Saturday, November 19, 2016

Bulgarian army anorak

As an afterburner of my trip to Norway  to see Odd I thought I'd throw in a little gear talk for a change; a review if you will. I did bring a few "new" things with me on that trip just for that purpose; to try them out and I must say with mixed results.... sort of.
The first one was the Bundeswehr Gebirgsjäger Rücksack, seen here....

The second one is an anorak. At first I thought it was a Russian anorak, that's how it was sold, but after some digging on the internet it turned out to be Bulgarian! Designed apparently for special units only, so no standard army issue. As if that matters.... Bought it with the intention to give it to my son on his/our Arctic-trip. But I will be keeping it for myself. The main reason? It is too small to be used as an Arctic outer layer. The fact that we are not going is another matter. And for it has a perfect fit...

This anorak actually makes for a perfect non-winter outer layer. I tried it out like I said during the Norway trip up in the mountains in subzero weather. It was windy, but dry and the anorak kept the wind at bay. I was not cold. Cool and comfortable actually. It is not as baggy as my brown Swedish anorak, making it perfect for outdoor activities.
I also tried it at home, during the first spells of winter in snow and cold, windy winterweather. Down to -5C with a wool sweater underneath it kept me warm.... enough. Below that its lack of bagginess meant not enough insulating trapped air and I started to get cold. Not freezing cold, but no longer comfortably cool either. In short this anorak is excellent for conditions anywhere between +15 to -5C, where you might need a windbreaker or just an extra, thin layer. Since the trip to the Arctic will not materialize, this will be mine during my summer trips. I really like it.
Now for the technicalities; It is a sturdy, tightly woven, cotton anorak, olive green. with decent stitching. It has military stamps in it, which I mistook for Russian and metal button with a 5-pointed star on it. There is a double string along the inside of the hood; one for tightening the hood around the neck and one around the face and then there is another one to close up the throat/chin section. The cuffs have elastic bands in them, which are not too tight, ensuring a perfect fit. There are also cuffbands, but they seem to fulfill no purpose other than decorational. Adding an extra button would give them a purpose, though.Around the waist a string can be pulled tight, if so desired. There is a large pocket on the chest and, an oddity for me, a large, single pocket across the butt or lower back, accessible from both sides. All pockets are closed with a flap and button.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Bundeswehr Gebirgsjäger Rücksack

As an afterburner of my trip to Norway  to see Odd I thought I'd throw in a little gear talk for a change; a review if you will. I did bring a few "new" things with me on that trip just for that purpose; to try them out and I must say with mixed results.... sort of.

The first item is one that seems very popular within the bushcraft community; the German Bundeswehr Gebirgsjäger Rucksack. A smaller, 30 liter backpack, no frame, no bells 'n whistles. Made out of canvas with plastic fasteners.
The layout; one main compartment with a smaller, flat one on the back, 2 small outer side pockets. The lid has 4 plastic D-rings, which enable you fasten items on the top, as I did with the poncho. All straps are adjustable right under the fasteners. The carrying straps can be adjusted near the bottom.
The pack itself has a rubberised bottom, so you can put it down without worrying that the contents will get wet right away. The pack has a single hand carrying loop at the top as well.
Behind both sidepockets there is a gap, which allows you to carry gear behind them. Stuff like an axe or some poles for instance. You close off the top via a drawstring.
Overall I like this pack enough to not get in the way and traversing denser woods should not be a problem. it is small, yet big enough to hold whatever you might need on a daytrip. The construction is sturdy; strong canvas, straps and decent stitching. With care this pack will last years, as shows. This one has seen use in the military and after and still goes on without damages.

Is this pack all halleluja then?
No. I found it did have some shortcomings. Shortcomings big enough to make me have my reservations toward it.
For one there are the carrying straps. I did not find them overly comfortable and after the hike with Odd my shoulders felt tired, despite the fact that I had not overloaded the pack. I even had room to spare. Enough to bring spare clothes for instance. So that was not it. It might be a matter of getting used to them, but I would have like some adjustment features at the top as well.
Another matter was an equally pressing one; I felt the messkit pushing into my back the whole time; a bulge right at kidneylevel. Again not overly comfortable and I might have to rethink the way I load the pack, but when using the Swedish kit, there really isn't another option other then to carry it outside the pack, which should be possible. I'll look into it soon.
My third gripe concerns the sidepockets; they're too small!! Even something like a standard NATO canteen needs to be forced into one and my not huge hands barely fit into them to retrieve stuff, especially if something is positioned behind the pocket, like an axe. Hmmm.
And then there's the last one (and easiest fixed); no waist strap. A simple strap enhances the carrying comfort greatly and that's what I added; a longer strap with fastener, salvaged from a derelicted Berghaus Vulcan II. And what a difference that makes!
Some other things I did was to not carry the poncho during the trip with Odd. That greatly reduced not only the weight of the pack, but significantly shifted the gravity point of the pack a lot lower down the back. The proved a very smart move when crossing the rocky and slippery terrain! It most likely would have influenced the sense of balance in a negative way had I not omitted the poncho.
I added a first aid kit in such a way that when I opened the flap the kit popped right out and was immediately accessible if needed, but would not lie around or get lost otherwise.

So would I recommend this pack?
I don't know. Before you buy one, first have a look at it, try it. It is nice, but I do think that its virtues are a tad overrated.

Add 19-11;
A question that always seems to pop up is:"How much content does such a backpack actually have?" There are figures ranging from 25 up to the high 40's. Here's the answer; 30 liters filled to the brim!
Maybe with the sidepockets added 35 liters. But then you're really pushing it.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Things just slowed down

Things are pretty slow on this blog lately. It isn't that I have nothing more to say; I am actually a bit behind. No, it is more like the motivation to say things has kind of left me. What's the use?
I see and hear many so-called discussions all around me and I do get involved in quite a few myself, but there is no discussion. People take a stance or have a view and they do not discuss that. No, they force that upon you. Their view is right and you have to be converted to see it their way. Having a different opinion makes you a heretic, an infidel. Maybe even a threat? Listening to each other's arguments seems like an old fashioned etiquette. Furthermore it is no longer in fashion to actually back up one's opinion by facts or arguments. Mere feeling or believing something is enough to revert to step one; conversion. And if someone can not be converted, they you just shout them down, point with a finger and call them names. You're either with them or against them.
So I'll back away from doing that for a while.....

November came and with it came winter. And we got caught completely off guard. A few important things are not finished yet for a number of reasons. Finances is one, authorities is another. The underlying reason to both is bureaucracy. We are experiencing a few samples of Swedish bureaucracy at its finest with ridiculous processing times for applications. We're talking months here, as in more than 2. I feel this is one of the most crippling things in Swedish society; an overly large, embarrassingly slow and inhumanely distant bureaucracy.
But still..... winter is here! One day the forecast looked good; dry, temperatures around or just above freezing with even a hint of sun. Perfect weather for doing outside work. And within 2-3 days that was completely changed; first we got showered with sleet and wet snow, the wind picked up a few notches and temperatures dropped. Then 20-40 cms of snow was forecast and the entire region got panic stricken, since most still drove around on their summer tires. Many rushed to the professionals for help, creating insane long queues and according to the newspapers "the law of the jungle ruled" at those places and we all know what that means. They even decided to work all through the night...
Afterwards it turned out to be just more sleet, wet snow, but also snow that remained, turning roads into hazardous slushy ice surfaces. The amounts seemed to be accurate though and we were changing our tires in that weather. NO fun. Now the temperatures do not rise above freezing anymore and we have snow, both on the ground and in the air with more to come.

Winter is here and yet it actually is the first time that I do not like it arriving. I feel ill prepared, uneasy, like I have missed something. I'd rather had it arrive a month later, but it is as it is.
Life has slowed down, there isn't much we can or want to do right now. The garden slumbers, the bees are at rest, the chickens hardly leave their coop and even walking the dogs is less vigorous than usually. Body and mind feel weary and my days at work seem to demand more of me then before.
Many an hour is spent with a book in hand, but I've not become completely idle.
Things just slowed down........