The Bee Diaries – Part 12 -New Bees Please

bee dairies logoIn Part 11 we alluded to the fact that the colony may be in trouble as we found that the queen had died over winter, the colony, as we dreaded, eventually died off as there was nothing that we could have done, the queen hadn’t been replaced naturally, so with no laying queen there was no new bees. It took a few months but eventually all activity ceased just before Spring sprung.

Getting in touch with the local Bee community brought new contacts, keeping a close eye on swarming I offered my services as a novice to go out on any swarm captures that may take place and hopefully be able to bag myself a new colony.

20160527_201933828_iOSI was called out to meet a pest controller who had been called out due to kids setting fire to a swarm, when I arrived over half lay burnt and dying on the floor (clearly no parental discipline or education in schools).

I rescued what I could but the queen I am guessing was already killed. 20160606_045403765_iOS



Some weeks later a captured swarm from one of the members of the group was offered and I gladly snapped them up. We amalgamated what was left of the rescued bees and settled them into the hive. The next morning they were grouped on the outside of the hive, at this point they are likely to abscond so I collected them up back into the hive and provided a syrup feed. That was two weeks ago, since then I have left them alone and so far there has been little external hive activity. Fingers crossed when I open up this weekend they will still be there!

The plan is to expand to two hives to ensure a complete loss is not going to happen in the future.

Stay tuned to see how the new bees are progressing.



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Wild Camping – The Climb and Camp

It’s always good to get out and test your equipment, and last week I had chance to try out mine in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK, Snowdonia.

The original plan was for a group of us to first climb Mount Snowdon via the Rhyd Ddu path (click here for an animated walk through) returning down the same route, then to find somewhere to wild camp preferably after trekking up through Beddgelert Forest to Moel Hebogg. We had a few drop out so in the end it was just two of us!

On the day

Having checked the Snowdonia weather via the Met Office and after an early start to get to Snowdonia, we set off up the Rhyd Ddu path.IMG_3292

The weather was bright, a bit cloudy to slightly overcast, with a forecast chance of rain in the afternoon, the recommendation was for winter clothing towards the top of the mountain.

With the return trip planned back down the Rhyd Ddu path we only needed day packs for the first leg of the journey.


Some basic items taken (some shared between two people):

  • Daypack
  • Walking poles
  • 2 lt water
  • Snack food
  • FAK
  • kettle, stove, tea, milk, sugar
  • Lighter / flint / steel
  • Torch
  • Bivvy bag (emergency shelter)
  • glow sticks (emergency use)
  • Waterproof jacket, trousers, gloves, hat
  • Worn clothing, Long Johns, Walking trousers, T-shirt base layer, Thermal warm long sleeve intermediate layer, Wind proof jacket, bandanna.
  • Map & Compass
  • Ham Radio, Mobile Phone, Knife


The views are spectacular as you rise up the mountain, below the many lakes / reservoirs can be seen like mirrors inserted into the land.

Cloud formation at around 600 metres soon blocked out any sun and warmth as the temperature stared to lower and the winds increasing. Still relatively dry we pushed on through the cloud.


With the incline becoming more steep and the air thinning my (lack of) fitness was starting to show, however with several short stops it was long before we started to see our first signs of snow IMG_3306as we climbed the last 200m to the summit.



Arriving at the summit for a well-earned cup of tea brewed on a camp stove, so truly British!

The decent was somewhat easier and quicker and it was no time before we were back at the start of the path and with perfect timing as the rain came.IMG_3314 This was an ideal opportunity to dive into the village pub for a pint and a bite to eat to reflect on the day and decide on a wild camp pitch location.

With the down turn in the weather and forecast of minus temperatures at above 500 meters, we decided to find a pitch site at a lower level. We had spotted a small lake/reservoir about 1/2 mile from the Rhyd Ddu start point as we descended Snowdon so we set out to find it and to see if it was suitable.

Spotting a small patch of green on the far side of the lake next to a ruin of an old farmer cottage we pitched our tents before the worst of the rain fall and loss of light.

Time for a quick Hot Chocolate brew before the light disappeared and the heavens opened up so it was time to turn in.

The storms overnight really did give the tents some battering and were a great test. As dawn started to break, the clouds cleared and the winds died down, opening the flap door


of the tent and looking out across the lake was worth everything.

It was possible to use the stove just within the outer tent sheet should it have been raining, lighting the stove was initially an issue as the lighter broke! “Two is one, one is none” sprung to mind as I routed around for my spare lighter!



With a bright morning sun to dry out the tents gave us time to snap a few images of the beautiful surroundings and to get breakfast on.

IMG_3356Theres nothing like a camp meal and steaks planned for the night before made a great breakfast meal!IMG_3357






With everything packed away, the rule ‘leave no trace’ applied, it was time to leave this tranquil place and head home.

Next time, I’ll be concluding with a summary of my evaluations of the equipment taken.

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Wild Camping – Applying Preparedness Principles – part 5, Equipment

A quick reminder of the basic principles of preparedness, Food, Water, Shelter, Security, Health and Sanitation. We have covered Shelter in the form of clothing, tents and sleeping equipment. In this post we will look at the other equipment, their use and how they might be categorised into their corresponding principles preparedness category.

The backpack is an essential piece of equipment, it will become an extension of your body, the load will be spread throughout your hips, shoulders and back, the distributed weight you add will ultimately be carried though your legs and joints, make the wrong choice of equipment and this will quickly affect your health. I would recommend going to a professional camping store to buy this equipment, they usually have jigs and gauges to check your back size and can help you adjust the bag correctly to suit you.

lowess08p03I haven’t changed my rucksack for some years, I have tried many other types but keep coming back to my Lowe Alpine Airzone Centro 35+10, at the time of purchase I researched the bag and it had great reviews, the only negatives were the narrowing of the central part of the bag due to the Airzone bow and the netted side pockets.
I liked it because it was shower proof, it was made from ripstop fabric, expanded another 10 litres with the integral plus 10 extension, had a waterproof bag included in the base pocket, It wasn’t too big or too small as a day pack or small overnight bag but is a bit of a struggle for use as a camping backpack.
Waterproof stuff bags or dry sacks are a good thing to have for packing your equipment into along with zip-lock plastic bags. Whilst I have the rain cover, this won’t stop my sleeping bag from getting wet if my camel back water bladder leaks.
Choose wisely and as always buy the best you can for your budget, however just like we suggested for boots, this is one item you may wish to spend a bit more on.

So let’s go over some of the items to include for your trip

Food and Cooking

What food you take is down to your own personal preference, think about your meals and how you can cook them, then take the ingredients, considered spoilage of the food, health is important and the last thing you need in the wilderness is food poisoning. If you are travelling with others try to share the food and cooking equipment load so you don’t double up unnecessarily and decide who is taking what in advance. I would estimate 1.5 to 2lts of water per day per person.

  • Stove – I have opted for the Trangia all in one stove and will be testing this on my tripTrangia-25-Stove
  • Fuel – This will be the meth’s required for the stove, this would also help trying to start a fire in difficult conditions
  • Fuel tablets – As a back up for fire starting
  • Lighter – I actually pack two just in case one breaks
  • Cooking Pot set – This is a part of the Stove set on mine, your system may need a separate set, however Cookware is heavy so chose with this in mind
  • Kettle – Again included in my cook set, if you can get away with boiling in a pan then this will save overall weight
  • Mug – I use a tin mug, this way it can be used to cook with if needed.
  • Cutlery – basic set (make they reach the pan bases and you can use them as cooking utensils. Sporks are light but I like to have them separate.
  • Spatula – I have purchased a new foldable spatula which I will test on the next trip
  • Cooking oil – Your choice – make sure it’s in a secure bottle as you don’t want it leaking, also consider coconut oil, is more solid than liquid and is healthy.
  • Condiments \ herbs – as required.


Mostly covered in the previous blog posts, important for Shelter and therefore your Health and Security.

  • Tent three to Four Season mountain tent, lightweight – Covered previously
  • Sleeping Bag – Covered Previously
  • Sleeping Mat – Covered previously
  • Sleeping bag liner – Covered previously
  • Pillow Comfy – Covered previously
  • Pee Bottle (wide top) – will mean that you don’t have to get up in the night if you need a pee!

Recently a report showed how a camper had died heading off for a pee in the dark and fell off a cliff – its not worth the risk when you’re half asleep

 Clothing (carried)

Totally optional and dependant upon you, where you are going, the climate and how long you are going for, however for your health, pack some essential just in case you get wet and need to change, nothing worse than sleeping in wet gear, it can be a long cold night.

  • Socks (spare)
  • Underpants
  • Base layer long arms
  • Warm base layer
  • Waterproof Jacket
  • Waterproof Trousers
  • Gloves

Clothes (Worn)

Again depends upon you, the weather on the day and the season, however for health reasons stay warm and dry by adding and removing layers as necessary.

  • Boots
  • Underpants
  • Socks
  • Base Layer short sleeved
  • Walking trousers
  • Windproof Jacket / fleece
  • Hat Warm

Carried items

  • Rucksack Lightweight
  • Water bladder – Optional
  • Walking Poles Light – optional, but remember these have many other uses from making shelters to providing a pole for spear fishing. Also some lightweight Tent systems use the walking pole as the tent pole
  • Neck & Face Wear – optional but I always take a bandanna as it can be used as a light hat, or neck \ head cover, good as a make shift filter for use when breathing or as a water filter. Also for health can be used as a part of your first aid kit as a tourniquet, bandage, etc
  • Sun Glasses – optional
  • Gaiters Waterproof
  • Money, wallet, cards, keys – not always essential but you never know when your going to need them – there could be a great pub on route!
  • Pocket knives – I always have on me a legal carry pocket knife and use it a few times everyday for something
  • Hankies – as well as the obvious these can also be used in emergency’s for sanitary, toilet or stop bleeding if required.
  • Carabiner – so useful for all sorts of things including hammock strapping, hanging items off your rucksack, climbing (ensure correct rated products for this!!) temporary shelter construction. I have two climbing Carabiners just in case I need to use them to hold mine or someone’s weights.
  • Pace counter beads – See previous post on this subject here.

 Packed accessories

  • Map & Compass – certainly for your health and security you need to know roughly where you are at all times and have some idea of what is around you. Ideally you will of plotted a route or will have a set destination. Know how to use these even if its just theory for now. Other navigation equipment like pace count beads, pace cards, incline calculator are interesting tasks to try on route,  Two is One and One is None, have a back up, you may find you have several as a by-product of something else, Mobile phones have GPS, see what maps are available for the area and have these preloaded where possible, I have a Compass, Altimeter, barometer plus many other functions on my wristwatch.
    Also don’t forget there is always the survival methods of navigation using the sun and stars.
  • Map Case Strong = optional
  • Chinagraph pencil – Chinagraph pencils can be used to write on the waterproof maps, or to mark routes, leave messages etc.
  • Head Torch & Spare Batteries – head torches are great for hands free operation – reading, fire starting, first aid.
  • Hand torch and battery
  • Mobile with spare battery \ charger \ USB lead Waterproof Case
  • Survival Kit Knife
  • Multi tool
  • Paracord – these can be in gadgets such as the wrist band featured in this previous post, I also recommend taking 50 metres minimum hanked ready for use.
  • Lighter & Tea Light – a good back up with a simple way of maintaining a flame for lighting, starting fires,etc.
  • 9v battery – optional back up for fire starting with wire-wool
  • Duct Tape Velcro strap – these are very handy for attaching things to your backpack, lashing things together, first aid, etc,
  • Emergency Shelter Visible – these pocket sized items can be a life saver and simply added to your fist aid kit
  • Tent lantern – I have will be trying out the one mentioned in this earlier post.
  • Light sticks X4 – these are great for hanging on your tent at night to find it in the dark, but also for waving in an emergency or marking a route at night.
  • Ham radio charged battery – great fun but also extremely functional in emergencies where the mobile phone fails to work.
  • Monocular – for just scenic views or pinpointing landmarks for orienteering.
  • Water filter, life-straw sawyer mini – its not advisable to drink water that you come across when you are out and about, however if you were absolutely desperate, then the Sawyer Mini is one of the best to use.
  • Water purification tablets – for your health, always boil water that you use that isn’t what you brought with you, water purification tablets will help to purify the water.
  • notepad & pen – for leaving messages, taking notes / instructions from the radio or mobile. detailing your thoughts for a blog post!
  • Mozi head net – optional depending upon season and area.

Packed Toiletries / Health and Sanitation

  • Toilet paper
  • Pocket Tissues
  • Wet Wipes Toilet
  • Hand Sanitation
  • Roll on Deodorant
  • Travel toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Ear Plugs – to help you sleep especially if one of your group snores.
  • Towel Small, packable, absorbent, quick drying
  • Toilet Trowel

 FAK – Health

  • Medication
  • Anti inflammatory.
  • Burn gel
  • Ibuprofen
  • Paracetamol
  • Cold & Flu..Lemsip
  • Anadin Extra
  • Imodium
  • Wound Care Bandage, Crepe Bandage Plaster Strip, Fabric Plaster Strip, Antiseptic wipes
  • Blister Care – plaster and needle,
  • Joint straps for known issues

By the next post we will have been on the trip and tested out the gear.


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Wild Camping – Applying Preparedness Principles – part 4, Sleeping

So far we have looked into tents, hammocks and tarps, plus Footwear, and basic clothing, in this section we can take a closer look at Sleeping as a part of the Shelter principle.

The first obvious thing to state is that you are carrying whatever you choose so size and weight are essential in your decision making.

Hammock Sleeping

I am not speaking from experience on this one so this is researched and I will be able to try mine out for real hopefully at some point this year. One of the most popular Hammock systems is the DD Hammock  and as DD the company state on their website, the benefits are:

  • Watch the sun setting while lying in your bed, then the stars at night and see the sun rise in the morning when you wake. And if you’re lucky maybe some wildlife too!
  • Create minimal impact to the environment and leave no trace.
  • Reduce your pack weight and size by opting for a hammock over a tent – as well as cutting down your set-up time.
  • Camp over water, above rocks, or on a hill! Hammocks – unlike tents – don’t require you to look for a level campsite.
  • Experience ultimate comfort: hanging in a hammock puts none of the pressure on your body that you’d find lying on flat ground.
  • Customize your set-up in countless different ways to find your favourite gear combination.
  • Camp with friends. Chat, cook and watch the world go by together – with the added luxury of your own personal sleeping space.
  • Hang out wherever you like: you aren’t limited to trees! Suspend your hammock between two vehicles, from beams, or even a mixture of points!
  • Stay elevated from ground insects as well as snakes and, depending on your location, poisonous creatures.
  • Use hammocks as comfy seats during the day! They can even double as an emergency stretcher or light sleeping bag if needed.

DD_Jura_2_Sleeping_Bag_04The DD Jura 2 sleeping bag is recommended as a part of the DD system, the benefits of this bag over standard versions is the waterproof foot of the bag allowing you to step out of the hammock in the bag without getting the base wet.

Tent Sleeping

More standard equipment can be used offering more choice. foam rollSleeping on the ground can be uncomfortable and cold, therefore using a sleeping mat provides a certain amount of comfort and insulation. These vary from foam to self inflating (air / foam) versions – These will probably get you more bed thickness for less weight as the foam inside is less dense and used primarily as the spring to draw air into the valve, once locked of the valve traps the air creating a thin Foam Air Bed.foam roll self inflate

Additionally pillows can be obtained in the same materials, however if required the use of an inflatable pillow would be lighter and more compact.

Sleeping Bags

When it comes to sleeping bags the are several features that you need to consider. Insulation is key, the aim is to keep you warm during the night so just like when we looked at clothing, choosing the right material is essential, air-trapping insulation within the bag is usually one of two types, down provided the most efficient insulation and is therefore lighter and more compact but loses effectiveness when wet, whereas synthetic insulation performs better than down when wet and lower in cost, conversely these are usually heavier and bulkier.

Other features to consider are the Hood, Zips, Shape and Temperature rating I found an interesting post linked here for further information on bag specifics.

linersSleeping bag liners

Are used on the inside of the sleeping bag, they serve several purposes, to keep the inside of the bag clean, keep you warmer in colder climate but also means you can part zip down the bag and still be covered.

Bivi Bags (Bivvy / Bivy)

BivvyBivi bags are not something that I have experience with and probably wont suit my dislike of confined spaces. The bag provides a waterproof cover for your sleeping bag and can be used by itself, with a hammock, tBivi Tentarp or Bivi tent.

For more details please check the link


Space foil blanket

space blanketMore of a back up than a specific intentional sleeping equipment, but for the additional weight, the space foil blanket can provide a additional warmth should you or anyone else need it




Overall there are choices to improve comfort, in general the more expensive the product usually results in a better quality, but do your research and look for positive feedback.

Next time we will be looking at Health as a principle for wild camping and camping in general.


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Wild Camping – Applying Preparedness Principles – part 3, clothing layers

Continuing from the last post on Boots and Socks under the preparedness principal of Shelter, working our way up the body looking at clothing layers considered for a wild camp trip in April.
I’ve already mentioned clothing layers, the purpose of this is to enable us to be able to remove layers as required to maintain a comfort as we progress on our trip, its no good having one very warm layer, e.g. coat, finding that wearing it makes you too hot and not wearing it makes you too cold. So layering into base, mid, main and waterproof will give you the flexibility to add and remove as necessary.

Base Layers

These are intended to be worn next to the skin and designed to be high wicking and quick drying. Wicking is where a thin layer of warm air is trapped against the body pulling sweat away from the skin.

There are 2 main types of fabrics used, Merino wool, or synthetic fabrics, personally I prefer Merino wool, it is however less effective at wicking sweat but is ideal for extreme cold conditions. Synthetics are lightweight and wicking alternative to merino, but are less efficient at resisting odour. However they do dry very quickly and also cost less than merino layer.
If you use a standard T shirt these are usually 100% cotton, the problem with cotton is that it soaks up sweat like as sponge and when it’s wet; it draws heat away from the body, which can cause hypothermia.

Base layer top

Two base layer tops should be taken, my choice would be a short and long sleeve top.

For the legs I would also look at a ‘long John’ style base layer in the same material, this can also double as a layer to sleep in to stay warm.






Mid Layers

Mid layer topA lightweight fleece is an ideal mid layer, I have found the that the lower cost fleeces tend to not breathe too well and can make you sweat so its wise to get the best you can for what you can afford.

Waterproof Jacket

Lightweight, waterproof, windproof and a stiffened peak hood, are a few of the features that I have looked for for this.


profileAvoid Jeans or tracksuit bottoms and stick to walking trousers that you feel comfortable wearing, I have purchased many over the years but my favourite are still my first pair of Craghoppers.





over trousersOver Trousers

I haven’t tested mine yet but for these I have opted for Goretex military over trousers, these zip down and up the leg completely for ease of access and are MVP (Moisture Vapour Permeable) light weight, rain trousers.

The fact that they are genuine British army Issue gives me some confidence in their quality. These can be picked up at great prices

  • Elasticated waist with toggle draw cord.
  • Adjustable Velcro ankles.
  • Rip stop material.
  • Closed zips to prevent water and debris entering.

Additionally Gaiters can be used to help seal the gap between your boot and trousers in wetland areas.

Hats and gloves should always be considered for colder climates and altitude, personally I would always take these with me as you can never be sure of the weather turning.

Next time we will consider Sleeping as a part of Shelter.


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Tick Tock! Thats Another Year Gone

tick tock

It’s one year since we launched the Prepare to Survive web blog page.

Happy to still be posting, and we have a few followers, growing weekly both here,  on Twitter and Facebook.

Whilst its another year gone I can say with confidence that I have checked off a few more things off towards our prepared and self-sufficient future and learnt a lot along the way.

Here’s to another year of learning!

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The Bee Diaries – Part 11 – The Queen is Dead,long live the queen (hopefully)

bee dairies logoWith the winter months behind us and as we approach the middle of March and spring appears to be coming early, there is still caution for heavy frost but I took the chance to carry out a basic inspection and remove the extra insulation that I experimented with over winter.20151108_144715682_iOS


Some would say its still a little too early but unlike most Bee keepers, I had a late start last year and left on my supper on to help feed over winter and removed the queen excluder to give her access just in case there was a move by the colony into that area.

Always on the look out for the queen, I added the queen excluder, checked the supper for brood / eggs, these were OK so I put them back, added an eek to allow space for my fondant feeder and making sure all bees were below the excluder I put the hive back together. Generally they were very calm, numbers were low but they appeared healthy, however I couldn’t see the queen. I checked around the hive in case she was out and there it was, in the dead bee floor (as I call it) a blue spot amongst the graveyard of bees. It looks like she’s been there a while.

So, what happens now? Speaking to the experts and reading up on this a couple of things could have happened:

  • A new queen mated in August that I missed and they have superseded the queen.
  • She died – its possible after all everything does eventually.

If she was superseded then I could be lucky and there is a new queen is in the hive, I didn’t see one, but there again I wasn’t looking specifically for another queen. The best that I can do is hope that this is the case and try to find her at the next inspection.

If she died and there is no successor then the outlook is not good, with no laying queen there will be no new bees and the colony will die off.

The next few weeks will be telling, it is too early to re-queen and No-one at this point will have a spare queen.

Fingers crossed for a good outcome next time on The Bee Diaries.












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Here we go again…

Due to adverse weather last weekend, our plans for commencing this year’s work were delayed until today. Armed with more equipment than ever before (nappy changing bag bulging with bottles, t…

Source: Here we go again…

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The Friendly Swede – Two Lanterns and a Firestarter



The Friendly Swede Collapsible LED Camping Lantern Lamp 2-Pack, with Keychain Fire Starter is £9.99 with free delivery, I did a quick search on the internet and the best price that I came up was £5.49  for one lantern  on eBay. So when you consider that you get two lanterns plus the Key chain fire starter / whistle in this package it is really good value.







The product arrives well packaged

IMG_3038We use ours in the awning of our camper van, opened up, the soft lighting is just enough at night.

The Fire starer is easy to use and sparks well with each strike.





I’ll be taking these out for field testing at the next opportunity.
Check out this product



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The Friendly Swede – Paracord Survival Bracelet


The XXL Trilobite Extra Beefy Paracord Survival Bracelet with Stainless Steel Black Bow Shackle is designed to be Extra long to fit  the larger wrist. Widgets





The bracelet arrives packaged very well in a resealable point of sale bag with Euro hanger so would not be out of place in a retail environment.



A neat little bonus for the bracelet is an additional shackle pin. Also included in the pack are a couple of company logo transfers, welcome leaflet and a basic unravelling instruction.





According to the manufacturer, the ideal wrist size from this model is 8.5″-9.5″ (21.6-24.1 cm). I have a measured wrist size of 7.5″(19mm) so the bracelet is too big for me. The bow shackle and bar have an adjustment potential of 14mm over three locations.

At its IMG_2981first location the internal diameter is 8.9″ (22.5mm)


IMG_2986At its last location the band measures 9.5″ (24.2mm).


The paracord is stated to be independently tested to a 531 lb (241 kg), so what does this mean?  An large car engine and transmission weighs 272kg, An average man weighs 85kg. Paracord can hold a static weight of 227kg (tested to 241kg) before breaking.

Build Quality


The build quality of the bracelet is very good, the company personalised black shackle provides a nice finish.

Paracord weaves are terminated by melting the ends and flattening, this is normally done on the underside of the bracelet for aesthetics, this can sometimes result in an hard burr that can irritate the skin, The finish on this bracelet is good with no signs of burr.IMG_2968

Unravelling your paracord should only be done in emergencies, however for the purposes of evaluation we will be taking ours apart.



The instructions provided suggest twisting the bracelet around the melted ends to break a loosen, we tried this and were unsuccessful in breaking the weld, IMG_2990resorting to eventually cutting with a knife – something that every good survivalist / boy scout should never be without.

Unravelling the bracelet is straight forward from this point.IMG_2992IMG_2994







Disassembled the paracord length is approximately 13.1 ft (4 m)

The Friendly Swede recommend not trying to re-weave the paracord unless you are experienced.

The ‘university’ of YouTube can teach you how to weave this back together should you need to do so.

I resized the bracelet and reassembled to suit my wrist size.


So Why Paracord

paracord-innards-cParacord has many uses in everyday life and in emergency situations, this will be covered in more detail in a later post, however for now here are a few potential uses (remember your paracord is made up of multiple smaller strands of very strong fibre).



  • Stitches, sewing thread, sutures
  • shoelaces
  • Splint / Sling
  • Stretcher / hammock
  • Tourniquet
  • Rescue line
  • tripwire
  • fishing line
  • fishing net

Given the quality of this product Extra Long XXL Trilobite Extra Beefy / Wide for the cost of  £8.99 & FREE Delivery I would consider this good value for money.

Check out the paracord items from The Friendly Swede.
The Friendly Swede Paracord selection

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