Sometimes, it’s nice to unplug a bit and read about some of the topics and personalities we’ve gotten to know on the TV. I know that’s the case for me, when it comes to bushcraft expert Ray Mears. His previous books on woodlore and bushcraft have been very enjoyable, and very informative at a time when I was hungry for every snippet of knowledge about the outdoors. For many outdoor enthusiasts, Ray has played a not insignificant role in shaping sustainable attitudes and philosophies about the natural world. Now, years later, I’m a bit more curious about the man behind the expert advice, so this book should satisfy on a different level.
The autobiography was released in mid-September of 2013, and as of today, it looks like the £20 (just over $30 USD) purchase from his online store will get you a signed hardcover copy of the book.
UPDATE Oct 5, 2013: It looks like the signed copy is now sold out, but they may get stock later.
Ray Mears: My Outdoor Life
Looks like there’s a new pack in the works [update: The pack is now available for purchase. If you know of anybody who has tried it out, please don't hesitate to add your thoughts to the comments below]. It may be a bit on the pricy side, but some might not mind paying that much for a pack, if it delivers on its promise, and can last them a lifetime. I expect no less from any quality tool, and a pack is just as crucial a tool for your comfort, organization, and mobility in the woods.
Whether it lives up to the hype remains to be seen, since past Ray Mears products have seemed a tad silly (like the ~$50 luggage tag, or the ~$100 belt). I don’t doubt that the products are good quality, but the premium pricing seems to bank only on the celebrity name association, while not bringing any extra value to the table.
By the description of this pack, however, there seems to be promise. I’d be very interested to see this pack in action.
- Total volume: 90 litres
- Volume of main compartment: 58 litres
- Volume of side pockets: 10 litres each
- Weight: 1.8 kg
- Fabric: Waterproof 1,000 denier Cordura Nylon
- Colour: Olive Drab
- A bespoke item, produced in small numbers
- Designed by Ray Mears
- Exclusive to Woodlore
- Made in Great Britain
- Large main compartment with PU Nylon snow valance and drawcord closure
- Spacious lid with elastic trim and buckle closures
- 2 x fixed side pockets with buckle closures
- External front pocket with lockable zip closure
- External, slim-profile pocket on lid with lockable zip closure
- Concealed, slim-profile pocket on underside of lid with zip closure
- Drain holes fitted in the main compartment and side pockets
- Heavy-duty YKK zips used throughout
- Contoured and padded shoulder straps with adjustable top-tension buckles
- Adjustable chest strap
- Adjustable, heavy-duty waist strap with extended padding on hip area
- Lightweight internal metal frame, housed in fabric sleeves
- Breathable and padded mesh-lined back panel, for improved comfort and air flow
- Sturdy grab handle
- 2 x full-length internal storage sleeves on back lining, perfect for SAM splints (not included)
- Velcro loops for tidying away excess shoulder strap webbing
- Embroidered Ray Mears Bushcraft logo on front pocket
See the full product page and details on the official Ray Mears site.
I’m the first to admit that despite my love of the outdoors and the woods, I’m relatively unschooled in the fine art of woodworking compared to some. Natural wood has a life and character unlike any other material, and it’s hard to ignore those who make this craft their pursuit.
I love to listen and learn from passionate people, and this past week, I had the pleasure of learning how to make a classic frame saw from Steven Der-Garabedian (see his work at blackwalnutstudio.ca). Steve is absolutely fanatical about woodworking, and it comes through in every action and every word he utters. Not only is he patient and accessible, but he has that other quality that distinguishes good craftsmen from good teachers—his love of his art is infectious.
Here’s an update on the Ray Mears course I mentioned in a post last fall. It was being organized by School in the Woods [ed. note: no affiliation with this site]. The course as described didn’t happen, unfortunately. The organizer informed me that the agent wanted a very hefty non-refundable deposit with still no contract and had still not outlined what would be covered, so he had to make the decision to not go further. He felt it would have been wrong to gamble with other people’s money.