How To Pack A Bushcraft Camping Outfit

by Paul Kirtley

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I get a lot of people asking me how I pack all of the kit I need to take to the woods.

Particularly, a while ago I wrote an article with some photographs about what I actually take with me.

But I’ve had a lot of questions about it – how do I get it all in my rucksack? Just how exactly do I get everything in there?!

In this video I show you how. I’m don’t really explain what the equipment is or why I’ve chosen it as you can go back to that original article if you like

Here’s a link straight to it:

http://paulkirtley.co.uk/2011/bushcraft-camping-equipment/

What I show in this video is how I pack the kit– not just to prove the fact that it will go in a rucksack – but also how I arrange it so that maybe that will be useful to you.

In the video I’ve got everything laid out in a very similar fashion to the way I had in the original article. I then just pack it and talk through it as I go.

I hope this serves you well in terms of helping you arrange your kit as well.

Let me know in the comments below if you find it useful/interesting.

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Paul Kirtley is an award-winning professional bushcraft instructor. He is passionate about nature and wilderness travel. In addition to writing this blog Paul owns and runs Frontier Bushcraft, a wilderness bushcraft school, offering bushcraft courses and wilderness expeditions.

 

{ 217 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark

Another straightforward article.

Great work Paul!

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Cheers Mark 🙂

Reply

Pat

Great video. I am always guilty of bringing far to much gear with me when I go out. I will have to post the link on the Scouting Ireland’s MPSE page so others can see how little you actually need. Keep up the good work.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Pat,

Nice to hear from you. It’s always tempting to pack things just because you can. I’m always conscious of trying to pare everything back as much as possible but it’s not always easy.

Thanks for sharing the video. I hope others find it useful too.

Cheers,

Paul

Reply

Steve

Bugger,

Have everything packed for next weeks Elementary Course. Will have to take it all out again and think about it.

Another great article Paul.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hey Steve,

Sorry to throw a spanner in the works 😉

But it’ll put you ahead of the game next week…

Looking forward to catching up.

Best,

Paul

Reply

Jake Pyett

Thanks Paul!

The video was really useful 😀

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Jake!

Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

Best,

Paul

Reply

Bodge

Hi Paul,
great article again but a quick question. Do you always use a dry bag inside your pack?
I use one from time to time bur prefer not to as I find it awkward at times. Do you use it because it also compresses your kit?

cheers
Bodge

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Bodge,

Good to hear from you.

I use a dry bag primarily to keep my kit dry rather than for any compression advantage.

In particular I use a heavier-duty bag which is submersible. This means I can put my pack in a river or stream and everything stay dry – as long as it’s fastened properly 🙂

I agree that drybags can be quite restrictive; the trick I’ve found which helps avoid this is to use a drybag with significantly greater capacity than the pack.

So in my Sabre 45 backpack, I use an Ortleib dry bag which has 57 litre capacity. This way the dry bag conforms to the inside shape of the pack and you have plenty left to roll down at the top.

Hope this helps!

Cheers,

Paul

Reply

Bodge

Cheers for the clarification. I have the same ortleib bag I think, going to try it out in my sabre 45 to see how it fits. Saying that I don’t use my Sabre 45 for anything other than short journeys as the hip belt just doesn’t work for me. I have a karrimor jaguar 80+20 for longer walks.

Bodge

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Bodge,

Agreed – the Sabre 45 hip belt is somewhat insubstantial.

Similar to your Jaguar, I have a 22-year-old Condor which is more supportive and I’ve used for backpacking hikes from the Highlands to the Pyrenees.

Cheers,

Paul

Reply

Liam Gadd

Awesome video again Paul!
I always talk about taking minimum kit, and me and Austin on the taster course competitively discussed this matter a number of times. Yet after the previous linked article and this one I think I could even cut down a lot.
It’s great to see how you pack it all as this is always my dilemma, I can never decide what to put at the bottom, in case I need it I don’t want to get everything out to reach it.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Liam,

It’s good to hear from you. It’s great to know that you’ve found the original article and this video useful.

All the best,

Paul

Reply

Gary Croad

Wow, great video Paul.

Quite new to the bushcraft world. I got a 120l rucksack off eBay,
I struggle with that. I have a snugpak sleeping bag which seems to
take up 80% of the interior.
But your bid has given me some good ideas.
Thanks

Gary

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Gary,

Glad you found it useful. Thanks for the feedback.

Best,

Paul

Reply

Kirkland Baptie

I meant to ask Paul, what is that nice and cool looking shirt.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hey Kirkland,

The shirt is a surplus Swedish military shirt.

They are very comfortable, particularly in warm weather.

Best,

Paul

Reply

John Clarke

That was educational !
I am amazed how much stuff you can squeeze in to that pack.
But how on earth do you get a weeks food into one pocket ?

thanks,
John

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi John,

I’m glad you found the video illuminating.

I guess I’ll have to make a video or write an article about the food element…

Best,

Paul

Reply

Jason mohr

Informative as always.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Thanks Jason.

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David

Great video Paul,
Fortunately for me I saw this just before las weekends essential bushcraft course! I took a few things out of the pack and still found I had kit I hadn’t used.
Thanks again Paul , I look forward to more videos.
David.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Thanks David. I’m glad it’s already proved useful.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Eoin

Nice Video Paul!
Makes me want to get out there with you. Moving back to the London in September but too late for a course unfortuneately. Next round of courses I’m in!
Eoin

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hey Eoin,

There’ll be plenty of courses to choose from next year.

We hope to have the dates up on the website by early Autumn.

I’ll look forward to seeing you in 2014!

Cheers,

Paul

Reply

AJ

Paul, awesome as ever!

Found that very useful especially linking back to your previous article.

Can I ask then because I would find it useful concerning the food.

Could you do something similar if you saying you can get five days worth of food in that side pouch?

Would help me in my planning.

Be safe – happy travels

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi there AJ, great that you found this video really useful.

Yes, I will add something on packing food for a week to my list of videos to make/articles to write.

Watch this space…

Cheers,

Paul

Reply

Elen Sentier

Good one, Paul. Very useful. Wish I could carry the Sabre but, as you know, I can’t even pick the darn thing up! Am working on my ultralight sack – we’ll see how it goes in Sep *g*. I wish I could find an ultralight with side-pockets !!!

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Elen,

Glad you liked it so much. You know, the Sabre 45 is not actually very heavy for it’s size (unlike the 75). I have a Crux AK47 climbing sack which weights about the same.

Where you’ll really lose the weight is seeking out lightweight versions of some of the more robust kit I use.

Warm regards,

Paul

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Elen Sentier

My Gossamer Gear Murmur pack wieghs about as much as handkerchief, unloaded, some 286gm, your Sabre weighs in at 1840gm !!! and that’s without the pockets. Admitedly, the Murmur will only pack about 36ltr so you have another 9 ltr over me, and then there’s the pockets which (I think) add another 10ltr.

Most of my kit is already light or ultralight. My tent is GG’s The One which weighs about another handkerchief and is vastly lighter than any tarp I can afford although I would love a sylnylon one, am considering TW. My new WBRR hammock is light, ditto its UQ and the Spindrift. I can’t afford any more titanium cook-pots than the one I’ve got, or the titanium Honey. Clothes and my sleeping bag are a weight/mass prob exacerbated by not enough dosh to buy down and the fact that I find wool sooooo comfortable. Have asked Hubby for silk socks for the b-day prezzie which are both light and cool/warm as the season requires. And then of course there’s the weight of food … and I do NOT like any of the dehydrated packaged meals I’ve tried so far so now I need to get a dehydrator and do my own. Think I may stick to base-camping and walking out each day from there *grin*.

The GG G4 or perhaps the Mariposa would be nice but there’s lots of things I need before that. Neither are on the Bergen lines but the G4 does 66ltr, the Mariposa does 69ltr but is nearly 3 times the unloaded weight of the Murmur. The G4 unloaded is about twice the weight of the Murmur but does also have nearly twice the capacity.

I’m sure there are folks who’ve worked out exactly what UL gear you can pack each one with to best effect. GG are good on this but, of course, work from their experience in California and SW USA, deserts and mountains, which are as rare as hen’s teeth here in Britain *grin*.

So … the problem remains for the cripple who has no effective joints as well as osteoporosis … but I still wish I could carry your sabre for sheer convenience.

Creakily yours,
Elen
PS – I sound like a gram-counter … arrrggghhh !!!

Reply

Paul Kirtley

🙂

Ray Jardine would be proud.

Best,

Paul

Reply

Elen Sentier

Indeed !!!
BTW, did you see the price on amazon ???
“Available from these sellers. 5 new from £78.74 12 used from £25.00”

I could buy a GG G4 for that if I had a new copy available LOL

Reply

Richard Morgan

Hi Paul great video, it actually looks like we pack very similar, however I do have one suggestion that may help. In the video you put your waterproof jacket inside the dry sack, I would suggest putting it on top of the dry sack as the only time you are likely to need it is if its raining and therefore have to open your dry sack to the elements risking soaking all your dry gear.

Thanks rich

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Elen Sentier

Good idea, Richard, and it might help to keep the sack dry too ??? Depeding on how you strapped it on.

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Richard,

It’s good to hear from you. I’ve done a lot of walking in the hills in the UK and I’ve never had a particular problem with kit getting wet while quickly removing my waterproof from the sack.

Also, my drybag is for immersion (unintentional or intentional) as well as rain. I prefer to keep my waterproof dry as it weighs more when wet. But yes, if it’s raining I’ll be wearing it. And if it’s still wet when I pack it away again, it doesn’t go back inside the drybag.

Cheers,

Paul

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Simon Cook

Hi Paul
Thank you for yet another informative and useful video.
Just one thing which bothers me slightly. I see you carry your axe on the outside of your pack or as you say, stuffed down behind the side pocket. I think this is a great idea, but people like myself who need to use public transport to get to the woods, and walk on public footpaths, would this not be frowned upon by the law as it is in full view. This may seem a bit of a daft question but I certainly don’t wish to be surrounded by armed police on my way to or from an enjoyable trip in the woods.

Thank you once again Paul

Simon

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Simon,

Yes, you are right – carrying the axe on the outside of the pack on public transport would be an issue. Slip it inside the main compartment (handle downwards is easier) while in such environments.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Jon Briafield

Good one Paul. I have to say I’ve relegated my Sabre 45 (and more particularly those HUGE side pockets!) to back of the gear cupboard.

Too much volume for me, makes it too tempting to overpack. I’ve switched to a 50L pack with smaller side pockets and still manage to fit my gear in. Imposes more discipline in me to only take what I absolutely need.

I’ve trimmed quite a lot off “the big three” over the years – had to for the sake of my knees! Once the tools are settled upon, there’s quite a lot of extras that can be pared back – it’s great fun to see how little you can manage with. No safety compromises though.

Cheers, Jon

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Jon,

Agreed – Small pack = discipline 🙂

Yes the side pockets are pretty big. I think the Arktis pockets are slimmer but still roomy enough for me. I also like the draw-cord closures and fastex buckles (as opposed to zips).

Cheers,

Paul

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Josh

Brilliant Paul, so grateful for this. I struggle to keep my kit to a minimum. This was a great incentive. I always get a buzz when I do use everything I bring, but still want for nothing. The heart of bushcraft is to know more and carry less.

Thanks again,

Josh

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hey Josh,

It’s good to hear from you.

I’m glad you found this useful and thanks for letting me know.

Knowledge and skill weighs nothing 😉

Cheers,

Paul

Reply

Mat

An excellent well thought and and delivered video. Keep up the good work.

Mat

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Thanks Mat.

Reply

Jack

Ok stop it, this is getting freaky. Just at a point where I’m looking at my kit to take up to Scotland for a canoe trip you, once again, come up with advice I need when I need it.

Great video, well shot, well presented with concise and relevant content. But after doing a few of your courses this is what I’ve come to expect. You should do this for a living.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hey Jack,

That ESP thing is freaking me out too 😉

“You should do this for a living.” – I’m trying my best 🙂

Glad you liked it mate and have fun in Scotland.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Dave Gregory

Hi. Just wondered why you carry a billycan & a metal mug which you could use instead. Always found my metal mug & 4 six inch nails to support it on were sufficient. Also regarding the thermarest, you don’t have to carry bracken/ fir tree branches so unless travelling in an area without much vegetation why carry one! Just some constructive thoughts…..

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Dave,

Thanks for your comment.

Cooking with a metal mug is passable for a short while but I find when living outdoors for extended periods having a proper cooking pot is a better solution, not least for producing sufficient drinking water.

Bracken is makes a rubbish sleeping mat – either green or dried it compresses flat in no time. Green it is also damp and harbours ticks. Spruce/fir boughs are better but I spend 100s of nights out a year and good sleep is important.

You could argue why take any sleeping kit at all, why not build a shelter every night. Time/effort is the key factor….

Warm regards,

Paul

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Tarka Bushcraft

You put so many things in your bag, and food?

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Yes.

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Glen Nicholl

Hi Paul,

Another great informative video. Have you ever considered putting your sleeping bag inside the bivvy bag before packing it away? I’ve always done this and find it a lot easier, especially during inclement weather, just pull it out of the pack and roll it out on the ground removing the possibility of the sleeping bag getting wet.

Cheers
Glen

Reply

Craig Fordham

When working I often put my thermarest and sleeping bag inside my bivvy bag and just roll it all up in one, makes life a lot easier

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Yeah, I’ve tried that – sort of like a swag – but I can never get it packed down very small to go in the rucksack…. Any tips?

Cheers,

Paul

Reply

Craig Fordham

I use a couple of decent roof bar straps to compress it all, then, as it’s waterproof thanks to the bivvy bag I tie it to the bottom of my bergen

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Glen,

That’s not a bad suggestion but I’ve never had a problem with getting my sleeping bag wet when unpacking. The tarp goes up first. Yes, the ground can be wet and care must be taken. But I just pull the sleeping bag straight out into the bivvy.

One other consideration is that after sleeping on damp ground the bivvy can be itself a bit damp and I like to separate my sleeping bag from it. You can hang your sleeping bag to air under your tarp (see here) and then pack it away. The (damp) bivvy then goes in it’s own stuffsac.

Warm regards,

Paul

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Craig Fordham

own a Karrimor sf 80 -130 for longer trips and teaching, but may well have to invest in a 45 now for general use, thanks Paul, your tips as usual are giving my wallet a hammering ;-), that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

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Rody Klop

Paul, Nice compact kit. I only have some options (small) different. Foldable sleepingmat. I rather carry a poncho (instead of rain trousers) with gaitors and I carry an extra knife. The poncho can be used as an extra shelter or groundsheet, also collection of water or materials for a shelter. The extra knife is a neckknive (mora) for small tasks. Sometimes I replace the second bottle for a platypus. Because of the drinking and walking capabilities (long distance). A mestin is also in the bag, for frying and eating the meal. The last extra is an triangia burner with and stove which folds around my nato bottle and a lit for the nato mug. Spirit-bottle and sharpening stone DC4. Small luxery items..

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Paul Kirtley

Hey Rody,

It’s good to hear from you. It’s interesting to read about the little differences. They all make good sense.

I think the important thing is to find a set-up that works for you. It sounds like yours works very well 🙂

Warm regards,

Paul

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Elen Sentier

Paul, you’ve really set me off, it’s very good. I just spent the afternoon sorting my gear and working the packing. Here we go …

Gossamer Gear Murmur rucksack
• Full-length thermarest as back support in its own pack on the back of the sack
• Spare clothes – pants, socks, thermal top & longjohns, T-shirt – packed in the shoulder straps instead of padding
• Bivy bag, Rab Storm
• Tarp – either …
DD 3×3 with hammock
or small tarp with tent
• Shelter/sleeping – either …
Warbonnet Ridgerunner + spindrift + UQ
or Gossamer Gear “The One” ultralight tent
• Sleeping bag – either …
Small 3-season bag with WBRR + Spindrift & UQ in hot weather
or HUGE 4+ season bag tied onto back of rucksack
• Warm layer/fleece
• Spare quick-dry trousers rather than waterproofs
• Waterproof jacket: Rohan Hilltop, useful pockets, good hood: tied over outside of sack
• Billycan holding towel + Milbank bag
• at least 2 x 1ltr water bottles
• Axe & saw (knife is on belt)
• Food in the net on the back of the rucksack
I am seriously thinking of getting the GG G4 and they’ve just emailed me it’s 20% off right now (rolls eyes!). the G4 is twice the capacity of the Murmur and has a flared base which may take the big sleeping bag. Hanging it on the back makes the whole setup unwieldy and I may fall backwards!

Snugpak Response Pack: it contains …
• Toilet kit incl folding shovel
• Wash kit
• Head torch + spare batteries
• Meds, hottie pad, specs case, mozzie stuff & diabetes test kit
• Water treatment tabs
• Spoon
• Honey stove
• Titanium pegs
• Attached to the sides …
o Sun & mozzie hat
o Kuksa
o Scarf/bandana
o Extra paracord
The Murmur sits quite nicely on this as a bum-bag, helps weight distribution.

Jerkin covered in pockets: they contain …
• Car + house keys & driving licence
• Purse & pen
• Eye meds + lip salve
• Tinder box; tobacco tin so lid doubles as mirror-signalling
• Wallet
• Compass & whistle
• 1st aid kit
• Gloves & hat
• Notebook

I also try to have as many pockets as possible in my trousers and carry stuff in them!

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Elen,

Wow, you have been thinking about it!

Did you read through the comments of the original article. In particular, did you see comments and downloadable document I posted on behalf of James Peskett?

Cheers,

Paul

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Elen Sentier

Which article ??? Yes I read your original article last year. All this thinking about it has convinced me I do need the G4, if I want to carry the stuff in a rucksack. Next question: how often do I actually want to carry the stuff about rather than base camp ??? Brakes fully on with regard to spending :-). It was very interesting and useful doing the play and setting it all out, now I have to work out how often I’m going tramping with all the kit rather than days out from a base-camp.
cheers,
Elen

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Elen Sentier

Got it! Ta Paul.

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Elen Sentier

Saved it after adding my own comments. Very interesting and useful, ta for heads-up.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

The comments below the original article cover a lot of extra interesting viewpoints.

Good point re thinking through what you are actually going to do with the kit. And yes, think first, spend second! 🙂

Cheers,

Paul

Reply

Richard Tiley

Great, informative video. Up to the usual extremely high standard!

I’m toying with the idea of doing that dry-bag thing for a forthcoming trip to Greenland but I can’t decide whether to go for the heavyweight version or the sort of medium weight version that has a valve, allowing even greater compression of the stuff inside it. Both appear to be waterproof (the whole purpose of a dry bag…) so it comes down to the awful considerations of weight and compressibility. What would you recommend?

Thanks in advance for any help!

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Richard,

It’s great to hear from you and thanks for your feedback on the video.

With respect to the compression-valve drybags, they are good and they work. Again, Ortleib make good ones that are tough.

In the context of packing a rucksack, I think the compression bags work best if you are using smaller bags to organise your kit within the sack, rather than using one large drybag as a rucksack liner.

It would be hard to compress one large drybag which is contained within your rucksack.

I hope this helps.

Warm regards,

Paul

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GearoidO'Daly

The eternal kit dilemma…..I am always guilty of bringing too much. I think the bigger your pack the more you bring , I note you seem to use a 45 ltr. Pack which appears more than adequate.

Would love to know your typical food ration for a week out , I always over do it on food as well.

Thanks for sharing

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Gearoid,

Yes, the kit choice (and packing) seems to be a dilemma for many.

Bigger backpacks certainly do encourage a less stringent packing regime – both in terms of packing too much and possibly packing less well too.

I’ve been asked by quite a few people to explain food packing. It’s certainly on my list of articles/videos.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Graeme

Hi Paul
This is really great and very useful. I definitely have a tendency to “over pack”
I just had a quick question about your water purifier. Pre-mac MWP. I can’t find it on sale anywhere, I looks like they have stopped making it!
Do you have any suggestions of alternatives?
Thank a lot and please keep these coming!
Graeme

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi there Graeme,

The EU Biocides Directive made it impossible to sell the MWP within the EU due to the iodine content.

I will look into alternatives.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Ben

I like your straightforward article on how to pack a rucksack
thanks

Reply

Paul Kirtley

You are very welcome!

Reply

Mike

Paul,
I love how you have this figured out. I used your method on a recent 3 day trip, it worked great! I cannot thank you enough for your great work.
A brief question though, I’m looking for a new pack and I do like the way the Sabre 45 packs up nicely. I have a long torso and was wondering if the Sabre will accommodate a 23 inch long torso?
Thanks for all you do and best wishes.
Mike in CO

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Mike,

It’s good to hear from you. You are very welcome and I appreciate the feedback.

I’m glad you liked my method and have already found it useful! 🙂

As for your question, I’m going to have a chat with one of the guys who works with me at Frontier. He is 6′ 6″ tall.

I’ll let you know his thoughts on the pack.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Mike

Paul,
Thanks for the kind response and I do appreciate the information you are putting out “there”. Any information would be greatly appreciated. I’m finding most of the larger manufacturers in the US have short torso lengths for their packs, I have been doing quite a bit of looking around on the web. I may have to consider having a custom pack made, but that seems awfully expensive, but the fit would be right and the pack comfortable. Again thanks for your help on this subject and wis h you the best. Mike in CO

Reply

Neil

Great video and link Paul thank you. Im preparing for my first wild camp/bushcraft weekend so this has helped a lot!

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Great stuff Neil. I’m glad you found it useful (and that your camping trip was a success!).

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Ruud

Hi Paul

Another great vid!

Those Ortlieb-bags are really great indeed, they are ridiculously strong.
I use mine in the canoo to keep everything dry. I always make sure there is a lot of air inside it when I close it, so it might serve as a backup floating device.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Ruud!

I’m glad you liked the vid.

Yes, those Ortleib bags can be put to so many uses and are so very reliable too.

Best,

Paul

Reply

Brady

Just stopping by to say I loved the follow-up to the original article “A Bushcraft Camping Outfit” (which I also very much appreciated, very helpful to a novice looking at what to expect) and how it gave an idea of what is possible to pack. Its wonderful to see how it all comes together.

Perhaps one day you will show what food items you would be packing in that last bit of space?

Love the work you do and how much you share.

Brady

Reply

Brady

Ah, I see above you have already said you will be talking about the food some day. Looking forward to that and all other posts!

Brady

Reply

Cyril Flannigan

Hi Paul,
I have been following your blog for some time now … And I genuinely find it by far the best, most sensible bushcraft advice by far. I have great respect for your wealth of Knowellege.
I have however a few questions on sleeping bag options you may be using. I live in Northern Ireland and generally find that I need a substantial sleeping bag in the autumn, I am aware of methods to support a medium state bag using a trench fire to keep warm, but have you any presences on the type of bag you use? I have always used holo fibre, although more bulky it serves better if wet and I have been told that in winter northern woodland conditions hollow fibre is preferable. I would greatly appreciate you’re views on packing such a bulky bag or would you suggest a lighter down bag if used with a mod bivvi?
One last thing …. What are your views on closed cell vs inflatable valve carry mats?
I am currently using various combinations to find what takes up less room in my pack yet without compromising on warmth and a good nights sleep.
I would appreciate any advice that will help.
Kind regards
Cyril

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Cyril,

Thanks for your kind feedback. I’m glad to hear that you are finding the content of this site useful.

I use different sleeping bags at different times of the year and in different environments.

I use both synthetic and down bags. I have bags of each type for all seasons.

For warmth-to-weight ratio it is hard to beat down, particularly top-quality goose down. But it is expensive and it is prone to losing loft when exposed to atmospheric moisture. Where weight really matters, choose down.

Synthetic fibres have continued to improve over recent years and there are some very good synthetic bags out there. They tend to be cheaper yet somewhat more robust than down bags but they are heavier and don’t pack as small.

If you are using a synthetic bag and it’s too bulky, a compression stuff-sack is a must.

Both synthetic and down bags are unpleasant places to spend a night if they are wet.

It is worth investing in decent dry bags to avoid your bags getting wet from rain or immersion as well as maintaining a good routine of airing off your bag in the morning.

For good performance yet decent value synthetic bags, I would be looking at Snugpak as well as Rab’s ‘Genesis’ line of synthetic bags.

In my experience, down bags with Pertex Endurance outer fabric are better inside bivvy bags than standard Pertex.

As for sleeping mats, it’s largely down to what you find comfortable but there are a few pros and cons to consider –

Inflatable mats are forgiving as they conform to the ground and your body shape, they pack down small but are expensive and not good in continuous sub-zero conditions as they fill up with frozen moisture from your breath.

Closed cell mats are cheap but not as conforming/forgiving as inflatable mats, they don’t pack down as small but are very light for their size and work well in the cold.

I hope this helps but please feel free to ask more questions.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Cyril Flannigan

Thanks for the advice Paul, I have noticed that my bag will tend to become damp, mainly overnight, in heavy fog conditions at night and evening, so airing the bag is something I have been doing in the mornings, I guess it’s down to how much moisture is expelled from my own body overnight and the surrounding moisture in the air coming I contact with my bag. I am now using an MOD goretex bivvi to retain more heat, and keep out moisture condensating from the air, but I will definitely take a look at the snugpac down bags, I had been putting off buying a down bag, but I think it’s time now to invest in a good quality one. Thanks for the advice, much appreciated, It’s a great site and good you have time to answer so many questions.
Kind regards
Cyril – (AKA Shiver)

Reply

Luke Adshead

A very useful video. From a hiking perspective in terms of reducing rucksack weight there are a number of items I wouldn’t need, but you are obviously packing for bushcraft.

I apologise if the question has already been raised in the comments below, but where do you pack your dromedary bag when it is full? I can just squeeze a full 4 litre dromedary into the top/head pocket of the Sabre 75 when hiking.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Luke,

Thanks for your comment.

I agree, sometimes it is necessary to reduce weight for extended hiking. I don’t, however, see hiking and bushcraft as mutually exclusive. It seems that, for some, bushcraft has become synonymous with static camping in the woods. This is not the case.

Bushcraft is a set of skills I use while making journeys. My tools and equipment vary depending on where I’m going. I don’t take a sheath knife and an axe when hiking in the Cairngorms because they are no use there. In the winter I’ll take ice axe and crampons. In Sweden in the autumn, a sheath knife or axe and saw are very useful on a hiking trip…

So, I agree – adjust your kit as necessary.

As for the Dromedary, I don’t carry it full. I use it for extra (clean) water storage in camp. This is particularly useful when boiling water in a small billy – you have somewhere to act as a reservoir while you produce pot after pot of boiled water in the evenings. You can then leave it to cool overnight.

The fact that the Dromedary then collapses very small allows for easy packing….

Hope this helps.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

jim crowden

Dear Paul, very impressed with your video presentation, clear ,concise and relevant. I am new to subject of bushcraft but have many years military service behind me and a keen interest in the outdoors and wildlife, flora, and fauna and am fortunate enough to live on the beautiful Gower Peninsula in SW Wales, an ideal location to learn and practice your bushcfaft skills. I shall look forward to studying all your tips and techniques and putting them into practice in the future. Keep up the good work Paul.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Jim,

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate your feedback on my video.

You are indeed fortunate to live on the Gower Peninsula – a beautfiul part of the world.

Please do keep in touch and, as you read my articles and watch my videos, please do feel free to ask questions or make suggestions.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

jim crowden

An excellent presentation Paul, I have written a lengthy comment previously but have had difficulty sending it (finger trouble!) I’ll get there eventually. Keep up the good work.

Reply

dan

Hi Paul, you mention about a weeks worth of food in your blog post about packing the rucksack. as im always trying to improve upon things, could you please do a quick video on food choices for say a week? I would really appreciate it! great videos, very informative blog, look forward to future posts. Dan

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Dan,

Thanks for your comment. Yes, I can do a video on food. You are not the only one who has asked either. It’s on my list 🙂

Cheers,

Paul

Reply

Danny

Hi Paul,

I found your video very useful. I am guilty of over packing my ruc sac when I go out and often when its dark can’t find some of my more essential items.

Cheers.

Danny.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Danny,

I think we’ve all been there at some stage.

I hope you get some benefit from my experience and others who comment here.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Shiver / Cyril Flannigan

Hi Dan, I agree, I would also love to see some good food choices to support a weeks bushcrafting, and think it would make for a great article.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

It’s on my list Cyril! 🙂

Reply

Shiver / Cyril Flannigan

Thanks Paul … We’re all keeping you busy !, great blog …. Your the man !

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Thanks my friend. As long as you are finding my content useful, then I’m happy! 🙂

Reply

Andy McC

Hi there,
On your contents explanation, you have:
“12. Toilet kit. For visits to the latrine. This is an extra-small Exped dry bag containing toilet paper, wet wipes, alcohol hand-gel and a cigarette lighter.”

No digging tool? What is your toilet solution? Surface drop with a paper burn, and leave it up to nature? You dig a cat hole with something? You use a minimum impact “carry out” solution, like “BoginaBag”? You dig a slit trench latrine and bury with sufficient layers of carbon veg matter for composting?

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Andy,

When I’m completely transient, in one place for one night, the solution is the make a digging stick. Dig a small hole and cover. Toilet paper burn (if safe, otherwise carry out).

In a semi-permanent camp we’ll have a digging tool and create a trench. Again, faeces is covered and toilet paper burned.

Either way, I always have my small toilet pack. Can be useful even in a daypack in case of “emergency”…

Hope this clarifies things.

Cheers,

Paul

Reply

Andy McC

Thanks for the reply!

I see camping as being mad up of thirds – comfort in terms of warmth, preparing food, and hygiene.

There are ten thousand vids on fire lighting and shelter preparing. A thousand on cooking – yet you have to search for hours to find just one on washing and toilet solutions. The guy who walks out of the bush after a week or two; healthy, smelling clean and has left nothing you can find behind is the king of the bush IMHO – not the guy who can light a fire and sling a tarp.

Not enough latrine vids out there!

Reply

Peter Barling

Straight to the point, was going to get a new rucksack, with side pockets, having seen how much the sabre 45 took I will be considering one

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Peter,

Glad this was helpful. Let me know what you decide in the end.

Best,

Paul

Reply

Peter Barling

Hi Paul,

I have gone for the Sabre 45 with side pockets, and a yoke. It’s a change from my faithfull old macpac climbing rucksack – which has nothing wrong with it after about 18 years, it’s just to big and encourages me to pack stuff I don’t reallly need. Thus increasing weight, also I want side pockets so it’s easier to get at kit during the day when I’m on the move.

Regards

Peter

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Peter,

It’s good to hear from you.

Thanks for coming back with an update on your decision.

Yes, Macpac make some very durable packs but I understand about a voluminous bag encouraging over-packing.

It’s like the packing version of Parkinson’s Law 🙂

I hope the Sabre 45 serves you well.

Let me know how you get on with it.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Shiver

Just been thinking about what you said about compression sacks, and I have cracked it on storage, I just made an underquilt for my hammock and found it really bulky to pack, I really liked your modular system of packing items into baged units so you can organise, identify and find what you need quickly. You only need to be caught out at twilight in the woods, to realise just how easy it is to misplace the tiny important items, so baging gear is a great system. I got to work and made a compression bag for my underquilt and have managed to compress it to 1/3 of the size, i mean, im really cramming it down! Previously I used a few straps and tried to contain it that way, but the compression sack is the way forward. I have since made lots of smaller bags to compress clothing and other items that expand to take up room. My winter kit is now suprisingly manageable and packs down tidy,it’s still quite heavy, but managable, just watching your video has sparked some great ideas. The down side of using the sewing machine, is that I now have to make some curtains for the house, a small price to pay for keeping the peace! 😉
Great article ! Thanks again.
Shiver

Reply

Dan Killen

Paul,
Is that the 59 litre Ortlieb dry bag? or 79 litre? Merry christmas and a very happy new year!

Reply

Phil

Great vid Paul! Very helpful in bringing balance to what to take on a trip and what to leave at home. Could you tell me how much your kit weighs packed? I am a small frame 60 year old who refuses to give up the outdoors but need to lighten my load. Thanks so mush for your educational blog and vids. Greatly appreciated!

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Phil,

Thanks for your comment and I’m happy to read that you found this useful.

I don’t know what it weighs exactly but the next time I have this particular outfit packed, I’ll try to remember to weigh it.

In the meantime I think you’ll find the thread of comments below the related kit article very useful too, as many people offered various suggestions for lighter weight alternatives or variations.

All the best,

Paul

Reply

Nancy

Great video. I am a beginner backpacker and want to learn how to pack. I found this helpful by showing me what is important to place where in the back pack and why. Very clear.
Thank you

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Nancy,

Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you found this useful.

I think you’ll also find the related article and comments useful, plus if ypu head over to the blog at Frontier Bushcraft (my company) there are some guest articles by Astrid Callomon, who through-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.

http://frontierbushcraft.com/blog

Also, please feel free to ask questions.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Chris

Well nice pack set up.
Firstly Paul a good Site.
As I write this in Perth -Australia, tomorrow the temperature will be 44 degrees Celsius or 105 Fahrenheit. I commiserate with you and your weather :-}

As this is a 1st post let me say I am learning,….learning to go bush again and travel light.
I spent 20+ years in the Australian SAS Regiment, I carried my own body weight in gear, triple redundancy on most bits, ate and drank sparingly. Now I am done with that I have no pressure to kit up for “bad stuff”.
I have looked at the light weight gear for years , seen my civvy mates go scrub with this and not suffer. I wish to now see the bush again, the trees , the creeks and what lives within the area without looking for bad dudes.
I am going to enjoy myself, ok I am Southern Hemisphere but I always have said , “Always ask questions and never stop learning from anyone, anywhere”.
I have a lot of info I can offer, I hope it will be well recieved, I have been there and done it, as they say. Or seen it done well or badly.
Well done
cheers from OZ
Chris

Reply

Paul Kirtley

G’day Chris, thanks for your comments and observations.

It’s interesting to hear about your background and your new found desire to see the bush again.

It’ll be good for us to stay in touch. I’ll drop you an email so you have my contact details.

Cheers,

Paul

Reply

Chris

cheers Paul,
keep up the good work mate

Reply

Gareth lloyd-tolman

What a great video, I’ve been talking about packing rucksacks for the last few weeks ( well boring the wife about it. Her words not mine ) and I wanted to do a couple of nights about it with my scouts and cubs and now I can and will. Cheers, Gareth.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Thanks for your feedback Gareth. I’m so very happy you got so much value from this video.

I hope it provides a good model you can pass on to your Scouts and Cubs and that they find it useful too.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Gareth lloyd-tolman

I hope that after going through this with the kids that the next time I poke my head in a tent I won’t see a pile of kit in the middle and various bits of cub or scout scattered about with it and that I won’t have the bin bag full of stuff that doesn’t belong to anyone at the end

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Gareth,

The vision of a pile of superflous/disowned kit piled in the middle of the tend made me smile. Yes, I’ve seen it many time before and, by the sound of it, so have you but it seems to be a natural and necessary part of the process of reduction to get to a point of only having what one needs. I hope this post goes in some way to helping your kids get there a little faster 🙂

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Russ

Hi Paul – great video – thanks for taking the time to make it and for sharing. I work with army cadets and you’ve employed similar weight distribution methods that we teach the kids when expeditioning. I’ve got two questions – 1) what was the total weight of your pack? and 2) what was the sleeping bag you used and why? It looked tiny and I was wondering if it was warm enough for year round UK use?

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Russ,

Thanks for your comment.

In answer to your questions – I don’t know the exact weight of the pack (it’s just what I use in the late UK Spring/Summer/Autumn when out with clients) but I will weight it the next time I have it packed because you are not the only one who has asked 😉

Second question – the sleeping bag I’ve been using a lot recently and in the video is a discontinued 4-season RAB down bag with Pertex Endurance outer, which resists moisture quite well (useful on colder nights in a bivvy bag when condensation is more likely). This is stuffed – not particularly hard – into an Exped dry bag.

Equally, with a compression sack a 3-season synthetic bag such as the Rab Genesis 2 will pack into the same space.

Hope this helps.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Russ

Nice one Paul, thanks for replying. I use the Mount Equipment sleepwalker http://www.mountain-equipment.co.uk/the_gear/synthetic_sleeping_bags/sleepwalker/sleepwalker_iii—443/ as it’s stretchy and I’m a wiggler in the night! Simply THE MOST comfortable bag I’ve ever slept in. It’s 1.9kg and synthetic though, so I’m on the look out for a lighter, damp UK appropriate, down alternative. I heard that the ‘stretch’ tech was on loan from Mont Bell, but I’m struggling to find where to buy their stuff in the UK…

Reply

Adrian Corson

Hi Paul, Well, that was an eye opener. I have got a 60 litre pack and I struggle to get all my stuff in there for a weekender. Note to self…go through contents and reduce. Once again simple sound advice on a subject that not a lot of people consider. many Thanks for sharing.

Regards,
Adrian.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Adrian,

Yes, and this is quite the comprehensive outfit too! You could manage with a lot less if you chose to…

Review and reduce is definitely the way forward if you want to pare down what you take. Plus make a not of what you do and don’t use on each outing. You’ll soon have a list of core clothing and equipment as well as a list of completely superfluous items.

Keep iterating through the process and you’ll hone your kit down to the minimum.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Zed

Great video Paul, I really liked how you kept your kit very minimal and modular …sits perfect with my ODC 😉 I’m in the process now of reducing down my kit for day hikes let alone camp outs, I guess with experience you grow in confidence, thus relying on less and less equipment

I really liked your Karrimor bag and so will look into getting one of those along with side pouches and internal dry sack. I recently bought the original British army issue PLCE bergen with side pouches and the things a beast lol

Look forward to seeing you in a few months for the elementary course, real shame you dont have earlier dates as i’m itching to get started in bushcraft, but hey gives me time to sort out and minimise my kit in advance 🙂

Take care till then

Peace

Zed

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hey Zed,

Thanks for your feedback – I’m happy you got a lot out of this video.

You are absolutely right, as your confidence grows, you can pare down what you feel the need to take until, ultimately you know – not just in theory but in practice – what is really important and what is superfluous.

I’m glad you are so keen but as you say, you have time to get your basic camping outfit under control! I’m sure your ODC will help with that too 😉

Take care mate,

Paul

Reply

Zed

Gives me time to use a spellcheck too!

Reply

Paul Kirtley

lol 🙂

Reply

Rune Bjørnsen

I pack very similar items as you, but I am in north Norway and could not afford both a summer and a winter kit. So mine packs into a 130 litre backpack, lol

The killer in terms of space is the hammock I insist on, and a huge synthetic sleeping bag. But I could probbaly bring less cooking stuff. But in winter I have that pulk, so space and weitht is not a consideration.

Well, well, I just may get away with getting a ligher hammock and sleeping bag for summer use this year…so maybe I can pack smaller…

Well, well, at least what I have is tough, solid gear, and can certainly withstand the type of trips I do…wich is camping. I do not like to hike much.

Keep on doing what you are doing.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hey Rune,

Yeah, synthetic bags are bulky, particularly those which are suited to the colder months.

Solid, reliable gear is worth its weight in gold in my book so I’m with you there.

Thanks for your comment and keep on enjoying nature!

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Ian C

Hi Paul thank you for another interesting video, I was a serving soldier for many years and carried a lot of kit and equipment and now I carry a lot less but still use my old issue bergan which is a beast but will take a lot of abuse, I have now got to get out of the habit of over packing it, look forward to watching a video on the food you take with you as when in the army we were issued with rat packs.
Thank you.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Ian and welcome. Thanks for your comment. It’s good that at least you now have the option of how much to put in your old army bergen. I’ll do something on food before too long. I understand where you are coming from with ration packs.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Jim Gohl

I really like this article, Paul!
Just some mosey questions for you. How much does it weigh fully loaded with water and food? Tell me again the name of your bivy.

Thanks for this great article.
Jim

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hey Jim,

I’m going to have to weigh this kit when I next have it packed in this configuration. It’s my Spring/Summer/Early Autumn temperate kit and I’m still on a winter packing configuration at the moment (more akin to what I had here). You’re not the only one who has asked!

As for the bivvy, it is just a British military bivvy bag.

Hope this helps,

Paul

Reply

James Hursey

Great video, I am guilty over over packing, can’t get out of the ‘what if’ mindset, if I dont take it I might need it, hopefully as I get more experienced outdoors I will get more confident in taking less kit

Reply

Paul Kirtley

You’ll get there James. There is no point making yourself uncomfortable – physically or mentally.

A good discipline is to make a note of what you didn’t use each time and – with the exception of your first aid kit and compass – think seriously about whether you can leave it behind the next time…

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Mike Williams

Great video do you ever carry a rope I’ve carried a 6mm for years with two karibeners and I use it nearly every trip for all sorts if things and it doesn’t weigh much.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Mike, thanks for your feedback on the video. I carry a rope in the mountains but otherwise make do with an extra-long hank of paracord.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Mittagsfrost

One of the best packing instructions I’ve ever seen. Thank you!

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Thank you!

Reply

Richard

I watched you pack it all in and still don’t believe it 😉

How big are the side pouches? I’m guessing about 5 litres each?

Reply

Paul Kirtley

🙂

Yes, between 5 and 10 litres Richard.

All the best,

Paul

Reply

Brian

Great video, keeping kit down to basics is always a challenge. I live in Ontario Canada where climate can change radically in the day, I was out one time in early April when it was +5 and sunny during the day and then dropped to -20 throughout the night. I know you have spent quite a bit of time here and would be interested in seeing your kit used in this kind of environment. I imagine it would be similar to Norway/Sweden/Finland in content? Again, your information is always appreciated and generous.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Brian,

Thanks for your comment. Yes, my kit for your environment – depending on time of year – would be similar to what I use for northern Scandinavia.

I’ll see if I can manage a larger exposition of this at some stage.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Mike Kelly

Great article and a fantastic source of information in general. Thanks Paul.

Guilty! I bring too much ‘just in case of’ gear with me but this and your article on what to bring have really altered my mind-set. I’m now sourcing much of the gear you recommend, Karrimor, bivi and tarp recently and Crusader etc. this week so keep up the good work.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Mike,

Thanks for your comment. I’m glad this one has proved useful to you.

Let me know how you get on with paring down your gear.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

cees

Hi Paul,

thank you for the video, great how you stuffed the axe.
thanks

gr
Cees

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hey Cees,

Nice to hear from you. I’m glad you liked this video and some of the little tips it contains.

The details do make a difference 🙂

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

max

Great video
are you going to the bushcraft show?

Reply

Grant Darbey

Great video Paul, only a 45ltr rucksack – blimey. Do you use a down bag in Britain or synthetic, I use synthetic due to our weather, downs aren’t much use when damp or wet as you know our do you find that they don’t get that damp.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Grant,

I use both down and synthetic bags. I prefer down for their superior warmth-to-weight ratio when weight really matters and I like synthetic for durability and ease of washing, as well as being cheaper.

Neither a down bag nor a synthetic bag is much fun when it’s wet so I don’t tend to differentiate on that basis. That said I find down bags with Pertex Endurance fabric outer shells superior for keeping condensation at bay when using them inside bivvy bags.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Gerry Barrett

Hi Paul.

I am really enjoying your blog. Unfortunately at the moment I am a bit of an armchair “bushcrafter” but I am looking forward to getting out. I’m 54 and live in Ireland. My love for the outdoor life started when I joined the cub scouts then the scouts and then on to the venturers.
I am the type of person that picks up things when shown visually rather than reading from a book (and I have a “few of those.) One of my hero’s is Ray Mears and I was a bit taken aback with your comments about the way Ray encourages his instructors to go off and learn for themselves by planting the seed on how to do something …now go along and learn how to do it. Each to their own. Thankfully I realised that if you know how something is done you should pass on that information which will allow the student to develop some other ways of doing it or give them time to brush up on other skills.
Thank you for having the skill to show and instruct me how to learn about the things I love so much.
Keep up the good work.
Gerry Barrett.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hey Gerry,

Thanks for your comments. I’m glad you have found my blog and it’s proving useful – particularly the photos and videos, given your learning style.

I’ll do my best to keep passing on information. Let me know how you get on with it all…

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Frank Fisher

Hi Paul
Do you have a multi tool, like leatherman or similar.
Or are you not a fan.
Just started to put some kit to gether , with a view to start bushcrafting 2015
Looking forward to watching more video’s and reading your articles.
Regards
Frank

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Frank,

Yes, I have an old PST II which is still going strong. Most useful for the pliers and screwdrivers. I take it with me on trips where I might need to fix gear – mainly winter camping trips and canoe trips. I also pop it in my pack if I’m using crampons.

Enjoy your bushcraft journey and keep in touch.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Jeremy

Great Video (as usual)

I’d be interested on your thoughts about using a small Parang as a lighter weight alternative to the axe?
I’m thinking particularly about traveling on public transport and don’t want to be view as some sort of “psycho” with an axe on the outside of my pack.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Jeremy,

Thanks for your comment. I think you are correct to question whether an axe on the outside of your pack while in public/on public transport is appropriate.

You could always slip it into the main compartment.

More generally, you don’t always need an axe. Outside of the boreal forest, I use my axe a lot less. I take it for carving projects mainly. So, question whether you need a larger cutting tool at all.

Personally, I wouldn’t carry a parang or machete unless I was in a tropical environment.

Maybe a small hatchet is a good middle ground?

All the best,

Paul

Reply

Denis Watson

Hi Paul,Swedish M59 Army Shirt
Thanks for another excellent video ( Oscar nomination next year ? ) . I have bought a Swedish M59 Army Shirt after your recommendation on a previous blog. Ebay £7.98 including P&P ,for a careful Yorkshire lad that was a bargain.. Wore it on my last day hike on the Cleveland Way coastal path, hot day and plenty of uphill stretches . I was sweating a fair bit ( well I am 70 next Monday lol ) but the shirt coped very well . look forward to the video on food when you find the time.
Stay safe,
Denis

Reply

Fredrik

Thank you Paul! A great video about packning.
Best regards from Sweden.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hej Frederick! Thanks for your comment. Glad you liked the video.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Mark

Hi Paul,
Just like to say what another great video,
I have been trying to perfect the art of packing a rucksack for many years and now I’m getting older ( I’m 51 but fit!) I have decided to downsize from my jaguar 75 and go for something like a 45 -50 litre so your video as given me some ideas thanks.

Mark

PS: you would make a great TV presenter, you should have a word with Mr Mears!

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you liked this video and found its contents valuable. Let me know how you get on with applying the ideas you picked up.

I’m happy you like my presentation style. I plan to make some more videos before too long.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

mark

Hello again Paul,
Pleased you liked my comments about presenting, just to add, I find your style of video instruction unpretentious, informative and very down to earth…Which is typical of a Yorkshireman!
keep em coming m’e duck…sorry Paul I’m from Derbyshire!

Mark

PS: its nice that there are still people like you out there that will give their time and effort to help folk with a common interest instead of just doing it for ”the money” good on ya mate!

Take care

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Evening Mark,

Thanks again for your kind feedback. I’m glad my presentation style goes down well. I like sharing what I know and I aim to be as clear as I can.

As for the Derbyshire “duck”, that phrase started as a respectful address and I take it in that sense.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Mark

hello again paul,

Just a little Trivia for you!
The phrase ”duck” correctly spelt ”duc” actually come from the Anglo Saxon word Ducas which roughly translates into the word Duke, so it really is a term of respect!
So remember the next time someone one the street says ”hey up me duck” you may take it in a good way! 🙂

kind regards

Mark

Reply

Joe

Hey paul,
Exellent article as ever.
First off the other half is getting rather upset that I am getting new kit and she has to use my old gear, but she was happy when I walked in with two new sabre 45s. I must have watched it 10 times or more, and still it makes me wonder how ya got all that kit in it. Wow. Do you leave the F-Format internal frame in the rucksack or take it out? Also where would you store extra maps?

You are an insperation to all who loves the outdoors and I have learnt so very much from both your blogs hear and on your companys blogs also. Thank you Paul for relighting my love of the outdoors again:-)

Keep up the good work, and all the best,

Joe

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Joe,

Thanks, your message has made me smile, particularly the image of you walking into your house with a Sabre 45 in each hand 🙂

I’m glad my articles and videos have been an inspiration and that you have got a lot out of them so far.

The internal foam mat is good to leave in unless you are going to replace with something which does a similar job but can serve other purposes too (e.g. 2 x Sam Splints). The mats can be good for sitting on around camp.

In terms of storing spare maps, I tend to put them in a large Aloksak then slip them down the back of the main compartment, nearest my back. If you remove the card from OS maps, they take up less room and fold more easily when in a mapcase.

I hope this helps.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Shiver

I had the same question a while back and if you use compression straps on your synthetic bag, you will be able to get it smaller than you first think, it will fit !
I have however gone for down since then, and it’s great on space, I air my bags in the morning and dry out any condensation from sleeping. Just something I found out from Paul previously, thought it might help.
Cyril

Reply

Max

Dear Paul, what spoon are you using in your articels ? I can not find a fitting one that sits that well on the back of the crusader mug.

Thank you Sir.

Regards

Max

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Max,

The metal spoon is a titanium spoon by Snowpeak.

I recall buying it as a single item but I can now only find reference to it as part of a two-piece set:

http://snowpeak.com/collections/dining/products/titanium-fork-and-spoon-set-sct-002

I hope this helps.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Swallow

Hi Paul
I was just looking at the Karrimor SF gear in the Sports Direct Sale. But then I was wondering….

Why a sabre 45 with side pockets rather than just a Sabre 60?

From the picture the Sabre 60 looks more adjustable and more comfortable.

thanks
Swallow

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Swallow,

It’s good to hear from you.

To my mind, the 45 is more versalile in that it makes a 45 litre daysack on it’s own as well as a larger sack – with the addition of sidepockets – for longer trips. You can get various sizes of sidepockets but most will add more than 15 litres to the overall capacity.

I find sidepockets also help with kit organisation and accessing things easily. By contrast, I use a Crux AK57 for some mountain trips and I miss the accessibility of side pockets.

Finally, when using packs with PLCE zips, you can interchange different types of side pouches easily. For example, on some courses/trips I run, I add a PLCE medics pouch on one side containing our group first aid kit and a colleague takes a cooking pot and food for the pair of us.

Hope this helps illustrate my thinking.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Joe

Great stuff Paul,
really finding all the tips, and videos usefull, and still learning, like the tip about the over sized dry bag in the rucksack, as like another subscriber, found them a bit awkward. and was using a lighter bag which i found was’nt keeping stuff totally dry.

regards

Joe

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ETN

I share this video with all the recruits at my unit before their first week in the woods during basic training. The rucksack you use is very similar to ours and we have them bring more or less the same kit as yours (differences being military kit). I prefer this rather than letting them learn as they go, and nearly freeze to death the first week out, as I did back in the day (I’m from Canada).

As for myself, this video and your blog in general have helped me reorganise my kit and the way I pack it. My back feels a lot better now that everything fits snuggly and closer to my body.

Excellent video!

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vinny boyle

Thanks for your video. I am always interested in the way people pack. Time in army and white van man (lol) I particularly like the way you explain why what went where.
I find that the young people without experience lack the skills required in proper packing in order of need and weight not to mention over packing .
Please keep your video articles coming I really enjoy them. Blessings vinny

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martin care

Paul, Great video I pack my kit in very similar way having now watched this video, Just a slight change in that I use a wood gasifier stove inside my billy can. Thanks for all your videos

Martin

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Andrew

Going back to the point about knives etc in public places, I would be grateful for clarification of the legal position. If I am carrying a knife such as a Mora on the moors in North Yorkshire (which I assume counts as “a public place”) am I breaking the law? Does it make any difference whether it is visible on my belt or concealed in my rucksack? I appreciate that the chance of being stopped and searched in the middle of the moors is remote, but it would only take one busybody to see me using a knife to create a problem, and I would really like to know where I would stand legally.

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barry woodcock

Hi,Paul great video very informative,i found it very easy to understand and full of good tips,i am useless in packing bags and small things,now i think i am getting some where. many thanks (whitewolf).

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Grant Darbey

Hi Paul,

Re watched your video just as good as the first time, as if anything would have changed but am now on the look out for a Sabre 45 Ltr sack, would I be right in checking out army surplus, especially for the side pockets.

Regards

Grant

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robert

Great article, now how much does this pack weigh?? Please give answer in pounds. Also how long will this pack last if washing cloths is not possible. What would be a good pack to use( I live in USA) Do you suggest using water proof bags on all items that you packed?? I always pack too much in the way of clothing. What about a light package on top for trail snacks, a sharping kit edged articles?

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Gene

Paul,
Nicely done. I enjoy your videos. Lots of good information. I use an old US Marine large Alice pack. Have for years. Allows me to carry what I need. Your videos have improved the way I pack my equipment and the ease of finding what I need, when I need it. I don’t carry an ax either but a tomahawk with a poll, a folding saw, large and small knives. As a blacksmith I am able to make a lot of my hardware. I currently live in Oregon near the coast. So trekking conditions can change on a daily basis. From the drippy woods to the dry flat grasslands. Keeps you thinking.
Thanks again for your effort and valuable information.

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Paul

Hi Paul

Very interesting and practical advice, thanks.

I enjoy bushcraft related articles but personally prefer hiking/walking in the great outdoors and try to combined this with my other hobby – amateur radio. The link to bushcraft is often setting up a temporary shelter (tarp) in nearby woods and getting a fire going for a well deserved cuppa/quick meal. I also have some essential emergency kit as a responsible walker of course.

Years ago, I used to load my 65 litre rucksack with way too much kit and then wondered why my knees were giving me gip! I later understood my problem and forced myself to backpack with just a 25 litre pack – now that was massively challenging but it did force me to think hard about what was really needed and what was frankly unnecessary. Once discipline was achieved, I reverted to a shiny new Sabre 45 with the same kit but now with plenty of room remaining for my radio gear!

So hopefully this goes to show that not all your readers are dedicated bushcrafters but isn’t it funny how the basics are essentially the same no matter what you do in the outdoors!

Keep up the good work

Paul – g0vht

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Dave Smith

Good tutorial of packing your kit Paul.

It took me awhile to get mine right over the years, lol.
I remember just stuffing kit in, thinking who cares its all there, but come time to ” find ” something you end up dumping you whole pack for 1 item, sigh.
So I got a system now where I know where everything is from bottom to top and each side pouch such as yours, MUCH nicer. And have stuck with that arrangement for years. I’ll never change how I pack my kit simply because its habit now.

Cheers again Paul for the great vid.

Have a great holiday season and happy new year.

Dave.

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Paul Kirtley

Thanks Dave, it seems like we have come to similar conclusions. Good stuff!

All the best to you for the festive season.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

ETN

Mr Kirtley,

What do you think about attaching a sleeping kit to the exterior of the rucksack, like under it for example?

A lot of older military rucksacks, like the one I use, function that way, as there is no room inside the rucksack itself for the sleeping kit. The sleeping kit is protected from the elements by a valise-like pouch.

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Etienne,

Thanks for your message. Personally I don’t like to have things on the outside of my rucksack unless it is unavoidable. Before I moved to using a Thermarest, I used a close-cell foam mat, which rolled up but had to go on the outside of my rucksack as it was too large to go inside. This was OK but it did get a little damaged over time, not so much in the mountains but in the woods. I don’t like putting sleeping bags on the bottom of rucksacks though as they get wet/dirty unless they have a waterproof cover. Of course, we put a cover or dry bag on it but the chance of damaging that cover is still there and over time it will take some wear. So I do prefer to put the bag inside. But I do recognise that some pack designs mean you have to put the sleeping kit on the outside. In that case I recommend you protect the kit with good quality waterproof bags and check regularly that they have no holes in them.

I hope this helps.

Bon chance!

Warm regards,

Paul

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ETN

Very helpful. Thank you.

I was just now wondering how this system varies in winter. Most of the extra kit like the shovel, the stove and the tent is carried in a toboggan, right? What about all the extra clothing? Can you fit all that in your Karrimor as well?

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Paul Kirtley

Thanks. I’m glad it was useful.

If I’m using a toboggan, I don’t use a rucksack at all. All my clothing and equipment is packed into or onto it. Without going into too much specific detail, the main body of the toboggan contains several duffel bags, one of which contains sleeping kit and other items you want in the tent. This is all wrapped up within a canvas tarp. For items you need during the day, there is a special “saddle bag” which sits on top of the toboggan. This contains a large warm jacket, spare gloves, spare mittens, a flask of warm drink and maybe a couple of other items.

I do tend to take a daysac with me on these winter trips. This is for making short excursions into the forest without all the camping gear. I normally take the small pack featured in this daypack article. When hauling the toboggan this also lives inside the main area, usually unpacked and flattened.

For winter trips where I do take a rucksack (e.g. ski touring in Norway), I take a larger rucksack, typically a Berghaus Vulcan. This is to accommodate the warmer (and larger) sleeping bag, extra winter layers, and greater food requirement.

I will have some material on this blog soon covering this equipment. I think you’ll find it interesting.

In the meantime, I hope this clarifies things a little.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

ETN

You’ve clarified a great deal.

I look forward to reading your future article.

Merci Monsieur Kirtley!

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Mon plaisir Etienne.

Ce n’est rien 🙂

Reply

PETER

been watching your videos and would just like to say how easy simple and great explanations of all the tasks and equipment you talk about and demonstrate fantastic keep up the great work thanks for all your time and effort which is for free big thumbs up from me cheers

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Thanks Peter, that’s very kind of you. I’m glad you are getting a lot value from my material. I appreciate the feedback.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Jim Watkins

Hi Paul
Excellent discussion and I like your rucksack. the waterproof interior and low-profile would help in
fording, bad weather, or tackling thick brush or lodgepole pine thickets. I usually carry an external frame
expeditionary pack, like Kelty or a Jansport make for long distance mountaineering. At times I carry
several weeks of food and fishing equipment.
Kind Regards from the Pacific Northwest
Jim

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Jim,

Thanks for your comment. It’s good to hear about what works for you. External frames do indeed come into their own when loads get BIG.

Warm regards,

Paul

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Misty

Hi Paul,

The video was highly instructive and I enjoyed seeing how you put things together. I’ve tried to read through all of the comments and your replies so please forgive me if I mention something someone else has mentioned or questioned.

I would love to know more about the food 🙂 Also, you mention that you have a pair of rain pants (I think that is what they were) that you didn’t enjoy wearing (until you had to). My question is why not put those at the bottom instead of the sleeping bag? I do like the suggestion one reader said in putting your jacket on the top just before you closed your bag, to help keep things dry.

Do you use some sort of bag protector that would slide on top of your bag to keep it dry?

Love the accent!

Misty

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Tom

Another great video. I will be using this as a guide to pack my kit when I go on my first bushcraft weekend.

Thanks again Paul.

Reply

Peter Emerson

Thanks for the video, good demo and information.
Regards Peter

Reply

Luke

Good video Paul

No nonsense, to the point.

Keep ’em coming

Luke

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Thanks Luke 🙂

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Bobby

good tutorial and well presented, thanks.

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Paul Kirtley

Thanks Bobby.

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Ivor Scott

Hi Paul,,
Great vidio,always a problem packing,,,what would the bag weigh,???mine tend to be 16kilos ish,,seems a lot,
Any thoughts,,,,,,,thanks again,,,

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Bozidar

Hi Paul!
Again instructive video.I have one question:
What the average weight should be in the backpack,
my own (when is full and ready) 15 kilograms.
Thanks & Regards!
Bozidar
Croatia

Reply

Mark

Hi Paul,
Another great video!
I’ve got a selection of packs and can never seem to find the ideal one…..I like the idea of something like the sabre, with the flexibility of adding side pockets when needed. Following your packing ideas, you can remove a side pack with all your cooking kit without disturbing the main pack. I did look at a snugpak rocket a while ago but ruled it out due to weight……perhaps I need to have another look!
Thanks

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William Davies

Hi Mark

I’m new to your blog but enjoying it very much. I love the article on what you carry I found that very useful and will probably copy hope you don’t mind lol. Nice video for how to pack but must disagree with you on that one, I’m a army reservists and been taught slightly differently on how to pack a burgan. I know everyone does it different I’m just being honest. Most of my ruck is taken up by my army sleeping bag witch is massive your sleeping bag looks smaller does that sill keep you warm when it gets cold and what sleeping bags do you recommend ??

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Stephen

Hi Paul,
Once again a great video from you.
I have a simply question for you about how much video equipment you take with you and how you would pack it.
I haven’t done any video blogs but do record my trips out I have a GoPro 3 with 4 spare batteries a charger, external power supply for recharging batteries or iphone plus all cables required and a small tripod this all fits in a Tupperware container.
Thanks

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Stephen,

Thanks for the feedback on this video.

The short answer is “it depends”.

Weight is obviously a factor, as is the amount of space available.

What I’m willing to carry with me also depends on the aims of being able to film – and I intentionally ask the question of whether I’m looking to capture things on a fairly casual basis, or am I looking to film a particular video and, if so, what equipment do I need in order to capture the type of footage I want under the conditions I’ll experience?

That said, my starting point on most trips, particularly those where I’m carrying everything on my back, would be a compact camera capable of recording 1080p HD video and a GoPro for when I need my hands free or when it is raining or I’m in water. Plus I’ll take a sufficient number of batteries and/or an external charger plus spare memory cards.

In addition I will take some form of lightweight tripod, suited to the circumstances. Sometimes this is just a mini tripod that I can also strap to a tree, other times it is a full-sized carbon fibre travel tripod.

The above video was recorded with my old compact camera (only 720p HD) and my GoPro. I’ve since changed to an more up-to-date compact camera. My old one was 5+ years old. It was a great camera but with even the GoPro Hero 3 turning out 1080p HD video, I wanted a compact camera that could match it.

That said, the old compact camera did very well. The following film was recorded entirely with it and the GoPro:

Fjelltur: A Norwegian Adventure

The compact camera I am using now is the Canon G7x. I’m very happy with the footage it produces. The only reservation I have is that the batteries are quite small compared to other, slightly larger Canons. That said, they don’t weight so much, so you can carry enough of them. I have 6 batteries for this camera.

For an example of the footage from this camera, have a look here: Bushcraft Take-Aways From The Manitoba Museum

I always take at least the compact camera whenever I go out for a walk. I have a small padded case for it and carry it in my pocket, on my belt or in my pack as suits the situation.

For canoeing, my default camera is the GoPro due to it’s waterproof housing and the ability to mount the camera on my head or on my canoe.

I hope this helps but, of course, I’m happy to answer further questions.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Andy

Hi Paul found the video very interesting thank you. Andy

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Terry

Hi paul… Great video… Well presented and easy to follow! Thanks bud

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Gary

Hi Paul!

Thank you so much for teaching me this.

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Mike

Great video again Paul very useful.

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Paul Kirtley

Thanks Mike.

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Austin Lill

Hi Paul,

Super video and a good tip about an ‘oversized’ dry bag as I find mine somewhat restrictive too. Thank you.

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Barry

I like this because it makes sense .I camp ,hike rockclimb ,mountain bike love nature and the outdoors so I love bushcraft the whole approach to the outdoors I even get some of the more spiritual stuff .but until I found Paul’s podcasts it was a choice between Americans who needed 4 rifles and 500 rounds of ammo for a weekend or certain British bushcraft forums were they talked about wearing plce webbing while hiking thank you Paul your podcasts are what I’ve been looking for

Reply

don burress

Paul hope you are doing well.I would like to know what you think about the lightning strike fire starter by holland shooting supplies &. I love it myself .Maybe you could do a video on it , have a great day Paul.

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Kev Bee

Hi Paul, great video/info as usual! I found this very useful, I’m also guilty of taking too much unnecessary kit. I particularly liked the way you can carry an axe on the outside of the rucksack, also the teaspoon in the back of the crusader bottle and cup! These tips and previous videos (handy zip pull cords on rucksacks and lots more!) have made life easier in the great outdoors! Thank you very much!

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regina rose

Hi Paul I would like to know what you would pack for one week of food in your pack.

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Shawn Halloran

Hi Paul,
I decided to watch this after I spent 4 days out. I came home with so much kit left over! Going three days this time and I will try your way! Thanks!
Wishing you fun in all your adventures.
Warm regards
Shawn

Reply

David Morris

Hi Paul,i found your article very interesting as usual.I like how you compartmentalise with different colour coded bags.You will have to do an article on food.keep up the good work.Regards David.

Reply

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