This summer I had a few weeks of running a Bushcraft-esque programme in a summer camp in a school in West London, it was very different to what I had experienced from teaching similar programmes in the Scouts. The first obstacle was that I was expected to run the set programme and when I changed items around based upon the equipment that I had (in the 3 weeks I was there I never had all the items that were supposed to be supplied) the location manager would question it, I would then provide the list of equipment and materials that I was missing. It took an email to head office to get the required equipment after it became apparent that the location manager was seemingly not trying hard enough to get things sorted.
That aside the majority of the children were brilliant and the most popular activities were den building and having hot chocolate around a camp fire. As for me, I enjoyed the session where an outside provider would bring in some exciting animals and became quite at ease with holding snakes.
Overall I did enjoy the time, the kids didn’t mind if the programme changed and had fun regardless, some didn’t even want to go home. Some personal highlights included the Italian family who thought this would help their child improve his English, he was passionate and enthusiastic in every activity despite the language barrier. Another highlight was when the camp came together, for some reason the early years group would congregate around me and ask questions or show me drawings that they had done that day. One even gave me a picture they drew just for me, which made my day and currently hangs close to my desk.
Following this experience I am actually planning to undertake some courses to train as a Forest School Teacher and spend more time outdoors, I may also end up owning a snake too.
I have used barefoot footwear in the past and enjoyed the amount of feedback I was getting through the soles and how much more natural it felt walking around in them, I found walking around the woods became stealthier. I wore my first pair so much I have worn almost all the way through the sole, they are now what I pack when going camping for occasional wearing as they take up less room than trainers in my 45l bag.
Before I took the plunge and brought a pair of Vivibarefoot Tracker boots I spoke to a few people who have tried these and other shoes in the Vivo Barefoot range, all had the same answer. You will not regret them, they feel great. So I took the plunge using the various vouchers I get at Christmas and on my Birthday, a few days later they had arrived. I put them straight on and walked about the house in them for a few hours, one of the things I tell customers who are not sure about footwear is to do the hoovering in them. I find the stop-start, back and forth movements will let you know if you have anything rubbing and causing hot spots.
So now I was happy enough with them indoors it was time to take them outside and off-road, so we and the wife headed out to the nature reserve a few hundred metres from our house for a nice stroll. Having not worn barefoot shoes out for a while it took a little bit to get used to being able to feel the temperature through the soles of my feet again, moving up to a slightly thicker pair of socks and adjusting the tightness of the lacing kept my feet warm. Over the next few weeks I built up my use of these so my feet could get use to being barefoot, on a few occasions I was on my feet for too long and would need to massage my feet afterwards.
My only issue with the boots are that the sole tread is not suited for urban life and I have worn a large amount of the tread down, if I could make one suggestion to Vivo Barefoot would be to make a version of these boots that has less of a off road tread and use the same multi-terrain sole unit as the Motus (having not had a pair I don’t know if the material used for the sole unit is as durable as I would like). I would also like the sole stitched on, so I guess that is two things I would change.
Overall I am very happy with the Trackers and would recommend them highly, just take into account that if you wear them around town the life of the tread blocks will be severely reduced.
The past year has been a bit rough, I was made redundant and while trying to find work again I was not in the right place to write any posts or edit the few podcasts I have recorded.
I stared a new job back in May and now I’m ready to start picking up where I left off.
If you have any suggestions or questions please get in contact through the Facebook page
Wet feet are not fun, I had a pair of walking boots that had a hole in them and anything deeper than half an inch resulted in a soggy boot for the rest of the day. I was saving up for a new pair of boots and was sent a pair of Sealskinz Mid Weight Mid Length Socks by Blacks to review.
I have had these now for 2 years and have taken them with me on trips to Hungary, Norway and Sweden, as well as all over the UK. With my holey boots I was able to enjoy being out when it was wet, yes I still had a soggy boot until I managed to get new boots, but now my feet were remaining dry and I was feeling happier at the end of the day.
I got myself a second pair to allow for changing during the day on long walks and when winter camping in the mud on a scout camp to rotate through them. By the nature of keeping water out I found that they kept sweat in, so I would advise bringing some foot powder and comfortable socks to change into at the end of the day. As the old saying goes take care of your feet and they’ll take care of you.
Given that I have already added a second pair and I am looking at getting another pair in the future, I would and do recommend Sealskinz socks for anyone who spends time in the outdoors.
I have been using the Snugpak Sleeka jacket provided by WebTogs for just over 6 months now and it is an item that has become part of core my outdoor kit. It has been on several trips in the UK and came with me on my trip to Norway & Sweden earlier this year, I have found it to be a versatile item of kit and it is fast becoming an item of clothing that will come on many future trips.
Just like Snugpaks Softie Elite sleeping bags this jacket is very efficient at keeping you warm, while walking around Oslo with tempatures just above 0°C I was comfortable with just a shirt under the jacket. It was a nights wild camping next to Lake Rodjen where the jacket cemented its place in my kit for future trips. When the sun went down and the tempature plummeted, the Sleeka jacket kept me comfortably warm. Placed inside a dry bag it made a great luxurious pillow (who says you don’t have to be comfortable while roughing it) and it the morning after a invigorating plunge in the lake (there was still ice on the water on the far bank of the lake) played a big part in warming me back up while eating a ration pack breakfast and drinking pine needle tea.
Since then it has been on all but one trip I have been on and the trip where I did not bring it I spent most of the time regretting it. So with the colder weather on its way this jacket will get more use over the coming months, so if you are looking for a new jacket to stay warm during Autumn and Winter a Sleeka jacket from Snugpak will see you right.