Tag Archives: bushcraft

Batoning – “You did WHAT with your knife?!?”

by Woodsbum

How long are people going to argue about the viability of using a knife for fire preparation? It makes NO sense to me why this is still an argument……..

Let me being with the back story before my rant:
I was down in Texas for the better part of last week. My plane landed a little after 1800 (6 pm) and I got home around 1900 (7 pm). The son, the daughter and the daughter’s boyfriend were outside. A fire in our fire pit was in the works. Like usual, my son was out there with his Primitive Edge bushcraft knife batoning and feathersticking away. Some jerk had stopped to give him hell about using his knife in such a “disrespectful” manner. This guy then felt the need to start in on me about how ill taught my son was and how I should have put him in the Boy Scouts so that expert outdoorsmen such as himself could have taught my son correctly……….

Again, I ask why people argue about the use of knives in fire preparation. When you go online and do a search for using a knife to baton wood, you will get tons of results where anyone that batons is called names. These same people will quickly turn around and use the same knife they won’t baton with for making a feather or fuzz stick, however. This makes no sense. If you can use one knife for cutting and stripping wood, why can’t you use it to make smaller strips of wood by batoning? Better yet is when they pound the wood onto the ground or a rock with the knife being used as a splitting maul. When the wood splits, they quite effectively slam their knife into the rock. Again-again, I wonder why that is a fine use of a knife when careful batoning is not.

For those of you who do not know what batoning is, please let me explain. Instead of using an axe to split wood, a knife is used and another piece of wood is used to hammer the far end of the knife so that the blade travels down the length to split it. This is most commonly used in split wood fires to make very small pieces of wood for kindling. Once the small pieces are done, you use the same knife to make feather/fuzz sticks.

Many of these self proclaimed “experts” in outdoors “survival” have a tendency to use military survival training as the basis for everything that they know about living in the bush. They will buy those mylar emergency blankets and expect that to keep them warm if a situation crops up where they get stranded. They will also carry some Rambo knife that is not even full tang and think that this fighting knife is a survival knife. What really needs to happen is that they need to understand that “survival” and “bushcraft” are two completely different things. If you can thrive in the woods, you don’t need to “survive” in the woods. You can carry less and be comfortable for the wild will provide.

Maybe they need to research this guy:

Mors Kochanski

Mors Kochanski

The picture is of Mors Kochanski. If you don’t know who that is and are spouting off about batoning a knife, you have serious issues……..

Here are some links to an interview with Mors.

As you can see from the interview, he is considered the modern “Grandfather of Bushcraft.”

Why do I mention him? He teaches and preaches the importance of being able to baton with your knife. It is one of the many lessons that he harps on as a basic skill for outdoorsmen.

If you are not as well versed in bushcraft and believe people like Dave Canterbury more, even he batons his knife.

If you don’t believe them, then how about this?

The reality is quite simple. People use tools to complete tasks. A good bushcraft knife is simply a tool. Just make up your mind as to which tool you like best. Whether you use a knife, hatchet, machete, cleaver, axe, or any other tool you choose, the final result is really the only true way to evaluate the effectiveness or value of the tool. In the case of a skilled woodsman using any of the previously mentioned tools, they are all effective.

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Hammock and Tarp

by Woodsbum

This last summer, one of my best friends in the whole world and I went camping to test out my new hammock setup. He wasn’t nearly as impressed with things as I was.

Roscoe the hound

Roscoe the hound

Well, we set out to go and spend a weekend up in the hills and try out my first hammock outing. I have been using tents, tarps, and various configurations thereof for years. Most recently, I have found that using an insulation bed of fresh tree boughs has been my camp of choice. This doesn’t work so well when Park Rangers are watching your every move. They have a habit of freaking out on you when you start cutting down any low hanging tree branches.

To assist with getting things lighter and more “park accommodating” I have started buying lighter and more mainstream equipment so I have a choice in how I camp.

Cutting weight had to start somewhere so I started with carrying equipment and shelter as my first weight saving changes. Getting an Osprey Aether 70 helped a lot, but the real transition from heavy gear to “as light as possible without spending a crap load of money” did truly take place with getting off the ground.

The first thing that I really did was modify my sleeping arrangements. I will cover other things that I did later on.

Keep in mind that I have suffered from back pain due to injury so I need a really soft place to sleep. This made me do some research into how to handle my problem, thus discovering hammocks. Now, I don’t really do things halfway when I take a plunge. I just go for it with the best information I can find, then adapt or modify as needed. So I went to Amazon with my list of needed gear and started filling my cart.

The gear that I purchased was an ENO Double Nest, ENO Bug Net, Aqua-Quest Sil Tarp 10×7 ft, Whoopie Slings but buy 2 for a ridgeline, Hennessy Snakeskins, webbing that I made tree straps out of, and an underquilt that I had my mother make. For an overquilt, I just used a MSS.

By swapping all this out from my Thermarest Pad and Eureka tent (says it weighs around 7 lbs my mine always weighed over 9 for some reason) I was able to drop about 5-6 lbs and an unbelievable amount of space from my pack. Most importantly, I was able to sleep much better than the 1/2 inch of foam and air pad that the Thermarest provided.

There are a few tricks, however.

In case you missed it before, I dropped over 5 lbs (closer to 6 lbs) of weight by swapping to a hammock. This helps the dogs (feet) when they start barking (hurting) after a long hike. (I tend to translate my choice of words, in case you hadn’t caught that either)

So here are a few things that you need to take care of almost immediately if you do swap over to a hammock.

  • Get rid of the carbiners that come on the ENO Double nest. Replace them with some lightweight climbing ones like these. The “stock” ones are about 2 lbs a piece or something crazy. This is no joke. They are solid steel and I call them “Hammock Girders.” You can actually drop the carbiners totally if you want, but it does make it easier for setup and take down with them.
  • Turn one set of Whoopie Slings into a ridgeline for your hammock. This helps to get you the right slack so that you can sleep diagonally. Either that or tuck more of the Amsteel into the compression section so that it will hold as a ridgeline. If not, they tend to slip…. A lot.
  • Let all the ropes and extra straps, etc, hang or you will get water dripping down into your hammock while you sleep.

So here is a good picture of the whole thing set up.

My hammock setup

My hammock setup

Here is the whole campsite.

Camping in the trees

Camping in the trees

Here is a great view of one of the waterfalls I ran into along the river.

Scenic waterfall

Scenic waterfall

All in all I loved the way that the hammock packed and functioned. The ridgeline made a huge difference in my comfort. There is a certain happy medium that you have to find between too slack and too tight. If you end up making the move over to hammocks, you might want to set it up several times to get used to the process not to mention how you like it set.

It was really nice to have a place to sit as well. The bug net worked as a great place to put my boots while sleeping, too. There are all sorts of really nice add ons, books, and resources. I recommend everyone getting into hammocks do the following:

I hope that this has been relatively informative for those that are thinking about making the transition to the trees. There is a lot to the change, but it is well worth it for ease of packing in addition to the saved weight. Check it out and see you in the trees!!!

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