Tales and Field Tests

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Field Testing Salomon Toundra Forces Winter Boots

Last winter we tested the Salomon Toundra Forces tactical winter boots. We can warmly recommend these warm winter boots to everyone whose toes freeze easily or who need to operate in a super cold environment whether it is military use, hiking, hunting, or everyday life.

On the Night Vision Close Quarter Battle Course (NVG ITCQB)

I had the opportunity to participate in Project Gecko’s NVG ITCQB course hosted by Tactical Academy Finland (TAF). NVG ITCQB is a follow-up course to the ITCQB 01 and ITCQB 02 courses, which focuses on working with night vision goggles. Some of the students had taken the ITCQB 01 module and a few had also completed the ITCQB 02 course.

Detective novelist at the perils of the Archipelago Sea

By Christian Rönnbacka.

Hunting moose in Pomokaira in Lapland

Moose hunts on state land in northern Finland offer wilderness adventures for tens of thousands of Finnish hunters every year. We also gathered a group of friends and traveled to Lapland, dreaming of catching the two moose for which we had permits in the Pomo-Vuotso region.

The Shooters of Varusteleka

Being as we are a military and outdoor specialist business, a high proportion of our staff are into things like hiking and bushcraft, and hunting, as presented in this previous article. This time, we're looking at the shooters: various shooting disciplines are a swell combination of physical skill, mental capability, and technical knowledge. There's always more to learn and there's no such thing as a complete or finished shooter. Can you get more Zen?

Hunters at Varusteleka

Looking at the things we sell, it is quite understandable that we got many employees who are interested in shooting, bushcraft, and hiking. And it is quite natural that many also hunt. Some have done it for long, some are just getting started. Hunting is a fantastic hobby as long as it is done sustainably.

Combat Backpacks in Civilian Life

Are assault packs suitable for peaceful everyday life, such as hiking, as a shopping bag, or for carrying work stuff?

SERE-A Urban Survival Course

How would our forest hermit of an employee survive in an urban environment after the Apocalypse? Let’s find out! When they asked me at work whether I’d like to write a story on an urban survival course, I instantly blurted out “hell yeah”. After a short while, I started wondering what did I get myself into now? I live in the countryside in a sparsely populated area and spend my vacations in the wilderness, so surviving in the bush is a lot more familiar to me. What do you do in the city when you can no longer order pizza, electricity doesn’t come out of the socket, and savage thugs rule the streets? And would this backwoods princess used to sleeping on soft mossy beds survive on cold concrete? And how do you prepare for this kind of stuff?

Kaldoaivi hike 2019

Here’s another set of stories from the fells of Lapland by Tero and Essi. This time about their hike in the Kaldoaivi wilderness area in August 2019.

Hundred hikes in 2019, part 3/3

This is the third and final part of the article series on our 2019 hiking challenge. In the first part, we talked about the preparations and gear, and in the second part our adventures during the year. This time, we're going to go through what we learnt during the year and what happens next. There's also some good food!

Hundred hikes in 2019, part 2/3

This is the second part of the article series on our Essi and Tero's hiking challenge for they year 2019. In the first part, we looked at the preparations for this adventure-filled year. In this part, we'll see what actually happened.

Hundred hikes in 2019, part 1/3

Hi gang, we are Essi and Tero! We live and work in the Helsinki region in southern Finland and we enjoy different kinds of outdoor adventures. We noticed that it is very easy to get stuck on the couch watching Netflix after work. To break this bad habit, we challenged each other to go on 100 hikes in 2019 and to keep a journal on Instagram. The goal was to spend more time in nature and hone our bushcrafting skills instead of wasting all that time in front of the TV.

Total World Domination Tour 2020!

We kicked off the year 2020 with our traditional long-distance recon mission to the west coast of the USA. Here’s a brief report on what we accomplished across the pond this time. The basic pattern is familiar from our previous tours: the primary targets were the Army, Navy, Military Expo, SHOT Show, and of course Desert Brutality. On the surface, it sounds like the same old song and dance but every time Uncle Sam has some fantastic new stuff to show us. Viva Las Vegas, baby!

MPK RMC Combat Fitness Test 2019

There are many ways to spend an awesome weekend. One is definitely to take part in the Royal Marine Commando Fitness test. The National Defence Training Association of Finland has organized a fitness test adopted from Royal Marine Commando for quite some time in Coastal Jaeger company in Dragsvik and this year’s timing matched my schedule. I was really curious to see how this would play out.

Hesco Zombie Invitational 3G Match 2019

It is interesting how random encounters lead to awesome outcomes. A few years back in Shot Show we met the crew from Hesco Armor and got to know each other. Last year, they invited us to participate in their Hesco Zombie Invitational 3-gun match. So we made a trade, that they send one warrior to take part in Finnish Brutality and we send our champion to their match. The challenge was accepted and Hesco participated in Finnish Brutality 2019, now was our turn to return the favor.

Hiisi's Elk 2019

The smell of pine tar on wooden skis and hot coffee in a kuksa will reach your nose as you read this story of tracking the largest game animal in Finland.

Army tales: Offshore March and Shelter exercise

Garrisons - especially in countries with conscription - are a wonderful cross-section of societies. You'll meet so many different people from different backgrounds.

Army tales: Missing Item Report

The mandatory military service in the Finnish Defence Forces was never really an issue or a big deal for me before it began. To the last minute, I postponed my decision to either go and do some time in Finnish correctional facilities, also known as jail time, or just “doing my time”.

Army tales: An APC driver's porcelain dream

Not many people can resist the attraction of a figurative low part of a fence. (A common idiom in Finnish for following the path of the least resistance - editor's note.) Vehicle drivers in armed forces are rather familiar with this concept. It was a cold mid-winter in early 2004, which meant that there was less service before us than behind, but we weren't exactly close to the end either. Our service time as conscripts in the Rapid Deployment Force would be from July 2003 to July 2004.

Army tales: Full Moon in Kiikala

The year was 2008 and our NCO class was training in Kiikala around a small airfield. It was late winter, there was very little snow left and most of the day was pitch dark. We had our foxholes dug and our platoon was positioned to defend a forest next to the airfield. Amongst conscripts, Kiikala has a notorious reputation of having shitty or abnormal weather conditions.

South Carelian Military March 2019

Our experience in the SCMM road and off-road divisions. There are never too many good marching events and the South Carelian Military March - organized for the tenth time this year - is definitely among the best in Finland. You can choose between a division that has your patrol avoid being detected while completing tasks, or a traditional march along roads. The idea is a straight-forward and fun challenge. This year we participated in both main divisions and here's our report.

Shot Show 2019

The army and outdoor industry have a calendar of their own. The year doesn't start from 1st January, but the real kick-off to a new year is Shot Show. Because we are in tune with this rhythm, we packed our bags once again and headed to Las Vegas to further our cause: Total World Domination.

Road Trip in New Zealand

Summer vacation cancelled! Varusteleka's relocation operation happened during the best summer vacation season in Finland. Thus, we flipped the vacation game upside down with my girlfriend. We postponed our vacation to December and January and headed to the Southern hemisphere.

Christmas Holiday In Thailand With A Light Pack

Well, well, well! I had the first opportunity in years to spend proper long X-mas holidays, so I seized it like a hungry racoon. In a democratic fashion my spouse and a couple who are our friends decided to head far away, because it's often so hectic at work. After a short and random process we decided on sunny Thailand.

Three Nights In Prague And A Light Pack

An extended weekend in urban Central Europe is a brilliant choice to spend a few days of leave. This time I decided to visit Prague, where the weather forecast promised typical conditions: a bit below or above freezing, no high likelihood of rain or storm.

Kevo Canyon as a Kebnekaise rebound

Me and my buddy started the car on 23th SEP at 1700 hours from Hyvinkää, South Finland. The original destination, North Sweden and Kebnekaise, switched en route to Kevo canyon in Utsjoki, Finland. Winter had come early to the Kebnekaise massif and cut all coach connections and brought the tourist season at Nikkaluokta-Abisko to an end on that very same day.

The ascent of Halti in fall of 2018, part 2/2

In the first part we made it halfway up the slopes of Halti fell, as we had decided to attempt going all the way to the summit the same evening. Morale was growing thin in the rocky uphill.

The ascent of Halti in fall of 2018, part 1/2

We are employees of Varusteleka and a couple, who spend a lot of time in nature. We make short hikes nearby every week and several overnighters every year. In addition to these, we are committed to two longer hikes or other adventures each year. This year we went to Koli national park in May and in late August / early September, we went to Halti fell. Last year we made a trip to the Kaldoaivi wilderness area.

Herajärvi Trail - Amateur Hiker Flying Solo

During the busy stretch of our relocation and preparing for the Mega Grand Opening I started to think that a time-out in nature would be a brilliant way to get my mind off of work. The first phase of planning was potential participants. This phase was done pretty fast. At the end of August, all of my hiking-oriented friends had spent their summer holidays already.

Camping with the Defence Forces

Laid-back camping and hiking is fine and a globally well understood thing. Among other things Finns sometimes do differently than others is military excercise and reservist training as a replacement for "civilian-style" outdoor pastimes. Making this choice means you voluntarily restrict your freedom (only for the duration of the excercise of course), but in turn you get to do interesting stuff in varying environments. Here are a few tips how to make most of military training trips.

Visiting Scotland with Särmä

I had my one-week summer leave in late August and desperately needed a cooler place to escape the heat wave that had tormented Finland for the best part of summer. I opened the weather forecast map of Europe and saw that there were two locations for me to go: Iceland or the UK. Everywhere else: Scorchio!

EKS/SCMM 2018, Part 6, Team Leka firearms training

Four basic rules for safe weapon handling.

EKS/SCMM 2018, Part 5, Team Leka Final march exercise

Training rehearsal and recon mission 6-8.4.2018. Our march is approaching and the demands put on us by our training have grown. This time we rehearsed our march and did a little recon where this will all take place.

EKS/SCMM 2018, Part 4, Team Leka Fitness

Our team continues training and this time we had scheduled some physical training at our gym. Coach for this session was Petteri Kantola. Petteri is officer (ret.), assumingly gentleman as well, martial artist and damn good personal trainer. Due to the fact, that Petteri has first hand knowledge about coaching soldiers, we were sure that this evolution will be highly beneficial for our military march project.

EKS/SCMM 2018, Part 3, TCCC

Preparation for SCMM continues. Our goal is to refresh our basic soldier skills, and this time we were focusing on Tactical Combat Casualty Care basics. We managed to get ourselves a really good instructor. This individual has trained TCCC for the Finnish Border Guard’s Special Forces and he has a degree in trauma care, as well as plenty of experience.

EKS/SCMM 2018, Part 2, First March Exercise

We held our patrol group's first training march on 12.12.2017. The purpose of this training march was to try operating as a group, as well as to test the base levels of the group and the equipment. The mission was a light 15 km evening stroll that took us from Varusteleka - the top of Malminkartano - Paloheinä - the top of Paloheinä - Varusteleka.

EKS/SCMM 2018 Team Leka Introduction, Part 1

How to spend some quality time with the colleagues? Well, taking part into demanding military patrol competition, instead of drinking beer at cozy Sotima bar. But such is life at Varusteleka…

Private Military Contractor - Operation POLAND

A year back I and a few friends of mine went to explore what sort of experiences the Polish Euseca's (European Security Academy) Close Protection Basic and -Advanced courses could offer us. Well, the course was a proper "no bullshit" experience and ever since I've longed to return to Poland one day.

Operation 120 Pickles of Sodom

There are many ways to field-test equipment. This time we're diving into less conventional means, which may appear completely out of line and reason to some. The operation wasn't exactly a great success, but we're glad no-one died out there.

The Night of Drifters

We had long planned to do some field testing in an urban environment and also toyed with the idea of homelessness. These thoughts combined with Night Visions movie festival and our own showing there, we realized this had to be done. The movie in question was, of course, Hobo With A Shotgun, starring Rutger Hauer.