Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Back to bushcraft - Bushcraft Sverige Riksträff 2016

The back to bushcraft-title actually is more appropriate for this post, really....

The very first national meeting for members of the Swedish bushcraft association or Bushcraft Sverige Riksträff. The preliminaries I already wrote about. This post is all about stepping out of my comfort zone and having fun doing it!!
I was going to meet a whole bunch of new people and intensively, socially interact with those for 2 days and to do so I had to drive a long distance myself! If you want the un-me in a nutshell... voilà.
But before that all happened I was going to meet another stranger, going by the name of Lee. He lives quite a bit further up north, is a non-native like me and would love to attend the meeting as well, but that would mean he'd have to get up at 04:00 and be on his way by 05:00. Feeling that that would be a bit to much, we invited him to come and stay over at our place, so we could make the trip together. We had "talked" for a while back and fro via facebook already and the vibes both he and I picked up seemed to be good. So he showed up at our place on friday night and we all pretty much instantly got along very well. This was to remain that way for the entire weekend. We spent a very pleasant evening, chatting and having a drink and went to sleep a lot later than planned. Nevertheless the alarm clock sounded at 06:00 saturday morning, since we had to pick up a third person at 07:30 and it would be a 30 minute drive there. The pick up and the drive down south went without any noteworthy incidents and just before 10:00 we arrived at our destination; a scouting facility by the name of Brittmäss near Sparreholm.

All loaded up. By the time we were going the trunk was completely filled!

Home away from home.
The tent was up in under 30 minutes and I learned that there's enough room for 5 beds, with plenty of room to walk around.
Good enough for the family!
One item that I truly enjoyed, was the canoeing "classes" by Josef Hegart from Josef Hegart Canoe and Outdoorlife. I thought I could paddle a canoe a little..... NOT! In 2 short, 1 hour sessions he explained and taught us/me the very basics and it was a real pleasure being out the on the lake with him. The way he very casually moves across the surface with his canoe is almost uncanny and his handcrafted paddles and canoes made my eyes glisten like a kid's in front of the window of a candystore. Later on the saturday evening he told us about his almost 10(!!) week long canoeing trip in Canada, or more across Canada, but my eyes kept getting smaller and smaller. Instead of just falling asleep and loudly snore during his tale, which might be considered a tad rude, I withdrew tactically and headed for my tent. During that retreat I was treated to a splendid starry sky. The night was so clear.... I never cease to be amazed, looking up in awe......

Yours' truly in the back
pictures taken by Jonathan Sälg
Josef is the guy standing...
Another "class" we had, dealt with mushrooms and plants and their uses. Unfortunately due to the extreme drought, there weren't many mushrooms to be found and, another unfortunately, we were quite out of season in order to see and learn about the most common useable plants. However Aleks and Johan were still able to show and learn us a bit about these subjects. Foraging never was my strong suit, so I really need to dive deeper into this.

Aleks talking mushrooms.....
 I always thought green blended in????
and Johan talking plants.....
The other classes, blacksmithing and netting, I skipped. I had done my blacksmithing-bit and know it's not for me and fish, fishing and related subjects are completely wasted on me. I think I could live my life without fish.... really.

On the first night was a very unexpected highlight; a very interesting presentation made by Lisa Fenton, one of the driving forces behind, among a very impressive list of credentials. She talked for, I guess, at least 1,5 hour about bushcraft, its origins, its meaning(s) and its different branches. She did or is doing a paper on the subject for het PhD and I am really hoping to read that some day. She caught me, interested me and inspired me, by the way she delivered her message; full of fire and enthusiasm. She mentioned the words "pivotal point" quite a few times and I feel like this meeting, her presentation and maybe het study might be pivotal points for me; back to bushcraft with its broad horizons and diversity! Back to the source of my transformation. Back to the thing with which it all began.

However the main activity was gathering around the campfire; socialising, having conversations and discussions, getting to know one another, having coffee and preparing food. Being treated to tacos on the first night really helped my logistics. I had forgotten the meat for my own meals at home... 
Normally I would feel drained of my energy after dealing with such a group of people (nearly 30), but strangely enough not so! The vibe was a good one, a relaxed one, feeding not draining. I truly enjoyed the company of all those like minded folks, despite all the differences in background. 

The very heart of the meeting; the large fireplace.
This one and the next one are Lee Fraser's

I took this one with Lee's camera.

Nature's own art....
Lee's as well, on my request.

Fondling with my stuff....

Hah!! Now that title made ya look, huh. Or at least wonder.... An alternative title might have been "Back to bushcraft", but that's not as..... ehmmm..... catchy...
The past week I have been busy with my outdoor gear again; planning, packing, using, unpacking, cleaning up, planning and packing again. How come?
Well, for starters there was the first national meet from Bushcraft Sverige last weekend and next weekend I'll be heading off to Norway, to spend some time up in the mountains with my buddy Odd.
What was there to plan, you might ask? Conditions for both weekend could not be further apart, I think. The meeting I attended was located in the south of Sweden, on a scouting group terrain with lush deciduous trees in starting autumn colours with balmy early autumn temperatures and clear skies. The trip to Norway looks like it's going to be similar in the way that there is no rain forecast either, but there will be no trees and certainly no double digit temperatures!
On the meeting last weekend I brought a tent, stretcher and sleeping bag, for Norway I'll leave tent and stretcher at home. I'll also go for a different sleeping bag this time.
Let me start with the bushcraft meeting.
During the planningstage it looked like it might be grey with a possibility of rain and I figured that a gatheringplace in case of rain might be a good idea, so I opted for my large army tent. That way I could bring a fieldcot, so I could sleep decently and practice in erecting the tent. There were others who were interested in sleeping in it, so it seemed sensible to use it. Turned out that I ended up using it all by my self.....
Among the other things I brought were 1 new comer, being an army cookingset in stainless steel and the backpack from the 1930's. I had given that one a try after my test/review of the ST and I liked it, so now I wanted it to use it in earnest. I ended up carrying it from the car to the tentsite (10 meters) and from there to the campfire area (another 30 meters).
The stainless steel messkit performed absolutely great! I prepared soup in it and a mixture between chili con carne and pasta with sauce. The latter got a bit burned/caked on the side the heat was, but it was not all that bad, when I cleaned it up. With the aluminium version you really have to stay on top of things in order to prevent this!! The amount prepared was sufficient to provide 2 adult males with a decent and filling meal. So it actually is too large for one person.
Other than that I spent a few hours in my mancave, going over my stuff, thinking about what to take, inevitably getting distracted and carried away. But it was fun to do and it sort of rekindled, or at least wetted my appetite, to go out and use it again.
Something similar happened after I got home, when I started unpack and clean up the things I brought and used (ended up not using quite a few things). I also had an unpleasant surprise, when I started unpacking. I left my gear in the car at night after I came home and when I opened the trunk in the morning I noticed a very distinct smell; burner fuel. I had some fuel left in the burner of the messkit, when I packed up and this had started melting the rubber ring in the lid of the burner, causing the fuel to leak into my backpack! I had to wash and air out quite a few things. Good thing was that the cloth around the mug absorbed most of it, preventing some real damage. But this was the second time this happened to me, so I have to rethink the use of the fuel and burner. I also noticed that the lid has a common defect; cracks along the edges.
After I had washed up everything and was busy putting it all away, I got distracted again and started going through my things again, wondering what to take for the Norway trip and trying to figure out whether or not I should opt for just one cookingsystem and if so which one.
Before I knew it I was busy sharpening some knives. Haven't spent that much time in there in ages....

Next step was to figure out what to take to Norway. We'd be staying in a cabin, temperature was forecast to hover around 7C, mountain weather can be unpredictable, we'd probably be active with hiking, maybe some hunting and shooting as well.
I am thinking about taking the ancient pack again with the same basic things, although I will probably have more use for a daypack. Then the camera and its bag, which I need to finish in that case. Add an extra clothing layer, some thin finger gloves might be a good idea. Maybe wool blankets instead of a sleeping bag, just for fun?

Now the big question is;"Why is it so much fun to fondle with your stuff?"
Answer; it let's you relive all the fun things you did while using it or it makes you dream about the fun things you are going to do with it......
It is a real feel good moment, takes you to a world of your own, let's you daydream and makes you relax. And the weird thing is that you only think of or remember the good things, even if you had bad experiences. Somehow even those get turned around to memories to cherish, because in hindsight, even those were positive in a way.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

New project!!! Woodstove renovation

I have finally begun working on our woodfed kitchenstove. The poor thing has been sitting under a tarpaulin for the last 2 years.
It is a Norrahammar No.1927, which we bought for 900kr. Due to all kinds of reasons, one was figuring out how the heel to get it up into the house and into the kitchen, it remained where we put it... Until now, because our friends here reminded us that we can take apart that stove! Just removing the plates and the doors would greatly reduce its weight and make it more easily handleable. So I pulled off the tarp, expecting to see a chunk of rust... but no! It still looked very presentable, given its age and the circumstances. We had put it on a wooden pallet and nailed planks on the corners that stood upward, onto which I fastened the tarp (actually a thick, reinforced  sheet of plastic). This way the air could always circulate around the stove, but rain and snow were kept away. I then started to take it apart, removing the plates and the top, brushing off dirt and soot as I progressed. The interior however did not look too good. The fireproof cement on top of the over had degenerated into sand and dust, so that will have to be completely redone. One of the interior walls is deformed, probably overheated at one point.... or several points.
The same goes for the watertank, actually. It will hold water, but probably needs to be replaced too.

After the quite messy job, the oven has lost so much weight that I am confident that we can move it up the hill, stairs and into the house (stairs again).

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Last of the t-shirt weather

The last week was a real nice one.
A lot of sun, temperatures up and over 20C; it'll be the last of the t-shirt weather I suppose. The nights are getting pretty cold occasionally already. The 5C barrier has already been breached, but there's still a lot of warmth in the air left. We had a very windy day the other day, but even the wind was warm.
The swallows have all left a few days ago, but in their place flights of small birds, mostly finches, have taken their place and the looms.... they have the lakes all to themselves practically. It is getting quite. Next to no bird calls anymore. All the more noticeable was a group of red crossbills (Loxia curvirostra) that landed in the pine tree in front of our house.

September is blessing us with some serious after summer weather and that is good news for our "crops" too! And bad news as well.... We still harvest what modest, limited yields we can find in the garden, but one thing we have no lack of are caterpillars!!! Hundreds of 'em on all our cabbages... Brussels sprouts are practically gone, white and red cabbage look like they were on a firing range as the recipients of buckshot rounds and we were forced to harvest the kale, before that would be gone too. The only thing seemingly unaffected up till now is the savoy kale. They appeared within 48 hours or so.... Plus there are plenty of slugs too.
But our garden still is full of pleasant surprises too. We haven't actually paid any attention to our little greenhouse with peppers and tomatoes. Watering those was very cumbersome, the yield minimal and all the peppers succumbed to holeboring beetles. So we pretty much abandoned that project. However..... the tomatoes are going strong, despite not having received water in weeks!! I guess the copious amounts of rain, when it came, was sufficient to water the tomatoes from the underside. The greenhouse is located in a place where I know water gathers in spring, so I am guessing that enough moisture seeps under or comes up under the greenhouse to keep them alive and growing. We're having some fresh tomatoes after all. And 1 chilipepper. Yup. 1.
I also noted that there is a major difference in the plant beds. One was covered with old horse manure, containing a lot of woodchips. The other I created by layering cardboard and storebought plant soil. The manure has decayed away and has left a layer of woodchips, suffocating the underlaying seeds and weeds. The bed with the plant soil is overgrown and the tomatoes in that bed show some form of sickness. A bit of google-fu revealed that those apparently are ghost spots.

"White circular (halo) spots appear on the fruit and have been termed "ghost spots." These spots will persist and can appear on green, breaker, and mature fruit. As fruit ripens, the color of the halos changes from white to yellow. The "ghost-spot" symptom results from spore germination and penetration of the fruit, which is only susceptible to attack up to cherry size. As soon as the surface of the fruit is shiny, it is no longer susceptible. Penetration of the mycelium of Botrytis into the fruit produces a host reaction preventing any further growth of the mycelium and results in localization of the pathogen. The halo forms around the point of entry."

Another pleasant surprise was finding 2 plumbs!! Yes, one of the trees we planted last year bore 2 completely ripened fruits! And they were delicious! And gone before we could show them to anyone. My wife and I were in the garden looking around, making plans, when I spotted and picked them and they were gone, before the mrs. got the chance of stopping me, eating the very last bit of one of them. At least now we know the the fruit on those will ripen in time around here. The next pleasant surprise is the appletree we salvaged and planted this year. It had quite some fruit when we planted it, but I greatly reduced the numbers, only keeping a handful, so we could determine the sort. It appears to be a "rödluvan", a fresh, sour-sweet species with good taste and consistency, but not good for keeping. That means harvesting, eating or processing at once. Despite the dry summer the tree is looking good, as is the recently planted elderberry. I have to admit that my way of handling newly planted trees and shrubs goes against the usual recommendations of watering often and a lot. I do not. I water in the beginning, so the soil will settle around the roots, but that's it! I keep an eye of the plant to make sure it does not wilt and die, but I will only water when really needed and then I drench the spot, so the water goes down deep. My philosophy is that it is no good growing lazy plants. I force them to create roots, looking for water, not hand it out on a silver platter. That way the plants creates a firm root system, going deep, giving the tree or shrub a firm footing and more possibility of finding water deeper down in times of drought. It might not be as I think, but no tree or shrub has failed me yet.

I am hoping that the corn will ripen in time, but I am dubious on the poquito-beans. These are flowering right now, and although the bees are still out in force, I doubt the beans will be pollinated or even ripen, before the frosts come. And speaking of bees; planting the tagetes was a good thing! There hardly are any flowering plants around, but the tagetes is still all bloom and the bees are all over them. So for beekeepers that could mean an additional source of nectar in autumn, instead of heath and aphids. That might also be a reason why the bees are not so much into the feeding of sugar water. It takes a while for them to empty the 1.5l containers and I see many of them heading off in and coming back from different directions. So there still is food to be found elsewhere too.
And speaking of food we found elsewhere; I was planning on buying some Rosa rugosa plants, because they give many large rosehips, perfect for jams and drying, when suddenly my wife told me we have them in our garden? Turns out she came across some bushes, when strolling through the garden, after we had talked about the changing of the sewage system. They are hidden in the back of a forgotten corner of the garden..... not 10 meters from the house!! They are standing under a row of aspen, hidden behind a patch of wild raspberries and a rocky outcrop. They are not looking like they are thriving, but relocating them is no option. They have firmly rooted between roots and rocks. So I will prune them and clear som room over them. I also found 3 others on the very edge of our garden. Two of those were relocated to our foodgarden, to create a bit more diversity there and I added/relocated rhubarb and strawberries as well.
Because quite some digging will be done here shortly I started relocating decorative plants to the front of the house. All this means that there will be a concentration of decorative plants, of which a good deal is also usable as herb, tea or otherwise. Whilst digging up a white paeony, it fell apart into 3 separate clumps. The root system had been eaten by something, yet they were still ok. So now we have 3 white paeonies, which suits me just fine. I love those oldfashioned farmyard plants!

Harvesting is all fun and games, but it turns out we are not good in the following up on that, meaning processing the harvest. We regularly end up throwing fresh food away, because it takes too long for us to do anything with it. Now the reason for that, partially, is that the yield is very little or stretched out over a period, meaning it doesn't make sense to do each little batch by itself. Pickles for instance. Before we have gathered enough to make starting the canning process sensible, a lot of it has spoiled already. Our fridge is too small and our food cellar far to warm!
And truth be told we also lack discipline. The sense of necessity hasn't really sunken in yet and there are too many distractions elsewhere too. This homesteading-thing is being viewed upon as a nice hobby, instead of a chosen lifestyle...... And related to that there might be some very tough and far reaching decisions that will have to be made in the near future.... Winter is coming and it might be a long and dark one.

We attended a smallscale event on sustainability. Unfortunately is was too small scale. Little did we learn or find inspiration for. However we did have a nice chat with a local beekeeper, found out about a seemingly good alternative to conventional banks and their loanings ystem, which we really are going to look into and got to talk to Johan from and author from the olja för blåbär book. He made a stylish entree in a Tesla Model S! An electrical car and a kind of neat one too. Coming from a non-car-lover.....
I must admit there were tons of neat little gimmicks that are well thought through, like a huge led-display in the centre console and retracting handgrips, which reduce drag and thus fuel consumption, but on the other side to me it was a typical high class car; flashy, overly luxurious, maybe even a tad pompous and superfluous.... For me cars like these do NOT stand for sustainability. Cars and sustainability are contradictio in terminis to me to begin with. The development and production of such a car, not even to mention the development, construction and maintenance of the infrastructure to keep them going or even sell them, consume such vast amounts of resources and energy, that the reduced emission when driving one, can never, ever match it. Let alone outperform it. If you want a car AND (some form of) sustainability, keep the old ones going. Yes, they will emit far more noxious fumes per km, but they do not require huge amounts of raw materials to build, do not produce huge amounts of waste, while building AND will not create huge amounts of waste, when discarded for a new fancy, flashy one. Better still keep the old ones going that are still easily fixed by people themselves at home WITHOUT all that hightech gizmology, which only breaks down and can be fixed by specialists, keeping an entire, non-essential industry going and we all know who benefits from that....
However..... this little event did have some consequences for us. It cost us! Of course there were second hand sellers and we are always suckers for a good deal. One of those deals were 2 very fine real wool blankets. And some books.... on how to sow and grow from seed. How to harvest, keep and regrow. And a book on root cellaring and everything related. A book on framer's life in past centuries, so we can learn about their ways and culture. Our homesteading library is steadily growing and I am amazed, impressed and quite a bit daunted by the sheer amount of knowledge. How did people back in the day learn and know all this????? Perhaps specialisation within the family or even community?

For now I am very much  looking forward to the weekends of 24-25 september and 30 september to 3 october. The first will be the first national meeting of the bushcraft Sverige association and the other will be a visit to my buddy Odd in Norway. For both some interesting things appear to be planned.....

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The ordinary life

A quiet sunday morning.... The wife and daughters are sleeping over at the charcoalkiln site, the son is still in bed. I got to sleep in late; until 07:30. It's a sunny morning, cool and windy. Walking the dogs I notice the leaves are turning yellow and some of those are being carried by the wind. A new routine has developed; first the animals, then we. Our chickens presented me with fresh eggs. Out of the chickencoop into the frying pan onto the plate in under 10 minutes. Accompanied with some bacon and hot coffee, the best breakfast one can have! A wifi-less morning, since no one is around to be online. Instead a morning with a second mug of coffee, a book on cows in hand, a purring kitten on my lap and 2 dogs at my feet...... Tomorrow is monday again and it'll be quite different....

The summer vacation has come to an end. My summer job as well. The wife has started her job again and the kids are back in school. We have gone back to that wonderful, routinely, monotonous life again. I do not like summer all that much. Not just because of the warmth, but also because during the months off, every form of routine goes right out the window. It is hard to keep them up and it requires a good deal of discipline, which is something we are not really good at. So right now I am trying to get back into that everyday routine again and experience has shown that that might take a little while.
And of course now that the kids are back in school, the mrs. is working again.... summer decided to come back with a few days of wonderful, dry and sunny weather! Wouldn't you know it... but the air is a lot cooler and the, sometimes fierce, rain and morning fogs have returned as well. We also got a new familymember.....

This is also the time where we have started operation "Clean Sweep", meaning getting rid of everything, or at least a lot of, the things we do not need anymore. Clothes the kids have outgrown, furniture and other stuff that just is in the way and clutters up the house; the works. We'll be going through things room by room, cleaning up, selling, giving and throwing away... Create room to breathe and live.... We had been planning this for a while, but by chance we came across a book (surprise, right? ;) ) that will help us do it.
Speaking of coming across things.... The other day we were going to get a new bench for the kitchen. The one we had, is by far too big and cumbersome. So on a sunday afternoon we got into the car and drove to the address we were supposed to get that bench. Turns out is was a family farm with a huge barn, stuffed to the brim with stuff; a very large secondhand store of sorts.... Of course.... And of course we could not help roaming around. And this does not help with the decluttering-idea either, because we never come out empty handed. As it was this time too. BUT..... The main scoop was a load of military surplus. I found a pristine woolen m39 field uniform, which fits me perfectly, but which might also fetch a good price, when sold on. Yes, when not if. I also found a LK35 backpack with contents; a stainless steel cookset + 2 canteens. That means I can sell my aluminium ones and the LK35 will hopefully be sold on. They have a kind of cult status among bushcrafters, other than swedish. But the party didn't end there. There was also a m/1905 backpack, stamped 1906 in good shape for its age. If I clean it up it should yield another few 100 kr. Saw they being sold for as much as 900 at a surplus store. Just by selling this stuff I would more than double the total amount spent and then we'd still have the bench, a pair of long woolen socks, 2 cast iron waffle irons, a brand new pair of high brand sneakers for the mrs. AND of course some books. So all in all I am thinking a deal here.

There's also been a major shift in plans lately. We need to exchange/upgrade our sewage system. That's obligatory. We contacted a contractor and he came out to look at the situation. Turns out we have other options than expected. It will involve the cutting down of trees and ruining that wonderful fireplace location we have. It'll give us a not unsubstantial bank loan as well. On the upside we will massively reduce contaminating surface waters in our immediate area and the loan will be a lot less (up to 50%) then we had anticipated. It will also give us an extra area to grow food, meaning the addition or relocation of a lot of berry bushes, which in turn will clear room for growing crops elsewhere. All in all we are looking at a possible increase of food growing area up to 10%. And a good deal of firewood on top of that, which we will not need to buy. But in order to process it we will need to buy tools, so that levels things out. However we will have the tools and have learned how to use them, when all's done.
This entire operation means we can not start constructing our planned greenhouse on the southern wall of the house, but it also means we do not have to tear down the shed either. So Now I am planning on fixing up that one, install the little stove we have and turn it into a woodworking shed.
Amazing how one single event can cause so a chain reaction, huh.

Another thing I have been planning is a visit to Norway to go and see my buddy Odd. He visited us 2 years ago and we haven't seen each other since. Good things there's something like facbook in these matters. Can't wait to get over there, even if it means driving for 4 hours. I really need to get away for a few days. Too much has been on my mind lately and I desperately need a break to recharge.

Swedish military backpacks - Ryggsäck ST and LK35 - pt.4

The actual tryout.

I tried the backpacks in three consecutive days and I kept conditions as similar as possible.
The conditions; I wore the packs, while taking the dogs for the daily long walk. That means an at least 1 hour walk around lunchtime. Now walking these dogs is no casual stroll. It is more of a forced march; 6km in one hour or under. The route was the same those three days; gravel, coarse gravel, uneven terrain, up and down hill. With a dog on either arm, pulling the line taught and going from left to right, whenever their nose picks up something. So plenty of movement all around.
Weather was sunny and around 20C the first 2 days. At least the first 2 days. Day 3 was less summerlike. And to top it all off I was having a bad cold, meaning runny nose, shortness of breath, sweating profusely (but that is good, because you get a lot of shit out of your system that way), sneezing, coughing and generally not fit... The works...
The loadout was the same each time; a Swedish army cookset, my small items bag, first aid kit, 2 filled canteens, a hatchet and a poncho; all weighing in at 7kgs.
Let me start by telling you that neither of the ST packs performed badly. After the initial startup troubles, like shifting the pack back and fro in order to find a good fit, things went rather smoothly. However there are a number of issues with both these packs.
The ST lätt; although this one has a waist strap, it is not a comfortable one. It feels and rides weird, yet it keep the bottom and thus the weight of the pack where it is supposed to be; on your pelvis. It took a while before I found a comfortable fit, though. At first the pack rode to high, meaning the lower belt was positioned on top of the pelvis. This was, because the broader parts of the shoulder straps were more comfortably positioned, but it meant that the pack pushed down on the edge of my pants. After I had adjusted the position of the pack, it was better, but now the point of the broad section pushed into the front of my shoulder.
The ST on the other hand has other issues. First of all no waistbelt. That meant a bobbing backpack all the time. And that gets pretty tiring. Another problem was that, although I put the straps in the smallest position, the pack would still lean back, resting on the pelvis, but pulling the shoulders backward. Not a good fit. And then there was the annoying squeak of the leather with every step you take.
An issue both packs had, was with the frame. It is quite wide on the bottom and thus sticks out on either side. Reaching for something in your buttpocket is quite laborious and awkward and if you need to hold your arms next to your body, you would hit the frame with your lower arm. Carrying a stretcher for instance or loaded jerrycans might prove painful.
Looking back I wonder (and fear) what might happen when you load up these packs for real! In case of the ST lätt, there wasn't all that much room left. You might fit in some spare clothes and some food + a sleeping bag and mat on the outside, but I fear you'd be seriously overloading it that way, thus equally seriously compromising the comfort. As for the ST, there was loads of room left, but again when using it all, you might get quite uncomfortable, when carrying it.
The last in line was the LK35.
One this trip the conditions were differently. For one my wife followed along and it was much cooler with rain for another. We were wearing outerware when we started of, but that quickly ended up on top of the pack, so there's some extra weight there.
Again, there were the initial start issues, shoving the pack around and readjusting.of the shoulderstraps. However I could not find a really comfortable position with this one. The shoulderstraps are quite easily adjusted and I pulled them more taught, so the pack would ride higher. This also resulted in the pack pulling harder on my shoulders. I think the main reason are the 2 broad belts in the back. Mine were taught and I wanted to loosen them. The system with strings and knots would not let me do that easily. I couldn't get the knots to let go. Therefor it really felt like I was wearing a rigid, square pack on a round back. The lack of a waistbelt meant that the entire weight was pulling on my shoulders and my hands and arms started feeling numb, even after a short while. It really is beyond me why they chose this stupid system, other than maybe the wrong kind of cheapness. A system like the ST lätt would have made things a lot easier. Because of this the broad shoulder parts of the carrying straps dug into my shoulders too, when moving my arms in front of me. The narrow frame however allowed easy or easier access to my buttpockets though and left room for my arms to move freely.
Of the three tried packs, this one is my least favorite and honestly none of them really is.....

But the rain did bring out mushrooms! None of these  I saw yesterday or the day before that!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Swedish military backpacks - Ryggsäck ST and LK35 - pt.3

Through my job I came into contact with a pair (well, actually 2x5) of rucksacks I hadn't seen before; the socalled ruyggsäck St and ST lätt. Thanks to the immeasurable wisdom of the www I learned that the ST, standing for större, meaning larger, and ST lätt, meaning a lighter version of that. Now if my information is correct the ST is the follow up of the (in)famous M/39 and the predecessor of the equally (in)famous LK70. The ST lätt would be the equivalent of the LK35.
Why they would call the ST lätt that way is a mystery to me, since it does in no way resemble the original ST. I also found info suggesting this pack was intended for the flygvapnet or airforce.
The third one actually is a LK35, recently purchased by me as part of a package deal.
I'll do a multi-part review/presentation of the packs, starting with the original ST, then the ST lätt and finally the LK35. Too bad I do not have a LK70 to complete the list.....

The LK35
Technical data:
Height: 60cm
Width: 33cm
Depth: 20cm
Weight: 2,5 kgs
Material: Steel tubular frame. Canvas pack with some form of manmade fibre straps. Polyester? 

Now the only thing that this backpack has in common with the others is that it is Swedish military surplus, has a frame and is green. Oh yeah... and it has about the same size as the ST lätt; 35 liters.
Other than that, a completely different pack yet again.
The model is a very straight forward design; a square frame, a square pack and the necessary straps. That's it. No bells, whistles or gimmicks.

This pack is supposed to be a 3-day assault pack. How that is supposed to happen, I have no idea. I found a packingschedule on the BCUSA-forum in a thread started by a Swedish guy, named sealegs.

source; BCUSA-thread

The shown contents are quite optimistic. I wonder who devised this setup and if they did try it themselves.

The backpack consists of one large compartment and a smaller one in the back. Closing that compartment is done by the simple means of pulling a string and fastening it with that typical Swedish closure. The is one large top flap, covering the entire pack and this has a waterproof lining on the inside.
It has a square tubular steel frame, which is detachable and most of the straps are permanently fastened to the pack with rivets. These straps have metal end caps.
There isn't much else to say about the pack, really. A simple, straight forward design. And that goes for every aspect of this combination, up to and including the straps. All are attached to the pack, but on top you'll find 2 extra loops. I am not quite sure what their function is, since bedrolls or something similar would be fastened under the 2 straps on top. One thing that is missing is, again, the waist belt. However there is an extra loop just below the edge of the main compartment and one extra strap on the lower front of the pack. This was intended to carry an entrenching tool, but a larger axe would fit perfectly as well. Or a stool or camera tripod.
There are 2 broad belts on the back of the frame and these rest on the back of the bearer. The system used to alter the tension of those belts is a showpiece of absolute false cheapness!!! Tying it off with strings between the belt and the frame?? Come on. They could and should have done better. A lot better!!
As an extra there are 2 rectangular loops welded to the frame sides. No idea what their function is, but since the pack is detachable, I'm guessing they are intended as fastening eyelets for other loads. A radio for instance or a jerrycan.

Pros: simple, straight forward construction that appears quite durable. Narrow frame and pack, which does not stick out. The flap covers the whole pack and is waterproof. The straps for the entrenchingtool are a nice bonus. 
Cons: The pack looks and feels cheap and uncomfortable somehow. The adjusting system for the backbelts is hopeless.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Swedish military backpacks - Ryggsäck ST and LK35 - pt.2

Through my job I came into contact with a pair (well, actually 2x5) of rucksacks I hadn't seen before; the socalled ruyggsäck St and ST lätt. Thanks to the immeasurable wisdom of the www I learned that the ST, standing for större, meaning larger, and ST lätt, meaning a lighter version of that. Now if my information is correct the ST is the follow up of the (in)famous M/39 and the predecessor of the equally (in)famous LK70. The ST lätt would be the equivalent of the LK35.
Why they would call the ST lätt that way is a mystery to me, since it does in no way resemble the original ST. I also found info suggesting this pack was intended for the flygvapnet or airforce.

The third one actually is a LK35, recently purchased by me as part of a package deal.
I'll do a multi-part review/presentation of the packs, starting with the original ST, then the ST lätt and finally the LK35. Too bad I do not have a LK70 to complete the list.....

ST, ST lätt and LK35

The ST lätt
Technical data:
Height: 55cm
Width: 42cm
Depth: 25cm
Weight: 2,75 kgs
Material: Canvas with webbing straps and belts. Leather top. Thin, wirelike steel frame.

As I mentioned in part 1 I have no idea why they (assumably) called this one the ST lätt, since it in no way resembles the ST. This is a completely different pack, both in size and design!
First of all it is a lot smaller, secondly it has no external pockets, thirdly it has a completely different frame.... well, you get the picture.
As said the size is the first thing that is different. A lot smaller than the ST and is said to hold 35 liters. This would make it more of a daypack instead of a multiday pack. The pack itself is made out of canvas and all the belts and straps are made out of webbing; coarsely woven cotton, like the ww2 British material, also used a lot after that era. Right up into the late 80's in the Dutch army actually. Absolute bombproof, but maybe not the smartest choice in a cold climate. If it gets wet and then cold it handles as plywood. Not something you'd want, when out in the field. Fumbling around with the metal fittings under cold conditions is no fun either, be that with clumsy gloves or bare fingers.

The pack: 1 main compartment with a smaller one on the inside on the back. And extra compartment with zipper under the topflap and a small compartment with zipper on the inside on the back.
here too there is an extra closeable flap on the inside, which needs to draw tight and secured with a knot. Same goes for the outer edge. Not handy with wet or cold fingers, but not as clumsy as the inner edge of the ST. The ST lätt does have a nifty hook and eye-system, which makes the tying a bit easier, but when loaded with anything the second eye never reaches the hook.

Now, the outside. First there's this... frame. A strange, flimsy looking contraption, looking like it is made out of steel wire. Which it actually is, but a very sturdy wire. Remarkable stiff for such a thin frame.

All of the straps are easily adjusted, when needed and most are detachable. What I found peculiar are the bright metal caps and buckles! Quite conspicuous in the Swedish countryside, I think. Not really tactical. And this backpack comes with a waist strap.... sort of. It actually is a narrow webbing belt, fastened with the same sort of buckle as the rest. No quick release, that is. It keeps the pack from wobbling about, but that's about it.

pros: Sturdy materials and bombproof. Multiple compartments to keep your small stuff sorted. Additional straps at the bottom for holding something like a poncho, coat or shelter part. Easily adjustable belts and straps.
Cons: Highly visible metal caps and buckles. No rain/waterproof materials on top nor bottom. Metal zippers.