When planning and developing an Outdoor Learning program and space, there are lots of things to think about and monitor. If the tools and equipment that you are using are of a good standard, then it allows you to focus more of your energy on the important things, like facilitating learning. It can be quite a minefield out there. We’ve put together a few recommendations below. Happy shopping!
Important note: If you have to put your purchases through a purchasing department, be sure to specify exactly what you want. People in the money department sometimes like to save funds by ordering cheaper options or different colours. There is a whole world of sub-standard rubbish out there which is just not worth it. As the old saying goes: buy cheap, buy twice. If you have the luxury, be specific.
Our current knife of choice is the Hultafors Safety Knife SK. It has an 88mm fixed blade with a rounded end. No moving parts means there’s less to go wrong and, more importantly, less to absent-mindedly fiddle with. According to Hultafors.com, the knife has been “developed and adapted to avoid sticking injuries”. Translated: it’s a little bit harder to accidentally put it through your hand. Having said that, a knife is a knife and the cutting edge is, and should be, sharp! A nice little feature with this knife is the satisfying “click” that tells you the knife is securely in its sheath.
Flint & Steel
The only flint and steel of choice for us is the Light My Fire Swedeish Fire Steel 2.0 Army. There is a huge amount of sub-standard flint and steels in production that just cannot stand up to the use and abuse of an Outdoor Learning setting. The moulded plastic sections help learners to put their thumbs in the right place, thus improving their fire lighting technique and hopefully succeeding faster! Along with the promise of 12000 strikes, our flint and steels provide very little drama and make us very happy. Unlike the photo above, these flint and steels come in a wonderful, hard-to-lose, bright orange colour. We fell foul of our purchasing lady going for the slightly cheaper, black version and the bit of orange paracord that you can see in the picture is our attempt to not lose them all. Remember: specify exactly what you want.
Light My Fire also make their Scout version. The quality is the same standard but the difference is that you only get 3000 strikes, compared to the 12000 strikes of the Army. If you have an enthusiastic parent that gets in touch for a Christmas present recommendation, the Scout is perfect.
Other options: If you know of any that can compete with Light my Fire, let us know and we’ll update this section!
Tarps for Shelters
Google defines tarpaulin as “heavy-duty waterproof cloth, originally of tarred canvas”. When it comes to shelter building with tarps and ropes in your Outdoor Learning space, tarred canvas might be a bit much. Luckily there are a range of other options out there. A quick search on Amazon will find you things like this and this. Alternatively, head down to your local DIY store and look in either the outdoor furniture section or the builders section. You might pay a little more if you want to go for reinforced connection points.
We are using DD Hammock tarps. Although pricey, the range of reinforced connection points and high quality material are proving to last much longer than their cheaper, plastic relatives. If you have restricted budget, go cheaper and get some of these next year.
Knot tying? Shelter building? Measurement? Whatever your planning, having a bit of rope around the place is useful. A variety of lengths are a good choice. We have some 3m and 4m lengths. Two different options are:
Polypropylene Rope: quick, cheap and easy. IKEA sell it and you can get it from your local DIY store or Amazon.
Climbing rope: a retired climbing rope is nice if you can get one. A new climbing rope is nice if you have the funds. Easier on the hands, has a little stretch and available in a variety of colours. Last year, we cut some yellow climbing rope into 3m lengths and blue into 4m.
Important note: when cutting rope into lengths, please… please… please… either use a hot knife or have a lighter on hand to seal the ends as you cut them. Nobody needs fraying ropes. You can tell a lot about a person by observing how they care for their rope. Don’t be that person.
- Bow Saw
- Kelly Kettle
Feel free to contact us if you have any further specific questions.