Sunday, 30 June 2013

Giraffe Hunt

Giraffe Hunt
          This week I went hunting for not like that, as if I`d want to shoot one, besides I don`t think an air rifle would make much of an impact! even with magnum pellets. In this case the giraffes in question were statues celebrating 50 years of Colchester Zoo. In total there are 112 giraffes scattered around Essex and Suffolk, 30 of these are part of an art trail and have been professionally painted the rest have been painted by schools, finding the 30 on the art trail also entitles you to enter a competition where the prize is a 17 day trip to Tanzania and Kenya, this was the main reason that I ended up running around all over the place this week, progress is tracked by using an app and scanning QR codes on the giraffes themselves with smartphones, the app has been active since the 2nd of June. I did download the app on the first day and started scanning the giraffes in Colchester town centre,  unfortunately due to fatal error in the program the app kept crashing and losing all the data I had collected, also due to poor administration most of the giraffes were in the wrong places, the QR codes wouldn`t work properly and the staff in most of the shops didn't know anything about what was happening, this week however an update became correcting the technical side of these problems, so the hunt was on! with just one day to spare could I collect them all? the trip would involve going to Clacton, Ipswich, North Colchester, Colchester Campus, Colchester Town centre, Stanway, Eight Ash Green, the zoo, Maldon, Basildon, Romford, Chelmsford and Braintree Freeport Outlet Village, a tall order (no pun intended) but possible.
          8.30 rolled round and I set out for Clacton...and got stuck behind a truck, `not a problem` I thought, `he`ll be turning off at the dual carriageway`, he didn`t he stayed in front of me for about 5 miles, doing between 30 and 40 miles an hour, the legal speed limit for a truck but still frustrating as hell, finally he turned on to another road and I could get my foot down...until I went round the corner and got stuck behind yet another truck, argh! I ended up following this truck all the way to Clacton where the first set of giraffes would be and were, the problem was it was 9.30 and the shops didn`t open until 10.00, I should have gone to Ipswich first, however the first shop had helpfully put the QR code in the window so I could scan it through the glass, if the other shops had done this I could have been done in about 10 minutes but no, apart from the main art trail giraffe the other QR codes were within the shops themselves, meaning I had to wait around until 10 to get them, when all the QR codes had been scanned I was finally away to Ipswich...

or so I thought, normally I have a lot of patience for learner drivers, it can be very daunting when you first get on the road and this was a very nervous driver, at least judging by the kangarooing and weaving, but not when I`m trying to get somewhere in a hurry, when they finally got out of the way (by pulling a very dangerous manoeuvre across the road into a layby on the other side) I managed to make some decent progress at least until I got into Suffolk itself, where I got stuck behind an elderly driver (I swear there was a conspiracy) how do I know it was an elderly driver? they are the only people I know that insist the national speed limit is 45 miles per hour! thankfully I wasn't behind them that long and managed to get to John Lewis in Ipswich without much more bother, where I encountered the first of the staffing issues for the day, when I enquired as to the whereabouts of the giraffes in the store, the shopkeeper started looking on the computer system and told me that they had various models for sales, when I explained about the artwork statues I just received a blank look, it took a few minutes and several questions before I found out that the giraffes were upstairs in the cafĂ©, all three were side by side, in seconds I had got them all and was gone into Ipswich town,

 where the next art trail statue was located, this was found easily, scanned and photographed as was the poor example of a TARDIS next to it.

 the next art trail example was located in the north of Colchester and was easy to get to as it was a run straight down the A12 to the Mini dealership, as a bonus 2 of the schools statues were located inside the door

the giraffe at the main railway station was collected as was the one in McDonalds, the giraffe at the campus grounds proved to be slightly more tricky as there was nowhere easy to park and involved a ten minute walk to it.

with all these collected as well as the giraffes in the Hythe, I headed into Colchester town to collect the majority of the giraffes, I knew this would take the best part of an hour and a half, with so many to collect I carefully planned my route to waste the smallest amount of time, the route needed to take in the Art Museum, Castle Park, the High Street, the Theatre, a couple of outlying areas and Lion Walk.

Stanway was my next port of call where another 9 statues were located, followed by the giraffes at Eight Ash Green, the zoo was next on the list, this is where the biggest sticking point of the day came, I`d expected the zoo to be slightly sneaky and put their giraffe within the zoo grounds forcing people to go in to get it, however along with the big prize there were several other mini prizes, one of these being 1 free entry to the zoo which I had planned to use to get the giraffe on the grounds, there were conditions in the REALLY small print though and the free entry was only for a child with one full paying adult and I wasn`t prepared to pay £20 to walk a few metres into the grounds.
          having left the zoo empty handed and with time running out I had a decision to make, I could go for the last 3 art trail giraffes or the ones in Romford and Basildon, I decided to go for the art trail giraffes that was the main goal of the day afterall, this meant I only needed to get to Maldon, Chelmsford and Braintree, the other advantage of this was getting the school giraffes at Braintree outlet village, making up the numbers, although Maldon was collected quickly, Chelmsford wasn`t so easy, not only had the giraffe been removed but a fence had been put around its stand making the QR code difficult to reach, I got some pretty odd looks leaning over trying to scan the code, I did manage to get it though and headed to Braintree, it was 5.30 when I reached the outlet village and had half an hour to collect the last of the giraffes, this is where I encountered yet more staffing issues, the app had one of the school giraffes in a certain shop this turned out to be wrong however and they had moved it out of the shop to another one and when I asked a member of staff about giraffes I was taken to the stuffed toy section and shown a selection of giraffes for sale, once again when I explained further it resulted in yet more blank stares until all was clarified by another member of staff, how the hell this person had missed the 8 foot giraffe in the middle of the village as well as all the others dotted around the site is beyond me, 29 out of the art trail giraffes had now been collected and I concentrated on getting the rest of the school giraffes in the village, with all of the giraffes I could get now collected I headed for home determined to go to zoo later for the last of the art trail giraffes.

final count 96 out of 112, pretty good for one days work,

you`re probably now wondering if I went back for the last giraffe at the zoo....course I did! and he wasn`t exactly hard to miss either (he was actually used in Monaco to promote an event out there until he was bought for the zoo) so I`m now entered into the competition and really hoping to win

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

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Expedition food

Expedition Food
Over the last few years the amount of expedition food available on the market has increased from only having fresh food to take, to boil in the bag, to dehydrated food and of course taking a mixture of all three. in this blog I`m not going to tell you what to take on expeditions, that is of course entirely your decision, what I will be doing is making you aware of the options available as well as the foodstuffs I take with me on an expedition.

          Perhaps the oldest type of specific expedition is the boil in the bag, frequently from army surplus ration packs, many people have tasted that heady mixture of refried beans and rubbery sausage with slight aftertaste of aluminium oxide from the pack itself and probably thought at the time "this is a hell of a lot easier than trying to cook fresh ingredients"
          as I mentioned above the boil in the bag meals originated in the army and have slowly filtered down through to civilian use and while these were and still are welcome in expeditions they do have drawbacks, they are comparatively heavier than most other types of food packs, the stoves must be able to take the pack fully, the high cost of civilian versions is also a disadvantage with each pack costing between £3-£4.50, the cost goes even higher if you want the self heating packs, making the cost of food for an expedition at least £39 (13 meals at £3 each not including breakfast of the first day or the evening meal of the last, nor does this figure include the most vital part of any evening meal, dessert) further disadvantages lay in the possibility of aluminium oxide poisoning from cooking food in aluminium bag, it must be stressed however that this is a very low possibility. Another disadvantage to these meals is the comparative lack of vegetarian or vegan alternatives, the only option I could find was the vegetable curry and rice, I don't know however is this suitable for vegans though, a final (although personal) observation is the taste of the food, with the exception of the chocolate and treacle pudding, none of the boil in a bag food tastes that good and I have tasted every flavour from, metal through rubber, to what tastes like dirt.
          the major advantages to these meals are the exceptional shelf life, in some cases up to ten years, the ease of use, the high calorie content and the amount of water that is used in there preparation in comparison with other meal types (as well as not having much washing up to do afterwards), the same pot and the same water can be used to prepare many meals, thereby reducing the water consumption of the whole group.

Dehydrated food is gaining in popularity as an alternative to boil in the bag, primarily down to wider choice of food (although again very little vegetarian or vegan choices) and being lighter in weight as well as tasting much better and having no aftertaste of aluminium, another advantage to dehydrated food is the ability to create your own, particularly advantageous for vegetarians and vegans, dehydrators don't cost a huge amount of money and when compared to the cost of a weeks expedition food from shops they work out about the same price. the cheapest dehydrator on amazon is £34.95,
          as with every advantage there are disadvantages, in the case of dehydrated food its the amount of water they use, each pouch can take up to 1/2 a litre of water to prepare which over the course of a day can mean a litre and a half being used just for food and seeing that clean water is required for the preparation extra will need to be collected, sterilized and used for these pouches, the relative cost of each pouch is also high, on par with boil in the bag food.
          of course there is the alternative option of taking fresh or packet foods and creating your own, the first thing I remember "creating" on a camping trip was peaches and custard! really simple but I made it and it didn't come from a ration pack (the fact it was dried peaches and powdered custard was lost on me at the time) over the course of time I have seen many things cooked on camping trips, including sausages, bacon, eggs, rice, pasta, fresh cherry tomatoes, dried chicken and one Duke of Edinburgh group attempting to cook potatoes on a Trangia! (it actually worked), of course the disadvantage is keeping the food fresh, not so difficult with packet food but fresh fruit and veg of course require careful handling.
            when I go on expedition I take a variety of food, I take one self heating boil in the bag kit for my emergency rations, before I'm criticized for being a hypocrite there is a very good reason, being an emergency ration I don't want to tempted into eating it too quickly and as I don't like the taste this wont happen, secondly with the self heating kit no cooker is required to be set up, it also helps that the meal can be eaten cold, for my breakfasts I take packet porridge or musili as well as squeezable honey to add flavour, for my lunches I have a variety of snacks usually consisting malt loafs, beef jerky, fruit and nuts, chocolate and dried fruit, for evening meals I usually have rice or pasta, slightly boring but I also add a variety of sauces and precooked, dried or dehydrated meats or veg to the mix, the one food I have not mentioned and actually avoid is couscous, this is not because I`m allergic to it or find it tasteless, it because whilst on expedition in Morocco for a month I had to eat couscous morning noon and night every day and I just cannot stomach the stuff anymore.
           as can be seen there are plenty of options to choose from when picking expedition foods and as I said at the beginning the choice is entirely up to you.  

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

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Essex Way Part 2

Essex Way part 2
In one of my previous blogs I walked part of the Essex Way from Harwich to Manningtree, this week I decided to do a little bit more, this time from Mistley to West Bergholt, a distance along the way of just over 27 KM, which given the not overly excessive speed I walk at would take me a little over five and a half hours to complete, six with a break. I would once again be using the "runchecker" app to keep track of my progress, which having learned from previous experience I`d reprogrammed to give me information about my progress every 45 minutes rather than every 5 and to give info in metric rather than imperial (UK Ordnance Survey maps use kilometre grid squares) as well pausing when I stopped, this feature ended up becoming a little annoying as it would register a pause every time I went through a gate. none of this however stopped the condescending tone, at least in my mind, the app uses whenever your averages drop.
          I set out at just after 8am with an overcast skies and a slight chance of rain, although small Mistley does have a dark place in history as it was once the home of the notorious (and self appointed) Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins, who during the 17th century owned the Thorn Hotel where in the basement he extracted "confessions" from women accused of witchcraft, usually using torture methods to do so, thankfully his reign of terror was short lived and in an ironic twist (at least in one story) Hopkins himself was accused, tried and executed as a witch,
The Thorn

a little further down the road are the Adams towers, these were once the towers to the parish church and are all that remains, the centre section was demolished in the 19th century when the church on new road was built.

 Adams Towers

within a few metres of the Adams towers the road known as The Walls begins, the route follows this road all the way along into Manningtree and has some good views over the estuary.

The Walls

Manningtree is England`s smallest Parish and yet it has a lot packed into the area along with a high street that, with one notable exception, is without the usual chain shops that would normally be found along it. the Essex Way follows the back streets of the town gradually rising until it meets with Coxs hill just outside the town. it was on this road where I had an unusual encounter, a dog was running up and down causing the traffic all sorts of problems, assuming the dog belonged to me one of the drivers wound down his window and proceeded to address me about the dog with the words "I say, would you mind awfully putting your dog on a lead?"...or words to that affect, to which I replied "I do beg your pardon sir, but you seem to be mistaken about the owenership of this dog and I suggest you direct you comments elsewhere"...or words to that effect, ( I did eventually come across the dogs owner later) after this the walk drops down into Dedham Vale and makes its way into Dedham itself.
 Dedham Vale

Dedham Vale

     Dedham Church

once again the Essex way makes its way towards the River Stour and the furthest North that the route goes, if it did further North it would end up in Suffolk, the route follows the river for a couple of Kilometres and got me thinking, maybe it would be nice to canoe down it one day...

River Stour
River Stour (the opposite bank is Suffolk)

after a few more kilometres of following the path I reached the village of Boxted, where I found an unusual addition to the Essex countryside, an Australian gum tree, which I considered a little odd but not as odd as something I would find later on with my walk.

gum tree

between Boxted and Colchester is fairly open and easy ground to walk through it was while walking through some of this ground that I came across the possibly the oddest thing of the walk, a vineyard, someone is seriously trying to grow grapes in Essex!

the route after this follows minor roads and tracks to Great Horkesley, after nearly 25 kilometres both my knee and hip had started hurting, fortunately West Bergholt was just two kilometres away along some easy paths and gently rolling hills, unfortunately because of the pain I was in my pace had dropped drastically and just to add insult to injury "runchecker" pinged on to tell me that as well, so rather than being 25 minutes away it took nearly 45 minutes to walk the final 2 km.
            this walk had taken its tole on me in the end but I would still recommend the Essex Way as a good introductory to long distance walking.

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

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Hydration sacks (Platypus vs. Camelbak vs. Source vs. Osprey)

Hydration sacks
(Platypus vs. Camelbak vs. Source vs. Osprey)
          Its amazing to think that until about 15 years ago hydration sacks simply didn't exist, it was just plastic bottles or metal Sigg bottles and at the time we didn't think anything more of it,

          Then along came Platypus and Camelbak and changed everything, at the time I was working in a local camping shop and thought that not only was the idea revolutionary but was quite simply the best thing I`d ever seen, the ability to drink whilst on the go, I was so enthralled by the idea that I bought one straight away, the Platypus 2 litre and whilst it changed everything it did have its drawbacks, as with the first generation of most equipment, some of which have been addressed and others that haven't. after this I moved onto the Camelbak 2 litre and then the Source 2 litre, I`m currently using the Osprey Hydraulic system which is incredibly similar to the Camelbak, each of the sack has its own unique advantages and disadvantages as well as universal advantages and disadvantages which I will describe below.
universal advantages  
          The biggest universal advantage of the hydration sack is first and foremost the ability to drink whilst on the move meaning a decreased risk of dehydration and the associated risks it comes with, especially the "I cant be bothered to stop and take my rucksack off" mentality (we`ve all been guilty of that one!). most rucksacks are now equipped with a specific pocket for them. They pack up smaller than a standard water bottle, they come in a variety of sizes usually from half a litre to 3 litres which is bigger than most standard bottles and they can be used as an emergency splint! (I did this on a wilderness first aid course and impressed the trainers, who I`m pretty sure nicked the idea afterwards and patented an air splint based on the idea....)
universal disadvantages
          Whilst the ability the drink whilst on the go is a massive advantage the one disadvantage to this system is that you have no idea how much you`ve drunk until you empty the bottle, unless you take your bag off of course, its for this reason that I always recommend to everyone that if you do go for a hydration sack then you should consider buying a normal drinks bottle as well, better safe than sorry, another disadvantage to hydration systems is that they may not be as tough as some of the metal bottles either, how many of us have a huge dent in a classic Sigg bottle? another disadvantage to the hydration system is the maintenance involved with them, with a standard bottle the most that needs to be done is it tipped upside down left over night to drain and stored overnight with the lid very loosely done up, purely so its not lost of course, with a hydration sack care needs to be taken to make sure that its completely drained of water, the pipe is empty and dry and that the whole system properly aired out else mould forms on the inside, personal experience speaking there! the other irritation caused by these bags is clients on seeing the pipe coming out of the bag asking you if its an oxygen tank and why they don't have one! 

this was the first system I used and at the time I was really impressed, it made perfect sense to have something to drink from as I walked along and I would still recommend this bag to anyone, the plastic used is tougher than most of the others meaning it can stand a little rougher handling making the bag ideal for first time users providing the disadvantage of this bag are kept in mind, in the case of the hoser the pipe is difficult to clean out and it can be difficult to fill up, as I found out to my cost if the pipe isn't properly cleaned out it can become very mouldy but as the one I had was a first generation I`m sure Platypus has fixed this problem. the bags also come in 0.5 litre, 1 litre, 1.5 litre, 1.8 litre (rare), 2 litre and 3 litre versions.

          Camelbak make many different types of water bottles including standard bottles, filtered bottles, insulated hydration sacks, standard hydration sacks (which they call bladders), sacks with wider openings (big zip) and colourful ones for kids and helpfully a cleaning and drying system (sold separately), the first thing that grabbed me about the Camelbak was the realativly huge opening to fill it up with as well as the easy close lid, the softer plastic of the bag and the pipe made this easier to pack and also nicer to bite on, the other thing I found with Camelbak is the faster flow rate of the water, greater flow rate however means that I was emptying the system quicker, which is when I decided that I needed to start carrying a spare water bottle, the other good thing with Camelbak is the pipe itself detaches for easier cleaning, the disadvantage to the Camelbak is unless you use the big zip it can be difficult to get rid of all the water afterwards. the Camelbaks come not only in different sizes ranging from 1 litre to 3 litres but in so many different varieties and in some cases in their own bags designed for running. 
          Possibly the best hydration system I have used and would absolutely recommend this system to anyone over the others and for many good reason, most of the systems have a tap on the pipe to prevent any accidental leaking, the opening to fill up is the full width of the bag, the flow rate is excellent and the plastic used is tougher than most, the pipe comes off for easy cleaning and the bag can be propped open to air out without using any specialist equipment, I usually use a stick to do this, the only disadvantage to the source system is filling it up can be awkward, the big orange fastener needs to be slid off and put somewhere safe, the top unfolded, the bag filled, top folded over and the orange fastener replaced which can lead to some spillage, again personal experience. they come in the standard sizes from 1 to 3 litres. these bags can be expensive but are worth the money.
          The bag I currently own, so why did I get this bag, quite simple it was half price when I bought my Osprey bag, how does it compare to the others? well the flow rate from the (non detachable) pipe is good but no tap, big cap which is easy to get at with gloved hands and easy to fill but the position of the opening does make it difficult to empty out, the plastic is thin but surprisingly tough, the carry handle across the whole bag makes this bag really easy to carry, obviously, but does prevent the bag from being rolled up, the one thing I really did like about this bag was the magnet it came with rather than a clip to attach to the shoulder strap, which I then promptly lost, fail. this doesn't make the bag any less effective though and is still recommended as are all the other bags in this blog.
A hydration system is certainly more effective than a water bottle and providing limitations are remembered they will quite quickly become a regular feature in your equipment.
 As with all outdoor equipment personal preference is key to any decision you make.

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

Sunday, 2 June 2013

My Equipment

My Equipment
I`ve mentioned in previous blogs that I do have personal preferences when it comes to outdoor equipment, those preferences being Arc`teryx, Mountain Hardwear and Mountain Equipment. however due to financial and other restrictions or preferences I haven't always been able to get the equipment that I've wanted but I`ve always bought the best that I could afford at the time and never compromised on the two most important things, boots and rucksacks. The equipment I have now is well used and starting to show its age (those pieces I haven`t replaced recently anyway) but is still serviceable and because I maintain them should provide a few more years service yet. because I've recently done a blog about my new tent and sleeping bag I wont mention them here
Salomon are my preferred summer boot company as the fit is perfect for my feet, I`ve had these about four years now and they are coming to the end of there serviceable life and i`ll be looking to replace them in the near future, being a mid boot they are perfect for the majority of the work I do, be it scrambling over high ropes cables, walking the Brecon Beacons or a gentle stroll along the Essex way, they are more flexible and easier to wear than a full boot but provide more ankle protection and security than a cross terrain shoe, the only issue I have with them, and it is a personal thing not a fault with the boots, is being Gore-Tex lined I find that my feet get too hot in them and I have at the end of the day had steam coming out of them, if Salomon start making boots with eVent then I will probably end up buying a pair however this may be unlikely in the near future.

La Sportiva are the boots that I use for winter along with Grivel crampons, however these are probably going to be replaced soon as they have become uncomfortable recently, no idea why though  
Rucksacks (yes plural)
In the number of years I`ve been doing outdoor education I ended up with more rucksacks than I really needed, that's the hoarder in me, I always justified this with the phrase "its nice to have a choice" however when the choice included the following it did become a bit overwhelming, a Lowe Alpine Pax 25, Berghaus freeflow 2 35, Gregory Advent Pro, Crux AK47 (yes that's really its name!), Lowe Alpine Appalachian 55+15. this has now been slimed down as both the Lowe Alpines have gone, one kept by my ex-girlfriend the other being left behind during a house move, these have been replaced by the Osprey Flare for every day use and Black Alpine 65+5 which I bought when I was short of money to replace the Lowe Alpine, however this bag may have an accident very soon....
          The Berghaus has also gone as I really couldn`t justify having two 35 litre bags and because of the design of the older freeflow system, it ended up developing a creak as I walked along, the advantage of the design was and still is the way it allows air to flow around the back but I really couldn`t put up with the creaking which is why I chose the Gregory, the other reason was the technology that goes into the bag, the primary one being the way the bag self seals small rips in the fabric the other one being the way the bag can be made to hug the back perfectly another reason is the way is the way that any excess room can be taken right down to nothing thanks to the draw cords, I still have the Crux as I do like the simplicity of the design, the ruggedness of the fabric and the fixed harness which fits me well.
Osprey Flare

Gregory Advent Pro

 Crux AK47

 Blacks Alpine 65+5
my waterproof jacket is an old Arc`teryx Theta jacket lined with Gore-Tex XCR, welded seams, waterproof zips, stiffened peak hood which is helmet compatible and adjustable and an excellent fit, being an older jacket it doesn`t benefit from the newer Gore-Tex Pro shell so isn`t as breathable but I haven't noticed anything wrong with this personally. the trousers are from Mountain Equipment and have been used just as much as the jacket and are starting to show there age now, they are still however waterproof, not sure what material is used though, what I do like about these is the full length dual zips which have proved their value more than once, the snow gaiters round the ankles and the height they come up to which combined with the jacket and the boots let no water in whatsoever.
Arc`teryx Jacket
Mountain Equipment trousers

Insulation layers
I use several different insulation layers depending on the activity I'm doing, these include an Icebreaker 260 made from merino wool, is long past its best, full of repaired holes and has shrunk but is still serviceable, the thing I like about this piece of clothing is the way it works, is naturally anti bacterial (unofficial record is 200 days in the Antarctic without washing and it didn`t smell!), cool when its warm and warm when its cool, naturally wicking and even when its tatty it still looks good, a long pile fleece which keeps cold or snow away whilst keeping the under layer dry,  and a Vanguard jacket, which is a copy of the legendary sungpak softie, this too has been patched up through the years but is still going strong, I've also got a down jacket which I picked up cheaply at an army surplus but I rarely use it.
Vanguard jacket
 long pile fleece
Icebreaker 260 (I wasn`t actually part of Icebreaker Test Team)
Cheap down jacket

Base layer
depending on the situation will depend on the base layer I wear, the two base layers I own are a basic Mountain Hardwear technical T shirt and the Icebreaker 190, I favour the Mountain Hardwear in the warmer climates and the Icebreaker in the colder.
Mountain Hardwear technical T-shirt

Hats and gloves

this is an area where conversely I will actually spend as little as possible and I have a very good reason for this, I always seem to end up losing my hats and gloves, the worst time this happened was right after i had treated myself to an Arc`teryx beanie hat in the Lake District, a few hours later I was waving it goodbye watching it fly away into the valley from the top of Blencathra, from then on I decided it would be a bad idea to buy anymore expensive hats or gloves and have stuck to Peter Storm ones since, the only exception is when I have gained them through other means, such as the Berghaus set I got through work.
cheap hat and gloves

other hats and gloves I've acquired

Stoves, (yes plural again)

           I've used several stoves over the years that I have been doing outdoor ed ranging from top of the range multi fuel stoves (Primus Omni Fuel) through gas stoves of all types including the venerable old camping gaz C206 stoves and the classic Trangia, which I've written a blog on previously, the four I currently own all run off gas or meths and are the Jet-Boil Flash, Primus ExpressSpider, a professionally made lightweight meths stove and a homemade meths fired stove (which I call a toucan stove as it is made from 2 drinks cans), despite the limitations of the Jet-boil it is still a very good stove, the limitations of the Jet-Boil include the size of the pot itself which is only just over 1/2 a litre, although the Sumo is bigger and Jet-Boil also produce a pot that fits directly on the stove as well as a ring to use with any standard pot, however using the ring and standard pot does mean losing the famed efficiency of the system, it is also a very tall system which increases the likelihood of the whole thing tipping over but Jet-Boil have addressed this situation by including a tripod with all their systems.
          the ExpressSpider is a basic gas stove from Primus without an electric lighter or much of anything else really but it is incredibly lightweight, easy to pack and runs off the same type of cartridges as the Jet-Boil, the other advantage of this stove over the Jet-boil is its lower centre of gravity making this a relatively safer stove.
          the two meths fired stoves work in the same way and are built in a similar fashion, the difference being one is professionally made in America and uses parts readily available whereas the other is home made by me and has taken a lot of trial and error to get it working, the good thing with these two stoves is that they weigh almost nothing and if built properly (or Bought) they can be amazingly quick and efficient, they can be built with limited tools and experience (check youtube for penny stoves) and are cheap to make.
          the only stove i don't currently own is a multi-fuel stove and the reason for this is quite simple I've never had the need to own one, I've always managed to borrow one from friends i can however see this changing at some point and have been looking at the options and the one that has caught my attention has been the Primus Omni-fuel chiefly because of its flexibility in fuel options.
Jet-Boil flash, Primus ExpressSpider and professionally made lightweight meths stove, I couldn't find my homemade stove

Accessories and Gadgets

          What I have collected over the years is plenty of accessories and gadgets ranging from ones that I use everyday to ones that rarely see the light of day, these include a self inflating pillow through a `Power Monkey Explorer` emergency charger to the usual things such as pen knives and compasses.
self inflating pillow and mattress
 head torches both Petzl
 folding mug
 northern (left) and southern (right) hemisphere compasses (spot the problem with the southern hemisphere compass)
other accessories I own, Gorilla Pod, Victorinox forester penknife, fire striker, spork, and Vango eye light   
This is just an example of some of the equipment I own, as I said above although I have my personal preferences when it comes to equipment and I am a gear snob at heart I also don't have an unlimited budget and buy within this budget and upgrade when I can, which as you can see can lead to some interesting combinations.

As with all outdoor equipment personal preference is key to any decision you make.

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