Out on the land by Ray Mears and Lars Fält. It’s that time of the year when the nights draw in and many people turn to the comfort of an armchair and an open fire.
Even the most hardy of us who would be out in all weather find ourselves sitting indoors -brushing up on skills, servicing equipment, planning next years trips or learning different methods / places to visit through various means.
This book I am writing about is one of those books that you can’t put down and even when you’ve finished it it’s the type of book that stays on the coffee table and is picked up and shuffled through many times.
This book by Ray Mears and Lars Fält is a fantastic beautiful must-have for every Bushcraft enthusiast!
Out on the land by Ray Mears and Lars Fält: The Authors
Ray Mears is well know in the UK, Europe and Worldwide! This book is written together with Lars Fält, the founder of the Swedish army survival school and instructor of the Parachute Rangers.
Lars has an enormous knowledge of life and survival in the wilderness of the Northern Hemisphere and is also the author of 10 books on this subject.
Ray’s has an enormous knowledge base, lots of experiences and a natural and peaceful approach to life. His documentaries have and still are an inspiration for everyone.
In this wilderness, knowledge of the forest, Bushcraft, is indispensable and you have the best opportunities to apply it correctly.
Instructive and inspiring
This book has been in development for 30 years.
It contains an imaginative voyage of discovery through the impressive forests of the Northern Hemisphere.
Out on the land by Ray Mears and Lars Fält is full of information and covers every aspect of being in the wilderness in both winter and summer (clothing, kit, skills, cooking, survival).
Revealing the age-old traditions and techniques, and how to carry them out yourself.
I love the way that this book refers back to the indigenous people of the Boreal Forest and shows how bushcraft was not just a way of life but a way of surviving.
This book describes extensively how you can live in this environment and what is needed for this.
Apart from a beautiful book Out on the land by Ray Mears and Lars Fält is also a reference book for anyone who would like to experience this.
This book is a great source of information on methods, utilising natural products, recipes and much more.
What do I think about this book?
Like I said Out on the Land is a wonderful book that you will find difficult to put down!
Out on the land by Ray Mears and Lars Fält is full of impressive photos, stories, where and why these methods are used and awe inspiring. Which will get you outside and practice what you have learnt.
If you want to have a look at some of the equipment used in this book such as the Loue Tarp have at look at Ray’s website Woodlore.
Ray Mears has and still is a great inspiration to me. I love his documentaries I learn a great deal from these especially his carving tuitions and fire lighting skills
Where to buy?
Interested readers can purchase this book in many languages from amazon.
Ray Mears Documentaries
One of my favourite episodes is when Ray is in Sweden.
This episode he starts of in the South, paddling with Lars.
Learning how to harvest fatwood to turn into pine tar and then ventures up North to learn day to day bushcraft from the Sami and learn about the importance of a Puukko.
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.
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.
• 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)
• 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.
•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
• 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 :
•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.
Energy Drink Tablets
Plastic bottle of Rum
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.
Turmat dehydrated food.
I came across these whilst taking part in the Fjällräven Classic in Sweden earlier this year. They where supplied by Fjällräven to all hikers and my first thought was the weight of each portion.
As they are dehydrated they weigh next to nothing compared to wet MRE meals.
I chose a mixture to take with me pulled pork, kebab stew, cod in curry sauce and salmon with pasta.
The kebab stew was a little spicy for me but the meat tasted just like donner.
Pulled pork was good but my two favourites where the two fish ones.
Once rehydrated they actually looked like fish and tasted like fish. The cod in curry sauce wasn’t really curry tasting but very good to eat.
Packs. Weigh 85g before rehydration and 450g when rehydrated and with 452kcal per 100g they are just what you need.
To rehydrate open pack at the top and add boiling water to the fill line.
Stir the water into the dry mix making sure you get everything wet then reseal bag.
Wait 8 minutes.
There is another tear line lower than the first used to open bag now tear along this which makes the bag shorter so you don’t need a massive long spoon to get to it all.
The Fjallraven Classic Sweden 2017 in aid of SARS999.org.uk
The Fjallraven Classic Sweden | Initially the plan was to fly to Stockholm and spend a week walking through a nearby National Park.
That plan was thwarted once the wife had seen an advert online for the Fjallraven Classic Sweden which follows part of the Kungsleden route.
(King’s Trail) is a hiking trail in northern Sweden, approximately 440 kilometres (270 mi) long, between Abisko in the north and Hemavan in the south.
It passes through, near the southern end, the Vindelfjällen Nature Reserve, one of the largest protected areas in Europe.
The route we took was to start in Nikkalouokta, join the Kungsleden at Singi and finish in Abisko.
So we decided to change plans to participate in the Fjallraven Classic Sweden but we also decided to invite another friend and do the hike in aid of charity.
All three of us work for the East of England Ambulance Service in varying roles, HEMS Critical Care Paramedic, Paramedic, EMT.
We also all do other roles for other emergency services: Lifeboat Coxswain, Fire Fighter and Coastguard.
All for charity mate!
We had decided to raise charity for SARS who are a charity that provides assistance to the ambulance service in the form of Rapid Response Doctors and Critical Care Paramedics.
Suffolk Accident Rescue Service is an emergency medical charity which provide specialist volunteer doctors and paramedics to assist the East of England Ambulance Service at the scenes of serious incidents.
So the Three team members: Myself: Martin Grove (EMT & Firefighter), Adam Wright (Paramedic & Coastguard) and Rod Wells (HEMS Critical Care Paramedic, Lifeboat Coxswain & SARS Responder) started to plan our 110km hike through arctic Sweden.
I had seen an article online about timber rafting Sweden in 10 trips you must do and one of these trips was right up my street and also my eldest had recently become fascinated with the 80’s series of Hucklebury Finn.
The article was about Timber rafting down a river in Sweden and the more I researched this the more I wanted to do it. It was basically putting together a 2 tonne log raft and letting the rivers current take you down stream over 4 days.
The company that organises these trips is called Vildmark I Varmland located near to Torsby on the Klarälven river that slowly meanders through Värmland from its start in the Norwegian mountains.
“The journey on the raft allows time for discussion and socializing that you often do not have time for in everyday life. But in addition to just enjoying the beautiful surroundings, be prepared for both calm and intense periods on board. Below the water´s surface there is plenty of sand and occasionally stones that you may not see until you are stuck …”
So I had convinced the wife to do this trip so we started planning how to get there. There was a ferry to Esjberg in Denmark from Harwich that would get us into Scandinavia where we could drive to Varmland but when planning this we discovered that this line was to cease before we where going to do this trip.
So it was either fly and hire or drive.
What we decided to do was combine this trip with a stop at LEGOLAND Denmark, Timber Rafting and then ferry from Sweden to Poland to visit the wife’s family in at the house near Wyszkow.
So the plan was made and we started getting ready for this trip thinking what would we need. I kept packing, re-packing and packing again and finally got the camping equipment down to food box, trangia, tents x 2, sleeping mats and sleeping bags and few other bits.
Driving to Harwich which is only an hour from us for the overnight ferry to the Hook of Holland. We arrived in the Netherlands at 06:45 and where on the road for a 7 hour journey to our hotel near to LEGOLAND Denmark.
It was a fairly straight forward drive and spent 2 days with the boys in LEGOLAND before taking the ferry from Hirtshals to Larvik.
The plan was to drive around Oslo into Sweden but en-route I noticed a ferry that crossed below Oslo from Horten to Moss which was cheap enough and only took 40 mins and from then with 1 hour we had reached the Swedish border and we started to look for a campsite.
When you are in Sweden you have the right to walk, cycle, ride, ski and camp on any land with the exception of private gardens, near a dwelling house or land under cultivation.
So we came across a large lake and notice a perfect spot at Glaskogen nature reserve and it was here that I realised I had left the key for the roof box at home and had to improvise with an axe and a hammer to get to our sleeping bags.
Camp was setup the boys went exploring and we got a fire lit and made our first meal and offered ourselves as a meal to the local mosquitoes.
We where all quiet tired after along day travelling so I ended up sleeping in the single tent and the boys and the wife in the other tent. We had purchased a 3 man pop up tent for the ease of pitching during this trip which worked really well.
I awoke around 05:00 it was still not quiet light I got up made a fire and went for a swim and in the distance I could hear Wolves calling it was magical.
I had about 2 hours by myself before the troops started to awake so we had breakfast and made our way to Torsby where we would spend the first night with Vildmark I Varmland at Gunnerud.
As we drove in we where greeted by the staff and shown where to camp and told there would be a briefing later on in the evening. We went to the briefing to learn the knots, learn about backwaters, sandbanks and lots of other helpful stuff.
We where given to wooden boxes to put our equipment in so we packed what we didn’t need for the night and stored it in the shelter as a group of how can I say young NOISY Germans finished there rafting trip and camped right next to us.
But we slept ok and early in the morning we packed our equipment and got on the bus that would to take us to the building site and start at the Klaralvens Camping site in Stöllet.
Here we spent most of the day rolling huge logs and tying them together. It was difficult for the boys to help as they where too small and logs where big and could hurt them easily so a lot of time was spent trying to keep them in check as they where getting bored just standing around.
We finally had made 2 rafts that where lashed together and installed the frame and the tarp, attached the canoe and put all of our kit on board and of we went with the river in control of our destiny. We where timber rafting in Sweden!
When the said it would be a ‘unforgettable’ experience it was, it WAS hardwork. You would see a great camping area and we just couldn’t move the 2 tonnes of raft across the river to get to them so we literally had to camp where we could but this was ok.
How you moor 2 tonnes of raft?
Basically you would see an area you wanted to camp and you would paddle out from the raft on the canoe and tie off onto a tree the right length of line so the raft would come ashore just where you wanted it to (easier then you think) but we got the hang of it.
So on shore it was time to rest it was hardwork as I said as much as the boys tried to help to paddle they just didn’t have the power and my wife and I struggled to control the raft you really where at the mercy of the river and anything else you got snarled up on the bank.
The whole experience was hard but it was ‘unforgetable’ I loved it the wife wasn’t so keen but glad that she had done it, we said it would have been better when the boys where older.
The second day we started of after breakfast and this time we got caught in our first backwater which literally kept pushing us around in a circle but we got out only to nearly end up down an of-shoot of the river.
I was holding on to a root trying to stop us being dragged down the dyke, the wife was trying to push on the river bed with a punting stick it wasn’t working, we where shouting at each other the boys couldn’t help, I jumped out with the rope and pulled us out!
Then we got snarled up in a over hanging branch that I had to cut to get us out.
Camp that night was a lovely spot everyone knackered and early to bed after a spam and baked bean supper.
In the morning I woke up and the wife was already awake with her camera as I got out of the tent she said “quiet there’s a Beaver i’ve just fed it my Apple core”.
I said “where?”, “over there” she pointed. I laughed and said that’s a log!!!. “NO, NO, I just fed it” she replied. Anyway later as we passed the log that was jammed in some rocks I said ” it didn’t look hungry”.
Todays task was getting of a sandbank, out of backwater and out of another tree. We where getting good at this now but still we couldn’t move the raft from one side of the river to the other.
We had been warned that when we see a sign Vildmark I Varmland 1000m Keep Left! to KEEP left easier said than done we couldn’t move the thing across the river the issue was that if you missed the finish you would go right passed and end up towards the hydro-electric power station.
So we tried to paddle to the far bank but in the end I tied a rope around myself and paddled the canoe as hard as I could which was moving the 2 ton raft, I just managed to get into the right place to tie the line off so the raft would gently be pushed onto the bank at exactly the finish area.
I DIDNT FANCY MISSING AND GOING PASSED THE FINISH I COULD JUST IMAGINE THE DOMESTIC!
We had finished a day early so we had to get all the equipment of and disassemble the raft log by log where they would float down river and be caught in a log trap and be moved back up river for other people to use.
We camped at the finish that night and shared stories with some Swedish lads that had finished early also.
They also mentioned the issues they had, they hadn’t managed to catch any fish either so it wasn’t just us.
The next day we loaded the car up strapped the now broken roof box as I had had to cut the locks and started heading South looking for a place to camp for the night as our ferry was booked for the next evening to Gdansk.
We headed to Mariestad and onto a island called Fågelo where we found a great campsite and still no fish caught. We had a really relaxing day here, chilled out, slept went fishing and ate after restocking on route.
The next day we packed up and headed south to Karlskrona and hung out by the sea waiting to board the ferry. We got on the ferry to be highly amused by the amount of extremely drunk Poles that take the ferry to Sweden, stay on the ferry and return just for a drinking excursion.
Arriving in Gdansk the next morning we then drove to our relatives in Torun, spent the night there and drove down to the house for another 2 weeks R&R.
So looking back timber rafting a once in a lifetime trip it was hardwork but a unforgettable experience.
I wouldn’t recommend it if you have small children 4 x adults would be perfect for this trip. Sweden is an amazing place and I would recommend driving and camping around the country to anyone.
Perhaps a better excursion with small children would be following the course of the river by canoe, Vildmark I Varmland organise this also, riverbanks are more accessible and you have more control over a canoe than 2 tonnes of wood that you cant steer. I still talk about this trip as it was fun but also hardwork.