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I have thought long and hard about starting a gear page on the Bushcraft Education blog, a few years ago I wrote a post titled; 'Why I will never review gear' and posted it on the blog but I have since had a bit of a change of heart.

Here is the original post from 2014 ;

I thought hard before putting this up on my blog, what if a manufacturer offered me a load of expensive kit to play with and review? Would I really stick to my rule to never review gear?

I think I would just about manage to keep my resolve, and the reason is that I believe bushcraft is not, or at least should not, be about kit.

The basic tools of bushcraft never need to be expensive at about £3.50 and £10 respectively why would any one need to consider anything other than these inexpensive knives?

Inevitably leisure activities like bushcraft are going to be supported by manufacturers who make state of the art, high quality goods and equipment which people are entirely free to buy and make use of but I can't buy into that. I have never bought a knife that cost more than £30 and in fact the one I use mostly at the moment is made from a broken saw blade. I don't have an expensive tarp, instead I can sleep my whole family under a large green tarpaulin that cost £15. I have a dutch oven that cost me $15 NZ dollars and a cast iron frying pan that came from a recycling centre.

This is the bulk of my bushcraft kit, the wool blanket is home made and backed with waxed cotton and is completely waterproof and very warm for it's size and weight although no substitute for a sleeping bag in UK winters. A generic folding saw from a garden centre, dutch oven and pan bought very cheaply and a very old hultafors hatchet which I picked up from a second hand tool shop and re-handled. 

For me bushcraft is all about what you can do without kit, the knowledge you carry with you that set's you apart from other 'outdoorsmen/women' that means you don't need lots of expensive kit. You don't need expensive kit to light a fire with a bow drill but if you don't know what your doing it won't work however much fancy kit you have.

From a point of view of teaching bushcraft or educating using bushcraft, fancy kit doesn't impress there either. If your students are all using Mora knives and you are wandering around with an expensive custom knife on your hip they will wonder if they are struggling because their kit isn't up to it. For that very reason I normally equip my students with bright orange handled Mora knives and use an identical one just with a green handle.

Also it's part of a bushcrafters journey to learn what kit does and doesn't work for them, don't just listen to what people say on youtube about which knife to buy or which firesteel is best or which tarp, hammock or rucksack you need try things out for yourself, if you want to spend a lot of money on kit there is nothing wrong with that but if I was to offer one pice of kit related advice it would be this; save your money on kit and buy books instead.

The only big brand name in my kit bag, this whittling knife was made from a broken silky saw and given a tea tree wood handle.

Since then though I have reviewed some equipment, I have never posted about it here and sometimes the reviews only ever went back to the manufacturers as product development feedback but I have admitted to myself that although it is still fun and certainly saves money to use very basic and improvised equipment refusing to use anything else is just as short sited as only using expensive equipment, and I suppose is a sort of reversed snobbery.

I never took the cheap and improvised approach with my waterproofs or rifle scope for example and I was willing to spend a little more for a quality item I could depend on in poor conditions and have 'grown up' enough to admit that I do actually appreciate some more expensive equipment, even if I don't really need it. 

I did set up another blog a while ago dedicated to gear and posted some reviews of outdoor equipment including knives, rifles, off road vehicles and rucksacks but having admitted to myself that I do like gear, particularly knives (In a healthy way) I'm going to move those posts over here. This is partly a time saving exercise so I don't have to run the two blogs separately but also an opportunity to share what gear out there is good, what is bad, and each review will aim to teach something. 

Some of these pocket knives might crop up amongst the reviews. 
In keeping with this blogs aims of promoting bushcraft as an education activity and highlighting the lessons and knowledge that can be gained through a study of bushcraft each review posted will teach something, that might be in a 'how to' style for example the 'How to Carve a Netting Needle' that appears in one of the knife reviews or tips and tricks about zeroing a rifle, choosing a scope, or terminal ballistics of projectiles in reviews about firearms for harvesting meat. 

Some of the reviews that will be cropping up on the blog from now on will be of gear I own and have purchased with my own money and which are a regular part of my bushcraft kit, some knife reviews will be of knives I have in my personal collection, others will be things that have been replaced because they were not fit for my needs, others have been provided for the specific purpose of review but I WILL NEVER EXCHANGE A GOOD REVIEW FOR FREE KIT. You will see some fairly negative reviews of items that I have received for review and you will see some good reviews of items that have cost a lot of money. 

Ultimately I will always try and teach something in these reviews and will never post a review just for the sake of it. As I try to post more regularly this year I will aim to get one of these review style posts out on a monthly basis amongst the other posts that you can expect. 

All gear reviews will appear chronologically on the home page but will also be available as links at the top and bottom of this page. There will also be a link in the menu on the left of the page along with other links to our regular blog series. Links will be updated regularly so you can always find the latest gear reviews through this page.

I hope you like the new addition to the blog and would welcome any comments or thoughts.

Happy New Year 

January 2018

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