Plenty for twenty
Spending time in the wild shouldn't cost a small fortune, I stepped into this with a minimal budget. Through trading and selling and managed to work my way up and build myself a much more substantial arsenal of gear. I believe this blog should appeal to all, not just those with a large wallet. With that in mind I have compiled a list of my top ten items that cost me under £20.
Proving that you can send time in the outdoors without a large budget, these are items I have purchased first hand not items I have seen online and thought would fit the bill.
For best pricing options I may have purchased some of these items from Ebay or Amazon as opposed to a direct manufacturer, but they have always been brand new with tags when bought. As much as I prefer to buy direct I often use Amazon for no other reason other than I am impatient and my package will come the next day because I pay for the Prime service.So here we go!
- DD Magic Carpet (£12.50)
This little fold-up as in absolute gem. Its about 140 cm squared, I believe its intent is just to be a groundsheet. Sitting in your hammock you can swing round and put your feet down, tying in with the comfortable range of Hammocks.
I think its got a lot more uses than this, I think its got options to be an emergency basha a makeshift poncho or a cover for your kit if you have no room in a hooped bivvy. Ive used this in a variety of formations. The eyelets on either corner are amazingly strong, just as all are across the DD Range. Even though this is extremely low cost comparatively to their range the quality doesn't change in the slightest, I would highly recommend this as a carry for anyone. Its unbelievably compact.
I have tried a couple of options when it came to pans: Ultralight-weight, folding pans. Neither felt right; perhaps I am too picky with my gear, the Ultralight-weight version just burned with ease, the folding version didn't heat properly and rattled in my pack.
I dont know about anyone else; but I love a good bush breakfast. I like waking up and throwing bacon in the pan with some tomatoes and some potato cakes, few mushrooms, maybe a sausage or two if I am feeling cheeky. I needed a pan that would suit this style of direct fire cooking
I got caught up with packing small and overlooked functionality with this item, then I stumbled across Military Mart and their Mess Kit section, they offer two different sizes but I chose the smaller of the two on this occasion, the larger version only adds and extra £1.50 to buy which is more than reasonable.
You need special shoes for hiking... and a bit of a special soul as well - Emme Woodhull-Bache
First things first, the link I have provided may not be to the best priced option. However there lies my reasoning... "option" The Bushcraft Store give you the option to upgrade your Zebra to metal clips opposed to the standard plastic ones. I like that, not many sites are offering the go between.
Universally known as a essential to take out into the wild with you, the Zebra 12cm Billy Can is a versatile, bulletproof piece of kit. Now I know there is much more listed here but I wanted to show just how much you can get inside these things. Firstly I drilled holes into the shelf, you lose the ability for it to be watertight but the cooking options blow wide open. This modification allows you to use the container as a steamer, I have often boiled rice in the main compartment whilst I steam vegetables in the top.
In addition, the Sea to Summit Kitchen Sink (Pictured top center) sits perfectly inside the top shelf of the 12cm Model, saving room and providing you with a 5l sink for washing pots and yourself.
Underneath I managed to fit in a Meths Burner, Stainless Steel Mug, Folding Spork, Microfibre Towel and my Salt and Pepper Plus which I looked over in my previous article "size matters". This 1.25l pot certainly offers a lot, I can see why they are highly regarded in the bushcraft community. Its something I always take with me on an overnight stay.
- Husqvarna Hatchet (£19.29)
Now this little thing is a bargain at this price, plain and simple. Out in the woods, a hatchet or axe is going to be a priceless item for your pack. It carries a good weight, little bit of care and attention to the blade makes it razor sharp. The only thing I think lets down this purchase is the sheath that is supplied as stock, it has a tendency to slip off. There are some companies and independent leather workers who offer variables however.
- Czech Army Bed Roll & Czech Bed Roll Spare Blanket (£10+£6.99)
Sleep system is always something I had to get around. Im 6'5" so as you can imagine this created issues for tents, backpacks, sleeping bags. I started out with a huge Coleman sleeping bag, it was far too tight and last me about two trips. Upon recommendation from a good friend Sean I went for an army arctic sleeping bag, this thing was toasty... I mean, I was too warm. The only let down was size, the comfort came at a cost and was a huge addition to my pack.
I picked up this Bed Roll and the additional blanket from a surplus army start called Military Mart. I have bought a lot of gear from here and the I have always been more than happy with what I received, the customer service is always on point.
- Folding Camping Grill (£5.99)
There are probably many variations if this available online, wether they be folding or not. I have known of people using a more primitive version, a simple cake cooling rack would suffice.
I feel that the height it gives over the fire, which is around 15/16cm is optimal for cooking. It will take the weight of a billy can filled with water, the grill design allows for fish or steak to be sat on there directly and not just burn. Its a pretty basic piece of kit but it serves a purpose.
Bushcraft is what you carry in your mind and your muscles - Ray Mears
- Tactical Gloves (£14.95)
I have probably had around six different pairs of gloves in the past few years, finding a perfect fit has been hard work. I wanted a pair with a decent amount of padding but which offered a wide range of movement too. My hands are huge so I found the Mechanix range even at a larger size was far too small. These were a good buy, they have lasted me an age. Chopping wood, building, for warmth. They simply cover all bases.
- Army Poncho (£16.99)
This item is a bit of a curveball, I mean we all have a set of waterproofs. It depends what kind of a trip I am planning to which I take. If I am off hiking into the mountains, of course I go with a civilian look. However if I am planning a weekend in the woods, of course a military poncho is my choice. They provide the versatility of a tarp with the functionality of a waterproof poncho. Not to mention the olive green colouring provides an level of concealment.
- Gerber Gator Machete Junior (£18.72)
Now this is a controversial pick for me, I feel like there is an apparent vacancy for a folding saw in this is, believe me it crossed my mind. There are certainly a wide range of them out there for under the mark. I went with this addition, for the simple reason: it combines a machete with a saw. Now this may seem like a gimmick, how many hybrid items have we seen over the years? The torch radio, the stove light, its easy to think its not going to be a good fit. Scrap the duo and just carry one of each.
This however... WORKS. I have on many occasion used it for both. I have cleared my way through overgrown paths, I have used the serrated saw edge to work my way through deadfall and build shelter. I was very impressed overall and to be honest for the price tag I expected much less. I find more and more I leave my folding saw at home in light of this addition to my pack.
- LK35 (£12.50)
Lets just address the first point here, this bag is under £20! I mean come on... if that alone isn't enough motivation to purchase one I dont know what is, this bag became my own sort of little project (which I spent many hours working on).
The bag carries the spec of being a 35 litre capacity, I think this sells it short. I comfortable used this pack for an overnight stay in the woods. Thats my Army Arctic Sleeping Bag on top, it helps to just point out exactly how much room this bag allows for. The extra straps on the top can be used to strap in a bedroll or tent if you wanted.
Id just like to point out that the bag as a standard comes without the Side Pouches. These were an additional purchase but still only came in at £8.50 and are obviously completely optional.
I spent the time to sew these on the side NB: My fingers took an absolute beating and I used a extra strength cord from a local seamstress shop to complete the stitching. I decided to not add any stitch across the top of the pouch so it could be used to slide things into for extra carry space. I just went for three down each side and a central stitch underneath.
Not everybody has access to a big budget when it comes to gear, what we do all have access to is the outdoors. Nobody pays a higher price, it holds no loyalty discounts, no credit limits. Is for all. I urge anyone considering getting out and exploring, anyone who thinks it has to cost a fortune to reconsider. I have been an outdoorsman on a tight budget, I had just as much fun. What has made a different to my time outdoors is my confidence, my skills, my passion... not my bank balance.
If just one more person gets out this weekend and enjoys the wild, finds themselves a little. Then this article paid for itself ten times over.