Posts filed under Classic Kit

Cutter Hi-Lo Suction Snakebite Kit

Cutter Hi-Lo Suction Snakebite Kit

Cutter Hi-Lo Suction Snakebite Kit

I have always had a bit of a thing for kits; fishing kits, survival kits, first-aid kits you name it. My latest find is the "Cutter Hi-Lo Suction Snakebite Kit." Although incision and suction is no longer recommended first-aid this is still an ingenious piece of kit.


Using the kit is very simple although it does sound a little archaic. If someone gets bitten clean the provided scalpel blade and wound with the antiseptic unit and make a ¼" incision over the bite. Apply one of the suction cups on the bite and squeeze. This creates a vacuum drawing blood and hopefully venom from the wound.  Then the lymph constrictor should be tied above the wound and the victim should get to the hospital immediately. It is called the Hi-Lo Suction Kit because different amounts of suction can be put onto the wound depending on which cup is used and how it is applied.

Cutter Hi-Lo Suction Snakebite Kit Un-packed

Cutter Hi-Lo Suction Snakebite Kit Un-packed

Beautiful and utilitarian, everything I love about good kit.

I felt it prudent to include the current first-aid for a snake bite. I was a little surprised to find that the stuff I learnt in Australia, pressure immobilization, is not the internationally recognized procedure.

Wikipedia recommends

Protect the person and others from further bites. While identifying the species is desirable in certain regions, risking further bites or delaying proper medical treatment by attempting to capture or kill the snake is not recommended.

Keep the person calm. Acute stress reaction increases blood flow and endangers the person. Panic is infectious and compromises judgment.

Call for help to arrange for transport to the nearest hospital emergency room, where antivenom for snakes common to the area will often be available.

Make sure to keep the bitten limb in a functional position and below the victim’s heart level so as to minimize blood returning to the heart and other organs of the body.

Do not give the person anything to eat or drink. This is especially important with consumable alcohol, a known vasodilator which will speed up the absorption of venom. Do not administer stimulants or pain medications to the victim, unless specifically directed to do so by a physician.

Remove any items or clothing which may constrict the bitten limb if it swells (rings, bracelets, watches, footwear, etc.)

Keep the person as still as possible.

Do not incise the bitten site.
— Wikipedia
Posted on March 31, 2012 and filed under Classic Kit.

The Petzl Zoom

Petzl Zoom

Petzl Zoom

The first time I saw a Petzl ZOOM I was at Boy Scouts, doing a night hike with the scary looking Venture Scouts, the "Big kids." The ZOOM seemed to be the cool piece of gear at that time. People looked on with jealousy as they clutched their Dad's torches bought from  local hardware store, or their Mum's "power-out flashlight" from under the stairs. From then on I needed one. My brother, as ever, being older got his first but mine followed soon after.

Fernand Petzl

Fernand Petzl

The Petzl ZOOM was first introduced in 1981 and it changed things massively. It was designed by Fernand Petzl; a French caver, innovator and all around legend.

[Petzl] was designing and distributing solutions that aid in commitment and progression on vertical and/or dark terrain with optimal efficiency, freedom and safety.

Until the introduction of the ZOOM, head torches had been limited by their heavy battery packs and robust design. Because of this they were more suited to cavers and workers. What made the Petzl truly unique was its all-in-one construction. The battery pack sat on the back of the head and the torch component sat at the front. The original model used an incandescent bulb powered by a 4.5v flat battery.

What always struck me with Petzl gear was not only the innovative nature but also the quality. Their catalogues read more like mountaineering and caving manuals, each meticulously illustrated with details of the correct uses for each piece of kit. These are the kind of books that I would pore over as a child.

Each year Petzl would change the pattern on their headband, I always saw this as a nice touch - all your friends had the same model torch but they we're all different. It meant that something was being considered each year; this was an evolving product. I also liked that there was a small recess behind the flashlight section that housed a spare bulb. This became really useful when Halogen bulbs became more readily available; it meant that with a little fiddling you could have a high powered but short lasting focussed beam or a more conventional longer lasting softer beam. Their ongoing commitment to research, development and innovation has also lead Petzl to the forefront of LED head torches. They are now the standard for most hikers.

Even though my ZOOM is no more, it was one of the first legit serious pieces of hiking kit I ever bought and more than worthy of a place in hiking annals.

Posted on February 11, 2012 and filed under Classic Kit.

Hudson's Bay Company's Scale of Provisions

The Canadian National Railways' -  Camp Craft and Woodlore, 1927

The Canadian National Railways' - Camp Craft and Woodlore, 1927

I first heard about the Hudson's Bay Company's standards for food in Clyde Ormand's  "Complete Book of Outdoor Lore" although he didn't go into a lot detail I put a big circle around the paragraph hoping to find out more.  All my online research came up blank but finally, last week, I came across a small but great book. The Canadian National Railways', "Camp Craft and Woodlore" originally printed in 1927.

The Hudson's Bay Scale of Provision is a system for equating how much food one man will need when he is out in the wilds. It is a very simple but incredibly neat system, and I can't help thinking of all the trappers and mountain men using this as a guide for their time in the wilds.

It is as follows

1 man 1 day.

2lbs. flour (or 1½ pounds of sea biscuits), 1lb. fat mess pork, 2 oz. sugar, ⅓ oz. of tea, 2 oz. peas (or same of barley), ½ oz. of carbonate of soda, ½ oz. of salt. Total 3lbs. 5½ oz. at the most
— The Canadian National Railways' - Camp Craft and Woodlore, 1927

Simple but perfect. This book is a gold mine! You can download a copy of Camp Craft and Woodlore here

Kendal Mint Cake

Kendal Mint Cake on the 1924 Everest Expedition

Kendal Mint Cake on the 1924 Everest Expedition

Before there were Clif Bars, Larabars, Powerbars, Mulebars, GU, BumbleBars, Greens Energy Bars, Belly Timber Survival Energy Bars, Hammer Bars, Honey Stinger Energy Sachets and Rise Bars. Before there was dextrose and glucose tablets. Before there was Snickers and Mars Bars. Before there was even Hershey Bars and Cadburys Dairy Milk there was Kendal Mint Cake.

Kendal mint cake is a confectionary made from sugar, glucose and peppermint oil, prized by hikers, climbers and explorers alike for it's high energy content.

It's story is simply told. According to legend a confectioner named Joseph Wiper was attempting to make glacier mints, he took his eye off the cooking pan and when he returned the mixture had become cloudy and grainy. He poured and set the mixture anyway and the Kendal Mint Cake was born. He began making Wiper's Mint Cake in a small factory in Kendal.

Mount Ossa Attempt

Mount Ossa Attempt

Since its creation it has earned possibly the greatest resumé of any confectionary.

  • Kendal mint cake boxes have been found in WWI trenches.
  • Sir Ernest Shackleton stocked mint cake on his 1914-17 Trans-Antarctic Expedition aboard the "Endurance" and "Aurora."
  • Grettir Algarsson stocked it when he led his North Polar Expedition attempt in 1925.
  • It was also carried by the Cambridge Greenland Expedition as they tried to map the East Coast of the country in 1929
  • 1931 saw it packed aboard the R.S.S "Discovery" for the British, Australian, New Zealand Antarctic Research expedition under the leadership of Sir Douglas Mawson.
  • The R.S.S "Discovery II" also packed the treat on the British Antarctic Reasearch Expedition in 1931.
  • The early British Mount Everest Expeditions all took Wiper's Mint Cake in their attempts in 1922, 1924, 1933 and 1935-6. It was said to be a favourite treat of George Mallory's.
  • Romney's provided the mint cake for the successful 1954 Everest expedition. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay snacked on mint cake at the summit. Norgay is quoted on Romney's packaging "we sat on the snow and looked at the country far below us... we nibbled Kendal Mint Cake."
  • British climber and writer Gwen Moffat spoke about eating mint cake in her 1961 book the "Space Between My Feet."
  • According to the Mick Wall's book "When Giants Walked the Earth," Robert Plant and Jimmy Page shared mint cake after writing "That's the way."
  • Sir Chris Bonington also snacked on Kendal Mint cake on his 1975 summit of Everest as well. He even had his own promotional bar made by Romney's and Berghaus.
  • Colin Fletcher talked about his love for mint cake in "The Complete Walker" and "The New Complete Walker" he saved the energy laden sweet for days he was "pushing hard." Thanks canoe62 for the tip-off.
  • It is included in the Irish Defence Force ration pack and in some menus of the British MOD ration packs.
  • Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman packed mint cake on their 2004 "Long Way Round" motorcycle expedition.
  • The Vintage Hiking Depot author enjoyed mint cake on his failed attempt to summit Mt. Ossa, in Tasmania in 2008.

A lot of the  information used was found at Stricklandgate House centre for voluntary organisations in South Lakeland. If you know of any more famous tales that should be added to Kendal Mint Cake's Resumé please feel free to contact me.

Posted on November 27, 2011 and filed under Classic Kit.

Trangia Storm Cooker

Trangia Storm cooker, Model 25

Trangia Storm cooker, Model 25

My love affair with Trangia began at a very early age. My dad had owned one since before I was born, although he wasn't much of a hiker he is a "Swedophile" and a lover of robust, well made kit.

My early years camping with him and my brother we're more about car camping, we had a two burner stove which was somehow rigged up to the same gas bottle my dad used for his blowtorch. This often led to an ignited hose coming loose and flailing violently around the tent for a few exciting seconds before we could kill the gas and begin firefighting operations. Highly entertaining at the time but on reflection actually quite dangerous. At this time the Trangia was used more for its pots and pans. But as we got older and our holidays became more adventurous, we ditched the giant four person tent, the gas cooker got left at home and the Trangia became the workhorse.

The Trangia company has been around since the mid 1920's;  founded in Sweden by John E. Jonsson and his father-in-law, they started out making household cookware and also developed a range of camping sets, kettles, mess tins, fry pans, mugs and plates.

The Trangia name is a shortening of the village name Trångsviken, a small town in Sweden where Trangia is still based, it is combined with the initials "IA" - "I aluminium," translation "out of aluminium" or "in aluminium."

In the late 1940's there we're few truly portable camping stoves. The ones that were available ran on solid fuel tablets in one form or another. There were spirit burning stoves on the market, but these we're intended for indoor use to supplement a wood fuelled stove.

When visiting a sporting goods shop in Östersund Mr. Jonsson was asked if the meta-stoves (a brand of all-in-one solid fuel stoves) were any good. He replied "Yes sure, but it would be better off with a stove that was run with methylated spirits" This became the mission of the Trangia company and lead to the birth of their Storm Cooker.

Their plan for the Trangia stove was simple

It had to be a stove for the average person, easy to use, easy to clean and it would contain everything you need to cook one meal during the camping trip, and the coffee pot was important.
— John E. Jonsson

In 1951 the first Trangia stove, the model 25, was finished, and looked almost identical to the current Trangia. The company had taken what had gone before and refined it. This constant evolution continues to this day encompassing cutting edge materials and the accommodation of new burner types.

Trangia Storm cooker, Model 25

Trangia Storm cooker, Model 25

Over the last 50 years hundreds of people have bought and loved Trangia stoves. This beloved piece of kit has written itself into the history books of hiking and will continue to do so. As well as this its burner construction has been used as a template for numerous ultralight stoves. The simple, reliable, safe, indestructible construction and constantly evolving design of the Storm Cooker has ensured that it will firmly stand the test of time.

I finally bought my own Trangia in 2005 after many years of borrowing others'- a smaller model 27, and it has been a companion on every multi-day hike I have done since. Even though there are newer, lighter, more efficient stoves none will hold such a place in my heart or my backpack.

Using My Trangia on the Overland Track

Using My Trangia on the Overland Track

Much of this information and imagery was sourced from the Classic Camp Stoves forum with the help of Spiritburner and his many contributors. He put a lot of legwork in and was able to get in touch with Malin Svensson from Trangia who provided much of the historic details.

Trangia timeline courtesy of Malin Svensson.

1925 -The company Trangia starts to produce cooking ware for households
c1935 - produces the first camping set, no 24
1951 - the first prototype to the Trangia stove was finished, model 25
End of 1950's - the Trangia stove comes in a smaller model, 27
Early 1960's - the holder for the burner moves from upper to lower windshield.
1964 - 1976 - Produced the larger burner for the Military Mess kit for the Swedish Army (the kit is not a Trangia item)
1969 - fry pan in nonstick
Early 1970's - hooks and the ring on the windshield is changed to stainless steel
Early 1970's - the handle is now made with holes
1979 - winter attachment for the burner
1987 - saucepans in nonstick
1985 - Mini Trangia, originally made for multi sport competitors
1988 - Gas burner is available to the Trangia stove, manufactured by Scorpio & later Epi Gas
1988 - the windshield is manufactured with bayonet coupling
1993 - sauce pans and fry pan in Duossal (stainless steel/aluminum)
1995 - the Gas burner is made by Primus
1998 - sauce pans and fry pan in Titanium
2001 - multidisc 27+25 is available
2002 - Multifuel burner from Optimus
2006 - new thinner material in sauce pans and windshield,Ultralight aluminum & hard anodized
2010 - Multifuel burner is made by Primus
2010 - Trangia Triangle is available
2010 - Trangia is already a registered Trademark but now the Trangia Stove is also a registered 3D shape which protects the stove from unlawful copying.

Posted on November 13, 2011 and filed under Classic Kit.