Do or DIY?

Hand Made Outdoor Kit

Joe O'Leary :: Monday 17th February 2020 :: Latest Blog Posts

I love this time of year! Although the daylight hours are shorter, the weather cold and often damp, it's the perfect season to wrap up warm, batten down the hatches and get craftin'!

However, I can't hide indoors all winter and those same shorter, colder days spent outside at the mercy of the soggy British weather always trigger a want for better, warmer, updated kit.

This annual winter requirement for good gear that really works seems to tie in perfectly with those long, dark winter evenings and cold, rainy days trapped indoors. A kind of evolutionary symbiosis between the need for stuff and the opportunity to make stuff that's been repeated year on year, since the first person decided 'it's a bit fresh outside the cave, let's spend this evening making those furs into a coat'.

It has been said that the invention of the bone needle was one of our most significant game changers, allowing aforementioned furs to be properly tailored, maintained and repaired in order to keep body heat in and cold weather out. Even just a couple of generations ago, it was common place for our more thrifty grand-parents to possess this make do and mend mind-set, darning socks, frantically knitting scarves, improvising and inventing whenever the need arose. This is most definitely a quality to be admired and aspire to rather than just viewed as a nostalgic memory; especially in recent years as we struggle to reverse the effects of several decades trapped in what we now view clearly as an increasingly throw-away society.

Nowadays many outdoor clothing manufactures are making moves to embrace recycled, natural and more sustainable materials, however big outdoor brands are still constantly having to re-invent the wheel to maintain a foothold in the retail marketplace, frequently updating designs and changing colour schemes to stay ahead of the game and give us all something new and shiny to lust after.

Historically I'm not completely immune to the lure of shiny new crap I don't really need but as a 'maker' I do feel I'm slightly more resilient to the hypnotic power of outdoor gear advertising, having the choice to make my own version by buying materials cheaply, recycling or ideally utilising renewable and free natural resources. Often my time is the only significant cost!

In fact I've become almost smugly militant about not buying new gear when I know I could make something myself to fulfil the same task.

Having said that, I do accept that it's extremely difficult to resist the constant and subliminal drip feed of the advertisers, informing us that it will be absolutely impossible to enjoy the great outdoors without the latest folding, titanium, marshmallow toasting fork. Luckily amongst the bushcraft community, to balance this nonsense out there's also the terrifying horror of being thought of as having 'all the gear but no idea'. Nobody wants to be that guy! But.... you do still want the shiny gear..... What better way to affirm your genuine connection with the hardcore bushcrafters of yesteryear than actually making the gear?!

It's impossible to have no idea if you've actually made the gear...

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