How to Mark Trails Like a Pro

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Every year we see tons of people get lost in National Parks around the nation. Its a nasty fact but many people head out into this massive world, unprepared. They leave without maps, they leave without extra clothes or food. There are simple skills that can make all the difference in your in your life. …

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Build Your Secret Prepper Hideout The Easy Way

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The bat cave is a dream that all preppers can aspire to. In fact, its pretty safe to say that Batman is the only prepper hero on the list. Normal guy, tons of foresight, ready for anything and has an underground bunker that would make any prepper weak in the knees. There is something to …

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Review – Legacy Food Storage

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I have alway enjoyed giving new products a try. It could be because I like to eat but I especially enjoy it when Food Storage companies ask me to do a review. That was the Read More …

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Hike Like a Pro With These 6 Tips

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There are few activities that can be as productive for your prepping skills as hiking. Hiking gives you the chance to pregame your situation. It allows you to get out into the woods, throw the bugout bag on and see what you are truly capable of. You will quickly find out where you need to …

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9 Improvised Hunting Weapons for Fish and Game in the Wild

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We always assume we’ll have a rifle when hunting, but in a survival situation, we may be lucky to have a pocket knife. A rifle is the standard, contemporary tool or weapon for almost any hunting situation. It’s a highly sophisticated weapon customized with scopes and by caliber for a variety of game species and […]

The post 9 Improvised Hunting Weapons for Fish and Game in the Wild appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

Master Class: Intro to Backpacking

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You know, we can read a lot about the things we should do and the experiences we should have. There are plenty of websites blogging about the benefits of camping and getting outside. You know what? Kudos to them. They are part of the reason we are seeing tons of people infected with this outdoors …

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Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy

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by Todd Walker

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

School is out for summer. Here’s a look in the rear view mirror at our first year of Project Based Learning at RISE Academy.

Our students and staff wish to thank each of you for the encouraging words, moral support, and following our journey of Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance! Below is a pictorial recap (picture-heavy) of the skills, projects, and links to more in-depth posts for those interested in learning these skills.

Cutting Tool Safety and Use

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Carving tent stakes.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Aware of his “blood circle”

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

How to safely chop kindling.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The draw knife was a hit with the students.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Cutting rounds for “burn and scrape” spoons and bowls.

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Outdoor Classroom Construction

Early in the school year, we decided to build an outdoor classroom. Nothing too fancy but functional for our needs. Students used math skills to square corners, learned to read a tape measure (fractions), and lashed the bamboo structure together. Their lashings held fast even through Hurricane Irma.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A lot of square lashings were tied.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A few of the crew.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Raising the roof

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The roof secured

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The Science of Fire

We have a joke around school when I’m asked, “What are we doing today?” My typical response is, “Cutting and burning stuff.” You may not get it, but fire takes center stage in the life of our outdoor classroom. Learning to use fire as a tool is paramount for outdoor living and education.

Fire by Friction

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Double teaming the bow drill.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A hand drill coal blown into flame.

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Fire by Spark Ignition

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Birthing fire from flint and steel

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Practicing flint and steel ignition under an emergency tarp.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Ferro rod fire in the rain

Related Link: 

Fire by Solar Ignition

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Mr. Andrews demonstrating solar ignition

Practical Tools and Crafts

Burn and Scrape Containers

This may be the most mesmerizing of all the skills students learned.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Showing off burned bowls.

Bark Containers

Students used Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) bark to craft traditional containers.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Stitching sides with artificial sinew.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A grape-vine was used as the rim on this basket.

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Hoko Knife

A simple way to introduce primitive technology to students is to make a Hoko knife. This stone cutting tool was discovered on the Hoko River archeological site in Washington State. A landslide destroyed the native fishing village about 2,700 years ago preserving artifacts of their material culture.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The flint flake compressed in a split stick with natural cordage.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Some were wrapped with modern cordage (tarred mariner’s line).

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Pine Pitch Glue

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Pine pitch, charcoal, and a variety of containers to hold the glue.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Crushed charcoal added to the mix.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Heating the pitch glue low and slow.

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Natural Cordage

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Reverse twist cordage from cattail leaves.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Cordage made from a variety of natural materials.

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Atlatl

What’s an atlatl?

A simple dart-throwing stick with a handle on one end and spur (male end) or socket (female end) on the other end. The dart, a flexible spear, mates with the spur/socket when thrown. Typically about two feet long, an atlatl employs leverage to extend the arm’s length to propel a dart further and with more velocity than when thrown using only the arm.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Notice the bend in the dart shaft when thrown.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

She was proud of her accurate throws.

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Campfire Cooking

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Cooking over an open fire.

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Ms. Byrd enjoying s’mores before Christmas break.

Related Link:

I’ve also created a RISE Academy Playlist on our YouTube channel. if you’d like to see our students Doing the Stuff, click on the video link below:

Many Thanks!

The things we have to learn before we do them, we learn by doing them.

~ Aristotle

We cannot thank you enough for all the support and encouragement you’ve given our students whom you’ve never met! The full impact of this journey in experiential education may never be known. It’s difficult to quantify. But you can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voice.

Some of you have asked how you might help in more tangible ways. Stay tuned for updates on becoming a partner/sponsor with RISE Academy. Until then…

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

~ Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestYouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Photo and Video Credits: Many of the photos were taken by Mr. Chris Andrews (teacher) and various RISE students. Video footage was shot mainly by students and guided by Mr. Michael Chapman (teacher).

Our First Year of Building Self-Reliance Skills at RISE Academy ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Bushcraft Knives 101: Why do you Need to Find a Perfect Bushcraft Knife

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Bushcraft Knives 101: Why do you Need to Find a Perfect Bushcraft Knife

Bushcraft Knives 101: 
Why do you Need to Find a Perfect Bushcraft Knife

Knife enthusiasts, we have great news for you! Trying to find yourself a good knife for your outdoor adventures? Your outdoor adventures need a survival knife that can help you with different kinds of tasks! The knife should be able enough to complete all tasks, from the smallest to the toughest.

So, why not take a look at bushcraft knives?

Continue reading Bushcraft Knives 101: Why do you Need to Find a Perfect Bushcraft Knife at Prepper Broadcasting Network.

Inspire Those Around you to Start Prepping

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Do you know the one question that always comes up? Do you know the biggest struggle that preppers face outside of money in our little niche? It’s the struggle of getting those around us to take preparedness and survival as passionately as we do! Getting Family Inspired We are inspired people and our passion manifests […]

The post Inspire Those Around you to Start Prepping appeared first on American Preppers Network.

Big Birch Bark Sheets; Deer Carcass Inspection; The Importance Of Tree ID In Bushcraft

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There are three serious topics in this podcast. Some of the most important parts of bushcraft are right here in this one. I was very impressed when I came across this. Tree identification is quickly becoming one of the most important pieces of the preparedness puzzle. Dave Canterbury says that they are a 4 seasons …

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Which Camp Kool-Aid Do You Drink? Kit Dogma or Skill Cult?

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by Todd WalkerWhich Camp Kool-Aid Do You Drink_ Kit Dogma or Skill Cult_ - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Snap! My ax handle was in two pieces. Now what? Would I sink or rise above a tool failure?

The good news is that my truck was a short walk from fixed camp. I crossed the creek, pulled a hill, and grabbed another ax from my truck. The day was saved.

Could I have made a stone ax? That’s a ridiculous notion seeing as how I was cutting a cord of firewood with an ax.

Every outing is different. People have different styles and tastes. Skill sets vary. I’m now knee-deep into building a log cabin in the woods with hand tools. You better believe I carry more than a knife and belt ax to the project. I bring what I need to make the job easier. Here are the most used tools at this stage of felling, bucking, and debarking logs…

  • Axes
  • Bark Spud
  • LogRite Jr. Arch
  • Cant Hook

Once the walls begin to be laid, my tool box will expand considerably. This cabin project isn’t a camping trip. An ax is the only tool from the above list that goes camping with me. Tools in your kit should be able to multitask but some are trip or mission specific. I have different kits depending on how I want to play in the woods.

The internet is full of proselytizers. One denomination promotes Kit Dogma. Others preach from the Skill Cult pulpit. If you don’t convert to one side or the other, you’ll be damned to hell if you’re ever in that dreaded “survival situation.” Can I get a witness!?

Note: When using the term “Skill Cult,” I’m not referring to Steven Edholm’s excellent YouTube channel and blog. While I can’t speak for Steven personally, I think he’d agree with me on the point I’m about to make. He uses and makes a variety of tools coupled with self-reliant skills for the stuff he’s doing. I highly recommend checking out his content if you haven’t already!

Kit Dogma vs Skill Cult

Believe it or not, grown men get their under britches in a wad over kit and skills. Virtual fist fights break out about the best knife, ax, saw, and get this, which trousers are best. The same is true if you ask which skill is most important to a woodsman. It’s a symphony of swollen egos chanting, “We’re NUMBER 1! We’re NUMBER 1!”

At what?

The internet has done us no favors in this department. New pilgrims see all this and think they have to pick sides. Failing to question the nonsense, they’re lured into the trap of conformity. And lists. And rules. And hero-worship.

The truth, however, will set you free!

Here’s the truth…

You need both kit and skill.

The pesky part of this truth is you must have a deep desire to learn how to use your kit to improve your skills through your experiences. This truth is the hardest for most of us to wrap our heart and hands around.

Kit Dogma

Dogmatic attitudes are displayed in more than just religion and politics. Beware of kit evangelists who aggressively enforce sacred cow gear.

Which kit items are essential? This begs another question… for what? What ya doing in the woods? Car camping, hiking, canoeing, backpacking, hunting, tramping, photography, fishing, primitive camping, foraging, Classic Camping, building shelter, etc., etc., … you get the picture.

Members of the ACORN Patrol at the 2017 Kephart Days. These folks know a thing or two about camp comforts.

Here’s a thought…

Bring what you need to the woods. No shame in packing the gear you need to match your skill level. Camp comfortably, no matter how many sacks of stuff it takes. This ain’t a competition. Play by your rules on your home field. With each trip to the field, you’ll figure out what to leave home or add on your next outing.

Marketers teach us, the consumer, why we should choose one product or service over competitors. I’ve heard some disgruntled woodsmen complain that Madison Avenue has set up shop in the woods. There’s nothing new about this trend. At the height of the Golden Age of Camping (1880-1930), Henry Ford, Abercrombie & Fitch, Duluth Pack, Pendleton, and others made lots of money selling sporting goods to outdoorsmen. Young’uns are shocked when I point out the history behind the expensive “A&F” logo on their apparel.

Let’s be honest, we’re all gear junkies to some extent. It’s easy to miss the point of kit collections. All this stuff is just shiny gadgetry unless we anchor them to the landscape with skills. Our lineage always leads us back to the land.

Through years of camping, my constant companions have been my ax and knife. There aren’t many tools which have enhanced my comfort around the campfire more than these. Of course, my trusty thumb drill (Bic lighter) is always in my pocket. No, I don’t always use primitive friction fire methods. Yes, I have backup fire-makers depending on my intentions. Some hardcore folk may frown upon this dependable open flame, but, again, match your kit with your skill level.

Here’s something else to keep in mind concerning kit selection. A YouTuber unboxes a tool and talks fit and finish. Don’t bristle, it’s just that I’ve never found “shiny object” reviews to provide practical help. Videos of someone actually using the tool in the field is better, but not enough. I need to wrap my hands around it and see how it fits my needs.

Skill Cult

My interests range from Stone Age technology to modern camping. And I have kits to fit this wide spectrum.

I’ll confess that I lean heavily toward skill cult. This doesn’t discount the need for quality gear in my journey. I’m all about buying/making dependable gear that fits me and suits the stuff I’m doing.

My blue-collar overland rig is a roof top tent atop a homemade utility truck body. One of the reasons I love this trailer is that it reminds me of Daddy’s old 1970 model GMC plumbing/welding truck. With calloused hands, he taught me the lessons of his trade, work ethic, and the value of a hard days work.

Set up at the Georgia Bushcraft Spring Gathering.

My working-man upbringing translates well into outdoor living skills. It takes hard work and patience to not only develop these skills, but keep them in proper context.

I’ve found in my experience that when skills grow, kits shrink. Practicing primitive skills may seem silly to modern campers. However, these primal first skills are the common denominator linking us to our past and the land. Making fire by twirling sticks together, for instance, takes careful attention to detail on every step of the fire-making process. That’s the practical part of primitive fire. The priceless piece is the flame lit in my soul.

An Emergency Slush Lamp Hack Using a Torch Plant Leaf - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Mullein on mullein hand drill coal

Which skills are essential for your camp? However you answer, the essence of our discussion here is the context of how these skills (and kits) relate to you and your wilderness.

These are my baseline recommendations. Your camping style may differ…

A chuck box passed down to one of our Scouts from his grandfather.

On your journey from tenderfoot to thoroughbred camper, remember, don’t drink the proverbial Kool-Aid. Discover your essential kit items, through actual experience, which will enhance the skills necessary to sleep at night in your wild places.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

~ Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestYouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

The Best Bushcraft Knife: Finding the Optimal Tools for SHTF

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What is your favorite knife for bushcraft? It is surprising how many people have different tastes when it comes to a tool as simple as a knife. We strode out to determine the best bushcraft knife using our own experience and the input from those that do it daily. Trimming the list down to just …

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How to Mitigate the 5 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work

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by Todd Walker

How to Mitigate the 5 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Photo credit: Casey Deming, GeorgiaBushcraft.com

On the heels of my ax-work classes at the Georgia Bushcraft Spring Gathering, I wanted to cover some of the risks of swinging a tree clever. It’s our job to mitigate some of the risk. Even then, accidents happen.

At the Gathering, my buddy, Karl, shared a recent ax injure he incurred when his ax glanced from the wood he was splitting. He graciously, or not so gracious if you have a weak stomach, allowed me to share his injure here for educational purposes.

********* WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS OF BLOOD AND A OPENED FOOT **********

The ax glanced and struck Karl on the top of his left foot severing one bone completely and halfway through the second bone.

The two bones circled took the brunt of the blow.

A nasty ax gash.

Shoes, even leather boots, aren’t much of a deterrent to a sharp ax.

Stitched and cleaned up.

The photos above make it crystal clear how dangerous a moving ax can be. However, not all injuries to wood choppers come from the business end of the ax meeting flesh, or from negligence. Trees don’t always cooperate. They’re known to drop dead limbs on unsuspecting victims below. Trees and axes are not to blame. They do what they do without malice or remorse.

Taking an ax to the woods with the intent of chopping is serious business. 99% of my ax work is done alone in the woods. Even though I try to employ best-practices, the risk of becoming a victim is always in the forefront of my mind. I’m no expert and my ax-related advice should not be trusted but verified through experience.

5 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work

Vernon Law is credited with saying, “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.”

We can never eliminate all the dangers of swinging an ax. We can only lessen the gravity of missing the mark through commonsense risk management. The good news is… true repentance will change your actions, and, hopefully, save you from the pain of these painful mistakes.

1.) Arrogance

“Only the penitent man shall pass.” ~ Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

The toughest woodsman is no match for tonnes of wood crashing to the forest floor. Even a wrist-size limb falling from 50 feet above can crush a shoulder or skull. While toughness is a fine virtue, be humble. The moment an axman approaches his work with superiority and a been-there-done-that attitude is the moment he gets blindsided.

There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Confident ax skills inspire. Arrogance will get you hurt or killed. This holds true more so for seasoned axmen than beginners, and, in my experience, men over women.

2.) Entanglements and Hang Ups

Any obstruction in the ax swing arc must be cleared before work begins. Check overhead for nearby limbs and vines which may snag and deflect an ax in mid swing. I’m obsessive about removing the smallest twig when standing on top of logs to buck. I figure if I’m swinging inside my frontal zone (described below) inches from my feet, I can’t afford a stroke to veer.

How to Mitigate the 5 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A screen shot from a recent video of an overhead limb which snagged my ax.

Fell enough trees and you’ll have one hang up mid-fall. My first strategy, if the tree butt didn’t release from the hinge, is to try to free it from the stump. Some times the impact on the ground will jar the hang up loose. If not, I’ve had some success moving the butt of the tree backward using a long lever pole. Place the lever under the butt end and lift repeatedly to slide the tree butt backwards until it releases.

A safer and less strenuous way is to use a come-along attached to an anchor behind the tree stump. Without a modern come-along, a powerful winch can be made from two logs and a rope/cable. Ratchet the tree butt until it releases. You may be tempted to cut the offending tree which caused the hang up. This is a high-risk endeavor. Be sure to have all your medical/life insurance up to date. You and/or your surviving family will likely need it.

One hazard I hope to never encounter again was the yellow jacket sting between my eyes on my downward stroke in the video below. You’re only defense is to run like you stole something!

3.) No Exit Strategy

When felling trees with an ax or saw, preparing two or three escape routes is wise. When the tree begins its decent, get out of Dodge on a pre-determined path. The safest exit is at 30 degree angles from the back notch of the tree. Put your back against the tree and extend your arms like you’re about to give your mama a hug. Your arms are pointing to your best escape paths. Next safest is in a line opposite of the direction of fall. If this path is chosen, or the only option, put great distance between you and the stump to prevent a kickback from nailing your body to the ground.

Escaping perpendicular to the line of fall increases the risk of being struck by falling limbs from adjacent trees. I’ve witnessed trees “jump” and roll several feet to the side of the stump hinge by contacting adjacent tree limbs during the fall. Another overlooked danger is a dead spot halfway up the tree which breaks and falls back toward the woodsman as the bottom half falls in the direction of its lay. Be vigilant, drop your ax, and sprint for your life.

How to Mitigate the 5 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Fortunately this log snapped halfway up and fell sideways from where I was standing.

4.) Violating the Frontal Zone

There are two basic ax swings: lateral and vertical. Certain guidelines should be followed for each swing. Take a look at the diagram below to better understand your frontal zone.

Adapted from The Ax Book

In The Ax Book, which I recommend you devour until the pages are dog-eared, Dudley Cook describes the frontal zone as two parallel lines running along side the outside edges of your feet when chopping. All lateral swings should be outside the parallel lines, always. The inertia of an ax in full, extended-arm swing only stops when acted upon by an external force. The ax head has a stopping point, and that point could be your body if you disregard the frontal zone guidelines.

There are two relatively “safe” strokes one can make within the frontal zone: a.) backed up, and b.) bucking. The backed up stroke is what beginning choppers are most familiar – splitting wood on a chopping block. The solid chopping block offers a backstop for the moving ax. Of course, as in Karl’s case above, there remains inherit dangers. Watch our video below to gain some safety tips for splitting firewood, the most common ax-work of campers and homesteaders.

Bucking is simply separating a log into lengths. The diameter of the log to be bucked determines my technique. Larger diameter logs (12+ inch range) allow me to stand on top to cut two V notches. Swings are always below my feet. If I miss my intended target below my feet, my body is out of harms way.

I stand on the ground to buck smaller diameter logs. The log itself is my back up. Accuracy is essential at the top of the bucked notch when your feet are on the ground. Even though the log is between you and your legs, miss the top of the notch and you now have a non-backed up swing in the frontal zone… and a very bad ending.

Another video of ours demonstrates the importance of accuracy on the top of notch cuts when bucking on the ground…

A third stroke in the frontal zone, which I’ll mention, but do not recommend, is the most dangerous and best performed with a saw. Situations arise where a high limb needs to be removed. My risk management strategy is to choke up on my ax handle with one hand and strike the limb at a 45 degree angle without completely severing the limb. A few lighter followup blows usually separates the limb. My forward hand gives me more breaking power as the ax follows through.

5.) Washed in the Blood

“All bleeding eventually stops. The challenge is stopping blood loss before the supply runs out.”

~ Mark DeJong, Off Grid Medic

Injuries related to axes and trees can be deadly. A first aid kit should be in close proximity to your work area. One item which you should consider carrying on your person is a tourniquet. If a catastrophic ax wound occurs where sever bleeding will result in death, this is your only option to see your family again. Practice applying this device on your own body before you actually need it.

A personalized first aid kit will treat the most common injuries such as scrapes, bumps, blisters, and bruises. I carry large sterile bandages, gauze rolls, and Band-Aids. My tourniquet fits in my cargo pocket of my kilt or pants. A few other items I include in my ziplock first aid bag are:

  • Acetaminophen for pain
  • Wound dressing
  • Tweezers and needle – mostly for tick removal, ugh
  • Aspirin, proven to assist in heart attack treatment
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) for stinging/biting insects – plantain isn’t always available in the woods and I don’t react well to stings
  • This ziplock first aid kit rides in my haversack along with other kit items for core temperature control and comfort – more info on these items can be found here

6.) Losing Your Head

A sharp hunk of steel flying freely through space is a scary sight… if you happen to spot it. It’s like shooting an arrow straight overhead and wondering where it will stick. Ax heads give an ample warning to observant axmen. A slight gap appears where the ax eye was seated on the handle. Continuing work with this slight slippage is full of hazards. Stop, re-seat the head, and pound a metal step wedge into the top of the handle. My working axes aren’t pretty, but they are tightly fit cutting tools.

How to Mitigate the 6 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Step wedges added in the field on my favorite double bit. Looks gnarly but hold this working ax head on securely.

Don’t lose your head! Take great care to keep your ax sharp and securely attached to the handle.

If you’re even slightly tempted by any of these deadly sins, put your ax down before you meet your Maker.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

How to Mitigate the 6 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work

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by Todd Walker

How to Mitigate the 5 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Photo credit: Casey Deming, GeorgiaBushcraft.com

On the heels of my ax-work classes at the Georgia Bushcraft Spring Gathering, I wanted to cover some of the risks of swinging a tree clever. It’s our job to mitigate some of the risk. Even then, accidents happen.

At the Gathering, my buddy, Karl, shared a recent ax injure he incurred when his ax glanced from the wood he was splitting. He graciously, or not so gracious if you have a weak stomach, allowed me to share his injure here for educational purposes.

********* WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS OF BLOOD AND A OPENED FOOT **********

The ax glanced and struck Karl on the top of his left foot severing one bone completely and halfway through the second bone.

The two bones circled took the brunt of the blow.

A nasty ax gash.

Shoes, even leather boots, aren’t much of a deterrent to a sharp ax.

Stitched and cleaned up.

The photos above make it crystal clear how dangerous a moving ax can be. However, not all injuries to wood choppers come from the business end of the ax meeting flesh, or from negligence. Trees don’t always cooperate. They’re known to drop dead limbs on unsuspecting victims below. Trees and axes are not to blame. They do what they do without malice or remorse.

Taking an ax to the woods with the intent of chopping is serious business. 99% of my ax work is done alone in the woods. Even though I try to employ best-practices, the risk of becoming a victim is always in the forefront of my mind. I’m no expert and my ax-related advice should not be trusted but verified through experience.

5 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work

Vernon Law is credited with saying, “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.”

We can never eliminate all the dangers of swinging an ax. We can only lessen the gravity of missing the mark through commonsense risk management. The good news is… true repentance will change your actions, and, hopefully, save you from the pain of these painful mistakes.

1.) Arrogance

“Only the penitent man shall pass.” ~ Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

The toughest woodsman is no match for tonnes of wood crashing to the forest floor. Even a wrist-size limb falling from 50 feet above can crush a shoulder or skull. While toughness is a fine virtue, be humble. The moment an axman approaches his work with superiority and a been-there-done-that attitude is the moment he gets blindsided.

There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Confident ax skills inspire. Arrogance will get you hurt or killed. This holds true more so for seasoned axmen than beginners, and, in my experience, men over women.

2.) Entanglements and Hang Ups

Any obstruction in the ax swing arc must be cleared before work begins. Check overhead for nearby limbs and vines which may snag and deflect an ax in mid swing. I’m obsessive about removing the smallest twig when standing on top of logs to buck. I figure if I’m swinging inside my frontal zone (described below) inches from my feet, I can’t afford a stroke to veer.

How to Mitigate the 5 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A screen shot from a recent video of an overhead limb which snagged my ax.

Fell enough trees and you’ll have one hang up mid-fall. My first strategy, if the tree butt didn’t release from the hinge, is to try to free it from the stump. Some times the impact on the ground will jar the hang up loose. If not, I’ve had some success moving the butt of the tree backward using a long lever pole. Place the lever under the butt end and lift repeatedly to slide the tree butt backwards until it releases.

A safer and less strenuous way is to use a come-along attached to an anchor behind the tree stump. Without a modern come-along, a powerful winch can be made from two logs and a rope/cable. Ratchet the tree butt until it releases. You may be tempted to cut the offending tree which caused the hang up. This is a high-risk endeavor. Be sure to have all your medical/life insurance up to date. You and/or your surviving family will likely need it.

One hazard I hope to never encounter again was the yellow jacket sting between my eyes on my downward stroke in the video below. You’re only defense is to run like you stole something!

3.) No Exit Strategy

When felling trees with an ax or saw, preparing two or three escape routes is wise. When the tree begins its decent, get out of Dodge on a pre-determined path. The safest exit is at 30 degree angles from the back notch of the tree. Put your back against the tree and extend your arms like you’re about to give your mama a hug. Your arms are pointing to your best escape paths. Next safest is in a line opposite of the direction of fall. If this path is chosen, or the only option, put great distance between you and the stump to prevent a kickback from nailing your body to the ground.

Escaping perpendicular to the line of fall increases the risk of being struck by falling limbs from adjacent trees. I’ve witnessed trees “jump” and roll several feet to the side of the stump hinge by contacting adjacent tree limbs during the fall. Another overlooked danger is a dead spot halfway up the tree which breaks and falls back toward the woodsman as the bottom half falls in the direction of its lay. Be vigilant, drop your ax, and sprint for your life.

How to Mitigate the 5 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Fortunately this log snapped halfway up and fell sideways from where I was standing.

4.) Violating the Frontal Zone

There are two basic ax swings: lateral and vertical. Certain guidelines should be followed for each swing. Take a look at the diagram below to better understand your frontal zone.

Adapted from The Ax Book

In The Ax Book, which I recommend you devour until the pages are dog-eared, Dudley Cook describes the frontal zone as two parallel lines running along side the outside edges of your feet when chopping. All lateral swings should be outside the parallel lines, always. The inertia of an ax in full, extended-arm swing only stops when acted upon by an external force. The ax head has a stopping point, and that point could be your body if you disregard the frontal zone guidelines.

There are two relatively “safe” strokes one can make within the frontal zone: a.) backed up, and b.) bucking. The backed up stroke is what beginning choppers are most familiar – splitting wood on a chopping block. The solid chopping block offers a backstop for the moving ax. Of course, as in Karl’s case above, there remains inherit dangers. Watch our video below to gain some safety tips for splitting firewood, the most common ax-work of campers and homesteaders.

Bucking is simply separating a log into lengths. The diameter of the log to be bucked determines my technique. Larger diameter logs (12+ inch range) allow me to stand on top to cut two V notches. Swings are always below my feet. If I miss my intended target below my feet, my body is out of harms way.

I stand on the ground to buck smaller diameter logs. The log itself is my back up. Accuracy is essential at the top of the bucked notch when your feet are on the ground. Even though the log is between you and your legs, miss the top of the notch and you now have a non-backed up swing in the frontal zone… and a very bad ending.

Another video of ours demonstrates the importance of accuracy on the top of notch cuts when bucking on the ground…

A third stroke in the frontal zone, which I’ll mention, but do not recommend, is the most dangerous and best performed with a saw. Situations arise where a high limb needs to be removed. My risk management strategy is to choke up on my ax handle with one hand and strike the limb at a 45 degree angle without completely severing the limb. A few lighter followup blows usually separates the limb. My forward hand gives me more breaking power as the ax follows through.

5.) Washed in the Blood

“All bleeding eventually stops. The challenge is stopping blood loss before the supply runs out.”

~ Mark DeJong, Off Grid Medic

Injuries related to axes and trees can be deadly. A first aid kit should be in close proximity to your work area. One item which you should consider carrying on your person is a tourniquet. If a catastrophic ax wound occurs where sever bleeding will result in death, this is your only option to see your family again. Practice applying this device on your own body before you actually need it.

A personalized first aid kit will treat the most common injuries such as scrapes, bumps, blisters, and bruises. I carry large sterile bandages, gauze rolls, and Band-Aids. My tourniquet fits in my cargo pocket of my kilt or pants. A few other items I include in my ziplock first aid bag are:

  • Acetaminophen for pain
  • Wound dressing
  • Tweezers and needle – mostly for tick removal, ugh
  • Aspirin, proven to assist in heart attack treatment
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) for stinging/biting insects – plantain isn’t always available in the woods and I don’t react well to stings
  • This ziplock first aid kit rides in my haversack along with other kit items for core temperature control and comfort – more info on these items can be found here

6.) Losing Your Head

A sharp hunk of steel flying freely through space is a scary sight… if you happen to spot it. It’s like shooting an arrow straight overhead and wondering where it will stick. Ax heads give an ample warning to observant axmen. A slight gap appears where the ax eye was seated on the handle. Continuing work with this slight slippage is full of hazards. Stop, re-seat the head, and pound a metal step wedge into the top of the handle. My working axes aren’t pretty, but they are tightly fit cutting tools.

How to Mitigate the 6 Deadly Sins of Ax-Work - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Step wedges added in the field on my favorite double bit. Looks gnarly but hold this working ax head on securely.

Don’t lose your head! Take great care to keep your ax sharp and securely attached to the handle.

If you’re even slightly tempted by any of these deadly sins, put your ax down before you meet your Maker.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Survival Gear Dry Run: A Night in the Woods

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Your Gear Dry Run Might Be One of the

Most Important Things You Do!

 

One never knows when a crisis might strike. With all the time we spend in our vehicles, it could easily happen while you’re on the road and you’ll need your emergency gear. With that in mind, I decided to test the emergency backpack I keep in my truck with a survival gear dry run. The test yielded some success and some lessons learned.

Bad Stuff Happens

In the “Big Blizzard of ’78” thousands of people in the northeast were trapped in their cars on the Interstate, some for days. Some people died. Both my wife and I had lived in rural Minnesota in our younger years, so we were well aware of how easily a car can get stuck off the road, and how long it can take for help to arrive.

The Gear To Be Tested

Awhile back, I assembled emergency bags for both my truck and my wife’s car. These were not the classic “Bug Out Bags” designed for escaping the zombie apocalypse by fleeing into the hinterlands and living off the land. These were for less dramatic use in case of automotive stranding in adverse conditions. I should note here that the backpacks and contents were nothing special or “tacticool” that would impress gear aficionados.

Defining the Test

If stranded, one can (a) call for help or (b) sleep in the vehicle. But what if neither of those options was available? (phone dead, vehicle unsafe to stay in) Playing a game of ‘what if’, I wondered if I could use my Truck Bag to survive a night (or more?) in the woods? Did I have the right gear? Better to find out in practice than during the real thing.

Of Interest: What Do I Put In My Survival Kit Link Bomb?

Scheduling a Crisis

To test my Truck Bag, I picked a day a couple weeks in advance. Of course, no one gets two weeks advance warning of a real crisis. Even so, the mental exercise brought on two revelations before I had even begun.

Revelation One: I knew the date, but nothing else. Would it be sunny and warm? Cold, windy and rainy? We had temps down in the 30s already. Realizing the uncertainty of the future was a good mental experience. It prompted me to reassess my Truck Bag’s contents to cover a wider range of possibilities.

Revelation Two: My Truck Bag was not equipped for sleeping outside the truck, or wet weather. I needed a few more things to cover wet and cold.

Pre-Test Adjustments

I added (with my wife’s help) some straps to the bottom of my backpack so I could attach a sleeping bag. I also added a good military-style poncho and a couple small tarps, among other bits. Only a test run would tell if I had what I’d need, too much or too little. (BTW, the bag weighed in at 21 lbs.)

The Plan

After work, on that scheduled Friday, I would drive to our church after work. Behind the church is 13 acres of mixed forest and I had permission to make a small campfire there. I planned to arrive, scout out a good spot and set up camp. I planned to use a tarp to make a quick lean-to, and use a long-burning campfire. (more on that later) I would have to adapt to whatever the weather conditions were on the actual day.

Testing Day

When the day came, the forecast was for a mild day and evening, but rain to move in around midnight. That Friday’s commute home just happened to be a really bad one. Two separate crashes on the Interstate caused dozens of miles of backup. The second crash was unusual enough to nearly close the highway.

Instead of arriving with a couple hours of daylight remaining, I arrived with very little daylight left. This added realism to my test. Who gets stranded first thing in the morning with all day to set up camp?

Making Quick Choices

I arrived just as the sun was going down behind the tree-line. I put on my backpack and set off into the woods. The spot I had imagined being a good place proved too irregular and lower than I remembered. Not good. I had to spend precious waning daylight to find a better spot. The perfect setup I wanted was a gentle wind at my lean-to’s back, and just a bit higher than my fire, so logs would not come rolling in with me. With little light left, I did not have the time to be choosy. I had to gather firewood while I could see far enough to spot windfall.

No Wild Water

I had my Sawyer Mini along to filter water, but there wasn’t any. The swamp was dry. The little stream, which usually babbles, was also dry. I had about a liter with me.

Working Fast

After I found an adequate spot, I set about finding firewood while I could still see without flashlights. Within about a circle of about fifty yards, I located three fallen oaks that had been down long enough to be dry. My Sven-Saw was marvelous. In a half an hour, I had a half dozen 4-5” logs, each about a yard long, and numerous branches for kindling. I hoped it was enough to last the night. Even though the air was getting cool and damp, the exercise had me peeling off my jacket and sweater. I did not need a fire for awhile.

Headlamp Plus

The headlamp was invaluable for setting up my tarp and things in the failing light. I had a reflective tarp to maximize heat from a modest fire and hopefully, enough coverage for when it rained. I could tie knots, pound in stakes, break up kindling and array my gear all with both hands. The headlamp was a definite plus for such close-quarters work.

Finnish Fire

Lonnie of Far North Bushcraft has a YouTube video on the traditional two-log fire. It’s supposed to give a long slow burn. I knew I would not have time to find such large, dry logs, nor time to hew them flat on one side like he did. So, I set up a variation on the Finnish ‘gap fire’, but using three smaller-diameter logs.

They call it “pinotuli”, or a “pile fire”. The rule of thumb is that 1” of log diameter equals an hour of burn time in such a fire lay. If so, my 4” logs would give me four hours. I had enough other (somewhat smaller) logs to add another four hours — maybe.

Slow Start

I had matches and a little lighter, but just for the bushcraft sake of it, I lit my fire with a Ferro-rod and a quarter of a cotton ball soaked in Vaseline. Both worked great. From the little teepee fire, I fed burning sticks into my “pile fire” to light the kindling.

This turned out to be more maintenance-intense than I expected. Since real-life logs are more irregular than idealized YouTube logs, it took a half an hour of fussing and feeding in sticks to get the fire self-sustaining. I almost had flame-out a few times.

Settling In

Around 8:30, the fire had spread all along the “pile” and was radiating nicely. It was time to relax a bit, eat my supper (half a sandwich saved from work) and listen to my little AM/FM radio. Civilization was still out there.

The radiant heat was perfect — not too warm, nor too feeble. I crawled in my sleeping bag with my flashlight and knife arrayed in easy-to-grab locations. I felt like I was never sleeping, but whole hour chunks of time would go by, so I obviously was.

Slow Burn

Awake at 10:30 and the “pile fire” is in a perfect mid-burn.  The heat was just enough. I could see that the top log was about half burned through, so I pulled over its twin for easier deployment when the time came. The air outside of the lean-to was crisp. I could see my breath.

Midnight Refueling

I awoke at 12:15 feeling cold. The top log had split and fallen away. I had its replacement, and some kindling, ready at hand, so I was able to get the fire going again fairly quickly. After a bit of adjustment of the top log, it was time to doze off again.

Refueling Two

Around 3:30, I awoke again, feeling cold. The two bottom logs had burned through and my “pile” collapsed. I pulled my last fuel logs over and made an ad hoc pile over the coals. They did not take long to become engaged. I dozed off again.

Morning

A bit before 5:00, I awoke cold again. My ad hoc pile had burned down quickly. My light-duty sleeping bag was not enough. Since I was too cold to go back to sleep, I pulled over my unused kindling and branch-wood to make a quicker fire. A little strategic blowing on the coals and the new little fire was crackling nicely. It was surprising how great the radiant warmth of even a small fire felt on cold hands.

I set my little camp cup on some mini-logs, to make some hot water for instant coffee. This took about seven minutes to bubble. Meanwhile, I snacked on a package of trail mix as my breakfast. A hot cup of coffee does wonders too.

The woods were very quiet as the blue light of an overcast dawn grew. Around 6:00, the crows and chipmunks woke up and it was no longer quiet. Not too long after I had broken down my camp and repacked my gear, it started to sprinkle and later turned to rain. If I had been hard up for water, I could have collected rain. But, my test was complete.

Success

I realize that experienced campers will not be impressed that a guy ‘survived’ a night in the woods. What my test did prove, was that the minimal gear I had in my Truck Bag was sufficient to get me by if I were stranded far from civilization and I could not stay in my disabled truck. That’s good to know.

Lessons Learned

Have Appropriate Sleep Gear — Get something rated for the weather you’re likely to have to endure. A kids’ sleep-over sleeping bag (usually rated for 50 or 60 degrees) won’t help much when it’s below freezing. I’ll be replacing my old light-duty bag with a better one.

Gather Lots of Fuel — My rough rule of thumb was to gather three times what I thought I needed to make my initial fire. The “pile fire” technique worked great but still needs refueling. Better to gather extra early, than try to look for more in the dark and cold.

Bring Water — It’s a great idea to have the means to filter wild water, but you might get stuck where there isn’t any. You don’t need to haul around a three-day supply, necessarily, but a liter or so can tide you over until you locate more.

A Big Saw is Great — Wire saws are okay for kindling or tent poles. Little folding saws are nice for 2-inch branches. A bigger, aggressive saw like the Sven-Saw was fairly quick at producing bigger fuelwood. It can do all the little cutting too.

Headlights Rock — Flashlights are a must, but being able to work hands-free in the dark is great.

Make Adjustments — My homemade sleeping bag attachment worked but needs to be tweaked to cinch down tighter and make it easier put on and take off the backpack. The backpack also needs more inner bags for organizing gear. Loose stuff always falls down deep or is easily lost in leaf litter. I’ll also be looking to trim a couple pounds wherever I can.

With these and some other small adjustments, my Truck Bag and my wife’s Car Bag will be better set up to get us through a cold weather stranding. They aren’t perfect, but after my test, they will be better.

Articles of Interest:

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How to Make Sloe Gin (Hands on Bushcraft)

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When I think of bush craft I think of things like shelters, tools and traps made from nature. I think of things that will help you build a living space or hunt an animal. Its rare that something like alcohol comes to mind. That said this treat is something that can be made both for …

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#AskPaulKirtley 62: Fires On Rock, Group Morale, Dangers of Wood Smoke and The Differences Between Traditional Scouting and Modern Bushcraft

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#AskPaulKirtley 62: Fires On Rock, Group Morale, Dangers of Wood Smoke and The Differences Between Traditional Scouting and Modern Bushcraft If you are looking for a guy who really knows the outdoors it is this Paul Kirtley. There is a lot of talk about bush craft skills and surviving in the outdoors. There are some …

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Wild Wanderings 11 – Strangers In A Strange Land

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Wild Wanderings 11 – Strangers In A Strange Land For survival and prepping there are some very real answers to the issues. We know that we must store water and food; first aid and ammo to be prepared. We take a lot of steps to assure we are prepared for what might come. Now add …

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7 Different Types of Bushcraft Knives And Their Properties

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Do you know about bushcraft knives? Do you know where the name originated from? Do you desire to own a bushcraft knife? Bushcraft knives got its name because Australia was also known as the bush country in the past. It is simply the means of survival in the Australian outback. The art and skill is […]

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What Bushcraft Gear You Shouldn’t Forget To Pack

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There are some essential items you must have with you whenever you are on a trip in the wild. The items are enumerated on this list. You can carry more than the items on this list for your trip. Just ensure that you do not lack any of the Bushcraft gear on this list.

Rucksack: You’ll need a rucksack to carry your Bushcraft gear. Get one that can carry all your items. Don’t go for a bag that is too big or too small. You’ll need smaller rucksacks for shorter trips. The rucksack you carry should be comfortable and must come with padded chest straps and hip support.

Walking boots: You need the right pair of shoes to walk comfortably in the wild. Do not go for a long trip with a new pair of shoes. You need to spend some time breaking the shoes in. If you don’t do so, you may have blisters on your feet. Do not go for fashion shoes, trainers or other types of shoes. Get walking boots as they protect your feet from the effects of hard walking and they are strong enough to support your ankle.

Walking Socks: Socks will protect your feet and keep them warm if needed. Get good walking socks.

Compass and Map: Yeah, we wrote that. Traditional navigation devices are still needed even if you have a GPS with you. Ensure everyone in your team knows how to use the compass. Bushcraft skills like reading maps and compasses are highly useful in the wild.

Extra clothing: You can get wet anytime and catch a cold. Spare clothing will prevent you from having cold or hypothermia. No matter how short a trip is, get a spare change of clothes. Go with gloves and hats for further protection against harsh weather.

Clothes that are waterproof:  Waterproof clothing will protect you from moisture and rain. You still need to go with waterproof clothing even if you don’t expect rain.

Bivvy bad or survival sack: A bivvy bag is a mix between a small sleeping bag and a survival sack. A survival sack is a bag that will keep you safe during emergencies and insulate you better than your clothes. This is necessary if you get delayed or lost.

Cooking supplies: This may not be necessary for short trips. Cooking supplies include a stove, plate, cutlery, mug and pan. Take food items like instant noodles, coffee and others. If you aren’t going to carry a stove, at least go with something that can start a fire, so you can signal for help if needs be.

First aid kit: A first aid kit is a must have for emergencies. It should contain essential items like bandages, sterile dressings, antiseptics etc.

Insect repellent and sun shade cream: Get a good sun cream to protect your skin from the UV rays of the sun. In the wild, there are some insects that can bite you. Use insect repellent to protect yourself from them.

Water: Go with a lot of water in bottles. During your trip, you might come across streams and other water bodies. Carry a water purification system with you so you can get clean, drinkable water.

Knife: A knife is an important Bushcraft gear that will be useful for various tasks.

Flashlight with extra batteries: This is important even if your trip isn’t going to take place in the dark. You might be late, and you could face unexpected fog or cloudy weather. Extra batteries are necessary. It wouldn’t do you much good to have a flashlight without backup batteries.

 

Long Trips

If you are on a long trip that will take you more than one day, you need to carry the following Bushcraft gear with you.

Sleeping mat: The ground is usually cold. A sleeping mat will protect you from the cold ground. You can get an inflatable mat or a foam mat. Inflatable mats are lighter and more expensive. They are better than foam mats.

Sleeping bag: There are various types of sleeping bags. They have different tog ratings and weights. The tog rating is a measure of how warm they are. You can get the bags in shops with different season descriptions. One season sleeping bags are for the summer season alone while 4 season bags are fine for any weather. A 3 season bag will be fine for early fall, late spring and summer. Ensure you get a sleeping bag that is a minimum of 10 degrees colder than the lowest temperature of the place you are passing the night. This will protect you from the unexpected cold weather.

Tent: Tents come in various sizes. Each member of your team can opt for a small, one-man tent or you can pack a single tent, large enough for every member of your party.

Spade and toilet paper: You need these for defecating.

Clothing items

The most important protection you have are your clothes. They will protect you from cold, heat and other things. It is important that you maintain your body temperature when you go for trips. Your body temperature must be kept within 96⁰F to 102⁰F. Good clothing will protect you from hypothermia and overheating. It is better to have several thin layers among your Bushcraft gear than having a single thick one. Dress in multiple layers and pack clothes in multiple layers. Every layer of clothing will trap in air that will insulate your body.

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Bushcraft Essentials You Need to Learn

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When you start to get into survival techniques and are interested in improving your skills, chances are that you have come across the term “bushcraft” and probably got overwhelmed when you looked for more information on this topic. In this post we are going to look at some of the bushcraft essentials that you should learn.

The word bushcraft is probably most commonly used within countries such as Australia, New Zealand and also South Africa, however it is used within other countries as well. The Australian that is known as Les Hiddins who was also commonly referred to as the Bush Tucker first introduced the term Bushcraft.

So what is bushcraft to begin with? Well, bushcraft is a very broad term which basically encompasses all outdoor living and survival skills that date back millennia.

For most people, the wild and lonely places of this world can be a source of immense beauty, solitude and physical challenge, and they attract millions of visitors to mountain ranges, ice caps, deserts, forests and wetlands around the world.

However, uncertainty and the outdoors go hand in hand, and so it is very easy to find a simple recreational activity in the wild becoming a struggle for survival, almost in the blink of an eye.

Think about it. It could range from a lack of experience and preparation leading to something simple like a miscalculation on food rations on a long hike in the mountains, leaving you far from assistance with dwindling supplies.

Imagine an accident such as a capsized boat on a kayaking trip, losing vital equipment at the bottom of a lake and leaving you soaked and cold on a wild shoreline. A simple slip on a trail leaving you injured and unable to traverse the miles left to go before you reached your planned shelter.

How many of us carry the right supplies in our cars to cope if we ran out of gas on a lonely highway, far from a town and with few if any passers-by willing to help? Mastering essential bushcraft skills can be a life saver when you find yourself in critical outdoor situations. Not only are these skills very useful, they are very enjoyable and rewarding to practice.

With that being said, lets look at some of the bushcraft essentials and how you can learn them.

Bushcraft camping

Wild Camping

You need to get out there. More often. Land access does get in the way. I’m not discounting this. But it is possible to find places you can go regularly to camp in the woods.

It does not matter where you live, every area has at least a few suitable spots for wild camping. Yes, it is not the easiest thing to do, but just get out there.

Walk into the wilds, set up camp and spend the night there. It’s good for your bushcraft soul. Whatever level of experience you have, plan some nights out over the coming year.

Some of you have never spent a night out before. There’s nothing to be frightened of (or ashamed of). Plan some overnighters. Once you gain more experience, plan to camp out for at least a night or two each season – spring, summer, autumn and winter.

If you are used to camping in the woods, get into the hills. And if you are used to camping in the hills, find some woods to camp in and have a campfire.

Campfire Bushcraft Skills

Fire Lighting

Fire-making is the most important skill for any woodsman to master. With fire, you can warm yourself, dry your clothing, and make your water potable.

These are the simplest of things you may need from your fire on a daily basis around camp, but its usefulness goes further than any individual piece of kit.

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You’ll need fire to cook your food, to create needed ash, to char materials for future fires, and to keep away the boogieman in the middle of the night. By the fire, you will spin the yarns of your adventures and dream of future ones.

The campfire is the television of the woods, ever changing and surfing the channels as it burns through the night.

Water Purification Bushcraft Skills

Understand Water Purification (Properly)

I receive a lot of questions regarding water. Some people won’t camp out because they worry about water.

We need 3-5 litres per day and if you are going to spend any time moving through a landscape, camping out, even for a night, you need to get to grips with water purification.

You need to understand the five contaminants which might be present in water – turbidity, protozoa, bacteria, viruses and chemical pollutants – and the different protocols for dealing with any combination of them.

It’s not difficult if you strip it down to first principles and make the effort to understand the problem you are trying to solve in producing potable water for yourself. A bit of research and you will be up to speed. Then you can start to apply this knowledge on your overnight camps.

Cooking on campfire Bushcraft

Campfire Cookery

Even with very basic cooking equipment, you can create delicious one-pot meals from fresh ingredients. These can be purchased and taken with you.

Later, as your ID skills improve, you can add foraged ingredients. In a single stainless steel cooking pot or billy can over the campfire, I can cook a meal some people would not think of producing at home.

Indeed, I have taught people to cook meals over a fire, who have never cooked anything other than ready meals at home. If you want to accelerate your cooking abilities, then of course lots of cooking outdoors will help, but also consider experimenting with recipes at home.

Pretty much all of the recipes I cook on expeditions were practiced at home first, then taken to the woods and cooked over a campfire, simplified and optimised for the context.

Anyone who has come on a canoe trip with me can tell you how much flavoursome good food can be produced in an overnight camp. Then, of course, you can go large.

Adding more complex meals to your repertoire, roasting joints of meat – over the fire or in Dutch ovens – creating elaborate multi-pot meals, baking bread, Yorkshire puddings… anything you might think of taking out of a recipe book at home can be done on the campfire by building up experience, step by step, over time.

Bushcraft Plant Identification

Tree and Plant Identification

At the core of Bushcraft is a viable investigation of nature. To have the capacity to utilize any plant or tree for any reason, you first have to identify it. Without a doubt, many woods will burn great, however beyond identifying a material as dead, dry wood, there is some subtlety required, even inside the context of burning fuel.

Which woods burn rapidly, delivering a great flame for quick boils or signal fires, which wood creates a ton of heat and embers, which woods deliver less smoke, for use inside your shelter, which woods are useful for smoking meats and fish, which woods are best avoided for any of the above?

Keeping in mind the end goal to apply this information, you must be able to to identify the relevant species. And that is only a few aspects of burning wood.

Clearly, when foraging for plant foods, your identification skills must be solid. Nothing should be going into your mouth for ingestion unless you are 100% sure of what the species is. Yes, a practical skill level is required to apply bushcraft skills, but the fundamental skill, the part which comes first in any of the processes mentioned here is the correct identification of the relevant resource.

Research your destination
If you are planning a trip make sure that you know as much as possible about the area you are going to. Look at guidebooks, buy as high spec maps as you can afford and speak to local guides and experts.

Carry the right equipment
Even if you are going out for a day hike you should make sure that you have the right equipment to keep you safe and warm and able to get to safety in the event of an emergency.

Keep a first aid certification current
Even if you are not intending to go for long hikes in the wild or be involved in any risky activities it is good practice to keep a current knowledge of first aid techniques. You never know when they will come in handy.

The post Bushcraft Essentials You Need to Learn appeared first on Survival Preps.

3 Ways to Track Animals in Tough Terrain

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3 Ways to Track Animals in Tough Terrain Tracking animals is an effective way to get a read on the area you are living in. If you have tracking skills you will be able to discern what type of wildlife are living in the area and what that means to your survival. Example. If you …

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The post 3 Ways to Track Animals in Tough Terrain appeared first on SHTF Prepping & Homesteading Central.

Campfire Cookery: How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire

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by Todd Walker

Campfire Cookery - How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Prepping a cook fire depends on what type of cookin’ you’ll be doing and the fuel available. In my area of Georgia, we have an abundance of hardwood to choose from. I’ll describe my experience with wood we burn. Not every area is as fortunate. That doesn’t mean you can’t cook up goodness over a campfire. Use the resources available in your woods.

The problem with campfires is they don’t have a knob to dial the heat up or down like a kitchen stove. Learning to managing your cook fire for what you’re cooking is key. If all you’re having is ramen noodles and hot cocoa, a hot burning twig fire will get the job done. Cast iron cooking needs a whole new arrangement of hot coals. Baking biscuits in a reflector oven requires radiant heat from flames.

This is not a comprehensive guide to open-fire cookery. I’ll give you basic guidelines that have worked for me when baking and cooking at fixed camp. If you cook in your kitchen, you can cook over a campfire.

Cooking at a permanent or semi-permanent fixed camp is different than when sauntering from one camp location to the next. This article won’t apply to the ultralight hiker cooking freeze-dried meals with a cup of boiling water. Weight is not as big of an issue if you’re canoe or car camping. So load the equipment you need to whip up stick-to-your-ribs food and take to the woods and streams.

Wood Processing Tools

Charcoal briquette don’t grow on trees. You’ll have to collect wood and make your own coals. An ax and saw are tools you’ll find useful. We have two pages on our blog if you need to hone your ax skills: Ax Cordwood Challenge and The Ax-Manship Series. Our YouTube channel also has instructional videos in a few playlists you may find helpful: The Axe Cordwood Challenge and Ax-Manship.

You need dry/seasoned wood for your cook fire. Look for standing dead trees since you don’t want to wait six to nine months to season your wood. Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) is a good choice for dry kindling in my area. Red cedar works as well. Both burn fast and hot but won’t produce the hot bed of coals you’ll need for grilling. Add hardwoods like oak, hickory, and beech for long burning coals. Can’t always be choosy so use what you have available.

Campfire Cookware

Improvising in the woods is often what happens to get food cooked. No need to if you bring the cookware needed for meals. Keep in mind that we’ve got a way to tote this stuff; car, canoe, mule, etc., etc.

My load of cooking stuff is in a constant state of evolution. But I think I’ve settled on a system. Tim Smith of Jack Mountain Bushcraft introduced me to stainless steel milk pails a few years ago in his book, The Woods Cook. As a Master Maine Guide, Tim has been feeding folks professionally over an open fire since 1999.

Below are a few items I use to cook at fixed camp and our outdoor classroom at RISE Academy…

  • Cast Iron skillet
  • Steel Fry Pan: Lighter than cast but doesn’t cook as evenly
  • Stainless Steel Pails: 2 quart with six-inch rim (6 inch pie tin for lids), and a 9 quart with a nine-inch rim (9 inch pie tin for lid)
  • Pot/Lid Lifter makes it easy to handle pails and lids when hot
  • Cast Iron Dutch Oven: 10.5 inch with a flanged lid and three legs
  • Improvised Reflector Oven: Stainless steel drywall mud pan is large enough to bake a few muffins/biscuits/cookies at a time
  • Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil: Great for hobo meals
Campfire Cookery - How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Top row left to right: 9 quart SS pail with pie pan lid, 2-two quart pails with pie pan lids, coffee tin. 2nd Row: cold handle steel skillet, square cast iron skillet, dry wall mud pan. Bottom: 10.5 inch dutch oven in a box with lid lifter.

Most folks I know take only one pot to save pack space when camping on foot. Having two or more pots is a game changer around the campfire. The beauty of these milk pails is that they nest together decreasing the footprint when compared to the several cylindrical cook pots. This is a space-saving advantage if you’re traveling on foot or any other means of transportation. The pie pan lids also double as plates when you’re ready to eat.

Campfire Cookery - How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Both 2 quart pails nest inside each other and fit in the 9 quart pail with room for other items if necessary.

Campfire Cookery - How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The end result of nesting.

Managing Cooking Fires

You’d best process or collect enough kindling-size wood to keep your heat steady. Once lit, keep adding kindling sticks to maintain a robust fire that eats through the top of your fire lay. Take advantage of these hot flames by hanging a pot of water from a cooking tripod for coffee, tea, or cocoa. A second pot can be added to disinfect drinking water.

Campfire Cookery - How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Cowboy coffee on.

Once your fuel has burned long enough to produce a nice bed of coals, drag or scoop a pile of hot coals from main fire. When grilling meat at fixed camp, I’ll use two green wrist-size sticks (if I can’t find my metal pipe) to support a grill grate over the coals. Adjust the height of your grate up or down for temperature control. No grate available? Lay the steak directly on the hot coals. Sounds unsanitary but I end up eating a little ash in most of my camp meals anyway.

Campfire Cookery - How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I keep a grill grate at fixed camp for times such as these. Bacon wrapped filets!

For a camp dutch oven with three legs on the bottom, sprinkle coals on top of the flanged lid and around the perimeter at the bottom of the oven. With experience, you’ll learn to adjust the amount of coals to control the temperature of whatever you’re cooking. You can’t count wild coals like store-bought briquettes.

Campfire Cookery - How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

At a recent Georgia Bushcraft work weekend, Jeff and Melonie cooked two delicious dutch oven cobblers and shared with the cold, hungry crew!

To bake small servings of baked goods, I found that a stainless steel drywall mud pan does the trick. Place the reflector oven on the ground level with your fire. The drywall pan isn’t really large enough for a baking rack. You need radiant heat from flames for baking. Stoke the fire with your driest kindling sticks so that the flames cover the opening of your reflector oven throughout the baking process.

Campfire Cookery - How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

DRG and I baking cookies on our date night in the woods.

To gauge the heat entering your reflector oven, place you palm just in front of the oven and count to 5 quickly. If you reach 5 before nerves in the back of your hand tell your brain to jerk out of the heat, you’re at a good baking temperature (around 350 F). Any lower in the 5-count and the temperature in your oven is above baking temperature.

I fill cupcake liners with cornbread mix and place them directly on the bottom of the pan. Rotate the muffin tins as needed to brown and cook evenly. This diy oven has no handles so be careful when lifting it from the fire’s edge. Thick leather gloves or a pot/lid lifter, described above, are recommended.

Hanging Pots

At my fixed camp, I prefer a bipod system instead of a tripod for hanging pots over the fire. Two sturdy poles are lashed together with a long pole (waugan stick) laid in the top of the crotch. The other end of the waugan is lashed (loosely) to a tree opposite my fire pit. Minor height adjustments can be made to the waugan by spreading or closing the bipod. You can also swing the entire system off the fire safely by lifting and moving the bipod while the opposite end of the waugan pivots around the tree.

Of course, if you don’t have a tree near your fire pit, a tripod system may be your best option. Add a crossbar to the tripod to suspend more pots.

If you favor traditional woodcraft style, here’s our article on carving several useful pot hooks. I use carved pot hooks and modern chain to hang pots from my pot suspension system. Carving your own pot hooks boosts your knife skills considerably. Use whatever suits you.

Plate and Enjoy

The entire experience of cooking over an open fire, collecting firewood, starting your fire, managing the flames, and timing the meal is a celebration of sorts. Everything doesn’t always go as planned, but that happens in the kitchen, too. I’ve had some major flops in camp cooking. In the end though, and you’ve probably heard it said, food tastes better flavored with woodsmoke from campfires.

Campfire Cookery - How to Cook Tasty Meals Over an Open Fire ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Hobo packet of potatoes and onions with filets.

Serve your food up on warm plates. I lay my 9 inch pie tins on coals or propped up near flickering flames just before the last recipe is done. Nothing disappoints like what used to be hot cheese eggs on a cold plate. My daddy always said, “It just ain’t right! Ya gotta eat ’em hot.”

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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Medical Survival In The Wild: How To Make Mud Cast

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You might be a healthy person and not prone to accidents, but a survival situation can change that. Travelling through unknown areas, coping with fatigue and stress, or running for your life will put your body at risk, so you can wind up with a broken bone or some other injury.

If you can’t get to a doctor, then you’ll have at least immobilize the injured area of your body until you can get help. Making a mud cast might get you out of trouble, so you make sure you know how to make one if nothing else is available.

Why to know how to make a mud cast? Whether you are camping, need to take refuge in a natural setting, or are somewhere where there’s no doctor around, mud casts may be your only option for immobilizing a broken bone.

This Timeless Collection of Forgotten Wisdom Will Help You Survive!

If you don’t feel like lugging around several pounds of plaster of paris, then you’ll need to know how to make a mud cast. Since you can use a mud cast in any situation where you would use a plaster cast to immobilize a broken bone, it is a valuable skill to learn with no monetary cost for special tools or supplies.

Why to Use Mud Cast

Aside from being the only material you might have on hand, there are some other advantages to immobilizing broken bones with a mud cast:

  • It offers solid support for broken limbs. Even if you break a leg or an ankle, the mud cast will be more than strong enough to support the broken parts of the bone and keep them from moving. Depending on the type of fracture, broken bone parts rubbing together can be very painful at best. At worst, these fractured ends can rub together and break off, which will only make repairing them more difficult.
  • Mud casts are much easier to work with compared to trying to immobilize broken bones with other natural materials. Unlike vines, branches flattened into splints, or or even leaf wrappings, you only have to apply the mud in layers to get the most benefit from it. If you are in pain or afraid of disrupting the bones, the relative lack of tugging, pulling, and other potentially disruptive actions makes mud cast application much better than other methods.
  • You can change the cast as often as needed since the materials for mud casts are fairly easy to locate. You can take the cast apart as often as you need to let air get at the covered areas. When done correctly, you can reduce the risk of skin infections and other problems that commonly occur when you cannot remove the cast as often as necessary for good skin health.

What to Beware of When Using Mud Cast

No matter how much you may need to immobilize a broken bone, you must also pay careful attention to the drawback associated with using a mud cast:

  • Mud cannot be formed without water, but water, in turn, is absolutely necessary for the growth of bacteria and other germs. No matter where you get the mud from, there is every chance that it will contain any number of disease bearing organisms. While most experts don’t recommend boiling the mud before using it, I would not rule it out as a vital safety precaution. This is especially important to consider if your skin is prone to breaking down, or if you have cuts and other skin openings that may come into contact with the mud in the area to be immobilized. Even if you don’t see or smell signs of mold, moss, or fungal organisms, that doesn’t mean they aren’t in the mud and capable of wreaking havoc once they get past the barrier of your skin.
  • If you thought plaster of paris casts were heavy, be prepared for mud casts to be much worse. Even though the cast will be about the same thickness as a mud cast, you can expect it to weight a lot more.
  • Be prepared to wait for the cast to dry. Remember, even if you find relatively heavy or drier mud, it can take several hours to dry out enough to support broken bones.
  • Depending on the mud type, it may have very little strength even if it is built up in layers. If you have ever removed caked dry mud from the bottom of a bowl or even your shoes, then you know just how easily it can break apart. Since mud deposits can vary drastically even from one mud puddle to the next, it will take some experience to figure out which ones will make the best cast, and how best to make use of the others.

How to Take Care of Wounds in Conjunction With a Mud Cast

Even with a plaster of paris cast, the lack of air flow around wounded sites can cause all kinds of problems. If you have open cuts in the area to be covered by the mud cast, try to lay down some kind of barrier that will prevent the mud from getting into the wound.

If you have antibacterial ointment available, you can also do that to reduce the risk of infection. Unfortunately, even if the open wounds are scabbed over, the increased moisture from sweat building up under the cast will still create a breeding ground for germs to multiply.

Use sticks and wraps to create tunnels for air to flow or other openings as long as they do not interfere with the ability of the cast to support the broken bones. In most, if not all cases, you will probably need to use a sling or some other additional support device to prevent the bones from moving or rubbing together.

What You Need to Have On Hand

If you have all the essentials in your bug out bag, then you should already have most of what you need to make a mud cast. Here is a basic list so that you can include these items in your bug out bag if they aren’t already present:

  • popsickle sticks or other materials that can be used to form splints
  • surgical gauze and tape
  • antibacterial ointment
  • bandages
  • towels or other padding material
  • material that can be used for a sling or other restraining device for arms or other areas that need to be secured close to the body in order to avoid further injury.
  • straps or other material that can be used to manipulate bones back into position if needed. Just make sure that you take a good quality first aid course and know how to pull and manipulate bones to bring them back into alignment before trying it in a crisis situation. When in doubt, you will be better served by simply immobilizing the bone and letting a doctor take care of it as soon as you find one.
  • A quart or more container to hold the mud that you gather from an appropriate source

Substitutes for Casting Materials in Nature

Let’s look at a situation where you ran from your home in such a hurry, you didn’t bring your bug out bag. Alternatively, your bug out bag is missing one or more essential elements that are needed to make a viable mud cast.

Here are some items in nature that you can use to substitute for things you will need:

  • Use tree branches and small limbs for making splints. Start off by selecting the straightest limbs you can find. Cut them down to a size that will enable you to immobilize the entire joint. It will also help to split the branches or limbs so that the affected area rests on a flat surface. If you cannot find branches or limbs that are wide enough for your need, lay thinner sticks together to form a flat surface. You can also tie them together to make a more solid foundation.
  • In place of gauze, you can use wide, long leaves from grass or other plants. Narrow, long leaves can also be used as long as you can wrap them around the affected are and the splint at least once or twice. When you get into using the leaves for holding the mud in place, see if you can shred the leaf a bit so that the mud has an easier chance of seeping through as it would with gauze.
  • Try using honey or other natural herbs in the area that have anti bacterial properties.
  • Leaves that have antibacterial properties can be used as bandages or coverings for areas that need to be protected from dirt and debris. Hold them in place with vines or other materials that will prevent them from slipping and sliding out of position.
  • Moss, leaves, and other soft materials can be used to pad around the splint as well as provide some relief from the weight of the cast. Make sure that the materials you choose are clean and free of insects.
  • In place of straps, longer, thicker vines can be used for pulling bones back into place and for other purposes.
  • Large leaves, depressions in rocks, and even a hole dug into the ground can be used as a place to hold mud that you retrieved from another location. Since you may wind up looking in several locations to find suitable mud, it is best to have a way to transport it to your campsite before trying to assemble the cast.

Where to Find the Mud

When it comes to finding the best mud for a cast, you will find that the term “mud” is something of a misnomer. Typically, you will be looking for material that is much closer to clay in terms of its plasticity and ability to be worked. As such, the mud you select will have a higher degree of organic matter in it, and will feel different from regular mud.

During the process of looking for suitable mud, take some of the material and let it dry out just enough so that it leaves very little residue on your hands. If you have ever worked with clay to make pinch pots or other objects, then you know that clay at this stage can still be bent and manipulated without creating cracks or other problems. By contrast, regular mud will crack easily at this stage and be completely useless insofar as forming it into usable objects.

The best places to find mud for making a cast are at the bottom of ponds or other areas where organic matter collects and easily mixes with soil over long periods of time. It should be noted that clay can take centuries to form to a point where it can be used for pottery making. You can still use “younger” or less well developed clays for making a mud cast. If you cannot find a clay like mud for the cast, you can still use regular mud, but it will be more difficult to manage and less likely to provide viable support for the areas that need to be immobilized.

How to Make a Basic Mud Cast

When all is said and done, making a mud cast is no more difficult than making a plaster cast. Here are the basic steps:

  • start off by making sure you have addressed any open wounds and set any bone fragments that you were able to take care of.
  • Use padding and a splint to provide support for the bones so that they have an additional layer of support. Worst comes to worst, even if the mud portion of the cast falls apart or fails for some other reason, the splint may be enough to keep the affected area immobilized and free from further injury.
  • Next, begin using thin layers of mud and leaves to hold it in place. If the day is breezy, then it will take less time for the layers to dry out. Do not let them dry completely, but do make sure that the water is wicking out properly from each layer of the cast. This may be a bit difficult if you are using leaves and forgot to make suitable holes in them because they will block the wicking action through the mud.
  • Once the cast is dry, finish off the process by using towels, vines, or anything else that can be fashioned into a harness that will hold the affected area as close as possible to your body. For example, if you broke an arm, you would make a sling that prevents your arm and cast from hanging downward or moving around freely at an uninjured area.

How to Remove a Mud Cast

Removing a mud cast is not so different from removing a plaster cast. You will still need to cut into the cast and then separate the parts to set the injured area free. If you used leaves and thin layers of mud, it may also be possible to simply grab a hold of some leaf material and then pull it away from the rest of the cast.

As the leaf puts pressure on the underside of the mud layer, it should break away easily. You may or may not be able to achieve the same results if you used gauze wrapping. If the fibers of the gauze became deeply enmeshed in the mud, the gauze is not likely to separate it into neat layers.

Alternatives You Can Make From Natural Materials

No matter if you are in the woods or a desert, or some other natural setting, there are few things that are similar to mud or plaster of paris that can be easily gathered and turned into a cast.

On the other hand, if you are in the woods, you can take advantage of pine sap to make pitch. This pitch, in turn, can be used to bind together layers of gauze. Try to keep the pine pitch as thin as possible, as you will find it can be difficult to remove.

Once you establish in a wooded setting, there are things you can make ahead of time to deal with broken bones. Aside from making pine pitch, experiment with maple syrup and turn it into a moldable material that will harden in place. If you already know how to make hard maple candy, then you will have a good start for figuring out how to make a cast from the same material.

Finally, do not forget about using other kinds of sap to make variants of latex, rubber, and other pliable materials. As long as you can find a way to apply a the material while it is soft, and then produce a hard shell, you will have the basis of a cast for broken bones.

In some cases, the ability of the material to stretch may also be of use, especially if you need to bind together splint material, or you need to prevent layers inside the cast from moving around too much.

During the course of trying to escape from a disaster, you may fall, or do something else that results in broken bones. No matter whether the bones are in an appendage, your ribs, hips, or shoulders, it is very important to find a way to immobilize the bones until you can get medical attention.

Mud casts have a number of drawbacks, they can still provide key support and relief when nothing else is available. This is an important skill to learn, as well as how to manage pitfalls so that you can make the most of this emergency medicine method.

When you don’t have access to hospitals and doctors, the only thing you can do to survive is relying on what nature provides you in order to stay alive!

This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

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Featuring Karen Drake

Episode 1 Season 3 – Barefoot Bushcraft Radio Show

Saturday, March 06, 2018

In this episode of the Barefoot Bushcraft Radio Show we discuss:

 – Work Sharp blade sharpener by Ken Onion

 – It’s so cold, Parts of Niagara Falls are Freezing

 – Winter Survival in a car

 – Special Guest: Karen Darke  

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DIY Altoids Fire Kit – So You Can Be Manly and Stuff!

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Make Your Own Altoids Fire Kit

 

Every preparedness minded person should know how to make a fire!  You should know this skill even if you live in the city and don’t get out to the wild much!  You never know when you might need to start-up a grill, start a fire to warm yourself or impress that pretty woman with your manly outdoor survival skills! 😉 

Your fire crafting skills should be complemented with a fire kit.  Fire kits don’t have to be very elaborate.  In fact, they should be kept pretty simple.  An example of a fire kit that you can easily put together is this DIY Altoids Fire Kit.

Here are the contents of this Fire Kit:

1 – Altoids Tin

2 – Tea Light Candles

2 – Big Birthday Candles

1 – Mini-Bic Lighter

4-5 – Waterproof/Windproof Matches

1 – Striker (comes with the matches)

1 – Baggy with Cotton Balls and Vaseline 

The contents pack very neatly in the tin!

One word about the matches.  I had every intention of making my very own waterproof matches using Strike Anywhere Matches.  However, I can’t seem to find Strike Anywhere Matches Anywhere!  Even on Amazon, the stock is hit or miss.  I would recommend if you happen to find some, to grab a box or two.  There is one thing to remember about the “NEW” Strike Anywhere Matches.  They are now “green” and don’t have the red phosphorus match head.  Some reviews on Amazon say they don’t work as well as the old red ones, but they seem to be good enough…if you can find them.

I found the UCO Stormproof matches in the camping section of Walmart.  But you can also find them on Amazon – CLICK HERE.  

Check out my video of the UCO Stormproof Matches below.  They are pretty cool!

 

@ucogear Stormproof #Matches for your #firekit #fire #firecraft

A post shared by Prepper Website (@prepperwebsite) on Jan 5, 2018 at 8:20am PST

 

There are a ton of other natural and man-made items that you can add to your fire kit.  What would you add?

You might also be interested in these articles:

Peace,
Todd

Make Your Survival Shelter Invisible With These 10 Tips

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We are living in times when people believe that a growing economy and an increase in job opportunities equates to some strange kind of mayhem, destruction, and chaos. Also foreign adversaries are just as eager to cause problems no matter what we do to advance ourselves and our allies.

Combined with all the natural disasters that are increasing in rate and severity, prepping and complex survival scenario planning become more important than ever. Having a survival shelter helps you survive, and so is ensuring that others cannot find it.

Keep reading to find out how to keep your survival shelter our of sight!

1. Build the Shelter Underground

One of the easiest ways to make a survival shelter invisible is to build it underground. People that are looking for food, supplies, or other resources will usually look for buildings that may house what they are looking for.

If you build your shelter underground, there are some other advantages when it comes to keeping its location as secret as possible.

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Underground shelters are some of the best when it comes to noise dampening, which is especially important if operating machinery underground, or having children living with you in the shelter. Remember, even one stray sound, no matter how faint, can reveal the presence of a shelter and people taking refuge in it. Minimizing this risk with an underground shelter will be an advantage.

Once you start tunneling underground, you can build the shelter a good distance away from the entry point, giving you plenty of room and options for making it harder to locate the shelter from above ground.

For example, you can use decoys as well as other methods to make people think they found your hiding place, even though you are still in a safe place with all of your supplies. Unfortunately, if you have only a small amount of land, creating decoys and distractions can be very difficult for above-ground shelters.

2. Choose Materials for Avoiding Radar and Other Sensors

Not so long ago, metal detectors and other devices were fairly expensive. Also, various kinds of radar devices and thermal heat signature detecting devices were either extremely expensive or unavailable to the public.

But today it isn’t impossible to build or get a hold of this equipment on your own, which means that protecting your shelter from electronic detection means may be more complicated than expected.

One of the most important things to do is make sure that thermal signatures such as bodies, heating systems, and other heat generating devices remain undetected while in operation. Also make sure that metals and other signatures are not easy to pick up in shapes that might interest those looking for supplies or anything else that can be used.

Underground shelters can shield from a lot of different devices, but there are others that can pick up cavities, metal signatures, and many other things that may reveal the location of your shelter or any decoys connected to it.

So if you decide on an underground shelter, make sure that you know how to break up the appearance of key signatures or find other ways to hide them, using paints that block or absorb certain frequencies, or other materials used to make the entire area look like an old debris field.

3. Choose Unusual Shapes

If you are building a shelter from scratch, unusual shapes that fit the landscape will offer the best insofar as invisibility. For example:

  • Terrain with a lot of boulders or outcroppings would be a good place to build something that looks like a natural cave. You can use stones from the local area for more of an effect. Just remember to avoid setting the rocks into an unnatural building pattern. It is also important to avoid squares, rectangles, circles, or anything else that doesn’t look like a random pile of rocks.
  • In a forest, build your shelter to look tall and narrow. If you are cutting down trees to clear a small area, you can build the house in a tall, cylinder shape, and then put bark around the outside of the shelter for a more realistic effect. Put vines along the outside of the structure or other plants that will grow and cover what should look like a dead tree trunk. This may be a fairly small shelter, and you can also build more than one to hide caches of good and supplies.
  • Underground shelters on grasslands will be best if they are as even as possible with the ground. Unless you enter and exit the shelter too much near the cavity, it should remain well hidden once the grass grows over it. Ground penetrating radars can still be a problem, so try building the shelter in odd shapes that look like an underground cave or something else that would be of no interest to people looking for you or your stockpile.
  • If you live near a waterfall or other area with running water, explore the possibility of building a shelter behind the waterfall, and research on underground mining and tunneling carried out by Cornish miners. When it comes to building an invisible shelter, very few people will even think to look under a pond or some other area deep below the surface of the running water.

4. Make the Shelter Amenable to Different Coverings

In any environment, brush, dust, and many other things will build up around items where people don’t clean up or move things around. When it comes to keeping your shelter invisible, making it look like no one is there is very important.

If you are using a conventional wood or brick structure for your shelter, make the walls, roof, and other surfaces amenable to different coverings, using vines, dust, and even garbage that may blow into your yard from time to time.

If you think of shelter coverings as being like a ghillie suit for buildings and shelters, then it may give you some good ideas about how best to hide your shelter from prying eyes. You want the shelter to blend into the landscape so that people don’t see it or recognize it for what it is.

Even breaking up the impression of straight lines in a shadow can make the difference. No matter how you look at it, coverings that break up light and shadows are bound to be as important as they are when you need to hide your physical presence in various settings.

5. Pros and Cons of Making the Shelter Look Abandoned and Unliveable

Making your shelter look derelict on the outside can have advantages and disadvantages.

On the positive side, people looking for expensive things to steal, food, weapons, or other valuables will more than likely look for buildings that are in better repair. If your home looks rich and expensive, then there must also be something worth stealing inside, so better looking buildings and their occupants will be looted and invaded first during a riot.

On the other side, in the later stages of a major crisis, most rioters and others will be homeless and looking for any place to stay. So homeless and desperate people will look for shelters that are the most run down to inhabit.

If they think the building is abandoned, the homeless will crawl into just about anything and build a fire or do something else to make the shelter more comfortable. Under these circumstances, homeless people passing through your area even now may decide to try and inhabit your survival shelter.

6. Disguise it To Look Like Something Else

Unless those searching for you have advanced radar or other detection systems, appearances can be your best weapon for making a shelter invisible. Aside from terrain specific shapes, there are some other ways to disguise the shelter to look like something else:

  • Never allow the outer walls of the structure to look like man-made formations. This means the shelter should have an irregular appearance with crooked outcroppings or plenty of areas that look like they will fall down at any moment.
  • Large enough cement sculptures or ones made from other materials can be used for very small external panic rooms or other shelters. They can also make a good place to hide trap doors to underground shelters. You can even use plastic bottles filled with sand, or many other materials that will simply look like a garden ornament or something else that isn’t related to a survival shelter. Even if you only build something that is 10’ x 10’, it may be enough to hide a trap door or a cache that you can live on for several days.
  • Building a shelter that looks like something else may be as simple as getting an old car frame from the junk yard. You can take this exterior and make it look like an ornate flower planter, or an unusual sculpture. While this “artwork” may be in plain view, people may not realize that the entire inside has been hollowed out and that there is enough space for you to sleep, cook, and even store away some supplies underground.
  • When it comes to disguising your shelter, creativity must also be balanced by effectiveness of the design. Depending on the neighborhood and the area, you may want something that will blend in and look normal. In other situations, you may want something novel that makes people think of anything but a shelter.

7. Use Smaller Modules Across the Property

When looters and thieves are looking for viable targets, they focus mainly on larger buildings that promise enough material to make it worth breaking in. This is just one of many reasons why you should always break up your stockpile into smaller groups of materials even if you aren’t interested in making your shelter invisible.

In some cases, if thieves find small items “hidden”, they may leave the rest of your stockpile alone.

When building a survival shelter, do not put all your focus on fitting everything into one location, but have two or three different shelters scattered throughout your property.

For example, you might make one small underground bunker, one above ground hidden in brush and brambles, and one in some other location. Even if people spot one, it is not likely they will look for a second and third shelter.

8. Avoid Telltale Signs Like Utility Pipes and Meters

Even if you have lived through a catastrophic hurricane, it can still be hard to believe that a bigger crisis will occur, or that extreme prepping is a matter of paranoia.

There may also be a level of prepping that you won’t go simply because you think the odds of a social collapse that spans decades is a matter of “if” as opposed to “when”. It also means that you may overlook critical things when it comes to concealing your survival shelter.

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You might think that running water in the shelter, electricity, gas, and phone service are very important. While digging a well and placing the pipes underground would be suitable for concealment purposes, you might choose to simply hook up some pipes from your home and extend them into the secondary shelter. If anyone comes to your home, those pipes will be easy to spot and can lead other people right to your hiding place.

Burying those pipes underground may work better, but remember that the water meter outside your house will continue to run. All anyone has to do is see that meter moving to know that someone is living close by.

Power lines with meters attached and other utility wires can also make it easy to track the location of your shelter. Rather than take these chances, find a way to live without power as much as possible, and use communication means that don’t rely on cable or internet access.

Foxhole radios, bullroarers, and many other devices can be used for communications in a time of need. In fact, it would be better to have these systems on hand if more complicated equipment is wiped out as it was in Puerto Rico.

9. Avoid Obvious Pathways To or From the Shelter

As with power lines, obvious pathways worn into the grass or the surrounding area can alert others to the location of your shelter. Even trampling sand or soil can leave signs of packing that will make other people curious enough to investigate. If you are still adding provisions to the shelter, or need to access it on a routine basis, there are some things you can do to avoid the signs of pathways to and from the shelter:

  • use vines or ivies across paths instead of grass. The vines can be pushed out of the way easily enough with your foot, and then back into place after you are done working in the shelter.
  • For dirt or sand paths, carry a rake with you. Use the rake to loosen up the compaction created by your feet. Do not forget to use the back of the rake to smooth out the lines made by the rake.
  • You can also set up stepping stones all over the yard. When you need to get to and from the shelter, step only on the stones. Just make sure that the stones are set randomly enough that a trail isn’t easily visible.

10. Avoid the Shelter When Others are Watching

It’s obvious that you should never enter or exit your shelter when other people are watching. No matter whether you created a liveable “lawn ornament” using an old car frame or some other object, disappearing into it or exiting it will alert anyone watching that something is hidden in the structure.

If your shelter is hidden in the woods, ensure you haven’t been followed to the site. If you can do so without alerting others to your hideaway, install trail cameras around the area. This will help you find out if other people followed you, or if they are nosing around. Conceal the cameras as high off the ground as possible so that they escape detection.

When it comes to concealing your entrance and exit times, don’t rely on night time to cover your activities. Given the availability of night vision gear and cameras, you never really know what kind of surveillance is going on all around you. Visit the shelter in daylight hours, or at times when electronic surveillance devices may have the hardest time picking up on your presence. Experiment with night vision enabled cameras to see when they convert from color to black and white as well as lighting patterns that they may not easily work well in.

Concealing your survival shelter isn’t something you may be able to do as an afterthought. Instead, if you are making plans to build a new shelter, figure out how to build in features that will make it hard to spot by humans, tracking animals, and various kinds of surveillance and detection devices.

Stay up to date on all emerging technologies or tracking methods that might be used to find your survival shelter. Once you know what you are up against, you have a better chance to revise your shelter and ensure that it will stay invisible and safe!

This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

What You Need To Know About High-Altitude Mountain Survival

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Every day, millions of people board airplanes in shorts or short skirts and open-toes sandals without a second thought. This is no wonder as the airline industry uses chance of accident per mile traveled statics of large commercial aircraft to convince them that airplanes are surrounded by magical safety bubbles.

“The risk is so low that there is no sense concerning yourself with it.”, they say. 

To effectively assess risk, one must consider the total risk, not just “accidents” per mile traveled of large commercial aircraft. What happens if we add in private planes? How about small planes?

We must also consider the exposure to risk. While the risk may be low, the exposure is severe. In fact, the total risk is significant enough that planes are required to carry approved survival kits to fly over water, in Alaska and Canada.

Survival kits are needed because rescuing survivors from remote areas requires time, planning and the cooperation of the weather. Without survival kits, people would not survive until rescue, especially in mountainous terrain.

I remember flying over the arctic circle for the first time as a child, looking down at the mountains, tundra and icebergs on that flight and thinking that it must be a whole lot more comfortable up there in the plane than down on the ground. I knew that if anything went wrong, that is where we would end up.

There are many ways to wind up on high on a mountain. And here’s how to survive if you find yourself in a situation like this. Briefly:

  • Exposure is the leading cause of wilderness survival-related death, so dress based on the coldest nighttime temperature instead of the daytime temperature.
  • Carry critical survival gear in your pockets, not in your pack, which is very likely to be separated from you when you need it most.
  • By the time water boils, it is safe, even on the highest mountains in the world where you could not even survive without bottled oxygen.
  • Altitude sickness can be deadly. If you ascend past 8,000’ descend below 4,000’ as soon as possible at the first sign of a headache and any other additional symptom of altitude sickness unless you have a doctor with you and he or she tell you different.
  • Despite advances in avalanche safety technology, avoidance is still your best and safest option.

Mountain Survival by Ecosystem

Viewed from space, the Earth’s atmosphere is surprisingly thin. At high altitudes, little atmosphere exists to lessen exposure to UV radiation and oxygen concentrations are lower. The greenhouse effect is also lessened, so the higher you go up a mountain, the colder it gets.

There is also more wind at higher altitudes, so as you climb, forest density gradually decreases until trees cannot grow at all. This line on a mountain is known as the tree line.

This is important to survival as survival becomes more difficult without trees and the biodiversity that they support. There are far fewer resources available for survival above the tree line.

Alpine: Tundra and Grasslands

Alpine is the ecosystem of a mountain above the tree line. There are fewer plant species in this zone, with tundra, grasslands or shrublands. Plants are mostly lichens, moss, cushion plants and grasses.

Subalpine: Below the Tree Line

Just below the tree line, continual exposure to icy winds means that trees able to grow here are scattered and growth is stunted, deformed and gnarly. The term used to describe this characteristic tree growth is Krummholz, which means, “twisted, crooked or bent.”

Descending the mountain, decreased wind enables trees to grow straighter, taller an in sparse stands as the forest line is approached. For the survivor, descending to the lower subalpine typically means encountering firewood and some degree of shelter from exposure.

Montane & Submontane: Forests, Meadows and Rivers

The forest line or timberline is where the sparse stands of trees thicken into forest or dense stands. These are the highland forests, typically coniferous or mixed. Survivors able to descend to this point, typically find better shelter from the wind, UV light, abundant firewood and more abundant resources of all kinds.

Mountain Survival Dangers & Difficulties

The historical record is replete with stories of guerillas fleeing into the mountains to survive because mountain life is both dangerous and difficult.

Cold

Cold exposure is the leading cause of death in mountain survival. The higher you go, the colder it gets. Find a mountain high enough and you will encounter snow even if the mountain is on the equator. With a summit of 20.703’, Chimborazo, in Ecuador, has snow year-round, and Mount Kilimanjaro and the Andes have glaciers.

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Even in the lower 48, Wyoming, Colorado, California, Nevada, Utah, Washington, New Mexico, Montana, Idaho and Arizona all have mountains over 12,000’. At high altitudes like this, mountains can be extremely cold at any time of year. Mountains can also make their own weather. Where I live in the Rockies, it snowed on the 4th of July one year.

Every year, people die from exposure in the mountains. Most of them travel up from lower altitudes and underestimate the overnight low temperature.

High Winds

High winds produce wind chill, making it feel colder than indicated by the temperature. Wind chaps skin and drives ice crystals and precipitation causing wind burn and chapped lips. It can also drive rain and snow up under shelter and make it difficult to start fires.

Solar Radiation

At high altitude, less atmosphere means more intense UV radiation which causes sun burns much faster than at sea level. Snow also reflects sunlight, causing snow blindness.

Avalanches

Avalanches are snow slides and typically occur on or below slope of 30-45 degrees. Avalanches can be very powerful and can bury survivors before they have time to react. If entombed in enough snow and ice, escape is often impossible without air pockets because the body is immobilized by the weight of ice and snow. Survivors are often disoriented, do not know which way is up and cannot see.

Scarcity of Resources

Alpine and subalpine zones often lack resources encountered at lower altitude, further complicating survival. Without shelter from exposure and fuel to keep a fire going, it becomes even more difficult to keep hypothermia at bay.

Altitude Sickness

Anyone can get altitude sickness regardless of heath of physical conditioning.

Young people are at greater risk. People who live at or near sea level may experience feelings of breathlessness at altitudes as low as 5,000’.

Acute attitude sickness can occur as low as 6,600’ at a pressure of around 0.79 atmosphere (80 kilopascals) in otherwise healthy patients, so take a ski trip in the Rockies and attitude sickness is a possibility.

While most people can ascend to 8,000’ without symptoms, susceptibility varies. Over 8,000’ attitude sickness is a risk.

Onset of symptoms typically occurs six to ten hours after ascent. For most, symptoms improve within two days, but some the condition is more serious.

There are three flavors of altitude sickness with the last two sometimes being life threatening:

  • Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
  • High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)
  • High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

AMS is the most common and mildest form of altitude sickness. Symptoms of AMS are a headache at an altitude above 7,900’ with a pressure below 0.75 atmosphere and one or more the following “hangover-like” symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Weakness, fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, insomnia
  • Swelling of hands, feet and face
  • Muscle Aches
  • Persistent rapid pulse
  • Pins & needles sensation
  • General Malaise

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)

HAPE is a buildup of fluid in the lungs and is very dangerous and can be life threatening.

  • Bronchitis-like symptoms (coughing up pink, frothy spittle or mucous, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest discomfort)
  • Persistent dry cough
  • Blue or Gray Skin
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bubbly-sounding breathing, gasping or wheezing
  • Excessive sweating, dizziness, lightheadedness, weakness can be signs of drop in blood pressure

High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)

HACE is the most dangerous form of altitude sickness and involves buildup of fluid in the brain. HACE is life threatening.

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Insomnia
  • Diminished Appetite
  • Confusion
  • Coma

Mountain Survival Techniques & Tips

Dress for the Coldest Nighttime Temperature

Whether traveling by small private plane or a large commercial aircraft, as soon as it goes down, what you are wearing matters a great deal provided you survive the crash.

Today, people are more insulated than ever from the environment. They transition from one climate controlled shelter to another, be it a home, garage, automobile, airport or aircraft, I see people in shorts and flip flops in 13 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, dashing from a store into an SUV to drive home.

Carry Critical Survival Gear in Your Pockets

Survival/self-recovery gear should be carried in your pockets or otherwise attached to your body as opposed to carrying it in a bag or pack. Bags and packs get removed when we sit down, ride in transportation, and when we eat, rest or sleep.

If you fall in water, you need to doff your backpack to swim. In an avalanche, you also need to lose your pack in a hurry. Packs and bags often become separated from us when we need them the most, so survival gear goes in your pockets, on your belt or otherwise strapped to your body.

Because the upper zones of mountains can be devoid of resources, survivors stand a much better chance of surviving if they have basic equipment on their person. The ability to start a fire in a cold, wet, windy environment and protect it from precipitation is a literal lifesaver in a mountain survival scenario.

The survival/self-recovery gear I carry every day of my life includes a small tube of white petrolatum, which is very helpful in mountain survival. Applied to the skin, it prevents and treats wind burn and chapping, can be used to start fires and has a surprising number of survival uses.

Study Wild Edibles

Cladonia rangiferina or reindeer lichen (sometimes misnamed reindeer moss) is a common and easily identified edible medicinal plant that grows in alpine tundra. Your body needs energy to produce heat in the cold.

Knowing what wild edibles may be available in each ecosystem, what is edible in each season and how to prepare them is helpful in a long-term survival scenario. Otherwise, travel with a soccer team so you will have plenty of teammates to eat should you end up stranded for weeks or months.

Boiling Water at High Altitude

Every kid learns in elementary physics that water boils at increasingly lower temperatures as altitude increases because air pressure decreases.

Unfortunately, they do not learn that the temperatures at which pathogens are deactivated are so far below the boiling point of water at sea level that water is microbiologically safe by the time it boils even on the highest mountain on the planet.

Unless you are a high-altitude balloonist in an unpressurized cabin, you do not need to worry about this. Boiling water beyond the point the point it reaches a rolling boil just wastes precious fuel that could be used to keep you alive longer.

If you are interested in saving fuel, get a Water Pasteurization Indicator (WAPI). It is a plexiglass tube with a wax pellet inside that melts when the water has been heated sufficiently and is microbiologically safe to drink. Since this is long before the water boils, WAPIs save fuel.

Acclimate to Altitude

The faster you ascend to altitude and the higher you climb, the more likely you get altitude sickness. In a survival situation, you may not have diagnostic equipment. If you develop a headache and at least one other symptom within a day or two of ascent, you may have altitude sickness.

If your symptoms are severe, you will need medical attention. You need to get below 4,000’ as soon as possible, without endangering yourself further or anyone else and get to a doctor. Stay alert to symptoms, and descend before altitude sickness becomes serious.

Acclimatizing your body reduces the chance of altitude sickness.

  • Start your ascent below 10,000’. If you fly or drive, stop here and spend at least 24 hours while your body gets used to the altitude.
  • Ascend a maximum of 1,000’ per day on foot.
  • For every 3,000’ you ascend, spend 24-hours at rest at that altitude.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink 3-4 quarts of water per day and make sure that at least 70% of your calorie intake is from carbohydrates.
  • Do not use tobacco, drink alcohol or take sleeping pills.
  • Descend to a lower elevation at the first sign of symptoms.

Avalanche Avoidance & Safety

Traveling ridges is safer than traversing slopes, but avoid cornices and other overhangs while doing so. Avoid slopes of 30-45 degrees and stay out of the track, which is the path the avalanche will take.

When I was a kid, it seems like avalanche technology was a St Bernard and a stick. Avalanche tech has come a long way since those days. We do still use dogs and sticks, but now they are supplemented by backpacks with big airbags that can deploy, enveloping a survivor in an instant, creating airspace necessary to survive trapped in a wall of snow. They can also trigger a locator beacon.

Despite advances in technology, avoidance is still your best and safest option. Avalanches can occur so quickly that you may not even have time to react. If you are caught in an avalanche and do have time to react:

  • Jump up slope past or toward the fracture line. Inches are often the difference between life and death.
  • Doff your pack and heavy gear. A nice feature on military packs is quick release straps for rapid doffing. Critical survival gear should be carried in the pockets of your clothing and should not be affected by doffing your pack.
  • Get out of the way. Make a run for the edge of the track. Even if you do not make it out of the track, the snow may be shallower along the edge.
  • “Swim” for all you are worth toward the edge of the avalanche.
  • Protect your head with your elbows to create and air pocket.

You never know what a trip that is supposed to be easy might bring, and how would you be forced to make use of your survival skills. What can you do to stay alive? Practice the skills, know your limits and learn the latest tricks for your survival!

This article has been written by Cache Valley Prepper for Survivopedia.

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage

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by Todd Walker

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

 

Arguably, the most underrated and overlooked primitive technology is rope and string. That is until you run out of modern cordage. A whole new appreciation for stuff that binds will quickly become apparent.

Ropes and knots predate the ax, the wheel, and possibly the controlled use of fire by our ancestors. Think of stone tools. These had to be tied to the end of sticks. Shelters stood with joints bound by fibrous lashing material. Animal sinew, catgut, and hide were used as well. But, as my friend, Mark Warren, says, it’s easier to get your hands on plants since they don’t run away from you.

Fibers that Bind

In my area of Georgia, tree bark, roots, leaves, stems, and stalks can be used for bindings. For our cordage class at school, we used Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) and cattail (Typha) for fiber materialCattail from our second-hand beaver pond, and tulip poplar from my stash I collected over the years.

You’re not limited to a few choices in nature. Below are 18 cordage fibers made and displayed by Scott Jones at one of his workshops I attended. If you’re into primitive skills and technology, I highly recommend you pick up his books, Postcards to the Past, and A View to the Past. Both are essential for any primitive practitioner on your Christmas list!

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

18 indigenous cordage fibers Scott Jones has on display for demonstrations

Besides the 18 listed below on the display, we also used okra stalk, that’s right, the garden variety, to make cordage in his class.

From L to R:

  1. Red Cedar
  2. Bald Cypress
  3. Atlantic White Cedar
  4. Red Mulberry
  5. Black Locust
  6. Yellow (Tulip) Poplar
  7. Winged Elm
  8. Paw Paw
  9. Basswood
  10. False Nettle
  11. Blue Star
  12. Milkweed
  13. Dogbane
  14. Evening Primrose
  15. Spanish Moss
  16. Button Snakeroot
  17. Yucca
  18. Cattail

Different materials require different methods of extracting fibers. For our purposes, and to keep this article manageable, we’ll stick with the two materials we used in class – tulip poplar and cattail.

Preparing Fibers

As mentioned earlier, I collect tulip polar bark every chance I get. This tree has many uses – (see here and here). It’s best to harvest in late spring and summer as the bark will “slip” off the trunk with ease. The inner bark is what you’re after. I like to use inner bark from fallen limbs or dead standing saplings. Simply soak the dried bark, a process called, retting, in water for a few days to a few week. At my fixed camp, I toss large sections of bark into the creek and weigh them down with rocks. The soaking helps break down the stuff that holds the outer and inner bark together. After the bark is retted, the inner bark should peel in long, useful strips.

Hang the strips to dry. Pre-dried fibers are less prone to shrinkage even after wetting them during the cordage making process. Separate the strips into finer fiber bundles (hair-like fibers) for stronger cordage. Or you can start twisting wider strips for expedient cordage.

We have a nice stand of cattails next to our outdoor classroom. At this point in the season, the leaves are dead and brown. For green leaves, cut and dry until they turn brown. You’ll notice these leaves twist better when damp. Even a morning dew enhances their flexibility.

Cattail leaves can be striped into smaller widths for stronger cordage but wasn’t worth the effort for our class. For expediency, we used whole leaves. Here’s how…

Reverse Twist Two-Ply Method

For our beginner cordage-makers, we used whole cattail leaves and wide strips (1/2 inch) of tulip poplar inner bark. Larger material allows the student to see how the twisting works and is easier to handle than fine fiber bundles.

Also, keep the fiber material damp during the whole process.

Start in the middle of a strip of fiber material about arm’s length long. Pinch the ply with the index finger and thumb of both hands with 2-3 inches between your pinch points. Begin to twist the ply away from your body with your right hand in a clockwise rotation and left hand counterclockwise. This will cause the ply to twist until it naturally bends into a kink/loop.

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Forming the loop.

Pinch the loop with your left hand (index finger and thumb). You now have two plies extending in a “Y” formation. Pinch the strand furthest from your body with your right hand close to your left hand (about 1/4 to 1/2 inches). Twist your right hand away from your body in a quarter turn or 90 degree rotation.

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Starting the outside ply twist.

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A full 90 degree rotation of the outside ply.

While holding the twisted ply between your thumb and index finger, reach your middle finger on your right hand around to grab the strand closest to your body. Grip this ply with your middle finger against your index finger. Now twist back a quarter turn to the original starting position. This motion brings the outside ply over the inside ply. The two plies have now switched places. Release the ply you were pinching and repeat the process on the “new” outside ply.

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Rotating back 90 degrees with the opposite ply pinched with the middle finger.

Once you get the mechanics down you’ll be able to hand-twist tightly woven cordage like a champ. One student picked this motion up quickly and made a few feet of cattail cordage in less than 30 minutes.

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

RISE student twisting cattail cordage. He began teaching other students the technique.

Splicing Technique

If both plies are even when you begin twisting, you’ll end up backtracking (unwinding twists) to make a splice. With experience you’ll find that starting the kink/loop with one ply longer than the other will take care of this problem.

When you get to the end of your rope (about an inch left on the outside ply with a longer inside ply), and need to make longer cordage, a splice is needed. Take another length of fiber material of similar diameter and lay it in the “Y” with an inch of material overlapping. Pinch the overlapping new fiber on the existing two-ply cord you’ve already made. With the new ply running parallel with the short outside ply, pinch these together with your right hand and continue the two-ply twisting technique described above. This splicing technique will continue until you twist a length of cord long enough for your needs.

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

New fibers added in the crook of the “Y” to be spliced.

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Trim the overlapping spliced end when your cordage is complete.

Note: For any left-handed folks, reverse the instructions.

Trim the overhanging spliced material on the finished cord. Now you can terminate the end of your cord with a couple of half hitches.

Start using your new cordage for primitive binding projects like a Hoko knife.

How to Make Reverse Twist Two-Ply Natural Cordage ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Tying it all together with natural cordage.

Below is a video we did during class on making cordage for those interested…

The reverse twist method is useful when smaller lengths of tightly woven cordage are needed. We’ll do a future post on a method called the “Thigh-Roll”. This technique is a speedy way to make large quantities of natural two-ply cordage… and easier on your hand muscles.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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The Best 10 Tips For Survival Camping In The Rain

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You might love walking in the rain, but it doesn’t mean you enjoy being stuck in the rain while camping. If you are in a situation where you are camping out of necessity, getting caught unprepared for rain storms can lead to illness and many other problems.

Survival camping in the rain does not require much equipment, but you will still need to know what to do to get the most out of the basics you should already have in your everyday carry (EDC) bag.

Important Items to Have Onhand

Whether you are camping in an open field, a forest, or some other outdoor setting, you need basic items onhand. Ideally, these items (and others) should be with you at all times, regardless of where you go, so you could use them for your survival.

3 Second SEAL Test Will Tell You If You’ll Survive A SHTF Situation

If you already have them in your pocket book or some other wearable EDC (they take up about 1 liter of space or the size of a medium fanny pack), then you are well on your way to being fully capable of camping comfortably and safely in the rain.

  • Your EDC bag should be waterproof. Failing that, everything in the bag should be kept in Ziploc freezer bags or some other waterproof container.
  • A printed instruction book – you can use anything from laminated index cards to a small notebook for storing important information on how to start fires, treat medical emergencies, purify water, and build a basic shelter. You can start with the basic topics in this article, and then build on the information to address other scenarios. Do not forget you can also print diagrams and other pictures from online resources and include them in the book.
  • A knife
  • Flashlight
  • Waterproof matches, tinder cloth, and tea lights
  • Paracord
  • Screwdriver kit
  • File or emory boards
  • Sewing kit
  • Bandages, gauze, tweezers, cotton swabs, tissues, and tape
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Medicines and herbs in accordance with your needs. Do not forget you can divide salves and powders into straws and seal both ends for single use packages.
  • Rubbing alcohol or swabs
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Heavy duty construction bags
  • Plastic shopping bags
  • Rice (approximately 2 cups stored in a waterproof bag)
  • Small packets of salt, sugar, electrolyte, and nutrition bars
  • Water
  • Compass
  • Water purifying straws
  • Solar powered battery charger
  • Dish towel
  • Pair of socks
  • Electronic devices in accordance with personal needs and preferences

Avoid Lightning

While you may be more concerned about getting away from all the rain, it is very important to make sure you remain safe from lightning.

Here are some basic tips:

  • Don’t use an umbrella or anything else metallic that will draw lightning to you.
  • If you have a tent, make sure it does not conduct electricity.
  • Don’t camp under trees or areas where lightning may jump onto you.
  • Try to stay in areas where shrubs or low growth is of uniform height
  • Don’t go to the high ground or any area where lightning will try to use you as the fastest path to the ground
  • Remain in the trench or safe area for at least ½ after you no longer see lightning or hear thunder.
  • Stay away from water, especially in ponds, mud puddles, or any other standing water. Even if lightning does not hit you, but does hit the water, it will still shock you and may kill you.
  • If you try to wait out the storm in a ditch or other depression in the ground, make sure water is not flowing in it. You may have to abandon the ditch if you see water starting to build up or flow. In this situation, stay as close to the ground as you can while moving to another area of safety.

Avoiding Flash Floods and Related Hazards

In some ways, staying safe from floods and mudslides while camping in the rain is just the opposite of staying safe from lightening. When it comes to floods, you will be seeking the high ground as much as possible.

The best way to avoid problems with flash floods and mudslides is to be familiar with the area you are in. Stay away from areas where flooding and mudslides occur.

If you are not familiar with the area, then make sure you know the signs of areas where floods and slides are likely. This might include studying signs of previous floods in creek beds, rock patterns, and other indicators that problems may develop during a rainstorm.

Waterproof Shelter

With a few hours and suitable natural resources, you can build a shelter that will last for several days and be waterproof. This includes making small A-frame shelters from saplings as well as using vines and other materials for thatching and walls.

Video first seen on Haven.

If you do not have tarp on hand to build simple shelters, you can still bind together large leaves or grasses to make a mat. This includes using rushes and reeds found near the edge of ponds and streams. Insofar as short term shelters, just about anything will do as long as you can braid or knot it to keep the pieces together.

Once you have a basic mat built, you can plug up any holes in the structure with a mixture of grass and mud. Alternatively, if there are pine trees nearby, you can collect the sap and make pitch out of it.

If you happen to find a small hill and have more time, you can also create a small dugout shelter. Just make sure that you fortify the walls and have a suitable exit in case the structure floods or leaks in the rain.

If the rain hits suddenly, you can use a large size construction bag as a poncho until you find a place sheltered enough to build a fire. Keep at least one bag ready for this purpose.

Just cut a hole for your head to fit through the bottom of the bag and then pull the bag on when needed. When cutting arm holes, make sure there is enough plastic to drape wide over your shoulders so that rain doesn’t drip into the sides of the bag.

If there is a breeze, or you must move around to accomplish some other task, simply use some paracord to tie the bag closer to your body.

Starting and Maintaining a Fire

From drying out clothes to keeping animals away, being able to build a fire in the rain is the most important thing you can do. If you are carrying waterproof matches, tinder cloth, and tea lights, most of the work of finding suitable burn materials will already be done. All you will need to do is find some dry wood for the fire.

This may include anything from saplings to the inner material of fallen tree trunks. To start a fire with what you have:

  • Use the waterproof matches to ignite the tinder cloth. Some people also use cotton balls or dryer lint soaked in petroleum jelly for this purpose.
  • A tea light will provide necessary fuel until smaller bits of kindling catch fire. If you do not have a tea light, try using a pine cone.
  • There are several different ways to stack the logs when building a fire . Try out different methods before you are caught in the rain to see which one you are most comfortable with.

Get Dry and Stay Dry

Once you have a decent fire going, dry out your clothes and remove as much dampness as possible from your skin. This is especially important if you are prone to taking chills, or catch colds easily.

If you have a small towel on hand, use that to dry off, and then use the fire to dry out your clothes.

Unless you have a shelter, staying dry can be difficult as long as it is still raining. A plastic bag poncho will still keep the worst of the rain off you, but it can also block off the movement of sweat away from your skin. As a result, you must be very careful to pay attention to when your clothes feel damp, or open the bag up to allow it to vent from time to time. Needless to say, you will not be able to use the bag as a covering when sitting by the fire.

Drying Out Electronic Devices

Unless you are camping during a complete social collapse, you might obtain cell service as long as your phone works. In addition, you may also need your phone to access other information, especially if you don’t have a set of printed notes with you.

If your cell phone or solar power charging kit got wet, start off by removing as much moisture as you can with cotton swabs and tissues. Do not forget to remove the battery and dry as much as you can in the battery compartment.

Be careful when drying off the gold contacts located on the battery as you do not want to inadvertently short it out. From there, if the device doesn’t start working when you reinstall the battery, store it in a bag of rice for 24 – 36 hours.

The rice will, hopefully, absorb enough moisture so that your device will work properly again.

Navigating in the Rain

Many people that go camping stay in one place while it is raining. While this may have advantages insofar as keeping a fire going and having a reliable shelter, it may not work in a survival situation.

If you must reach a distant location in a short period of time, you may not have hours or days to waste sitting in one location. You will also need food and water fairly quickly. Even if you aren’t going to move very far away from the campsite, you may still need to find your way around and back to it.

Video first seen on The Hidden Woodsmen.

When navigating in the rain, keep in mind a few things.

Use Laminated Maps

If you are traveling a distance, laminate your maps on both sides, with the edges sealed, and keep them in a waterproof bag.

There are few things worse than thinking your map is waterproof, only to lay it down on a damp surface and see it get soaked from the bottom. By the same token, a map that does not have sealed edges can also pick up moisture very quickly and carry it into the printed area.

Write Down Your Position

Always write down compass readings while moving away from the campsite, to have a better chance of backtracking to find your previous location. Remember, even if you only go a few feet away from the campsite, it can be very easy to get confused and wind up going in the wrong direction.

Leave Trail Markers

You can use anything from patterns of stones on the ground making arrows to carving markers in trees to help you find your way back to the campsite or some other area of interest.

Use a Walking Stick

In order to reduce the risk of falling or incurring other injuries, use a walking stick while it is raining and the ground is wet. Wet leaves with hidden mud under them can easily cause you to slip and fall, especially if you are traveling along a decline and hidden rocks slip out from under your feet.

Using a walking stick will also help you avoid stepping on snakes or other creatures that might be hiding in the leaves. If you are not a seasoned hiker or aren’t paying enough attention to where you put your feet, it is very easy to get startled, lose your balance, and wind up with sprains, cuts, bruises, or broken bones.

Put the Fire Out Before Leaving

Even if you are planning to return to the campsite, put the fire out before you go. It is never a good idea to leave a fire unattended regardless of the weather or how assured you feel that you will return in time to take care of a problem. It simply isn’t worth the risk to keep a fire going if you don’t have eyes on it at all times and are ready to put it out if something goes wrong.

Signaling Without Electronic Devices

Unfortunately, if it is raining, you will not be able to use a mirror to capture light from the sun and signal for help. If your cell phone isn’t working, that leaves using sound and smoke.

Here are some things you can try to draw helpers to your site:

  • Use the fire to generate a smoke signal. Make sure the fire is in an open area where as much smoke as possible will be seen by others.
  • Make a whistle from reeds or other hard, hollow stems. You can also use your knife to carve out a whistle that may send sound further out.
  • If you have been hunting, take skins from fish or animals and stretch them over a hollowed out tree stump. Next, simply beat on the skins to create a drum sound.
  • Make a bullroarer or similar device – these devices have been used for thousands of years and in cultures all over the world to send information over long distances. They are little more than thin pieces of wood attached to a rope. As the wood is spun, it makes a sound that can be heard for miles around.

Video first seen on Jungle Jay Adventures.

Managing Illness and Injuries

Overall, there isn’t much difference between managing illnesses in the rain and when the weather is clear. You will still need to keep wounds clean and dry.

If you have a sprained ankle or broken bone, you will still use the same methods to isolate them in order to prevent further damage. That all being said, when it rains, you may want to take some extra precautions to avoid getting sick.

For example, if you are comfortable with using garlic, ginger, or other herbs that reduce inflammation and kill off a wide range of bacteria, you may want to take them to stave off an infection.

Camping in the rain can come with a set of special challenges that you may not give much thought when the sun is shining. Even people that have gone camping before may not always think about keeping a set of tools in their EDC that can be used in case they are stuck in a situation where they must camp outdoors for survival purposes.

Today, you can look over your EDC gear and see if you have everything you need to survive camping for a day or more in the rain. If you do, then you will be well served by practicing your skills the next time it rains.

Even if you camp out in your backyard for a few hours, it will give you some good ideas about what skills you need to hone as well as how best to use the gear that you have on hand. Use any opportunity to practice your survival skills as this can save your life one day!

This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

Pros And Cons Of Modifying Your Firearms  

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Most firearm manufactures build their weapons based on what they think most shooters will want. But defensive, hunting, and target shooting all require specific adjustments, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that most shooters wind up modifying their weapon to get the most out of it.

In addition, there are likely to be aspects of the firearms that might not totally fit your particular shooting style, eyesight, or hand size. While this not a good thing to modify your weapons just to be different, or to see if it can be done, other adjustments may fall into the category of necessary.

Click here to get your guide to a layered survival defense!

But how do you actually do it? Here are some modifications that you might take into consideration.

Pistols

Night Sights

These sights give you a good sight picture even in low light conditions, which increases your chance of hitting the target. Even though this can be very useful, bear in mind that the sights must first be activated by a light source. They are also incorporate Tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen.

Unlike other sights which can last for the life of the gun, night sights must be replaced every 8 – 10 years.

Fiber Optic Low Light Sights

Instead of using Tritium, these sights use small colored fiber optic inserts in the front and rear sights. Usually, the rear sight is green, while the front sight is red. They will only work if there is enough surrounding light.

Unlike the Tritium based sights, these will work as long as the fiber optic material is intact.

Trigger Spring Upgrade with After Market Trigger

This upgrade ensures the weapon to shoot easier and better. These upgrades can also address common complaints such as the trigger is hard to pull, excessive trigger creep, or the trigger is too light/heavy.

Some people prefer a lighter trigger for quick shooting, while others want a stiffer one to reduce the risk of accidental discharge when shooting or reholstering.

After Market Magazines

Even though the magazines that come with your gun are reasonable quality, the ones you can get after market are much better and are designed to give a lifetime of reliable service.

In many cases, the better quality magazines reduce the risk of malfunctions caused by bent magazines, faulty magazine springs, or followers. This increases the reliability of the weapon and also reduces the risk of damage to it. Always use match grade pistol magazines to get the most out of each unit.

Even though after market magazines are more expensive, they usually come with a lifetime warranty and are well worth the extra cost.

Upgrade the Pistol Grips

The easiest and fastest way to reduce felt recoil is to upgrade the pistol grips. Choose grips that fit your hands properly. This will also make the weapon more comfortable to shoot and improve accuracy.

If you choose slim grips, they will also make the gun easier to conceal, while thicker ones may give you a printing problem. To get the most options, try aftermarket grips that allow you to choose the side panel and back strap combinations.

AR-15 Rifles

Change the Upper Receiver to the Adams Arms Piston System

Piston driven AR-15’s function better because the hot gasses released from firing are not constantly being dumped into the body of the weapon.

The second advantage is the weapon operates more cleanly with no blow back of powder and gas into the breach. Instead, you only have to be concerned about a small amount of powder residue in a tiny area around the piston. These advantages make for a more reliable weapon that can be shot longer during each session. You can also wait longer between deep rifle cleanings.

Even though the piston system improves the overall performance of the AR-15, the complete upper is quite expensive. Since it is not a standard part like the impingement system, you will also have a harder time finding spare parts when needed.

If you are interested in this upgrade, there are two ways to go about it. First, you can buy a complete upper receiver and match it to the lower receiver that your rife came with. Second, there is also a conversion kit that can be used to modify your existing upper receiver.

Nickel Boron Bolt Carrier Groups

Nickel boron coatings on the interior and exterior make it much easier to clean the bolt carrier group. All you will need to do is rub the bolt a few times in order to remove the fouling. Even though the rear bolt will still be a little harder to clean, it is much easier than it would be if you were still wrestling with a traditional phosphate bolt carrier.

Over the lifetime of the rifle, you will also find that nickel boron bolt carrier groups are also more dependable.

As with changing to a piston system, you will find that nickel boron bolt carrier groups can be quite expensive. To get the most for your money, choose Mil-Spec to ensure your system will be compatible with military parts.

Replace Springs

If there is one chronic problem with AR-15’s, I’d have to say failure to feed issues are at the top of the list. While many people continue to believe bad magazines or fouling are the main causes, the AR springs may also be at fault.

Remember, it is the buffer and extractor springs that receive the most damaging wear and tear because they control the opposing reaction of the energy delivered by the gas.

Sadly, many weapons either have springs that are too weak to withstand this abuse and remain reliable, while others may have a buffer that is too light. The failure of these springs will render your AR-15 about as useful for shooting as a paper weight.

When replacing the springs:

  • Choose heavier ones that are on the recommended spring listings for your AR.
  • Field test the AR to insure the proper functioning of the new springs.
  • Always keep a spare part kit for every AR you own, including extra springs. You never know when something will break or wear out.
  • Never put in new springs in the AR and then fail to function test the rifle.

Use Duracoat or Cerakote as a Protective Coating

These coatings will protect your rifle from friction related problems and moisture. The additional barrier against corrosive elements will extend the lifetime of the gun and ensure its reliability. In addition, these coatings offer a tactical advantage because they can be used in camouflage patterns. Even though these coatings can be relatively inexpensive to do on your own, it is also easy to make a mess. While it costs a lot more to have a professional do this job, it is worth the cost.

Upgrade the magazines – As with pistols, upgrading the magazines for your AR-15 gives you a chance to buy better quality units that will last longer. In this instance, I recommend the Magpul PMAG. It is to your advantage to avoid cheap, poor quality magazines, or ones that do not have a good reputation on the market. Not only will they cause endless malfunctions, they will seriously hamper the performance when the rifle actually does fire.

Pistol grip – Most people replace the standard A2 pistol grip on the AR-15 because it is too small for shooters with larger hands. For comfort and increased proficiency, try the Magpul or Hogue grips.

Triggers

Next to pistol grips, replacing the stock triggers is the most common upgrade for AR-15’s. There are many designs to choose from as well as manufacturers. Do your research carefully and consider what you want to use the gun for when selecting a trigger upgrade. Here are some designs to consider:

  • Single stage – These are heavier triggers that will fire after using steady pressure on the trigger until it fires.
  • Two stage – A two stage trigger will allow you to pull the trigger part way, hold it, and then fire when you are ready. It is useful for hunting or defensive shooting.
  • Match – Very lightweight trigger that improves accuracy when shooting targets.
  • 3 gun competition – If you have pistols, rifles, and shotguns, matching the trigger with the one on your AR-15 may be of interest if you have a disability or need consistency across all weapons for some other reason.
  • Adjustable – This trigger lets you set the weight, creep, and amount of trigger travel. This trigger is ideal if you want to test out different trigger configurations or want something that can be adjusted for different shooting types.
  • Non-adjustable – If you already know what you are looking for in trigger weight and other factors, choose this one to save money vs the adjustable model.
  • Straight or curved bow – This is purely a matter of personal taste. Some prefer a curved trigger, while others are more comfortable with a straight one.

Stocks

Most AR-15 rifles sold today come with, in my opinion, a mediocre, cheap Mil Spec six position stock. Replacing it with a collapsible stock can increase accuracy and also make the rifle much more comfortable to shoot.

Video first seen on chanderson1.

You will still need to choose the right size stock for your rifle’s buffer tube. While a stock upgrade can give you a lot of advantages, you will need to do your homework to find a good quality stock. In this market, expensive doesn’t always mean better, and you can very easily wind up with an over-priced piece of junk.

Bump Fire Rifle Stocks

Contrary to the beliefs of some individuals, bump fire rifle stocks do not turn your AR-15 into a full auto weapon. They simply use the recoil from the past shot to operate the sliding action a bit faster. However there are people that can pull a trigger faster, and more accurately than the bump stock users! Here are some other things to consider before pursuing this upgrade:

  • Right now the BATF finds that this product is not a machine gun as defined under the Gun Control Act, 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(23), however this might change. If it does change, you will need to find out if pre-existing bump stocks will be grandfathered.
  • The stock allows the AR to shoot between 400 to 800 rounds per minute.
  • When shooting with the stock in the bump position, it will use more bullets and heat up a lot faster. As a result, it is likely to jam.
  • Bump stocks will reduce accuracy.

80% Finished Receivers

Even though this isn’t a modification of an existing gun, you can buy an 80% finished receiver and build your own. This receiver is usually made of aluminum.

Once again, contrary to popular belief, you cannot simply buy a kit and expect to produce a functional, reliable weapon with just a few hand tools and no experience in metal working. To finish the receiver, you must either install, complete or assemble the fire control group, trigger pin, hammer pin, trigger slot, and safety selector hole.

While the kit will include the instructions, jigs, drill bits, and parts, do not be fooled into thinking you can assemble with absolute ease. Drilling can go wrong very easily as can other assembly stages. If you are off in your measurements or make a mistake, the entire project will be ruined and you will have to buy a whole new 80% finished receiver.

About the only advantage you will get is you will not need an FFL to buy the receiver, and you will not have to fill out all the paperwork. As long as AR-15s are legal in your state, you will be able to own it where you live.

Pump Shotgun Upgrades

Stocks

These are the most common and useful upgrades for the pump shotgun. You can shorten the stock to reduce the overall length of the weapon without making it illegal. Pistol grip stocks, top folding, and collapsible stocks will all make the gun more accommodating for people with longer or shorter arms.

You can also try a complete stock replacement system that includes a 6 position collapsible stock with shell holder, front picatinny rail, and military length forend. Even though there are several different materials available, the best and most durable stocks are made from lightweight carbon fiber reinforced polymer.

Rail Systems

Upgrading to a M1913 Picatinny top rail with key-mod mounts at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions makes it easy to mount scopes and other accessories. When choosing a rail system, make sure it does not hang over the muzzle. An aluminum rail will keep the weight down without sacrificing the options offered by this rail upgrade.

Magazine Tube Extensions

Magazine extensions come in either 2 or 3 round capacities. When it comes to home defense, the addition of these two or three rounds can be a lifesaver.

This upgrade is also very easy to install and can be attached without making any modifications to the gun. Just remember that these extensions can extend past the muzzle. This can lead to a carbon buildup or discoloration of the magazine tube.

Upgrade the Barrels

If your pump action shotgun comes with the capacity to change barrels, you may want to have shorter and longer lengths on hand. This will make your weapon suitable for different purposes without needing to buy a whole new gun. You can use shorter barrels for home defense, and then longer ones for hunting.

Regardless of the length of the barrel, changing them out is no harder than cleaning the shotgun; and can be done with no tools. Just remember different barrel lengths have advantages and disadvantages:

  • Longer barrels improve accuracy, however they are harder to maneuver in tight spaces and weigh more than shorter barrels
  • Shorter barreled shotguns have a shorter sighting plane, more noise, more muzzle flash, and more recoil, all of which reduce accuracy and make them harder to manage when firing.

When you buy a new gun, that is only the beginning of a journey to make it as useful as possible for your needs. From customizing the gun so that it is more comfortable when firing to managing physical impairments, there are endless options to choose from.

As you consider the possible upgrades for your weapon, always keep in mind what you want to improve about the weapon’s performance, the reputation of the manufacturer, how best to accomplish the upgrade, and the laws in your area.

Once you know all of these, look at the cost and figure out if these upgrades are truly worth your while, so you could keep your family safe!

This article has been written by Fred Tyrell for Survivopedia.

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool

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by Todd Walker

The blood of our ancestors flows in our own veins. Our aboriginal legacy is written in the very make-up of our bodies. The ancient caves and campfires of our pasts call to us from within. Primitive Technology is our inheritance as well. It is a world heritage which knows no race, creed, or color. It is foreign to no one. It is the shared thread which links us to our prehistory and binds us together as human beings.

Steve Watts ~ “Primitive Technology, A Book of Earth Skills”

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

It seems with every generation, the disconnect between the earth and her resources widens. But deep inside us all, our primal roots desire to reconnect with the raw resources that have sustained our species for millennia. Touching our Stone Age past offers this tangible connection.

A simple way to introduce primitive technology to students is by making a Hoko knife. This stone cutting tool was discovered on the Hoko River archeological site in Washington State. A landslide destroyed the native fishing village about 2,700 years ago preserving artifacts of their material culture.

Steps to Making a Hoko Knife

Materials needed:

  • Sharp stone flake
  • Wooden handle
  • Cordage

A.) Stone Flakes

You don’t have to possess mad flintknapping skills to construct this simple cutting tool. The original Hoko knife was made of a thumbnail size flake hafted with spruce root to a cedar handle. Archeologist believe this delicate tool was used to butcher fish for eating and longterm preserving.

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Discarded flakes from Justin Cook.

Our stone flakes were gifted to our class by a good friend and master flintknapper, Justin Cook of Wayback Wilderness. He had a pile of flakes left over from his flintknapping class at our Georgia Bushcraft Fall Campout and offered them to me. I gladly accepted.

You can also make your own flakes. Find a stone which breaks like glass. As you know, broken glass creates sharp edges. My friend and primitive skills mentor, Scott Jones, introduced me to bipolar flaking. Use a hammerstone and stone anvil to strike smaller stones which fracture into sharp, straight, useable flakes. Flat, long flakes work best for this application.

B.) Wood Selection

Next to our outdoor classroom, a willow (Salix) tree grows in our secondhand beaver pond. I cut a finger-size branch for handle material. I also had a section of box elder (Acer negundo) left over from friction fire kits. We used both for our project since they’re split easily and evenly. Experiment with woods in your locale to find what works for you.

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Willow on top, Box Elder on bottom.

C.) Cordage

Since we haven’t taught natural cordage yet, students used manmade cordage to haft the flakes in place. A partial spool of tarred bank line is what we had left over from our bamboo shelter construction project. Natural cordage options in our woods include inner bark of several trees, dogbane, yucca, cattail, and many more. Artificial sinew, real sinew, or leather would also serve as good bindings.

D.) Assembly

Split one end of your handle with either a stone flake or metal knife. If the split starts to run off to one side, bend the thicker half more than the thinner half to even up the sides. The split should be long enough to accept the flake with room for binding the split end.

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

With the flake inserted in the split stick, lash the split ends together. With modern line, we used a jam knot to start the lashing (clove hitch also works). After 4 or 5 tight wraps, we tied two half hitches (down-n-dirty clove hitch) to secure the line. This provides enough friction to hold the flake securely. The problem point with this method is the chance that the handle will continue to split on the un-lashed side. To help prevent this, give the backside of the flake one wrap to reach the other side of the handle. Terminate the lashing just above the flake with two half hitches.

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Wrapping both sides of the stone flake.

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A finished Hoko knife bound with jute twine.

Without fish to butcher, we used our new stone tools to scrape bark off handles. I need to bring a mess of fish to class soon for some experimental archeology. One student asked, “Would this thing cut the head off a fish?” We shall find out.

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Two students tag teaming the lashing job.

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Using his Hoko knife to scrape bark.

Hoko Knife: How to Make a Simple Stone Cutting Tool ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Proud students of primitive technology.

Additional Hoko Resources:

  1. Hoko Knife, by Dick Baugh, Primitive Ways
  2. The Hoko River Complex, Native American Netroots 

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

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Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

How To Build A Boomerang And Use It For Survival

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When it comes to survival defense, which means self defense in a SHTF scenario, it would be best to have a firearm with you. That’s layer one of survival defense in my book. Guns are preppers’ best friends and they’ll never let you down.

However, sometimes one must improvise, and here alternative survival weapons come into play. When the unexpected happens, you’ll have to rely on more primitive methods to save your life, or to hunt or whatever.

Enter the boomerang, also known as the rabbit stick or the bunny stick. Would you know how to use it? Let’s see!

A Story of Many Continents

The boomerang is the Australian version of the Native American (let’s call it Indian for all intents and purposes) rabbit stick.

The thing is, almost all primitive cultures which relied upon hunting for survival invented something similar to the boomerang, i.e. a throwing stick used as an effective hunting tool via gradual improvements over time.

Both the Australian boomerang and the Indian rabbit-stick are basically the same type of weapon.

And to tell you a little known factoid, the real deal Aussie hunting boomerang does not fly in a circle when thrown. I mean, a proper boomerang does not return to its owner upon release, and there’s a simple explanation for this: a stick (as in a weapon) that flies in a circular trajectory when thrown would be almost impossible to hunt with, think about it.

The ballistics of such a gizmo would be almost impossible to master by a normal man, which doesn’t spend 10 hours a day practicing throwing a returning boomerang since he was a 5 year old bushman wannabe.

Don’t throw rocks at me, I am aware of the fact that returning boomerangs are all the rage for Indiana Jones aficionados and the like, and they do exist.

A returning boomerang can only be used in large-open spaces, like hunting in the desert (hunting what exactly in the desert?) or in meadows, basically in places where there’s no vegetation nor tall objects that may disrupt the boomerang’s flight path.

However, even on the ideal hunting ground, it’s incredibly hard to aim precisely at distance using a returning boomerang; I mean you’d have to be at least some upgraded version of Crocodile Dundee to do it. Maybe you are, I’m just saying.

Now, even if boomerangs were used by the indigenous people in Australia for millennia, similar primitive hunting tools were also discovered in Stone Age Europe. The most used version of the boomerang is the non-returning variety, which is basically a throwing stick,  yet more slimmer and aerodynamic.

The non returning boomerang slices through the air at amazing speeds due to its peculiar design: this bad boy has one arm longer than the other and is very aerodynamic.

You can use a non returning boomerang even for hunting large game, provided it hits the animal’s head or breaks its knee/leg or whatever. These boomerangs are great for killing/maiming a target, whether for hunting or self defense.

Video first seen on Throwsticks Channel.

Can You DIY a Boomerang?

When it comes to the DIY thing, to begin with, you’ll have to do a little scouting for that perfect piece of wood. Ideally, you’ll have to get your hands on a tree limb which is about 3 inches in diameter and also boasts a natural curve in it.

Hardwood is best for this kind of job and also look out for knots, they’re a no go. Your future boomerang should be as knot free as humanly possible (goes to balance).

After you have located the perfect limb for your DIY project, cut a 3 foot section of it, with the curved centered as closely as humanly possible. You’ll probably not use the whole 3 feet, but it’s nice to have a little extra wood to play with. In a perfect world, you’ll allow the limb to season in a dry, warm place for a few weeks.

Now, you’ll have to carve up your boomerang from the piece of wood and for the initial roughing up, an axe would be great. You’ll have to thin down the top and the bottom of the limb, looking for a thickness of about 1 inch.

Make sure the blade of the boomerang goes the full width of the limb. When the job is done, you should have something like a 1 inch thick by 3 inch wide board, featuring a curve in the middle.

Here comes the detailing work, i.e. take your survival knife and start adding the final touches to your boomerang.  One end of the boomerang/rabbit stick must be narrowed down/rounded off to make for the handle, whilst the blade should be 1 inch thick in the middle through its entire length, and tapered down making a rounded edge on both sides. If you leave the edges too thin, they’ll get dented/damaged when you hit rocks or trees with your boomerang.

Video first seen on Driftwood George.

And here’s a tutorial about making a rabbit stick for survival hunting.

Video first seen on OmegaGear.

Mind you, if you want to hunt using such a device, be prepared for long hours of practice. But in the end, this is what you’re actually doing with every skill you need for survival, don’t you?

Practice, practice and practice till you’re sure that you’re good enough to save you and your family, then you start practicing again.

I hope the article helped. If you have any ideas or comments, please feel free to comment in the dedicated section below.

15 Best Selling Bushcraft Books: Most Popular Wilderness Survival Guides

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15 Best Selling Bushcraft Books: Most Popular Wilderness Survival Guides The library of the survivor is such an important thing to have. It seems counterintuitive this day in age. The age of technology seems to encompass all. The truth is we are relying too much on electronic information. At this point in our lives we …

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How to Make and Use a Long Lever Bow Drill Set

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by Todd Walker

The Bushcraft Journal, a free online magazine, has a wealth of articles dealing with outdoor self-reliance. This post is based on a recent article by Gary Johnston of Jack Raven Bushcraft.

How to Make and Use a Long Lever Bow Drill Set - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Editor’s Note: If you see any ads linked (double underlined) in this article, please let me know. They shouldn’t be there. I’m wondering if it’s only happening on my computer. Thanks! ~ Todd

As Gary mentions in his article, many people would like to learn to make fire by friction with a bow and drill but many not have the physical stamina to twirl up an ember. Others may have bad knees or other injures which prevent them from ever attempting fire by friction. This method alleviates knee pain and weak wrists.

Here are the steps our students at RISE Academy used to make fire using this method…

Long Lever Bow Drill Set

Step 1: Gather the Stuff

  • Bearing block: About a yard long log and 3-4 inches in diameter
  • A platform like a firewood round knee-high
  • Long bow about chest high for multiple bowers
  • String for bow and normal stuff you’d use for regular bow drill fire – tinder, welcome mat, etc.

Cut a 36 inch long, 3-4 inch diameter, tree to be used as the bearing block. Flatten the underside on one end of the log. Carve a pivot hole about 3 to 5 inches in from one end of the long bearing block. We found a wide pivot hole about 1/4 inch deep to be about right. We used a hearth and spindle (cedar on cedar) which the students found produced embers in the traditional bow drill set.

In the video below, we show two separate groups of students successfully using this long lever bow drill set. It makes for a great team building or family project.

Step 2: Attach Bearing Block to Tree/Pole

How to Make and Use a Long Lever Bow Drill Set - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The bearing block attached to a bamboo riser on the student-built outdoor classroom.

Lash the other end of the long lever to a tree or pole. Use a square lashing or tie knots until it holds to the anchor point level with the top of the spindle. The long lever bearing block takes advantage of mass and mechanical advantage to easily apply downward pressure on the spindle during bowing. In fact, I applied too much pressure in the beginning which caused problems.

Step 3: The Longer Bow

How to Make and Use a Long Lever Bow Drill Set - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Sixth graders using the longer bow.

For two or more people doing the bowing, use a longer bow to achieve more spindle rotations per stroke. By yourself, stick to a normal arm-length bow. And yes, this method works well if you’re spinning solo. The anchored bearing block steadies the point of contact against my shin – which is one of the struggles I see a lot with first-time friction fire makers.

Load the spindle into the long bow, place the spindle into the hearth board divot, and mate the top of the spindle to the long lever bearing block. The person “driving” the bearing block will place his/her foot on the hearth board resting on the stump. Steady the bearing block against the shin with two hands.

How to Make and Use a Long Lever Bow Drill Set - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Extra length at the end of the lever bearing block give ample room to connect with the shin.

You can also set this entire rig up without elevating the hearth board. It’s certainly kinder on the knees when elevated.

Step 4: Twirl an Ember

For a group effort, have two bowers hold opposite ends of the loaded long bow. Oh, have them stand offset to the plane of the bow so nobody gets a stick in the gut. Start the pull/push slowly to gain a rhythm like a lumberjack crosscut saw competition. As the charred dust builds into the hearth board notch, pick up the speed in bowing.

How to Make and Use a Long Lever Bow Drill Set - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Getting into a rhythm

If the first two bowers tire, and you have alternates waiting, the bearing block “driver” gives the command to switch. Including all the hands builds teamwork and ownership to the effort. While the switch takes place, check the condition of the char dust in the notch. Even if it is smoking on its own, allow the other bowers a turn in spinning.

Step 5: Blow the Ember into Flame 

Celebrate your creation of a fire egg (ember) and allow it to grow by fanning it with your hand. High-fives all around! No need to hurry as you will likely produce a larger-than-normal amount of char dust in the hearth board notch.

How to Make and Use a Long Lever Bow Drill Set - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A nice pile of smoldering char dust!

Once the fire egg is resting in its nest of tinder material, have each team member take a turn blowing the ember into flame. At that moment when heavy, white smoke billows from the nest, get your camera ready to capture the magic of fire from scratch!

How to Make and Use a Long Lever Bow Drill Set - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Road-kill pine straw and cattail fluff for the win!

How to Make and Use a Long Lever Bow Drill Set - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Almost there.

Place the burning nest in the fire pit and add prepared kindling for the fire to eat. Let the high-fives and fist-bumps begin! Your team has just created fire by friction and welded bonds of friendship never to be forgotten!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Master Deterrents and Keep Yourself Safe and Aware

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Master Deterrents and Keep Yourself Safe and Aware You may be carrying concealed. I would say it is a must in the world we live in. Just because you carry concealed does not mean you carry without consequence. It’s a very stark reality for those not paying attention. You can be punished for saving your …

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The Definitive Bushcraft Skills List

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by Nick O’Law

Bushcraft is the art of living in a natural environment, within and in harmony with nature. It is distinct from (though it shares a lot with) survival, where the mindset is only about getting out at the other end as safely as possible. Bushcraft will teach you skills not just to survive, but to thrive in comfort, and rely not on your gear, but yourself. This is a list of the skills you will need.

Finding and Purifying Water

Water is almost certainly the very first thing to worry about when learning bushcraft. The rule of three gives you a maximum of three days without water, which goes down to one in very hot, arid conditions. Remember that even once you have found water, in most cases it will then need at least to be filtered and possibly distilled or boiled before it is safe to drink.

Finding water is often just a matter of understanding your surroundings well, such as knowing that water flows downhill, so valleys and gullies are always a good start. Humans are only animals, and all other animals need water too, so following animal trails or watching for birds flying quickly (they fly slower after drinking, because they are heavier) are also good strategies.

There are many, many different ways to purify water, and there is not space here to do justice to all of them, but suffice it to say that filtering will remove only the larger particles, distilling will get rid of smaller stuff, and boiling will kill bacteria. Sometimes all three may be needed.

Finding Food

There are three ways to find food in the wild: foraging, hunting and trapping. Foraging is by far the easiest to learn, and is likely to produce the most reward. Learn what plants you can eat, and how best to cook them, but be very careful of lookalikes and mistakes. It is best to take a knowledgeable guide out with you at least for your first few trips, and to begin with ingredients and recipes which are simple and well known, like nettle tea and blackberries. Richard Mabey’s Food for Free is an acknowledged Bible for foragers.

Remember that bushcraft is not an ‘all or nothing’ venture’, it can be whatever suits you, so starting off by trying recipes out at home, and then only cooking what you are confident with in the bush is a good way to go. With all foods, but especially in the case of mushrooms, be very careful to only ever eat what you are absolutely certain is safe. Try to get off the beaten path, because the passage of many often obscures or kills plants, and fungi especially are very delicate.

After foraging, trapping is the next most reliable source of food. Learn first to make a few good traps. The Bushcraft Field Guide to Trapping, Gathering, and Cooking in the Wild is a great introduction to many types of snares and traps, with some basic bushcraft tips as well.

wilderness trap

photo: Apache foot trap

Remember that one of the most important things when trapping is to know your quarry, so go out and learn, not just about whatever you want to eat tonight, but also about its environment, where it’s likely to be, what might get to the trap first and so on, and try to factor this into your considerations when building traps.

Finally, there is hunting. Hunting is certainly the ‘coolest’ but also the least efficient way of getting food, and is best suited to large, wild game which it is unrealistic to trap safely and must be killed from a distance. Even in this case, the best course of action may still be to construct a trap to keep the animal immobile, and then approach and kill it from afar with a ranged weapon such as a bow or spear. On the other hand, this approach requires that the hunter checks all their traps very regularly, to avoid inhumane treatment of animals, or losing their quarry to another predator.

If you do decide to hunt directly, obviously ranged weapons are the far preferred choice. What you choose depends on your style of bushcraft, but most people will be going for some kind of bow. Once you have made this decision, the most important thing is the welfare of the animal as it dies. Bowhunting is great, and you may be perfectly happy with the ethics in principle, but surely a quick, clean death is preferable to a slow, dirty one? Make sure you are using the appropriate arrows and a strong enough bow to kill the animal as quickly as possible, and of course make certain that you will only hit an animal, not any people who might be in the vicinity.

Train hard first, practice in your back garden, then on static, and (if possible) moving targets in the woods, before attempting to hunt live game. If you get advice and help from a more experienced hunter then always heed it! Other than that, have fun, happy hunting!

In the case of both hunting and trapping, it is wise and educational to follow the Native Americans and try to use as much of the animal as possible. The primary reason for hunting is meat, but animal skins are a classic of bush tailoring and can be stitched with sinew of the same carcass. Antlers and bones make good tools (including needles), fish hooks and knapping strikers.

Making and Using Fire

Fire Starting methods can be categorized as: strikers, friction, and ‘modern’ methods. Strikers (such as flint and ferrocerium) will last forever (or near enough) but can be tricky to get used to using, and require very good, dry tinder.

With the exception of the fire plough, (which can be useful, but is very labor intensive) all friction methods are drills, which are the most ‘primitive’ of the fire methods. Most use some kind of wound cord, but you can also use your fingers. Drills are difficult to master and can be very tiring, and only really work in the right (dry) conditions with good tinder.

Once you can build (and build up) a fire, learn and practice building different sizes and shapes of fire, for different uses. For example long, thin fires (which can be made to be much hotter at one end) are the best for cooking. The Native Americans of old had a saying which went something like “Red man builds small fire and stays warm, white man builds large fire and stays warm collecting firewood”. There’s nothing wrong with being white, just don’t be white and stupid, build the correct fire for the job, and always clear up and leave no trace.

For longer term living and the beginnings of homesteads, you can also build perfectly good wood-fired ovens and kilns for making baked food and fired pottery. Practicing pit roasting (where you bury a fire with what you are cooking and dig it up the next day) is also an easy way to learn to cook big, hearty meals, without much advanced field dressing of meat.

Tracking

Tracking is an incredibly important bushcraft skill, with applications across the field. Good tracking will of course aid your hunting, but also realize that the flight pattern of a bird or a cloud of midges can lead you to water. The best way to learn tracking is in the field, by long practice. If possible start with a guide, who can teach you what to look for and ‘how to see’ in the right way, then develop further on your own.

Tracking should eventually become not a skill that you actively decide to use, but a part of how you see the world around you, an awareness of your environment and its mechanics.

Tying Knots

Although this is not ‘directly’ a useful bushcraft skill, you will find it comes in handy in a lot of situations. Building shelters is the most obvious, but tying up fire drills and hanging cooking pots also come to mind. Try to learn a range of different ones, across different applications. This is a good list to start with.

Situating and Building Shelters

The title includes the word ‘situating’ because the very first thing to know about shelter is what to build in a given environment, and exactly where to build it. Learn a variety of different environment-specific types (snow hole, debris hut etc.), and practice, practice, practice! Practicing and learning the little tricks which can only come with experience will make your shelters much better when you need them. Shelters should also be appropriate to conditions. If the weather looks good and you are only staying for one night, a few sticks and some debris as a heat reflector are enough, but a two week camp in late Fall is obviously a different matter.

Once you have the smaller, faster types of shelter down, invest time and build a more solid structure like a log cabin, or a shelter built into the side of a hill. This is good experience for long term bushcraft, or if you ever decide to set up a small homestead.

Remember not to discount man made shelters. Try out a few different tarps and learn to use them well. Learn the difference between heavyduty and ultralight and find what you like. If you prefer the heavier side of things, this advice applies more to tents. Remember also that many countries also have systems of free ‘mountain huts’, such as the bothies in Scotland, which provide free accommodation, and sometimes a fire and basic rations.

Finding your Way (Home or Away)

The most basic navigational consideration is to know how to get back to where you started. After that, you also need to know how to get where you are going, and ideally some place of safety in between.

The most important thing is to have a good working knowledge of your environment and its geography, so that even without specialist skills you can have a fighting chance. Look at some maps before you leave, and know where important resources like rivers and public shelters are.

Next is a compass, and knowing how to use it, as well as knowing at all times roughly what direction important places (your home, the nearest place of safety, your shelter etc.) are in relation to you. From this standpoint, you can work on ‘wild compass’, skills like learning to read the stars, sun and moon, and pick up signals from your environment, like feeling rocks, and using which side is warmer to work out where north is.

Taking Care of Yourself

Often overlooked is the art of what do when things go wrong in the bush, which is surprising given the number of sharp tools and fearsome animals available to cause havoc. Foraging again comes in useful here, as some plants (most notably the dock leaf) have medicinal qualities, and any non-harmful, large leaved plant can be used to improvise a bandage, at least briefly.

This is probably the only area of bushcraft where unless you have vast experience, and really know what you are doing, you must take ‘non-primitive’ equipment out with you, making sure to cover every eventuality. Pay particular attention to treatments for injuries from wild animals if they are in the area, serious cuts and bruises (so go heavy on dressings and plasters) and food-related illnesses (food poisoning, indigestion etc.).  Do not be afraid to take a big kit with you, it will be worth it one day.

Many first aid organizations such as the red cross offer training courses, and mountaineering and survival schools often do the same for specialist, bushcraft related first aid. Guidebooks can also be useful, and both The Bushcraft First Aid: A Field Guide to Wilderness Emergency Care Expedition Medicine come well recommended.

Hand Skills

These do not really come under a particular heading, but are important to mention nonetheless. Learning to use an axe, saw and knife properly, as well more specialist tools like a froe or a crook knife for whatever you are particularly interested in will save you a lot of time and effort.

A good place to start is with learning to make tools and equipment for all of the above skills. Make yourself a netting needle, fid or bradawl for complex ropework, or learn to make a knife from flint and pine pitch. Knowing a few ways of building a compass is also very handy. Hunting equipment is very satisfying to make, fishing hooks, lures and flies have endless variations to learn and play around with and bow making is a great thing to add to your arsenal of skills. Good guides can be found all around the internet, but in the case of blacksmithing, forging and more complex bow making skills like tillering, a course or at least some advice from a professional is must.

For a lot of the more ‘primitive’ inclined bushcrafters, the end game here is to flintknapping. With a good knowledge of flintknapping one can make all the tools for bushcraft, including those necessary for making further tools (bow making supplies for example). In the modern day, flintknapping techniques can also be applied to the thick glass which often washes up on river shores, for making arrowheads and blades.

A similarly fundamental skill is making rope, thin cords and threads (and then presumably needles, for which bone is often best). This skill more than any other is a part of ‘absolute bushcraft’ or primitive skills, where everything is made by you, from what you find around you.

In Conclusion

The best way to truly learn ‘bushcraft as a whole, is to combine these elements together, for example, you might take a weekend to learn more about bushcraft cooking, and eat only wild food, prepared only on a campfire, with only vessels you yourself have made. The point is to not treat these skills in isolation, but as parts of a single ability to live independently in the wilderness.

Brewing Coffee in the Wild Outdoors

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Brewing Coffee in the Wild Outdoors Enjoying the great outdoors doesn’t mean you have to leave your beloved cup of coffee behind! Camping, traveling, backpacking, and hiking can all be enjoyed and with your coffee Read More …

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Pike Trail Pocket Blanket Review

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Pike Trail Pocket Blanket Review In each of my kits, I house a type of shelter. In one it is a tarp and in another, I keep a drum liner. While there is nothing wrong Read More …

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Why is Paracord So Important & How Can it Save Your Life?

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paracord

I recently got a question from one of our subscribers asking why they should use paracord instead of more affordable plain nylon cord.

This is a great question because on the surface, we really don’t see much of a difference between the two. They’re both cord, about the same diameter and weight. And one is half the cost of the other.

So What’s the Big Deal About Paracord Anyway?

paracord

And why should you even care if you use paracord or just plain nylon cordage in your Bug Out Bag, emergency kit or on your next camping trip?

The answer is simple…

Paracord gives you many more options for improvising in a survival situation.

Let me explain…

Take a look at standard 150lb test weight nylon cord, next to a length of Type III commercial grade, 550 parachute cord.

paracord

The 550 means that the paracord is rated with a minimum breaking strength of 550 pounds or about 250 kilograms. Let me point out that this stuff is strong, but it’s not rated for climbing or things like that.

So just in its load-bearing strength, we already we know that our Type III 550 paracord is over 3 times stronger than the nylon cord… and alone, this is enough for me…

But That’s Not All…

paracord

The real genius of the parachute cord, is how it’s engineered with an outer casing and  ours has 7 internal yarns. Each yarn in OUR paracord is made of 2 individual strands.

NOTE: We use high quality, U.S. Made commercial grade Type III 550 paracord that has 7 yarns and 2 strands per yarn. However, Genuine MIL-SPEC MIL-C-5040 Type III Paracord has 7-9 yarns and 3 strands per yarn. The problem is that Mil Spec paracord can be expensive and hard to find. So for our purposes and budget the U.S. made, commercial grade 550 paracord we use is fine. However, if you plan on jumping out of a plane, I suggest you use Genuine MIL-SPEC MIL-C-5040 Type III Paracord 🙂

This design prevents the cord from totally failing if it’s nicked or damaged slightly… because even if the casing and a few yarns are harmed, we should still have several independent yarns and strands keeping this thing together.

paracord

But strength and resistance to damage are not the only beautiful things about having  paracord in a survival situation…

Check This Out…

So 1 foot or 30 centimeters of paracord is actually 8 feet or about 2.4 meters of usable cordage when you pull it apart. This means that 100 feet or 30 meters of paracord… that weighs only around 6 ounces or 170 grams… gives you up to 800 feet or 243 meters (well over two soccer or American Football fields) of strong usable cord when you pull it apart. How cool is that?

So you simply pull the casing off…

paracord

And now you have this rugged outer casing that has many uses alone… including: making a great boot lace, a tie down and thousands of other uses… AND there are 7 pretty tough individual YARNS inside that are often called the guts…

These tough little guys are suitable for sewing, a fishing line, net making, shelter building, bushcraft, snares and traps, and any other use you can dream up when you need to improvise to stay alive.

paracord paracord paracord

So we’ve just taken a look at some paracord basics and why paracord is generally a better choice for survival and emergencies than regular nylon cord.

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Preppers and the Primitive Life

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by Megan

The majority of preppers view bugging out to live a primitive life in the woods as a last resort option. In fact, I would venture a guess that most preppers have planned or are planning a strategic relocation to make bugging in more sustainable. Others know they must endure a short-term bug out from their homes to a shelter or retreat location. But you may have also heard quite a few preppers say something like “I’ve got a permanent reservation at Mother Nature’s hotel”.

This category of primitive life preppers intend to bug out to the woods and live off the land at the first sign of trouble. There’s nothing outright wrong with this tactic. Our ancestors did it. And there are scores of avid outdoorsmen, experienced campers, and backpackers who can live off the land for short periods. At first glance, relying on the primitive life following a SHTF situation seems a logical solution to the problem of more gear and supplies than you can carry.

There’s no doubt that having some primitive survival skills will come in handy in a SHTF situation. In truth, there are scores of preppers, such as Mors Kochanski, Cody Lundin, Dave Canterbury, and Lofty Wiseman, who teach primitive skills as a career and make a good living from it. Many of these experts practice what they preach at least part-time. Some of them even routinely rely on primitive skills to survive day to day.

What Are Primitive Skills?

The term primitive skills or bushcraft skills refers to someone who can live off the land and make the best of whatever situation mother nature may throw at them, without relying on manufactured gear and supplies. Living the primitive life centers around using the resources available in whatever environment you find yourself in, to survive.

But is primitive living for preppers really the best strategy? Is the primitive life a feasible way for people to survive long-term today? If you’re considering a reservation with Mother Nature when SHTF, we’ll give you some things to think about first.

Benefits of Primitive Living for Preppers

  • the more primitive skills you have the less gear and supplies you need to carry
  • your knowledge and experience can save your life if gear fails
  • resources are plentiful if you know where to look and how to use them
  • very inexpensive way to live; no need for much cash
  • become more connected to nature
  • easier to stay on the move to avoid hordes
  • no danger of looters stealing your gear and supplies
  • very skilled survivalists could stay alive indefinitely
  • improve your use of gear when it is available
  • Sense of pride and accomplishment in doing things yourself
  • Skilled survivalists will have best chance of procuring food ahead of others

Problems with living a Primitive Life

  • More labor intensive to accomplish daily tasks
  • Requires more physical strength and stamina
  • Time can work against you frequently(storm coming, getting dark, etc.)
  • More difficult to learn and perfect skills, especially in the moment
  • The number of primitive skills you need to learn is almost never ending
  • Knowledge doesn’t equal experience
  • Learning primitive skills to a level where you can rely on them to work every time regardless of conditions takes much time and practice.
  • During a SHTF situation, your stress level is high, your energy level and mental functioning may suffer so not the best time to learn or be practicing new skills.

So what’s the verdict on living the primitive life for preppers? There’s no denying that preppers who stockpile gear and supplies may one day find that it’s still not enough. Yet, even survival experts with the greatest amount of knowledge and experience admit anything can go wrong in a survival situation. Do you really want to bet your life and your loved ones lives solely on your primitive skills?

It seems to me, a better survival strategy is to strategically relocate and plan to bug in or to set up a survival retreat where you can go when you bug out. AND learn and practice as many primitive skills as you can in the coming months and years. If your gear fails, your supplies run out, are stolen by looters, or something else goes awry, you’ll be at peace knowing that Mother Nature is your backup plan and not your sole option.

Can You Survive Below Radar? Off Grid Tips And Tricks

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Lately so many people are getting so fed up with pervasive totalitarian spying on literally everything we say and do, that they’re wondering whatever happened to the American Dream?

Add in out of control greed municipal intrusions with building code tyranny for exorbitant property tax profits, not to mention a noticeable increase in strangely nosy parasitic neighbors, all combined in a world starting to crumble under the weight of its own violent insanity.

Truth be told, is it even remotely possible anymore to enjoy the wonderful freedom of personal privacy, the peaceful solace that this great land, and our precious Constitution, once held for us?

Let’s take a closer look at the cold, hard reality.

It’s not what you think…

Where Did All the Freedom Go?

 “We tried so hard, and came so far, but in the end it never really mattered….”

The sadness of this discussion is that we should not even be having it in a truly Free country. The first important revelation here is that “We, the People” screwed up big time in the last generation with our mass passive acquiescence to the government nanny state.

We allowed Them to brainwash us into relinquishing our rights of self-determination to a point where they now control every facet of our lives in exchange for a specious promise (not even in writing!) to take care of us, and make us all little happy faced cherubs, bouncing blissfully on big daddy government woo woo’s cushy knee from cradle to grave.

Then they threw us a few bare bones in the dirt and we licked them up like the obedient State sponsored lap dogs we became.

The history is clear, but our own innate weaknesses ultimately caused our own libertarian demise because the mouse never resists the free cheese on the mouse trap. I don’t know if we even deserve liberty salvation anymore, or whether we can ever get it back…but that’s another depressing topic.

In any case, here’s what’s left of the whole idea of the off grid under the radar privacy situation today:

“You can run, but you cannot hide!”

First, I hope everybody realizes, or at least most Liberty minded Patriots, that if you want absolute, complete privacy from any kind of government or private sector intrusion, it simply doesn’t exist anymore. Nada, Zippo, Zero, No Mas! And all of YOU, my beloved, let them get away with it!

This is because the so-called ‘Grid’ is now everywhere. The Grid is now life itself! Therefore it stands to reason, if one desires to indulge in the solace of private seclusion, one must first escape the dreaded Grid itself? Unfortunately, there isn’t anywhere to go… where the grid ain’t.

The last nail in the coffin of human privacy, ironically, which replaced the Patriot Act, was the American Freedom Act, which allows the FISA courts and the government dark state agencies to casually violate our 4th/A protections.

Toss in ubiquitous surveillance/location/tracking technology (also 4th/A violating in usage) so advanced that I’d need several more pages to even begin describing them here. Think of it like this, all despotic power elite totalitarian regimes need the same control as farmers have over their cattle.

They need to know where they are and what they are doing at all times. The more Big Brother/Minority Reporting the government becomes, the more of a slave you wind up being.

So before we go any further, realize and accept the following as FACT. If a government agency or one of its oxymoronic private contractors wants to find you, They Will.

Unless you just go somewhere so remote and deep in the jungles or mountains. and disappear yourself, one way or the other, permanently, which is really an optimal below radar off grid style of living, even if they don’t get you physically, as in someone like Assange or Snowden (who traded their freedom to travel for a prison sentence by escaping to sanctuary in other countries), they will be tracking every move you make, every day of your life, and then some.

Even Jason Bourne, today, couldn’t evade them or disappear for very long. Not with the latest biometric facial recognition and location tracking techniques. Not with the specially trained seek and capture teams assisted by inhuman god-like AI computers with seemingly mystical sources of information and telepathic powers! And just by being alive, we all generate some type of electronic trackable footprint.

Ironically, the only real effective way to disappear off grid is to let the government do it for you. Just like they recently did with the September 17th illegal street arrest and due process killing disappearance’ of attorney and activist dissident, Andy Ostrowski.

Oh, you thought they did that only in Russia! The true history is that The American Dark State INVENTED it along with the formation of the CIA and the Soviet Union merely copied it. Apparently, you’ve never heard of the infamous Homan Ave police detention center in Chicago? Where it was impossible for your lawyer to find you after you were arrested?

Instead of just arranging for you to be an “unfortunate victim” of an armed robber and shot dead like Hilary’s campaign staffer Seth Rich, who some say knew way too much about something that could kill her campaign (still not solved). Or a suspicious suicide like Vince Foster, remember that one related to Shady Clinton business dealings? (still not solved).

But if you’re merely a vocal dissident with a growing political following, there are less violent tricks of the trade totalitarian authorities use such as simply remove you by arranging for you to be “picked up for your own safety” (same way they’ll eventually get all our guns) as well as the public’s safety, because you are obviously mentally ill if you talk too much toward the government to where it might incite people to vote.

 

This is Why Conventional Preparedness Wisdom is Deadly!

 

There was some recent law maker talk about anti-gov speech being made into some kind of prohibited law!

Then you will be lost in the matrix of bureaucratic red tape, never to be found, until they feel like letting you go after their government psychiatrist prescribed sedative drugs they treated you with left your brain with little desire to activate over any cause ever again.

And you still wonder why so many people have “visions of bushcraft homesteading dancing” in their heads?

Currently our so-called free society here does have some current and growing levels of below radar existence if you consider living like an illegal immigrant or a sleeper cell ISIS group or something like that. You could say these are pretty far off grid, but it would not be in a good way.

They cannot step out of their social status into what authorities call “going deep dark” or “lone wolf”, which is a misrepresented term. Just to maintain such a meager sustenance these types of people need others to depend on and things like fake I.D.s and unreliable associates. Once they do, they’re on radar again, and the authorities will be hot on their trail.

But can’t I just opt out of society and live my own life the way I want? I’m not a criminal fugitive or anything, I just want to be left alone and live as quietly and privately as possible.

Isn’t there a way just to be law abiding, but minding my own business and avoid contact with anybody and not be a constant victim of their agenda based for-profit rip-off abuse on my personal life and money, without getting into all that radical stuff???

It Depends

One of the advantages in a capitalistic society is that money goes a long way towards fixing personal problems in any venue and any scenario. The wealthier you are, the easier it is to disappear and virtually never be bugged by anyone including the government (as long as you pay your taxes).

On a bare bones budget level it’s more difficult but it can be done. But probably the first thing you would need to do, is realize that you would have to change your lifestyle, and especially your location.

And for some it might be fairly dramatic and emotionally troublesome. But for most, just the sheer inconvenience and work outside of your normal life ritual would be too much of sticker shock of a life transition and an automatic deterrent.

Still, some people have valid reasons to go below radar off grid and often no longer have any choice but would even welcome an escape from the typical 8 to 5 lifestyle with a heavily mortgaged three bedroom two car garage home with 2.5 kids, and 1.5 pets.

But hurdles would still exist. Mostly economic. And because of the sub-culture of literally one third of the workforce adults barely existing hand to mouth from pay check to pay check, it is no longer considered a “such a shame” to reconsider a major life change. In any case this requires very pensive rumination.

Because you need to understand what off-grid really means.

But let’s say you simply can’t stand it anymore! You want to cut the twisted umbilical cord to the nanny state womb, and you made up your mind that you seriously want to give it a shot anyway.

What Should We Do?

Okay, here’s the main tricks, tips, and flips.

1. Get Off the Radar Screens

If the government or anybody is NOT LOOKING for you, you won’t be found! Remember, they CAN find anybody if they really want to, but they are not actively looking for everybody.

So don’t let them target you. Don’t buy form 4,473 guns every week. Buy them privately and pay cash. Don’t do anything that will make them come after you and you’re pretty safe from scrutiny.

It’s a shame we have to be so “defensive” like this but we made our own beds and now have to sleep in them. I still wax fondly reminiscent of the days when They knew they had NO business violating our private lives. Now it’s BIG Business.

However, if you think you’re going off the grid and below radar so that you can skip your student loan debt, IRS tax liens, child support payment, etc. then forget about it. All this kind of stuff comes back to your driver’s license, especially the new National I.D Card ones we all MUST have now, by unconstitutional illegal law.

Unless you are hiding primitively up in the mountains like some weird Sasquatch eating grubs, roots, and berries all day and only peddling your bike down the trail every few months for emergency supplies, sooner or later you’ll be rudely dragged back in the grid from that remote mountain paradise, when some bored sheriff’s deputy with nothing better to do than check on strangers takes a second glance at you.

2. Become Untrackable

This is probably going to be the hardest thing to do to consider yourself really off the grid. And it’s a lengthy process to untangle yourself from a spider web Grid.

Everybody knows that being on Facebook or Twitter or everything else is directly reporting your life’s activities and thoughts to the big “cloud” in the sky where the big all-seeing NSA, CIA ‘EYE’ lives. To really become off grid and under the radar you must unplug yourself from the mainstream computer.

Remember, there are specialty resources for this. One really doesn’t need to get this deep into it. If you just want to homestead and self-sustain somewhere private and get off the conventional power grid, you don’t have to get so primitive that you don’t even have a computer.

But it’s not a bad idea to read one of those “how to disappear” books on Amazon to get an idea how thoroughly you are connected to society.

3. Find the Right Off Grid Location

This will likely be the biggest challenge. The problem is that municipalities are often ugly little siblings of Big Brother.

I seems like they stay up late at night trying to figure out new ordinances and ways to tax or fine you into compliance in everything from size and type of housing you MUST have, to what you can do in terms of growing or hunting or recreating on your own private land.

And it gets worse if your land is close to wetlands or has a pond or stream through it. The Feds are usually in on that tyranny as well. This is because county municipalities are going broke due to excessive patronage jobs provided by the town officials to their feckless friends, and recalcitrant relatives who otherwise would fall to the laws of natural selection by themselves.

So many do not allow full time living on your own property in a nice modern travel trailer, for instance! And restrict you to minimum square footage requirements on new built construction so you pay more in property taxes.

And many will allow you—if you file special paperwork/permits and pay an inspector–to have a solar or other off grid power system, but you STILL must be connected to the conventional power line grid besides! Obviously because there’s a monthly base charge whether you use their electricity or not as long as you’re connected.

So this is an important first step. You must determine an off-grid friendly location in which to purchase your own piece of land. These are out there.

The problem is they’re not advertised as such and you have to search them out and find out the local codes. And most of the time they’ll be pretty remote. Deep in the Yukon you can probably find some land at a good price where there’s probably no building codes. Also up in the Canadian Wilderness.

And they say you can find heavenly peace and solitude “Down in the Bayou” Country where the climate might be more hospitable if you don’t mind snakes and alligators and who knows what else?

So make up your mind only after you decide exactly what the extent of your off grid life actually will mean to you, and how much privacy you can afford.

If you are on a fixed retirement income, then that will be your determining cost factor. If you are still stuck in a job that’s location locked then the next best thing is to start prepping for your retirement off grid location.

Or do like some people I know who found themselves a suitable location away from where they must live now, bought at least the land and will begin the steady set up of their off grid retreat as an ongoing project for a future transition.

4. Get a Trust or LLC as an Alt Identity

It’s too complicated to explain here why this is a very good idea for privacy and off-grid security. If you pay cash for your retreat location and have ownership in a Trust or registered in a business, this is the best way to go. Especially if you are into unplugging yourself as much as possible from the New World Order. Even your vehicles can be owned by the Trust or LLC or Nevada type corp. And nobody can just ‘check’ on your property anytime they want to see who owns it.

5. Last but NOT the Least…

…stop dreaming about it and get proactive!

If you’re one of those liberty minded free choice loving hold outs who can’t stand all this government overbearing authority, and truly don’t want to lose every last single bit of privacy (even smart toilets are coming), it would be best to start working on your emancipation from the grid ASAP.

Once a few final straws whack the collective Camel’s back, like the imminent elimination of cash (and illegalization and prohibition of using gold as alt currency) in favor of an all digital daily commerce system, it will become more and more difficult to get comfortably off grid and below radar if you haven’t already done so.

As this is being written the UK has the world’s first food store where customers use their palm finger vein scans as a credit card and facial recognition scans as identification. China is expanding fast on this.

In the U.S. distance radar scanners with biometric facial recognition (linked from your National I.D. card drivers license holographic photo) are being installed to instantly search and identify anyone just walking around an airport or train terminal.

So if you’re going to go off grid and below radar, better get started NOW!

This article has been written by Mahatma Muhjesbude for Survivopedia.

References:

www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/19/homan-square-chicago-police-disappeared-thousands

telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/20/british-supermarket-offers-payment-fingerprint-worldwide-first/

Lifesaving Rappelling Basics You Need To Know

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In these times, riots, earthquakes, hurricanes, and many other problems make it likely you will be trapped in a building or need to get over a mountain.

While many people don’t think much about rappelling, it is a vital skill to have.

Basic rope working techniques associated with rappelling can help you get safely out of a multistory building to the ground, down the side of a mountain, or down from some other height when you need to save yourself.

Learning Rappelling

Essentially, when you rappel, you will be making your way down to the ground or a lower level using ropes and other accessories that enable you to control your downward motion and speed.

When compared to climbing up a mountain or to some other height, you will find that far more accidents happen on the way down.

Rappelling skills take time to learn and practice to maintain. Never rappel on your own until you master the process under the watchful eyes of an expert.

Better yet, sign up for classes in a certified climbing school.

Where to Practice

Like any other activity, it is best to start off in a place where you will be as safe as possible while you develop good habits and improve your skills.

When it comes to rappelling, the school you go to should have access to small cliffs or other safe locations.

Never try to learn the basics on a large cliff or off a building. This is where most beginners get into trouble and can get seriously injured or killed.

3 Second SEAL Test Will Tell You If You’ll Survive A SHTF Situation

Don’t rush to meet your next goals just for the sake of completing them. Unfortunately, just because you think you are ready, that doesn’t mean you haven’t overlooked something critical.

Take your time and see what kind of mistakes emerge while you can fix them before they cost your life in a more dangerous setting.

Basic Hand Positions

Regardless of what you are doing or the hand positions you are using, NEVER let go of the rappelling ropes. When rappelling you must have both hands on the rappelling ropes.

  • If you are right handed, your right hand will be the braking hand. Keep your right hand below the rappelling device. Your left hand will be your guide hand, and must be kept above the rappelling device.
  • If you are left handed, then your left hand will be the braking hand, and right hand will be your guide hand.

Guide Hand Position

When rappelling down easy faces or slabs that are less than vertical, place your guide hand above the rappelling device. Use a light grip on the rope and let it slide through the hand.

Insert your guide hand’s index finger between the two ropes to keep them separated during the rappelling. This simple process keeps the ropes untangled and makes it easier to pull the ropes down.

Brake Hand Position

Your lower hand controls your speed of the descent down the rope. When rappelling using a single brake hand, keep the brake hand down by your hip to allow you to maintain a constant friction on the rope through the rappelling device.

 Warning! If you are using thin ropes and you let go with your braking hand, the thin ropes might to slip through the rappelling device and drop you to the ground below! This is just one of many reasons why you must always keep two hands on the ropes at all times while you are rappelling.

Two Braking Hands

Consider a situation where you are on a steep slope, or overhanging in a way that leaves you suspended in the air and not touching any surface with your feet. It is safer to use both hands as brake hands because it gives you more control than using a single brake hand.

On free rappels, always use an autoblock knot as a safety backup knot. This knot keeps you from zipping down the rope in an out of control fall.

Always put your lower brake hand on the autoblock knot so it slides easily and does not lock up unless you need to stop. Put your upper brake hand below the rappelling device and let the rope run through it.

Using Friction While Rappelling

How to Slow Down Using Friction

As you are rappelling downward, let the ropes slide through your brake hand. If you are going too fast apply more pressure to slow down.

You can also ratchet the ropes down in the rappelling device with your brake hand, which will increase the friction on the rope as it moves through the device.

Some rappellers wear a leather glove on their brake hand to help control their descent speed, as well as to protect their hands from cuts, friction burns, and debris from the ropes.

When to use extra friction on free rappelling

On very steep rappelling, you may need more friction than both your brake hands and the rappelling device can provide. For extra control and friction, wrap the ropes around your butt and hold onto them with a brake hand on the opposite side.

Another way to add more friction is to drop the rappelling ropes between your legs and pull them up against a thigh for more friction.

Basic Rappelling Steps

1. Choose the Rappelling Area Carefully

Before you prepare your ropes and gear, it is important to choose a safe area for the ropes to fall.

For example, if you are rappelling down a mountain, look carefully at the first ten feet or so for notches, grooves, sharp edges, and loose rocks. For safe rappelling try to avoid these features, as they can hang up the rope or damage it.

As you are rappelling downward, you will need to repeat the study process and look for other possible problems like tress, bushes or large rocks that could hang up the rope when you pull on it from below. Loose rocks and other debris can still fall and hit you or anyone with you when you pull on the ropes no matter how far along you may be.

Remember that rope safety is your first concern. If there is a chance of the rope getting stuck or having it rip out rocks or other hazards, try to relocate the rope to a safer spot.

2. Rappelling rope preparation

Take the two ropes and knot them together using a Double Overhead Knot or a Double figure 8 Fisherman’s knot, and then a stopper knot at the end of each rope tail.

Next stack the two ropes separately and throw them down separately so they don’t get tangled.

3. Safety check of the rappelling knot and rigging

Before you or anyone else begins rappelling, do a safety check of the knot between the two ropes to make sure the knots are tied correctly, both ropes have autoblock knots, and stopper knots on them.

Make sure that one of the ropes go through the metal descending ring. Check the slings or chains that secure the ring to the anchor bolts.

If your equipment is not in good working order, do not use it. If the sling isn’t working right, you can add an additional sling or a piece of webbing as a safety backup.

4. Recheck the ropes

Look at which side of the descending ring that the knot is on. This is the side to pull. Always look at the color of the rope and decide which color to to pull before rappelling. This helps to keep the wrong rope from being pulled and jamming the knot in to the ring.

Make sure the ropes haven’t crossed each other and are not twisted on the chains or slings. Be sure both strands of rope run cleanly down the wall from the rappel anchor without binding or twisting against each other.

It is possible for just one twist against the anchor or ring to hang up the rope and make it impossible to pull.

Sometimes as you are rappelling the ropes can twist against each other. Always be prepared for this problem and be able to solve it without putting yourself in danger.

5. To keep the rope strands separated use a guide finger

As the last individual goes down the ropes have them use a guide finger to separate the ropes so they drop without kinks or tangles to the next set of rappel anchors.

The best way to do this is to put a finger of your gloved guide hand above the rappelling device between the two ropes and descend.

If the ropes get twisted up at the anchor it will be nearly impossible to pull the ropes down. If this happens. Someone will have to reascend the stuck rope to untwist them.

6. Always test the rope pull from below

When the first climber rappels down to the next rappel station, have them test the pull of the ropes.

If the pull is easy, then the odds are you will be fine. If the rope is hard to pull, then the top climber will need to make adjustments from the top before rappelling down.

If you are rappelling alone, then you may need to go back up and adjust the ropes before moving on to the next point.

Some solutions to a rope that is hard to pull include:

  • Move the bulky knot that connects the two rappelling ropes downward.
  • If there is a ledge at the top, move the rope knot down below the ledge. Retest the rope pull from below. Do not forget to climb down over the ledge before adding your weight to the ropes.

7. Pulling the rappelling ropes

After you and your partner have both completed rappelling down to the next rappelling station or to ground level, it is time to pull the ropes. If everything has checked out, the ropes should pull easily.

Here are four safety tips for pulling ropes:

  1. When pulling ropes on multiple rappels, feed the free end of the rope through the new descending ring as you pull it. Failure to do this could result in losing the rope if you just let the rope fall to you before threading the ring.
  2. The flying free end of rope can lash out and cause injury after being pulled through a rappelling anchor. Wear gloves and a helmet to protect your face and hands.
  3.  While pulling the ropes, always be on the look out for falling rocks or other debris.
  4. It is very important to yell “Rope”! When pulling down a rope so that everyone you are with knows. This alerts everyone that ropes and possibly rocks will be falling.

Why Can Rappelling be so Dangerous?

Rappelling, in my opinion is the most dangerous technique used by climbers in the sport of mountain climbing. Here the safety of the climber depends on both their rappelling equipment and their anchors.

Once you lean back on the rappelling rope and you are committed for the descent, all that keeps you safe is your climbing skills and your equipment.

When rappelling your life depends on an anchor system. This system has to be well secured for your safety and well being. If you fall you could end up as a statistic for getting killed or being critically injured.

Most rappelling accidents are the end result of the rappeler’s errors in judgment and could have been avoided.

3 Second SEAL Test Will Tell You If You’ll Survive A SHTF Situation

When rappelling always use the buddy system to check out each others rappelling gear and rappelling set up.

Each individual needs to visually check the other person’s climbing hardware, the anchors, bolts and slings on the anchors, and finally verify that the knot connecting the two ropes are tied correctly.

What can go wrong?

Rappelling is always dangerous and sometimes a bit scary when you are trusting your life to anchors and a rope. When rappelling there are a few things that can go terribly wrong.

Here is a list of a few of them:

  1. Failure to tie a stopper knot in the ends of the ropes and you rappel off the end of the ropes.
  2. The rappel anchors fail and you fall down to the ground.
  3. The rope connector knot comes untied. This can also cause you to fall to the ground.
  4. Didn’t use an autoblock knot as a back up, which can cause you to run off the ends of the rappelling ropes.
  5. Letting go of the rope with your brake hand can cause an uncontrollable slide down the rappelling ropes.
  6. The pull rope gets stuck when you try to pull it. Don’t forget you can try pulling on the other rope to free it. If not, someone must ascend back up the ropes to untangle them.
  7. The rope gets cut on a sharp edge. Access, repair, or replace the cut rope before further use of it.
  8. You might lose control if the overhang is too large. If possible relocate the rappelling ropes to a better location where the overhanging is not as bad.
  9. The rappelling device was rigged wrong. The rappelling ropes will not operate correctly in the rappel device, which will prevent you from moving downward in controlled fashion.
  10. Clothing or your hair gets stuck in the rappelling device. This will jam the rappelling device and must be carefully removed to allow the device to work properly again.

Even though many people don’t think about rappelling much beyond an outdoor sport, it is also an important skill to learn for preppers.

You can use rappelling to get out of a building or down a mountain as long as you have the right training and gear.

As dangerous as rappelling can be, it can still save your life as long as you know how to avoid the most common problems and approach the event with care and consideration.

Practice this skill, as your life might depend on it one day! Would you survive?

This article has been written by Fred Tyrell for Survivopedia.

Rappelling: A Guide To Basic Equipment And Knots

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When it comes to learning new survival skills, there are several things that many think of as sporting or hobby techniques as opposed to something that can save your life in a crisis.

For example, many think of rappelling as a hobby for people interested in the outdoors or mountain climbing instead of something that may be needed to escape an inner city skyscraper or some other area where great heights are involved.

Keep reading and you’ll see what you’re missing!

Before you begin learning how to rappel, it’s important to get good quality gear and know how to tie the basic knots used in this activity.

3 Second SEAL Test Will Tell You If You’ll Survive A SHTF Situation

Remember, no matter where you are rappelling down from, you will be relying solely on your equipment and proper technique. If the equipment or your knots fail, the odds are you will die.

Mandatory Equipment You Need for Rappelling

Gloves

Having and wearing good quality leather climbing gloves is a good idea when rappelling. They will protect your hands from rope burns (especially if you are moving down the rope too fast) as well as from getting dirty from contact with the rope.

Ropes

Actually, this should be the first to mention. The next questions is, what kind of rope should you use? If you climbed a mountain to reach a point to rappel down from, you will more than likely use the same ropes that were used during your ascent.

Before rappelling with these ropes, check them over for signs of stretching, cuts, or other damage that occurred while climbing. I’s always helpful to keep a spare set of unused ropes that you can use for rappelling in case the first set is damaged. Use different colored ropes so that it is easier to figure out which one to pull on.

In the US the standard length of rope for rappelling is 200 feet long. If doing a long rappel two of these ropes must be used. These two ropes are joined together by one of four rappelling knots.

If you are doing a short rappel of under 100 feet, then double back the rope on itself to allow for the 100 foot rappel.

It is safer to use ropes with a 10mm to 11mm diameter. This diameter rope will give more friction when they feed through the rappelling device than smaller diameter ropes. Also, the thicker ropes are less likely to be burned or cut than the thinner ropes.

Safety note: Never tie a thick cord to a thinner one. There is a chance that the knot might work itself loose and create a situation where you will fall to your death.

Rappel anchors

For your safety, a minimum of two anchors are needed to rappel off a cliff. Some people consider three anchors a redundancy, however it never hurts to use one more just in case a problem occurs with the other two.

Anchors can be bolts, pitons, cams, trees, or tied off boulders.

Rappelling ropes

Are always threaded through metal anchor material such as screw quick links, steel descending rings, carabiner.

Never, under any circumstance, use nylon slings as an anchor. These slings can melt, break, or fail if they come into direct contact with the rope and the friction it produces as you are rappelling.

Rappelling device and locking carabiner

The choice of rappelling devices depends on the situation. To help cut down on your climbing weight, it is best to pick a rappelling device that could also be used as a belay device.

Black Diamond ATCs and Trango B-52s are excellent choices for rappelling devices.

Some climbers like to use the Figure-8 descender because it is easy to use and gives the individual a fast smooth ride down.

On the down side, the Figure-8 descender can put kinks in the rope and cause a twisted mess to uncoil that will have to be fixed before you can finish a safe rappel to the ground.

Safety note: Be sure you have a sturdy extra large auto locking carabiner to attach the rappelling device to your harness. A screw gate carabiner will work, but bear in mind it can unscrew and open under load causing serious safety issues.

Harness

Safety note: Always use a climbing harness when rappelling.

A harness forms a comfortable seat for rappelling. The harness is fitted around the waist and upper legs. It is very important that the waist belt fits tightly, has no cracks or worn spots, and has a belaying loop on the front.

If you don’t have a harness, you can make one from webbing.

Personal anchor tether

If you are going from rappel station to station or plan on multiple rappelings, you will need to immediately clip yourself into the anchors at the bottom of each rappel.

If you have already rigged a personal anchor tether on your harness, then it is possible to clip into them as soon as you reach them. Now that you are safe, you can unhitch from the rappelling device and ropes to let the next person rappel down to join you.

Important Rappelling Knots

The autoblock knot

When rappelling, safety must always be your first consideration. As a safety back up, always use an autoblock knot.

This knot is tied below the rappelling device and will prevent you from sliding all the way down the rope if you happen to let your hands go from the rope, you lose control of the speed of descent, or you need to stop traveling downward.

If you stop, this particular knot will tighten automatically and prevent you from rappelling further.

The autoblock knot works well for rappelling because you can loose it and tighten it easily as you move down the rope. It will lock and release while under a load and remain safe. This is also one of the easiest friction knots to tie and remember how to use.

Video first seen on REI.

You are always in control when using an autoblock knot. It allows you to stop and hang to do the following without endangering yourself:

  • Clear rope snags.
  • Toss a rope farther down a cliff.
  • Free twists and knots from the rope.
  • Keeps you from losing control on free or overhanging rappels where you can’t touch the rock.
  • Stops you if you get hit by falling rocks.
  • Prevent you from falling if you feel sick, or something else causes you to need to stop unexpectedly.

Safety note: If you need to stop make sure you let go of the knot. Beginners have died because they gripped the knot, which can cause it to slips and fall apart. Remember to let go and let the knot do its job and lock.

How to keep the autoblock knot from jamming

To keep the autoblock knot from jamming, make sure the cord or sling that forms the autoblock isn’t too long. If it is too long, then the knot can jam in the rappelling device when you stop.

To avoid problems make sure the sling is short enough before rappelling. If it’s too long, tie a knot in the end of the sling to shorten it, or extend the rappelling device from the harness by attaching it to a sling.

Safety note: Always get in the habit of using an autoblock knot whenever you are rappelling.

Stopper Knot

For safety sake always use a stopper knot on the ends of both rope ends to keep you from rappelling off the rappelling ropes.

Video first seen on Gearaholic.

The actual knot configuration is a matter of personal choice. An overhand or a figure eight knot will do well, and is preferred by many rappellers.

4 Important Knot Configurations

The following four knots are the most commonly used and are the best knots for tying your rappelling ropes together. All of these knots are good strong knots.

To work right, however, these knots must be tied right. Your life depends on it. Take the time to practice these knots until you can tie them in the dark, without looking at them, even if you are very tired and exhausted. The more you practice tying these knots, the better chance you will have of tying them correctly in time of need.

The knot you use to tie your rappelling ropes together is a personal choice. It is to your advantage to pick one knot and use it every time you rappel.

Whichever knot you choose, you must be very familiar with it. You must know how to tie it, untie it, and know how much tail to leave at each end to tie the backup knots.

Safety note: All of the 4 rappelling knots except the double overhand knot must have a fisherman’s knot tied on either side for safety.

1. Double overhand knot

This is the fastest and easiest knot to tie of the four rappelling knots. It has less bulk which makes it less likely to snag or get stuck on the surface you are descending.

Safety note: Warning do not use on ropes of different diameters because the knot can untie with very little tension.

2. Double figure 8 fisherman’s knot

This is the usual way to tie rappelling ropes together. It is the strongest of the four, and if tied correctly, will not come undone. It is easy to visually check, and can be used to tie ropes together of unequal diameters.

It is also fairly easy to untie when weighted. On the downside, this knot is quite bulky and can get caught in cracks or other features of the surface you are rappelling down from.

3. Square fisherman’s knot

Of the four rappelling knots this not is the easiest to tie and untie. This knot is just a square knot backed up with double fisherman’s knots on either side.

Safety note: When using this knot always use the back up knots. It is possible for this knot to come untied without them.

4. Double fisherman’s knot

This was the traditional knot to tie two different diameter size ropes together before other knots became more popular.

This knot is hard to visually check, and very hard to untie when wet or being weighted. Today it is used more to tie thinner pieces of accessory cords together.

Even though rappelling equipment isn’t especially complicated, it is still very important to choose good quality gear. When you aren’t using the ropes and other equipment, make sure that it is stored in a clean, dry place.

Do not forget to examine your ropes often and always make sure they are in good condition. No matter whether you are rappelling from a skyscraper or a mountain cliff, it will do no good if the rope has been rotting for several years before you actually need it.

As with many other aspects of prepping, maintenance of your rappelling gear is every bit as important as knowing how to use it. And remember that skills and training are much more important than any gear you might have, becausethey are making the difference between a victim and a survivor!

This article has been written by Fred Tyrell for Survivopedia.

Surviving In the Wild: How To Balance Your Eating

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Let’s begin today’s article with the sad story of Christopher McCandless, the quintessential hipster whose decomposed body was found by moose hunters 25 years ago on September 6, 1992 in the close vicinity of Denali National Park.

This guy who became famous after a movie was made based on his diary has died of starvation inside a rusty bus that was used as an improvised shelter (prior to him) by dog mushers, trappers, and various other outdoors enthusiasts.

A note was found which reads:

“I NEED YOUR HELP. I AM INJURED, NEAR DEATH,  AND TOO WEAK TO HIKE OUT OF HERE. I AM ALL ALONE, THIS IS NO JOKE. IN THE NAME OF GOD, PLEASE REMAIN TO SAVE ME. I AM OUT COLLECTING BERRIES CLOSE BY AND SHALL RETURN THIS EVENING. THANK YOU,”
CHRIS McCANDLESS

Obviously, eating a diet based on berries and unicorn tears in an outdoors survival scenario is not the best idea in the world, as Christopher McCandless discovered the hard way. This guy died a horrible death by starvation, because of his naive and idealistic view of the world.

The thing is, Christopher McCandless died of starvation in an area that was bursting with wildlife, but due to a lack of skills and imagination, he chose to try to live (if you can call it living) on an ascetic diet.

An autopsy determined that at the time of his death, he weighed a mere 67 pounds and he had almost zero body fat. It has been speculated that he might have poisoned himself by eating wild potato seeds.

However, the lesson to be taken home is that one can’t rely on weeds and seeds for survival in an outdoors SHTF situation.

 

3 Second SEAL Test Will Tell You If You’ll Survive A SHTF Situation

 

I mean, okay, eating the inner tree bark, pine cone nuts, acorns, pine needles, leaves, weeds, and other plant-based foods may keep you alive for a while, but in the long run, you’ll get exhausted and maybe even poisoned if you don’t know what you’re eating. Our bodies are not designed to function properly with that stuff (we can’t digest cellulose, for example).

Not to mention that staying healthy and powerful on a raw-vegan elf/squirrel-based diet is nearly impossible because your body needs more protein than you can gather from pine nuts, if for no other reason than you burn more energy extracting them than you gain from eating them.

Even if, theoretically speaking, most people can live for weeks in a row without food, you’ll not be able to do anything of value while starving. And most people are totally clueless when it comes to what to eat when there’s no McDonalds nor a 7-Eleven around. In a survival situation, you’ll require all of your strength and stamina to stay alive. As a friend of mine nicely put it, can you fight a bear while on a grass diet? Forget about it, right?

When it comes to survival eating, one must pay attention to details, especially if you’re an outdoor enthusiast. Don’t get me wrong; I am not downplaying the importance of plants and veggies, but eating grass and berries is not enough.

A true survivalist should master the skill of correctly identifying edible plants in the wilderness. In a survival situation, you don’t want to take any chances such as eating a mushroom or a plant that may poison you.

What to Eat Then?

With only a few exceptions, one may eat anything that swims, flies, walks or crawls the Earth. People confronted with the dire straits of starvation have resorted even to cannibalism, not to mention eating leaves and bugs for nourishment. A survivor must go past his or her personal bias and eat what is available to stay alive.

Plants

When it comes to eating wild plants and fruit, the first lesson to absorb is how to stay away from poisonous stuff. The first rule of wilderness survival eating is to stay away from what you don’t know. If there’s any doubt, don’t eat it. If you’re not the “botanical dude/dudette” type (you don’t have a mental list of wild edibles), the general rule of thumb is to stay away from plants with:

  • fine hair
  • spines
  • milky sap
  • thorns
  • seeds inside pods
  • beans and bulbs with a bitter/soapy taste (read alkaloids)
  • grain heads with purple, pink or black spurs
  • plants with 3-leaved pattern.

Obviously, you can learn a lot about edible plants, but you’ll have to go study the phenomenon thoroughly. And speaking of edible plants, there is one plant that may keep you alive indefinitely, and I am talking about cattails.

Check out this article for further reference. Cattails are an awesome survival food and they’re easy to find, as they grow spontaneously near ponds, lakes and rivers.

Bugs

Though it’s off-putting to think about, when discussing a balanced survival diet, insects are an excellent source of protein and  they also contain some of the most important nutrients required by your body, (besides protein): fat and minerals.

Edible bugs are an awesome survival food, provided you can get past your preconceptions. Regarding commonly found edible insects in North America, here are a few:

  • grasshoppers
  • crickets
  • locusts
  • caterpillars (including when in larvae stage/moth)
  • ants
  • June bugs
  • termites
  • mealworms
  • centipedes

Stay away from brightly colored insects, as they may be poisonous. Generally speaking, insects will provide you with 65% to 80% protein. Compare that to beef’s puny 20% protein, and you’ll see why insects are recommended by many survivalists. Insects can be consumed raw or in a stew. Or, you can mix them with edible plants.

Other Creatures

However, when it comes to putting meat on the table, the name of the game is fishing, trapping, and of course hunting.  Having the skills to set traps, snares, and nets will keep you alive and kicking for a long time in any survival scenario imaginable.

It’s important to realize one simple thing: if you don’t have the tools for hunting large game, you should focus on smaller animals. They’re easier to catch and also they’re abundant. And speaking of small game, fish is an excellent source of fat and protein, and basically all North American fish are edible.

The same goes for amphibians (read frogs, check out this piece) and most of the reptiles. You can DIY nets, fishhooks, and traps for catching fish in a survival scenario.

Field-expedient methods include using wire, needles, and pins (any piece of metal actually) for making fishhooks. Alternatively, you may use coconut shell, bone, plant-thorns or seashells. Another method for catching fish is to use fish traps and gill nets. Finally, there’s spearfishing, but you would require Rambo-like skills for that.

Next, all species of birds are edible (including bird eggs), but if you plan to capture birds, you’ll have to master the art of trapping, snaring, or laying bird traps. In a survival scenario, trapping is the most feasible method to maintain a steady supply of fish and other fresh meat on the table, provided you know the rules of engagement, meaning you are educated on the lifestyles and habits of the animals you’re hunting.

Snares, pitfalls, and deadfalls are among the best known and easiest to improvise traps. Check out this article for further reference.

Another method for hunting small game would be to use a slingshot or a bow and arrow, but you’d require advanced skills in order to use them in a comprehensive way, i.e. you’ll have to practice long and hard with a bow and arrow or slingshot before being able to put meat on the table.

Obviously, if you’d ask me, I’d never go out in the middle of nowhere without my .22 rifle and copious amounts of ammo.

Now, it’s your turn to share your survival food tips with others in the dedicated comment-section below.

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

Survival Stories Gone Bad: Chris McCandless

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There are many good reasons why we may end up in a survival situation, but putting ourselves there intentionally is pretty far down on the list.

These days, those who do it intentionally often end up with their own extreme reality show. Others end up as an example of survival stories gone bad.

Chris McCandless fall into this category. Here’s his story.

At the end of April, 1992, Chris, AKA Alexander Supertramp, left Fairbanks, AK and ventured into the Alaskan outback, determined to kill the “false being within.” He survived on a meager diet of scavenged roots, nuts, berries, small game, and mushrooms.

He’d also taken a 10-pound bag of rice with him. He lived for 113 days before dying on about August 18th.

His body was found inside his sleeping bag by a moose hunter who had stopped at the old bus that he had been using for shelter.

There was a note pinned to the door begging any visitor to wait for him because he was injured, weak, and starving. He was so far gone that he hadn’t even taken the note off the door when he returned.

Now, that may sound like a terribly tragic story to you, and it most certainly is, but Chris’s adventure and death is a controversial topic.

Video first seen on carinemccandless.

Some consider him an arrogant, entitled kid who died because of that arrogance and failure to prepare. Others think that he was somebody to admire who fell victim to the tides of misfortune, and yet others think that he was a mentally ill young man who went into a situation and died because of that mental incapacity.

Like everybody, I have an opinion. I believe that it’s a combination of the three. He was certainly not lacking in the clarity or mental capacity to set forth on his adventure, though it turns out that he was educated but misinformed.

From most accounts, he was also at least a little arrogant and likely overconfident in his abilities. Misfortune also played a part. But mostly, in my opinion, it was lack of preparation and experience.

 

3 Second SEAL Test Will Tell You If You’ll Survive A SHTF Situation

Anytime you combine arrogance, ignorance, and bad luck, disaster of some type is bound to happen eventually. Even the most humble, skilled, and lucky of us experience misfortune sometimes, and they combined to equal the perfect storm for Chris. It cost him his life.

But … what can we take away from his experience?

Don’t Underestimate the Danger

First and foremost, perhaps his biggest folly was underestimating the danger of what he was doing. Living solely off the land isn’t just a matter of taking a walk, shooting a rabbit or two, and gathering a bushel of berries and edible plants along the way.

Some of those animals may just want to eat you back once the sun sets, and the edible plants, as he learned, aren’t always so edible.

Hard-core wilderness survival at the level he undertook is the epitome of the word survival. The only thing that could have possibly made it more difficult would have been if he were being hunted, barring nuclear fallout and other apocalyptic scenarios.

Don’t let the romance, for lack of a better word, of surviving on your own in the wilderness, being one with nature, and “finding yourself” blind you to the incredibly real dangers of surviving only your own competence and on what’s available to you.

Don’t Overestimate Your Skills

This goes hand-in-hand with underestimating the danger, and both of them can be chalked up to the arrogance factor. This reminds me, on a much more deadly level, of the kid who wants to build his own treehouse. It seems easy, but the reality is a whole different beast than the idea.

You don’t just decide one day, “Hey, I’ve been hiking and have experienced some pretty harsh camping conditions. I think I’ll wonder into the Alaskan bush for an underdetermined amount of time.”

He may have read up on what he would face but this sort of thing isn’t exactly something that you jump into without shorter trips and much more preparation. He was a traveler but had no experience remotely similar to this.

Plus, the fact that he was living on such a limited diet and at such a calorie deficit for so long indicates that he wasn’t prepared. Pictures that he took show that he became gaunt even before he was apparently feeling much of the effects of the poison that eventually killed him.

He was obviously not eating enough calories and was existing on a diet that had very little variance. The same mushrooms, wild potato roots and seeds, and whatever protein he caught surely didn’t provide his body with the wide range of vitamins, nutrients, and fatty acids that it needed to thrive.

In short, he walked in thinking that he could just live off the land, and he couldn’t. Even had he survived, he would have likely been malnourished when he did emerge.

Don’t Ignore Your Body

Your body knows what it needs and it diverts energy from non-critical places on your body to critical ones. In other words, if you’re not eating enough calories, your body will steal it from other parts of your body to keep your vital organs functioning. First it burns sugar, then it burns fat, then it burns muscle.

He was to the point of emaciation – he went in weighing 140 pounds and his remains weighed just 66 pounds with no discernable subcutaneous fat – before he died. He didn’t get that way overnight, nor did he become sick and weak overnight.

The toxin in the wild potato roots and seeds that has now been determined to have led to his demise doesn’t just kill you on the spot. It’s a neurotoxin that acts slowly, so he would have been feeling the effects for days or even weeks – plenty of time to hike to the highway to get help. But he ignored his body.

Prepare for Every Contingency

We all know that this point has an inherent flaw: there’s no way to KNOW every contingency, so there’s no way to prepare for every one of them. What a reasonable, experienced person would do before attempting such an extreme idea is plan and prepare.

They’d play the what-if game. What if I can’t find game? Maybe I should have some back-up MREs. What if I get hurt? Maybe I should have an emergency means to communicate. What if my lighter or matches get wet? I need an alternate method of building a fire. What if, what if, what if.

In his case, he was woefully unprepared for wilderness survival. According to his notes, he attempted to head back to civilization in July, but couldn’t because his path was blocked because the Teklanika River was swollen at the place where he’d crossed in April.

Had he done his research and had a topographical map, he would have known that there was a hand-operated tramway that crossed the river not even a mile away from his original crossing spot.

Have a Backup Plan and Fail-safes

There’s an old saying credited to a German field marshal that says that no plan survives first contact with the enemy. It’s a good saying. That’s why experienced soldiers and outdoorsmen always have a backup plan and fail-safes.

Any experienced hiker or outdoorsman (heck, any Boy Scout) will tell you that it’s just part of the planning process to include information such as your path, your destination, and how long you expect to be gone in a plan that you share with at least one other person. That way, if you don’t show back up or make contact, they know to send somebody after you.

An emergency radio wouldn’t have been a bad thing. Nor would maps, a working knowledge of how to preserve meat (he killed a moose but most of the meat went bad because he didn’t preserve it properly), and just basically used a little bit of common sense. Maybe this is where mentally ill part comes in. Either that, or supreme arrogance.

The one part of his demise that he can’t be blamed for, much, is the fact that the wild potato seeds that made up a majority of his diet were listed as safe to eat in the book he wrote his diary in. It took a couple of decades for it to be determined that the seeds contain a neurotoxic amino acid commonly known as ODAP.

Of course, had he been eating a wide variety of foods and been properly nourished, the toxins likely wouldn’t have affected him.

So, it’s easy to look at Chris’s experience and, if nothing else, learn from it. The real reason that he set off on the trip will never be known, but in the scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that he wasn’t prepared and he died because of it.

Would you do any of the mistakes he did?

Do you have anything to add? If so, please feel free to comment in the section below.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

Best Bushcraft Tips To Learn And Share For Survival

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Bushcraft survival tips are a very hot topic in the prepper community, especially considering that old saying about “the more skills one has, the less gear one needs.” This “omnia mea mecum porto” (a Latin proverb meaning “all that’s mine I carry with me”) mindset is a prepper’s greatest asset, and I really did not mean it to rhyme.

To begin with, one may ask what on Earth is bushcraft?

In layman’s terms, bushcraft is what kept our ancestors alive and kicking for tens of thousands of years, well before the invention of agriculture, cozy cities, and our modern-day conveniences. Bushcraft is the ancient art of survival in the wilderness, using only the (sometimes scarce) resources provided by “the great outdoors.”

Keep reading to get the essentials!

Bushcraft is basically a fancy Aussie word for wilderness survival and it combines the know-how with regard to DYI-ing basic tools with how to use animals and plants at your disposal for outdoor survival in a SHTF scenario.

 

3 Second SEAL Test Will Tell You If You’ll Survive A SHTF Situation

 

For true-blue preppers, learning bushcraft skills will increase your survival chances exponentially in a nasty environment/situation, via  increasing your ability to adapt to new challenges and unforeseen situations.

You Can’t Skips the Basics

The more self-sufficient and confident one is, the better. The quintessential bushcraft skills to master include hunting/trapping game, food foraging, shelter building, water gathering/purification, and fire making.

Basically, everything that revolves around food-water-shelter, the holy trinity of survival, is an essential skill to master for a survivalist.

Let’s make a basic list, so you could count them better!

  • When it comes to living off the land, as in food foraging, one must have in-depth knowledge of local flora, which is essential when it comes to efficiently harvesting edibles whilst at the same time avoiding toxic plants.
  • Camp cooking is also a must-learn skill for outdoor enthusiasts. And speaking of flora, remember that cattails are edible and easy to find in shallow waters along the shore. Read my article about cattails for further reference.
  • Trapping and hunting/stalking game is all about knowing how to build snares, how to use lures, how to fish (always remember to pack fishing gear in your survival kit), how to read animal signs while hiding your own (human) scent, making cordage, tying knots, cleaning/dressing/cooking game in the field, and the whole nine yards.
  • A solid survivalist must be able to gather and purify water by using an improvised water filter, and also know how to make a fire for boiling/purifying water, and so forth and so on.
  • Shelter building skills must include knowledge of how to make cordage, how to tie a good knot, how to harvest building materials (branches, fallen trees), how to use a knife for batoning, how to waterproof/make natural insulation for your shelter, etc.
  • Knowing how to start a fire in the wild using readily available materials is a must-learn art, including gathering tinder, collecting wood, building a fire pit, building a fire plough/a bow drill, or other device, and you should also know the different types of fires and their best uses in a particular situation.

If you’re just starting out in the fine art of bushcrafting, you should focus on basic survival skills, such as batoning wood, making simple tools, knot-tying techniques, basic fire starting, and building basic camp structures, including the tripod.

If you’ve already acquired basic bushcraft skills, you should concentrate on shelter building, foraging for food, building a fire without lighters/matches, basic trapping and making snares, and water purification.

For advanced bushcrafters (I am not sure that word really exists), you can engage in complex projects, such as land navigation (celestial navigation for example), making cordage and rope using plant fibers or animal tendons, tracking, and advanced structure building.

Now, let’s talk about some tips and tricks, because after all, that’s what today’s article is all about.

Tell Someone That You’re Leaving

To begin with, remember that communication is key. Before going out on a trip, tell someone about your plan, including where you’ll be going, for how long, and also share if you have a specific route set up (it would help with tracking you down in a SHTF scenario).

Don’t Lose Your Temper

Next, remember to keep your composure in any situation. Always remain calm, cool, and collected, think positive, and hope for the best while preparing for the worst. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but optimism goes a long way, even in a SHTF scenario. No matter how alone and scared you may feel, everything starts with your attitude in a survival situation.

If something doesn’t work as it should – let’s say starting a fire in the wilderness, for example – keep calm, don’t rush, and don’t panic. Just stop, relax, breathe in-out and try something else.

Proper Tools

Remember that at its most basic level, wilderness survival, aka bushcraft, is surviving out there in the woods with nothing more than an edged tool (say, a knife) and the clothes on your back.

Which takes us to the next tip: a blade (read survival knife) is one of the most important tools to have in a survival situation.

A light and sturdy blade is as important to the bushcrafter as the katana is for the samurai. And yes, I am  talking about a high-quality, full-tang blade, which may be used for a multitude of purposes, ranging from self-defense to digging a shelter.

Another must-have and highly versatile bushcraft tool is a hatchet or a tomahawk. Given its design, a hatchet is perfect for heavy-duty tasks such as chopping wood, splitting logs, hammering (posts or stakes), butchering large game, and so on and so forth. If two items are too much for your “money”, you can go for the ultimate bushcraft tool: the machete.

A machete can be described as the best of both worlds, being a hybrid of sorts between a hatchet and a knife. And yes, a high-quality solid machete can be used for digging, chopping wood, clearing bush, batoning, and more.

However, the best bushcraft tool is the one you have on your person, so don’t complicate things too much, alright?

Considering the fact that death from exposure is a regular occurrence when it comes to outdoor survival scenarios, you must always pack some type of shelter in your EDC survival kit (a poncho, a $1 tarp, etc.), together with a couple of large, contractor-sized garbage bags.

When filled with leaves, the garbage bags will make for awesome insulating pads on which you can sleep or sit.

Video first seen on KGB Survivalist.

You should  carry a good-quality fire starter with you at all times, tied and braided to your knife lanyard, and I am talking about waxed jute twine. Always remember to pack a couple of protein bars in your survival kit; they’re incredibly nutritious and lightweight. Also, they don’t spoil easily.

Learning basic body insulation methods may be a life saver in many survival scenarios. Think about stuffing leaves, newspaper, or dry grass under your clothes, so you’ll be retaining body heat in harsh weather conditions.

If you wrap plastic bags (remember those garbage bags?) around the leaves on a tree, the sun will evaporate the water from the inside of the leaves, which will then be forced to condensate on the inside of the plastic bag (read trapped inside).

The same trick can be used to extract water from plants.

Now that you know these survival tricks, would you make it on your own if stranded deep in the wild?

Now, it’s your turn. What are your favorite survival tips you’d like to share with us?

Feel free to comment below.

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

The Ugly Part of Water Purification: Top 5 Mistakes You Make

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Water is part of the survival triad – water, food, shelter. You can only live for about three days without it and even after twenty-four hours, you start experiencing physical and cognitive decline.

Right now, it’s easy to turn on the tap and get fresh, clean water, but even without a SHTF situation, many of us are doing what we can to live off the grid. I’ve written several articles on collecting rain water and purifying water, and now I’d like to discuss how to make sure that your water is safe to drink.

Water purification is a primary skill that you need to have even if you don’t know much about other facets of survival because if you don’t have clean water, you’ll die. It’s that simple.

The EPA warns that as much as 90 percent of all of the water on the planet is contaminated in some way, so this is becoming a bigger issue for many of us who are trying to go off the grid. Even rainwater can be contaminated, and it’s best to assume that all ground water needs purified.

Even though being able to purify water during daily life and in an emergency situation is critical, you need to do it right. Improperly purified water can be just as fatal – but much more miserable – than having no water at all, so be sure not to make these mistakes.

Mistaking Water Filtering and Water Purification

There are many water filters out there; there’s a good chance that you have one in your fridge right now. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that filtered water is the same as purified water. Most water filters do exactly what they say: they filter out physical impurities such as debris, minerals, and pollutants such as insecticides. Most of them don’t purify the water, though, because illness-causing microbes are too small to be caught in the filter, nor are the filters designed to kill them.

 

This Device Easily Turns Air Into Water!

 

Your water may look clean and clear and delicious, but it may also be deadly. There are only two ways to ensure that your water is pure – heat and chemicals.

Not Getting Water Hot Enough

Though pathogens start to die as the water heats, at 160 degrees F to be exact, there are many disease-causing bacteria and viruses that won’t die until the water reaches the boiling point of 212 degrees F. Keeping that in mind, you need to maintain a rolling boil for at least one minute, and three is better, especially at higher elevations.

If you’re short on water and worry about losing it to evaporation, putting a lid on the pot will help with that. Then just leave it covered until it cools.

Using Chemical Purification Incorrectly

There are a few ways that you can mess up chemical purification. First, you can use too much. This is most definitely not a case of more being better because whether you’re using iodine, sodium hypochlorite (bleach) or calcium hypochlorite (pool shock), too much of it can make you sick or even kill you.

  • If you’re using iodine, use 5 drops/quart for clear water and 10 drops/quart if cloudy
  • If you’re using bleach, use 5 drops/quart for clear water and 10 drops/quart if cloudy
  • If you’re using calcium hypochlorite, dilute a teaspoon of the powder in a gallon of water, then add 2/3 ounce of that to a gallon of water. A small shot glass is useful because it usually hold one ounce.

There are also a few things to keep in mind when choosing your water purification method. Liquid bleach has a shelf-life of six to twelve months, so it expires and loses its strength. Pool shock keeps forever and a one-pound bag will treat 10,000 gallons. Iodine makes the water taste weird, but if you let it sit for an hour, you can add vitamin C (Tang drink mix or something similar) to eliminate most of the bad taste after the purification period is up.

Make sure that if you’re using bleach or pool shock that the product is pure without any additional additives such as perfumes. Let the water sit for at least 30 minutes before drinking.

Cross Contamination

This one seems like it may be simple, but it’s easy to re-contaminate purified water. Make sure that you don’t use the same containers or utensils for the clean water that you used before it was purified. In other words, don’t gather the water from a stream in your water bottle, boil it, then put it back in your bottle. You just re-contaminated your water and wasted time and fuel.

If you’re purifying in your bottle, make sure to pour some of the chemical into the lid and around the threads/ mouth of the container.

Failing to Purify AND Filter

This is another reason that you need to understand that filtering and purifying are two different processes. You need to purify your water to rid it of illness-causing pathogens, but you need to purify it to remove chemical toxins such as fertilizers and insecticides.

Of course, it also removes any other debris such a sand, rocks, and minerals. It doesn’t really matter what order you do it in, but I’d recommend filtering first then purifying just because it’s cleaner and there’s less risk of cross-contamination.

Either way, strain water that has visible debris in it before you purify it or filter it. Run it through a coffee filter or a densely woven cloth such as a bandana. Just a note: chemical purification is most effective if the water is at least 60 degrees F.

Studies show that at 50 degrees, only 90 percent of Giardia cysts were inactivated after thirty minutes. Warm up the water in the sun (or after it cools a bit from purifying), or let the water sit for an hour.

Failing to purify your water can cause such diseases as cholera, E.coli, rotavirus, hepatitis, staphylococcus, cryptosporidium and Giardia. These cause everything from upset stomach and cramps to severe vomiting, diarrhea, and even death. In other words, it’s nothing to mess around with, unless you want to die a slow miserable death.

Don’t put your life at risk! You need only clear water to stay safe!

 

 

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

Sun Power for Survival

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by Ryan

When forced into a survival situation, Mother Nature can provide a variety of different resources.  Many people see nature as the enemy in survival, but the right attitude is to see it as your ally.  Fighting against nature is a losing battle. However, working with nature can give you the tools you need to survive any situation.  The sun happens to be one of those tools.

While the rays of the sun can burn your skin and cause dehydration, they also can help with your survival efforts.  Knowing how to use the sun can be an excellent asset to get you through your ordeal.  In this article we will cover different ways that it can help you in a survival situation.

Purifying Water

Dehydration is the second most common reason why people die in a survival situation.  This is mainly because most water in the wild is not suitable to drink without getting sick.  Fresh water is commonly filled with bacteria and pathogens that can cause vomiting and diarrhea.  Drinking tainted water can end up causing even more severe dehydration in the end.  When you have no other option,  ultraviolet light can kill most bacteria and microorganisms.

For this to work, there are several factors that must be in your favor.  The bottle you use must be plastic and cannot have any tint or coloring.  The water must be crystal clear as murky water will block the ultraviolet rays that purify your water.  You also need a sunny day and a spot where direct sunlight will hit the bottle all day.  To ensure that the water is purified, it should sit in direct sunlight for a minimum for six hours.  The more time it is exposed to sunlight, the better chance you have of avoiding waterborne illness.

sun oven

Cooking

There are often situations in which you need to cook food but do not have the elements needed to build a fire.  Solar ovens can be a great way to handle this situation.  These are containers with reflective surfaces that focus the sun’s rays on a food rack and hold in the heat to cook your food.  As is with most solar projects you must have direct sunlight, so cloudy days will not work.

You can purchase a solar oven for the most efficient option, or you can make your own.  To construct your own you will need a cardboard box such as a pizza box.  Cut a flap out of the lid and line the inside of the flap with aluminum foil.  Then tape plastic wrap across the opening.  Line the inside of the rest of the box with black paper and place your food inside.  Adjust the foil flap so that the sun shines directly through the plastic wrap and onto the food.  The plastic wrap creates a greenhouse effect while the black paper draws in the heat and light.

Keep in mind that most DIY solar ovens will not reach temperatures higher than 200F.  The solar ovens you purchase can get as high as 300F with the right conditions.  This means it is your best bet to cook foods that are unlikely to make you sick if undercooked.  These would include reheating precooked foods like soups or hotdogs.  Getting things crispy is tough at these temperatures, and you should avoid foods like raw chicken that carry bacteria.

Fire Starting

There are several different ways that the sun can help you start a fire.  Once again, conditions must be perfect for this to work properly.  You must have bone dry tinder, and it has to be fluffy and fine in consistency for magnified light to ignite.  The easiest way to start a fire with light is using a fire lens.  This is a convex lens made of glass or plastic that can focus sunlight onto a small focal point. This point should get hot enough to ignite tinder if you have direct sunlight. You will have to adjust the position of the lens to get the smallest focal point possible.

Another common light fire-starter is a concave reflective device.  This collects light and reflects it back to a focal point in the center of the device.  Normally a metal arm allows you to put a small amount of tinder at the perfect focal point.  You simply place your tinder in the device and then point the device at the sun.  Within a few seconds you should have an ember that can be coaxed into flames.

If you do not have these fire-starting devices, there are several other pieces of gear that can be broken apart for the right elements.  Flashlights normally have a concave reflective piece that can be used for fire.  Often times you will find convex lenses in binoculars, cameras, or even eyeglasses.  If you get creative, you may find exactly what you need in the other devices you have with you.

There are times you can make a convex lens if you have no other choice.  Glass and plastic bottles filled with water can sometimes be positioned to give you the focal point you need.  Condoms or plastic bags filled with water can accomplish the same thing. Even a clean block of ice can be shaped with your bare hands into a lens and positioned to acquire a focal point.  One piece of garbage that can be used for a concave reflective device is an aluminum soda can.  The bottom can be polished with chocolate or wax to create the shine needed to start a fire.

dried apple slices

Preserving Food

Moisture in food is the enemy of preservation.  Therefore, the best way to keep meats and other foods for storage is to completely dry them out.  The rays of the sun can help you do that.  For any food that you wish to preserve, it needs to be cut very thinly and then dried on both sides.  Each piece needs to be less than 1/8 of an inch.  In addition, salt and spices can help draw moisture to the surface so the food dries faster.

Without a heat source, drying food in the sun will take several days.  You can hang the food from cordage in a sunny, breezy spot or you can build a drying rack on which to place you food.  The breeze is important as it will help keep insects away from the food.  You may also want to raise the food up high enough that wild animals cannot get to it.  To check if your food is done drying, check for any signs of moisture on the surface.  It should be stiff to where it splits when bent but does not break apart.  You want it to be just short of brittle.  If you get the right level of dehydration, this food can be stored for weeks or even longer if it stays dry.  It works for meat, fish, and even fruits.

Staying Warm

I know it seems obvious, but the sun is vital in staying warm in survival situations.  It is a good idea to consider the sun when picking a location for your shelter.  Locations on the West and South side of a hill or mountain will always be warmer.  You also may want to consider a shelter out in the open versus one in the woods where the sunlight is blocked by the canopy.  There are times in survival scenarios where the sunshine in the morning is what pulls you away from the edge of hypothermia.

The sun is also vital in keeping you dry.  Wet skin drops in temperature 20 times faster than dry skin.  If you get wet, hanging out your clothes in a sunny and breezy spot can get it dry again.  At the same time, the sun can quickly dry off your skin so it is tolerable to wait for your clothes to dry.  Sometimes a little sunshine is all you need.

Solar Powered Devices

In the past few years, the prices of solar powered devices have dropped significantly.  One of the most popular is a simple solar-powered battery.  I have one myself and use it all the time. This battery can help you recharge a phone or any other portable device.  There are also flashlights and radios that will use the power of the sun to charge their batteries.

Signaling for Help

One of the best ways to signal for help is to reflect the rays of the sun back a target.  There are inexpensive signaling mirrors that are perfect for this task. For this type of signal you cannot be located between the sun and your target, but otherwise they have a sighting hole in the center to help you aim your bursts of light.  You can also sometimes use the reflective side of an emergency blanket to signal for help.

In Conclusion

When it seems like everything around you is trying to kill you, it can be hard to keep your spirits up.  If nothing else, a bright and sunny day can give you the little hope that you need to keep pushing.  Never underestimate the power of the sun and be ready to use it when the time comes.

Campfires From Scratch: No Boy Scout Juice Required

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by Todd WalkerCampfires From Scratch- No Boy Scout Juice Required - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Liar, liar, pants on fire!

I discover at a young age that pouring Boy Scout Juice on sticks for a “quick” campfire was not real smart. Boy Scout Juice is a vague term which includes all sorts of liquid accelerants. We had gasoline at the cabin that day. I can’t remember who to blame for this grand idea, Henry or Craig, but I vividly remember the low whoosh sound that transformed a flickering kitchen match into a flaming mushroom cloud billowing up my legs. Screaming and wild dancing, reminiscent of cartoon characters, commenced in a desperate attempt to extinguish my now flaming trousers.

When the scent of singed hair and screaming finally settled, a silver dollar size blister on my calf taught us all a lesson that day.

Accelerants are dangerous and unnecessary in traditional fire craft. Cheating, some might call it. I’ve often said that there is no such thing as cheating when you really need a fire. Use a road flare if you have one. Camping ain’t an emergency. In modern camps, building a sustainable fire, less the fancy accelerant-impregnated fire starters, seems to be a lost art these days. I find the process of preparing a wooden meal to feed my fires pleasurable, even meditative.

Our irresistible fascination with fire was passed down by early humans who, through observation and notions and necessity, came upon the crazy idea of harnessing the flame. They weren’t content to live out their days cold and wet. This simple, powerful tool warmed hearths, made pottery, fashioned other tools, cooked meals, made potions, dispelled darkness, forged bronze, just as we use it today. The only difference for us moderns is that we route fire through insulated wires. But we’ve lost the aroma of wood smoke in our modern processes. Ah, that wonderful smell!

Many moderns never learned how to build a campfire, not from scratch. We hope this whets your appetite. Gather around our fire ring as we burn a few sticks and embrace the warming gift of fire.

Fire from Scratch

To transition from modern to a traditional fire-starter, you need things. Things like wood and air. These two are the easiest to procure. The third thing, which can be the most difficult to come by, is a heat source hot enough to complete the fire triangle, and, as intended, set stuff alight.

The heat source, modern or traditional, won’t produce a sustainable fire without properly prepared wood. I’ve witnessed, on occasion, fire-starting fails by people using a plumber’s blow torch. Lightening is another option… but you must wait patiently near the chosen tree.

For this exercise in fire-starting, our heat will come in the form of sparks from rocks and metal. Those of the traditional camping style call these materials flint and steel (not to be confused with ferrocerium rods). Sharp rocks are used to scrape micro particles from the steel which oxidizes rapidly into sparks. If you’d like to know the Secret of Flint and Steel, our previous article may help.

Campfires From Scratch- No Boy Scout Juice Required - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Flint and steel

Moderns may scoff at flint and steel as a fire maker. Why not use a Bic? It’s your fire. Use whatever ignition method you like. In my experience of teaching and learning fire craft, an open flame offers no distinct advantage until you understand how a fire eats. Practicing traditional methods makes the learner more attentive to the finer details of planning a fire’s menu.

One test for beginner and experienced campers is to start a campfire using a single match. This experiment gives immediate feedback as to how carefully the fire-chef prepared the menu. If the match ignites and consumes your meal, you’ll be ready to practice more traditional methods.

A true primitive Fire from Scratch method requires rubbing sticks together. If you’re interested in twirling up fire, read and practice these articles: Bow drill and hand drill.

Wood Size Matters

The most common failure in feeding a fire is wood size. I’ve used the analogy before of creating a fire meal plan – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s worth repeating… with a bit of a twist.

 

Don’t cheat on preparing the appetizer for flint and steel ignition. If you’ve ever placed a delicate fire egg (ember) in a tinder bundle (via friction methods), you understand the importance of this starter meal. The same holds true for charred material aglow from flint and steel sparks. A baby ember’s appetite is delicate. If it likes the first offering, it will be stimulated to eat more of your carefully prepared fare.

Campfires From Scratch- No Boy Scout Juice Required - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Top to bottom: fat lighter’d shavings and curls, pencil lead to pencil size twigs, and larger fuel.

In many flint and steel demonstrations viewed on computer screens, char cloth is laid on the rock in such a way as to catch a spark flying from the scraped steel. I’ve found that having a larger landing strip for sparks increases the chance of glowifing the charred material. Try sending your sparks into the target-rich char tin. Once you see points of light in the tinder box, place your appetizer on top of the glowified stuff and blow it to flame. Remember to close the lid of your tinder box to starve the glowified embers of oxygen for your next fire.

Campfires From Scratch- No Boy Scout Juice Required - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Aiming sparks into a char tin

You can also make your own South African tonteldoos (tinder box) for more flint and steel options.

Appetizer aflame, your fire is ready to ravage the kindling salad above it. Surface-area-to-volume ratio (SAV) plays an important role in the combustion of cellulose. This is a fancy way of describing a particles fineness. The more fineness (higher SAV), the more readily wood will burn. Fine twigs/sticks have low ignition times and burn quickly.

Arrangement

Ever watch a cooking show? Chefs know the importance of plating a meal to be visually appealing. Presentation can cause the guest to be attracted or reject the meal based solely on appearance and arrangement. We eat with our eyes.

Here’s a little good news…

Your arrangement of wood (fire lay) doesn’t have to be pretty to be palatable. Fire eats ugly. More information on four down-n-dirty fire lays can be found here.

Campfires From Scratch- No Boy Scout Juice Required - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Appetizer below the salad (twigs) with fuel ready to eat.

When plating your fire’s meal, keep in mind that different arrangements affect how a fire eats.

  • Loose fire lays allow more oxygen to flow through the fuel to burn hotter and quickly dry sticks to the point of combustion. Give your fire plenty of elbow-room to eat.
  • Arrange too tightly and the fire will be choked to death from lack of oxygen. However, once a coal bed is established, a tight arrangement of larger fuel will provide longer burn times.

Boy Scout Juice Substitute

This stuff doesn’t come in liquid form, but it’s the closest thing in my Georgia woods to an accelerant. Fat Lighter’d, fatwood, lighter wood, lighter knot, etc. is the resin-rich heartwood of many dead pine trees.

Fat Lighter’d Facts

  • All natural with no petroleum products
  • Won’t catch your pants on fire at ignition like accelerants
  • Smoke from fat lighter’d makes a great mosquito repellant in a smudge pot
  • The long leaf pine, which was clear-cut to almost extinction, is the best pitch producing pine tree
  • The term ‘fatwood’ came about from the wood in pine stumps being “fat” with resin that was highly flammable
  • There are between 105 and 125 species classified as resinous pine trees around the world

Not every pine is created equal. In my experience, one tree in the pine family, White Pine (Pinus strobus), makes poor fat lighter’d. I discovered its lackluster lighter’d on a winter trip with my buddy Bill Reese. We set up camp on the scenic Raven Cliff Falls Trail near a fallen White Pine. I figured all pines would offer up that beautiful, flammable fat lighter’d for our initial fire needs. Not so. With much labor, I finally nursed life into our traditional fire.

Know the wood in your woods.

Once you develop a taste for traditional fire-making, you’ll realize Boy Scout Juice is not required for a comforting campfire menu.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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Size Matters? How To Choose Your Bushcraft Tools Wisely

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You know the old saying that bigger is better, right? Well when it comes to bushcraft tools, one may wonder how to choose wisely the right tool for the job. Since the name of the game is wilderness survival, the perfect multi-purpose tool for the job is the proverbial blade also known as the survival knife.

And if you’re wondering why I am talking about knives when we’re supposed to be discussing bushcraft tools, a high quality, solid knife is the perfect bushcraft tool, at least in my opinion. Depending on its size and shape, a bushcraft/survival knife can be described as the quintessential multi-purpose tool.

For tens of thousands of years, the cutting blade was a man’s best friend in the wilderness, as it was an indispensable tool in basically any survival scenario. The bushcraft knife will serve you well when it comes to meeting basic survival needs, also known as the holy trinity: water, food, and shelter.

The 3-second Survival Hack That Gives You Superhuman Powers 

On top of that, a bushcraft knife will play a big part in making a fire. If we’re talking about a jack of all trades, a full tang-high quality blade is a must have bushcraft tool in any scenario imaginable. Which brings us to today’s topic, because size matters: how much blade (as in length) is enough?

How much blade do you need?

Are you playing in the Crocodile Dundee category or do you just want the perfect all-arounder to fulfill your specific needs?

Video first seen on Dave Hughes.

Well, this is an almost philosophical question because everything depends on personal preferences.

However, a proper bushcraft knife must help you survive, and for that to happen, it must be able to handle a variety of functions, including self-defense, digging (very important when building a shelter), slicing, cutting, food-prep, first aid (as a tool of sorts), hunting weapon, fire making, prying tool, hammering … you get the idea, right?

Why Bigger Is Not Necessarily Better

When choosing the perfect bushcraft tool, whether it’s a knife or anything else, you must keep in mind that less is typically more, as function always trumps styling, regardless of what you’ve seen on the lobotomy box (TV).

Which brings us to our initial problem: size matters, indeed, but bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to choosing the perfect bushcraft tool. If a blade is way too big, you won’t be able to use it for detailed tasks such as carving precision gear (think snare sets) or dressing small game.

However, there’s a flipside to that coin: a small blade can’t be used for heavy-duty tasks or rugged jobs like chopping and batoning. A bigger blade would come handy when splitting wood or cutting trees, provided you don’t have anything available but your bushcraft knife.

And there’s always the issue with the ratio between the blade’s thickness and its length. The thing is, a longer blade will provide you with more leverage for heavy-duty tasks.

There are disadvantages too; for example, as the leverage increases, so do the odds of breaking the blade. A long and thin blade can be compared to a kitchen knife, while a shorter and thicker blade is more like a chisel. Do you see where this is going?

A bushcraft knife should be thicker and probably shorter than a regular knife if you’re looking for sturdiness and reliability.

After using a number of survival knives, I think the ideal size for a bushcraft knife is about 10 inches, and I am talking about overall length, which puts the blade length at about 5 inches, give or take, depending on the design.

Obviously, a hardcore bushcraft knife must be a full tang-fixed blade – forget about folders as they’re not as reliable/durable as fixed blades.

A 4-5-inch blade, provided it’s made of high quality steel, can be used for basically any task imaginable, making for the ideal combo of portability and efficiency. And speaking of practicality, a 5-inch blade knife is very comfy to carry around at all times.

The thing is, the best knife/bushcraft tool in the world would not help you out a bit if it sits cozy in your closet or in your gear bag. What you have on your person when SHTF is what makes a difference in a survival situation, right?

Big knives like machetes or 10-12-inch long bowie knives are pretty cool looking and definitely usable in a survival scenario, but they’re not the definition of practicality. A large blade can be really useful when it comes to chopping wood, yet it would never match an axe/hatchet in this department and it would be completely useless at finer tasks.

And if you think you can’t fell trees with a 5-incher, think again; everything’s about technique.

Video first seen on IA Woodsman.

However, if you’re looking into serious woodwork, you should consider carrying a hatchet together with your bushcraft knife. A medium-sized, 5-inch blade together with a hatchet would make for the perfect bushcraft survival combo.

Carrying a large knife only (a 12-incher for example, or a machete) would fill an intermediate role but it would not excel at either end compared to a a 5-incher/hatchet combo.

So, now that we’ve been through all the reasons, hopefully you can see why I believe that a 5-inch blade would make for the best bushcraft tool.

It’s fairly easy to carry around and it can be used for a multitude of purposes, i.e. to cut branches for improvising a shelter, to prepare firewood, to clean small game/fish, and it’s also more likely that you’ll have it on your person 24/7, whereas a 12-inch bowie knife or machete is more likely to sit at home on a shelf or stuffed in your bug-out bag somewhere.

When all is said and done, a smaller knife would serve you best as a bushcraft tool. You can go a little bigger, but I’d recommend keeping it under 7 inches, with the ideal size being between 4 and 5 inches.

If you take a look at what bushcraft experts are carrying, you’d see that Ray Mears, Mors Kochanski, Les Stroud, and Cody Lundin are all using bushcraft knives of roughly the same size: 4-5 inch blades.

And forget about the appeal-to-authority fallacy: just try it for yourself, and bottom line, choose wisely and don’t skimp on quality when it comes to survival gear! Your survival might depend on this!

I hope the article helped. If you have questions or suggestions, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below.

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

10 Essentials For Surviving In The Wilderness At Night

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You are convinced that it could never happen to you, don’t you? But there is no escaping the fact that you might be stuck out in the wilderness at night.

If you have no experience with camping, or have spent little time in the woods, this can be a frightening and dangerous experience.

Even if you are completely alone, knowing how to do these ten things can keep you safe and in good condition.

If you ever have to survive some sort of disaster and decide to stay in a wooded area, you will be much closer to being able to stay in this setting for weeks, or even months if needed.

Be Mentally and Emotionally Prepared

You emotional and mental preparedness for surviving in the wild should start before you find yourself in the woods and have to face the experience.

Remember, nature is not your enemy. The woods and its inhabitants usually kill or maim only in the course of trying to survive, defend themselves from predators, and raise their young. As long as you do not interfere, you can live comfortably in the woods regardless of the time of day.

If you are reading this and know nothing of living in or traveling through the wilderness, start learning from now. Read articles, go camping with experienced groups of people, and do all you can to gather factual and accurate information on how to live in the woods and understand its inhabitants.

The more you know about living in these conditions, the less you will fear them. The less fear you have, the easier it will be to go about taking care of basic needs if you must stay in a wilderness setting at night.

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Maintain Appropriate Body Temperature

As with any other place, temperatures are apt to drop at night. If you did not bring extra clothing, or the right kinds of clothes, you will need to find some other way to keep warm. Here are a few things that can save you:

Plastic Bags

Always keep a construction grade plastic bag with you, it will be large enough to line with leaves or other insulating material to sleep in.

Remember to leave some room open even around your body so that sweat evaporates properly and air continues to circulate around your skin. In extreme cold temperatures, moisture near your skin can cause your core temperature to drop to dangerous levels.

Build a Fire

Learn how to build a fire safely and effectively, including how to build a fire in the rain. Pack a tea light, and remember to search for pine cones. Both will make excellent tinder material.

Don’t forget to bring along a fire starter such as waterproof matches or some other type of fire starter that you feel comfortable with.

Cover Yourself with Leaves

As long as the leaves aren’t damp and are free of bugs, mold, and mildew, they will keep you warmer than not covering with anything at all.

Find and Purify Water to Stay Hydrated

Maybe you aren’t lost, and still expect to arrive back in a populated area in a few hours. Even though you may not think much about water, it is still need it on hand and to stay hydrated all the time.

When you are stressed out, engaging in more intense physical activities, or dealing with increased temperature changes, your body will release more sweat, and also use more water for other vital processes.

So you need clean water on hand and use it when you are trying to survive in the wilderness especially if overnight. Ideally, you should be able to purify at least ½ to one gallon of water for your overnight needs.

Here are some things you can keep with you as well as skills to develop:

  • Know how to capture water from leaves, earth, and rainfall.
  • Keep a long tube sock, bone char, some sand, and activated carbon in your travel gear at all times. You can use them to make a filter to remove chemical contaminants and debris from the water. It is also important to have some kind of vessel to boil the water in so that you can kill off any pathogens that may be in the water.
  • There are also filtering water straws available that come with a complete water cleaning system. Just make sure you drink through the straws, and you will have clean water.
  • Carry water purifying tablets. Be sure to always know the limitations of these tablets so that you can use other systems if needed.
  • Learn how to make charcoal and bone char.
  • Contrary to popular belief, boiling water alone will not produce clean water. It will only concentrate heavy metals and other poisons, making the water more dangerous to drink. If you are concerned about removing pathogens from the water, it is better to put the water in a clear plastic bottle and let it sit in the sun for a few hours. UV from the sun will kill the pathogens without causing water to evaporate.

Obtain Food

You might be too stressed to eat, but it have to know how to get food in the wilderness during the night hours. Since many animals are more active at night, you can try hunting them, or set traps.

If you happen to be near a pond, you can set traps for fish, or try to hunt for frogs.

When hunting at night, always be aware that the animals you are hunting may also be prey for another animal in the woods. That animal, in turn, may decide you are competition and hunt you instead.

Before you go into any wilderness setting, always know how the local food chain works so that you can steer clear of predators and still take the game you need for survival.

As with any other time of day, lichens, moss, berries, and fruit will still be available. Learn the Universal edibility test, and practice using it so that you can avoid being poisoned.

If you decide to carry food with you, choose high calorie items that do not require heating. You can also bring along a few ready to eat meals that come with warming packets if you want a more complete meal. Even if you only have enough packets to last for two or three days, it will be enough until you are able to gather food on your own.

Shelter From Storms, Wind, and Other Bad Weather

Aside from being colder, you may also wind up dealing with rain, wind, or other weather elements that you will not want to be out in.

As long as you have a knife (or a sharp edge on a rock) branches, vines (or long stemmed plants), leaves available you can make a shelter that will keep you dry and warm.

Here are some other things you can try:

Look for a Cave

Caves offer plenty of protection, however they are also likely to be dens for bats, bears, and other animals that won’t want you spending the night with them.

If you do decide to spend the night in a cave, make sure you check all passages and all areas of the cave to make sure you aren’t taking up space in another animal’s territory. This includes snakes, spiders, and other animals that can hide easily under rocks and in shaded areas that you might overlook.

Dig a Hole in the Ground

Dig a small hole or depression in the ground, and then put leaves over it. Try to build up the sides a bit to prevent rain from flowing in. This makeshift shelter will not last more than a few hours, but it will get you through the night.

Tree Trunk Protection

Look for a hollow in a tree trunk, or at the base of an uprooted tree. These areas will shelter you from the wind and rain, depending on the direction it is coming from.

As with caves, make sure there are no animals and insects already living there that might cause you problems. In this case, you would be looking for squirrels, raccoon, snakes, and biting insects known to live in or near rotting wood or in tree trunks.

Discourage Predatory Animals and Prevent Insect Bites

For the most part, if you know how to build a fire and can keep it going through the night, predatory animals will stay away from you.

On the other side the equation, many insects are drawn to light, and will gravitate to the fire. You will need to experiment to find the best distance from the fire to avoid falling outside its light, be close enough to stay warm, and still not be swarmed by insects (that will be killed off eventually by the flames).

Insofar as discouraging predatory animals, you will need to know which ones are usually in the area, and also how best to deter them if they appear. Some animals may run away if you yell, while others may decide to attack. A good understanding of animal psychology is essential.

In order to prevent insect bites at night, your best option will be to wear long sleeved shirts and pants. Make sure that all cuffs are sealed off with rubber bands and that the hems of your pants are also tucked into your socks.

To protect your face and neck from insect bites, take a wide brimmed hat and attach some fine webbed fabric over it. Let the fabric drape down to just below your neck, and then make sure it seals to your shirt. Do not put the fabric too close to your face or neck, or the insects will just find a way to bite through it.

Manage Hygiene and Sanitation

Even though you can washing your hands and face with wet wipes, it never hurts to carry a small bar of lye soap and some towels with you.

In particular, if you are spending the night in the woods because of a nuclear disaster, you will need the lye soap for washing off any dust or debris from your skin.

Managing sanitation is also very important because predators can find your urine and stool even if you bury them. Make sure you stay away from areas where water and food are likely to be found, as predators will check there first for prey.

Take Care of Routine and Emergency Medical Needs

Even if you don’t have any injuries, or don’t feel sick, it is still important to know what to do and have some tools on hand. Here are some things you should carry and skills you should learn:

  • know the signs of food poisoning or allergy. Keep Benadryl with you and an epi pen. If you suspect you ate something poisonous, make sure you know how to vomit it back out if it is still in your stomach, or use activated charcoal to try and absorb it and move it out of your system.
  • Always know how to make a tourniquet, splints, and wraps for joint support.
  • Keep essential oils, herbs, and at least a week’s supply of any medications you may be taking onhand. It also never hurts to know what plants in the woods might be useful for taking the place of your medications if the need arises.
  • Know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on yourself, just in case you are alone and swallow something the wrong way.
  • Understand water safety and know how to build a flotation device so that you don’t wind up drowning.

Be Able to Signal for Help

If you were traveling, got lost, and left travel plans, there is a chance searchers will be looking for you. Depending on the weather conditions, rescuers may or may not try to look for you at night. If you built a fire (use a triangle shape), knowing how to create a smoke signal may be of some help.

In addition, if you happen to hear a random chopper overhead, you can try to get their attention with the fire, a flashlight, red laser, or flares if you have them.

Remain Concealed if Needed

During a state of emergency or some kind of major social disruption, you may decide that you’d prefer to avoid the attention of rioters or anyone else that could hurt you. Under these circumstances, building a fire for any reasons is not likely to be an option.

By the same token, sheltering on the ground is also apt to be a problem. Try concealing yourself in a tree or some other location where people aren’t likely to look. If you must stay on the ground, make it a point to cover yourself with leaves or stay in a bunch of brambles so that you are harder to see.

Here are some other things to consider:

  • know how to stay perfectly quiet. People pursuing you may have dogs or other tracking animals trained to pick up on even the slightest sound that you make.
  • Tracking animals can also pick up on your scent. Never pick a place to rest near where you have buried waste, eaten, or carried out some other task.
  • Learn how to use backtracks and other tricks to ensure an animal following your scent cannot pick up your trail.
  • People tracking you may also use thermal profile systems or metal finders to locate you and anything you are carrying. It is very important to know how to break up your thermal profile. Try to avoid lumping all metal objects together in your camping gear, or carry as few metallic objects as possible to keep avoid being detected.

Much of surviving in the wilderness at night is about common sense. You will still need some basic tools such as a knife, fire starting gear, heavy plastic bags, and drinking water bottles to make things a bit easier.

As with anything else, even if you start off with a few tools that you know how to use, and then build on your skill and knowledge levels, it will be easier to spend a night in the wilderness, and come to enjoy the experience as many hikers and campers do.

This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

How To Recognize And Use Mushrooms For Food And Fire

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Many people that find themselves in the woods with no edible resources other than mushrooms may be tempted to give them a try. It’s not easy to know exactly which species of mushroom is safe to eat, and which ones can kill you. Making a mistake can kill you, so you really have to know what you’re doing.

On the other hand, you won’t be hurt if you burn the wrong type of mushroom, but knowing what to choose to start a fire will help you for sure.

Take a moment and get a few tips on how to recognize and use this natural resource for food and fire!

General Characteristics of Most Poisonous Mushrooms

Simply assuming that mushrooms eaten by animals will also be edible to humans is a mistake. Consider that humans can consume chocolate with absolutely no ill effect (and may even consider chocolate medicinal and downright miraculously curative), yet dogs can die if they eat even small amounts of chocolate. By the same token, animals can eat mushrooms that have chemicals in them that are poisonous to humans.

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Here are some general guidelines you can use to avoid many mushrooms that are poisonous to humans:

  • Avoid mushrooms that are red colored or have red on them. These mushrooms are like many other living things in nature. Their bright colors are meant as a warning to stay away from them.
  • Some white or dull colored mushrooms are also some of the most deadly. Mushrooms with a bulbous base, or a skirt around the stem can also be poisonous. You should also avoid mushrooms with white gills.
  • If you touch the gills on a Milkcap mushroom, it will emit liquid or “milk”. Even though some mushrooms in this family are safe to eat, most are toxic. It is best to avoid all of them until you know which ones are safe and which ones aren’t in the area you are traveling through.

If you have ever tried to survive on foods gathered from nature, then you know that experimenting with unknown food types is vital. With the exception of mushrooms, you can use the Universal Edibility Test to determine if the item is safe to eat.

The poisons some mushrooms house can take days, or even weeks to kill. Some poisons may slowly attack and destroy your liver, while others will cause toxic, and eventually fatal buildups in other organs. Other mushrooms cause hallucinations, which can lead to accidents, injury, and death. Since just one bite of a poisonous mushroom can get you killed, you just can’t rely on these tests to evaluate them as a food source.

Start Your Own Mushroom Identification Table

If you can get a field guide for the area you are foraging in, they can help you identify mushrooms that are safe to eat, and build your list into a table based on the mushrooms that you encounter.

Here are the basic fields your table should have, or the questions you should be able to answer about each mushroom that you encounter. Keep a few pages for spore prints (once you know how to make them safely) or other tests that will help you compare patterns later on.

  • What season are you encountering the mushroom in? As with many plants, fungi also have set temperature, humidity, and lighting requirements. In some cases, a poisonous strain that looks like a safe one may pop up during a different season. While it is possible for them to overlap if temperatures are unstable, you can still count this data and compare it with other features.
  • Where is the mushroom growing? Contrary to popular belief, mushrooms won’t grow in just any place with sufficient dead material to live on. For example, some mushroom species will only live on a certain tree type, and cannot be raised in fields, or on other wood types or parts of the same tree. Also, edible mushrooms may differ from poisonous counterparts because they grow on different kinds of dead material.
  • How are the mushrooms growing in relation to each other? In some cases, edible mushrooms may grow in a ring, while poisonous ones grow in tufts, or vice versa. Pay attention to where each mushroom of the same strain is in relation to the others. You’ll still need to rely on other tests, as you never know if an animal or something else came along and disrupted the original growing pattern of the mushroom crop.
  • What color is the exposed side of the mushroom cap? What does its texture look and feel like?
  • How big is the mushroom cap? If you have ever watched mushrooms crop up overnight, then you may already know that some emerge as small buttons that quickly form wider, flat cap shapes. Others will emerge almost fully sized and then fall apart within a matter of days. There is still a maximum size for various mushroom species that you can use to help try and identify them.
  • If the mushroom has gills or other markings underneath, what is their pattern? You may notice forks in the gills, or other shapes that will help you distinguish between a poisonous mushroom and a safe one. Make note of how the gills or underside parts feel. Are they brittle or do they bend easily? Do they appear close together? Are the underside structures attached to the stem?
  • What color are the gills, or if the mushroom does not have gills, what color is in the area where the gills would be?
  • Does the mushroom have a bulb at its base? Does it have a ring around the stem?
  • Is the mushroom brightly colored or red?
  • How does the mushroom smell? Does it have a pleasant “mushroomy” odor, or does it smell acrid, like iodine, otherwise unpleasant? (In many cases, pleasant smelling mushrooms are more likely safe to eat. Still, every person’s sense of smell is different, and some people may consider iodine a pleasant smell and actually be nauseated by the odor of an edible mushroom).
  • Pay attention to how the mushroom’s flesh changes color when cut or bruised. If you have some lye available, you can expose some mushroom flesh to it. In some instances, the color change and what the color changes to may be the best test you can use to confirm which species of mushroom you are dealing with.
  • What color are the spore prints? While it can take several hours for the spores to drop onto paper, they will give you some very important information that will help you identify the mushroom you are dealing with.
  • As with potatoes and some other foods we take for granted as being edible, some mushrooms need to be cooked in order to be edible. When scavenging for edible mushrooms, list this information as well so that you know how to prepare the mushroom safely after harvesting it.

14920747 – collection of edible mushrooms on white background

How to Choose Fungus for Starting Fires

Humans have been using mushrooms for survival for thousands of years. Certain kinds of mushrooms were widely favored for medicine, food, and even starting fires.

Knowing the characteristics of polypore mushrooms can give you an enormous advantage if you need to start a fire, or carry a smoldering ember from one place to another. There are also other strains of mushrooms for the same purpose, but they may not be as effective.

Do you wonder how to recognize a polypore? This mushroom type usually grows on rotting wood. You’ll notice ridges of hard material growing out from tree trunks, as well as near areas where the tree trunk is covered with moss.

Polypores usually have hard, almost woody caps that may have a smooth or rough texture. They may also be brown, gray, or multi-colored.

Some polypores also look like “shelves” extending from the surface they are growing on. Depending on the species of mushroom, they can grow quickly, while others may take years to produce a good sized cap.

If you look underneath the cap of a polypore, you will more than likely find tubes or pores instead of gills.

Even though the polypores grow on tree trunks, there are others that grow on or near the roots of trees. In many cases, these mushrooms form a symbiotic relationship with the trees: they can help the tree communicate with other trees in the area by sending certain chemical signals.

Mushrooms can also cleanse the soil of contaminants, or change the pH to one that is more amenable to the the tree species in question. Polypores may also offer increased resistance to disease, insects, and other organisms that might otherwise cause damage to the roots of the trees.

As you learn more about these kinds of polypores, you may be surprised at how many uses humans have for them.

Basic Steps for Starting a Fire With Mushrooms

Overall, you will find that it isn’t especially hard to start a fire using polypore mushrooms. Here are the steps you will need to take:

Start off by locating some woody polypore mushrooms. Do not be concerned if they have a hard outer surface that cannot be broken or cracked easily.

Take a knife or other sharp object, and dig into the cap. You should reach a soft interior that feels something like felt. Pull off the hard outer shell of the cap until you have the felty inner surface to work with.

Next, you can shred the inner soft part of the cap, or cut it into thin slices. You may also want to crush the soft part to make something of a chunky powder. If you can, try to set aside some slightly thicker slices. Later on, once you have the fire going, you can use these bits to make charcoal, and also something similar to tinder cloth.

To start a fire using mushrooms, simply use your favorite sparking method and then use the mushrooms for tinder. Even though the mushroom will smolder quite a bit, surrounding dry tinder will ignite easily enough.

Other Ways to Use Fungus for Starting Fires

Today, many people interested in survival and off gridding make it a point to study as many different ways to start a fire as possible. Human history is also filled with a number of interesting, albeit strange methods and devices. In this case, lets have a look at how the Vikings used Polypores to start fires, and also carry the embers need to start a new fire from one location to another.

As with most other methods used to build fires with polypores, the Vikings also started off by separating the hard outer shell from the soft interior. Next, they cut this cut the softer part into thin slices, and then beat them until the became soft and pliable.

After using a method similar to what you would use to make tinder cloth, only with the mushroom bits, the Vikings went on to boil the mushroom bits in urine. Since urine has sodium nitrate in it, the resulting charred mushroom ignited more easily. It would also smolder for days on end, which made it safer and easier to carry from one location to another.

If you don’t go camping very often, or have not had to try and live in the woods for a prolonged period of time, it is easy enough to dismiss mushrooms as a source of survival food and fire.

On the other hand, mushrooms are some of the oldest and most resilient organisms on the planet. This, in turn means that many catastrophic disasters that will wipe out other organisms may not do much damage to mushrooms.

It might take some work and effort to learn how to classify mushrooms, it will be well worth it. They might save your life one day!

This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

Secrets of the Forest: The Best Outdoor Education Book I’ve Read

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by Todd Walker

Secrets of the Forest- The Best Outdoor Education Book I've Read - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I recently began working with at-risk youth in our county’s alternative school, Rise Academy. My “job” is to offer project-based learning opportunities to develop self-reliant skills in our students.

My curriculum guide is a blank slate. There are no state approved guides for Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance in academia. I must write my own. Out of necessity, I began to pull from my own experience and those of my mentors. Fortunately, one of my teachers, Mark Warren, director of Medicine Bow, recently published the first in a series of four books, Secrets of the Forest.

Secrets of the Forest, Volume 1, is broken into two parts:

  1. The Magic and Mystery of Plants, and…
  2. The Lore of Survival

I ordered and quickly devoured Volume 1. If you’ve ever wondered how to transfer lost knowledge and skills to our next generation, this book series is your guide. Mark is no newcomer in the world of primitive skills and nature study. He’s been passing on his knowledge to young and old for over a half century. I’ve had the pleasure of attending several of his classes in Dahlonega, Georgia. Mark is a walking encyclopedia of earth-lore and the skills required to call Nature home.

Secrets of the Forest- The Best Outdoor Education Book I've Read - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Mark showing an impromptu lesson on stringing a bow during a Winter Tree Identification class.

Part 1: The Magic and Mystery of Plants

Students at Medicine Bow are fully submerged in experiential, hands-on learning. Reading Mark’s book is no different. Over 200 original activities are included to engage one’s senses in the forest. Making your own Botany Booklet, written and illustrated by you, is worth the price of this first volume. It only consist of six sheets of folded paper (12 pages) but will set a student on a path of discovery in the amazing green world surrounding us.

Secrets of the Forest- The Best Outdoor Education Book I've Read - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Sassafras

“Plant study is the foundation upon which all survival skills are built.” ~ Mark Warren, p. 16

Mark is quick to point out that modern humans have lost the instincts of our paleo ancestors regarding plant usage. Therefore, we must approach our study of plants on an academic level. Eating the wrong plant, or wrong part of a plant, in the wrong season can be deadly. However, embracing the study of plants and trees for food, medicine, and craft is worth the time and effort.

I’ve read many online discussions of outdoorsy people expressing their desire to become more proficient in plant identification and use. Many have purchased botanical field guides specific to their locale. These guides are helpful for identification but rarely offer hidden secrets of a plant. In Chapter 6, 100 Plants ~ And Their Many Gifts, Mark offers insight into plants/trees of southern Appalachia which I’ve never read in other botanical books. Color photos of each plant await at the end of this chapter to aid in identification.

Chapter 10 is devoted entirely to Poison Ivy. Anyone spending time outdoors will appreciate the information on this rogue plant. From identification, protecting ourselves, treating the rash, and even making oneself immune, Mark covers it all.

Part 2: The Lore of Survival

“If you get lost out there, the world around you may seem your enemy, but it’s not. It’s just that you’ve forgotten what your ancestors knew a long time ago.”

~ Natalie Tudachi, Blue Panther Woman of the Anigilogi clan, Let Their Tears Drown Them (p. 167 – Secrets of the Forest)

Reading this volume will give you knowledge, but knowing is not enough – there must be urgency in doing the stuff. As with Part 1, many hands-on activities accompany The Lore of Survival section. Chapters include:

  • The First Step ~ getting started in survival skills
  • The Ties That Bind ~ cordage
  • Oh Give Me a Home ~ shelter building
  • Sticks and Stones ~ the multi-use rabbit stick
  • Water, Water Everywhere ~ water purification
  • Hors D’oeuvres of Protein ~ adventures with larvae
  • A Kitchen in the Forest ~ cooking in the wild
  • An Army of Silent Hunters ~ traps and snares
Secrets of the Forest- The Best Outdoor Education Book I've Read - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Describing the finer details in a tracking class at Medicine Bow.

Mark’s approach to wilderness survival centers around the primitive technology used by the Cherokee who called Southern Appalachia home. Our relationship with “the real world” (forest) becomes intimate as we integrate primitive survival skills. This may seem overwhelming, depending on the forest to provide your needs, so take one skill of interest and practice until proficiency is developed.

Of particular interest to me, since I’m allergic to yellow jacket stings to some degree, is the section on making yellow jacket soup. Larvae, not adults, are used to make a nutty flavored, protein-packed soup. Mark gives detailed descriptions on how to “safely” dig and harvest larva from a yellow jacket nest. My experience with the business end of these stinging insects has prevented me from attempting a heist. However, after reading his experience, it sounds doable even for me.

Secrets of the Forest- The Best Outdoor Education Book I've Read - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Hands-on learning in a creek studying animal tracks and sign.

I respect Mark Warren a great deal, not only for his passion to share this lost knowledge, but more so because he lives what he describes his book. He traded theory for action decades ago. When purchasing his book or attending his classes, you’ll quickly discover that Mark is the real deal with a depth of experience sorely lacking in the world of outdoor education.

If you teach wilderness living skills, scouts, school children, or just interested in expanding your own outdoor education, I highly recommend Secrets of the Forest! Order yours at his site: Medicine Bow.

While you’re there, check out his class schedule. I’ll be attending The Art of Archery class in September. Mark knows a thing or two about archery. He was the World Long Bow Champion in 1999.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

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11 Ways To Stay Warm When You Have No Shelter

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Have you noticed the skyrocketing rate of homelessness that keeps growing since Obamacare and other harmful systems drain jobs, money, and energy from the economy?

Once the final blow comes that spells the beginning of large scale social collapse, the ability to find a shelter will be as scarce as food and water supplies.

Many preppers think they will be able to get into the woods and build shelters, or find some other means to avoid living exclusively outdoors. It will be even worse: a sheer number of problems might lead to illness and disability that will prevent you from building or effectively managing an existing shelter.

You don’t believe you may wind up homeless and disabled so you still need to know how to stay warm when you have no shelter and can’t build much of a fire.

Wear Clothing in Layers

When you know it is going to be cold, you may be tempted to wear the heaviest garments you can find, thinking that weight and dense fabric equate to warmth. On the other hand, the best way to keep heat in close to your body is to have more air pockets that within the clothing itself.

Wearing clothes in layers gives you better air pockets than wearing just one thick garment.

When layering your garments, choose materials that wick moisture away from your body for the innermost layers.  This will enable moisture to be pulled away from your skin, which will reduce the amount of cooling caused by sweat and evaporation from your skin.

Materials in the outer layers should focus more on acting as wind breakers and moisture blocks. Plastics, vinyl, or other non-permeable materials will work well for the outermost layer.

Make sure the outermost layers are large enough to leave some air space between each garment. Remember, you are aiming to keep warm trapped near your body, not simply press a bunch of garments together in order to mimic thicker fabric.

Wear Black or Dark Colors

No matter what you are doing, black, or dark materials will absorb heat and radiation while white or shiny ones will deflect it. Typically, when it is cold, wearing dark colors will enable the fabrics to absorb heat from the sun or any other source of heat that reaches you.

Wear Extra Socks and Large Shoes

As with layering your garments, the best way to keep your feet warm is to wear layers of socks.

Once again, you will need to choose socks that wick better for the inner layers. This will reduce the risk of foot infections from excess moisture as well as help keep your feet warm and comfortable.

Until you’ve walked several miles on a daily basis, you may not realize that bigger shoes truly are more comfortable than ones that seem to “fit just right”. Always look for shoes that have a little extra room in the toes and around the widest part of your foot.

Larger shoes give you more room to layer socks, and they will also reduce problems associated with callouses and foot cramps. If you find that you have too much room around your ankles, just go ahead and wrap them in some fabric and put a brace behind your heels.

3 Second SEAL Test Will Tell You If You’ll Survive A SHTF Situation

Pay Attention to Your Extremities

No matter how warm you manage to keep the core of your body, your arms, legs, hands, feet, and head are going to feel cold a lot faster. These are also the parts of your body that will develop frost bite fastest, so keep them as warm as possible.

To keep temperatures more, slip something thin and flexible into your gloves and shoes that will retain heat. This may be as simple as tin foil or anything else that warms up quickly and can be reused with little effort.

You can also use layers of fabric, plastic, or vinyl to keep heat in as much as possible. Just remember, though for hands and feet, you may need to loosen the plastic from time to time in order to let moisture escape.

Keep Your Head Well Covered

Fur and hair are both excellent insulators, but on the other hand, as an extremity, your head is also an area of your body where you will lose a lot of heat.

Here are some inexpensive things you can do to prevent heat from escaping from your head and neck area in cold weather:

  • Wear a hat with a face mask that you can tuck into the neck area of your innermost garments, to keep the heat close to your body and also help redistribute it if needed. You can easily knit or crochet a hat like this and make it custom fit for your needs.
  • The outermost shell of your garments should have a hood that can be used as a wind breaker and water barrier.
  • Make sure you can cover your nose and mouth to keep them as warm as possible. A black towel or anything else that will keep the cold out can be used for this purpose. You’ll need to leave some openings for ventilation, but you can still reduce heat loss by arranging the garment folds to keep most of the heat near your face.

Use Plastic as an Insulator

Anything from plastic grocery bags to trash bags, and even plastic table cloths can all be used as insulators.  When using plastic as an insulator against the cold remember to:

  • Choose plastics that are as durable as possible. Even though smaller sized trash bags may be cheaper, the larger construction strength bags are almost as heavy as black plastic commonly used for killing weeds. Heavier plastic will last longer and develop fewer weak points created as you move around.
  • Use black or other dark colored plastic as it will help retain heat from the sun or any other external source that you can find.
  • Make sure that you can vent moisture easily from the plastic on a routine basis without losing heat.  For example, if you have a flat sheet of plastic, arrange the layers so you can loosen different areas easily and let the moisture out from them without losing heat in other areas.
  • Avoid using tape or anything else that will pull on the plastic or create holes when you have to loosen the plastic. If you do need to secure the plastic, use light weight rope or even yarn to  form a seal between the plastic and your inner garments.
  • Avoid using plastic right next to your body because water evaporation from your skin can spell disaster and lead to both skin infections and increased risk of frost bite.

Control Moisture

Even though wearing layers of garments can help with moisture control, you should also know what parts of your body are going to sweat the most and cause problems.

For example, if you sweat a lot between your shoulder blades or tend to have sweaty feet, you must always pay extra attention to these areas. Among other things, you can try using an extra towel in these areas, and then change it out every few hours for a dry one.

Avoid using chemical antiperspirants as they can easily irritate your skin even more.  They also may not be easily replaced, which will leave you with another problem on your hands. If you are dealing with a social collapse or a scenario where you cannot buy something to replace what was used, chemicals like this will be a waste of time.

Hot Water Bottles or Other Devices

When it comes to retaining heat, few materials absorb it or hold it as well as water.  Therefore, hot water bottles offer a good way to retain heat near your body and also store any heat you can get from an external source.

A hot water bottle can serve to keep you warm and also meet other needs. In particular, today, you can buy a batch of collapsible, clear plastic, flexible water bottles that can be used to store water and also purify it. All you have to do is leave the bottles in the sun and let them heat up.

If the weather is especially cold, use a cardboard solar oven to increase heat capture.  Once they are warm enough, simply insert them into different layers of clothes. Since you can buy different sized bottles, it is possible to find ones that will suit your needs.

Balloons will also work in a pinch, however you may not be able to get more than one or two uses from them.  They also cannot be used for killing off bacteria in water because UV rays from the sun may not be able to get through the material as easily as they can through clear plastic.

Eat High Calorie or Fatty Foods

If you have ever been on an extended hike, or had to do a lot of physical work in one day, you also increased your caloric intake to meet those needs. Your body uses a tremendous amount of energy when you are out in cold temperatures. Choose foods that your body can turn into energy very quickly, as well ones that will help you stay warm.

This includes fatty foods as well as ones that are fried. If you are looking for the perfect excuse to eat some bacon, fried chicken, or anything else that is usually off the menu because of caloric concerns, being out in the cold with no shelter is a good excuse!

Insofar as food stores, you can also store away foods high in carbohydrates and consume them at regular intervals.

Along with high calorie foods, drink plenty of water. Even if you are feeling cold or chilly, your body is still doing a lot of work to try and maintain a safe temperature, which means you will be using a lot of water, and also sweating more than you might expect.

Keeping hydrated will prevent you from getting sick and also help you stay warmer as your body will be able to carry out necessary tasks as efficiently as possible.

Travel During Night Hours

As simple as it may sound, traveling during night hours is a simple, cost effective way to stay warm.  Since temperatures are warmer during the day hours, you can use this time to sleep or rest, as the sun and other resources will give you some extra heat.

This is also a good time to stay stationary and heat up water bottles or harness other heat sources that you happen to have come across in your travels.

Chances are you already know that your body temperature drops when you are sleeping.  If you are already out in the cold, this can spell disaster. On the other hand, when you are awake and moving around, your body produces more heat. Therefore, when you travel at night, you are producing more heat at time when less is available from the sun.

Build a Portable Solar Heater and Solar Cooker

No matter how cold it may be, the sun will still rise and provide heat for a few hours each day.  Here are two things you can adapt for your needs even if you do not have shelter:

  • You can make a solar heater from tin cans and a few scraps of wood and glass. Simply substitute the wood and glass for lighter weight metal and clear plastic, and you will have a portable solar heater. Count on using about 15 – 20 empty cans. You can pipe warm water or warm air in as close to your body as possible. You can use flexible plastic airline tubing (½ inch will work) in the layers of your clothes to transport both water and air, and a battery operated pump for more efficient circulation. If you are in one location during the day, this can truly be one of the most important pieces of equipment you have on hand.
  • A cardboard box solar cooker.  You can use this device to heat up everything from your dinner and water bottles to bricks and rocks that can be used to retain heat.

When you cannot start a fire and have no shelter, it can be very dangerous for you to be out in the cold weather. While you may not want to think about being homeless or what will drive you to this situation, it is still very important to know how to stay warm without shelter and a fire.

You can devote some of your survival budget to a set of garments and gear that can be used to keep you as warm and comfortable as possible even when the temperatures are freezing and you have nothing else to work with.

You’ll always find a way to survive if you have the will to practice your skills and prepare for survival!

This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia

Prep Blog Review: Let’s Go Wild And Test Our Skills

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Did you take any advantage of the summer days and tested your wilderness survival skills? Hunting, hiking, reading nature’s signs, building shelters and learning how to start a fire – they are all perfect to prepare you and sharpen your survival skills and senses.

These guys did the same, and came back from the wild to share their stories.

We checked their survival blogs or websites and found some interesting stuff you might like. Keep reading to see what’s all about!

Safety in the Wild: The Ultimate Survival Shelter Guide

Shelter isn’t just a matter of comfort, exposure can be just as dangerous as dehydration if you’re lost away from civilization. In extreme climates, your life expectancy can become hours to minutes, even if things were going fine before a sudden turn in the weather.

Of course, there’s less serious reasons to learn to build a decent shelter as well. Even if you’re just on a day hike it might be convenient to hunker down for a couple of hours if a storm blows in, or if you’re hunting in the desert you might just need some shade to rest for a while.”

Read more on Deer Hunting Field.

Finding your way home; will you make it?

“Hello my friend and welcome back!  Many people have to travel out-of-town for work, and with modern-day electronic gadgets, it’s pretty easy.

But what if those gadgets suddenly didn’t work, would you know how to get home in a SHTF situation?  This is the subject of today’s post, so grab a cup of coffee and have a seat while we visit.”

Read more on American Preppers Online.

How to Stay Sane When You’re All Alone in a Survival Situation

“When most people imagine various survival scenarios that they could find themselves in, many of those scenarios include isolation.

That’s not surprising, considering that many of the survival stories we hear about in the media, involve people who escaped the hazards of the wilderness all by themselves. Those stories are often the most harrowing and interesting.

Read more on Ready Nutrition.

A Tenderfoot’s Guide to Chopping Firewood at Camp

“Not much has more appeal to a young camper than having the opportunity to use an ax. The lure is irresistible. Yet, ax lore is rarely passed down to our younger generation.

The following is a common sense guide which will help a tenderfoot, young or old, learn to safely use an ax for the most basic camp chore – chopping firewood.

Keep in mind that “safe” is a relative term. There are risks inherit when an ax is moving, or, even when idle.”

Read more on The Survival Sherpa.

About the Bugging Out to the Forest Scenario…

How many times have you heard someone say, “When the SHTF I am just going to bugout to the woods,” and think that such a “plan” is a simple and feasible idea? I have shaken my head in disbelief copious amounts of time when hearing a “kinda” prepper, utter such a phrase.”.

Read more on Survival Sullivan.

This article has been written by John Gilmore for Survivopedia.

10 Survival Tips for Camping in the Rain

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WOW! We have had some great posts lately and Shawn Michaels’ is no exception. Check out his article on Survival Tips for Camping in the Rain. 10 Survival Tips for Camping in the Rain Camping Read More …

The post 10 Survival Tips for Camping in the Rain appeared first on Use Your Instincts To Survive.

This Is How To Stay Clean In The Wilderness

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Do you know that saying, “cleanliness is next to godliness?” Well, it may be true, but how about staying clean in the wild? That’s a pretty interesting concept, especially for modern-day potential survivalists who never get their hands dirty in any real sense of the word.

Today’s article is about funk removal or camp sanitation practices or whatever you want to call it.

It’s all about health and less about the aesthetics of the wilderness. The name of the game is about keeping away viruses, bacteria and other nasties (like foul odors which may attract wild beasts), as efficiently and as humanly possible in a given situation.

Let’s take cats for example: those lovely critters who keep themselves squeaky clean by licking only. Other wild animals also have their own methods of staying clean in the absence of modern-day utilities or running water that’s right there at the flick of a wrist.

Deer, bears, and wolves have automated cleaning systems at their disposal, i.e. they shed skin and fur regularly via a natural process, thus eliminating insects that feed on their blood and skin.

Also, wild animals like to rub up against rocks or trees to scratch themselves, thus removing extra fur and skin and eliminating the dirt and the parasites. And it’s worth mentioning that wild animals take an occasional bath when they cross a lake or a river, too.

Now, think about medieval Europe, especially King Louis 4th of France’s court, when people only bathed maybe once a year. Instead, they used something along the lines of dry cleaning; i.e. they wiped themselves with pieces of cloth impregnated in perfume, vinegar, and mixtures that eliminated of covered odor, plus they changed their clothes relatively often.

When you think of that, our modern-day obsession for cleanliness and sterile food and clothes may seem like an obsessive/compulsive disorder.

However, staying clean as a whistle at all times comes with its own advantages, like vibrant health and a general sense of well-being. So, how can one reconcile the problem of going camping or being stranded in the wild with the need for cleanliness, as the two are basically opposite situations?

The very act of going on an outdoors adventure means you’re getting yourself out of our concrete-made world. You’re going off-grid for real, to dance with the wolves and howl at the moon.

3 Second SEAL Test Will Tell You IF You Would Survive a SHTF Situation

You’re subjecting yourself to the elements with no running water, nor a sanitary way to wash yourself. No plumbing, no toilet to speak of, and reliant on DIY cooking, sleeping and eating on the ground, and so forth and so on.

Even though a rustic camp-out is a must-master experience for any respectable prepper, staying clean throughout the entire endeavor will keep you occupied, provided you care about your physical/mental health and peace of mind.

Everything revolves around quality of life, whether you’re living in a modern city, surrounded by all the gadgets and amenities our 21st century lifestyle affords us, or living somewhere off the grid, with a tin foil hat on your head while reading subversive literature somewhere in a log-cabin in the woods.

I’m only kidding, of course, but in both situations, cleanliness is essential for preventing disease and infections. In a survival situation, things are even worse for folks with poor hygiene, as poor hygiene will reduce the chances of survival.

Now, some of my regular readers, if I have even one, may argue that it’s only natural to smell like a bucket of rotten eggs left out in the sun in 120-degree weather for two days, because after all, when in the woods, you do what the bear does, i.e. you stink; that’s the way it is.

The Sponge Bath

Well, the answer to that is: why don’t you take a sponge bath?

This is one of the main actions you can take in order to stay clean in an outdoors (survival) scenario. Yes, I wasn’t kidding; it’s very important to take a bath (well, sort of) each day, even when out in the wild. Remember my Louis 4th reference in the preamble of the article?

The thing is, you can use a camp towel and some water to wash your pits, your feet and groin properly. These are the main areas that will begin to stink up the place on an outdoors trip, and are also areas that are particularly susceptible to many harmful microbes, or even heat rash, jungle rot, or fungal infection.

Boil you water beforehand to kill all germs, if you’re obsessed with that kind of stuff, or depending on the nature of your water supply.

If you don’t have a towel, which would be weird, you can use a bandanna or something similar as an improvised sponge.

Whenever possible, don’t forget to dip your feet in running water.

If you’ll be able to do that at least twice a day for 5 minutes, then let them dry before you put your shoes back on and move on it will work wonders for mitigating potential blisters and eliminating bacteria and fungus.

This Is How To Survive When All Hell Breaks Lose

And while you’re at it, if you camp near a source of water, which is nearly always the ideal case with well-trained outdoors survivalists, wash your socks and let them to dry near the fire overnight on a daily basis.

The Air Bath

If water is scarce, you can take an “air” bath by removing all your clothes and exposing your naked body to the sun (read germ-killing UV light) and air for at least sixty minutes.

If you don’t have soap, you can use sand or ashes instead, for cleaning yourself thoroughly, provided you have a good water source nearby. Don’t do this if you don’t have a way to rinse thoroughly because the grit will cause irritation and sores that can lead to infection, or at least discomfort.

And don’t worry; you can always improvise soap from wood ashes and animal fat, provided you have the means.

To make “natural” soap, you’ll require some animal fat cut into small pieces then cooked in a pot for extracting the grease. You’ll have to add enough water to the pot to prevent the fat from sticking.

Remember to stir the mix frequently and cook the fat slowly until the fat is rendered. Then, the resulting grease must be poured in a separate container to harden.

The wood ashes (preferably from hardwood if you want your soap to harden) will be put in another container that has a spout near the bottom. Then, as you pour water over the ashes, you’ll collect the liquid dripping from the spout in another container.

That stuff is called lye or potash. Another method for collecting the lye is to pour the combo of ash and water through a filter made from a piece of cloth.

Both of these methods take a bit longer than if you just boil the ash in a bit of soft water – rainwater is best – for 30 minutes or so. Let the ash settle then skim the lye off the top and follow the directions below. Be careful because lye is caustic.

In the next step, mix 2 parts grease with 1 part lye and place the combo over a fire. Allow it to boil slowly until it thickens. After the (now liquid soap) cools, you pour it into a pan and allow it to harden, then cut it into soap bars and there you have it, DIY soap for emergencies.

You can now use a cloth and soapy water to wash your armpits, feet, and crotch daily now, not to mention being capable of washing your hands after going to the “bathroom” in the woods or before cooking food and all that.

Don’t Forget the Teeth!

Keeping your mouth clean is also very important. If you don’t have a toothbrush, you can DIY a chewing stick from a 4-inch-long/1-inch-wide twig. You’ll have to chew up at one end of the twig until you separate the fibers then brush your teeth with the resulting gizmo resembling a toothbrush.

Another method is to use a clean strip of cloth wrapped around your fingers for rubbing your teeth, thus wiping away food particles.

Willow bark tea makes for an excellent mouth wash, together with salt water. You can floss your teeth using fibers or a piece of string.

The campsite must also be kept clean at all times, i.e. do not soil the camp site area with feces or urine. Try to dig cat holes several yards away from the camp and cover the waste for best results.

We’re used to take everything for granted in our modern world, but only some of us would be able to face a major shift in our society. Interacting with nature and using its resources will provide you the means of survival.

Would you make it? Click the banner below for more!

 

I hope the article helped. If you have other ideas or comments, feel free to use the dedicated section below.

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

A Tenderfoot’s Guide to Chopping Firewood at Camp

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by Todd WalkerA Tenderfoot's Guide to Chopping Firewood at Camp ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

 

“Next to the rifle, a backwoodsman’s main reliance is on his axe. With these two instruments, and little else, our pioneers attacked the forest wilderness that once covered all eastern America, and won it for civilization.”

~ Horace Kephart, from Camping and Woodcraft, 1917

Not much has more appeal to a young camper than having the opportunity to use an ax. The lure is irresistible. Yet, ax lore is rarely passed down to our younger generation.

The following is a common sense guide which will help a tenderfoot, young or old, learn to safely use an ax for the most basic camp chore – chopping firewood. Keep in mind that “safe” is a relative term. There are risks inherit when an ax is moving, or, even when idle.

Our aim here is to manage the risk, not eliminate it. Not teaching children to cope with the risks and dangers of handling edged tools will never prepare them for real-world self-reliance.

Ax Selection

As I mentioned in our beginner’s guide on knife craft, only you, the parent or guardian, will know when your child is responsible enough to use edged tools. My oldest grandson was seven when I began teaching him how to handle a hatchet.

I recommend a general purpose ax for the beginner. The handle length and weight should fit the user. My favorite felling ax is a double bit. This is NOT the ax for a tenderfoot of any age. A poll ax has only one cutting edge and is recommended for first-timers.

Read our Ax Selection article for more details on choosing your first ax.

A woodsman should carry a hatchet, and he should be as critical in selecting it as in buying a gun.

~ Horace Kephart, from Camping and Woodcraft, 1917

Kephart’s advice is sound on carrying a hatchet. And to the tenderfoot, using a short camp hatchet may seem to be the wise choice. However, shorter handled axes are more dangerous to use than longer axes.

Here’s why…

If I miss my target when swinging my 16 inch hatch, the follow-through, when standing, is likely to strike where I do not wish to strike – my body. A full-size ax, 30 to 36 inches long, would likely strike the ground before reaching a foot or knee. For a young boy or girl, swinging a longer ax which weighs 3 to 4 pounds is ridiculous to even think. In the end, the size of the ax must fit the user.

A more suitable choice might be a 3/4 ax, or “Boy’s Ax.” They tend to be armpit to fingertip length with a head weight in the 2 pound range. If camping on foot, this ax trims a few pounds off your pack. Felling trees, splitting firewood, making kindling, and pounding tent stakes can all be done very well with a sharp boy’s ax.

“Safe” Chopping Techniques

There are two basic ways to safely swing an ax: Lateral and vertical chopping. Before you even lay a hand on your ax, be sure no obstructions, people, or pets are in your chopping zone (a circular area two handle lengths around you). Even a small vine or twig can cause your ax to deflect away from your intended target.

Lateral Swings

Lateral swings (diagonal and horizontal) are used mostly to chop down trees. Any stroke outside your frontal zone is considered a lateral swing. What’s your frontal zone?

Adapted from The Ax Book

For more in-depth coverage of lateral swings, read our article link here. I DO NOT recommend that a tenderfoot attempt tree felling until he/she becomes proficient with vertical swings while chopping firewood.

Vertical Swings

Splitting logs into smaller firewood happens to be the most used vertical swing by the average camper. There are three categories for this powerful stroke. For the tenderfoot, we will only concentrate on #1.

  1. Backed-up
  2. Non-backed (dangerous even to experienced woodsmen)
  3. Bucking, or chopping below the level of your feet (not a beginner skill)

The backed-up stroke is the safest of the three for a tenderfoot (or experienced woodsman). Backed-up strokes are performed on piece of robust wood (chopping block or log) wide enough to stop the ax swing momentum. The earth can serve as a back-up but you never want to ground a sharp ax in the dirt.

A Tenderfoot's Guide to Chopping Firewood at Camp ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Notice the position of the wood on the chopping block – to the far side.

Practice your vertical swing by standing a small log (about 6″ in diameter and 12″ long) on top of a wide chopping block. Position the log near the back of the chopping block, not the center or near edge of the block. This allows more room for the ax to strike the chopping block as it separates the round log – or misses completely.

Note: For younger children using a short ax or hatchet, this exercise should be modified. Here’s how I taught my grandson to chop kindling. Adult supervision required!

If you’re grown and strong enough to handle a full or 3/4 ax, stand facing the chopping block. Grip the ax handle with one hand at the base of the handle with the other on top of the bottom hand. Touch the target with the ax in outstretched arms. Raise the ax overhead and strike the top of the log. As you strike the target, bend your knees so that the ax follows through parallel to the ground. This adds another layer of protection to prevent the ax from striking your body on a miss hit or glancing blow.

Increase Ax Accuracy

Accuracy is more important than power. Here are a few tips to help your accuracy…

  • Focus your eyes on the exact spot your want to strike. Aim small, hit small.
  • On the down stroke, the ax handle should follow an imaginary line drawn with your nose if it were a long sharpie marker… right through the small, focused target.
  • Relaxing your grip on the ax to keep your upper body (arms and shoulders) loose. Your brain will automatically tighten your grip for impact.
  • Let the ax do the work. You can add power to strokes as your accuracy increases.

A fun way to practice accuracy is to stand a kitchen match or toothpick vertically in a chopping block. Using a safe stance and full swing, try to split the match/toothpick. You may never strike it but this gives automatic feedback on how close you come to your tiny target. If you actually light a kitchen match on a swing, well, you’re an elite axman!

Improvised Back-Ups

What if there is no “proper” chopping block available at your campsite? Here are two alternative methods I’ve used over the years.

A Tenderfoot's Guide to Chopping Firewood at Camp ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

This is a Y-branch from a Red Oak I’ve used for years at fixed camp.

With a little effort you may happen upon a large Y-shaped branch. Place a round piece in the “Y” on the ground. Straddle the bottom of the Y. Strike the round cradled at the top of the Y. Keep in mind that the Y is not as high off the ground as your previous chopping block. Therefore, bend your knees even more to keep the downward ax swing parallel to the ground. Once a round is split, place the halved log back in the Y with the round side up. It’s much easier to split from the round side than the flat.

You may only find a straight log or split wood to use as a back-up. Lay the round to be split perpendicular over the back-up log. Stand with the back-up between your feet and the round. In other words, the round touching the ground should NOT be on the same side of the back-up log as your feet. That setup is inviting injury.

Splitting Without Swinging

To half and quarter smaller logs safely, keep this technique in mind. This works well with smaller axes and camp hatchets. With the ax in your strong hand and the round in the other hand, place the ax bit on the opposite end of the round. Lift the ax and round together and tap them on a chopping block to start the ax bit in the wood. The handle should run parallel down the length of the round now. Now you can lift them both and slam them down on the chopping block. Repeat until the round separates.

A Tenderfoot's Guide to Chopping Firewood at Camp ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Always kneel to the ground when using a short ax/hatchet.

If the wood doesn’t separate, slam the pieces again so that the ax bit sinks into the chopping block. Now give the wood a sideways twist with your off-hand and it usually separates.

A Tenderfoot's Guide to Chopping Firewood at Camp ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The ax bit serves as fulcrum as you twist with your off-hand to separate the wood.

To cut smaller stuff (wrist-size and smaller) to firewood length, chop at a 45 degree angle to the grain… on a back-up, of course. The end that separates can go flying so be careful.

top-tools-for-mechanical-advantage-bushcraft

This forked tree stacked the firewood as it broke.

You may not even need to chop long, wrist-size firewood. If you have two trees close together, place the round between them and use leverage to break the round into pieces. Or, just burn them in half over the fire.

Safety Reminders

As I mentioned previously, an ax can cause injury while in use or when idle. Practice the following to decrease the risk to you and others.

  • Keep your ax sheathed when not in use. When in use, sink the single bit into a heavy chopping block instead of laying it on the ground unsheathed.
  • Keep your swing zone clear.
  • Axes are daylight tools. Never chop in dark conditions.
  • Only use a sharp ax. Dull axes will not bite into wood and glance off.
  • Only chop firewood that is backed-up properly.
  • Always check that the axhead is securely fixed to the handle. If it becomes loose, stop chopping.
  • If you become fatigued, stop and rest.
  • An ax is a tool, not a toy!

Additional Resources

As you become proficient chopping firewood, expand your ax skills. Check out the resources in our Axe Cordwood Challenge Page with links to our ax videos/blogs and other skilled axmen I respect.

This is the third post in our First-Timer’s series aimed at getting people outside. Here are the previous articles:

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

What Bushcraft Can Teach You about Surviving Emergencies

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What Bushcraft Can Teach You about Surviving Emergencies Pine needle tea, cooking potatoes in aluminum foil over hot coals, using the bow drill method… all of these sound exciting for those looking to get into bushcraft. But little do they know that these types of experiences can teach them some very important lessons about surviving … Continue reading What Bushcraft Can Teach You about Surviving Emergencies

The post What Bushcraft Can Teach You about Surviving Emergencies appeared first on Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

3 Ways To Make A Torch In The Wild

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A simple hike can suddenly turn into a Bear Grylls episode, a struggle for survival, if you’re unlucky enough to find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Basically, in a matter of hours, you may very well find yourself stranded in the wild with no help in sight, completely on your own.

And I am talking here about a sudden change of weather conditions, or you may simply lose your way, which may lead to numerous days of no one (including you) being aware of your whereabouts.

When it comes to wilderness survival, fire is one of the essential things to take care of, as it provides a number of benefits, including warmth, which helps with avoiding hypothermia. It also allows you to cook your food, boil water (read sterilize), signal for help or keep wild animals away.

Today’s article will teach you how to make a torch in the wild.

The first lesson to be learned is to never go into an adventure unprepared! The thing is, if you’re planning an outdoors trip or a hike or whatever, always take survival gear with you, the essentials so to speak, which must include a compass, a map, a flashlight, a knife, a first aid kit, proper clothes, emergency food, waterproof matches/a fire starter kit, and always expect the unexpected.

3 Second SEAL Test Will Tell You If You’ll Survive A SHTF Situation

Speaking of torches and fire, one of the most underrated benefits of fire is the light it yields. And here’s where torches come into play.

Torches were used by humankind for thousands of years to illuminate the darkness of night, long before we discovered kerosene lanterns or electricity. When SHTF, DIY oil lamps and candles may be the preferred method of lighting for indoors use, but torches are the way to go in a wilderness survival scenario.

DIY-ing a torch using readily available materials is the perfect way to bring light wherever required; hence it’s an essential skill to master if you’re in the survival business.

To begin with, many folks have their minds warped by Hollywood movies that always make everything look incredibly easy, including making a torch in an emergency. If you think about a scene with someone, let’s say Rambo when he’s stuck inside a tunnel or a cave in Afghanistan, you’ll remember how our hero just grabs a femoral bone from some expired explorer, then wraps it up in rags and lights the gizmo on fire. And obviously, the fire lasts for hours and lights up the place like Frodo’s magic light of Earandil (if you know your LOTR). As you may imagine where this is going, reality is not as simple as Hollywood portrays it to be.

How To Make A Primitive Torch

In medieval times, torches were improvised from sticks of wood (or branches), preferably wet/green wood for preventing the fire from burning up one’s little digits. River cane, cattails, reeds and bark can also be used. However, certain types of torches must be bound using twine or similar stuff for keeping them sturdy. Obviously, certain varieties of bark, wood, etc. burn better than others, but in a survival situation, one can’t always be picky.

The most straightforward torch design is composed of a stick featuring a bundle of rags bound to one end, then soaked in tree sap, pitch, oil, or animal fat. In case you don’t have rags or clothes to spare, you can wrap bark around the stick’s end and stuff it with dry grass, moss, small bits of wood or leaves.

You’ll still need to soak some flammable material on the end (animal fat, pitch) to prevent your improvised torch from burning too fast or blowing out when you least expect it.

To get more specific, the most primitive torch that will last you for a while can be improvised from a freshly picked cattail. If you can get your hands on some grease or animal fat, not to mention lamp oil, this incredibly simple survival torch may last you for hours and hours. Here’s a little video.

Video first seen on bushcraftbartons

How To Make A Minimalistic Torch

Provided you can’t get any cattail, you will have to use the good old method of using a frayed branch along with some method for improvising your torch. As I already told you, the idea is to add a slow-burning fuel at the end of the branch, so the torch will burn for a longer period of time.

Rather than simply lighting the end of a branch (which is the most basic type of torch, because it really works, for a while at least), the idea is to create a proper torch that wicks and burns very much like a candle.

It would be ideal to carry some fire accelerants in your EDC survival kit, the likes of paraffin or cooking oil; these are excellent additives for a survival torch. If you don’t have them at your disposal, you’ll have to settle for animal fat (bacon grease if you’ve packed food, for instance) or tree sap.

A minimalistic torch can be improvised from a branch or green stick at least 2 feet long and 2 inches thick, cloth/birch bark, and some type of flame accelerant (animal/vegetable fat, paraffin, kerosene, etc.).

The torch will require a wick of sorts, which can be DIY-ed from strips of cloth. You must tear the respective fabric from a shirt or something similar. Alternatively, you can go for soft barks such as birch; i.e. find a tree and peel off a strip that’s about 2 feet long and 6 inches wide.

In the latter scenario, you’ll also require rope, twine, string or similar stuff to tie it securely into place.

Video first seen on Survival Elements

The wick must be attached firmly to the torch then soaked thoroughly with the flame accelerant before you light it up. A birch wick already contains natural resins that will burn for a long period of time, so you don’t have to soak it.

In the case of fabric/cotton wicks, make sure you saturate the fabric thoroughly with the stuff, whether it’s oil, gasoline, wax, animal fat, or whatever. If it’s dry, the wick will burn rapidly and fall away. Remember, it’s a wick, not firewood; your goal is to burn the oil, not the bark.

How To Make A Tree Resin Torch

One of the most effective torches to be used in the wild is the pine pitch variety. Even if you don’t have access to fuels, pine pitch, also known as pine sap, is an outstanding fuel and also readily available. All you have to do is to find a pine tree then to cut off a branch.

Afterwards, you’ll have to split one end of the stick 4-5 times then jam a handful of thin pine shaving into the gaps of the split end. Upon lighting it, the fire will wick the sap from the branch and it will burn for at least an hour.

Video first seen on OutsideFun1

If you’re lucky enough to have some toilet paper with you, you can DIY a nice  torch with this humble material. You’ll require 1 greenwood stick and about 50 ft of TP of any kind, together with flammable materials, such as cooking oil/animal fat (a cup).

The trick is to wrap the toilet paper around the end of the stick while spinning it, so it will end up looking like rope. The loose ends of the paper must be tucked into the torch head, so it resembles a huge Q-tip. In the next step, you’ll have to stick the wick into the oil and let it soak properly for 2 minutes or so. That’s about all there is to it; now you’ll just have to light it up. This one will last you for up to thirty minutes.

Now that you know how to make a torch, take a moment and think: are you ready to use this knowledge to survive?

I hope the article helped. If you have questions or comments, feel free to use the dedicated section below.

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

A Beginner’s Guide to Knife Craft for Kids

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by Todd Walker

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I’ll never forget my first one. It had two blades, one long, one short, which folded into the wood grain handle with a snapping sound only good pocket knives make. I had crossed over, in my mind, from boy to man with my knife in the bottom of my jeans pocket. I had finally become a part of a long line of Southern knife toters.

No man in my family would ever be caught without a sharp pocketknife while wearing pants. The tool was used for everything from peeling a fresh Georgia peach, gutting a blue gill, cutting bailing twine, sharpening a carpenter’s pencil, and for the inevitable splinter removal while chopping firewood. But, by far, the most relaxing task was whittling on a stick as the aroma of wood smoke soaked into our clothes and canvas tent.

Without a knife, a man from my parts was close to useless.

For this tutorial on beginner knife use, we’ll cut through all the fluff and get back to the basics of selecting and using a knife safely.

Knife Selection

As the parent, only you will know when your child is responsible enough to use a knife. When that time comes, allow him/her to hold and use several knives to test the fit in smaller hands. My first knife was the pocket knife described above. For camping and other outdoor activities, we’ll focus our attention on sheath knives (non-folding).

However, if you decide to go with a jack knife (pocket knife), which is hard to beat for simple whittling, steer away from multitool types. They’re too fat, bulky, and uncomfortable for longterm use. Buy a folder with three or less blades. The handle should have smooth edges to prevent hot spots which lead to blisters. When gripped, your child should have enough room to rest his thumb on the knife handle and not the open blade.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Two blade, three blade, and a multi-blade knife.

No need to spend a lot of money on a kid’s first sheath knife. I bought my grandson his first fixed-blade knife, a Mora Companion, for under $15.00. This four-inch blade has a non-slip handle which fits his hand. There is also a slight knob on the forward handle near the blade for added protection against slipping a hand down the blade. The carbon steel is easy to sharpen and maintain. The scandi grind really bites into wood to produce fine, controlled shavings when whittling.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

L to R: Mora Companion, Mora Classic, and a smaller Classic. Below is Fixin’ Wax and steel wool.

The spine of the sheath knife (opposite of the cutting edge) isn’t given much thought to new campers. It’s not the business end of your blade, right? Not true. A 90 degree spin comes in handy for many camp tasks such as creating fat lighter shavings, sparking ferro rods, and smoothing wood surfaces. If your knife spine is rounded, take a bastard file to the edge and create right angles on the spin. Our video below demonstrates the usefulness of a sharp spin in fire craft…

A fixed blade sheath should hold your child’s knife firmly in place. If you turn the sheath upside down, the knife should stay put.

Knife Safety

Our gun community does an excellent job of teaching gun safety to children. The same should be taught concerning knives. A knife is a tool, not a toy. A sharp knife holds potential for serious injury, even death. There are inherit dangers with edged tools. With proper training, supervision, and experience (and a few band aids), your child will soon build confidence in his new skills.

Here’s a few safety guidelines to remember:

  • To remove a knife from a belt sheath like the Mora Companion, grip the handle and place your thumb on sheath tab. With gentle downward pressure from the thumb, the knife will release. Do not forcefully pull the knife as you will lose control of the blade. Return the knife in the same manner, in a controlled manner, until the blade snaps back into the sheath. In the beginning stage of practice, you may want to add a strip of painters tape to the cutting edge until you demonstrate proficiency in the process.
A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Grip handle and press the thumb tab to safely remove blade.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

  • Only use a knife when your Blood Circle is clear of others and obstacles. To define the Blood Circle, stand with arms outstretched. Turn full circle to make sure no other person is within this space.
  • Never whittle with a knife within your Blood Triangle. It may seem natural to whittle between your legs while in the seated position with knees spread. Cutting within this danger zone, a triangle formed between your knees and crotch, is inviting disaster. One slip and the blade could plunge into the femoral artery.
  • For basic whittling, always cut away from your body. There are times when cutting towards the body is acceptable, but these strokes are for more advanced users.
  • With a knife in hand, it is your responsibility to make sure no person is within your Blood Circle. If someone enters, stop whittling and sheath your knife.
  • Keep your knife sharp (We’ll cover sharpening in a later article). It may sound contrary, but a dull knife poses more danger than a sharp one. It takes more applied force to make a dull knife cut wood or potatoes. A keen edge slices with more control.
  • Never attempt to catch a falling knife.
  • Keep your knife sheathed when not in use. Do not walk, much less run, around with an unsheathed knife.
  • To pass your knife to someone, hold the spin between your curled index finger and thumb with the handle towards the person. When the fellow grips the handle, don’t release the blade until he says “thank you.” This lets you know he has a firm grip on the handle.
A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

“Thank you”

Knife Care

Carbon steel blades are sharpened more easily than stainless steel. However, high carbon will rust if neglected. Always wipe excess moisture from the blade after each use. Lubricate your blade with a food safe oil before stowing your knife for your next adventure.

If a rust spot appears, hit the area with 0000 steel wool and apply oil. My go-to lubricant is my DiY Fixin’ Wax. This stuff has many uses for camping and woodcraft.

Whittling Skills

Once you’ve learned and demonstrated the above safety tips, it’s time to do some whittling. You’ll need a softwood stick with no knots. Pine, tulip poplar, and basswood are all good choices. If green, pine will coat your blade and hands with resin. Fixin’ Wax will remove the sap from both. Dowels from hardware stores will work as well. Find a stick about an inch in diameter and about a foot or two long. A longer stick can be tucked between your elbow and side for extra stability while whittling.

Overhand Grip

The overhand grip will be your most used method in basic whittling. Place the spine side of the handle in the palm of your strong hand. The spine/back of the handle should lay in the “V” between your thumb and index finger. Don’t put a death grip on the handle until your knuckles turn white. Relax your hand. Your brain will tell your hand when to grip the handle tight in use. With your arm and fist extended in front of you, the cutting edge will face away from your body.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Back of handle fits into the V between your thumb and index finger. It’s like you’re shaking hands with the handle.

The first step will be to remove the bark from the stick. This helps you get the feel for how the blade bits into the wood. With the stick gripped in your off-hand, begin slicing the bark off your stick with controlled slices an inch or so below/past your off-hand. Try not to dig your blade into the wood beneath the bark. When half the bark is removed, flip the stick and remove the other half.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Remember to work outside your Blood Triangle.

Now sharpen one end of the stick to a pencil point. Gradually begin shaving small amounts of wood off to a point. No need to hurry the process. Just relax and enjoy whittling. If you get tired, stop and rest. Fatigue leads to careless mistakes.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Gradual strokes to get to the point.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Try to make your stick resemble a sharpened pencil.

Thumb Lever/Push Cut

This technique, a bit more advanced, allows you make controlled cuts for notches and detailed carving work. Yep, it’s time to notch the opposite end of the pencil point your just whittled. You’re about to create your first tent stake.

Using an overhand grip, rock the blade of your knife perpendicular on your stick about an inch or two on the end opposite the pencil point. Cutting across the grain of wood with an edged tool is difficult and applies lots of downward pressure. It’s best to place the stick on a support (a chopping stump, large log, etc.). Rock the blade until you create a 1/8 to 1/4 inch kerf across the grain.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Cut across the grain on a solid support.

You’re now ready to use the thumb lever. Grip the stick with your off-hand about an inch or so from the kerf you just rocked. Maintain your overhand grip with the blade resting an inch down from the kerf. Grip the stick with your off-hand just behind the blade. Place your off-hand thumb on the knife handle in the “V” of your strong hand. Angle the blade into the wood and push the handle with your off-hand thumb until the blade reaches the kerf. Again, take small, shallow cuts until you reach the bottom of the kerf. You’ll want to rock the blade in the kerf until your reach about 1/3 the diameter of the stick. Continue alternating between each cut for a smooth notch to tie off your tent or tarp line.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

You thumb acts as a fulcrum to leverage your blade through wood safely.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

One last cut to finish your tent stake. On the notched end of the stick (the end you’ll pound on to drive the stake), whittle off a small portion of the right angle edge (1/8 inch) of the rim. This chamfer cut will help prevent the stake from splitting when pounded into the ground.

A Beginner's Guide to Knife Craft for Children ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Use the thumb lever to remove the sharp edge. Keep your fingers safely below the top edge of the stick.

Congrats on making your first tent stake!

As your skills progress, try carving a few simple pot hooks for your camp kitchen. I think you’ll find your journey into woodcraft and camping to be very rewarding. Knife craft is only the beginning… now get outside and whittle something useful!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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12 Ways To Build A Survival Tent

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When it comes to survival in an emergency situation, everything revolves around the “holy trinity”: water, food, and shelter. The rest are luxuries.

Without water, you’ll die in a matter of days, 2-3 days tops depending on the climate and your physical fitness. Without food, you’ll last for up to 2-3 weeks or maybe more, but after the first week you’ll be pretty much disabled, both physically and psychologically, i.e. it will be all spiraling downwards from there.

The importance of finding or building adequate shelter in a survival scenario is pretty much obvious to anyone. If you’re facing extreme weather conditions in a SHTF scenario, you won’t make it for 2-3 weeks so you can die of hunger, if you know what I mean.

Now, if you can secure these three items – food, water, shelter regardless of the nature of your emergency and/or your location, you’ll be able to “hang in there” indefinitely.

3 Second SEAL Test Will Tell You If You’ll Survive A SHTF Situation

Then, you can concentrate on building a fire, assessing your self-defense options, and even some basic luxuries, such as gathering leaves for a softer bed and making a cup of coffee if you’re lucky enough to have any.

Let’s talk about the basics of building a shelter via an improvised tent, as a primer of sorts.

The idea is that one the most common mistakes of wilderness survival is one’s incapability of building/finding a proper shelter.

Actually, having no shelter in a SHTF situation is a 2-fold mistake that may cost you and your family’s life: the first mistake is adventuring outdoors unprepared, i.e. not having the means to DIY a proper shelter in your survival kit (read tarp, poncho etc.). The second mistake would be one’s lack of knowledge to DIY an improvised shelter using readily available materials, i.e. nature’s tools (snow, branches, sand etc.).

When we hear news about folks dying out there in the wilderness, they usually die of exposure; this is the common reason that you’ll hear coming up time and time again.

Whether we’re talking about heat-stroke or hypothermia, the lesson to be taken home is that those guys either did not carry the means to build an improvised shelter (a sleeping bag with bivy, a tarp or a regular tent) or they lacked the skills and the knowledge to DIY a suitable shelter for shielding themselves from the elements. One of the most important rules of outdoor survival is to stay dry; remember that folks.

Getting back to our business, in order to improvise a tent, you’ll require time, effort, a good location, and, obviously, the materials needed to build it.

With regard to wilderness survival in harsh weather conditions, shelters can be improvised from readily available materials with relative ease in order to protect you from wind, sun, rain, snow, cold/hot temperatures, insects etc.

Here are a few ideas for building an improvised shelter using a piece of tarp, a poncho, or something similar (plastic sheets, parachute canopy etc.):

And speaking of materials and survival gear, always remember to pack a quality piece of tarp in your EDC survival kit in your car or your hand baggage. You never know when you’ll need it, right? And I’ve mentioned the tarp for good reason.

4 Ways to Make a Tent from a Tarp

You can improvise a pretty cool tent using a piece of tarp, preferably with reinforced corners and solid 1/2” grommets if you’re lucky enough to have the respective supplies with you (the tarp that is).

The tarp will be used in conjunction with a wooden-made frame to create a cozy shelter for the night. The frame can be improvised relatively easily. All you have to do is lean poles against a tree trunk or a lower branch in such a way that you’ll be able to fit snugly under your tarp.

Here’s how to make a tent from a tarp using readily available materials, such as wood branches and nothing more. You can configure this design in both open front and closed front by using canvas, nylon or poly tarps.

This type of improvised tent will work great with a fire in front for keeping you warm during the long winter nights.

Video first seen on Far North Bushcraft And Survival

Here’s an even simpler design using an 8×10 tarp and a bunch of sticks, which will come handy in an emergency situation.

Video first seen on Oregon Mike

A more comprehensive tutorial about tents improvised from tarp in storm conditions can be visualized in the video below. The idea is to build an improvised tent that can be used effectively in windy conditions.

Video first seen on PHARRAOH

Here’s a very easy DIY project for improvising a partial tent for a quick overnight or just to keep the snow away.

Video first seen on Jarhead Survivor

The thing is, there are many ways one can improvise a survival tent out of a piece of tarp or a plastic sheet or a poncho. However, what’s important is to know the basics, the theory so to speak.

This one can described as a life-saving skill by any metric, and the only thing to remember at all times is that the bigger the tarp, the bigger the shelter, so keep that in mind when assembling your EDC survival kit (and don’t forget the paracord).

The Poncho Survival Shelter

Besides a tarp, you can improvise a survival tent of sorts using a poncho. We’ll refer to this little project as the poncho survival shelter if you like. Here are two ideas to contemplate upon.

Video first seen on Snowalker13

Here’s a comprehensive tutorial, with variations of the poncho-shelter.

Video first seen on UglyTent Bushcraft & Survival.

How to Improvise a Teeppee

You can always improvise a native Indian-styled tent also known as a tipi/teepee, just watch this video. This is one of my favorite projects as it’s simple to set up and fairly easy to DIY.

Video first seen on Wilderness Innovation

And here’s a pull-up tipi, or an improvised tent/survival shelter that’s not supported by poles, by rather pulled up with cord/rope. This is the ideal emergency shelter for one person.

Video first seen on Wilderness Innovation

Here’s another cool idea for a no-pole improvised tent.

Video first seen on mc outdoors

How to Make a Shelter in the Woods

If you know how to use an ax, then log tents may also be an option. Log tents were built by native Indians for centuries, as their primary winter houses in North America.

This is a very basic idea for building an improvised log tent, or how to make a shelter in the woods if you don’t have a tarp or something similar available.

Video  first seen on Videojug

And here’s a more complex one, a frame super-tent if you like, using green wood for the horizontal beams.

Video first seen on Birch Point Outdoors

If you think you have what it takes, here’s a picture depicting native American log-tents of the ancient North, which make for an excellent warm winter camp, especially if the logs fit well together and they’re properly calked with dry grass and moss.

Now that you know how to build a survival shelter, start practicing!

Will you be able to protect your own in a life or death scenario?

Click the banner below to find out!

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

Important Survival Gear for the Wilderness

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Important Survival Gear for Surviving the Outdoors   Surviving the wilderness is something that can get people thinking about the necessity to try it for themselves. Do not let the word survival scare you as Read More …

The post Important Survival Gear for the Wilderness appeared first on Use Your Instincts To Survive.

Survival Myth Explained: Can Playing Dead Save Your Life?

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When you are in a life or death situation with just a few seconds to a minute remaining, some strategies will work better than others. Ultimately, you’ll be locked into your decision to stay and fight it out until you win or you die, or to try and escape.

Playing dead is one of these strategies: a double edged sword that you should handle carefully. It can help you, or it can also cost your life instead of saving it. In the end, it all depends on the mindset and will of those you encounter, humans and animals equally.

Let’s have a look at some different scenarios and what is likely to happen if you try to play dead. It will help you build the mindset you need to survive!

3 Second SEAL Test Will Tell You If You’ll Survive A SHTF Situation

Scenario 1: Active Shooter Scenarios

Police say most active shooters can take months to years to plan out and gather everything they need to carry out their final scene.

On the other hand, you might not be prepared to face this challenge and have to think fast to find a way to survive. So, are you going to play dead to stay alive? Before deciding, consider that:

  • An active shooter most likely has a real, imagined, or socially induced grudge or grievance.
  • The shooter has already decided that violence is the only answer.
  • This person has more than likely listened to music, played video games, or read materials that encourage the expression violence.
  • The shooter has also decided that killing others is an acceptable outcome even if they are not directly associated with the grievance or similar to those that are directly associated.
  • The shooter may have communicated his/her intent to others, thus making a commitment to follow through.
  • Has already developed a plan, rehearsed it, and acquired weapons.
  • Ultimately, has a sense of hopelessness, desperation, and despair.

An active shooter is locked into a drama inside his/her head, and they may or may not be paying attention to how many people they have actually killed. Rather, as long as people go down, and there is plenty of blood around, they may assume you are dead if you look dead.

During the Charleston church shooting, it was Dylann Roof’s belief that he was there to start a race war. He chose the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston South Carolina because it is one of the United States’ oldest continuous running Black churches.

Each victim was shot multiple times to ensure that they were dead. One survivor of the killing spree, did, in fact, escape detection by laying in her own son’s blood and playing dead. The survivor was very lucky this strategy worked, however not every shooter would or will just pass a still body, especially if they have a good sense of where their bullets have struck.

That being said, following the Paris terrorist attacks the United Kingdom’s Terrorism Security Office issued new guidelines that amount to:

  • Run – Clear the active shooting areas as fast as possible without getting shot.
  • Hide – Find a safe place to hide. Wait for the police or other proper authorities to come and get you.
  • Tell – Tell the authorities everything you saw, did, and noticed during the active shooting event.

The US Department of Homeland Security’s guide for an active shooting situation following the San Bernardino California incident also say that people should run and hide. Instead of “tell”, they recommend, as a last resort, making an improvised weapon and fighting to protect yourself and others.

But in an active shooting scenario, no professional or professional organization that I know of, recommends playing dead.  I don’t recommend it because, in a split second, it is very hard to tell exactly what kind of person you are dealing with or what is going on in their sick little mind.

There have been volumes written on the difference between a crazy person acting out a drama for personal benefit and a terrorist that is more interested in killing as a social statement instead of an emotional one. In fact, some even say there is no difference at all, or that a person can change as the situation progresses.

Scenario 2: Terror Attacks

If you are in a terrorist attack, run, try to escape, and take as many others with you as possible. If you do play dead in a terrorist attack, it is likely the terrorist will not see an end of a life. Instead, they may see a body that can be used to “send a message” to anyone who is watching.

It is nothing for a terrorist to mutilate a dead body while video taping their escapades. Later on, it will become a training video and inspiration for others, as well as the means to terrorize their sworn opponents. In the end, if you can’t escape, you must fight to the death.

Scenario 3: Armed Robberies

For many people living in the cities or suburbs armed robberies are an every day event. If you cooperate with the robber most of the time they will not hurt you because they just want valuables. If you try to fight back, the robber could very easily shoot you or stab you.

On the other hand, if you fake being sick (such as having a seizure or heart attack), or pretend to fall over dead while playing sick, the robber may leave the scene abruptly.

Robbers do not want undue attention drawn to the area during the robbery. A lot depends on how the robber responds to stress and what is in their mind. Where some will run, others  may kick you, stamp on you, or shoot you.

Playing dead is very dangerous in any type of armed robbery. They may even put a bullet in you just to make sure you can’t act as a witness later on.

Scenario 4: Domestic Violence

The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically. However, the one constant component of domestic violence is one of the partner’s constant efforts to maintain power and control over the other.

Domestic violence also usually intensifies over time. It can begin with simple name calling and end up with great bodily harm and psychological damage. In all too many cases domestic violence ends in death.

Domestic violence does not always end when the victim escapes the abuser, tries to terminate the relationship, or seeks help. The abuser will continue to stalk, threatened, and try to control the victim after the victim has escaped.  As a result, the victim is usually in the most danger following an attempt to exit the relationship. 20% of victims of domestic violence with restraining orders are usually found murdered within 2 days after obtaining the court order.

Quite frankly, playing dead in this situation is not a viable answer. It will not stop the beatings or the violence. If the person has decided to kill, or is in an uncontrollable rage, your stillness may be an invitation to carry out more violence until you are actually dead.

As with other violent situations, you must move to escape and ask for help, or you must fight for your life.

Scenario 5: Street Fights

If you run into an experience street fighter it means that he is strong, aggressive, and can throw extremely hard punches with good knock down power. It also means that this fighter will be willing to bite you, choke you, claw at your eyes, or use what are considered dirty tactics.

There are many methods that you can practice to take your street fighting skills to a successful level, however playing dead isn’t one of them.

Consider that it is very common for a street fighter to try to choke you. Pretending you are dead will more than likely result in your neck being twisted and broken until you are actually dead.

You can use feints or false relaxing to gain an edge, however those are advanced skills that must be carried out in a split second. You must learn and practice often to know when and how to use them. They bear no resemblance to playing dead for several moments.

Scenario 6: Animal Attacks

The best way to avoid wildlife problems is to use common sense. Be aware of what’s around you, what kind of animals you are likely to encounter, and the danger they pose. The most dangerous animals that you’ll run into in North America are cougars, bears, moose, deer, elk, buffalo, wolves, and coyotes.

When interacting with dangerous large animals of North America you may have to fight these animals in order to survive. Sometimes playing dead may be your only option to survive these vicious attacks.

Unlike dealing with humans, animals are more predictable within their species. Wild animals may maul and seriously injure a human, but they will stop short of killing and simply walk away. Man, on the other hand, kills for fun and sport; and will carry through to ending a life.

Here are some observations about wild animals you may encounter, and whether or not it is a good strategy to play dead around them.

Bear

Bears are extremely dangerous regardless of the species.  They are most inclined to attack when you surprise them, they think you are competing for food, you corner them, or get between a mother and her cubs.

Even the less dangerous bear species will attack when they are hungry. Only play dead when you cannot escape and all else fails.

You might get bit, or even clawed. Unless the bear is hungry, it should leave after that. If you panic while you are playing dead, do not get up, and start to run away. The odds are the bear will run you down and kill you.

Cougar

Cougar attacks are no time to play dead or make yourself look small or weak.  Under no circumstances do you crouch down or play dead. These large cats are active predators that will stalk, kill, and eat their prey either animal or human.

Moose

Moose attacks can be staved off by playing dead. Curl up in a ball to protect yourself against the kicks and the stomps. Do not move until the moose goes away or it will renew its’ attack against you.

Deer

Deer and elk attacks can also be staved off by playing dead. As with moose, curl up in a ball or fetal position to protect your head, neck, and vital organs. The animals will kick at you, but they will eventually leave you alone.

Buffalo

Buffalo are always risky to deal with, however playing dead works. These huge animals can head-butt, gore, or stomp,  in a matter of seconds. If you are knocked down stay down and play dead.  Normally after a buffalo has charged it will wander off and resume grazing.

Wolf and Coyote

Wolf and coyote attacks are becoming more common. These are very cunning and highly intelligent animals that stalk their prey by sneaking in from behind to nip and ripped leg muscles to disable their victim. Once you are down the whole pack will swarm in on you for the kill.

Under no circumstances should you play dead. Your best defense is to kill or injure as many as possible until you can escape. Focusing on the first attacker or dominant animal in the pack may or may not work.

How to Play Dead

It is my personal opinion that playing dead to survive a criminal encounter is  extremely dangerous and could lead to your death.

If you do play dead it is a last-ditch attempt to surviving a criminal encounter where the odds are you would be shot or murdered anyway.

  • If you are going to play dead, don’t just fall to the ground. Make it look like the attack was so bad, you actually died.
  • Once you have stopped moving, try to hold your breath. When you must breathe, take shadow slow breaths.
  • If you want to watch what’s going on around you, keep your eyelids almost closed and look through the tiny slits.  Do not make any fast eye movements.
  • When playing dead, be ready for the other person to strike you or take other steps to see if you are actually dead. No matter what the test is, chances are it is going to hurt. Unless you are trained to use this split second to attack, chances are your involuntary responses will get you killed.

Skills to Practice

Even though playing dead is not a good idea if you encounter a violent human, it does work for some animals. In the latter situation, you may have to play dead for several moments.

Here are some things to practice:

  • Breath control – know how to control breathing so that no motion is seen or felt.  Use meditation to help avoid panic, and also to breathe as lightly and slowly as possible.
  • Be completely still for long periods of time.
  • Learn how to look around a room without being noticed.
  • Under no circumstances do you cough, burp, sneeze, pass gas, or make other noises or odors.

Playing dead may or may not work if your life is in serious danger. When encountering humans, use this method only as a last resort. You can use playing dead more effectively when encountering wild animals depending on the species.

Playing dead can be an effective and life saving strategy, however you must know how to use it properly.

Can you protect your own in a life or death scenario? Click the banner below to find out!

This article has been written by Fred Tyrell for Survivopedia.

Get Rid Of Ticks – Guaranteed!

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Get Rid Of Ticks – Guaranteed! After a long day hunting turkeys my son and I were pulling ticks off of us left and right. Later that week I fell into an article about Powassan which is a new virus carried by ticks that is even more dangerous than Lyme. Its a terrifying feeling. The …

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My Top 5 Woods Loafing Lessons

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by Todd Walker

My Top 5 Woods Loafing Lessons ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Photo credit: Bill Reese, Instinct Survivalist

Early on I took to the woods and never outgrew it. Exploring every creek bend, barefooted as the day I born, cane pole in one hand, and one of Mama’s soup cans half-full of hand-dug worms, fishing has never been as fun. Chiggers, aggravating as they are, were no match for my need to be out there. Georgia red clay joined my toes and soul to our woods.

Not much has changed in my mid 50’s. The Monday morning question always comes from a few of my students…

“Mr. Walker, did you go to the woods this weekend?”

“Yup. You know I did.”

“I saw your video. You were chopping wood.”

My eighth graders live vicariously through my outdoor adventures. They want to learn how to use an ax, identify plants and trees, rub sticks together to build a campfire, get muddy, and sleep soundly in the woods. Their innate curiosity gnaws at them like a beaver on a Sweet Gum. But those pesky rules. I stop the stories and press on through the math lesson. But some stuff just doesn’t add up.

I wonder, would time in the woods help these students? Recess is a historic relic. No green spaces for free-play and wild exploration, just red ink on paper. You know my thoughts if you’ve read any of my work. Kids, and especially all of us over-busy and strained grownups, could benefit from the human-nature connection.

Science proves it. But woods loafers don’t need studies as proof. We experience the benefits firsthand with everything that’s wild and free and good in the woods.

Woods Loafing

Some friends and coworkers have the idea that I live in the woods like Jeremiah Johnson based on this blog and social media. Not hardly. I live in a typical neighborhood. I’m fortunate to have my fixed camp a short drive from my house. Like the vast majority of readers, town is where I live and make a living. The forest is where I play and learn.

Here are five lessons I’ve learned from being a woods loafer…

#1) Be Wild

The distinction between “wilderness” and wild places (nature) needs to be made. The disturbing attitude that wilderness skills are not as real unless demonstrated in a wilderness setting is invalid. YouTubers go to great lengths to get the setting just right so as to build credibility and authority and views. Break that “wilderness” protocol with a touch of civilization, even an occasional airplane overhead, and the hardcore purist may unsubscribe.

I love going to Back of Beyond, a place Mr. Kephart was so fond of. However, if I had to wait to practice wilderness living skills in a vast wilderness, I’d still be a novice. Some of my most memorable woods loafing lessons have come close to home.

My backyard is full of wild things and nature. The tract of land surround my middle school is full of wild nature, despite being bordered by a railroad track and I-20. Practicing skills, or just observing nature, need not take a tank of fuel and three hours of driving to reach. Read our Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required article for practical ideas.

Developing wilderness living skills is my greatest unfinished work. I’m not moving to a vast wilderness to live alone like Dick Proenneke. However, building a log cabin with hand tools is on my woods loafing bucket list.

Tulip Poplar- A Rich Resource for Year-Round Wilderness Self-Reliance - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Reconstructing old cabins with tulip poplar at Foxfire Museum

#2: Be Still

Drop me in any patch of woods and my eyes shine like new money. Every sense awakens. Sounds, aromas, textures, sights, even tastes are heightened. From where I park my truck, the walk to my fixed camp would take only a few minutes at a normal pace. Intentionally, many trips there take much longer.

Creeping slowly along the creek side to spot crawdads or admire trout lily blooms bending low requires a deliberate decision to slow down. Instead of breaking into the woods like a jack hammer on concrete, make as small a ripple as possible. In doing so, the non-human participants of nature are more likely to return to their normal everyday life.

I sometimes find a comfortable spot where I can sit and be still. Try this yourself. Look out over the landscape and relax your eyes. Look but don’t focus on anything in particular. Allow time for your ripples in the forest to settle. You’ll begin to notice movements and sounds and critters you would have missed by tramping through the woods. Jot down reflexions and observations in your note pad or journal.

I watched this family of otters feasting on crawdads one day as I sat quietly on a creek side. Pardon the shaky camera.

#3: Be Curious

The idea of wilderness living first came from animals. They lived in the forest before humans. We learned how they moved, stalked, and slept by observation and curiosity.

For instance, the concept of staying warm in an emergency debris shelter came from our bushy-tail friends. A squirrel’s home, nestled in a tree fork, viewed from the ground may appear to be just a large bird nest with an open, cupped design. However, upon closer inspection you’d find the two tree homes differ greatly. A squirrel nest is not open but an enclosed dome shape built of sticks, leaves, and shredded forest material. This design is efficient for shedding water and holding warmth in cold weather.

My Top 5 Woods Loafing Lessons ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The inside of a debris hut built at a Georgia Bushcraft Campout

Math is all about making sense of patterns. Have you noticed patterns in nature? How about the spirals on a pine cone? Or the number pattern of limbs on trees? There’s actually a name for this, the Golden Ratio (phi = 1.61803…) or the Fibonacci sequence.

 

If you’d really like to get your geek on in the woods, research theses terms and start counting tree limbs and flower pedals. Not every plant and animal displays the Fibonacci pattern but enough do to make this a valid pattern occurring in nature.

#4: Be Resourceful

Wild nature provides more than just a refreshing walk in the woods. Resources are at every turn. I wonder as I’m woods loafing if the dead tree up ahead would give me fire by friction. Or if fibers from the green plant to the left would make strong cordage. As my human-nature journey continues, my eyes are keen to spot a tree or plant I’ve used for food, medicine, or craft. Experiencing the usefulness of woodland resources for yourself builds confidence, comfort, and appreciation for nature.

A while back a misguided youth vandalized my fixed camp. One of the first things I checked on inside my shelter was my collection of wood, stone, and bones. A few modern items went missing, but my most prized resources were of no value to the vandal. You learn to value the trees, rocks, dirt, leaves, bark, and vines you can name and use. Become intimate with nature’s gifts.

A Swiss Army Bread Bag as a Common Man's Haversack

Pine sap collected to make pitch glue sticks. The vandal saw no use in this resource

Not all resources in nature are physical and easily seen.

#5: Be Healed

Woods loafing is my process for body-mind-spirit alignment. It allows me to focus inward and center my mind and body for optimal performance.

My Top 5 Woods Loafing Lessons ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Raven Cliff Falls

Five years ago, after regaining her strength from chemo treatment, Dirt Road Girl wanted to go back and visit her favorite hiking destination, Raven Cliff Falls. Our slow pace and frequent stops allowed us to take in more scenery than ever before. There are times in life, unforgettable moments, where spiritual healing takes place. This hike was one of them.

Spiritual stuff is impossible to measure. But it’s real. Infinitely real. I experience the Infinite when woods loafing. Nature subtly draws my soul to that which is bigger and smarter than I. What appears to be primordial chaos in nature is full of order. Discovering this order through woods loafing humbles me and makes God smile.

Go. Get out there!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

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Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Gear vs. DIY Gear: Swedish Torch Solutions for Pennies!

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Who hasn’t seen that cool piece of gear advertised and just thought, “I would like to have that?” Thanks to Youtube and social media outlets like Facebook, videos are shared that make gear look very attractive.

I recently took the bait and watched a video for the Sportes MITI-001 Lightweight Swedish Fire Torch Log Grill.  Although I can’t find the exact video anymore (see VID at the end for the MITI-001 in action), I remember that I thought the concept was interesting and so I went to Amazon to see if they carried it.  They did!  But the price was $71.00!  I thought that was way too crazy a price for something like this.

I then thought about the possibility of making something that worked on the same concept, that kept the logs together, but WAY cheaper and lighter…something someone could put in their bug-out bag.  I remember seeing that one video where someone used a chain and stretch band to cut firewood. I thought a chain around a Swedish Torch could work!

As I was thinking about how heavy a chain would be needed, I decided to look for a video and low and behold….it’s been done before.

 

 

You can even do a Swedish Torch with small logs and a vine to tie it all together.  Like in this video.

 

 

I know the concept of the Sportes MITI-001 is to provide a grill-like surface, but you really have to think about if the price is worth it.  I mean, if you are in the woods every weekend, maybe.  But if not, a chain would work.  The important thing is to keep the wood upright long enough to cook your food.

If you’re building a Swedish Fire Torch for backyard fun, this video might inspire you to split some wood easily.

 

Sportes video

 

Do you use any “tricks” or have you see any online that you would like to share? Drop them in the comment section.

Peace,
Todd

 

An Illustrated Guide to Cooking on a Campfire

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An Illustrated Guide to Cooking on a Campfire There is nothing better than the smell of a campfire burning! There are endless uses for a campfire: a source of warmth, a way to dry clothing when camping, and one of the best uses – cooking. Food cooked over the campfire creates a unique flavour and …

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A Few Quick Bushcraft Tips and Tricks

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A Few Quick Bushcraft Tips and Tricks There are literally hundreds of tips and tricks out there that are useful in a survival or bushcraft situation. We’ll focus on the four categories needed to secure the basic things you need for survival. If you follow the survival rule of threes, then your basic requirements for … Continue reading A Few Quick Bushcraft Tips and Tricks

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How Our Ancestors Survived When SHTF

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How Our Ancestors Survived When SHTF  SHTF isn’t just a modern phenomenon. Our ancestors survived many disasters. It’s best to learn their lessons. The Gila Cliff Dwellings are a great example. In the mid-13th century, SHTF when a 24-year drought uprooted Native Americans throughout the U.S. Southwest. One band of the Mogollon (muggy-YON) people resettled …

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Grand Canyon Survival Story: Student Stayed Alive. Could You?

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On March 12, 2017, Amber Van Hecke ran out of gas in the Havasupai Reservation while leaving the southern rim of the Grand Canyon. The twenty-four year old college student was there hiking for spring break when her vacation turned deadly. Thanks to her own resourcefulness and preparedness, she lived to tell the tale.

So, what can we learn from Amber’s experience? We found 8 survival lessons to learn from her adventure, and we’ll take them one by one in the following article.

When Hiking Goes Bad

First, I’ll bring you up to speed on what happened, then we’ll get to that part.

Video first seen on ABC News.

Amber’s problem started when she plugged Havasu Falls Trail Head into Google Maps and followed the directions, just like the rest of us probably would. She only had 70 miles of fuel left until empty, not counting the reserves (so she thought) in her tank and decided to roll the dice because, according to Maps, it was only a 40-mile drive to the next main road.

She took a right turn when it told her to, even though her gut told her that it was too early. She found herself on what she calls a “ratchet dirt road” and followed it for 35 miles before her GPS told her to take a right onto a road that didn’t exist. Being a person fairly experienced with backroads, and considering the horrible road she was already on, she thought that maybe part of the road had eroded, so she took the turn, hoping to run into the remaining section of the road shortly.

Instead of finding a road, she ran straight into a fence. Amber admits she panicked a bit and drove around trying to find the road when she should have just stayed put. By then it was getting dark and she was down to zero miles to empty, and her reserves were empty, too. She found the nearest man-made structure and decided to wait til morning to decide what to do.

She certainly didn’t lack creativity or motivation, and she had food and water because she was planning a hike. She actually had extra, as any good prepper or trail-savvy person does.

This is when her 5-day period of waiting began. She had no cell signal, so she made an SOS sign from rocks that were about 4’x10’. That didn’t work, so she spelled out “HELP,” again using rocks, but this time she went big – her letters were 20-30 feet tall. She tried getting help using a signal fire, but because she was stuck in an extremely dry area, the wood burned too clean to create smoke.

3 Second SEAL Test Will Tell You If You’ll Survive A SHTF Situation

After a truck drove right by her before she could flag him down, she barricaded the road (which was brilliant, actually, just in case). She had a flashing headlamp in her truck that she turned on at night, to no avail. Finally, after 5 days, she decided to take matters into her own hands and took off walking in an attempt to find a cell signal. Fortunately, she didn’t kill the battery in her car, so she was able to charge her phone.

She was smart about it, though. She left a detailed note with her vehicle, and she marked her trail. It said: “I started following the road EAST to see if I can get a cellphone signal. I am marking my way with white sports tape. If you read this, please come help me!”

After she’d walked 11 miles east of her vehicle and tried a whopping 76 times to get a call out she did manage to find a weak signal and contacted the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office. Her call dropped 49 seconds into the call and she couldn’t get another call out, so she just had to hope that they’d managed to locate her before the call dropped.

She walked almost all the way back to her car, but the helicopter did find her after searching with the limited information that they had. They spotted the glint off of her car and the help sign that she’d made. They also found her note and followed the direction that she said she’d gone in order to find her, and they succeeded.

Because she’d had a stockpile of water and food, she was in good shape when they found her. She rationed it because she didn’t know how long it would take, and she made ramen noodles on her dashboard.

8 Survival Lessons to Learn from Amber’s Story

With little to no injury, Amber survived because she was prepared and knew what to do in an emergency. Did she make mistakes? Yes, but don’t we all?

Just for those of you who need to know it:

Stranded with no way out =/= camping regardless of how well I prepared with my supplies.
I had a compass and I am fantastic at reading maps but I made the mistake of not bringing one this time.
Almost everyone has run out of gas at some point, mine just happened to be supremely inconvenient.
It was not a matter of simply turning around since I wasn’t aware how to get out and I was legitimately lost.

So, yes, I made silly mistakes. However, I also maintained composure when I found myself in an unfortunate situation…

Amber Van Hecke Facebook Page

Let’s look at what we can learn from her experience.

Don’t Depend Solely on Technology

Her gut told her she was turning too soon, and had she heeded that instead of doing what many of us are trained to do – trust that technology knows more than we do – she may have found her way and her story wouldn’t have been more than another leg of her travel plans.

Don’t Cut it Close on Fuel

Only having 70 miles left in your tank is just fine if you’re tooling around town or heading between one major town and another, where there are many opportunities to refuel. However, the US – especially the US West – still has many roads where there are at least 70 miles between gas stations.

As a woman who rides a bike, I have a standing rule – never turn down the opportunity to pee or get gas. It’s a good policy to follow, especially when you’re in a remote area.

Stock That Vehicle Bag

Let’s see … what did she use that many people wouldn’t have necessarily had in their vehicles? A flashing headlamp. The materials to make a fire. White sports tape. Oh yeah, she had books that kept her occupied. Pen and paper. Food and water. A mobile cellphone charger.

Did they all work? No, but she had options and tools, and some of them – the charger, the food and water, and the pen and paper saved her life. Any one of them could have worked had the right person flown over or driven by at the right time.

Don’t Risk Getting Lost

She makes a comment at one point in an interview that she got bored and tooted her horn to make the coyotes leave the prairie dogs alone. What if she’d panicked and taken off walking in the dark? What if she’d made a wrong turn on her way back to her vehicle after she made the call because she didn’t mark her trail?

She did everything right when it came to this part of her experience. She stayed where she had shelter – there wasn’t anybody there to honk the horn to keep the coyotes off HER – and she marked her trail when she did leave so that she could find her way back.

Pack Energy Dense Food

She purportedly had sunflower seeds and an apple left when they found her. Those are foods that are high in sustained energy – the apple because it has fiber that slows down the digestion process, and the seeds because they have both fiber to slow down the processing of the sugar, and fat that your body will use after it uses the sugar.

Packing food isn’t enough – pack the RIGHT foods.

Be Proactive

Nobody wants you to get saved more than you do. She communicated: she made signs, she built a signal fire, and, when none of that worked, she got tired of waiting and took her fate into her own hands and decided to walk til she was able to help people help her. Don’t just sit around waiting for the cavalry when they may not even know you’re missing.

However, don’t screw up your chances by not communicating – in this case, had she not left the note, the rescuers may have missed her.

Keep Your Vehicle in Good Repair

Yes, she ran out of gas, but the rest of her car was in good repair and ready for a trip. Had her battery failed, she may still be sitting there, out of water and out of hope.

Don’t Panic

Yes, I realize that it’s easier said than done, but she admitted that she ran the last of her gas out because she panicked. Would it have made much difference in her case? Probably not. But what if it was the middle of winter, when temperatures can drop to the single digits in the desert? What if she’d been in Maine or North Dakota instead of in Arizona?

By panicking, she didn’t just run out her source of transportation, she exhausted a major heat source, too. True, she could have started a campfire, but that would have left her to the animals, that likely didn’t have granola bars, seeds, and apples stocked back. Keep your head and think before you act.

Amber survived this situation because she was prepared. Of course, she also got herself into it because, when it came to fuel, she made a mistake and went in unprepared. Her story offers dual lessons of what to do and what not to do. Thankfully, she did way more right than she did wrong, and that – along with a bit of luck – ensured that she lived to tell the tale!

Could you survive?

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

References:

University Of North Texas Student Survives For Five Days Stranded In Grand Canyon

Off-Grid Firewood: Lessons from Staying Warm with an Ax

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by Todd Walker

Off-Grid Firewood- Lessons from Staying Warm with an Ax - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Imagine having only one off-grid tool to heat your home, would your family stay warm or freeze to death? Silly question, right? Only a lunatic would rely on one tool for firewood getting… especially with the antiquated ax. Call me crazy, but I chopped a full cord (128 cubic feet – 4’x4’x8′) of firewood with an ax.

Here’s why and a few things I learned in the process…

Off-Grid Firewood ~ Stay Warm with an Ax

I began Steven Edholm’s Axe Cordwood Challenge on February 7th and finished a cord of ax-cut firewood the last day of winter, March 19, 2017. I took the challenge to hone practical ax skills which were commonly known and practiced by our woodsmen, homesteader, and pioneer ancestors.

This was one of my most rewarding and satisfying journeys of self-reliance I’ve undertaken. Stacking that last stick of firewood made me pause to appreciate the journey more so than the finish line. In fact, finishing one cord actually whetted my appetite for another.

In the process of this challenge, I’ve compiled a fair amount of video footage documenting some ax skills and techniques. For those interested in video format, you can find these on our Axe Cordwood Challenge Playlist. Another resource you may find a bit of value in is our Ax-Manship Playlist.

Risk Management

The only way to improve ax-manship is to swing axes. Even with good technique and accuracy, your body is at risk from not only sharp steel, but falling timber and dead limbs being dislodged high overhead. There’s no way to insure safety 100%. You can, however, mitigate a large portion of the risk by using common sense.

Off-Grid Firewood- Lessons from Staying Warm with an Ax - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Chopper Beware: This dead pine broke midway up during the fall. Give a wide berth when felling trees.

Even so, you have to accept the potential for injury. One tree I felled got hung up. To free it, I had to fell a smaller tree (5 inches in diameter) under great tension. Misreading the direction in which the tree would release its tension, my last chop sent the tree into my thigh. Fortunately another tree stopped the full impact. It could have much worse than a bruised muscle.

Off-Grid Firewood- Lessons from Staying Warm with an Ax - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Not a part of the Cordwood Challenge, this dead pine hung up at the top and stump. This set up helped free the base by leveraging with a rope and 10 foot pole.

Even bent saplings as small as your wrist pose a huge danger to the wood chopper if cut without a strategy. Here’s a video link demonstrating a safe method to release stored energy.

Off-Grid Strategy

I chose to cut a cord of wood at base camp. Not because I’m more pioneering than other’s who have undertaken this challenge, it’s just that base camp is where the trees live. And firewood hides in trees.

In my off-grid setting, the greatest challenge, in my mind, was transporting large diameter logs on my shoulder over uneven terrain, vines, and ravines without a modern means of conveyance. My strategy was to fell, buck and split logs too heavy to lift for transport.

Off-Grid Firewood- Lessons from Staying Warm with an Ax - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Red Oak logs hauled back to camp

Splitting Strategy: Wedges and Maul

To accomplish the plan with an ax only, I carved two sets of wedges (or gluts as Kephart called them in Camping and Woodcraft) from a dogwood tree to be used at each felling site. Each set contained 4 wedges – Fat Set: a steep incline plane; Skinny Set: a gradual taper with less slope. Both were useful for different tasks. I found that the fat gluts inserted into smaller splits would bounce out after a couple of blows from my wooden maul or ax poll. The fat set could be driven deep to separate stubborn logs after the skinny set opened the split wide enough to accept the fat wedges.

Off-Grid Firewood- Lessons from Staying Warm with an Ax - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Pine halved for hauling

The skinny wedges, inserted in the initial ax split at the butt of logs, performed beautifully to further the split down the logs – even on seasoned red oak.  I found the one pine tree I cut to be the most cantankerous to halve. You’d think a soft wood would split more easily than hard. However, once halved, the pine split into rails more easily with my ax without the aid of wedges. That is, if the log was knot-free.

The dogwood wedges held up to a great amount of pounding even though they were green (non-seasoned). I had the idea to make a maul from the base of the dogwood tree which gave me the wedges. I discovered that dogwoods have a hollow space in the root ball which travels a foot or more up the trunk depending on the tree’s size. This fact makes this species unsuitable as a maul unless you cut the hollow part off. Hickory, oak, or other hardwoods have a solid root base and makes a fine maul for driving wedges.

Other DiY Tools: Chopping Platform

As my strategy dictated, after hauling logs and rails back to base camp, further splitting and cutting to length was necessary. I made a chopping platform based on the one described in Dudley Cook’s authoritative work, The Ax Book. Without a doubt, the chopping platform was the most used and multifunctional DiY tool throughout the challenge.

Initially I had planned on using it for chopping smaller rails to firewood length. It also served as a splitting and bucking platform. I experimented with bucking smaller logs (5-6 inch diameter) on the platform instead of separating them into rails first. The platform offered a solid back up for vertical ax strokes (swinging towards your feet) when bucking.

80% of the wood was split into long rails and cut to length on the chopping platform. In case you’re not aware, ax-cut wood will not stand on end for splitting. The remaining 20% was bucked to length on the platform, tossed on the ground, and split using the Tiger technique (video link).  This method worked well on all clear grained wood. When knots were present, I learned quickly to lay the round on the chopping platform to split.

Make Every Stroke Count

The first human I witnessed felling a tree with an ax was Mama. With that moment etched in my five-year-old mind, I was hooked on axes.

Technique

The ax swing is a basic physical movement. However, proper technique employed efficiently saves energy and time. A tinderfoot, unfamiliar with technique, gnaws into a tree with a flurry of misdirected chops and slashes until the tree submits or he gives up. The wood chips produced are as fine as flower bed mulch.

The super computer in our skull coordinates with our muscles to strike where our eyes look. I’m not saying that you don’t need repetition to develop muscle memory. You certainly do. Practice makes permanent… not perfect.

Every stroke is made under control. Muscle up on swings and accuracy suffers. Use your natural swing and let the tool do its share of the work. When felling, the least practiced skill due to the low number of trees needed to produce a cord of wood, a pattern of overlapping strikes is followed for both the face and back notch. A small notch is created as the base for larger notches. With the small notch complete, large wood chips are freed more easily as you progress. A slight twist of the ax after each stroke helps to loosen and remove chips on the top and bottom cuts of the notch. Repeat this blueprint until you near the center of the tree. Do the same 45 degree notching technique on the back cut.

Aim and Accuracy

My ax placement dramatically improved over the course of this challenge. Cleaner notches in felling and bucking were evident with more purposeful practice. One tip I’d offer in bucking is to swing the ax through a line vertical with your nose as your eyes focus on the target.

As my accuracy grew, I concentrated on cocking the ax handle back with my wrist at the peak of my backswing before the downward stroke. This seemed to increase velocity of the ax head. Accuracy and velocity equates to more work done with less effort.

Trading Theory for Action

Early in my teaching career, I was the sage on the stage dishing out book information and theory. As I grow gray, I’ve come to realize that lessons last when students are given the opportunity to learn by doing the stuff. Building knowledge through experience makes math relevant in the real-world. This is even more true with ax-manship and self-reliance skills.

Remove electricity and the combustion engine from the firewood equation and suddenly the ax becomes relevant. Modern tools, which I own, can get the job done more quickly. But I needed to experience, in context, what it takes to cut a cord with an ax only.

By Doing the Stuff, opportunities and learning took place…

  • Emergent skills were honed
  • Unpredictable situations improved learning
  • Reflected on consequences, mistakes, and successes
  • Improved woodland management
  • I could indeed keep my family warm with an ax

In full disclosure, a bucksaw was used for one back cut on the last tree felled. My buddy, Kevin, came out for about an hour and cut the face notch. A large wild azalea, which I refuse to cut, prevented safe ax work on the back cut. This was the only time a tool other than an ax was used.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

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Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Here Are The Survival Maps You Should Be Using

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Mankind is at greater risk from both natural hazards and many manmade hazards than at any other time in history. Think about that statement for a moment. I know I do. This is why I try to write about what I am working on in my personal emergency preparedness and survival efforts, or to work on my preparedness related to topics, to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

One of my long-term projects is my own personal Modular Survival Kit which is one of the primary frameworks for my personal emergency preparedness efforts. From that framework hangs a smaller project which is called the Digital Survival Library and my personal digital map collection is part of that project.

I have been working on it and thought I’d document some bits and pieces to share with my friends who read Surviopedia. Make a list and check them one by one as you get them, you will later make good use of these survival resources!

12 Strategic Planning Maps Sources for Location Selection

I have listed some resources for the USA and a few for maps abroad, but if you live or own property outside the US, you may need to look up the equivalent entity in that country. I wouldn’t buy paper copies of the maps here unless they are in books since you only need them to plan.

1. USGS Natural Hazards Maps

This is probably most all-encompassing natural hazards map site I know of and includes tsunami, earthquake, geomagnetism, landslide, volcano, astrogeology, flood, drought and wildfire hazards. It even includes quite a bit of information for foreign nations.

2. FEMA Earthquake Hazard Maps 

This one will show you  how earthquake hazards vary across the United States.

3. FEMA Flood Map Service Centergov

They can help you understand flood insurance rate maps.

4. National Geospatial Intelligence Maps

They are good for studying all kinds of things from nuclear power plants to polar ice and climate change.

5. US Nuclear Reactors, Nuclear Power Plants & Seismic Hazard

It wouldn’t take a tsunami to cause a severe nuclear accident in the US. Note where the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors are and note 10 & 50 mile zones around plant and take prevailing winds into consideration.

6. Nuclear Target Maps

You won’t find any current nuclear target maps on-line, as any current information is going to be secret compartmented. That said, there is plenty of outdated, declassified material available in on-line archives.

One of the greatest nuclear risks today is that a single nuclear weapon or small number of them will be detonated in major cities. New York and Washington DC are major targets as are many significant and/or populous cities, but it’s largely speculation so I won’t include nuclear target maps on this topic for planning purposes, but do observe likely fallout patterns from major cities.

7. Nukemap

In case you want to simulate weapons effects in nearby cities. Helpful for creating realistic training scenarios and choosing locations of fixed sites.

8. EarthExplorer

Think of it as the USGS version of Google Earth … only you can go back in time. Some of the first generation of US satellite imagery taken between 1960 & 1972 has been declassified, so it you want imagery of areas unlikely to change since then you have a free resource now.

9. Google Earth

As every criminal casing your home and retreat knows, Google has invested crazy resources to make Google Earth a fairly-up-to-date tool for ever-increasing swaths of the planet … especially most places most folks reading this live, own property or plan to hole up. If that’s not OK with you, get your place blacked out by telling them you run a child day care, but save some images before you do for your own use.

For survival use, I recommend the Offline Installer for Google Earth. Zoom in areas of interest and snap and print what you need, mark them with the scale, indicate magnetic declination, label and print them and you have useful maps.

10. Books

There are many fine books on the subject containing a number of maps and guidelines – Rawles on Retreats by JW Rawles and Strategic Relocation by Joel Skousen are a couple of good ones.

11. Threat-specific Online Searches

Search for hazard maps for threats you are concerned about, they will help you a lot.

12. Digital Survival Library

Use technology, but don’t become dependent on it. To this end, I curate a very useful collection of data that is my personal Digital Survival Library and as you probably guessed, it contains a ton of maps. I store it on pairs of volumes on ruggedized media.

 

The first volume is not encrypted and contains information necessary to treat me in an emergency and some selections from my library that I would like anyone who happens up on to have access to.

The other volume is encrypted and contains a vast library of books, maps, emergency communications plan, emergency plans, insurance information, medical records, photos, genealogy, music, scans of documents, software, driver and a backup of all my important data that I never want to be without. I scan and shred anything that can be, so it’s a lot of data.

It also includes all the software necessary to make any phone of computer I come across read every file type of maps and other files in the library, drivers to print, program amateur radios and everything else I could anticipate that a survivalist would need.

It is comforting to know that if my plane drops out of the sky and I find myself on some island in the Caribbean or in South America I have a map and access to my library … maybe I won’t have a map in the level of detail I would like, but chances are good that it would be useful.

13 Essential survival items are included inside this kit. Grab this offer now!

How to Make Your Own Digital Survival Library

If you make one for yourself, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Stash portions of your DSL on an encrypted server outside the US to make sure you can hop on line an access it from anywhere … as long as the internet is still up.

Cache copies in separate sites. Info caches can be very small so it’s no big deal to stash encrypted copies in places you could find yourself stranded.

It you have need, you can stash a copy on a rugged MicroSD card concealed in a hollowed-out coin, under a band-aid or any imaginable object of sufficient dimensions.

Carry a copy on your keychain in a flash drive or adapter that can connect to both cell phones and computers.

Be careful about using cellphones. Most people carry a powerful computer in their pocket, but haven’t configured it for use as a standalone computer, they are very portable and common. Sufficiently small cell phones are likely to survive EMP as a standalone tool even though they contain a lot of vulnerable circuitry because they lack the conductor length to pick up sufficient charge from an incident of typical (50kVA/m) field strength at a distance.

Their small size and low cost make it a simple matter to shield them against more intense super-EMP field strengths and to cache backup phones in Faraday cages. Make sure your phones have the all the software and drivers to get the most of out of your phone in an emergency. If you root a phone and remove all the balloon-ware and tracking software cell providers pre-load phones with, even old phones are plenty powerful to be very useful.

As with all digital maps, GPS’s make it possible to carry more maps, greater detail and more current information as long as you are willing to shell out the dough. They are great tools. Use them, but don’t become dependent on GPS’s, cellphones, PLB’s or anything else that runs on batteries.

Get proficient in orienteering with map and compass first and then add GPS’s and a DSL on top of a strong foundation of map and compass land navigation. Every year, I read about hikers dying from injuries and/or exposure when gizmo’s fail, leaving them stranded.

SERE Maps

Keep copies of a couple small maps in your PSSRK (Pocket Survival and Self-recovery Kit) so you will always have a map on your person. Update them as you move around. Even if you know the area like the back of your hand, not everyone will and maps have a number of other uses besides finding your way.

Phone Book Maps

If you find yourself without a map in a populated area, a decent map for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (aka SERE) purpose can be had for free from any phonebook. You can often find old phonebooks in or near dumpsters or at recycling centers.

Make sure you have the social engineering skills to get your hands on one from any business or residence without putting yourself at risk stealing. Hotels and churches often print small maps on fliers and the latter have aided in prison escapes.

Tyvek

Tyvek is a waterproof, tear-resistant ultralight material that can aid in the construction of a shelter in a pinch … great for SERE maps. The Federal Publications Inc website in Canada prints maps of Canada on Tyvek as do US companies that change so frequently I won’t waste your time with a link … or you can DIY.

Fabric

There is a storied history of blood chits and E&E maps silkscreened or traced onto fabric and sewn into the lining of jackets.

Silk is durable and fire resistant. Polyester taffeta burns thoroughly and quickly without producing hardly any smoke upon exposure to a lighter or other flame. Choose material based on need. Both fabrics pack great in pocket kits.

Light Source

Make sure you can read your maps in the dark. Less-overt colors of low brightness are more covert and preserve night vision, also tend to make ink of the same wavelength disappear, making them less-effective for use with maps that use those colors.

Because of this, I use the Petzl STRIX IR a lot which is a headlamp that can produce red, green, blue white or IR light of low intensity or more intense white light depending on the situation.

UV Light & Marker

A small UV LED can be used to read notes written with UV ink that are normally invisible to the naked eye. UV LEDs and pens can also useful for marking and signaling dead drops, for visual communications and the LEDs for finding biomatter, and scorpions.

General Direction SERE Compass

If you do manage to survive with only the contents of your pockets in unfamiliar terrain, your map won’t be effective unless you orient it.

Maps for Travel, Recreation and Emergency Preparedness

You will want paper copies of these where possible. Digital copies can often be had for free, so get those either way. Store digital copies of your paper maps for use on your cell phones and computers. Scan maps that you only have on paper.

Neighborhood Maps for Emergency Response

I keep these in an emergency-response binder.

By collecting and updating maps, I have accurate maps showing every home and who lives in it, not only my neighborhood but also in surrounding neighborhoods. This information greatly simplifies the process of Block Captains and Co-Captains should keep maps of the neighborhood to mark off which homes need assistance in the event of a disaster incident.

Each neighborhood gets checked off house by house in each block with blocks reporting to neighborhood EOC’s (Emergency Operations Centers) and Neighborhood EOC’s reporting to Area or Municipality EOC’s. You can find out more about how the program works from your local CERT Program. Find a CERT Program Near You

US Geological Survey

You can download all the maps you want for free or order printed maps at reasonable cost.

Another option with the USGS is that you can send them media and they will send you the maps you request or even a copy of the entire inventory, but you had better send a big drive since that would be several TB of data at this writing. That would take quite a while to download over most connections, so perhaps that’s why they provide the service.

  • 1:24K Topo Maps – High level of detail when on foot.
  • 1:100K Topo Maps – A little larger scale for traveling by vehicle.

USDA Forest Service Maps

They typically cost $12-$14 for printed copies.

US National Park Maps

Download for free or buy paper copies for typically $9-$12ea. Set the page to the maximum number of products per page so you don’t have to scroll through as many pages.

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Map

Similar to EarthExplorer. Save digital copies and print paper ones.

Maps for Your Vehicle

City Maps

City maps are a must. I make it a point to pick them up wherever I travel, in advance when possible.

Topo Maps of the Entire State

These atlases and gazetteers by DeLorme and possibly competitive products are useful for traveling back roads and forest service roads by vehicle. This is important because you never know when an unforeseen emergency may force you to flee in an unplanned direction over back roads.

The scale isn’t large enough to be of much use on foot unless you have a lot of ground to cover, but pages or parts of pages could serve as E&E maps while traveling and is great for long drives. Invest in plastic covers and cases for these if you want them to last banging around in a vehicle.

Cost is about $15-$20 for most states and a little more for larger states or states with a lot of detail. I make sure I carry atlases for all of the states I am traveling and the adjacent states out West. Back in the Northeast where sizes of states are smaller I would make sure I had atlases for 2-4 states away from planned routes.

US Road Atlas

They are long distance backup to the above atlases.

Compact Phone Book

Maps and direction finding are more effective with a destination in mind. As soon as your cell tower, the grid or the internet go down, google and online maps will no longer work and you will find yourself reaching for something your probably don’t use much any more … a phone book … provided you are old enough to know what they are and how to use one, that is.

Custom Maps

Custom Maps Printed by University Libraries

Cheapest source of custom maps I have found. I had a university library print some color topographical maps on water-resistant paper in the same detail a the USGS topo maps. They are very large, about the size of 2 USGS topo maps high x 3 wide centered on areas of my choice.

They cost about $6 each which is an outstanding value! USGS topos would have cost me 6x as much, not come on water-resistant paper and aren’t centered where you like so you always seem to end up hiking through 2-4 maps per day, which means you have to line up the edges multiple maps.

DIY

Print maps at home. Depending on how many maps you print, what software you use and what you print them on, this can range from very inexpensive to expensive.

In addition to the USGS, there are several private websites which also offer free, printable maps online. I have printed some useful ones using Google Earth.

Custom Maps

mytopo and a few other companies have websites with easy to use interfaces that enable you to order custom maps of every sort imaginable. They have useful hunting products as they can display public vs private land, land owners and hunting areas. They are more expensive, but not ridiculously, so. Price varies by size and type.

Also check out their Backpacker Magazine Pro Maps if you are a backpacker.

This article has been written by Cache Valley Prepper for Survivopedia.

Hiding Your Bugout Location

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Hiding Your Bugout Location Securing a bugout bag and location is a struggle in and of itself. Once you find that perfect place or that perfect property people have a tendency to make it look like home. When you think about what you are trying to achieve with a bugout location you may not want …

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3 Essential EDC Fire Starters I Carry Everywhere

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by Todd Walker

3 Essential EDC Fire Starters I Carry Everywhere ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

What’s in your pockets? If you look at the popular trend of pocket dumps on social media, the answer appears to be everything, except the kitchen sink. I seldom see fire tools in these pocket dumps. Of course, our Everyday Carry items will look different depending on our jobs, lifestyle, and skill level.

Several of us from the Prepared Bloggers are sharing different EDC (Everyday Carry) items we never leave home without. Being the pyro that I am, I choose fire. Be sure to read the other value-adding articles by my friends in the links below this article.

The concept of carrying essential items on one’s person is smart habit. If ever separated from your main preparedness kit, the stuff in your pockets, plus your skillset to use said items, may be the only tools available.

The tool doesn’t determine your success. Your skills determine the tool’s success.

The quote above applies to preppers, survivalists, campers, carpenters, homesteaders, accountants, school teachers, and, well, all of us.

Pockets of Fire

If you frisked me, no matter the locale (urban or wilderness), you’d discover a minimum of three ignition sources in my pockets…

  • Mini Bic lighter (open flame)
  • Ferrocerium rod (spark ignition)
  • Fresnel lens (solar)
3 Essential EDC Fire Starters I Carry Everywhere ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

L to R: Key chain Exotac fireRod, mini Bic lighter, wallet fresnel lens, and two wallet tinders: duct tape and waxed jute twine.

Let’s break these down and discuss the advantages, disadvantages, and a few tips to successfully use each fire tool. Keep in mind that these are simply ignition sources and do not guarantee a sustainable fire. For more info on the importance of fire, you may find this article useful.

Bic Lighter – Open Flame

Since a road flare isn’t practical for EDC, I carry a mini Bic. The resemblance of road flares to dynamite puts people on edge, especially law enforcement officers. I do have them in my vehicle kits though.

The times you really need fire is usually when fire is hardest come by. I’ll take an open flame over sparks, solar, and especially fire by friction every day of the week and twice on Sundays! As mentioned previously, you must put in deliberate practice to hone your fire craft skills by actually Doing the Stuff or these fire tools just look cool in pocket dumps on Instagram.

To learn more on building sustainable fires, browse our Fire Craft Page.

Cold hands loose dexterity and make normally simple tasks, striking a lighter, difficult. Modify your EDC lighter by removing the child-proof device wrapped over the striker wheel. Pry it up from the chimney housing. Once free, pull the metal band from the lighter. Two metal wings will point up after removal. Bend the wings down flat to protect your thumb when striking the lighter.

What if your lighter gets wet?

On a recent wilderness survival course, I taught our boy scout troop how to bring a wet lighter back to life. Each threw their non-child-proofed lighter into the creek. After retrieval, they were instructed to blow excess moisture out of the chimney and striker wheel. Next, they ran the striker wheel down their pant leg several passes to further dry the flint and striker. Within a few minutes, lighters were sparking and each scout had a functioning fire tool again.

The lighters I carry in my bushcraft haversack and hiking backpack are more tricked out than my plain ole’ EDC Bic. Here’s a few ideas I’ve picked up for adding redundant lighters which may be of interest…

3 Essential EDC Fire Starters I Carry Everywhere ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

This full-size Bic is wrapped in duct tape holding a loop of cord which attaches inside my haversack. The green cap (spring clamp handle end) idea came from Alan Halcon. It keeps moisture out and prevents the fuel lever from being accidentally depressed.

3 Essential EDC Fire Starters I Carry Everywhere ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The cap removed reveals the child-proof device missing.

Advantages

  • A mini Bic will give you approximately 1,450 open flames.
  • A wet Bic can be back in service within a minute or so.
  • So easy to light a five-year-old can use one.
  • Designed to be used with only one hand.

Disadvantages

  • It’s difficult to monitor the fuel level unless the housing is clear.
  • They are consumable… eventually.
  • Extreme cold limits a Bic. Keep it warm inside a shirt pocket under your overcoat.
  • A mythical disadvantage is that lighters won’t work in high altitudes. If Sherpas use them on Mt. Everest, this lowland sherpa is sold.

Ferrocerium Rod (Firesteel)

In the bushcraft/survivalist/prepper community, ferro rods have the hyped reputation of being a fail-safe fire maker. The device is simple and won’t malfunction, they say. Scrap the metal off the rod, and, poof, you have a fire, even in the rain. Sounds good but don’t buy the marketing hype!

“Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.”
~ Thomas Sowell

In my experience teaching both children and adults, using a ferro rod for the first time ends in failure more times than not. Yet everyone is told to add one to their emergency fire kits. I carry a small one on my key chain because I enjoy practicing fire craft skills. They’re a novel way of making fire but, like any skill, require practice to become proficient.

3 Essential EDC Fire Starters I Carry Everywhere ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The fireROD by Exotac  has a watertight compartment which will hold a full cotton makeup pad for tinder.

Of these three ferro rod techniques – push, pull, and thumb lever – the latter is my favorite on softer firesteels. It offers more accurate placement of sparks. The drawback is that the thumb lever requires more fine motor skills and coordination which go bye-bye in an adrenaline spiked emergency scenario. That’s why I carry a Bic!

If you’ve never tried the thumb lever technique, here’s a short video demonstration which may help…

One of the many reasons I practice fire by friction is the fact that it teaches the importance of preparing proper tinder material. Marginal tinder takes more heat to combust. Even with 3,000 degree ferro rod sparks, you may fail to ignite damp, finely shredded tinder. The amount of heat needed for ignition depends on the amount of surface area compared to its volume. Think in terms of small hair-like fibers. When you think you’ve got fine tinder, shred it some more.

Even without a “proper” striker or knife, any object hard enough to scrap metal off makes a good substitute.

A ferro rod/metal match is not my first choice in fire starters. It’s a fun bushcraft tool to use though.

Advantages

  • Scraped with a sharp rock, broken glass, or any object sharp enough to remove metal particles, 1,500º F to 3,000º F sparks spontaneously combust as they meet air.
  • Sparks even in wet conditions.
  • The average outdoors person will never use up a ferro rod.
  • Can ignite many tinder sources.
  • For more info on ferro rods, click here. My EDC rod is way smaller than the one in the link.

Disadvantages

  • They are consumable… eventually.
  • They’re difficult to use if you’ve never practiced with this tool.
  • Intermediate skill level needed.

Fresnel Lens

A quality fresnel lens is useful for starting fires, examining plants and insects, splinter and tick removal, and reading navigational maps. I carry a 4 power lens in my wallet. It takes up about as much space as a credit card. I ordered a 3-pack from Amazon for under $7.

Sunshine is loaded with electromagnetic energy in the form of photons. A fresnel lens simply harnesses the energy to a focused point creating enough heat to start a fire.

A few tips I’ve learned may help here. Not all tinder material will combust. You’ll get smoke and char but may never have an actual flame. In the short video below, within a second you’ll see smoke on crushed pine straw. Once a large area was smoldering, I had to blow the embers into a flame.

Increase your odds of solar ignition by keeping the lens perpendicular to the sun’s rays and the tinder. Move the lens closer or further away until the smallest dot of light strikes the target. Brace your hand to steady the spot of heat. Smoke should appear almost immediately. Afternoon sun is stronger than morning sun. Keep this in mind when practicing this method.

3 Essential EDC Fire Starters I Carry Everywhere ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Keep the lens perpendicular to the sun’s rays to concentrate the most radiant energy on your tinder.

Just for fun, I discovered that cocoa powder, which I carry in my bushcraft kit, makes a useable coal with solar ignition. Have fun playing and experimenting with fire!

Advantages

  • Beginner skill level. Ever drive ants crazy with one as a kid?
  • Can ignite different tinder materials
  • Lightweight
  • Saves other ignition sources on sunny days.
  • Never wears out. Always protect your lens from scratches and breakage.

Disadvantages

  • Dependent on sunshine.
  • May only create an ember which can be coaxed into flame.

EDC Fire Tinder

Duct tape and waxed jute twine ride alongside my fresnel lens in my wallet. You’ll also find a full-size cotton makeup pad stuffed inside the cap of my ferro rod. Wrapping a few feet of tape around an old gift card gives you an emergency tinder source for open flame ignition. Setting fire to a foot long strip of loosely balled duct tape will help ignite your kindling. There are so many multi-functional uses of duct tape, fire being one of them, that you should always carry at least a few feet in your wallet.

The waxed jute twine can be unravelled to create surface area for spark ignition. Unraveled, it can also be used as a long-burning candle wick. Either way, it’s nice to have another waterproof tinder in your pocket/wallet. Here’s a link if you’re interested in making your own waxed jute twine.

If all you have for ignition is a ferro rod, duct tape will ignite, but again, don’t count on it if you haven’t practiced this method. See our video below…

It never hurts to have multiple fire starting methods on your person. Drop us a comment on other EDC fire starters that I haven’t mentioned.

Be sure to scroll down and check out the other articles by my friends at the Prepared Bloggers.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

 

The Prepared Bloggers present - Everyday Carry Bag. What will you find in ours?

The Prepared Bloggers are at it again!

Everyday carry, or EDC for short, refers to items that are carried on a regular basis to help you deal with the normal everyday needs of modern western society and possible emergency situations.

Some of the most common EDC items are knives, flashlights, multitools, wallets, smartphones, notebooks, and pens. Because people are different, the type and quantity of items will vary widely. If you have far to travel for work or have young children, your EDC could be huge!

But, even if you’re just setting out for a walk around the neighborhood, taking your essential items with you in a pair of cargo pants with large pockets, may be all you need to be prepared.

Follow the links to see what a few of the Prepared Bloggers always carry in their EDC.

Shelle at PreparednessMama always carries cash, find out why and how much she recommends.

John at 1776 Patriot USA tell us the 5 reasons he thinks his pistol is the essential item to have.

LeAnn at Homestead Dreamer won’t be caught without her handy water filter.

Justin at Sheep Dog Man has suggestions for the best flashlights to carry every day.

Bernie at Apartment Prepper always carries two knives with her, find out what she recommends.

Nettie at Preppers Survive has a cool way to carry duct tape that you can duplicate.

Todd at Ed That Matters tells us about the one item you’ll always go back for…your cell phone

Erica at Living Life in Rural Iowa knows how important her whistle can be when you want to be safe.

Todd at Survival Sherpa always carries 3 essential fire starters wherever he goes.

Angela at Food Storage and Survival loves her Mini MultiTool, it’s gotten her out of a few scrapes!