Tag Archives: equipment

Technical Bushwalking: Rope and Harness or Nerves of Steel

Should a bushwalker with little or no climbing experience be using a rope and harness at all?  What skills do you need to use a harness and rope safely? If you are a Club bushwalker, does your insurance policy cover such activities? When does a bushwalker need a harness?  What are the benefits and risks of making your own harness? What is the minimum gear you need to take?

 There are some bushwalks in Australia where less confident walkers, carrying a heavy pack, would benefit from having a rope to keep balance, especially when wearing a pack, or offer support in the event of a toe hold or hand grip collapsing. I have in mind the Western Arthurs , one spot on the Mt Anne Circuit and possibly Federation Peak, all in Tasmania and  in South Australia, Bunyip Chasm and Edeowie Gorge.

Some would argue that if a rope is needed then bushwalkers shouldn’t be there. I see a rope as an added safety precaution to reduce the risk of a fall perhaps in a location where more confident climbers would not need a rope at all.  Lowering a pack on a rope and then climbing down is often a safer alternative. The danger is that bushwalkers with little climbing experience may become over confident in their ability to use a rope and start to attempt climbs or descents that are quite rightly in the domain of serious climbers.

Considerable training and experience is needed to know how to tie on to a rope, how to set an anchor and how to adjust and tie into a harness. In my view at least one person in any group which is intending to use a rope, should have climbing experience, so they can act in an advisory role and check all equipment before use.

 Many Bushwalking Clubs have insurance policies which explicity forbid the use of ropes during bushwalks.

If you are going to use a rope (11mm), then a lightweight harness is invaluable, for both comfort and safety reasons. Without a harness, even a minor slip can lead to injury.

Making your own harnesses: Dulfer (sit) and Parisian Baudrier (chest) from 6 m of 25mm climbing tape, 2 m of 7mm cord with a prusik knot and a karabiner  is simple, lightweight, low cost (less than $30) and effective but it is not a simple task to fit, especially if you are using a chest harness, as recommended with a heavy pack. The danger is that inexperienced bushwalkers may use the wrong knot, have the harness too loose, close the karabiner incorrectly, use the prusik knot or descender incorrectly, not use a suitable anchor etc. The list goes on!

Lightweight, commercial harnesses have now become available for around USD $50 and weigh less than 100g. Take care if you decide to buy one as they have few adjustments and several people have reported that they only fit limited sizes. They are light, quicker and easier to fit, possibly more comfortable, tested for strength and not much dearer but they are less versatile.

I still think an improvised harness with webbing is much cheaper, more than adequate for bodyweight (not a fall), and tubular webbing is probably stronger than a lightweight harness. It also has the advantage of being useful for other things such as an anchor, then you could do a body rappel to get down something less than vertical. I have played around with many improvised harnesses for crevasse rescue, and the best I have found for a sit harness (you will need a chest harness also with a heavy pack) is simply a double length sewn dyneema sling (120cm). The other day I just bought a 240cm sewn dyneema sling (8mm) which is the perfect length for a full body harness. This is what I will carry this season for my emergency kit.

Disclaimer: Please check the information above with a qualified climbing instructor before applying on a walk. I have no climbing qualifications and base my comments on some recent practical experience and some advanced bushwalking courses I did years ago.

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This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Voluntary Recall Optimus Nova and Nova + Multifuel Expedition Stoves in Australia

The voluntary recall of Optimus Nova and Nova + stoves in September 2010 in USA and Canada, has been confirmed by Katadyn (Switzerland) as applying to Australia too, and is due to fuel lines or O-rings leaking.

This recall involves Optimus Nova and Nova+ Multifuel Expedition Stoves and equipment sold in Australia which were made in China and sold between January 2009 – September 2010, including the stove’s fuel pump and spare parts/repair kits. The stoves are black metal, measure about 6 inches in diameter and 3 1/2 inches high and can be used with multiple types of fuel. Stove serial numbers QA000011 through QA007313 are included in this recall. The serial number and “Optimus” are printed on the side of the camping stove. The QA-number of the stove is located on the side of the black burner housing. All Nova and Nova+ stoves with silver burner housing have no QA-number and are not affected. Pumps and spare parts kits also were sold separately. Pumps have a green open/close valve. Spare parts kits model numbers include 80163051, 8520, 80176321 and 8511 and are printed on the packaging.

If you have an affected stove, please file your claim under www.optimusstoves.com/en/service/nova-recall.

Read more…

My Favourite iPhones Apps for Bushwalking, Hiking, the Outdoors and Fitness.

For about three weeks, I have been trialling a selection of free and paid iPhone apps, small applications for mobile phones, of which a small number may eventually meet my needs as a keen bushwalker (hiker), photographer and “naturalist”.I have been overwhelmed by the variety of apps, their quality,  versatility and value. With a 32GB iPhone, I have plenty of room to experiment!
The key to versatility is the ability of iPhone 4 apps to integrate and multi-task in the background with the inbuilt compass, GPS, accelerometer and gyrometer, camera, video and music player. The high resolution touch screen makes many tasks such as map reading easier.
Some of these apps duplicate functions included in others, but offer them in a more user friendly manner or with more options. Be wary of free apps that include ads that will drive you mad with their insistence that you visit their website or depend for full functionality upon registering for  a website which then owns and shares your information and habits with third parties. Many of the free apps are “lite” versions of the full paid version and are made available so you can test the features before purchase.
In a previous post, I did a Google search and came up with a list of over 60 “outdoors” apps  which I then reduced to a smaller number for download especially those with a local flavour. I have intentionally omitted those that require registration on a website to work and those that can’t use the UTM coordinate system, where this is critical. I have included “Lite” versions which allow you to trial the product free of charge before upgrading to the full paid version if you wish.
Over the next few weeks, I will review some of the best in more detail. Those that I have downloaded so far include the following :

Gone Trekking Safety Outdoors: location aware safety notification app (Free version available)
MotionX GPS : attempts to bring many of the features of a dedicated handheld GPS, plus a sports and  fitness GPS, plus a geotagging camera into a single app (Free version available)
Map Overlay Tracer: overlay and trace maps directly on top of Google maps
Google Earth: explore your intended or current  location using 3D satellite imagery (free)
GeoLog Tag: acts as a GPS data logger and geotagging app (JPEG and RAW) for photos taken with any digital camera. (Free version available)
Declination: find your current magnetic declination based on the World magnetic mode. (Free)
Bit Map: offline map viewer for your own imported topographic  maps in standard image formats plus oz2 (Australian)
Map Tools: utility that lets users fully utilize coordinates. Converts between datums, including AGD66, AGD84,GDA94, NZGD49, coordinate systems, and map projections and calculates distances.
Convert Units; ideal for converting F to C, miles to km, quarts to litre, or with custom unit conversions km/hr to minutes per mile (Free)
Pocket Pedometer: specifically designed for walkers and runners, automatic movement detection, calibration, distance measure, calorie counter, conversion system. (Free version available)
Orienteering Compass : behaves just like an oil-bath compass with outer locking ring
: assures you of never forgetting where you parked again, take photo, turn by turn walking instructions, see distance and time left on meter. (Free)

Service Tools

No Signal: No cell service? In a dead zone? want to be notified when you can make calls again without taking the phone out of your pocket?


Photonasis has the biggest collection of photo effects on the app store  (Free)
Genius Scan: turns your iPhone into a pocket scanner, great for sending those trip intention forms you have just completed (Free) 
Photo Timer : capture group photos and self portraits
Flickit: keep your Flickr.com photostream up to date
Flickr: shoot, upload and share photos and videos: Geo-tag your photos or add them to a set. View your photos by set and tagBurst Mode: analyse fast events frame by frame eg bird flying
Remotomatic: make your iPhone a bluetooth remote controlled camera with self-timer shutter built-in.


Camp and Hike: allows selection from a larger master list depending on duration, weather and type of trip.
ListPro : the ultimate list making toolkit (Free)


Australian. Birds (Michael Morcombe eGuide): a comprehensive collection of bird calls, sketches and a searchable, location aware database, which allows side by side comparisons.
Bird in hand; covers 23 of Tasmania’s common and endemic birds and includes bird calls, high quality pictures and information on their habitat, breeding, diet etc. Use the App while out bush to work out which call is which.
Star-Guide: displays the constellation to which your iPhone is pointing (Free)
Wikipanion: accessing Wikipedia has never been faster and easier eg do a search for Federation Peak, Tasmania and find out the history, location, climate, climbing routes and get photos.


iWorkout Lite: Do you want a personal trainer in your pocket? metronome, pedometer, exercises, videos
Walkmeter: continually records your time, location, distance, elevation, and speed. See your results on maps, graphs, and a calendar, and organized by routes and activities. Monitor your progress with up to 20 configurable announcements including distance, time, speed, elevation, climb. Compete against your previous workouts along a route.
Pocket Pedometer (Free) measures distance, time, calories, steps with automatic calibration for walker. Battery saver turns off screen automatically.

First Aid/Emergency

Gone Trekking Safety Outdoors:  location aware safety notification app
MediProfiles: carry all the emergency medical information you need about your co-walkers in case you need it in a remote location. Published by St John Ambulance (Free)
TuneIn Radio: listen to and record over 40,000 radio stations via the internet including thousands of AM/FM local stations. Want the local weather forecast or fire danger report?


Flashlight: the LED light on iPhone 4 and fills your screen with bright white light . Strobe for emergencies. Red light for night use.
KnotsGuidecontains 92 knots divided into 10 categories
Learning the Ropes- Navy Knots learn to tie navy knots with 3D animation and notes (Free)
: use it to view reference documents you have saved from the web. Super-robust PDF reader with advanced reading, annotating, markup and highlighting capabilities, excellent file manager, TXT file reader and editor, audio/video player, Safari-like viewer for MS Office and iWorks files.
: gives users the ability to read Kindle books
Library : keep track of and share bushwalking books you have read, books you want to read, and books you are reading. (Free)
BooksApp Lite: easily catalog your entire book library, group related books together, recommend your favorite books to your friends and family and keep track of who has borrowed your books. Uses ISBN and scans barcode to import details including artwork. (Free. Limited)
Climbing Grade Converter : converts grades between 14 climbing grade systems including bouldering (Lite version is free but limited)


iBarometer: lets you easily know what is the pressure near you, using the internet. Great for calibrating your altimeter.
Pocket Weather AU: weather sourced directly from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) Keep up to date with weather alerts and extended forecasts.

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This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Some Great Uses of the iPhone for Bushwalkers

For an update see: Bushwalking Equipment | Can I Really Do Without a Smartphone?

The iPhone 4 has many features which make it suitable for bushwalking and some which don’t. The built in GPS and compass, 5 Mb camera  with geo-tagged photos, the HD video recorder, its multimedia capabilities and its voice controlled mobile phone and wi-fi communications make it ideal.

I have just bought an iPhone 4 from Telstra, as they have better coverage, especially in regional and remote areas, and have being trying to find some iPhone apps* which might be useful. It wasn’t difficult!
Here are some links to useful iPhone apps for the outdoors. The descriptions below are from the iTunes Store.

Simple slider motion to contact emergency services and launch RESCUE app (all functionality requires connection and access to local cellular and 3G/Edge or Wifi networks) Automatically detects new country and inserts appropriate local emergency number Sends 4 sms/email messages to your contacts with an emergency message and location. Provides your emergency call back number in case you have a private or blocked number. Loud audio alarm to warn bystanders, predators, or yourself, that the RESCUE app has been activated. Hyperlinked messages to Google maps so your location is instantly known. 60 second countdown to automatically call emergency services, in case you cannot. Ease of operation during emergencies

 Rescue@ helps locating you when calling an emergency number. In an emergency and needs help? But unsure where you are? By using Rescue@ when calling the emergency service you will be able to provide that critical, and maybe even life-saving, information to the emergency service personnel. The application works by first locating you using the location service on your iPhone. This location will then be saved as a contact name when pressing the “Call emergency”-button within the application. You can then read your location out loud by simply looking at the contact name in the caller-ID screen. 

If you’re ever in a tight spot or emergency just press “Rescue Me!” and this application will send your location to your Twitter followers, and Facebook friends, and email account you set. This alarm message will come in the form of longitude and latitude coordinates, a Google Maps link, and a help message (which you can set) to ensure you can be found. The online society and your friends can take care of you. RescueMe can be a lifesaving tool.

Rescue Light is a simple app but very functional that can help you at various times. Need a red alert light? This is the app.

Stroboscope and Torch Light – FlashLight ! iStrobo is an application that turns your iPhone or iPod touch into a stroboscope. Define its frequency and start the stroboscope !

MorseEmergency is an application that sends a light SOS Morse signal through the screen of your iPhone or iPod touch. In some circumstances, long distance, noise… a light signal is the only message that can be sent or received.  

Send SOS alerts in Morse code with the blink of your screen!

In a swiftwater rescue scenario, it is useful to determine how far a person in the water has travelled downstream so that the search area may be narrowed and more effectively conducted. Although the math for determining this distance is relatively straightforward, it requires precious time that could be better used elsewhere. Mistakes may also be made in a high-stress situation, which may also cost time.

SAS Survival Lite is the FREE version of the complete SAS Survival Guide, available now in the app store. Based on the million-copy best selling book, this fantastic free app provides you with a bare bones guide to wilderness survival. Jam-packed with basic survival tools, you’ll be equipped for any expedition to the outdoors with this entry-level guide in your arsenal.

SAS Survival Lite is the FREE version of the complete SAS Survival Guide, available now in the app store. Based on the million-copy bestselling book, this fantastic free app provides you with a bare bones guide to wilderness survival. Jam-packed with basic survival tools, you’ll be equipped for any expedition to the outdoors with this entry-level guide in your arsenal.

Don’t panic! You have a survivalist in your pocket. iSurvive marries common sense to meticulous technique. This application addresses the essential needs of wilderness survival. iSurvive instructs the user, with concise language and detailed photo illustrations to tie knots, construct shelters, set snares, start fires, and find clean drinking water. It also serves as a quick reference for First Aid, Navigation, Weather, Rescue and more.

NOW you are able to send your location via email or SMS wherever you want whenever you want…A simple application that shows the user the exact geographic location in degrees, minutes and seconds. Along with that you can get the course in degrees and the speed in 3 different units (km/h, nm/h, mi/h).

First Aid

With Sun Alert you can calculate the maximal sun exposure time from your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. Whether you are at the beach, climbing mountains, skiing, walking, jogging or working outdoors you need to protect your skin from the UV radiation and thereby lower the risk of adverse health effects.

MediProfiles gives you peace of mind by having all of your Friends, Family and Co-worker’s emergency medical information at your finger tips. (St Johns)
Resuscitate focuses on the importance of the St John DRABCD Action Plan. The DRABCD Action Plan is used by First Responders around the world as primary assessment for every casualty. Included in the App is a powerful proximity sensor that locates your nearest St John Ambulance Public Access Defibrillator (PAD).

‘First Aid’ is Australia’s only iPhone app that presents step-by-step emergency First Aid information to the user with a large clear image for each step. (St Johns)

Know when and how much to drink before, during and after sports. 
Hydri-Assist helps ensure you are consuming enough fluid. Simply enter in your pre-workout wight, and then your post-workout weight (plus how much fluid you consumed in-between), Hydri-Assist will let you know how dehydrated you are, as well as how much fluid you should consume post-workout.


Allows users to find the distance between 2 or more points by simply tapping a path along a map. No addresses to enter or search for. No dragging pins around. 

Fully customizable activity planner with training history, calorie graphs, audio feedback and in depth workout plans with targets. As you exercise you can see your time, pace, speed, calories burned, training intervals, splits, view map in real time, take photos, listen to iPod music and receive audio feedback on your progress. When you have finished your activity you can view your activity history with stats, route map and splits. View cumulative graphs for distance and calories burned. View your personal best. View your photos and share your activity with friends on the Walk Tracker Website

The intuitive and easy-to-use interface of the app makes it easy to track how far you went, how long it took, what your pace/speed was, how many calories you burned, and the path you traveled on a map. Once your activity is completed, the data is synced to the RunKeeper website (www.runkeeper.com) where you can view a history of all of your activities, and cumulative totals of all of your vital stats. You can also share your progress with friends by posting your activities to Facebook and Twitter, and creating a profile page that allows people to view all of your public activities. (Free version available)


The Map and Land Navigation app is the U.S. Army’s official training guide to map reading, determining location, and navigating and includes over 600 pages of great content.


Bit Map is an offline map viewer for your own topographic or specialised maps in standard image formats (eg, PNG, JPEG) or .OZF2 map images. Store multiple maps on your iPhone, and switch between them. With Bit Map, you can view your own choice of maps, instead of generic maps chosen by somebody else, making it ideal for specialist maps with details not available on other mapping applications, such as highly detailed topographic maps obtained from your government mapping authority. Your topographic maps can also be viewed while offline with no cellphone or wifi network access, making it ideal for a wide range of outdoor pursuits including bushwalking, hiking, trekking, camping, cycling, touring. 


With the push of a button, let other GPS Tracking users know where you are or request their location. GPS Tracking populates your iPhone’s built-in Google Maps with the locations of people in your private “opt-in” buddy list, as soon as they approve your request. It’s an interactive friend-finder, party-starter, child-locator, social networker and much more — a must-have, “Where are you? I’m here!” visual locating app. Push notification and GPS must be on for App to work. (Free version available)


For users with older iPhones without a built-in compass: this app will determine the direction you are facing based on GPS readings taken while you are moving. The app takes this reading and allows you to see the direction you are heading on a Google map. You can also choose to rotate the map so your direction is always shown straight ahead…this capability was previously only available to 3GS owners with a built in compass!


Turns your iPhone into a handheld GPS with compass and complete trip tracking!


Topos2Go Free allows you to view topographic maps. You can download freely available maps and store them on your device for use without WiFi or cell access. The full version of Topos2Go adds the ability to locate your position on maps and import/export waypoints.

Exact Altimeter for Australia

Uses different ways to determine your altitude. It has built in elevation database, and it can get your altitude from online altitude service. Furthermore, it shows you the altitude given by the built in gps. Additionally it provides information about the nearest settlement.


Calculates the distance of a thunder storm by measuring the time between a lightning and the corresponding thunder.


Gone Trekking is a location aware safety notification application for outdoor adventurers. The application utilizes the GPS, Google maps, calendar and camera features of the iPhone. Gone Trekking enables the user to record their departure, destination and waypoint information. The application also enables the user to email or post a Twitter message containing their trip details and maps. Video (Free version available)


FiresAU is about bringing bushfire awareness close to you if you live in Australia (NSW, Tasmania, SA). Where is the nearest fire to me? Is it where I need to go? Will I need to deal with one on the way?


Designed for adventure runners, ultra marathon runners or just about anyone who wants to track their location whilst out and about. Adventure Tracker is designed to run in the background and update your location to the server every 10 minutes. Adventure Tracker can update your position for up to 20 hours with a single battery charge. Data is automatically uploaded to the Adventure Tracker website where you can view your tracks or send tracking links to friends. If you are in an area where there is no mobile reception such as out in the woods or in a foreign country Adventure tracker caches all the data it is unable to send to the server so you can upload it over WIFI or 3G when available.


Track Trip uses the GPS receiver in your iPhone to record your location as you walk, run, bike or drive. This can be done in the background and uploaded every 10 minutes saving the battery. 


Users can search for a recipe based on the type of food and ingredients necessary to make the perfect meal. This is the first application that allows users to plan meals for an entire camping trip. Pick the number of days and campers and let the application do the rest. Generate shopping and equipment lists so you never forget an essential ingredient at home. 


Nothing is worse than driving 80 miles down the road for a glorious few days of backpacking, hiking, fishing and relaxing to find that you have left at home a few really essential items. You’ll be disappointed, and your entire trek could be ruined. Even Fido will feel the frustration. You can edit the extensive lists.


Huge list of items to consider
– Super easy to mark
– – what you’re going to bring
– – what you might bring
– – what’s already packed
– Add anything you find missing (or change or delete items)
– Group items by function
– Plan where to get your items (e.g., supermarket, sporting goods store, attic, garage cabinet)
– Indicate the weight of items (that we haven’t already weighed)
– Provide an estimate of what you’ll be hauling along the trail
– Store and switch between your gear lists for multiple trips
– See the weights of items according to the “status” you assign to them and by how you use it
– You control the order of categories in the main checklist
– Use metric or English units 


Animated Knots by Grog is simply the best and most comprehensive teaching and reference tool for boaters, climbers, fishermen, scouts and hobbyists. Watch as knots tie themselves in simple step-by-step photo animations. Use the manual controls to step through the animations frame by frame as you learn each knot. Tap the info button to get detailed descriptions about each knot’s correct use, advantages and disadvantages, and other information.


A SIMPLE quick reference collection of different knots. Currently the application contains 92 knots divided into 10 categories. (Free)


Tying knots is a vital skill to have in the Royal Australian Navy. With this handy tool, learn to tie different Navy knots with 3D animated tutorials and facts. (Free)


Knots, Splices and Rope Work’ is the complete original 1917 classic treatise by A. Hyatt Verrill, the renowned American inventor, author, illustrator, archaeologist, explorer, zoologist and friend of former President Theodore Roosevelt.


Search Google quickly using your voice, pictures, and location. Google Mobile App includes the following features:
* New! Google Goggles – use pictures to search the web. Goggles recognizes things such as landmarks, books, wine, artwork, and logos.
* Search by voice – speak your queries in natural language. Simply hold your iPhone to your ear and say your query.
(Supports American, British, Indian or Australian English accents, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Czech, Polish and Korean.)
* My Location – avoid typing your current location when searching for nearby businesses (e.g. “pizza” or “starbucks”)
* Google Suggest – tap suggested web search queries and local businesses that appear as you type
* Search history – quickly search again for queries you recently performed
* Contact search – search your phone’s contacts.
* Vertical search – search Google Maps, Images, News, and Shopping


Weekly goals for calories, time, or distance
– Workout tracking and history
– Body weight tracking system and charts
– Achievement system
– Twitter integration
– Personal weight tracking
– System designed by Personal Trainer


iTrail is an all-in-one, in-your-pocket, sports performance tracking tool, and GPS recording application. Whether you are running, cycling, walking, skiing, or drive, use iTrail to record your performance and location as you move. iTrail will work in the background whilst you listen to music, talk a call or anything else. iTrail uses iPhone’s GPS receiver. 


The LogYourHike iPhone App uses the built-in GPS of the iPhone as well as the built-in accelerometer of the iPhone and iPod Touch to measure the distance of your exercise activities. By working both as a pedometer and a GPS device you do not have to wait to get good satellite reception to start your run – the pedometer will measure your distance when the GPS signal is poor.


Forecast & observation data for hundreds of areas around Australia. Select it via GPS, Map or list.
– Push current temp, text forecasts and state,regional and local warnings to your iPhone (NEW in 2.1)
– Custom interface for browsing BOM warnings, all nicely formatted for your iPhone
– Tide graphs for hundreds of locations around Australia
– National Rain, Satellite and Synoptic Chart
– Animated weather icons
– Sunrise/sunset times
– All of the BOM rain and wind doppler radars with Find/Track me function as well as the ability to have it auto update (see ‘Live Radar’ in settings)
– National rain & cloud radars & Synoptic chart
– Extended forecasts for regional areas
– Give your locations custom names
– Shake to refresh, simply shake your phone to refresh the data
– Realtime UV support for some locations
– Last update is always cached, so you don’t need a network connection to check the weather for the week, once you’ve got it once.
– Updates are tiny (less than 10kb) so you don’t have to worry about your iPhone data cap.
– Supports landscape and portrait view, and in landscape you get all the information on a single page. 


– 7 day forecasts for more than 250 official forecast locations
– Detailed local observations, typically updated every 10 mins
– Each forecast location includes up to 6 nearest official observation locations, accessible by side-scrolling action.
– 50 rain radar locations around Australia
– The radar view also has a “Locate Me” feature which queries the iPhone’s GPS and then centres the radar map on your current location along with an animated crosshair cursor.
– Radar data delivery has been carefully optimised to arrive quickly on your iPhone
  (Free version available)


1) It uses GPS to show your location on the radar.
2) Oz Radar supports full screen landscape view.
3) National cloud and synoptic charts.

Time and Australian Weather, a match made in heaven. Weather sourced directly from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) displayed elegantly alongside the current time. 


iBarometer is an application pretty, simple, accurate, and efficient. It lets you easily know what is the pressure near you. Contrary to standard applications (with predefined cities), this version of the barometer will give you precisely the pressure of where you are. It integrates its own conversion system.


World Tides uses the Simply Harmonic Formula and harmonic constants provided by the UKHO to give 7 day tide predictions without the need for an internet connection. Features: Moon/Sun Rise/Set times, large slidable tide graph, recent locations, built in zoomable map, gps sensor, search, and details page.


Moonlight features a photorealistic display using OpenGL rendering technique that paints the moon’s current appearance including all variations in distance, equatorial ecliptic angle and moon libration. The program takes the observer’s (that is you) current position and time into account for exact rendering of images. Alternatively, you can enter your own coordinates and view the moon from anywhere in the world. Go into time warp mode and accelerate time: Fast forward or rewind to see how the moon changes over time.Moonlight not only displays a pretty 3D image but also shows various essential data points: moon phase, distance between earth and moon, julian date or local sideral time.

Wooly Wind Chill plus ground Speed 

Calculate wind chill temperature by simply selecting the air temperature and wind speed. The calculated wind chill temperature is displayed “on the fly”.For those who travel by bike, motorcycle, boat, or other means where you find yourself exposed to the elements while in motion, Wooly Wind Chill now has the option to calculate the approximate effective wind chill based your current moving speed (not factoring for actual wind speeds).

Field Guides

Pictoral database of common gemstones, with high-resolution images. Over 2000 gems are included. The images in this app are categorized by Varietal (Agate, Amethyst, etc.) This app includes some information about the gemstone, such as location found, habit, shape, hue, tone, etc. This app is mainly aimed at students, professors, scientists, hobbyists, and those in the field who wish for help identifying gemstones, or learn a bit about what they’re seeing in the field. 


This app brings back the ancient knowledge of former generations: Here you will find out how to identify conclusively a thundercloud and what kind of weather can be expected in what time frame when you see fleecy clouds. Here you will find out if it is going to rain when the spider stops spinning its web and much, much more. With detailed descriptions of all cloud types and the weather they bring
– Complete cloud atlas with all cloud families, species and types according to the International Cloud Atlas of the WMO (World Meteorological Organization)
– Large photo gallery with over 70 examples of all cloud types


Michael Morcombe’s Field Guide to Australian Birds has been called the most comprehensive field guide to Australian birds in the market today and now it is perfectly complimented by the eGuide which features:
-iPhone optimised controls   swipe to next or previous species, one-tap enlargement of an image and rotate the device (landscape) to enlarge an image completely (and fit the width of the screen).
-Over 3000 hi-res bird images covering over 790 bird species.
-Most bird species have a detailed distribution map showing any subspecies that occur.
-Detailed text descriptions of almost all bird species including songs and calls, measurements and breeding behaviour.
-Over 1800 carefully-selected and edited sound recordings for over 600 species. Many species are represented with multiple call examples showing the full range of vocalizations.
-The ability to compare any two images, maps, or sounds, side by side on the screen. The ability to filter by geographic location, so that you see only the species likely to occur in your location, and to further reduce the possibilities to usual or vagrant species in the selected area.
-A  Smart Search  that gives the ability to search by distinguishing features such as size, colour, physical features, habitat and exclude certain types of birds (eg. Passerines).
-A basic personal species list that stores your sightings saved to the device* (ability to upload list coming soon)
-A comprehensive help and introduction section to help you if you get stuck or don t understand how a certain feature works.


Need a quick and easy way to keep track of bird sightings? This app makes adding sightings in the field quick and easy with these features:
– Quickly search through a complete list of over 800 Australian bird species using common name, scientific name, or “alpha code” abbreviations.
– Automatically connect to web resources to help verify your sightings, including Flickr images, Google images, and Wikipedia articles. Access a wealth of birding info without huge downloads hogging space on your device.
– Save and manage your frequently used birding locations with gps tracking and map view.
– Annotate your observations with notes and protocol information.
– Export your data as a .csv file that can be opened with spreadsheet applications or submitted to birding websites.


Displays the sky view at the correct orientation when held at any angle not just landscape or portrait. Simple operation, no buttons to press or modes to select, just point to the sky to start exploring. Unique rotation scheme enables touchless navigation even for the iPod touch without a compass.
Many features specifically for efficient outdoor use. Red light mode to preserve night vision, magnitude adjustment for viewing conditions, planets shown with relative brightness for easy identification, touchless navigation, heads up information display, full 180 degree display to see at a glance what is in the sky and where. Looking for a planet or star? Just use the finder and let the arrow guide the way.


The App covers 23 of Tasmania’s common and endemic birds and includes bird calls, high quality pictures and information on their habitat, breeding, diet etc. Use the App while out bush to work out which call is which.

Birds of Australia

This application includes up-to-date Wikipedia entries and pictures of over 700 birds native to Australia. Prepare for your birdwatching activity by downloading (caching) all articles and images on your iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad (approx. 600 MB). Reference the guide when outdoors without an Internet connection. Over 700 birds grouped into 93 species families!!!
Key Features
* Wikipedia articles cached complete with full large images. Simply click on any image in a cached article to view the large image.
* Image Picker
* search capabilities
* landscape & portrait modes
* Wikipedia pages formatted for iPhone display
* Cache update from server resumes where last stopped
* Server will be updated periodically with new entries and updated data from wikipedia.

Trip Records
outdoor-adventure-blogs (Free)

Stay up to date with the latest Outdoor activity and lifestyle blogs, ideas and adventure writings with heaps of news and posts preloaded into this app and being constantly updated by some of the most engaging bloggers in the world. You can also use the Outdoor Blog Reader as your main news/blog reader because you can easily add your favorite rss feeds on any topic via the “Add Blog via URL” or “Search Blog via Keyword” features.

Blog Reader features include:

* Heaps of pre-loaded blogs
* Search Blogs via Keyword
* Add Blog via URL
* Read blogs offline
* Checks for new Blog posts when you launch
* Delete, move or add blogs
* Categories
* Email blog posts to your friends
* View in posts in Safari
* Unread posts indicated by number
* Help for Blog Reader functions

Trip Journal allows you to document vacation experiences and share them with your friends and family. Impress everybody with real time updates from the visited destinations and let people see proof of your latest adventures, as your journey unfolds.
* software applications downloaded  from the iTunes store.

Light my Fire: using fire starters

All of us need to be able to quickly light a fire with some confidence when bushwalking, whether that be a campfire or a stove.

In the mid-eighties, I only took a gas stove for emergencies, assuming that we would always be able to get a campfire going except in the foulest of weather.  Nowadays of course, having a wood fire is a luxury or as some would say an environmental disaster, that few of us experience on a regular basis.

WWII match holder and compass

A good example from the match era is  the waterproof bakelite match holder with compass in the lid and striker on the inside which were used by soldiers during WWII.

Over the years, the type of fire starter has diversified so that new alternatives to the waterproof match have appeared.

I could never get the waterproof match to work especially in the wet and always found that I wore out of the “striker” surface before I finished my last match. So it was not long before I migrated to a cigarette lighter, initially a gold one belonging to my aunt which had the benefit of an adjustable flame with renewable flint and the ability to refill. However I always managed to misplace it!

Disposable cigarette lighters were readily available and cheap so I usually took a couple of these with me. Over time I accumulated quite a few of these but they often seemed to stop working from one walk to the next, either the flint wore out or the gas seemed to escape.

I never found them very effective on a cold morning, especially if they had been left out over night next to your stove and got wet. I always burnt my thumb when lighting my MSR Whisperlite although some of my younger bushwalking friends taught me how to manipulate the flame on a disposable lighter so you could get a jet about 4 cm long. This certainly helped. One tip that I have been told for keeping your lighter dry is to put it on a string around your neck.

When air safety regulations were introduced which prevented you from carrying disposable lighters on board a flight, I changed over to “fire steels”.  By then I was using a MSR Whisperlite, and the sparks were all that was needed to light the Shellite primer (white gas).

Some tips I’ve learnt to help start a fire using a steel are

  • keep the steel in contact with the tinder *
  • pull the the steel up at the same time as you push the striker down.* 
  • use Vaseline** on cotton wool balls as fire starters (waterproof)
  • tampons make great “tinder”

*     Hard to see how you can do both at once!
 ** Vaseline® Petroleum Jelly is a mixture of mineral oils, paraffin and microcrystalline waxes

Light My Fire Firesteel

Some interesting facts about the flints (ferrocerium alloy) in cigarette and gas lighters  and in firesteels can be read at

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How to eat well with little effort, saving weight and time.


I have always admired those walkers who are so devoted to their food that they will spend 15 minutes carefully preparing their meal from the basic ingredients and then another 15 mins slowly simmering in a pot producing mouth watering aromas for all those around to enjoy. Afterwards they spend another 15 minutes washing and cleaning their utensils, with their tiny squares of ScotchBrite, surely the most unhygienic thing in their packs.

They provide me with endless entertainment around the campfire, for which I am very appreciative. Despite this, I occasionally feel sorry for the “gourmets” when it starts to rain and they are still preparing their meal or cleaning up, while I have finished and can head back to my tent.

I frequently recount the tale of one walker who I saw make a pizza in his Trangia pan, beginning with the flour and yeast, kneading to a dough, letting it rise and then adding  the finely sliced vegetables and sausage to the tomato paste base, before baking slowly in his covered frying pan.  Luckily the weather was fine and warm and we got into camp early!

I’m afraid I don’t have the patience. Meal time is not high on my priority list. In fact, I  go to great lengths to reduce the time spent preparing a meal and the cleaning up afterwards.

What could be simpler than boiling some water and adding it to a packet?

Over the years I have gradually become minimalist. Rather than preparing a dessert, I usually have a twin serve of the main course and then perhaps some chocolate, if I want something sweet, followed by a hot drink. I simply add the water to my dehydrated meal, leave it to stand for 10 mins with a stir midway, and eat it out of the packet with my single eating utensil…. my spoon. No plates or bowls to wash and only a spoon to lick and a foil packet to roll up! I have even given up milk and sugar in my tea, so I have less to carry. Its amazing what you can do without and not miss!

I have recently started to boil extra water with my evening meal and keep it in a small insulated flask (Thermos) overnight, inside my sleeping bag, which saves me having to light my stove in the morning and conserves both my time and a little fuel. Sure it cools down a little, but it still is about as hot in the morning as my espresso coffee would be. Preheating helps a little. It weighs a little more than a standard water bottle, but is a lifesaver when its wet and you can’t get out of your tent to light the stove.

What is the ideal stove for boiling 1.5L of water quickly?

Quick boiling white spirits stove

 While my companions around the campfire laugh at my noisy MSR Whisperlite with its dramatic pre-ignition flames, they are amazed at the speed that its super hot flame can boil a litre of water. Along with its compact size and low weight, it burns Shellite (white spirits) which is very efficient, using about half the amount of methylated spirits you would need with a Trangia. Fuel efficiency means less weight to carry, something I value highly. In addition to the stove I take a single MSR titanium 1.25 L bowl with lid, inside which the stove, my lighter and grippers all fit inside. That leaves the fuel bottle, the size of which I select depending on the length of the trip and the number of people sharing the stove and my MSR maintenance and spares kit. I know what your saying…. my Trangia doesn’t need a maintenance kit!

Breakfast well that’s easy. A couple of substantial health food bars from the health food section of the supermarket, not those foil wrapped sickly sweet mini- breakfast bars that come by the “dozen” in cardboard boxes

I used to prepare snaplock bags of pre-weighed muesli with powdered milk premixed to which I had to just add hot water and then eat out of the bag. But why, when for less effort, I could eat an equally nutritious muesli bar pre-packaged in a waterproof packet, inside my tent, without the need to light my stove. I usually start eating breakfast while still in my sleeping bag.

Lunch: foil packet of flavoured tuna, half a block of hard strongly flavoured parmesan cheese, some dry biscuits, a couple of mini- metwursts and some dried fruit and nuts. High energy food, which can survive warm temperatures. Hardly what the doctor ordered!

On arrival in camp, perhaps a hot drink with some Sustagen, and a few snakes, M&Ms and jelly babies, which are guaranteed to put some energy back in most people.

To which camp do you belong?  The “minimalists” or the “gourmets”or somewhere in between?


Cartridge vs Liquid Fuel Stoves
Ethanol vs shellite vs gas: Tony’s Bushwalking Blog
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My "Personal Survival Kit" (PSK)

Survival Kit in a Sardine Can
Its amazing how many different “personal” or “minimum”,”emergency” or “survival” kits (PSK) lists there are in existence. Every bushwalking book seems to have a different one. Try A Google search…. I found hundreds of thousands of references. Try searching YouTube and you get 68 videos showing how to put one together.

Why are there so many when they all aim to provide water, fire, food, shelter in an emergency?

Of course, many of these references are not entirely relevant to bushwalkers, who have to carry whatever is in their kit and therefore must make savings in both weight and volume. 

So why is there no universal list for bushwalkers?

Well some items do seem to appear in all lists, in one form or another, but the inclusion of others depends on the priority you give to provision of water, shelter and food or whether your focus is upon thermal regulation, hydration, and signaling.

Perusing an equipment list from the 1965 edition of ‘Equipment for Mountaineering’ published by the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club we find a whole lot of items that the modern  lightweight and minimal impact walker would never carry or which have been replaced by better alternatives.

tomahawk, machete, handkerchieves, tin opener, cigarettes, Dubbin, song book, sharpening stone, boots with nails  …..

Another list from the mid eighties

  • water 1L 
  • whistle on a string around neck  
  • pencil and paper 
  • waterproof matches or cigarette lighter  
  • woollen jumper 
  • hat 
  • first aid (personal) (FAK)
  • waterproof jacket 
  • cord 
What changes are needed after all these years?
Well I think I would add at least four items which have become readily available since then: 

 I would then add some of the following or replace items in the list above with

  • micro-compass (if your not confident to use the sun or don’t have an iPhone or a GPS with an digital compass in built or if you don’t trust the batteries)
  • magnesium flint lighter as an alternative to a cigarette lighter
  • emergency blanket 
  • water purification tablets or water purifying straw
  • signaling mirror
  • flexible wire saw (to make tent pegs and poles)
  • fire lighters or solid fuel tablets
  • candle
  • collapsible water containers eg condoms hold 1L and can be protected by a spare sock
  • needles and thread
  • safety pins
  • scalpel blade(s)
  • length of plastic tubing for siphoning or to reach inside rock cavities or “yabbie” holes
  • cable ties
Often it is possible to combine some of the items eg a whistle, compass, thermometer, magnifying lens, signalling mirror, torch (Coghlan 6 in 1)

Now you have the kit, what sort of container should you keep it in?

A lightweight waterproof bag or perhaps a light weight metal container that can also serve to heat water in? Perhaps you could combine your PSK with your personal first aid kit.

Where will you keep it? 

On your person at all times! Ever fallen down into a creek going for water or got lost going to the loo…. some people do? This kit is designed to be carried on you at all times and to supplement things that you would normally carry in your clothing or on your belt.

The PSK should supplement what is being carried in you pack ( see later blog) and this in turn will be determined by
  • weather (storms, season, heavy rain, cold, sun)
  • terrain (river crossings, snow, mud)
  • vegetation (prickly)
Some additional reading:

Want a “real” wilderness survival kit? 

The quest for perfect PSK is never ending

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This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

How much fuel do I need?

Going on a long walk soon?

Want to save some weight?

Which stove are you going to choose?

Over the years I have changed from predominantly using a campfire, to gas canisters, to a Trangia and then to a MSR Whisperlite. I  did this initially in response to Park regulations which changed to ban wood fires in the 90’s.

I found that for overnight walks or even extended walks up to a few days that gas stoves were great, but then I started walking in Tasmania and realised that gas stoves sometimes don’t work well in very cold conditions. Over 10 days, the  volume of the gas canisters became a significant factor and my conservation principles made the throw-away canisters unacceptable.

Trangia’s are great, low cost, low noise, environmentally friendly but they are a little bulky and the fuel being less efficient than Shellite (white spirits) requires much more to be carried for the same heat output.They are relatively slow to heat large volumes of water as required when melting snow. They have the advantage that they simmer well, so if you like preparing complex meals they are great. I don’t.

So I changed to an MSR Whisperlite, which has the advantage of being compact, fuel efficient and very quick to boil water. You can share one with a tent mate and if you adapt your menu so that boiling water is their main task they are ideal. Of course you will get a ribbing from your friends as they sound like a jet taking off and the pre-ignition flames are always sure to bring a gasp. At times they block due to soot or contaminated fuel but it only takes a few minutes to unblock them and if you remember to shake regularly, the built in “pricker” should keep the fuel flowing freely. Another advantage for overseas travel is that they are multi-fueled and will run on kero, diesel etc providing you use the correct jet (supplied).

Here are some factors you need to consider:

  • cost
  • weight and size of stove
  • efficiency of the fuel
  • effectiveness in cold windy conditions
  • time to get started and difficulty of priming
  • time to boil water
  • availability of fuel
Seems complicated, well it is. Check out this FAQ link
Want to save both time and fuel?
  • Boil enough additional water to fill an insulated (thermos) flask the night before and keep it in your sleeping bag overnight. In the morning it will still be hot enough to make a cup of tea and you will save the additional fuel needed to prime your stove.
  • Always use a wind shield, which can be bought cheaply at the local hardware shop, where it masquerades as aluminium flashing for rooves.

Want to know more?

Check out this video.


Fuel Efficiency
Zen Backpacking Stoves

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      This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.