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Cold Weather Equipment Solutions.

Snow Goggles - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

I do like an old school solution to a problem but I’ll freely admit these are not quite as functional as their modern equivalents.     Snow Goggles.

These are based on an Inuit design and I really fancied whittling up a pair just to try them out.

To be fair they would certainly do the job, and quite effectively as far as I can tell.

Inuit-Style-Snow-Goggles--I

They reduce the glare well and give a reasonable field of view horizontally, which would suit life on the ice. Where they fall down compared to modern glasses or goggles is the vertical field of vision which is rather limited and requires a bit of up and down head movement to compensate.

They are interesting though and similar ones could be improvised quickly out of birch bark in an emergency so as a project I think they have been well worth while making but I will  support these with a modern pair as well for safety.

Inuit style Snow Saw / Knife - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

A snow shovel is of course a vital tool in hard Winter conditions and mine has the handy addition of a small saw, stored in the handle, but while researching Inuit artefacts I saw many pre-trading era snow knives made of ivory or whale bone.

Obviously I didn’t have those sorts of material to hand so I wondered if a good bit of seasoned oak might serve the same purpose. I was surprise that non of the originals that I had seen were toothed like a saw so I decided, since this was just an experiment, to try make it with a smooth edge and a saw edge to see which worked best.

The Snow Knife is considered one of the most important pieces of equipment for an Inuk out in  the wild. Amongst other things it is used for building snow shelters like the igluvijaq (most commonly referred to by outsiders as Igloo.)

Ice Claw in hand - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

Something that definitely finds it’s way into my pack is a pair of ice claws.

Like most sensible Brits, the idea of walking out onto a frozen lake or river is not a matter that I take lightly.

The thought behind ice claws is that should you fall through the ice they provide you with sharp points that can dig into the ice surface to help you pull yourself back out.    A potential life saver.

The lanyard allows you to hang them around your neck, with the points safely tucked away, and is elastic so that it does not present a strangling hazard but can still be used at full arms length to reach a good hold.

Ice Claws - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

Of course, no safety equipment replaces simple caution and in some cases there may be too much snow on the surface for these to be effective, but any sensible precautions taken against such a dangerous incident is well worth taking.

A decorated Snow Brush - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

One essential item I usually carry is a snow brush. Used for scrubbing off accumulated snow on the outer clothing layers, particularly before moving to a warmer environment where it would melt and saturate the clothing.

I have usually used a simple plastic dish washing brush for the purpose but have had my eye open for a nicer solution.

Eventually, at the Jokkmokk Winter Market I found what I was looking for. It was undecorated of course but a little time spent doing some kolrosing and now it is something finally worth it’s weight.

Saw Point  - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

I want to get some proper snow building done on my next trip so I also wanted to look at the type of saw I was taking.

Some of you might remember the foolish mistake I made on my 2012 expedition which led to me losing my Laplander saw. I decided to replace that with something more sustantial that could also serve as a snow saw for building shelters. Doing a little research on YouTube, which is unusual for me because so much of it is just waffle, one thing I noticed was that all the guys that seemed to really know what they were doing were using normal panel saws instead of purpose made snow saws. The wide blade seemed to be the common factor.

This led to my choice of a short, multi purpose wood saw with an aggressive tooth set and raking gaps to replace both my Laplander and Camp snow saw. I’ll still take the Inuit style snow knife because that weighs very little and serves a really useful purpose when building.

First Aid Kit  - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

My First Aid kit needed a bit of a make over. Outdated items replaced with modern equivalents. Burn dressings and haemostatic dressings added to counter the apparent tendency to bleed faster or longer in low temperatures and tourniquet as the latest thinking has agreed that possible nerve damage is less critical than preventing someone bleeding to death. Seems sensible to me.

My First Aid Glow Tag - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

I do usually carry a first aid kit when working outdoors but it may not always be immediately obvious where it is located.

I'm not a fan of carrying too much on my belt and my FAK is just a little larger than I would be comfortable with having there, especially as my external belts when kitted for cold conditions are often woven cloth sashes.

More than likely it will be in my bag but thinking about the visibility issue prompted me to make this today.

The tag is leather of course but the cross panel is bright glow in the dark vinyl.

I'll attach it with a bright cord (better than this one) and it can hang on the outside of whichever bag the kit is in.

Just follow the cord, or even pull on it, and there should be the kit. Simple enough I think.

Bell's Wax Vestas tin  - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

In freezing conditions, I don’t want to be messing about with a fiddly method of fire lighting. It’s great to know how use many different methods of course but I need fire quickly and reliably.

I usually carry a box of “waterproof” matches in a small ziploc bag in my pocket and another in my bag.

As some of you know, I do like my equipment to have a little “soul” as it were and I found and old wax vesta tin from the 1940s on eBay that I thought was just the job.

Bell's Wax Vestas tin  - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

There is enough room inside for the contents of two boxes of matches which is a nice quantity.

Bell's Wax Vestas tin  - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

On the bottom, there is a rough patch where the old “strike anywhere” vestas could be lit. That was just the right size for the safety striker from one of the old boxes to be attached with a bit of double sided tape.  I’ll keep the other striker, pre-taped and ready, in my notebook in case I need it.

It’s not waterproof of course but I have other cases that are for emergencies but the matches themselves are “damp” proof.  ( I wouldn’t consider them really waterproof because of the wooden stick.) These are just for everyday use around the camp.

A neat little solution with a bit of history to it that doesn’t get in the way of functionality.

It does exactly what it says on the tin.

 

Sub Zero Crew - Bushcraft UK

Unless noted otherwise, all photography, artwork and content on this site is copyrighted. © Gary Waidson 2020 All rights reserved

The Ice Raven Project promotes sustainable and low impact bushcraft and wilderness skills in Arctic and winter conditions. This includes the use of  tents, tarps  and snow shelters where possible. Fires are only used where safe and where use and collection of firewood will not damage the natural environment. We often travel to locations by public transport and then use snowshoes, sleds, toboggans and pulks to transport our equipment into the wilderness.