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Messages - kinguq

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Winter Camping Clothing / Re: Down--Did the Natives Use It?
« on: January 19, 2010, 06:33:41 PM »
The Inuit on the Belcher Islands did not have ready access to caribou for much of the time and they made clothing out of eider duck skins. However I don't know if they used loose down.

The Vikings, or middle age Scandinavians, kept eiders as semi-domesticated animals, building houses for them and collecting their shed down and feathers. These were used in pillows and quilts, and the down was apparently a very valuable trade item.

I think using materials like down and cattail fluff is difficult unless you can effectively contain it, which requires tightly woven materials that native Americans did not have access to.


General Winter Camping Discussion / Re: Making my sled slide
« on: January 18, 2010, 04:46:48 PM »
Another option might be to pick up an old pair of XC or downhill skis at a used stuff store and fasten them to the bottom. I did this on a pulk I made and it seems to work well enough. You can pick up old skis for almost nothing around here.


Other Homemade Gear / Re: very small wood stove built for $0
« on: January 15, 2010, 12:08:19 PM »
That is very cool. I make folding fireboxes out of these cans- they last a couple of years. Sometimes the solder joints give out so watch for that.


Winter Camping Clothing / Re: Winter Boots- what do you use
« on: January 15, 2010, 09:02:21 AM »
OK, this is going to sound like a travesty, but here it goes...

I did my graduate work on marine biology at Resolute Bay in what is now Nunavut. We would be out on the ice there in mid-winter, travelling all day by snowmobile, drilling holes in the ice (which tends to give you wet feet if you are not careful), taking samples, shovelling, setting up camps and all kinds of other tasks.

Needless to say it was cold, in the minus 30's much of the time.

We had limited funding, and my supervisor, an old Arctic hand, had particular ideas about boots that he had adapted from the locals. We were told to buy cheap snow-pac boots, the kind with rubber bottoms and leather tops that you could pick up from Can Tire for 20 bucks, about 4 sizes too big for our feet. We were then given some patterns, some wool duffel material and some thread, and told to get to work. Typically we would make 2 pairs of duffel socks, one with a high top, and one just a low slipper that fit over the inner one. We would wear heavy wool socks inside these.

So, the boot system would be the outer boot, the felt liner that came with the boot, two duffel socks, plus a couple of pairs of inner socks. The total cost would be less than $50 all up, not including of course the labour of making the duffels. But that was fun to learn although nowadays I make them using a sewing machine.

I can honestly say that in 3 years of work on the sea ice I never once had seriously cold feet.

I later moved to Iqaluit where I lived for 12 years. There I used the Forces Chimo type boots with the double wool duffel liner. But again I got them a couple of sizes too big so I could put at least one pair of duffel socks inside. I am very afraid of cold feet, you see.

What I am trying to get at here is that it is possible to adapt quite inexpensive equipment to other uses, with a little ingenuity. I was inspired by the previous post to point this out, seeing a $500 pair of boots (half price!). It is possible to do things much more economically if you are willing to put in some time to modify, make and adapt. You don't see native hunters wearing $500 boots! I could say the same about mittens, parkas, anoraks and lots of other items but I'll save that for another time.

Stay warm,


It is very easy to make these liners out of wool duffel or fleece if you have access to a sewing machine- takes all of half an hour to make a pair. I use the patterns here

But I guess that doesn't do you a lot of good.

When I was up north I used to hand sew duffel socks and have a number of patterns for that too. They have the advantage of being butt-seamed so there is no bulky seam. But I hate hand sewing...

The Norwegian harja listed are outrageously expensive but that is the norm for Norway.

You might look around in specialty shops for a suitable pair of slippers. You could easily sew on a higher top if desired.



General Winter Camping Discussion / Re: Greetings from snowy UK!
« on: January 13, 2010, 09:15:14 AM »

You might want to look around at used clothing stores which sometimes have heavy woolen dress pants. I sometimes buy these and modify them appropriately for skiing. Very stylish too!

Above the treeline at Bardufoss (and the treeline is very low at this latitude, probably less than 1000 ft) you definitely need good shell clothing. Lots of Norwegian skiiers use goretex but I don't like it in cold weather because of condensation. Cotton or polycotton is better. But then you do need an extra waterproof layer in case of rain!

This is tough country with very unstable weather conditions. But beautiful. Enjoy.


General Winter Camping Discussion / Re: Greetings from snowy UK!
« on: January 12, 2010, 11:09:27 AM »
Have fun. Bardufoss is a beautiful area, but they have been getting warm and rainy weather there too for the past few days. Not unusual for Norway, even north of the Arctic Circle. This area is a bit inland however and does tend to be somewhat cooler than the coast. But be prepared for anything, from deep cold to rain.


Winter Camping Clothing / Re: Inuit made anoraks
« on: January 11, 2010, 04:46:52 PM »
This thread has inspired me to start sewing again. This weekend I cut up a duffel anorak I made over 20 years ago and made 2 pairs of mitts. Should get a pair of duffel socks out of it too. A shame to cut it up but I never wear it and it was just gathering dust.

 I also used the hood to line my skiing anorak. It has a nice fur ruff. The liner is just pinned in with safety pins and so is removable so I can wash the anorak.


My first love is skiing but I have to admit that in the type of country I live in now snowshoes are superior for some purposes.

Here the forest can be very dense, with a lot of downed trees. Also sharp hilly terrain. Small hills but steep. Skis are nearly hopeless in this type of terrain. Snowshoeing is tough too but at least can be done, most of the time.

Skiing is good for the canoe routes, which are mostly on lakes with portages between them. Slush on the lakes is a problem but it is for snowshoeing too.


Other Homemade Gear / Re: What about a tipi?
« on: January 08, 2010, 08:52:03 AM »
Well, I have used canvas wall tents, and I have used my conical lavvu. The lavvu is better in most but not all ways.

It is easy to set up because it is so simple. I have not had the pegging difficulties Hoop mentions but I have big aluminum snow pegs. I just pack down the snow, wait a while for it to scinter, then set up. Also my lavvu has an ample snow flap so that can be used to guy it out. Also it has many guyline points to make it more stable if necessary.

I find the cone shape to be efficient for heating. While it is high, the volume up high is quite low. So I find that it heats up well for a person sitting, standing or lying down. I also find that the shape sheds snow so well that I have no need for a tarp, which seems to be the norm for canvas wall tents in snow country.

I use a 3 inch chimney out the top with no spark arrester, and I have never had a spark hole. The smoke does not have to travel far to be well away from the tent. I have had one when using an open fire in the tent, not surprisingly.

I agree that it is not as space efficient as a rectangular tent, because people lying down are basically rectangular. However the lavvu is quite a bit lighter so one can bring a larger tent. I also find the conical shape to be much better looking and somehow more "natural" than the wall tent, certainly a matter of taste I realize.

Snowwalker, the Vennor is a very good product and very well made. However there is one very good Swedish brand, I think called Moskoselkatan, but now Tentipi. They had the internal adjustable smokehat which I found fascinating but a bit too complicated for my taste. But they are very expensive...


Winter Camping Clothing / Re: Inuit made anoraks
« on: January 07, 2010, 12:26:19 PM »

Ja, jag är svensk, boende  i Jämtland ("Yes, I'm Swedish, living in Jämtland" for those following at home).

Jeg bodde i Tromso i atte aar. Fin turterreng der! Jeg har gjort en klassisk skitur fra Kilpisjarvi i Finland til Abisko i Sverige 2 ganger!. (I lived in Tromso for 8 years. Great touring country there! I have done a ski tour from Kilpisjarvi in Finland to Abisko in Sweden 2 times. OK I'll stop doing this now. It's just so much fun to use my Norwegian once in a while!)

I guess I have seen a rya, in fact it seems I have one being used as a wall hanging right now!

I know exactly what you mean about having a warm jacket for tea breaks etc. Sometimes I bring along the hunting parka I showed earlier in this thread for that purpose. It is great to be able to take a prolonged lunch break and not get cold.

When I was doing long multiday ski tours in Norway I used to bring a very large fleece jacket and a waterproof rain jacket. On breaks I would put on the fleece and the rain jacket right over top of my anorak. This was quite warm and windproof, and easy because you did not have to take off your outer layer to put on extra layers. I hate doing that because you get chilled right away, before you even start your tea break.

As to skin clothing, I once made a pair of caribou skin pants under the tutelage of 2 lovely Inuit women. We started from the raw bloody skin, went through the washing, softening and drying processes, right to the finished pants. It was fun but too much work for me. Also they don't actually tan the skins, so they are prone to rot if they are not kept in a cool place. Normally I think they would make a new pair every year, so this was not such an issue. They always use fall skins, as that is after the moult and the hair is not too thick. Winter skins are just too thick and stiff.

Another option is sheepskin. I have seen some beautiful warm clothing made from that. Might be more available to you. Although it was easy to pick up reindeer skins fairly cheaply in north Norway, if you went right to the source in Sami country at the right time of year. Most of them were discarded after butchering.

Good luck with your projects, let us know how it goes!


Winter Camping Clothing / Re: Inuit made anoraks
« on: January 06, 2010, 05:39:27 PM »
Er du Svensk da? Jeg bodde en period i Norge men kan ikke svensk, dessverre.

I have to recommend polarfleece and/or thinsulate, these are the warmest and easiest to sew materials I have used. I do not enjoy hand sewing however. I have never run across a rya, looks interesting.

Med vennlig hilsen,


Winter Camping Clothing / Cattail fluff
« on: January 04, 2010, 09:14:00 PM »
So I was looking at all those dried cattail heads in the swamp, thinking what great insulation they might make. When you pull them apart they seem just like down.

So I looked it up on the old interweb and of course I am not the first to whom this idea has occurred. Cattail fluff has been widely used as insulation, for baby diapers and many other uses I guess. It was used for stuffing life preservers during WW2!

I have an older parka I got about 10 years back, insulated with some synthetic, probably thinsulate or something. In any case whatever it is no longer does the trick, so either the parka goes or it had to be "improved". With not much to lose, I decided to try to improve it.

I went to the local swamp and picked up some cattail heads in a bag. It is very easy to get as many as you could possibly want. I took them home and stripped off the fluff while they were still in the bag. This is a potentially messy job as they are very hard to handle. The stuff is springy and tends to fly away, just like down. But it is just amazing how light and fluffy it really is.

The jacket has a liner sewn in channels, so I slit the channels and started stuffing in the fluff. This is hard to do without some escapage so it is best done outdoors if possible. I then patched the slits with adhesive tape, this being just an experiment.

The difference is amazing and the parka is now much warmer than it was. I have no idea how long this stuff will last or whether it would stand up to repeated compressions. But it certainly is a fine insulator.

I have been thinking of ways it could be used in an emergency. The main problem is to keep it contained somehow. One could stuff it between two shirts to make an insulated jacket of a sort. Or maybe one could make a sleeping quilt of a sort by containing it between layers of spruce boughs. In any case it is something to keep in mind should the need arise.

Also make good tinder, and probably a good pillow if stuffed in a spare bag.


Winter Camping Clothing / Re: Inuit made anoraks
« on: December 24, 2009, 12:09:32 PM »
Well I am not an Inuk but here are a couple of the parkas I have made over the years.

This one was made for my son when he was about 5 or 6. Insulation is 2 layers of polarfleece, outer is Commander, lined with slippery nylon. Also a reflective strip. Trim is coyote. I have no use for this now but I can't bear to part with it. My son was so cute in it.

This was my hunting parka. Inner is a layer of polarfleece and a layer of thinsulate. Outer is Commander I think. Has an internal drawstring sash. Trim is coyote. This is the warmest parka I have ever used.

Finally, I didn't make this, but it is my wife's gorgeous sealskin anorak. Young ringed seal, lined with a light stroud, white fox trim. This is just a beautiful coat. She wears it all winter long in North Bay and it gets a lot of comments, always positive.

Happy Christmas to all, good trekking.


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