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Armchair Bushcraft

Discussion in 'Bushcraft Chatter' started by Wayland, Aug 9, 2019.

  1. Wayland

    Wayland Hárbarðr

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    The making of my new bedroll put me in mind of the jolly Swagman of old Australian ballad.

    [​IMG]

    As a younger man I waltzed my Matilda all over. I hitch hiked and back packed my billy into the wild at every opportunity I had.

    That developed over time into an interest in landscape photography and the load I was carrying steadily increased. Cameras, lenses and tripods were not lightweight, especially in the days before digital imaging.

    Fortunately, those days also corresponded to the availability of a vehicle for getting me to the trail head but the distance I tramped certainly started to shorten.

    I still sleep under canvas beneath the stars every chance I get but the realities of life and work now means the opportunity to do so are spread further and further apart.

    I used to get out on living history camps pretty regularly over the sunnier seasons but sadly even those opportunities have now largely dried up.

    Looking back today, brings me to the realisation that it has now been a good few years since I truly waltzed my Matilda anywhere at all.

    The last time I actually stepped out towards a distant horizon with all my kit was now seven years ago and even then it was packed on a sled and not in a backpack.

    It would appear that with the inevitable passage of time, I have become that most ridiculed of beasts, an armchair bushcrafter...

    [​IMG]

    Granted, my armchair is now quite often a folding one and my roof is still frequently made of taut canvas. I use ancient skills and antiquated gear to manage my camp life and make, modify or mend my equipment but the nature of my outdoor life now bears little resemblance to my greener days.

    I am certainly older and perhaps a little more eccentric but there is rarely a day that I do not enjoy a quiet moment or two planning my next outing. The difference is that outing is now more likely to be laden with equipment reminiscent of a nineteenth century expedition.

    Occasionally I wonder if I should return to those worthy days of sleeping on a browse bed deep in the woods and as I lie on my comfortable mattress looking at the lamp lit canvas above me, I realise that these days I would need to check every inch of my body for ticks, my back would take a fortnight to forgive me and I would not be looking forward to a fine English breakfast made over an open fire.

    [​IMG]

    Yes, my outdoor life has indeed changed but do I regret it? . . . . . .. . .Not one little bit.

    How have you adapted to the march of time?
     
    #1 Wayland, Aug 9, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2019
    Ruud, RonW, Sundowner and 15 others like this.
  2. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

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    I don't sleep with my nose in the moss anymore. I know what that smells like.
    As it happened, I retired and moved to the doorstep of the wilderness.
    Less than adapted, I've more surrendered to the aches and pains.

    It's just 15 minutes from a warm bed with central heating and an indoor bathroom.
    "Why bother with a tent, you fool? Might as well go home."
    With kids grown and gone, there seemed little drive to listen to the wolves.

    I do see the brilliance of the SteamTent concept.
    I'll bring the port some day.
     
  3. Wayland

    Wayland Hárbarðr

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    It's mad really, the effort involved is massive compared to grabbing a swag and just setting out, but I'm loving it?

    I love the planning, the making, the modding and the camps themselves are the icing on top.

    Packing the van usually takes a day and another day packing and unpacking for the return.

    It make no logical sense at all but I'm having loads of fun.
     
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  4. Tiley

    Tiley Full Member

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    I have to admit that my only real concession to the march of time is a hammock. I started on the ground and now hang, like some huge, rumbling fruit, from the trees. I find it wonderfully comfortable - far more so than sleeping in a bed.

    While I can understand the attractions of a logistically more complex - and, arguably, more comfortable - set-up, I still hold dear the freedom afforded by light, simple gear and have stuck with it as a result. I could be that, because my background before bushcraft was in mountaineering and backpacking, there is that residual habit of 'go light, be happy' but I definitely prefer it and the freedom and mobility it affords.
     
  5. Woody girl

    Woody girl Full Member

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    Well if I had even a car in would have a huge bell tent fishing bed cool box etc etc and be realy happy. As it is I hammock finding it realy comfy and I adore waking up and watching the wildlife tv before I get up and start the day. I do need a chair and some sort of table as my knees and back just cannot cope for more than a few minutes on the ground. More than a day pack on my back is a no no so how do I get about with all the stuff I need and want to be comfy? A shopping trolly is my solution. A 50 litre kitbag sits on the top of the trolly and a day pack on my back for meds phone purse etc. I get a lot of strange looks and enquiries as to what I'm doing but it works for me and I can also take some "comforts" that would not be possible in a backpack such as my favourite pillow. There are some positives to getting older and feebler ... I think! :)
     
  6. Wayland

    Wayland Hárbarðr

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    I usually use a stuff sack, packed with clothing for a pillow if I'm back packing.

    Down jackets are perfect for the job.
     
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  7. Fin

    Fin Settler

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    What a grand subject for discussion!

    I love canvas, wood, leather and steel as much as the next man and there's something special in using old, handmade, quality equipment. But...

    ...I'm now in my fifties with a much younger Spanish wife and our outings normally involve tramping the hills, forests and coasts of Galicia and Asturias. Because of this, I've discovered the benefits of lightweight gear. My cooking system is titanium and my knife is an M390/ Carbon fibre job that will last a week in wet weather with no maintenance (and the associated kit) required. The axe now stays at home in favour of a folding saw. One essential piece of kit is a lightweight, folding chair as ground/ log/ beach sitting no longer cuts it. I haven't yet gone 'ultralight' - my pack is 500 cordura - but the system is modular and I only take what I need depending on the type or duration of the outing.

    I still have a ton of kit that fits the 'bushcraft' ideal - Canvas and leather pack, 01 steel Knessmuk knives, a GB SFA, a Woodlore clone, nesting steel billies, flint and steel, wool blankets etc - and it's kit that I would love to use more often if I was purely camping for camping's sake, but, more often than not, I'm experiencing the journey as well as the destination and my advancing years have definitely focussed on the weight side of things.

    One 'luxury' (weight penalty) item I do take along is a Flexcut carving jack as I have a (frustratingly unrealised) ambition to be a great wood carver and it's a fine fireside activity.

    I love all things 'retro' and your set-up, Wayland, certainly provides some inspiration for when the back/ hips/ knees finally give up and I'm driving to sleep in the fresh air. It looks like my ideal man-cave in the woods.
     
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  8. Wayland

    Wayland Hárbarðr

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    Like you, I retain two distinct sets of kit. I have the lighter stuff as well and if I need a night on location to get a picture, that is the stuff I'm likely to pack.

    Partly that is to compensate for the weight of the camera gear and like you, I will trim that equipment list according to requirements and distance to walk.
     
  9. Wayland

    Wayland Hárbarðr

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    Another change I have noticed over time is that I remember a time on this forum that a subject like this would have created a lively debate, a flurry of postings.

    Those days seem to have gone...

    Over 200 people have opened this post, but only four have bothered to make any kind of response. That seems to be the level of interaction that I see on most posts now. No wonder people cannot be bothered to create and post up interesting content any more.

    I think back to the days that I came to this site looking for inspiration, it was the first tab I checked, every day, on my browser when it opened up. I used to see postings on every outdoor subject I could imagine and some indoor as well. Now I just see adverts for knives. It is usually the last Tab I check now. It's very sad.

    Every now and again I think "I can't really grumble if I'm not posting stuff up myself", so I try my best to write something interesting or post some pictures of my latest project but it usually falls as flat as this one has.

    I've made some wonderful friends through this site over the years and I'm not going to give up on it yet, but mostly I find myself talking to those friends on other social media where I get more feedback.

    BCUK is however is still a fantastic information resource, the search facility is far superior to anything on FaceBook or the like. Don't let it wither on the vine, it's future is in your hands.
     
    #9 Wayland, Aug 12, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019
  10. Woody girl

    Woody girl Full Member

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    I have noticed that at times it seems to be a shop front particularly for knives. Not a criticism just a comment on a trend I have noticed recently. Perhaps people are busy bushcrafting more in the summer months and not posting as much. Having only been here about a year or so, it's not for me to be critical and there have been a few interesting and long running posts in that time which i have enjoyed a great deal. Do get a bit bored with all the knives for sale posts ,though I have taken advantage of one for sale to by a wool shirt, so those posts are useful sometimes. I'm a fan of Wayland posts though! Always inspiring and interesting. Keep it up mate.
     
  11. Wayland

    Wayland Hárbarðr

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    I must admit, I very rarely open any of the for sale posts. They do not interest me much at all.

    I think the knife market used to be mainly on British Blades which seems to have gone now so I guess they come here now.

    It's remarkable how many of the knives are unused or very little used though. Perfect for armchair bushcrafters I guess.

    It's also fair to say that when this thread was posted, some people were still at the Bushmoot but they should be back now and there are not even many posts about that.
     
  12. Woody girl

    Woody girl Full Member

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    Yes that's true . I'm busy since I got back unpacking and washing things plus repacking for wilderness and putting my garden to rights after a nasty storm picking beans courgettes tomatoes etc and freezing them or making chutney. It's a busy week! And that's before I do any foraging for the winter larder. August is always a busy busy time even without the moot and wilderness. But I do check in and read new posts every day.
     
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  13. Broch

    Broch Full Member

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    Only two sets?!! I have the Landy set, the canoe set, the base camp in the woods set, the lightweight back backing set and now (though yet to be tried :)) the steam punk set :)

    I've also changed my photography gear - I only take my DSLRs if I'm 'doing' photography and I have a small waterproof and shockproof compact for when I want to record my other activities. I found I wasn't getting my 'good' cameras out of the waterproof bag in the canoe or not taking them at all because of the weight.
     
  14. Barney Rubble

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    Hi Wayland,

    Interesting post and some thought provoking follow-up comments. I saw the title of your post and thought, ooh eck is this going to be a rant!

    Good luck to you for adapting your camping outfit to suit your changing priorities. What does it matter whether you're backpacking, car camping, glamping or otherwise. I think the important point is that you're still enjoying the outdoors and doing what you can to continue that learning curve and impart knowledge whenever possible.

    I'm still lucky enough to be able to go backpacking but have started to make some concessions in which some luxuries have been creeping into my rucksack with increasing regularity! Most recently I discovered how much extra comfort can be had by adding a pillow to the sleeping kit. Before that it was the exped sleeping mat which revolutionised my outlook on ground dwelling.

    You spoke a bit about going walk about; I think that there's not enough bumbling going on in this parish. I know it's not always the case, but the default position often seems to be camping. Now, it doesn't always need to be about the camping with this hobby, I love camping, but I get equally as much joy out of an early morning bimble. Exploring the local woodland, observing nature, scouting future campsites and trying to learn a thing or two about the flora and fauna. Chuck in a flask of tea and/or a brew kit and you're onto a winner!

    I get what you're saying about this forum. I enjoy visiting the site and reading up on things. But, generally speaking, I see a lot of responses to posts which don't really add a great deal of value (just my own opinion and recognise that I could well be mistaken!). I much prefer to feed in a response if I think that I have something constructive to say.
     
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  15. Wayland

    Wayland Hárbarðr

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    Indeed there are lots of stages in between but they tend to be hybridizations between the lightweight stuff and the tactile stuff, the stuff is easy to carry and the stuff that is just nice to use and feel.

    My little X20 gets far more use than my D6 and lenses. Like you, I make that same distinction between "Doing Photography" and taking pictures in everyday life. I guess most people would use a smart phone for the latter these days but I still prefer a proper camera even for that job.
     
  16. Tiley

    Tiley Full Member

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    I couldn't agree more! One thing that I have noticed is how quickly the discussion can veer away from the original post, often on to a completely unrelated topic. I have no problem with wide-ranging conversation but there are occasions when the deviations demand a considerable leap of faith!

    Wayland, I was looking at your photos in your original post and admire the range and quality of craft involved. Like you, I love the planning and logistics of a trip, along with the tweaks and modifications that that involves, but I think I am too lazy to do things in the luxurious(?) way you do in those pictures. It's my own fault that I feel envious of those who seem so much more comfortable than me at things like the Wilderness Gathering!
     
  17. Wayland

    Wayland Hárbarðr

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    I chose the title deliberately because I knew people would look in hoping to see a car crash. [​IMG]

    We used to bimble all the time before we lost our dog. We're considering getting another soon so hopefully we'll get back into the habit. My waistline would certainly benefit.

    I try to think of anything useful I can add to a thread whenever I can. I should do it more really, it's noticeable that some of the old guard do their best with that too.

    Sadly, a lot of the reliable old posters seem to have drifted away taking a lot of experience with them. I'm not sure that anything can be done about that any more but conversation is the glue that holds a community like this together so sometimes it is just nice to know someone is out there. [​IMG]
     
  18. Wayland

    Wayland Hárbarðr

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    Part of my problem is that I can't just sit and do nothing. I've always got some kind of project on the go.

    I'm typing these responses on a break as I'm currently making support posts for the skirt of the bell tent. I was tight for space at WOMAD and realised that I could have reduced the length of the guys if the skirt was supported at the correct height so that triggered yet another project.

    Once properly made, they need waxing and polishing of course so that takes a morning but they should look splendid on site.

    If you tried to get to where we are now from scratch it would seem an impossible task but it's small incremental changes and improvements that get the job done eventually.
     
  19. Broch

    Broch Full Member

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    Ah, but that is exactly my problem; I go into the wood to do a few hours work and find myself sitting doing nothing - just listening to the birds, enjoying the wild life creeping back in after my disturbance, and watching the breeze make patterns in the leaves. :)
     
  20. Stew

    Stew Bushcrafter through and through

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    I (and others I know) prefer to post elsewhere where we're not going to be told we're wrong, etc rather the discussions it used to be.Sad but true.
     
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