Monday, 27 February 2017

Lom Gom the Caveman is now on Twitter!

Lom Gom the Caveman is now on Twitter! If you have a Twitter account pleases sign up to stay informed on updates, articles and reviews. Thank you!

In other news, Lom Gom the Caveman is now approaching 200,000 page views since starting up on 26 July 2016 Thanks for coming back to visit and as always, comments are always welcome!

5 Essential Bushcraft Knife Skills to Learn

The best bushcraft knife in the World will not guarantee it's going to be useful for you in the wilderness.  In order for it to be useful when it really counts,  you need to learn and practice some basic bushcraft knife skills.  In this article, I'm going to show you 5 knife skills that you can start working on today.

The great thing about learning to use your bushcraft knife is that you can do this in your backyard.  Thpractisinging is fun and over time you will become proficient with your bush knife.  Then if the need ever arises in the wilderness or a survival situation you will be prepared and know that you have chosen the right knife for the task.


Carving is probably going to be one main uses for your bushcraft knife.   This will allow you to make useful tools like spoons, bowls, and fire boards.  Carving is also something that is fun to practice at home and will greatly increase your overall control with your bushcraft knife.

You are also going to find out how well your bushcraft knife does at some of the smaller tasks.  Many people want a thick long blade for their main knife but those knives can suffer sometimes when it comes to the finer tasks like carving.

There are many knives made especially for carving like hook knives.  And while I use and suggest you have these knives as well, I also suggest you learn to do carving with your main bushcraft knife.  That way if the situation ever arises where it's the only knife on your person you know what to expect from that knife and your bushcraft knife skill set.


Okay, I'm going to start right off by saying that batoning is controversial among bushcrafters.  Many believe that you shouldn't use your bushcraft knife for batoning, myself included.  I prefer to carry an axe, saw or hatchet to perform wood tasks around the camp.

However, I still feel like it's a skill you should learn and practice because you never know when the situation arises that you don't have an axe or hatchet.  It's better to be prepared and know whether or not your knife can handle the task of batoning when you are at home in your backyard than when you really need it.

Most of your batoning will be done in the form of splitting wood.  You will need to select a bushcraft knife that is a few inches longer than the wood you are trying to split. 

Place the wood on a solid surface standing on end.  Then place your knife on top of that.  Strike out towards the exposed tip of the knife with a small hard piece of wood (the baton).  Keep batoning the knife until you split the wood. 

Try not to hit directly on the tip to protect the knife if possible.  A thicker blade will usually give you better results when batoning and is less like to take damage.  Also, it's important to have a full tang knife blade when doing this to avoid breaking the knife from the handle or scales.

Besides splitting wood, you can also baton with your knife when truncating wood.  This is when you are cutting small diameter wood into shorter pieces.  The procedure is basically the same as splitting wood but instead of placing the wood on its end you are placing it on its side.

Finally, you can baton with your knife to make deeper notches in your wood (similar to a wood chisel) or to also cut off small branches.   Even though not everyone agrees on using their knife for batoning I would still recommend learning the skill and to make sure you have a knife that can hold up to this bushcraft knife skill.

Feather Sticks

Making feather sticks is an important bushcraft skill to learn with your knife.   Feather sticks will allow you to start a fire when wood is damp and other methods might fail.  They will provide quick and intense heat for your fire at the beginning.  Another thing is that by making feather sticks you will improve your other bushcraft knife skills.

A good method is using a light touch to make light slices in the wood.  This will give you nice curls in your feather stick.  By practising this skill you will see how well your knife's blade bevel and sharpness does with this common bushcraft tasks.

Practice this skill in conjunction with your carving and fire starting skill below.  In no time you will be able to make some impressive feather sticks and you will be prepared to light a fire in adverse conditions.

Fire Starting

Making a fire is paramount in survival situations or just general bushcrafting.  It's important to know if your knife can handle this task.  It's also easy to practice at home in your backyard.

One technique to practice is whether or not the spine of your bushcraft blade can ignite a ferrocerium rod.   The Ferro rod is an easy way to start a fire and can be used thousands of times over. 

In order to do this, you will need a knife with a good 90-degree spine in order to throw a good amount of sparks.  You may need to file the knife spine down to achieve this but it's definitely worth the effort.  A good shower of sparks could be the difference between getting a fire started and sleeping in the cold.

Another fire starting technique to learn is flint and steel.  This technique will only work with your knife if it has a carbon blade.  A stainless steel knife blade won't throw off a spark when struck with a piece of flint.   For this reason, many bushcrafters only use carbon knives.

As with all bushcraft skills, practising fire starting at home and often will make your proficient for those times when you need to get a fire started in the wild.  I also suggest practising not only with dry material but also wet material.  The same applies to cold and warm weather.  It's much easier to gain confidence on starting a fire in wet cold conditions knowing your house is just a few yards away.


As if batoning wasn't' controversial enough, I give you chopping.   Many people like to use their bushcraft knife to chop down small trees to make shelters or tools around the camp.  This can be very hard on a knife blade and can loosen handle scales and damage knives.

I'm going to say the same thing here as I did with batoning in that it's a good bushcraft knife skill that you can learn at home.  You will know right away if your knife is good for this type of task. 

The most common method of chopping with a knife is getting out towards the end of the handle with your grip.  Some people only use 3 fingers to grip the handle which makes it easier to give the knife some swinging momentum when striking wood.  Just be careful that you still have a decent grip on the knife for your own safety and the safety of others.

You might also find after using your knife for batoning and chopping that it will work but isn't great for those tasks so you will instead choose to carry and axe, saw or hatchet into the woods.  Again better to learn that now that in a situation where you really need it.


You will notice that the theme of this article is to practice these skills at home before you are in a situation where your life may depend on it.  Not only will you find out what your bushcraft knife is capable of but you will also improve your own bushcraft skill set. 

An okay bushcraft knife is better in someone's hands with expert skills than a great bushcraft knife is in someone lacking good bushcraft knife skills.  By working at this you will become the former and it will be less stressful when you need these skills.

I hope this helped and please if you have any tips of your own, comment with your thoughts below

Friday, 24 February 2017

What Do You Think Of The History Channel's Show "Alone?"

I'm curious, what do you all think of The History Channel's  show "Alone?" All the contestants appear to be Youtube guys, which makes sense since they have more experience with video, etc. I have great respect for them putting themselves out there like that. But many seemed to not have much experience spending time alone in the woods considering they are billing themselves as survival experts. After just a day or two, some were crying on camera. One couldn't make fire with fatwood, which is waterproof and burns in the rain. Many could not get a fire going after several days, unaware of how to dry tinder inside a jacket.

Still, I think it is an entertaining show and shows the harsh reality of life in a survival situation. I do think it's overzealous that History branded all of them as "survival experts" just because they have Youtube channels. Some of these guys obviously have good skills and are entertaining to watch, but some have padded their resumes a bit, or else History did it for them. Had they not been represented as survival experts, I would say most of them have done a great job so far. 

Maybe History Channel should just remove the "expert" moniker and then the show would better represent itself. I think many people have grown weary of survival shows misrepresenting themselves in this manner. What do you think?

Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Facebook

Friday, 17 February 2017

How to Sleep Well Outside

This post is aimed primarily at those who are getting started with camping, bushcraft etc. and will probably be old hat to most of you.  I won’t be covering hammock camping because I shall be covering that in a later post.

“The matter of a good portable bed is the most serious problem in outfitting. A man can stand almost any hardship by day, and be none the worse for it, provided he gets a comfortable night’s rest; but without sound sleep, he will soon go to pieces, no matter how gritty he may be.” – Horace Kephart

If you have read Horace Kephart’s “Camping and Woodcraft”, you know that he was a very practical and experience-based outdoorsman. Though some of his equipment and methods may be antiquated (he published his most famous book around a century ago, after all), a great amount of useful information can still be gleaned from his writings today, in my opinion, especially if you are fond of older-style gear and ways as I am. Kephart’s statement about sleeping outdoors is as true today as it has ever been, and my own experiences have mirrored this.

After trying an array of different tents, tarps, wool blankets, sleeping bags, browse beds, foam pads, animal fleeces, bivvy bags and combinations thereof in a variety of temperatures and conditions, I have identified the six conditions which I find must be met in order to sleep well:

1. Make sure you don’t get wet, whether it be from rain, snow, ground moisture or perspiration. Make sure your tarp or natural shelter is large enough (and thick enough, in the case of a natural shelter) to provide effective protection against the rain, which can drive sideways in windy conditions. This isn’t much of an issue if you are in a good fully enclosed tent. A plastic sheet or sufficient natural bedding material will separate you from the dampness of the ground if not in a tent. If your bivvy is not breathable, leave it unzipped part or most of the way to allow moisture from perspiration to escape so that it does not soak your sleeping bag.

2. You should be protected from the wind to prevent cold air from displacing the cocoon of warm air around you. Fully enclosed tents do this automatically, but tarps and natural shelters must be positioned so that their open side does not face the prevailing wind. Having a wind-proof bivvy bag makes positioning of the outer shelter less of an issue.

3. The material around you should be thick and insulative enough to provide insulation from the cold air. The colder the air, the thicker and more insulative the material, whether it be man-made or natural materials. It’s a good idea to use sleeping bags rated to lower temperatures than you think you’ll experience, just to be on the safe side. If using natural materials, wool blankets etc., only field testing will tell you if your insulation is warm enough. A proper heating fire can negate the need for material physically surrounding the body if you go that route.

4. The material underneath you should be thick enough to provide insulation from the cold ground. In many cases, a lot more heat can be lost through the ground than through the air, so ground insulation is one of the most crucial elements to keeping warm and sleeping well. If using spruce boughs in cold weather, for example, make your bed thick (30 cm/12 in thick at least). Some materials compress a lot when you lie on them, so be doubly sure you have enough. I have heard that inflatable sleeping pads are not as effective as good foam pads in cold weather, so that’s something else to be aware of.

5. The material underneath you should be thick enough to compensate for the hardness of the ground and any objects in/on it which would otherwise be uncomfortable to sleep on. Sleeping on the ground is a lot different from sleeping in your bed at night. The ground does not adjust to the contours of your body, so it’s your body that has to do the adjusting, including on rocks, sticks and other such annoyances (which, by the way, should be moved away beforehand anyway, if possible). Sufficiently thick bedding increases comfort immeasurably.

6. There should be a layer of protection against creepy-crawlies, mosquitoes etc. at some level if they are out and about. Whether it’s a tent or tarp’s mosquito netting, a smudge fire or mosquito netting stretched over the face area of the bivvy bag (my favourite method), there must be some physical or chemical barrier which prevents annoying insects from preying on you. Forgetting this crucial element in an area swarming with biting bugs can make any sleep, much less good sleep, very difficult.

These things may seem obvious to many of you, but if you are starting from scratch without much guidance, some of them may not be immediately evident. If it seems that I’m being overly thorough, it’s for the sake of completeness. If it seems I’m not being thorough enough, please share what you know!

After (lots of) trial and error, I’ve arrived at the following setup which works well for me (not saying it’s perfect or ideal, just that it works for me):

Shelter: Simple tarp or multi-configuration floorless tent with a plastic ground sheet (Open shelter allows heat from the fire to enter.)

    Outermost sleep system layer: waterproof bivy bag, unzipped to allow moisture to escape.

    Inside the bivvy bag: one or more sleeping bags on top of climate-appropriate sleeping pads/animal fleeces (Having the sleeping pads inside the bivy prevents me from rolling off them, which I often tend to do.)

    In the Summer: mosquito netting stretched over the area of the bivy bag near my face.

    Here are a few other ideas which can help improve the quality of your night out:

    • Placing a bottle full of warm to hot water in your sleeping bag can help keep up the temperature inside.
    • Keeping a clean bottle with a tight-fitting cap (“pee bottle”) inside your sleeping bag can allow men to answer nature’s call without having to leave their sleeping setup (sorry ladies).
    • Drinking a bit of hot tea before bed can help keep you warm for a while after going to sleep.
    • If you wake up a bit cold, “exercise” inside your sleeping bag (sit-ups etc.) to heat yourself and the bag again.
    • If your clothes are not especially dry, change them before going to bed to avoid bringing extra moisture with you into your sleeping bag.
    • Keep extra socks handy in case your feet get chilly overnight. In colder conditions, long underwear, gloves and a balaclava may also be useful.
    • Don’t set up camp in a recessed area, if you can avoid it because it will likely be colder than surrounding areas.

    Thursday, 9 February 2017

    Can Bushcraft Save The Planet?

    I think there is one particular outdoor activity which might be more effective at helping people learn to care for the environment than any other. Could bushcraft be that activity?   

    Environmental Education (EE) as it exists now is a relatively new field, developed as a result of growing concern that the environment was suffering from pollution, deforestation, desertification etc. as a result of human activity. Although the  Schools Councils 1974 Project Environment discussed the difference between education  ABOUT, FROM and FOR the environment, EE was not addressed on a global scale until the Tbilisi conference in 1977. Organised by UNESCO the conference brought together delegates from  66 nations and representatives from UN agencies and NGOs to participate in the world's first intergovernmental conference on environmental education. 

    As a result of this conference, a declaration was adopted, after a unanimous agreement that EE had an important role in the preservation and improvement of the global environment. This declaration included the following goals; 

    • to foster clear awareness of, and concern about, economic, social, political, and ecological interdependence in urban and rural areas;
    • to provide every person with opportunities to acquire the knowledge, values, attitudes, commitment, and skills needed to protect and improve the environment;
    • to create new patterns of behaviour of individuals, groups, and society as a whole towards the environment.

    Traditionally Outdoor Education has included EE among its aims and objectives, although it could be argued that actually most outdoor education does not directly meet the goals of EE instead focusing on the acquisition of technical skills, team building or confidence. But I think there is one particular outdoor activity which might be more effective at delivering the goals of EE than any other. 


    Bushcraft is one of those activities which takes place out of doors which I think has the most potential to allow for the delivery or inclusion of EE. In my opinion, the most important aspect of bushcraft is gaining the knowledge that allows you to practice whether as a hobby or a professional instructor. This knowledge is far more important than the kit you own - whether your knife is a £300 and custom made or a cheaper £15 model. 

    Practising bushcraft pulls you right into the environment, it can't be carried out in an artificial setting, it can't be separated from the environment and in fact, you could say it is symbiotic with it. Think of the skills that you use to sustainably harvest resources from the woods, coppicing for example. Coppicing has been carried out in the British Isles for hundreds, if not thousands of years and maintains many broadleaved woodlands which exist in the state we see them in today. 

    If you are coppicing for shelter poles, material for

    construction projects, walking sticks, stocks of firewood to be dried for later in the year or material for carving and whittling you are using your knowledge of when to cut to encourage regrowth, how to cut to prevent or reduce the chance of disease, which species are suitable for coppicing and for your desired use. Also, whether or not you realise it or not, you are actually creating a niche habitat in a woodland.  You are demonstrating a greater understanding of your local environment than most people (as long as you are carrying out your bushcrafting responsibly and sensitively in places where you have permission). But I also feel strongly that although involvement with the natural environment, outdoors, can promote an appreciation of the environment, this is by no means automatic nor, if it does occur, does it always extend to the environment as a whole but possibly only to a very limited area where a person feels they have responsibility or a vested interest. So as a bushcrafter do you only have a vested interest in that small piece of the 'environment' where you have permission to practice? 

    I would argue that as bushcraft is such a broad topic which draws on the knowledge and skills of first nations and traditional skills from all over the globe, bushcrafters are in an excellent position to broaden our own minds and the minds of those we teach as to issues beyond our normal stomping grounds. In fact, the following quote sums up a lot of my reasoning as to why bushcraft could be so valuable in EE;

    “Within the context of their own lifestyles indigenous peoples have been practising ‘environmental education’ for thousands of years.” (S. Sterling, Sustainable Education,  2001).

    So much of what we practice is based on these skills because quite simply indigenous people relied ENTIRELY on their environment for their subsistence and over-hunting, over-fishing, pollution of water sources, the decimation of woodlands or other habitats due to fire, natural disaster or exploitation could literally cost them their lives. However they chose to teach the next generation to respect their environment, it was effective. The Tukano Indians of South America believed in a 'Master of Animals' who would punish them for over hunting. The Australian Aboriginal cultures tell stories of 'Dreamtime' or the creation which teaches lessons about how to live. Every other culture has its unique traditions and beliefs which govern how they live and how they interact with their environments. As bushcrafters, we have a responsibility, and a better opportunity than many to deliver engaging activities outdoors which bring people into direct contact with the environment on a level which means they have to think about how to care for that environment. 

    We need to rekindle that indigenous knowledge and pass it on as there aren’t many people now who seek as close a relationship with the natural environment as we enjoy.      

    Monday, 6 February 2017

    3 Handy Tips for Ferrocerium Rods

    Ferrocerium rods are a favourite fire starter among many outdoor and survival enthusiasts. Ferrocerium is a man-made metallic material that produces sparks in excess of 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit when it’s scraped with a rough surface or a sharp edge. The ferrocerium recipe varies by manufacturer, but it’s generally 50 percent cerium, 25 percent lanthanum, and 19 percent iron, with small amounts of praseodymium, neodymium, and magnesium. The most common use of this material is as the flint in cigarette lighters. And while a butane lighter may work best in most fire-starting situations, a “Ferro rod” makes a great back-up. Here are three things to keep in mind when using a Ferro rod to start a fire.

    Pick The Best Tinder: It might seem odd to use natural plant fuzz as tinder, but it is truly one of your best choices for getting a flame started, and works as well as cotton balls or dryer lint. These fibrous and fluffy materials of botanical origin are the perfect fuel to allow the sparks to “stick” and begin burning. Cattail seed down, goldenrod fluff, and milkweed down are among my favourites to use. Just collect a little bit when it’s dry, and store it in a water-tight container for use in fire starting.

    Move The Rod, Not The Scraper: Rather than pushing the scraper against the rod toward your tinder, pull the rod across the scraper toward yourself. You’ll still provide a hot shower of sparks, but avoid knocking your tinder all over the place with your follow-through.

    In The Deep Cold: Can’t get your butane lighter to work at 10F? That’s because butane will begin to gel once temperatures get into the teens. If the butane gels, you may be able to warm it up by placing it inside your clothing for a while. Or you could just move to your ferrocerium rod, which is unaffected by temperature extremes, and even works when wet.

    How do you use your Ferro rods? Let me know your method by leaving a comment.

    Wednesday, 1 February 2017

    How to Make Your Own Primitive Fish Hooks

    Gorge hooks may well be the oldest style of fish hooks on earth. They can be made from a wide range of materials and they can be surprisingly effective, though they are not suitable for catch-and-release. But that's okay: We're going to talk about them as a survival tool, so throwing back fish would be counter-productive.

    The function of these hooks is pretty straightforward. Your goal is to entice the fish to swallow a pointed object that will lodge in the soft tissues of its stomach or oesophagus, allowing you to land the fish. Bait is usually involved, but the technique is different from those employed in modern fishing. When a fish nibbles at the gorge hook, give outline and wait. This is very contrary to the quick tug most of us are used to when setting our standard fish hooks. With the gorge you give out 10 to 15 feet of line, wait 30 seconds, and then gently retrieve the line (and hopefully the fish). Use a net (or a basket tied to a stick) to lift the fish from the water. It might throw the hook if you try to lift it without the aid of a net. Tear the gorge free, re-bait if necessary, and cast it out again.

    Here are three different styles of gorge hooks, all of which can be fished in the same manner.

    Single-Point Hook

    The simplest style. Hawthorn, honey locust, hardy orange, and many other trees and shrubs have thorns that are sharp and ready to go without modification. Broken bone shards and wood splinters with a single point can be used, too. Tie your fishing line to the blunt end of the gorge, and insert the hook into a chunk of meat or a fat grub. Position the gorge so that it makes a "V" shape with the fishing line. This positioning enables it to act like a hook. Inch-long thorns are usually the right size for trout and panfish.

    Double-Point Hook

    This style of gorge is often made from bone shards that are sharp on both ends. Tie the fishing line in the centre of the gorge, like a toggle. Insert the gorge into the bait so that it is parallel to the fishing line. The "V" shape will either hook into the fish's innards, or the hook will turn perpendicular to the fishing line and hang up that way. A two-inch gorge like this can land fish up to five pounds.

    Composite Hook

    The composite hook is the closest match to a modern fishing hook. It comprises a sturdy yet thin shank of wood or bone and a thorn or bone shard to create the "V" shape and provide the point. Since damp wood, thorns, and bone aren't sharp enough to pierce through jaws and scales, the composite hook needs to be swallowed like the other gorge hooks. A one-inch barb on a two -inch shank can catch fish up to 10 pounds.