Sami Knives and Sami duodji

Sami Knives and Sami duodji

I really love the intricacy of the carvings in sami duodji.  I’ve always wanted a handmade Puukko (sami knife).  The chance of purchasing one came whilst taking part in the Fjallraven Classic in Sweden last year.

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Why did I want one?

Many reasons really, the fact that they are a true all round knife, handmade and they can be so artistically made as well.

Sami Duodji

Sami Knives and Sami duodji is so beautiful and the hours that go into their work is unbelievable.

The Sami people, also spelled Sámi or Saami, are the indigenous people inhabiting the Arctic area of Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia.

The Sámi

The Sámi are the only indigenous people of Scandinavia recognized and protected under the international conventions of indigenous peoples, and hence the northernmost indigenous people of Europe.

Traditionally, the Sami have pursued a variety of livelihoods, including coastal fishing, fur trapping, and sheep herding.

Their best-known means of livelihood is semi-nomadic reindeer herding.

Currently about 10% of the Sami are connected to reindeer herding and 2,800 are actively involved in herding on a full-time basis.

For traditional, environmental, cultural and political reasons, reindeer herding is legally reserved only for Sami people in certain regions of the Nordic countries.

Having such a strong tie to reindeer, the basis for most of their handicraft, antlers, leather and bone are all used in many different ways.

Sami Knives and Sami duodji

Puukko or Leuku?

Sami Knives and Sami duodji
Puukko from carved antler in a antler and leather sheath.

The Puukko: The basic components of a puukko are a handle and a blade along with a sheath, which can usually be attached to a belt but sometimes to a shirt or coat button.

The blade is short, typically no longer than the handle and often less than 4″ (100 mm)

The Knike makers put great pride in carving their Sami Knives and Sami duodji Puukko’s handles and the sheath are made from reindeer antler this is normally carved as well.

The carvings are coloured with powdered bark.

The Sheath

The sheath is normally made from birch burlap and / or reindeer antler, the end of the sheath is normally curved to assist in gripping the sheath when wearing thick mittens.

Over generations, this knife has become intimately tied to Nordic culture and, in one or another version, is part of many national costumes.

A good puukko is equal parts artistic expression and tool. Making it requires a lot of different skills: not only those of a bladesmith, but also those of a carver, a jeweller, a designer, and a leatherworker to make the sheath.

Sami Knives and Sami duodjiLeuku: The handle is generally made from birch for better grip when used in snowy conditions.

This provides better control over the blade, particularly when using draw strokes, which are preferred when handling the knife with gloves.

The tang runs through the handle. The handle has no crossguard. Traditional material for the sheath is reindeer leather.

The blade’s edge often has a Scandinavian (or “Scandi”) grind, i.e. a single flat bevel. The blade should be strong enough to split (reindeer) bones, and tempered to sustain low temperatures. Some Sami knives have fullers.

The Sami people typically use two knives.

Components used.

Sami Knives and Sami duodji
Birch Burl Kuksa

The basic components of a puukko are a handle and a blade along with a sheath.

These are to be attached to a belt but sometimes to a shirt or coat button.

The traditional material for the handle is curly (masur) birch, great sallow root, birch bark, horn (especially elk and reindeer), scrimshaw and bone are also used.

The handle is made from various materials between spacers.

Today, however, industrially made puukkos often have plastic handles like the Mora Knives.

Sami Craftsman

I came across a Sami craftsman through instagram one day and found myself looking through his photos of his fantastic Sami Knives and Sami duodji covering kuksas, puukko’s (Sami knives) and other Sami handicraft.

The craftsman name is Jørn Are Keskitalo from Kautokeino in Northern Norway.

His work is typical Duodji.  Duodji is a traditional Sami handicraft, dating back to a time when the Sami were far more isolated from the outside world than they are today.

Duodji tools, clothing and accessories are functional and useful, and may also incorporate artistic elements.

This Sami duodji artist is able to bring function and art together in a delicate way.

These functional items include knives, jewelry, bags, kuksas, certain articles of clothing, etc.

His facebook page shows his work and you can purchase from there or contact by email.  Have a look at some of his work on his instagram feed @jakesk9

 

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Hammock Camping: The Good and the Bad.

I don’t when and how I started hammock camping I think it came from having a cheap camping hammock in a camping box that got setup for the kids whilst camping once.

Hammock camping is so much more versatile than ground dwelling and extremely adaptable to weather conditions.

I started of researching equipment online and looking at various videos on YouTube people where posting about advice and different methods. As I said I started off with a cheap parachute hammock and a Quechua tarp I use whilst camping as an additional shelter.

Through trial, error and research I have found a method that I use regularly.

I found out the hard way that sleeping in a hammock in just a sleeping bag got really cold due to the compression of the sleeping bag underneath me.

I decided that hammock camping was for me and I researched what hammock I was going to buy.

Frontline hammock from DD Hammocks
Frontline hammock from DD Hammocks showing the mosquito net and snake skin on the right side used for storing hammock).

There’s loads out there on the market but I had chose a British made hammock from dd hammocks I really liked the look of the frontier hammock as it had a built in Mosquito net and also has the ability to slide a sleep mat into as I found out just laying a sleep mat into a hammock the mat will always move and you will become exposed to the elements.

The frontline hammock comes with tapes in each end to strap to tree trunks but after some research I wanted to adapt my hammock and install some whoopie slings into it.

Frontline Hammock showing the underblanket attached
Frontline Hammock showing the underblanket attached

The great thing about dd hammocks is the ability to attach their under blanket to the hammock. This item really does give you a warm nest to sleep in.

The underblanket hangs underneath the hammock creating a void holding warm air below you as you sleep.

Whoopie slings.
Whoopie slings make adjusting the ‘hang’ (height) of your hammock super quick and easy and no knots are required. Adjustable length is roughly from 40cm to 180cm per sling giving you plenty of room to choose suitable.
ve saif
I said it before that hammock camping is so versatile and it is, different tarp configurations for different weather, conditions and also the tarp itself  has multi-use.
Even when there are no trees to hang between there are many different ways to turn your tarp into a shelter.  Personally I find a 3m x 3m tarp the perfect size the one I use regularly is a dd hammocks 3×3 tarp but I would like to look into swapping this for a lightweight tarp.
I’ve played with different configurations for making a shelter and there’s two that I use.
Tarp
There’s many different ways to hang your tarp over your hammock and these all really depend on the conditions and weather.  If its really hot then you would want it out quite wide for airflow, if it is snowing then it would want to be in quite close so that snow slides off the tarp and perhaps if its windy the ends would be required to be closed to control the amount of wind zapping that heat out of your sleep system.
I use a 3m x 3m tarp and it is hung using a continuous ridge line.  The continuous ridge-line is made from 2mm amsteel and is about 10m long.  It runs through the centre tabs on the tarp, around a tree and is attached back to the centre edge tab using a soft shackle.  The other end goes around the tree and is attached to the centre edge tab using a soft shackle attached to a prusik knot to create tension.  Have a look at the video all iv’e done is replace the carabiners with soft shackles made from amsteel
My hammock camping kit
  • DD Frontline Hammock (with whoopie slings)
  • DD 3m x 3m Tarp
  • 8 x lightweight aluminium pegs (4 of which are rigged with 1.5m of 2mm amsteel for use with the tarp worms.
  • 1 x guy line for using if setting up a tarp tent).
  • 2 x Tree Huggers
  • Continious ridge line (made from 2mm amsteel with a soft shackle one end and a prusik knot and soft shackle on the other end.

The only other thing I would really consider is how to deal with rain running down you woopie slings.

How to stop rain egress onto hammock.

The easiest method I have found is attach a small length of line onto the whoopie slings before the hammock.

This will allow rain to follow its course and drip to the floor without getting your hammock wet.

Hammock Bling

There is so many bit you can purchase online to assist with hammock camping from clips, water breaks etc etc but to be honest by keeping it simple it has made my hanging equipment light and hassle free.  The only items of bling I have purchased is some tarp worms.  These are brilliant at keeping a bit of tension in the tarp and also allows me to have 4 x pegs with 2mm amsteel attached on them permanently so they are quick and useful when setting up the hex peek tarp shelter. Have a look at the items available at Dutchware
Tarp Tents
The great thing about hammock camping whilst hiking or even just taking a tarp is that your shelter can be built weather depending.  I don’t know what this method is called but its my favourite configuration if the weather isn’t extreme.  All that is needed is…
  1. 3m x 3m tarp
  2. 2 x trekking poles (or sticks but adjustable treking poles work the best).
  3. 7 x tent pegs
  4. 3 x guide lines (or a length of paracord)

There’s a good amount of space inside this you can fit two people and gear inside this configuration.

I could sit and write about how to errect this shelter but it would be easier for you to understand watching this youtube video on how to do it until i get time to get around to making my own ‘howto’ video.

Open Front Tarp Tent

Now the above method is ok if the weather is on your side but if it isn’t then there is a configuration to completely enclose yourself, the Tetra configuration.  Now remember a tarp shelter will not be 100% waterproof, you need to think about lay of the land, will water run underneath or down the hill.  Thinking about where you pitch this shelter is just as important as what configuration you will use.

Tetra configuration

This is perfect if the weather is against you.  You an completely enclose yourself inside, the door can be a bit fiddly to use but it will serve its purpose on protecting you from the the elements.

Problems with this configuration:

  • Can get very hot inside (only really good if major downpour)
  • Can condensate very easily if no air flow.
  • Access and egress can be a little bit of pain.

Hammock CampingHammock camping it comfortable, versatile, lightweight and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to setup.

You can camp all through the year as long as you are prepared with the correct equipment and setups.

Have a look at some of the equipment available at DD Hammocks

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‘That’s not a knife!’

So many different knives out in the market all for different jobs but what is the best all rounder?

There’s handmade, custom made and off the shelf.

I’ve had plenty of knives and still own a lot of them but what is the best?

I personally think that you can’t beat a Mora. So versatile, well priced, keeps an edge and easy to sharpen. I have mine in purpose made sheath that also holds a ferro rod.

The other knife I really rate is a handmade Sami Pukko. I purchased two in northern Sweden last year. They weren’t cheap but I love the fact it hangs on my side, razor sharp, really versatile and holds very well. The only adaption I have made to one of them is using a dremel to grind a curved striker on the spine to strike a ferro rod on.

I tend to keep these sharp all the time and just use a Lansky sharpening system to keep them in tune.

Out of all of the sharpening stones / kit this is a brilliant sharpening kit.

It keeps the stones at exactly the correct angle, you have a choice of 4 different angles to crest the correct edge for what ever you are using your knife for.

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Foot care whilst hiking

Foot care

During the warmer months of the year, it is particularly important that you air your feet and change your socks often during your trek. Blisters are not only caused by hard boots or a wrinkle in your sock. The closed environment in your boots is the perfect breeding ground for micro-organisms that decrease the resistance of your skin. Washing your feet regularly helps prevent blisters and there is also a lot more you can do to take care of your feet – even before you leave on your trek.

Before your trek

Break in your boots well and learn how they work on your feet. In particular, take note of where you usually get blisters, which is often visible as a small red area. Remember this so you will be able to prevent future blisters.

Purchase Anti-Blister Socks.

I came across Armaskin online, this is an Australian company that deliver worldwide, i decided to give a pair of the socks a go and these are probably one of the best investments I have made for hiking and walking.  The are 100% guaranteed or money back.

ArmaSkin anti-blister second skin socks ( liner socks) address all these conditions that cause blisters:

    • The inner surface of the sock has a silicon polymer friction coating which gently adheres to the skin and PREVENTS any FRICTION that can occur naturally between socks and skin. Any friction generated in the boot/shoe is absorbed by the outer fabric.
    • The polymer coating is macro porous and hydrophobic (water hating) therefore REPELS MOISTURE away from the skin keeping it drier.
    • Better HEAT dissipation is achieved thanks to the hydrophobic/ hydrophilic moisture management. i.e one side of the fabric is water hating the other side is water loving.
  • The Si fusion polymer coating gently adheres to the skin and importantly shares skin shear forces across wider surface areas of skin thus reducing damage.


In addition the Silicon fusion polymer is bacteria static so the socks can be worn for prolonged periods of time.

Wash them with your normal clothes but avoid using bleach, fabric softener or sending them to the dry cleaners.


A few weeks before you leave, make sure that you do not have athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is characterised by flaking skin, often between the toes but also elsewhere on the foot. It can be easily treated with cream from the pharmacist.

Wash your feet and sand down calluses. Clip your toenails, but make sure that the toenail on your big toes is straight to avoid ingrown toenails. Massage your feet with cream to soften the skin.

When leaving for your trek

If you know that you usually get blisters, tape any sensitive areas before leaving on your trek. Elastoplast is flexible and fits comfortably. Stretch the tape slightly before you apply it and tape diagonally under the foot and a bit up on the sides, but leave around 2 cm between the ends. If needed, heat the tape with your hands so it will stick better.

Sports tape and other types of non-elastic tape are not as practical since they can often wrinkle, which contributes to the problem.

While on your trek

Air your feet when you take a break. Change your socks at least once a day and if they get wet. If you feel that a blister is starting to form, stop immediately and tape the area that hurts or where the skin is red. Apply a double layer of Elastoplast, following the instructions above. Tape the heel first in the back and then horizontally out to the side of the foot with one or a few pieces of tape. Then attach a piece of tape from underneath upwards, overlapping the first pieces of tape.

If you get a blister

There are different theories about how to handle a blister, but there is one proven method:

• Puncture the blister as close to the healthy skin as possible, preferably in two places.Use a small pair of sharp scissors and cut a small V in the blister.

• Rinse and wash with drinking water or cleaning solution for sores (you can buy handy disposable cleaning pads for sores at the pharmacist). Dry your foot thoroughly.

• Large blisters filled with fluid can be covered with a Compeed bandage. Make sure that the Compeed is secure and clip away any wrinkles (for example if you wrap one around a toe) with scissors.

• Cover with one-two layers of Elastoplast as described above. Carefully put your socks on so you do not pull up the edges of the tape.

• Avoid removing the tape or attempting to change the bandage. Trim away loosened tape edges with a pair of scissors and reinforce with an additional layer of tape.

The other method which is my preferred method involves a needle, thread, small pair of scissors and some betadine or something to sterilize your items.

  1. Thread the needle with about 30cm of plain white cotton thread
  2. Cover the needle and thread in betadine / sterlizing fluid so that the needle is covered and the cotton thread has soaked up the fluid.
  3. Wipe the blister and surrounding area with antiseptic.
  4. Pass the needle through the skin of the blister and pull needle out of other side.
  5. Gently pull and push the thread through the blister (this allows the antiseptic solution to be drawn in to the blister off the thread.
  6. Drain the fluid by gently pressing on the blister.
  7. Cut the thread leaving about 3cm each side
  8. Dress blister and crack on!

Here’s the best video I could find online to show how to drain a blister.

Massage at night

Wash your feet every night before climbing into your sleeping bag (at the same time as you take care of other personal hygiene needs). Add skin cream as well and rub it in using small circular motions for approximately five minutes. In addition to softening up the skin and tired muscles, this massage also improves circulation and makes it easier for your feet to withstand another day on the trail.

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Packing for the Fjallraven Classic Sweden

Packing for the Fjallraven Classic Sweden

As stated in my post about when we completed the Fjallraven Classic 2017, gear selection and packing for the fjallraven classic Sweden is something that you will probably do 100 times before leaving for Sweden.

Below is some helpful tips, equipment and packing advice.  More advice on planning trip in this area is in this post

On the Fjallraven website there is a equipment list be sure to have a look as there are some mandatory items you need to take.

One of the most helpful tips I can give you when packing for the fjallraven classic Sweden is once you have packed your rucksack purchase a cargo bag for it to travel in and also you can leave a change of clothes and your day bag in it so that it can meet you at the finish (this I found very helpful), Fjallraven will take your bag from the start at Camp Ripan to the end in Abisko.

Mandatory items:

• Tent* – I took a Vango 1 x Man
• Sleeping bag*, preferably three-season sleeping bag – Down is good but if it gets wet it doesn’t insulate as well
• Stove* with a deep pan – good for boiling water for the freeze dried meals – Something like a JETBOIL or Alpkit Wolf.
• Fuel* (included in the ticket fee, don’t forget to bring a bottle if you use petrol or methylated spirit) – Fuel is supplied you should only need one can.
• Sleeping mattress* – Something that packs small and lightweight, I took a EXPED DownMat Lite.
• Map* (included in the ticket fee)
• Magnetic compass*
• Fjällräven Classic Trash Bag* (included in the ticket fee)
• Hat/beanie*
• Gloves*
• Thermal fleece/mid layer top* in down, wool or a synthetic material
• Long underpants for a dry change ( what I did and I found it worked very well was keep a pair of long johns, base layer and socks in a small dry bag to change into to sleep in).
• Wind and waterproof pants
• Wind and waterproof jacket with hood
• First aid kit (at least elastic bandage, blister pads, compresses and tape). It is recommended to complement the mandatory first aid kit with safety pins, butterfly stitches (skin closures), fluid replacement and pain relief.
• 65-75lr backpack with rain protection cover
• Sun hat/cap
• Trekking socks, preferably in wool – I discovered Armaskin Socks these are the best items I have found to stop blisters,  they are a silcone layered undersock and I highly recommend them, they are worn as the first layer with a pair of hiking socks over them. See my other post on foot care. Packing for the Fjallraven Classic Sweden

•Underwear in wool or in a synthetic material
• A change of shoes or flip flops/sandals to give your feet a break – definitely worth taking.

 

•Trekking trousers, a pair that can be unzipped to become shorts are ideal – it does get warm up there sometimes
• T-shirt
• Trekking boots – waterproof is a must it does get quite boggy in places
• Trekking poles – I relied on mine others didn’t use them. Helpful tip: wind gaffer tape around the top of one walking pole, gaffer tape is really a great ‘quick fix’ item and to limit space and weight you don’t need to carry a full reel of it carefully wind it around the top of one of our trekking poles.

• Matches and/or lighter – didn’t use but depending on your speed you may camp your first night in an area with fuel for a fire a lot of the terrain you will cover is above the tree line apart from the start up to Kebnakaise and towards the end near Keiron to Abisko.  It is recommended to burn used toilet paper.
• Dish cloth – don’t see the need if you are eating the freeze dried food out of the bag.
• Small towel – had a small micro fibre towel in pocket as I was getting hot on the first day. If you fancy using the saunas en-route then a larger towel would be needed.
• Water bottle, minimum 0.5lt – Water is everywhere, you will be able to stock up along the route.
• Small knife with scissors or a multi-tool – A multi-tool comes in handy or did for me to help me re-stitch my boots.
• Toiletries – limit these: dry wash, cleansing wipes, toothbrush (cut most of handle off) and toothpaste (find small tube on amazon)
• Toilet paper in a plastic bag with some matches – you should burn your used toilet paper rather than leaving it in the ground
• Head torch – Not needed (doesn’t get dark enough)
• Sunglasses – A must

Other Items for the Fjallraven Classic :

Camping along the route of the Fjallraven Classic 2017

•Camera – I took a GoPro and used my iPhone for photos (I attached a hosing for the GoPro and iPhone clip into the handle of one trekking pole so i didnt need a selfie stick) and navigation (I downloaded viewranger and purchased the relevant tiles for the area and also downloaded the Fjallraven Classic Route.

•Battery Pack for charging phone and GoPro

•Empty Plastic Bottle – I hate having to get out of my sleeping bag in the middle of the night for a pee!

•Sitting mat – these can be found online cheap.

•Waterproof rucksack cover.

•Poncho – Didnt use it but if the heavens did open this would have been invaluable.

•Mosquito Repellent – This is a must there can be swarm in the billions of these little monsters.  I get bitten so much and there are so many that i’ve tried and the only effective one I have found was brought in Sweden.  Mygga is made with natural ingredients and also has tea tree in it so feels really refreshing when applied after a wet wipe wash in the evening before relaxing and taking in the surroundings.

I purchased this from the supermarket in Kiruna and if i remember they also sell it in the Fjallraven pop up store at check in.

So do yourself a favour and purchase a couple once you return to Kiruna to take home.

•Mosquito head net.  Also invaluable a must when the sun lowers and those micro zombies attack.

Small Trowel.  Very helpful for when answering the call of nature.

FOOD

Jerky

Powdered Soups

Chocolate

Energy Drink Tablets

Chocolate

Plastic bottle of Rum

Coffee


Take your time when packing and really think about each item.  If you think to yourself “do I really need this item?” then you probably don’t.  The less weight you carry the easier it will be on your shoulders and back and obviously the less weight you will be carrying.

Most importantly your rucksack needs to be suitable for the weather, your shape and the equipment you are carrying.  Don’t go out and buy and ‘off the shelf’ rucksack without getting professional advice assisting with fitting the rucksack to you.

Carry most of the weight from the ruck sack on your hips, move heavy items to the bottom of the rucksack and pack the rucksack so you can get to regularly used items first.

  • Use a liner in your bag something as simple as a refuse bin bag to keep everything dry.
  • Take small refuse bin bags with you to put wet clothes / dirty underwear to keep the rest of you clothes dry.
  • A lightweight bumbag will come in helpful to keep snacks, phone and other small regularly used items in, so you don’t have to take your rucksack off every time you make a quick stop.

 

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