Tuesday, January 31, 2012

OUT - My first experiences 2010-08 to 2010-10 Sweden

My first "serious" experiences with outdoorliving, or bushcraft as I called it than, began during a visit to my wife's parents, who moved to Sweden.

While I was there, I wanted to try and learn a few things and that I did on august, 20th.
My first lesson was to try and build a shelter from natural materials, something that would keep me out of the wind, sun and, if possible, out of the rain, too.
First I neede a suitable location and, given the copious amounts of rain the last few days, finding a dry spot was not easy. Eventually I found a little mount, probably a large rock, covered with vegetation and some small firtrees. That looked promissing!

This way any water would be below me. The surrounding trees provided a windbreak and several rocks and fallen trees gave natural cover. First I cut some small trees with my kukri machete to make a domelike sceleton. The machete performed well and the broad tip made it easy to dig small depressions for the poles to be set up in.

I than covered the whole ting with branches and leaves, first a layer of birchbranches with leaves attached, than a layer of fernleaves, a layer of dea leaves and a layer of firbranches to keep everything in place. I also cut willowbranches, the thing long ones, and weaved them through the sceletonpoles, which gave the shelter stability.
The result after about 3 hours of work;

The shelter had a halfround shape and the weight of the roof kept everything well in place. It was large enough to double as a place to sleep in with room enough for a large backpack, too.
The location dictated the shelter being build with the open end due west, so I added a windbreaking "wall" between 2 trees right next to the shelter, by weaving it with firbranches.

On many occassions I take my kids with me, so they are outside too and maybe might learn something along the way.

My youngest daughter was there ,too and together we managed to tread inside a nest of these "sweeties";
I think I was lucky for being dressed in camouflage and greens, but she was wearing a bright pink jacket with yellow flowers on it. I figured I could keep a better eye on her, while being busy in the woods that way. Appearantly these bright colours acted as a magnet on these insects, because within seconds I had to remove up to 8 of these wasps from her!! Her bright blonde hair proved to be atractive too, as I found some of them in her hair.
We really had to run for it!! After about 30 meters we were safe and I could asses the damage, both stung only once! She had a stinger with pumping venompouch in the skin on top of her head, which did not cause her much pain, but I got one straight into the inside of my right wrist. That hurt!! And it kept doing that for quite some time. These suckers are far worse than the average Dutch wasps! My other 2 kids were smart enough to take the long way around after dashing off in the opposite direction.
We dared not go back to finish the shelter though.....

The next day I went back, alone. I wonder why....
I wanted to try some of my wetweathergear, since sunny days were limited....
One of the first things I wanted/needed to do, was get some cover from the rain, so I tried to setup my poncho as a tarp. Lacking any experience with that, it should prove to be a usefull lesson. I used a Dutch army poncho and 4 1 meter bungees. After quite some time and a lot of adjusting I ended up with this;

The poncho is nice and taught, but what I didn't like was the underside; the stuffsack, hood and strings dangling in front of my face! I also found the colours to be a little on the bright side, just to put it mildly...

I also had a nethammock with me. I am a grounddweller, but I bought this inexpensive item as an emergencymeasure. It proved to be totally inadequate!! It was far too small and too narrow. I could not get into it! With the help of my mini SAS-book I managed to get some decent knots to tie the ropes to the trees, but with 1,5 meters each, these were too short, too!
I could make nothing more of it than an luggagenet and I put in my gear to show how small it was...

Finally my bathroom in the field;
There's a bar of ecological soap in there, toothpaste and -brush, some painkillers, insectrepellant and something against diarrea.

The next day I went back again, because after that the weather would turn pretty bad....
So I worked some more on the shelter and since I wanted a cup of coffee I used an old discarded can as a stove and made myself a brew....

The red tin is my firetin. It contains a lighter, 2 tealights and a few tampons (manmade tinder)

The rest of our stay was drenched in rain, so not much going out.
When I came back on october 15th I checked my shelter and this is what I found;

On this trip I had brought with me one of my (new) books on bushcraft, which later would come in handy and if the weather turned bad, I'd have something to read;

The next day I took my oldest daughter with me for a morningwalk. She's the one that's just as crazy about the outdoors as I am, but we both had to get used to having frosty temperatures in october!

I love those colours!!

Inspired by mr. Mears' book and motivated by my daughter's begging we took to the woods behind the house again in the afternoon to build shelters.
She wanted to make her own and I wanted to try a design I read about;
the frame

By using forked branches there was no need for any cordage. The weight of the wood was enough to firmly keep everyting in place.
I did not want to destro the forrests and trees in the area (I'm always a bit hesitant to start cutting and chopping when there's no real need for it), I decided that covering the shelter enough to close it was enough. If I were to go all the way than at least an extra foot of branches and other material would be needed.

View on the setting sun from the entrance

This gives you a bit of an idea about dimension; about 1,4 meters high and about 3 meters long.
A few days later I had to show the shelter to the rest of the family offcourse. They wanted to know what I had been doing. A great opportunity for some outdoorlunch, too!!
Here's me carrying all that is needed in a second hand backpack, which cost me SEK30!
It was pretty cold, though.... -6. That's what we would have in the middle of a Dutch winter.... if we were lucky.... or not so lucky. Depends on your point of view...

that bright coloured can would be transformed into a stove, later

ahhh bacon & eggs and coffee....

My gang!

how to remove a hot can with dito saucages from the fire

press and lift!

Is this the reason Swedish cups are shaped so odd??

I'm a happy camper!!
Candycan to woodstove transformation!!

Later during our stay I tried another shelterdesign; this time a 6 personversion.
I failed in doing that for several reasons; 1) doing it alone is quite hard and quite a lot of work, 2) it requires a great amount of material and I did not want to use any more than I already had and 3) I made it too small.....

But I had some food and hot coffee out of the freezing wind, though...


  1. Well, it looks like you already had a great start to bushcrafting and camping in Sweden before you moved there! Great to see you taking the kids along, too.

    Thanks for showing. :)


  2. There's more coming, Matt.
    This was just the beginning...