Thursday, 22 November 2007


The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved". Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross". Londoners have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz began in 1940 and tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance". The last time the British issued "A Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666.

Also, the French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide". The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

It's not only the English and French who are on a heightened level of alert. Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout loudly and excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans also increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbour" and "Lose".

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual, and the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels. The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007


Sadly the quest for a bushcraft version of the seax has hit a we stumbling block - in as much as the blade maker has had (at this time) decided to cease trading.

The maker has taken up the chalis and now seeks a blade smith of equal ability so watch this space - if we can bring you the best bushcraft camp knife in the world we will - eventually!!

In the mean time heres a few pictures.

Above - picture of the makers prototype with a double hunter Leuku for scale.

Sheath detail of my original prototype (above)

My new user - this is the Bushcraft Seax - scales in Spalted BEECH and cow horn - great Anglosaxon materials with a 3mm veg Tan dangler sheath.

My old mate Tony Collins has a Masur Birch version of this knife and once he's hd time to evaluate I'll see if I can post his views on this blog too!!

And for those of you interested in a hand made Leuku like the other heres a pen picture of the marker -
"Paul (aka: Frenchy), is single minded in the way he sources his materials. When it comes to knife blades in particular, he'll only use the best from the best makers, even if availability is not assured in the long term. As a consequence, with quality and not quantity as his main concern, he admits that it's quite likely that some of his knives would automatically become part of a limited edition! It is to be expected that as he builds each knife by hand personally, there is a limit to how many knives he can produce at a given time. His care and attention to detail can be seen in every knife he makes. Another big asset that Paul has is that he makes available a wide choice of quality materials to satisfy the many preferences people have in Wood, Antler and Horn. Moreover, he's got a canny knack of utilising any combination of materials to produce exceptionally unique knives that are extremely handsome, sturdy and fully functional for their intended use!"

The Leuku's above RRP at about £195 - contact Paul to discuss your choice of scales ect.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Follow baggy the bear!!

Havent seen this for awhile - it still makes me laugh so my continued thanks to Tref and his family - proof northerners do have a sense of hmour!!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Montane Extreme Smock

As promised to blog readers I now have the excellent Montane Extreme Smock in stock and am willing to offer to you at a discount.

The smocks are easily higher spec and superior to the buffalo range coming with loads of features (as per review below) including a hood (which you pay extra for with buffalo!!

Discount is for GREEN smocks only - sizes from M to XXL.

RRP £80 - BLOG PRICE (until sold out) £60 plus standard postage - thats a discount of 25%, but numbers are limited as I only have two of each size so order now or risk missing out!!

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Lest we forget

In Flanders' fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders' fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies growIn Flanders' Fields.
by John McCrea


"Please wear a poppy," the lady said,
And held one forth, but I shook my head,
Then I stopped and watched as she offered them there,
And her face was old and lined with care;

But beneath the scars the years had made
There remained a smile that refused to fade.
A boy came whistling down the street,
Bouncing along on care-free feet.

His smile was full of joy and fun,
"Lady," said he, "may I have one?"
When she'd pinned it on, he turned to say;
"Why do we wear a poppy today?

"The lady smiled in her wistful way
And answered; "This is Remembrance Day.
And the poppy there is a symbol for
The gallant men who died in war.

And because they did, you and I are free -
That's why we wear a poppy, you see.
I had a boy about your size,
With golden hair and big blue eyes.

He loved to play and jump and shout,
Free as a bird, he would race about.
As the years went by, he learned and grew,
And became a man - as you will, too.

He was fine and strong, with a boyish smile,
But he'd seemed with us such a little while
When war broke out and he went away.
I still remember his face that day.

When he smiled at me and said, 'Goodbye,
I'll be back soon, Mum, please don't cry.
'But the war went on and he had to stay,
And all I could do was wait and pray.

His letters told of the awful fight
(I can see it still in my dreams at night),
With the tanks and guns and cruel barbed wire,
And the mines and bullets, the bombs and fire.

Till at last, at last, the war was won -
And that's why we wear a poppy, son.
"The small boy turned as if to go,
Then said: "Thanks, lady, I'm glad to know.

I slunk away in a sort of shame,
And if you were me, you'd have done the same:
For our thanks, in giving, if oft delayed,
Though our freedom was bought - and thousands paid!

And so, when we see a poppy worn,
Let us reflect on the burden borne
By those who gave their very all
When asked to answer their country's call
That we at home in peace might live.
Then wear a poppy! Remember - and Give!
by Don Crawford

Friday, 9 November 2007

KIT list and suppliers

Several people have recently asked me for kit recommendations - apart from the gear we stock which is all tested by us - the below list might be found to be helpful!!

Comprehensive Kit List
(Including suppliers list)

The below is a list of the typical items carried by the bearclaw team during our courses and various adventures.

It builds upon the generic course kit list and is designed to give you a more detailed list including the websites of the various suppliers we would recommend.

Please mention Bearclaw Bushcraft when contacting any of the suppliers listed below.

Clothing –

Under wear
Underpants – cotton summer/winter

T/shirt – cotton is fine for summer. Winter opt for Montane Terra, Icebreaker or layering via the Ullsfrotte range to avoid chilling.

Shirt – cotton for the summer

Micro fleece for wet/cold or a Army Norgee is ok for dry cold climate

Thermal layer
Montane Extreme Smock - this is my year round top perfect for all conditions as a solo layer or as layering.
Snugpak make two thermal mid-layer jackets – the elite pile (cold/wet) or the Sleeka elite (dry/wet) – requires a natural fibre outer layer if working around campfires

Greenlander, Forester or Barents trousers by Fjellraven as all top quality robust trousers – the professionals choice

Windproof/outer layer
British Antarctic survey smock, tough Ventile jacket, well designed with plenty of pockets. Windproof, fire safe and shower proof - recommended

General wear wool socks are best as these are warm even when wet. Ullsfrotte are good – British army socks are also a favourite

Leather work gloves offer some elemental protection and are useful around the fire. Mekralon or thermal liners enhance these is cold weather. In extreme cold woollen mittens inside leather chopper mittens are robust and warm.


General purpose good all rounds are Rogue boots. For wet climates rogues can be worn with Sealskinz socks but Lundhags are a great choice also.

Head gear
For sunny climate Tiley hats or boonie hats in cotton with brims work well. For colder conditions woollen watch caps like the Ullsfrotte Luva are best. For woodlands and general wear the Fjallraven range of hats or caps is recommended.

By far the most versatile waterproof item a bushcrafter can use is the poncho – adapting from waterproof to shelter to a million things in between – highly recommended are the genuine US army ponchos with the Fjallraven coming in a close second

Call Jasper and ask for a genuine US poncho.


A strong wide belt which can be used as a tool suspension system, lash, and strap for carrying firewood ect is ideal – this is not used to hold up trousers!! (Brady belt)

Cutting Tool
For the novice we recommend a medium (100mm) bladed knife like the Frosts Mora or Clipper.

For the more experienced or those travelling further a field a large camp knife like the Wilderness knife is a wiser choice as this knife is designed to do fine carving as well as chopping and splitting

A small folding knife such as those made by Opinel are great utility tools and ideal for kitchen tasks

Possibles Pouch
A Possibles belt pouch contains all those essential items we need to survive – call it the backwoodsman’s survival kit its worn on the belt with our cutting tool – thus in theory if we strip down to a underwear we should still be able to wear our belt in case of an emergency.

Wooden – hand made by you!

Stone and mini steel – are best for the field, used to top up the edge on your cutting tools. The Fallkniven DC range works well but can be very coarse. Mini-steels are ideal for adding a micro secondary bevel especially for game preparation.

A compass with a whistle attached and the knowledge of how to use both is essential.

Non-safety matches carried in a old camera film case are a versatile emergency back up to your fire lighting kit

Swan Vesta – were available
Flint bar
Carry your ferro rod (Jukka stick being the original or a fireball) in a rubberised tinder pouch (tobacco skin) – this means your fire lighting kit is to hand and that damp tinder can breath or be dried by body heat if carried in the pocket.

Insect repellent
Nordic summer is a favourite – life systems pump DEET sprays are strong and effective

First Aid kit
A small cuts kit should be carried whenever you carry your knife – a military First field dressing (FFD) is a good back up – make the kit yourself to meet your ability and needs.

Para cord
Genuine 550 is the best but hemp or natural cordage is ideal as it will degrade if left in the woods.

A Maglite or Petzl Tikka Head torch are a good well tried and tested choice.

Field and Camping gear

Water bottle
Nalgene bottles are tough and well thought out – wide mouthed allowing better re-hydration as well as being easier to refill from tap or stream.

Sleeping bag
One season – Snugpak Jungle bag (synthetic)
2/3 Season Fjellraven Distance 5 (down)
3/4 Season Snugpak Elite 3 (synthetic)

Sleeping mat
Therma-rest is without a doubt our favourite but for the base camp nothing bests the comfort of a reindeer skin.

Bivi bag
Light weight Snugpak bivi bag is a good choice but if size matter the Alpkit bivi bags has been found to carry favour with the team here. Bombproof and long lasting the genuine British army bivi bag is a perennial favourite but ensure is genuine and not a cheap copy.

The Kathmandu tarp is light yet robust – our favourite without a doubt

Swedish army mess kit


Fjellraven Vintage 20lt is an excellent top spec day sack. (the new 30lt will be even better!!)

Karrimor Sabre 45 – weekend pack

Karrimor Sabre 75 – Top spec well designed and highly respected full sized pack

Spare clothing
Spare clothing should include a change of clothing which can be worn if your normal layers get soaked – it can also include task specific clothing such as waterproof socks or

Cameras – books – mobile phones.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Its small, warm and light - but dont like the damp!!

Fjellraven Distance P5. – Few things in Bushcraft are more valuable than a good nights sleep and thanks to the Fjellraven Distance P5 down sleeping bag this is easily obtainable.
This is a quality bag from a top manufacturer which I personally have used all year round in both UK and Sweden and never found it wanting - sadly minus 32 in Finland would have been to much for it though.
Its extreme rated down to – 4 (comfort +8) but I have to say as with all swedish stuff their guide sizes or temperatures always seem to err on the side of caution as everything is bigger or better than they say - unlike our British makers whose temperature rangers and sizes seem to be works of fiction!! So I personally would say the comfort range is down to zero and the extreme easily past - 4 especially is you sleep dressed and/or use a good sleeping mat bivi bag ect.
Anyway its ideal for spring - summer and early autumn to average bushcraft season and as it packs down to the size of a grape fruit and weighs only around 650g it's a great piece of kit allowing you to carry an extra top if needed, which is far more versatile than having the weight in a bulkier sleeping bag!–
However - a word of warning - being down a bivi bag is a must in inclement weather as it - in theory - doesnt like it - but again I have slept in this bag all year in some pretty damp places like our scottish island and never yet found it to suffer.

Soon to be available from the trading post for just £87.99 - complete with storage bag for airing and stuff sack.