Author Archives: Jim @The Bushcraft Store

The Fjallraven No.1 Smock – A Review

Smock No.1 – A Review.

No 1 Smock

I am always reluctant to write reviews of kit simply because there is the immediate response of “He’s just trying to sell that”, but in this case I am going to make an exception because this is one of those products that just needs a little explanation as to why you would spend £500 on a jacket.

Lets address the immediate Elephant in the Room here, yes £500. The first response is always that yes,  it is not Gore-Tex but now I have used one for 6 months that is actually a positive. When it comes to a product that, on face value, appears expensive I like to address it in a different way – if the jacket lasts you 25 years then it is £20 per year. Believe me, the Smock No.1 has the distinct capability of lasting decades and will likely become a very firm personal favourite of yours.

No synthetic fibre waterproof jacket, with the best will in the World or design, is going to last much more than 5 years, and that is if you look after it. They become old and tired and seams start to de-laminate, the material itself simply can’t cope with the continual wear of a rucksack and they will eventually leak and no amount of washing and re-proofing will make it waterproof again. The other factor is that the more breathable you want a synthetic jacket to be, the lighter and less tough it will be. Believe me after many younger years leading groups around the Mountainous areas of the World I have had jackets suddenly spring a leak after 3 or 4 years of well looked after use.

Fjallravens gear is just different. It requires a different mindset and a different way of thinking when it comes to outdoor gear. It is a more traditional idea that breathability comes from it being a cotton canvas type material and you tailor the level of waterproofing you need by the time of year. This is applied very simply through the use of wax. Believe me it is simple, just lie it on an ironing board, rub the bar of wax over the surface and melt it in with a hot hair dryer.  You can also apply more wax to the hood and shoulders to offer more protection.

This allows you to wash the garment as often as you like and simply apply as much wax as you wish. In the Summer I always apply less and with the Smock No.1 you get all the benefits of a “Proper” Military style Smock with none of the downsides.

Many years ago the Military SAS Style Smock was ”The Go To” product when in the great outdoors and we used to live in them and they were also the fashion item of the British Military. This was around the same time Gore-Tex was coming onto the market and proper Smocks were made of Gabadine or Ventile, which gave them some waterproof ability. Even after Gore-Tex made its appearance,  Smocks were the only product you could wear for long periods of time, that would stand up to far more punishment , and,  if you ever ripped it you simply sewed it up. Gore-Tex style products can also be a real liability around flames and extra caution is required around fires and stoves.

The Smock No.1 has taken all the best aspects of the best “Kit Carry Smocks” and improved it with better materials and features. It has multiple pockets which you can carry a surprisingly large amount of useful kit in, has re-enforcement points in all the places you expect it, a great sized hood, and has a longer cut. They are also generously sized and allow for multiple layers underneath.

I have a habit of adapting or tailoring everything I own for my own purposes and the more something gets adapted the less it was fit for purpose in the first place. Well my Smock No.1 has only had 2 minor tweaks and they are very personal to me (it was what I did with my old smock back in the day). I have changed the drawcords to Paracord/Firecord as you can never have enough usable cordage or tinder and I have had woolly cuffs sewn in. This is an old habit and not always a good one when it rains as they do get wet but I accept the discomfort around the wrists for the 90% of the time they are dry and extremely comfortable. (Of course I have waxed mine as well)

All in all this is an utterly fantastic product and I am very glad that I own one. I HIGHLY recommend it and I am certain you will not regret the price tag, especially when you are still using it for everything outdoors in 10 years time.

Categories: Clothing & Equipment | 3 Comments

The TBS Range – Updated

The TBS Range of knives and accessories have been going down a storm over the past 3 years and we are very proud of what we offer. I have striven to bring a quality range to the market at a reasonable price.

At The Bushcraft Show this weekend I was asked on a number of occasions about the range on offer and why the prices were what they are. In essence people were asking “Why are they cheaper than many other high quality products out there?”………Well the answer is multi staged but in essence it is a balance between quality and volume.

The wood, for example, in both Curly Birch and Turkish Walnut, is an expensive product to buy, especially if you are only buying one piece from a UK dealer. We have not done this, we have set ourselves up as a trade supplier of these timbers to many other budding and professional knife makers so we buy these products in large quantities directly from the sawmills & lumber merchants in Finland and Turkey.

The steels, similarly, are not purchased in small bar stock quantities from a small steel dealer they are purchased in larger quantities, in one go, to make additional savings when the price is right. We then don’t manufacture one knife at a time but produce batches. This way we can concentrate a production run on one model and control the quality.

I suppose one of the biggest savings is simply, how much do you charge for your time? A small, one man producer, making one knife a day, for example, has to make a living and he will, rightfully, charge for that. If you did a time and motion study for a knife maker I bet the vast majority of them spend just as much time making the sheath or etching the blade with a logo then they do actually making the knife. Worse still is that they may be paying someone else to do those bits for them, adding production costs.

I think the  easiest way to put it is that we are now, not a small one man artisan making one knife at a time. We are now more like the many small European manufactures, like Helle, Brusletto and many others that produce high quality products, from high quality materials and in relatively small batches. But, and most importantly, there is still an expert cutler, a real person and not a robot, handling every knife at every stage of the process and this is something that will not change.

image (7)

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The TBS Range

Well, I haven’t updated the blog for quite some time and thought that I really should.

Our range of knives have been extremely popular and we are very happy with the products that have been produced. There are now 5 models to choose from – The TBS Boar Fixed Blade, the TBS Boar Folding Lock Knife, The TBS Boar Folding EDC Pocket knife, The Grizzly and the Lynx.

They all follow a similar shape and theme and all have a very definite place in the market. The mantra we have stuck to is “Quality materials with Quality European construction”, if it doesn’t conform to that then it doesn’t make the grade. I am sure there are some very good products being produced by all sorts of companies around the World but I think we have managed to produce some of the best edged tools on the market today.

There are no plans to introduce any more models as such, this year but we do have plans to expand on the theme.  I am planning on having, though the course of the year these models:

Boar Fixed – Curly Birch, Turkish Walnut and Natural Micarta in both Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel – NOW ALL IN STOCK

Boar Folding Lock – Curly Birch, Turkish Walnut and Natural Micarta in both Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel – NOW ALL IN STOCK

Boar Folding EDC – Curly Birch, Turkish Walnut, Natural Micarta and Orange Micarta in Stainless Steel – NATURAL MICARTA IN STOCK LATER IN 2015

The Lynx – Curly Birch, Turkish Walnut and Natural Micarta in both Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel – TURKISH WALNUT IN STOCK LATER IN 2015

The Grizzly – Curly Birch, Natural Micarta and Turkish Walnut in Carbon Steel – also with a leather sheath option – COMING LATER IN 2015

There will also be an expansion the leather work offered. There will be the new sheaths from Wolfwind Leatherworks and there will also be some more leather products in our own range including a belt pouch for the Bahco Saw, 2 new folding knife pouches, a new fixed blade sheath, an axe loop for the belt and another couple of items we are working on. – NOW ALL IN STOCK

All in all there will still be loads of new and interesting items available soon and you can stay updated by joining us on Facebook and checking out the “Coming Soon” and the “New Products” category on our website, stay tuned………………

Boars Head Jpeg      Grizzly Bear - Tan Jpeg Logo 3     Lynx Png - Copy - Copy

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Aptly named “Live Fire”

Have any of you used Live Fire?

I truly think it is the best addition to any Fire lighting or survival kit on the market today. It is not only completely waterproof  it will light from a firesteel and burns for ages.

One of the great aspects I have found is that you can control the flame using the lid of the container it comes in, making sure you have plenty more for next time. Many other tinders/firelighters work well enough but you do need a separate container to store them in – especially the gels!

Live Fire Original          Live Fire Sport

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The Latest Prototype

Grizzly Brown

Grizzly Black

Grizzly & Boar

Grizzly Sheath

We have a new prototype on test at the moment and I must say that I am very impressed. It is a hybrid of a Bushcraft Knife and a full blown Survival knife and it has been performing faultlessly.

It is made from 6mm (1/4″) thick High Carbon Tool Steel and there will likely be two different blade variants, one as a simple satin finish and the other with a black traction coating. The blades will naturally have a full Scandi Grind making them super easy to maintain and sharpen. There is also a small depression/cut out on the back of the blade that is designed to make striking a fire steel easier.

They are handled with removable Micarta Scales that a very ergonomically shaped to make them super comfortable for prolonged use. Many Survival type knives like ESEE simply make them from slab sided Micarta.

The knife is essentially the same design as the very successful Boar Bushcraft Knife but put on a steroid regime as it is 50% thicker, the blade is deeper and the handle is also slightly thicker.

We haven’t made any final decisions on the sheath yet but the most likely combination will have a Kydex sheath as standard with the ability to upgrade to have an additional, fully ambidextrous, US made cordura product that has an additional fire kit packed in the front pouch.

I welcome any feedback you may have as we haven’t gone into full production yet, we are simply testing and tweeking at the moment. The main design is very unlikely to change as it has been performing so well, even in chopping tests!

***One thing I would like to add is concerning the angle of the Scandi grind. The proportion percentages are exactly the same as The Boar. What I mean by that is that it is made of 50% thicker steel and the grind has been increased to make it 50% deeper. It may not show up well in the images but you are talking millimetres and with the Prototype being a much deeper blade it is quite deceptive in the picture.***

Categories: Bushcraft & Survival Equipment, Knives & Tools | 47 Comments

What’s your “EDC” Gear?

EDC Gear

We all carry various items in our pockets and key chains and I am always interested to see what peoples ideas are on EDC gear and what you find really useful. I have given an example in the picture above of just the sort of thing I am talking about. My typical EDC is:

  1. A TBS Boar EDC Pocket Knife – Of course!!
  2. A good quality watch – in this case with a very comfortable wide leather strap and nDur watchband compass
  3. A 550 Paracord Bracelet with Ferrocium Rod Toggle and washer/striker
  4. A Phone in an Otterbox Case
  5. A wallet with all the normal gubbins plus a Fresnel Lense and an ESEE Survival Card
  6. The Key Ring consists of a Tac Link Karabiner
  7. An Exotac Nano Striker
  8. A Swiss Tech Utili-Key
  9. A “Nitestick” – to illuminate them if & when you drop them.
  10. A Schrade Titanium Pry Tool
  11. An Uncle Bills Silver Gripper Key Chain Trio which consists of a set of tweezers, a can opener and a torch
  12. A Tops Dog Tag Signal Mirror
  13. House/Car Keys – Obviously!

I feel it is a good array of gear and everything has proved its worth over the years. The things that essentially never leave me are the TBS Boar knife, the Paracord Bracelet, the watch & phone. I think they represent a good selection of tools that would prove invaluable in an emergency but if you stick to, what I feel, are the hardest things to go without in an emergency they would be:

  • A good cutting tool
  • Some cordage
  • Help in starting a fire (firesteel)

Obviously in a real emergency the phone only comes into its own if you have a signal so it renders it a fairly useless object but the watch is certainly a more important thing simply for keeping track of time and being a good aid to navigation

What is in your EDC???

Categories: EDC Gear | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

The Laws on Knives

I have been asked recently about the current UK Laws on knives and have also been quite harshly criticised because of the advice we generally give out was “Inconclusive and Vague”!!

It was pointed out to me that some of the advice we were giving was wrong on a technical issue as we stated that an Every Day Carry knife had to be less than 3 inches and folding. The individual stated that an EDC had to also be “Non-Locking” but after I inquired if he had read “The Criminal Justice Act (1988)” the response was an expected – “NO”.

I am sorry to be picky but the act doesn’t actually state whether an EDC knife (penknife), can be locking or non-locking. It is now, generally accepted, that it is safer to carry to a non-locking knife as some Persons in Authority have taken it upon themselves to deem a locking knife as a fixed blade product when it is un-folded. I know, it sounds pedantic, but I do so love a Barrack Room Lawyer who quotes a law to you who hasn’t actually read it!!

I have written the advice that appears on our website after reading a raft of articles on the different Acts of Parliament and, reading as much of actual Acts that it is possible to do so without actually falling asleep!

REMEMBER IN ALL CASES – it is advice and not law and all cases you should seek the knowledge of a Solicitor as they are the true experts in the Laws of our Land.

The Bushcraft Stores Advice 

Categories: Knives & Tools | 2 Comments

Our own EDC

KISS – Keep it Simple, Stupid!

There have been, and will be for eons, arguments about what is the best survival knife you can have.

I am going to add to that with – The best survival knife on the market is the one you have on you at the time you need it!!!!

As such here is some flagrant advertising for you – The BOAR EDC.

The Boar "EDC" Pocket Knife                       EDC Curly

I believe it is the best EDC knife on the market today so, ergo, it makes it the best survival knife on the market today because it will be in your pocket when you need it!! – Hard to argue against???

Categories: Knives & Tools | 1 Comment

Paracord Bracelets

Paracord Bracelets have been popular for a number of years – funnily enough ever since we were the first to be selling them in the UK, and no, I am not joking or bragging there is a reason – we are the biggest importer and supplier of  GSA Complaint Paracord and accessories in Europe!

The latest evolution of this trend is to make them even more useful by adding products to them, this way you don’t only have a length of cord with you, you also have a secondary product as well.

My current favourite in the “Firesteel Survival Bracelet” as, with the addition of one of our own EDC Boar knives, you have the perfect tools for every day survival. I believe that a good cutting tool, some cordage and the ability to start fire are the 3 most important things you can carry about your person on an every day basis and this makes the perfect combination.

Firesteel Bracelet                    The Boar "EDC" Pocket Knife

The Firesteel Bracelet has a Ferrocium Rod toggle and a washer type fastener to use as a scraper and it really does work. It is by far the most useful one on the market at the moment.

The second bracelet that is a real innovation which is also incredibly handy it the “Parasaw” from CRKT. It is again a stitched bracelet with a useful length of paracord but this one has a commando wire saw sealed inside it. It is the perfect EDC Tool for carrying every day as an axe or machete is simply not practical and this is more than one tool, it doubles well as a snare for trapping and with the addition of the 7 strand core paracord makes a truly useful tool to carry on your wrist.

Parasaw Olive

 

There is a raft of other products on the market with a whole host of makers Worldwide (we supply most of the European makers with cord!). There are various patterns of knotting and various accessories built in like compasses, fishing kits, additional fire making products and a whole host of weird and wonderful things but we honestly believe that the Firesteel bracelet and the Parasaw and the most useful thing you can combine with an EDC knife and carry about your person on a daily basis.

 

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Fjallraven Clothing

Fjallraven is kind of a mix between old and new technologies and we have always been very impressed with their clothing. As such we have some products on test that we are also very impressed with.

The only thing that seems to put some people off about Fjallraven is the cost. One thing I can assure you is that the current products we stock (the trousers) are worth every penny; they are that price for a reason – they seem to last forever! I still have the very first pair I bought way back when and they have really been through the wringer, they seem to take everything you throw at them whether it be stalking in bramble rich forest or walking on the high fells they perform.

We have a few top layers on test and we are very happy with a couple of them and are very likely to be bringing them in to stock them when we can secure a good supply.

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