High Range Outdoors SR20V2

 

“The SR20 is well suited to a range of uses from a day pack to assault pack, lightweight overnighter to a bushcraft workhorse” High Range Outdoors.

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Standard pack, perfect as a daypack

High range outdoors is an Australian Company making quality, tested well thought out equipment. Jump on their website to have a look at some of there other gear. Another point to make is their customer service being second to none. When I had questions about the SR20V2 prior to purchase they rang me on more than one occasion to discuss what I was after and ensure I was getting exactly what I wanted installing me in great confidence about what they made and what they were about.

 

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Comfortable Straps, utilises an internal plastic sheet frame

Some of its features:

Hard wearing 500D Cordura Milspec

Molle webbing on sides and front

Adjustable shoulder straps

Full-length side sleeve pockets

Internal hydration sleeve

Double layer base

Removable compression straps

Bottom attachment loops

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Roll top closure

With all that molle the customising possibilities are endless. I originally purchased two additional side pouches for more carrying capacity and can easily hold 1L canteens with nesting cups plus extra gear. Recently adding 2 of the Quick pouch cargo 8 DP’s to my arsenal for even more carrying capacity during the colder months. These pouches have a quick clip system and can be speedily detached in the field and turned into a small daypack for scouting around camp. Utilising either of these pouch setups or a combination of both allow for many different carrying systems/volumes catering to many different carrying scenarios. Or just use the pack solely on its own as a daypack!

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SR20V2 with side pouches fitted. Note these are not the Quick pouch cargo 8 DP’s

To say I am happy with my SR20V2 is an understatement. It is great to see some Australian made equipment that is well and truly worth the investment. High range outdoors is in the process of designing some new gear, which I am hanging out to see.

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If you want to know more jump onto highrangeoutdoors.com.au and have a look at all their products. They also have a lot of instructional videos on their YouTube channel high range outdoors describing many of their products and their features.

Get out there,

Mat

Snake Bite Management Kit

If you venture into the Australian bush during the warmer months of the year chances are you will eventually encounter a snake. Now don’t get me wrong I am not a passionate snake lover but I certainly don’t let the possibility of meeting one deter me from getting out doors, respecting them and accepting the fact you are in their environment is the best thing you can do.

Kit

Australia is home to many different types of snakes, some venomous and some not, but the risk of being bitten is very low. In 7 years of bushwalking in various parts of Australia I have come across about 8 snakes and not one has become aggressive towards me. Most of the time they are gone before I have even had time to identify them. That being said one thing that is always in my pack is a good quality snake bite kit. After purchasing a couple of kits I was very disappointed in the quality of items they contained and they did not install me with a lot of confidence. I then came across a kit from the guys at Next72hours.

The kit is assembled in Australia using specifically chosen quality components and has been well thought out. It comes vacuumed sealed so is completely waterproof, makes it more compact and as long as it is sealed you know all the contents are there. The kit is based around the pressure immobilisation bandage technique so is suitable for snakebites, and stings and bites from: the Cone Shell, the Blue Ringed Octopus and the Funnel Web Spider.  Obviously knowing how to use this kit properly is very important, I would recommend anybody travelling to remote areas be trained in first aid, or at the very least research information regarding the treatment of snakebites.

KitContents

Contents of the Kit

1 Pair Latex Gloves

1 Packet Sterile Gauze Squares

1 Permanent Marker

3 x 10cm Compression Bandages

1 Triangular Bandage

1 S.O.L.A.S Approved Rescue Whistle

1 Comprehensive Instruction Pamphlet

1 User Friendly Patient Notes Card

I highly recommend this kit for anyone interested in the outdoors, I keep one in my 4WD and have another ready to pack on any adventure be it a short day hike or multi day trek.

http://www.next72hours.com

Cheers, Mat

A Weekend Swimming

With the mercury forecast into the 40’s we felt it necessary to head north and be near some water. Due to some life admin we weren’t underway till the early afternoon (in the peak of the heat). Now as much of an off road weapon Bone’s is she does fall short in the comfort department on an extremely hot summers day, so an impromptu swim in Lake Eildon was very welcomed before we climbed back into the sauna and continued on.

After passing through Mansfield we decided not to head north and up through Whitfield and Cheshunt but instead to head east then north through State Forest. We didn’t know it yet but this was a perfect decision as getting of the blacktop and into the bush we noticed a significant drop in the temperature.

Hilux

Bones

After airing down at the beginning of Buttercup Jeep Track we climbed the loose rocky track to Bald Hill. As we were travelling on our own I make sure I take the time to air down my tyres as although the track conditions were good it is a lot easier to not get stuck than to have to air down in an unsafe position. It also looks after the track and does wonders for the comfort level in a leaf sprung Hilux.

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Lake William Hovell

From Bald Hill we headed north along Cambatong Spur then on to Evans Creek track which lead us all the way to the beautiful site of Lake William Hovell. Lake William Hovell takes its name from Australian explorer William Hovell, who trekked through the region in 1824. Construction of the reservoir was completed in 1973. After another much needed refreshing swim we drove up river to find a campsite.

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King River

About 4 or 5km up river we found a great spot right next to the King River and decided to call it a day and setup camp. A short 50m walk further upstream led us to an amazing waterhole and you guessed our final and nicest cool off for the day, before settling down to a relaxing evening in a near perfect camp spot.

 

HiluxCamp

Bones, Southern cross swag, King River

Our morning started with a return to the waterhole for a wakeup swim followed by some breakfast and a bit of camp chill time. We were looking at another high thirties day and it was warming up fast. With camp packed away we headed back to Lake William Hovell and found another delightful place to swim, before we drove north through the King Valley and beside the King River to Cheshunt.

SwimmingHole

King River, Waterhole at camp

From Cheshunt we decided to go south and visit Paradise Falls. To the carpark of Paradise Falls is about a 20 minute drive along a well maintained gravel road. There is a 500m walk down to the falls on a very good trail consisting mainly of stairs. The falls do not flow all year round and while we were there in January it was barely a trickle coming over. Some may have been disappointed but we loved it as we were able to lay back and watch the slight breeze deform the waterfall causing the small lizards and other insects move hastily to keep themselves on the cool wet stones below. I feel seeing it in both states being just a trickle and in full flood have different beauties to offer and we will return towards the end of spring to hopefully witness the other.

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Lake William Hovell

It was now early afternoon and time to start heading back home. This time we drove to Whitfield and headed back towards Mansfield. This is an amazingly scenic drive winding through hills and forest. As we were close to home we made one final stop to swim at meeting of the waters in Buxton. Victoria is spoilt for choice with freshwater swimming options although some are a little further away they are definitely worth the effort and it’s a great excuse for a quick overnighter especially on these really hot summer weekends.

 

Take care, Mat

La La Falls

As the weather cleared and the sun came out after a few average days with scattered rain we headed out for a short daywalk into the Yarra State Forest. Our destination was La La Falls.

Falls

TreeMoss

La La Falls was named after past landowner Leila Ward, whose guesthouse, ‘La La’ (meaning Welcome Welcome), was located in the area. This picturesque 3.2km return hike takes you through tall mountain ash forest and lush ferny undergrowth with the gentle sound of Four Mile Creek flowing beside you all the way to the falls.  Distance to Melbourne city 92km, the closest town is Warburton.

Trail

The trail is compacted gravel and easy to follow and suitable for all fitness levels though there are a few steep sections that can get slippery so take care.

BigTree

Mat

La La Falls is a lovely short hike through some beautiful forest, I recommend it for anyone after a nice easy walk fit for the whole family.

Take care, Mat

Ritchie’s Hut Overnighter

‘My reason for building this hut is for the purpose of fishing.’ Bob Ritchie 1947

Ritchie’s Hut is a perfect introduction to overnight hiking or can be completed in a day walk, 6km one way or a 12km return. It is a beautiful walk situated in the Alpine National Park, which follows the Howqua River. The walk begins from 7 or 8 mile flat camping area, about 49km from Mansfield. There is a high and low track. The low track contains approximately 14 river crossings and dependant on the weather is sometimes impassable.

Hut

Ritchie’s Hut is located at the junction of 14 mile creek and the Howqua River. The original hut was built in the 1940’s by the Ritchie family and Fred Fry but was destroyed by the 2006/2007 Great Divide fires. The hut was rebuilt in 2008/2009. The hut has a large fireplace with a table and benches to roll out a sleeping bag, or there is plenty of room outside to pitch a tent.

Mat

Our hike began from 7 mile camp. We chose to walk in on the high track and out on the low track. Our reasoning was that way we would not have the possibility of having wet footwear at the start of the second day. It took us 2.5 – 3 hours to get to the hut. We left our vehicle at 1pm and it was a 30-degree day so it was rather warm. We only carried 1L of water and a Sawyer filter as you are close to the river, although on the high track you don’t have access to the Howqua there are a couple of feeder creeks making there way down which were perfect spots to top up containers. The upper track is a combination of grassy slopes and cool tree covered gullies, which can be a nice relief from the intense sun on a hot day.

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Arriving at the hut we set up camp and headed down to the river for a swim, the Howqua is fed by alpine streams and melting snow so it is always fresh even on a hot summers day.

RiverCoffee

Leaving in the morning we followed the signs for the low track and got our feet wet. This track took us a little longer with all the crossings but when you are somewhere as beautiful as here why rush. Depending how brave you are there are multiple water holes to swim in the crystal clear waters of the Howqua on the way out.

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Matriver

Ritchie’s Hut is an amazing place to visit. We were lucky enough to have had the hut to ourselves on both occasions we have visited.

Thanks for reading, Mat

Outback Survival Bob Cooper

WebReadyOutbackSurvival

“The only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain” Bob Cooper

Hopefully I never find myself in a survival situation.  Any form of outdoor adventure can carry some form of danger or potential for things to go wrong.  Being prepared could be the difference between life or death and anything you know no matter how small could be that difference.

A lot of my adventures in Australia see me exploring alone.  I always carry a First Aid Kit, a separate Snake Bite Kit and a PLB (personal locator beacon).  When I was researching information on survival situations most of what I found was based over seas mainly in America.  That led me to Bob Coopers book titled Outback Survival.  Bob Cooper is one of Australia’s leading survival experts, he has written an excellent book which covers; survival kits, finding water and shelter, bush tucker, snakes and spiders, dealing with fear and more.

Part 1: My Story is the beginning of the book and has some great stories on Bob’s experiences with survival situations and SAS training and I found it a very interesting read.  Bob is definitely a very talented man and has some great experience in the outback.  Part2: Outback survival goes on to cover all the different areas of survival including; Control, The Big 5, Dehydration, Finding water, Fire, Shelter, Distress Signals, Navigation, Snake bites and stings and much more.

Outback Survival by Bob Cooper contains a lot of hugely valuable information all relevant to Australia and I think anybody venturing into the wilderness should have some knowledge of survival situations and what to do in the event of.  I highly recommend this book for all persons that venture outdoors as a refresher or as new knowledge as I feel it is invaluable to be prepared for any situation that may arise.  Outback Survival is well written and easy to read, Bob Cooper has done an amazing job.

Thanks for reading

Mat

Bones the Hilux

Hilux1

The early days, just after purchase August 2015

 

I thought I would take a moment to introduce to you Bones, my trusty Hilux. We’ve only been together for a couple of years but have shared some good times and she is yet to let me down, no surprises there it’s a Hilux. Bones is a 1993 2.8L diesel single cab Hilux, solid axles front and rear with leaf springs all round. I have owned three different generations of Hilux and to many peoples surprise this would be my favourite. I gave up comfort and power for simple mechanical reliability, not to mention saving a few pennies while I was at it.

Hilux2

Aluminium tray, Suspension and tyres fitted.  Canopy in the background on my old new ute!

 

This vehicle is built as a weekend tourer with the capability of longer trips with some slight changes. One of my main aims is to have a comfortable, ready to go, easy to setup vehicle to maximise outdoor opportunities. I find if everything is well organised you are more likely to head away on short notice as packing and unpacking is not so much of a chore.

Below is a list of current mods, including some brief descriptions about them and why I chose them. I will also add a future plans list because lets face it who has ever seen a finished perfect 4WD.

Hilux5

Bones’s current state

 

Suspension

As with most utes comfort is not there strong point from the factory, I learnt early on with my first Hilux a good suspension setup changes a vehicle drastically. I fitted a 50mm lift, using Dobinsons leaf springs and Bilstein shocks. I also fitted an adjustable torque rod and a dropped drag link, these were recommended to me to bring some correct geometry back to the front end. The bilstein/dobinson combo gives a superior ride over stock with good flex off-road. Caloffroad in NSW supplied the kit, this is the second kit I have bought from Cal and both times he has gone out of his way to answer any questions and make sure he supplies exactly what I am after.

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Testing the new suspension setup, South coast of WA

 

Wheels and Tyres

31×10.5R15 Mickey Thompson ATZ P3

15×8 -22 King Steel wheels in Black

These are the same wheels and tyres I ran on my last Hilux, be it a different size. I could not fault them, a lot of sand driving and a 10000km Kimberley trip and not one problem. I went with 31” tyres as I did not want to rob anymore of the Hilux’s power, it also places less stress on the drivetrain and does not require any mods.

 

12V System

The 12V system is simple yet works. I run two 12V batteries. A start battery located in original position under the bonnet and a second 100 amp hour deep cycle battery located in the canopy. The charging of the second battery is done via a REDARC BCDC1225 controller, which I would highly recommend. These units boost the rate of charge so your batteries are charged properly and also overcome any voltage drop from using long cables. There is also a provision to run a solar input, which is on my list of things to do. I find that this setup is good for one night maybe two without moving but anymore and it would require a drive/running the engine or solar input. There is also a 1000W inverter and a hard-wired CTEK MXS15 charger so I can plug into mains power at home or in campgrounds to top up as needed.

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The kitchen/living side of the canopy

 

Hilux7

The storage side of the canopy

 

Other Mods

Steel framed aluminium cladded canopy (home built)

Rhino Rack sunseeker awning

Rhino Rack pioneer platform rack

Snorkel (EBay)

Runva 11000LB winch

ARB Bullbar

Narva Ultima 175 halogen driving lights

GME TX3100 UHF

For navigation I use an iPad running a combination of Hema maps and Memory maps

 

Future Plans

Turbo Kit (obvious for anyone with experience with a 2.8!)

More fuel and water storage (custom tanks or Jerry space)

Canopy Layout change

Front and Rear Diff Lockers (because everyone wants lockers)

Solar panels

 

That is about all I can think of for now; I will go into more detail on some of the areas above in separate articles/reviews as time goes on. As many of you will understand it seems as I cross one mod off the to do list another two are added! In the meantime Bones isn’t perfect nor complete but we will still be getting out and enjoying the great outdoors as much as possible. Thanks for reading, if you would like any further details on anything above feel to let me know in the comments.