First Aid Kit

Carry a simple first aid kit

It is the time of year when the days have been getting longer and we are out more often. Some will be out on two day shoots, camping in some beautiful British countryside, or maybe course laying in readiness for the shoot.  The downside of the warmer days is it results in me having to start taking antihistamine tablets due to slight hay fever and possibility of insect bites.
I’m pretty lucky, as I’ve been bitten or stung by most things including a swarm of angry bees one time when we disturbed a nest putting in a new target. The only bug that tends to result in a very bad reaction are horse fly bites and those I really react badly too. You can see below how my hand swelled up after a few hours, following one. Luckily I got my wedding ring off before the fingers swelled up too much or I might have had to have it cut off. (The ring not the finger)
horsefly bite

horsefly bite = very swollen hand

It is also when I go through the first aid kit on my quiver belt to check things are still in date. I do it every year and whether camping, skiing, hiking or enjoying field archery I always carry a simple first aid kit, either in my backpack, day sack or on my quiver belt. It doesn’t take up much space and weighs nearly nothing.
Top tip – put everything contained within the kit into waterproof zip bags. It keeps the kit together and more importantly dry.
The kit is pretty basic, the sort you can pick up from most outdoor stores with a few extra items, I’ve added  like antiseptic wipes, spare micropore tape, antihistamine cream, dehydration sachets etc. I’ve also added in a tick removing tool, as the numbers of ticks seem to be on the increase and we as field archers tend to frequent areas infested with the little things.
When asked why I bother carrying one as the organisers are bound to have something I tend to reply saying “It’s one of those things you hope to never have to use but am glad to carry”.
Thanks for reading.
Yosemite National Park - article

National Geographic – old magazine, new memories

National Geographic January 1985

National Geographic January 1985

Ok so apologies first as this has very little if anything to do with archery, but I wanted to share it with readers.

So firstly here is a little bit of background history. When I was growing up I wasn’t what you could call the healthiest of children. In fact I think I spent more time in and out of the doctors’ surgery or hospital than at school. The up side of this was I got to spend a lot of time with two wonderful people while my mam was out at work, these being my maternal grandparents. During this prolonged absence from school, I developed a love for old black and white TV shows and movies that were shown on British afternoon TV. The downside of my absence from school, was my schooling suffered and I was bullied a lot when I did go back to school.

So what brought on this trip down memory lane and insight into my childhood?

Well my Mam has been clearing out some stuff from my family home and she has given me a few boxes to sort through, actually quite a few boxes. You know the sort of thing, old books, school reports and numerous magazines. I’m sure those of you that may have gone through something similar would agree that the process can bring back a whole lot of memories, some good and some bad, a few happy and a few sad ones. I found a folding penknife my grandfather gave me when I was about eight, he had an identical one. In the same box I found his penknife too, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, RCMP emblazoned on them both. I’ve given one to my Mam and kept the other.

pen knife

pen knife

In another one of the boxes was a collection of National Geographic magazines from the early 1980s. My Mam had been buying them for me as a child to try to encourage my reading and interest in nature and the outdoors. The first one of these I found had an article on Yosemite National Park in the USA and how it was trying to cope with the increasing numbers of tourists, whilst maintaining its natural beauty.

Yosemite National Park - snowy image

Yosemite National Park – snowy image

I found this kind of ironic since only a couple of years ago Sharon and I visited the national park when we were doing a short road trip in the USA. Who would have thought that 30 years after the article was published I’d find the magazine in a dusty old box.

Yosemite National Park Map

Yosemite National Park Map

Of course my clearing and sorting for the night stopped there and then as I sat and read the article.

So there I was reading the article but now I was remembering walking some of the routes pictured, having visited it, seeing the views and knowing first-hand the beauty of the land.

View form the top

View form the top

One memory it triggered was of all places based on the Parking areas, where we’d parked up and photographed deer grazing in the early morning long before many visitors arrived.

Yosemite valley deer in early morning

Yosemite valley deer in early morning

I recalled the sound of the thunder storm as it rolled through the valley, having just climbed down from the falls.

Yosemite Falls, seen from the valley

Yosemite Falls, seen from the valley floor

Life is strange as I have to say that when I first read this all those years ago I might have thought how great it would be to visit but doubted I ever would. I guess that finding this and reading this again, what it has showed me was a sick kid growing up on a council estate in North Wales can not only develop a love for the outdoors but also travel. So enjoy your travels and reading, you never know where it might take you.

Thanks for reading

Equipment review – Bear Grylls Walking Trousers

What they look like on

What they look like on

I’ve been trying these trousers out for the last 12 months for hiking and archery events so I thought it worth doing a quick review of how I’ve found them. Normally for field archery events I tend to wear old army fatigues or hiking trousers, depending on the weather. For colder or wet weather I have lined trousers, along with waterproof hiking trousers and / or over trousers for those shoots in winter months.

I’m guessing many people will have heard of Bear Grylls. He has made his name as an outdoor adventurer, with a number of TV series, Running Wild with Bear Grylls being the latest. What you might not know is he has also puts his name to a range of clothing and other outdoor equipment and the trousers I’m reviewing is part of the range.

Price

Sharon bought me a pair of these trousers as a present so I don’t know the exact price or exactly where she got them from, but doing some research on the net I think they are about £40-50 from most outlets. Where would we be without the Internet.
This makes them more expensive than the army surplus trousers I’ve used in the past, but comparable if slightly more expensive than other hiking and walking gear I have bought over the years.

Bear Grylls trousers

Bear Grylls trousers, showing different colour

Fit and comfort

I’ve found the trousers are comfortable and light weight, drying quickly if they get wet (which is highly likely in a British summer). I think this makes them a good summer months trousers where you might encounter showers whilst out walking or hiking. Though they don’t offer much thermal protection they are comfortable and not as warm as my army surplus trousers.
They aren’t tight fitting which allows for ease of movement when walking, especially useful when I was in Yosemite national park last year and scrambling up the slopes and hills. I’ve also worn them under waterproof over trousers and found them fine and work well at wicking moisture away.
I do like the double waist button and the belt loops allow for a decent belt width rather than having tinny loops suitable for narrow belts which some walking trouser manufacturers produce.

Belt loops, and zip pocket

Belt loops, and zip pocket on the right side

I’m not sure about the quality of the stitching as there are a couple of points where they look pulled having been caught on brambles. Having said that the stitching hasn’t run or needed repair.
I tend to always wear leg gators to protect my shins from brambles and this might be something to consider with these if you are hiking through undergrowth or unbroken tracks.
Pockets are a decent size, which is useful as I often carry my phone in one, and there are leg pockets on both right and left leg (This is a little thing that bugs me with some manufacturers of outdoor clothing, who seem to think you only need a leg pocket on the right leg. Not great when you are an archer and wear a quiver on your right side as it means anything you put in the pocket is firstly buried under your quiver or is being constantly knocked by it.)

A couple of the pockets are made of orange fabric which besides being the Grylls colour also could be useful in a survival situation.
How I hear you ask? If you needed to mark your trail you could use the bright coloured fabric as a marker.
There are 8 pockets, one on each leg (the left also having a zip pocket, two hip pockets with velcro fastening , two front pockets (the right one having an internal zipped pocket).
I know another archery friend of mine that has been using these style trousers and he too has found the fabric a bit thin from time to time, allowing brambles and thorns through. He’s told me how he has taken to wear them as an over trousers, as they are comfortable but not thick enough.
They are light in weight making them great for camping or travelling, packing down pretty small, something that I have found very useful. Though you will need to layer them up either with over trousers or leggings to stay warm if in cooler weather.

Product development or what I’d like to see

If the designers are reading this there are a couple of developments I’d like to see.

  1. The first development is a zip pocket on the left side like the right one.
  2. I also think I would prefer the fabric being a little thicker due to brambles and even nettles getting through. I noticed this most when kneeling drawing arrows from targets and searching for lost arrows in the undergrowth. I think this could be done without adding a great degree of weight to the trousers and would still enable them to dry quickly. So something thicker on the lower legs and knees would be ideal.

Summary

Overall not bad for summer trousers but would rather have a slightly thicker fabric for extra protection on the knees and lower legs. Good number of pockets of good sizes.
For me, I think I will continue to wear them for hiking and walking as they are comfortable, along with archery shoots I know are pretty open. For archery where I might be tracking through undergrowth I think I will stick with old army combat trousers, just for the thicker fabric providing extra protection. For that reason I’m going to give them two scores
9/10 for hiking but only  7/10 for archery
Thanks for reading.