First bushcraft course kit recommendations - Woodland Ways survival week March

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Clickhappy

Full Member
Jan 3, 2016
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Coventry
I’ve booked myself on the week long survival course in March 2019 and am looking for some kit recommendations. I know it’s still a few months away but with Christmas just round the corner I’m hoping to direct family towards the required bushcraft items if they want to buy me a gift.

Bivvy bag - never bivvy’d before, British military one seems well reviewed
Sleeping bag - probably going to be cold - I have an alpkit down blanket (cloud cover) which could be used in the bag to add warmth
Sleep mat - as above, foam or selfinflating?
Waterproofs - Goretex is not recommended as lots of fire making activities means it’s likely to get damaged
Gloves etc... any recommendations?
Boots - I have some goretex hillwalking boots, hope to use these

I have an alpkit down blanket which will add

I don’t want to spend much and definitely don’t want to be one of those with all the gear and no idea but being cold and wet is no fun either.

I’ve done a fair bit of summer camping and some cold weather hillwalking / skiing but nothing particularly bushcrafty.

Thanks in advance.
 
Jan 13, 2018
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Rural Lincolnshire
I guess it depends on if they are offering a 'Survival Course' or a 'Bush Craft Course'. Looking at their 'kit list' their appears to be very little 'survival' involved.

When I did my Survival Course with the Army Youth Team (many years ago) we arrived at barracks, our rucksacks were emptied, our sleeping bags were tipped out to reveal any hidden Mars bars, and we were 'searched'. We were allowed to repack our rucksack with only a sleeping bag, knife and a plastic sheet.
We were then taken off and dumped in Sherwood Forest, having to walk 10 miles thru the night and get to the meeting point.
During the week all the food given was the odd rabbit (which needed skinning), the odd packet of digestive biscuits and on the Last night an MRE.

Throughout the week we were instructed on Shelter building, stewing nettles, cooking pine tree 'heart', hunting, snaring, tracking and living off the land.

Looking at the two-pages of kit list required by "Woodlands Way" it would appear to be pretty much luxury camping.

Maybe it is easiest to just take what is on their kit list. - they will not let anyone die of Hypothermia or Starvation (its bad for business) so I'm sure whatever you take, or forget, will be sorted out by the organisers.

I am sure you will enjoy it and learn a lot.
 
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John Fenna

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MOD bivvis are fine
Foam mats are warmer (weight for weight) and indestructible but bulky and not much in the way of padding. Cheap self inflaters (such as Aldi's) can be bulky too ... foam would get my vote if you can use vegetation for padding...
Get a cheapo waterproof (Charity shop or Surplus) until you find out how not to wreck good stuff in the woods.
I have wool knit gloves or work gloves depending on what I am doing. Stretch liner gloves add extra warmth to either.
Hillwalking boots sound ideal

As to sleeping bags - get the best you can afford - as you will be using a bivvi bag down should be fine.
I hope that helps.
 
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Clickhappy

Full Member
Jan 3, 2016
39
10
Coventry
I guess it depends on if they are offering a 'Survival Course' or a 'Bush Craft Course'. Looking at their 'kit list' their appears to be very little 'survival' involved.

When I did my Survival Course with the Army Youth Team (many years ago) we arrived at barracks, our rucksacks were emptied, our sleeping bags were tipped out to reveal any hidden Mars bars, and we were 'searched'. We were allowed to repack our rucksack with only a sleeping bag, knife and a plastic sheet.
We were then taken off and dumped in Sherwood Forest, having to walk 10 miles thru the night and get to the meeting point.
During the week all the food given was the odd rabbit (which needed skinning), the odd packet of digestive biscuits and on the Last night an MRE.
Hi Alan, I don’t know how much ‘survival’ there will be but hopefully there will be a more gentle start to it than yours with a bag search then being dropped in the woods. I was initially looking at their weekend course but when I was booking it, there was only a 50% premium for going for the longer course and I thought I could be overwhelmed by the pace of instruction and not take much of it in.

In the course notes it states that after a couple of days of tuition we’ll have the option to give up some of the kit to get closer to nature.

MOD bivvis are fine
Foam mats are warmer (weight for weight) and indestructible but bulky and not much in the way of padding. Cheap self inflaters (such as Aldi's) can be bulky too ... foam would get my vote if you can use vegetation for padding...
Get a cheapo waterproof (Charity shop or Surplus) until you find out how not to wreck good stuff in the woods.
I have wool knit gloves or work gloves depending on what I am doing. Stretch liner gloves add extra warmth to either.
Hillwalking boots sound ideal

As to sleeping bags - get the best you can afford - as you will be using a bivvi bag down should be fine.
I hope that helps.
Great idea using vegetation for additional padding under the mat, something I’ve not considered. I’ll keep an eye out for a cheap waterproof, there is a British army goretex jacket which is in mtp camouflage which is not really my thing but as something which I don’t mind wrecking in the woods it could be an option.
 

SCOMAN

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Plus one for the brit army bivvy, I bought mine brand spankers for £35 of fleabay. A good sleeping mat has been one of my best investments, I bought a nearly new Thermarest Neoair from this parish and haven't looked back. I prefer Goretex as a waterproof and have a cheap ex army jacket so if it gets damaged I don't cry. I happen to have one for sale btw ;-). Gloves I have loads of little 'fit any size' thin woolen gloves in most of my jacket pockets and have 'cheap' leather work gloves for outdoor 'work'. These fit over the woolen gloves.
 
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Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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It depends on where the party is, and on the weather. They should advice you beforehand what equipment is recommended.

I guess they will help you as best they can. If they do not help you, that would make me wonder about the quality of them.
 

Trojan

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Mar 20, 2009
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I am guessing you have the right clothes for the trip - if not 5.11. arktis etc and I am sure everyone else has their thoughts at different price ranges. Glove are important and as JF says work gloves are perfect and I would bring a few pairs. I am sure you will have a great time.
 

Tonyuk

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Nov 30, 2011
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Bivvy bag - The issue one is fine, and available for around £20-30

Sleeping bag - Again you can get one of the older issue bags for around £20. You'll not be cold in it but is is a bit bulky. The latest issue bag is probably more like £60-ish. If you go for the new style get a large size (200)

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/LARGE-SLEEPING-BAG-WITH-COMPRESSION-SACK-British-Army-Military-Green-Used/401583171282?hash=item5d8038e6d2:g:OPsAAOSwzgRW1sNc:rk:1:pf:0

Sleep mat - Foam will be cheaper and more durable, self inflating will be more comfortable and warmer. For a couple of days i would just go with foam;

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/British-Army-Issue-Roll-Mat-NEW-Lightweight-Sleeping-Mat-Waterproof-Foam-Camping/163323960175?hash=item2606dddb6f:g:NAQAAOSwXy1bygXK:rk:8:pf:0

Waterproofs - Goretex might not be recommended but if your going to be moving about while wearing them then that's what you'll want, non-breathable waterproofs are terrible for holding in sweat. I recommend a lightweight goretex or similar top (and trousers) with a cheap polycotton jacket or something like it to put over them when sitting near the fire.

Gloves etc... - For work like cutting wood and setting up camp i like builders gloves, the kind from screwfix with a fabric back and rubber palm, about £5 a pair but will last. For warmth i like sealskins gloves, if its really cold you'll want mittens. The pile lined mittens by Montane are excellent. Rab also do decent gloves. Remember a good beanie hat, look for one with a label saying 'Thinsulate' on it, shouldn't cost more than £3-5

Boots - You boots will be fine, decent socks are always a bonus. Smartwool's are great but a bit costly, go outdoors sell them at a decent price, get the heavier weight ones.


Money no object;

Get a alpkit dirtbag sleeping mat, self inflating and the comfiest ive ever used. A montane extreme smock for sitting about, rab vapour rise for walking about in. Paramo waterproofs.

Wet-dry routine for the bag, always have your meals hot if possible.
 

lostplanet

Full Member
Aug 18, 2005
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4 Basic Knots learnt.

1. Evenk siberian hitch
2. Tautline hitch
3. Taut Tarp hitch
4. Clove hitch


Have you got a headtorch? if its in your budget or relatives budget i have had several petzl, silva, and settled on this one by LED lenser. you will find that you dont need a million lumens and that in someways depending what you are doing dim light is more comfortable. for instance i have an old maglite solitaire that hangs from my tent or basha and is plenty enough light just to sort stuff before sleep.

It may seem pricey but the amount you save on batteries and wasted time on other brands, it pays off.

awesome kit, really well designed (with safely off function) and rechargeable if you the have means to charge of course. spare battery can be got for around 13£ amazon.

https://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/led-lenser-mh6-headlamp-p418194

what phone you got? aquapac do some really nice waterproof covers which the phone can be used text/voice/touch even when sealed. shop around.

https://aquapac.net/store/

Might seem a bit strange but I wouldn't go out now without a cap. I use this one by condor and it serves so many purposes and just works for me in all weathers. unless you have a huge head s/m should suit as it is flexfit. This caps peak has saved me a few times from bramble in the eye damage when walking at night.

http://www.sofmilitary.co.uk/condor-flex-fit-tactical-cap-brown-product,19039

Might be a bit early to go spending on clothing but I am just about to pull the pin on a helikon PCS smock. Up until now i have been using the issue MTP PCS smock and it suits me really well in terms of function, but being cheaply manufactured the issue one has issues. i have managed to wear holes, break zips and rip pockets and stitching on the issue one, so for a few quid more im gonna get some opinions on here and pick a grey or green helikon one to try out. Reasons why i like it: plenty of pockets, good functional design, hood (with wire removed), windproof, water resistant(mmm), big enough to layer underneath when cold and wet, doesn't matter if you trash it (brambles, thorns etc), good ventilation. shop around, can be got for around £25 new if lucky.

https://www.strikeforcesupplies.co.uk/index.php?method=stock&id=20305

https://www.helikon-tex.com/en_eur/ku-pcs-pr-pcs-parka-polycotton-ripstop.html

Gloves I am into at the moment are these by dickies, they are not super super warm but then it hasnt been super cold here yet, very functional, good quality and fairly cheap. probably not great for alaska but UK you could always get some army goretex over mitts cheap off ebay, endicotts, again shop around.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dickies-GL8005-BK-Finger-Gloves/dp/B00NF6E31I

couple more odds and sods:

Mug 1. keep the rubber bits clean and it won't leak in your pocket.
https://www.strikeforcesupplies.co.uk/index.php?method=stock&id=20550

Mug 2. you can do pretty much everything except take a bath in these, dont get the black coated one, shop around.
https://www.strikeforcesupplies.co.uk/index.php?method=stock&id=20117

Bottle 1. only buy the NATO genuine ones.
https://www.strikeforcesupplies.co.uk/index.php?method=stock&id=2001

Bottle 2. very tough and go well with tantonka mug
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nalgene-WM-QT-Aubergine-Bottle/dp/B073XRGZ7K/ref=cts_sp_1_vtp

Mug 3. fits nalgene.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tatonka-Handle-Mug-Stainless-Steel/dp/B076ZZMB12



sounds like the rest is pretty much covered, more experience will lead to less kit and kit that works for you.

great quote:
  • "I learned how much of what we think to be necessary is superfluous; I learned how few things are essential, and how essential those things really are" - Bernard Ferguson, Chindits, Burma 1943.

Have you got a link to the course you are doing? Location etc... Interested to know how you get on and what you learn.

Have Fun!
 
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lostplanet

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Aug 18, 2005
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oh and if you get the issue bivvy bag and you can't pull the string through to get it tight, take some time to replace the cord so it does.
 
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lostplanet

Full Member
Aug 18, 2005
1,577
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Couple of kit lists, but i would imagine as gear evolves it will change...

https://www.woodland-ways.co.uk/userfiles/kitlists/wways_winterskills_kit.pdf

https://www.woodland-ways.co.uk/pdf/Woodland Crafts Kit List.pdf

I was thinking what is the single best piece of kit i have bought for wild camping and I couldnt so there are 2 things that I think cannot be beaten or improved as they exist now.

It will always be a contentious issue recommending blades and sharps because there are so many, its mind boggling and it really is horses for courses too. just look at Ray mears, Bear Grylls, Lofty wiseman, mors kochanski, nessmuk for instance, all have there own take on design.

I bought my first Mora after spending quite a lot of money on various fancy blades and don't get me wrong some were great but from a practical beginners, Value for money perspective, my stainless companion goes everywhere with me and is also issued to UK forces along with the bahco laplander folding Saw.

Depending on the law of the land will depend on whether you can carry this legally, but lets say yes so...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mora-Outdoor-Companion-Knife-available/dp/B004ZAIXSC

Got a couple of different versions, again my personal opinion that works for me.

This item I use everytime I go out in the cold, on my motorcycle, or walking and especially when i know i will be static and possibly wet and cold. Worn with a windproof protective layer i haven't really been uncomfortable in the bush in all sorts of weather where overheating is just as bad as being soaked and cold.

https://woolpower.se/en/produkt/zip-turtleneck-200-2/

There are plenty of merino wool garments available now, I was lucky enough to get mine on a deal and it has served me very well over the last 10+ years. I also have a 400 zip front too for extra warmth and 200 leggings. shop around for deals and other brands.
 
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Jan 13, 2018
358
246
63
Rural Lincolnshire
I do not want to be overly nasty, but should you not know at least the basics before you do this course?
From the course introduction :

Woodland Ways Week - 5 Days Survival Course

One of our advanced Bushcraft Courses the Woodland Ways Week will allow you to develop your Bushcraft Techniques for a more prolonged period of time.

The Woodland Ways 5 day survival course is one of our more advanced Bushcraft courses and is designed for those who already have an understanding of Bushcraft skills and are starting to rely more on their skills rather than on modern day equipment. Previous Bushcraft knowledge and experience is desirable (although not essential) to attend this course. If you are in any doubt as to the suitability of this course please give us a call to discuss.

Day 1

We begin the course on Monday where following your introduction to the woodland and the camp equipment; you are issued with your own Bushcraft Knife, Saw, Fire Steel, Dutch oven, Water and a Basha. This equipment is your springboard for overcoming the four basic principles of Survival- that is; Fire, Food,Shelter, and Water.

Our first objective of the course is for you to establish your camp, and so issued with your kit you are guided to set up your own camp. Time is also spent gathering your firewood and getting your fire lit. Our instructors are on hand to provide assistance at all times...……………………………..
 

Clickhappy

Full Member
Jan 3, 2016
39
10
Coventry
I do not want to be overly nasty, but should you not know at least the basics before you do this course?
No problem, don’t think you are being nasty.
I spoke to Woodland Ways and they were happy that I could keep up, more relaxed pace of learning than the bushcraft weekend and more time to practice the basics.
 

Clickhappy

Full Member
Jan 3, 2016
39
10
Coventry
@lostplanet
Thanks for the suggestions, very comprehensive will take a while to go through it all. I have been looking at the crusader cooking kit, looks like a well designed and robust system with purpose built pouch, bit expensive though.

Have been reading much discussion between carbon and stainless Mora knives, what are your thoughts?

I have a Petzl head torch and can’t really justify upgrading, could do with figuring out a good DIY red filter though.

Have you got a link to the course you are doing? Location etc... Interested to know how you get on and what you learn.

Have Fun!
https://www.woodland-ways.co.uk/book-online-woodland-ways-week--5-days-survival-course-16.html

It’s the one at the end of March in Oxfordshire.

Through my poor planning I am running my first half marathon on the day before the course, hope I’m not too sore. Maybe I’ll treat myself to a comfy sleep pad.
 
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Clickhappy

Full Member
Jan 3, 2016
39
10
Coventry
I am guessing you have the right clothes for the trip - if not 5.11. arktis etc and I am sure everyone else has their thoughts at different price ranges. Glove are important and as JF says work gloves are perfect and I would bring a few pairs. I am sure you will have a great time.
Had to Google these brands, I have much merino base layers and hillwalking clothing including softie jacket and fleeces but no suitably robust trousers or shirt / jacket. Will check them out.
 

Clickhappy

Full Member
Jan 3, 2016
39
10
Coventry
Bivvy bag - The issue one is fine, and available for around £20-30

Sleeping bag - Again you can get one of the older issue bags for around £20. You'll not be cold in it but is is a bit bulky. The latest issue bag is probably more like £60-ish. If you go for the new style get a large size (200)

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/LARGE-SLEEPING-BAG-WITH-COMPRESSION-SACK-British-Army-Military-Green-Used/401583171282?hash=item5d8038e6d2:g:OPsAAOSwzgRW1sNc:rk:1:pf:0
Hi Tony, I was spotted by one of my colleagues at work looking at army surplus kit, he is ex military and is going to check his loft to see what he still has. Hoping to borrow/buy bivvy, sleeping bag, foam roll and water bottle and maybe some clothing although I’m not convinced as we are very different shapes.
 

Clickhappy

Full Member
Jan 3, 2016
39
10
Coventry
Plus one for the brit army bivvy, I bought mine brand spankers for £35 of fleabay. A good sleeping mat has been one of my best investments, I bought a nearly new Thermarest Neoair from this parish and haven't looked back. I prefer Goretex as a waterproof and have a cheap ex army jacket so if it gets damaged I don't cry. I happen to have one for sale btw ;-). Gloves I have loads of little 'fit any size' thin woolen gloves in most of my jacket pockets and have 'cheap' leather work gloves for outdoor 'work'. These fit over the woolen gloves.
Thanks for the reply, those Neoairs look great, keeping an eye out for something like this. Ex army jacket that I won’t be worried about wrecking sounds very sensible, yours is not my size I’m afraid.

I like the idea of some leather gloves for working, I usually use builders gloves for DIY / mechanics but have so many pairs with holes in which I should throw away. Maybe it’s because I always go for cheap ones though.