities, both water and food are the things that people fight over and its pretty obvious why, having a clean water supply and an ample supply of food makes surviving this a lot easier.
          It stands to reason that you cannot create water but you can collect it, rainwater being the best for this, try avoiding plastic bags for this, the drumming may attract them and the rain will dull your sense of hearing, don`t collect more than you think you`ll need each litre of water weighs one kilo and the more weight you are carrying the slower you are going to be, I`ve found the best amount is 3 litres, 2 to drink and one as spare.
          As we still don`t know what caused the dead to walk the earth, avoid water from rivers or streams, the wildlife in them may spread or even be the cause of this disaster and may spread this to you, of course I understand that you may have no other choice but please only use this as a last resort,
          If you are near the sea you can use desalination methods to obtain fresh drinking water but beware they can be slow and might not yield much water, the method I`ve used for this are "can within can" this is where you have a smaller can inside a bigger can, boil seawater in the bigger can, steam rises hits a lid, condenses back into fresh water and is collected in the smaller can. The other method is to wrap leaves of trees in preferably plastic bags to collect water vapour overnight, although this does mean using plastic bags, some older buildings farms in particular may also have wells which is probably the best and safest way of collecting water although inevitably these will be guarded and if they`re not be suspicious, a reliable fresh source of water is getting harder to come by so think to yourself why is this well not guarded. whatever method you use make sure you boil the water for at least five minutes before drinking.


          Unfortunately most peoples minds have immediately turned to food and they horde what they can, good in some ways as it makes sure they have enough to eat but how long do you think fresh food is going to last with out refrigerators to keep food cool? and more importantly how long do you think you would be able to keep the fact that you have food from other people? the first thing I will say is this, you may have to give up on moral objections when it comes to food, I highlight may because if you choose to stay in towns or stay in a wood that has enough diversity to provide fruit and nut options you wont have eat meat or anything else you dont agree with.
          Firstly as with water don`t eat any meat you are unsure of, which should be everything, just like fish and such we don`t know what caused this but we do know fruit, veg and reared animals are not affected.
          Obviously the main food producers are the farms, the problem is everyone knows and so do the farmers and they`ve taken measures to prevent people helping themselves...usually in the form of shotguns. they are however often open to trading for food just make sure your intention to trade is clear as you approach the farmhouse and expect to come away with less than you were hoping for.
          The real issue with food is preservation, with no way to chill food and no fast transportation options people have had to resort to older methods, namely having live food, fresh food, salting and drying. out of all of these dried food is the best, its the lightest and easiest to pack, can be eaten straight away, has no smell (unless you cook it) and it can also be traded. having live food means that you not only have to feed yourself but also whatever else you have with you, it also means killing and butchering with its associated smell so unless you have a group of people with you don`t take live food.
          Wild foods are always available but you need to know where to find them and at what time of year, the best source of information for you is a book of wild foods and you need to ask yourself if its worth the risk collecting them particularly if it means concentrating on something long enough to be attacked.
          Some of you are probably asking why I haven`t mentioned canned foods yet, this is simple, they have become increasingly rare and more "expensive" if that`s the right term, most of the traders have what`s left and are asking for more in exchange, I only use them if I have to as they are also heavy and take some effort to open, on the plus side empty cans as you`ve already seen are useful as alarms but they can also cut up and formed into crude arrow heads.

Other tips   

          What other tips can I give you? if you do need to start travelling around, pick the right size bag, if you go too big you`ll be tempted to fill it with stuff, weighing you down and slowing you down, use an alpine style rucksack, these have less straps on them to snag and don`t stick out from your body, I use a 47 litre bag which is a little bit too big but as I don`t have too much stuff its never been a problem, I customised it by adding a couple of straps on the bottom to hold my quiver of arrows whilst I`m walking, my only issue is the colour being bright red I`m always concerned that I`ve been spotted by one of them, or a group of bandits.

          I said before but I`ll say it again, if you do come across any weapon spend time learning how to use it you wont regret it.

          If you`re going near towns hide some of your equipment somewhere outside the walls, if the people inside "borrow" your stuff you wont be completely helpless when you leave.
          some more clothing tips, don't use capes or ponchos, they are easy to grab when in a hurry and they snag, try and use natural fibres where you can, boots can sometimes be...adapted, always have a couple of hats and a couple of pairs of gloves and a couple of pairs of socks.
          You may have noticed the word barter mentioned a couple of times and this is because money has no value any more, although its still funny watching people try to use it, you will need to work on your bartering skills and be careful of what your bartering for check it over first, most traders will let you if they have nothing to hide.
          There are some groups that will let you stay with them provided you pull your weight, do so, nobody gets a free ride any more.
          Don`t assume you know better than someone else, especially if your away from towns if they`ve managed to survive this long without help, they are obviously doing something right.
          Some people will be willing to teach you new skills, let them, knowledge is a powerful thing and the only truly trade-able commodity any more, you may not need the knowledge straight away but you will at some time and you can always pass it on.  
          If you kill one of the undead don`t burn the corpse, it seems to attract others, just walk away.
          A strange occurrence has been noticed recently and has sparked some rumours in the towns, some researchers collected samples of truly dead zombies and whilst they were transporting them back none of the still animated ones bothered them...this has given hope to some sort of defence against them it isn`t anything concrete just yet but keep an ear out in case this changes.
We may never meet but if we do I will be friendly as long as you are 
Follow the link below to go to the Lone Wolf Mobile Bushcraft website. 


Sunday, 20 October 2013

Acorn Coffee

Acorn Coffee

          Yep thats right coffee made from acorns and this time of year is the perfect time to make this, at first to make acorn coffee seems like quite an involved process but it is actually relatively simple but it does take some effort if, like me, you only use manual methods, after all there`s not much electricity in the field. The methods I describe here aren`t original.  
          To start with you need to do is collect some acorns, obviously, but there are some things that you need to be careful of, 
          First of all ONLY collect acorns that have fallen from the tree, whilst collecting you need to check for for a number of things,
splits in the bottom of the acorn 

a small hole in the acorn (this usually means a grub is living inside)

a split in the shell 

          If these occur or you are just suspicious leave the acorn out of your bag, its better than becoming ill,  
once you have collected enough you need to move on to the next stage which is the float test (from this point on all the photos are taken at home but can be done just as easily in the field), this is a quick simple test that sounds like exactly what it is, putting all the acorns in a bowl of water, those that float need to be removed and discarded. I tend to leave this a few minutes just to be sure.
 floating acorns towards the top

once this has been done the acorns need to laid out to dry, this can be assisted by using the oven (set on the lowest temperature at home or with a warm dutch oven in the field.

for the next part you will need either a light hammer or more preferably a pair of nut crackers (safer) you then need to start cracking and de-shelling the acorns, discard the shells.

again at this stage any acorn that is rotting or you even have slight doubts about discard,

obviously this didnt make the grade

had doubts about this one so I left it out

          The next stage is perhaps the most laborious and if you do plan on making acorn coffee alot I really would recommend getting a grinder preferably hand cranked as there aren`t many power sockets in the field, you now need to grind and sift the acorns, this does take some time so be patient.

          Until you get something resembling flour in the bowl.

           next comes the roasting, for this I have a pan dedicated to tasks like this and it may be wise to have something along the same lines, when you roast the acorn "flour" its best done in a dry pan over a medium heat, the crucial thing here is that you DO NOT STOP STIRRING to prevent sticking, the flour needs to be fully roasted and slightly smoking before taking off the heat, as you will appreciate I didn`t take any photos during the roasting stage just a before and after shot.


          from here the next stage, (although this is my preference), is to brew the coffee in a percolator as you would with normal coffee.

          Acorn coffee is naturally caffeine free and can be taken with milk and sugar as normal but I would suggest you try it on its own to begin with to gauge its flavour.

          It stands to reason that their are certain species of oak around the world that are not suitable for doing this so best to check before making this. I am also aware that many bushcraft companies will stick to the method of boiling acorns and changing the water constantly to eliminate the tannins within the acorn shells, this was the method that I first used but as I said at the beginning this method is not original and I am actually pleased with the results and have suffered no ill effects from using this method.

Follow the link below to go to the Lone Wolf Mobile Bushcraft website.