Monthly Archives: November 2008

Wye Valley in Autumn: Testing mobile & GPS tools….

A live picture we took today in the lower Wye valley: uploaded via an Apple iPhone. We’re also making use of iPhone GPS tools to track our route and Geo-tag our photos with map positions. We’ll be posting the routes and photos of our trips here from now using this excellent new mobile technology.

Wye River – October 2008

We’ve just returned from our Autumn Season canoe trip on our favourite UK Southern River, the River Wye. A four day trip took us from Herefordshire, past Ross on Wye, through the Spectacular Symonds Yat limestone gorge through to Monmouth, making camp on the river bank along the way. We caught the last of the year’s fine weather, though it was just starting to get cold at night. A fine fire took the chill away as the evenings got longer and smouldered through most of the night, making outdoor ‘Tepee-Livin’ perfectly comfortable: as Ray Mears says – “if you’re roughing it, you’re not doing it right!”.

Gear on trial included a Old Town Discovery 158 (15’8″ canadian canoe), Wychwood Rogue Shelter, Australian Swag (bivvy) bag, Vango 2-man dome tent, Swedish Army “FireSteel” fire starter, Marmot Coffee Press steel mug, Beechwood beaver-tail canoe paddles, Brando LED head-light (clips onto hat) and Musto Fleece.

A Full Report will follow, but here’s some highlights:

A lunch stop…

1st night’s camp site…

Moonlit night…

Symods Yat Gorge Campsite

Marmot Mountain Coffee Press Mug

A flask/mug and plunger combo: keeps your coffee warm, even in the snow!


[Update]: This awesome mug doesnt seem to be on sale any more: these are 2 good options – Primus LiTech Coffee Press and GSI Coffee Press (see Comments links below for where to buy):

GSI Outdoors Cafetiere/Coffee Press Mug

PRIMUS LiTech Coffee Press kit

Update #2: Liquid Solutions which is supplied by the same people ‘Pacific Cornetta, Inc.’ that make the above Marmot one have this one called the “Frosty” coffee mug which looks pretty good:

They also have a taller model called the “Hector” Frosty Mug avalable on

Also some nice options for Tea leafers here too:

Me Ol’ Swaggaroo… the Australian ‘Swag Bag’

[Update: the new Wynnchester Australian-style Bedroll Swags are now available to buy online from – see latest post. Designed and tested by Wynnchester and exclusively made in the UK by a high quality bespoke tent manufacturer.

Australian Swag bags are quite unique to Down Under – a thick canvas ‘bivvi’ with waterproof floor which rolls up as a bedroll to go in the back of the ‘Ute’ (Aussie pick-up truck) or in a canoe for river trips – too heavy for hiking long distance they can also be used horse riding and there’s some lighter versions suitable for bikers.

From Wikipedia: “In Australian historical terms, a swag is a waterproof bedroll … In the 1800’s and first half of the 20th century a swag-man was an itinerant rural worker – usually but not always sheep shearers – who carried their bedroll ‘swag’ with their belongings wrapped in them on their back.

Before motor transport was common, foot travel over long distances was essential to workers who were travelling in the Australian bush and who could not afford a horse. Itinerant workers who travelled from farm to farm sheep shearing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were called “swagmen” because they carried all their possessions in a swag. This image was immortalised in Australian culture by the song Waltzing Matilda.”

See our full post on the “History & Romance of the Australian Swag“.

Some come with various additions like mesh screens to keep out bugs, simple poles or hoops to help shed water, or small porches to keep your boots dry. Some are made to be set up in the back of the Ute itself, or on a trailer or 4×4 roof top.

The beauty of them is the simple roll-and-go nature – stop where you want, unroll it and you’re ready for the night – sleeping bags or blankets can stay rolled up inside during the day: they aren’t small when packed up though, but there’s nothing better for a night under the stars.

Camp set up, fire going and the Swag ready to be unrolled for the night...

Camp set up, fire going and the Swag ready to be unrolled for the night...

Open to Nature... view from the Swag on waking up...

Open to Nature... view from the Swag on waking up...

The Swag rolled up in the canoe – ready to travel:

A modern Australian swag:

The swag rolled up in the back of the Landrover for overland and off-road camping trips:


And then simply unrolled for sleeping directly in the back of the Landrover:


See also Ray Mears’s swag camp in the Australian desert on TV.

Kelley Kettle Review

Bushcraft @ Reviewbuzz have just received a Kelley Kettle. Fantastic little device that we have been waiting to receive a review sample of for ages. We will be reviewing this in the next few days, watch this space…

In the mean time see here for more information on the Kelley Kettle.

The ReviewBuzz ‘Backyard Test’ – Kelley Kettle #1:

OzTent – it ain't heavy…

Well, actually it is, and it’s bulky too The Oztent is not a tent for hiking, but if you’re overlanding in a 4×4 or on a canoe expedition this looks like a great piece of gear. A ‘traditional-style’ canvas and pole tent resembling the famous “campfire tent” of Bill Mason, or Ray Mears favourite “Baker Tent” the Oztent is designed to be pitched in 30 seconds, due to an ingenious design which partly explains the Oztent’s 1.6 metre (yes 1.6…) length when packed – but because the poles stay in place when packed it goes up superfast, with an internal locking mechanism it’s also super-stable and strong.

The Oz tent design is roomy enough to stand in and the open front, like the Baker tent, means a fire can be set outside leaving you sheltered and warmed by the fire.

You can buy the Oztent in the UK from distributor – see further details including Oztent accessories here:

Lots of info on the Manufacturers site .