The Essential Things All Hunters Should Have!

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The Essential Things All Hunters Should Have! Hunting is not just all about having high-end weapons and other equipment, but it is also about overcoming the harsh and most inconvenient environment. Thus, to be an effective hunter, you should be prepared for whatever is ahead of your hunting venture. You should take note of these … Continue reading The Essential Things All Hunters Should Have!

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UST Base Tube Tarp 1.0 Reviews

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A tarp tent is a wonderful addition to your bug out bag as it can be used in many different ways. A tarp tent is a tarpaulin, a plastic or nylon sheet, used in place of a tent. It is usually rigged with poles, tent pegs, and guy lines. Ultralight backpackers use tarp tents because they are easy to set up and lightweight compared to other backpacking shelters which makes for a more pleasant hike. Especially if you need a quick shelter when hit with a sudden downpour.

 

Recently I was looking for a good, reliable tarp/tent for my husband. We wanted something light, durable, and affordable. We decided, at the recommendation of others, on the UST Base Tube Tarp/tent 1.0. (Ultimate Survival Technologies) We have never been happier with a purchase.

UST Base Tube Tarp 1.0 Features and Specs:

• Ultra-light, compact, tubular tarp protects against foul weather
• Multi-use tube tarp can be used as a ground cloth or sleeping tent
• Reverses for reflective signaling surface
• Flame-retardant
• Sets up in minutes
• Compact and easy to transport
• Aluminized side provides thermal insulation and reflectivity for signaling
Hidden zipper transforms the tarp into a tube-shaped sleeping tent, providing protection from the damp ground below and the elements above
• Can be used as a sleeping tent or all-weather tarp
• Complete instructions are included and also conveniently located on the exterior of the stuff sack
• Includes stuff sack, guy lines, and steel stakes
• Erected HxWxD: 39” x 84” x 35” (99 x 213 x 89cm)
• Packed HxWxD: 15” x 4” x 4” (381 x 102 x 102mm)
• Weight: 1lb 12 oz. (794g)

We did a lot of shopping around and found the UST Tube Tarp to be one of the most affordable, reliable and used ones out there. Before this was shown to me the only recommended tarps I found were $80 or more. That can really hit your pocket if you have 4 bug out bags to supply for. that was a nice change from expensive basic gear. Below are some wonderful review videos for you to check out and decide for yourself if this will be an addition to your bug out or camping gear. A list of products in the videos will be posted at the end of the article.

 

The post UST Base Tube Tarp 1.0 Reviews appeared first on American Preppers Network.

ROM Pack – Review

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Recently I have been learning more and more about multi-use items. Food Network’s Alton Brown decidedly is against any “unitasker” and I have to agree. This is what differentiates the ROM Pack from other normal backpacks Read More …

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25 Make Ahead Camping Meals

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25 Make Ahead Camping Meals It may seem like 25 make ahead camping meals wouldn’t be much of a topic for SHTF. In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many opportunities for make ahead camping meals. The most obvious of course is the food storage department. The meals that are shelf …

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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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Small Wood Splitting With Axe: Reliable In Camp & On The Trail

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Small Wood Splitting With Axe: Reliable In Camp & On The Trail Splitting wood on the home front is a completely different endeavor than when you are on the trail and I really enjoy the angle on this great article because of that. When we generate a skillset in the comfort of our own homes …

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Into the Wild: Everything You Need for Your Camping Trip

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The weather is warming up, which means it is time to think about a camping trip. The trees are starting to sprout leaves, some spring flowers are in bloom, and birds are returning from their winter migrations. Spring is a good time to check out nature.

As fun as it is, camping should not be done on the spur of the moment. You need to consider what to take with you. Consider the following items.

  1. Shelter

    When preparing for your trip, you need to cover all of your physical needs: shelter, water, food, fire and hygiene. The expected conditions and weather of your campsite will determine what kind of shelter you should have. For example, tents come in two main types: four-season and three-season. Four season-tents are made of thick, sturdy material that enables the camper to weather a snow storm, while three-season tents aren’t designed for winter weather. Tents also come in varying weights, with the more lightweight tents being designed for backpackers. It’s also a good idea to get a tarp that can serve as a floor so you aren’t lying on damp ground.

  2. Containers for food and water

    Sturdy containers with lids are a must for a camping trip. Food in open containers will attract bugs and/or animals in short order. The best containers for food and water will be like those made by WaterBrick International. As a rule of thumb, a single person needs at least a gallon of drinking water per day, and they need even more if they are physically active and/or camping somewhere hot. Make sure there is enough water to cover other needs like cooking or washing.

  3. First Aid Kit

    Things can go wrong during a camping trip, and it will probably take time to reach a doctor. Give some thought to the likely hazards you might encounter and stock the kit accordingly. For example, you should have aloe vera for burns and moleskin for blisters. If you know there’s poison ivy in the area, you should bring some calamine lotion.

  4. A fire starter

    Be they matches, flint, or a fire steel, bring something to get your campfire started. Do not use lighter fluid, for it is dangerous and the resulting fire will be hard to control. It will also give anything you cook or roast in the campfire an unpleasant flavor.

While this is an admittedly partial list, it will help get you start preparing for your adventure. Other items to consider include sleeping bags, flashlights and cooking utensils. There are also portable stoves designed for camping trips.

About the Author: Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball. Twitter: @LizzieWeakleyFacebook: facebook.com/lizzie.weakley

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…

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.

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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Not in my face!

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flashlight

flashlight etiquette

 

We live in one of the darkest areas in the lower 48, there are even laws on the books pertaining to outdoor lighting to prevent potential light pollution for our local observatory. One of the things that are a must have item are flashlights, I keep one or two in my truck at all times, I prefer two but one is usually being used to get me up and down the hill in the dark.

When we have family and friends over, I try to have enough flashlights to go around for everyone to use, and because we actually USE our flashlights, they are often in varying states of power, some being brighter than others. In practice, I have come up with a list of flashlight etiquette.

  • Do not shine a flashlight in anyone’s face, it is rude, it will blind the person and affect their night vision for quite some time. Shine your light down as much as you can instead of up. If you must shine it at a person, shine it well below their face so they aren’t blinded by the light, this also includes dogs, cats or other animals, they don’t want to be blinded either.
  • Try to have enough flashlights for everyone, or at least one for every 2-3 people.
  • If you don’t have enough to go around, be sure to give them to those who would be most experienced with them, those old enough to be able to help illuminate the path for someone else.
  • Be sure to give the brightest flashlight to the one who needs it the most, it’s up to you to decide who that might be.
  • If you are walking with other people and your light happens to be brighter than theirs, keep your light away from them, their eyes will grow accustomed to the brightness of their light, if you shine your brighter light around them, you will overcome their light and they will have a harder time using their dimmer light while their eyes re-adjust to their amount of light. If they ask you to light something for them, then go ahead, but don’t just shine your brighter light in front of them.
  • If you are in a situation where there aren’t enough flashlights to go around and you are holding the flashlight, walk behind or beside the person without a flashlight but shine your light around them or in front of them, you don’t want to walk behind someone and shine the light on their back, that casts a shadow directly in front of them, making it even harder for them to see the path.
  • Instead of turning your light off and on as you need it, try covering it with your hand or pushing it up against your shirt or pants, that helps extend the life of the light and the switch.
  • Before turning on your flashlight at night, cover the light end first, that way you can slowly bring the light up by uncovering it, and if you have one of the new multi-function lights that has the blinking or flashing function, sometimes that can come on the first switch and you don’t want a strobe effect when you first turn it on. By covering it first, if it does start to strobe, you can make it stop without blinding or annoying others or yourself.
  • When I walk up and down my hill at night, I will often cover part of the light with my fingers so the light is slightly dimmed, I point it on the ground in front of my feet. Keeping the light dimmed this way allows me to keep my night vision in better shape and if I need to see something better, I just need to uncover the light. I don’t have people camping around me, but if you are in a camping or hiking situation with other people around, keeping your light dimmed is a courtesy to everyone else.
  • If you are in a camping situation, don’t shine your light toward other people’s vehicles, campers or tents at night, it’s disruptive, rude and might get you hurt if you offend the wrong camper.
  • The main rule though is never shine your light in someone’s face, it’s really an easy thing to accidentally do, but keep your light pointed at the ground as much as possible.

I’m sure there are other tips and pointers, if you have some, let me know in the comments below 🙂

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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.

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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.

 

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!

You Have Your Bug-Out Bag – Now What Do You Do With It?

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winterfire-300x225One thing I constantly try to keep in mind is that not everybody is familiar with the great outdoors. Recently I had a conversation with a friend at work who told me he had a bug-out bag full of good gear, but when we talked it became evident that he didn’t have a real solid plan of what to do with it in case he actually needed to bug-out. So I thought I’d write a short guide on what do do with your bug-out kit once you actually have to step outside the door with it.

By Jarhead Survivor, a Contributing Author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog

Let’s assume you have the basics of what should be in a good camping kit. Remember the Survival Rule of 3’s?

1. You can survive three hours without shelter
2. You can survive three days without water
3. You can survive three weeks without food

This means you’ll need shelter, water – carrying some and with a wait to purify it, and food.

Let’s further assume that this bug-out (or camping trip) will last for three days and you want to go off grid where there is no electricity or other people in the area. We’ll also say that you’ve cleared the trouble area and now it’s time to enter the woods and set up camp.

In your pack you should have a shelter of some kind such as a tarp, tent or bivy. You’ll also need water and food, and a way to navigate such as map and compass. Don’t forget a first-aid kit! Add in some basics such as a knife, flashlight, sleeping bag, water filter, mess kit, stove, fuel, etc, and pretty soon you’ll have a pretty heavy pack with lots of gear. (See this post about keeping your pack weight down.)

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

So now it’s time to bug-out. What are the actual first steps you take? As silly as it might sound make sure you’ve got your pack(s) ready to go. When you’re satisfied that all is good go ahead and shoulder it. Make sure it fits properly and the waist and shoulder straps are cinched properly.

Check Out: The Survival Staff

Open the door and start walking.

I know that sounds a little silly, but stay with me.

glock_19_katrina_pistol_trijicon_streamlight_tlr2_surefire_with_gerber_lmf-2Now, if this is a full scale event with millions of people trying to get out of Dodge don’t be shy about taking care of yourself. If you have a gun carry it to where you can get to it easily. Very likely that someone who hasn’t done the planning you have might decide that your stuff looks pretty good and they’d like to have it for themselves. A gun is a great way to dissuade them if comes down to it.

In The Woods

ominous_forest_coldNow you’ve reached the patch of wilderness that is your destination. What do do? One of the first things you should have done is look over your map or Google Maps and get a sense of the land. Is there water in that patch of woods? If so are they lakes, streams, or rivers? Any cliffs or mountains? Swamps? Are there roads or trails? What’s out there that might benefit or hinder you? Where’s the nearest road in case you get lost? What’s the azimuth to it? The more information you have about the area you’ll be working in the better off you’ll be.

Now that we have a map and a better understanding of the area it’s time to pick a location for a camp. When I’m camping I typically look for a spot near water, but high enough not to be bothered by rising water if it rains. If possible, talk to people who’ve camped there before and ask them what the land is like and if there’s anything to watch out for.

Next to a lake or river on a high bank is usually a good spot. Spots like these will likely draw in other hikers/campers/refugees as well, so keep that in mind when selecting your camp. If you’re planning on burning wood make sure there’s plenty of dry dead wood in your area that will burn good. Standing dead is your best choice.

Watch out for “widow makers.” A widow maker is a dead tree or branch on or over where you’re setting up that might fall down during a high wind. Nothing will ruin your night like a widow maker crashing through your tent and killing you.

Camp

Once you’re happy with your area it’s time to set up your tent. (I’ll assume we’re using a tent in this scenario, although a tarp or poncho would work just as well.)

Clear the area of debris where your tent is going to be. Rocks, roots, pine cones, any of these things can make an overnight feel like a week if it gets under your sleeping mat. Once your tent is set up put the sleeping pad and sleeping bag inside, grab your axe/hatchet/saw and head out to get some firewood.

Related: Cold Weather Survival in a Blizzard

shelter_fire_camping_out-2As mentioned earlier, standing dead wood is your best bet. If you find wood lying directly on the ground it’s likely to be wet, damp, and/or punky and probably won’t burn very well. Tree’s that are standing, but dead, will offer a great source of firewood once you’ve cut them down. I usually have a small saw and don’t cut anything bigger than four or five inches at the base, which makes dragging and processing the wood a little easier.

After you cut the tree down don’t cut it up yet. I like to leave it at tree length as much as possible and carry it back as one unit, then cut it up when I get back to camp. Make a good stack of wood so you’ll be able to have a fire well into the evening. If you’re depending on the fire to keep you warm gather as much wood as you think you’ll need, then add some more. An all night fire burns a lot of wood!

Eating

If I’m doing a long distance hike I’ll primarily take freeze dried foods, which aren’t bad, but then again they rarely make me jump for joy either. But anything tastes good if you’re hungry enough!

At dinner I would advise using a fire to heat your water and food and save your stove fuel for when you really need it. When I’m in the field dinner is usually my biggest meal. I like to eat, hang out around the fire, then go to bed when I get tired.

Breakfast is typically a quick affair where I’ll either something simple like GORP, or heat up water for oatmeal and instant coffee. If you’re not moving you can use a fire to heat your meal. If you’re packing up and getting ready to leave you could probably use your stove to heat the water. This isn’t a hard and fast rule though! If you’d rather have a small fire before you get going go ahead. Just make sure your fire is dead before you leave.

If you’re on the move lunch is another quick meal. When I’m walking I like to stop for lunch somewhere high if possible and enjoy whatever view I can. If you’re trying not to be seen there are all kinds of places where you can drop your pack and get your stove going. My lunches are typically quick and easy to prepare, maybe some Oodles of Noodles and an energy bar, or if I don’t want to cook some GORP or trail mix might do the trick.

Moving

gps_compass_lostWhen you’re moving from place to place you need to keep accurate track of your location. You can do this by using a GPS unit or a map and compass. Being old school I like the map and compass and I highly suggest that you get a little schooling on them if you don’t already know how. If you’re on a bug-out and the S has really HTF then you don’t want to rely too heavily on anything that uses batteries.

If you’re moving site to site leave yourself a little wiggle room on the amount of time you expect it will take you to get there. I’ve pulled into a site after dark on many occasions and it can suck setting up camp in the dark after a day of hiking a heavy pack through the woods. Do what you have to do. Sometimes being in the woods on a long trip sucks and you just need to suck it up.

Conserving Your Resources

When I talk about conservation I’m thinking more about conserving your supplies as much as possible. Drink from streams with a filter if possible and save the water in your canteen. (But do drink. A lot!) If you’re sitting around the fire at night there’s no need to have your headlamp or flashlight going. Keep them off and save the batteries. If it’s the right time of year you can fish and pick berries to help offset what you eat.

Bathroom Breaks at Camp

When you’re traveling a bathroom is no big deal. Just step off the trail and do your business. Bury everything when you’re done.

If you’re in camp you’ll need to designate a spot for pit stops. I usually like to walk about fifteen steps from camp, but at night you’ll realistically probably only walk a few steps away before you let fly. Unwise, but understandable, especially if it’s cold. Better for everyone if you all have the discipline to go to the prescribed bathroom spot.

Summary

Now you have a basic idea of what an off-grid camp out looks like. A bug-out to the wilderness won’t be that different except you’ll probably be more on the alert for other people while you’re out there and will probably want to practice more light and noise security.

Every camp out is different, but they all share the same attributes and in order to get good at it you need to get out there and do it. Practice, practice, practice!

If you’re nervous start by sleeping out in your backyard or at a campground. As you get more confident head out into the wilderness for longer stays.

Talk to people who’ve camped in that area and see what they have to say. Is a gun necessary due to animals? Does it rain a lot? Etc. Ask questions about where they camped and how they made out. Ok, if you have questions or comments sound off below!

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Building a Natural Emergency Shelter With No Tools

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ominous_forest_coldHave you ever tried to build a shelter from natural materials in the woods?  Have you ever tried to do it with no tools?  Have you ever tried to do it with no tools in the winter in a foot of snow? Well I did, and here’s what happened. I went out snowshoeing with my yellow lab (Phyllis) and thought it might be cool to pretend that I was lost and needed to set up a shelter for the night.  It was about noon in mid-February, which meant I had roughly four and a half hours to build a shelter and get a fire going.

By Jarhead Survivor, a Contributing Author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog

Since I never go into the woods without minimal equipment I can’t say that I had zero gear, but I didn’t use any of it when I built it.  Here’s a little video of just how easy it is to build a shelter from natural materials in the snow with no tools.  What could go wrong?

Time Line:

  1.  Fall on my ass:  5 seconds
  2. Swear:  17 seconds
  3. Gather wood:  1:20
  4. Breaking wood:  2:51
  5. Constructing the shelter:  4:54
  6. Tipping:  6:08
  7. Covering the shelter:  6:53
  8. Digging the firepit:  7:19
  9. Lighting the fire:  8:24
  10. Chillin’ in the shelter:  9:03

Don’t Lose Heat!

Before we actually build the shelter let’s take a look at some of the objectives.  First and foremost, don’t lose heat!  You lose heat through the following processes:

  • Convection – think blowing wind here
  • Conduction – like sleeping on the cold ground or sitting on a cold rock or log
  • Radiation – heat leaving your body like heat waves coming off  a woodstove
  • Evaporation – sweat

Building a shelter from what you have around you with no tools and keeping these rules in mind is a bit of a tradeoff.  Do the best you can with what you have.

Resources and Construction

In my case, I decided to build a lean-to style shelter from what was lying around in the forest.  In the section of forest I was in, there were a lot of standing dead fir trees about three to four inches at the base.  I looked all over and found a good supply of what I’d need, then went back to where I’d decided to set up my camp.

Read Also: Emergency Storage of Wild Plant Foods

It was in the forest near water, although this wasn’t absolutely necessary since there was so much snow on the ground.  However, it’s easier to gather water or ice then melt snow, so you exploit whatever edge you can, which is what I did in my mock survival situation.  It was also close to my supply of wood and a decent amount of fir trees, which I’d need for the fir boughs.

Next I laid a small log between two trees supported by small logs I’d broken and put underneath to hold it up.  This “cross beam” was about three feet off the ground.  Then, I laid a couple of ribs along it to get an idea of how long they’d need to be so I could break bunch to the right length.

survival_shelter_fallen_treeAfter this, I went and gathered what I hoped was enough wood to put the ribs on the shelter.  (If you haven’t seen the video, you should check out the first minute or two.  I completely fall on my back, while breaking some trees off).  Hey – nobody said it was going to be easy. Next I had to break the tree length sticks to the right size.  To do this, I found two trees close together.   Then I stuck the wood I wanted to break between the two and pulled on it until it broke where I wanted it to.  This isn’t pretty, but it gets the job done.  (Again, see the video for a demonstration).

I tried to build the shelter with it’s back to the wind so as to cut down on convection.  When you have a wind blowing it lowers the temperature considerably and with my shelter set up with it’s back to the wind and the fire throwing heat in, I was in pretty good shape.

Covering It Up

winter_shelter_survival_fireOnce I had the ribs on it was time to cover it up.  There are plenty of fir trees in that area, so I resorted to a technique called “tipping”, which means to break the tips off some fir branches in order to get what I need.  This doesn’t particularly hurt the tree as long as you don’t snap off every branch.  I gathered five or ten armloads and put some on the outside of the shelter and a few armloads inside as well to avoid losing heat through conduction.

Related: Ten Facts About Fire

Special note:  if I were going to build this for real, I’d put a lot more pine boughs over the top and on the ground to really help with the insulation.  Since this was a demo and I was getting tired I decided to go light on the insulation.

Next I broke some wood up for the fire and grabbed some small dead branches off fir and pine trees.  I piled the wood up and put the tinder on top then lit it with a lighter I happened to have in my pocket.  (I could have used a firesteel, but the lighter was quicker and easier).

Pretty soon I had a merry blaze going and decided to make myself some coffee.  Part of that small kit I told you about is a military canteen cup, so I poured in some water and made coffee using a coffee bag (exactly like a teabag, but with coffee instead).

After Action Report

canteen_cup_fire_shelter_survivalIt really wasn’t that difficult making a shelter using natural materials.  True, I don’t feel like I totally finished it, but it would have been easy enough if I needed.  I could have also covered it up with snow to really insulate it or added more to the front to make it less of a lean-to and more of a full shelter instead. The total time to make the shelter, even in the snow, was about two to three hours.  The thing about a shelter like this is you need a lot of wood to keep you warm through the night.  In the area I was in, it wouldn’t have been a problem because of all the dead wood laying around, but in other areas it might not have worked out so well.

Again, you’ll need to adjust the kind of shelter you have according to the materials available. Questions?  Comments? Sound off below!

 

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Inferno: Ten Facts You Should Know About Fire

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fire_flame_facts_top_tenFire can be a beautiful thing to behold; knowing how to make fire is an essential skill that kick-started the next phase of human evolution, and it’s been keeping us alive ever since. As majestic as it is, fire is equally dangerous and will become deadly if unprepared. Fire can cross your path in several forms: As a way to create warmth; to send a signal; to prepare food and boil water; it can be as simple as lighting a cigarette or a campfire, or you can be faced with the wrong end of a ranging forest fire.

By Alex Coyne, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

Here’s what you should know about fire…

The three elements of fire.

This is basic high school science, yet something a lot of people discard when in an emergency. Fire needs heat, fuel and an oxidizing agent to burn. This is known as the Fire Triangle, and it’s vital when you’re making a fire or trying to kill one. (Fire needs 16% oxygen to burn; the air around us contains approximately 21%).

Have a fire starter kit.

Fire starter kits are cheap and there are thousands available for order on the internet; take a look at some of the options on Amazon.com and make sure that you have one as part of your survival kit. You’d rather have it and not need it, right?

If you make your own fire starters, do it carefully.

Many frugal survivalists prefer to make their own fire starter kits at home instead of buying them. That’s great, as long as you do it safely. (One of the most disastrous examples I’ve seen was an enthusiast who made his own portable kit in a small tin, then placed it next to the fire: It heated up, and the results should be relatively obvious. Store combustibles safely. It’s fire. Be careful).

Read Also: PureFire Tactical Survival Fire Starter

Don’t rely on matches.

Matches are a go-to for many avid campers, but it could also be their biggest mistake. Yes, there are ways to light wet matches – take a look at this article on WikiHow to see how – but that is not a chance you can afford to take when it’s your survival being put at risk. You’ll very likely be safer with a flint fire starter kit.

Certain woods are poisonous when burned.

poison_sumacKnow how to identify different types of woods, and know which are poisonous when burned. Novice fire starters often collect any wood they can find for their fire, only to be told by the locals later that they should have stayed away from it – or, in the worst-case scenario, serious illness or death occurs. Some include Elder wood, poison Sumac, and poison oak. Illness or death can occur from fumes, and any food prepared over a poison-wood fire could kill you.

Know how to treat a burn.

Common remedies for treating a burn include the application of some sort of fat or oil: Mayonnaise, butter, cooking oil or margarine. DON’T. This literally adds fuel to the burn, and it can lead to anything from infection to grilling your burn wound like a steak. Emergency guides generally recommend immediate cooling of the burn until help can be found – cold, sterile water. Have burn gel as part of your emergency kit, always.

Putting out fires are different.

Depending on what kind of fire you’re looking at, the way you put it out differs. Never grab the nearest thing and throw it on the fire; in many cases, that’s going to be an accelerant like alcohol, petrol or paraffin. (Also, never pour water on an oil fire. You’ll turn a fire into an inferno). Have a fire extinguisher handy, and keep baking soda and sand nearby. Remember how fire has three elements? Remove its oxygen.

Related: Six Steps to Harden Your Home Against Fire

Don’t forget smoke inhalation.

top_facts_smoke_fireIn most house and forest fires, the cause of death isn’t being burned alive, but smoke inhalation. Symptoms can include a dry cough, dizziness, nausea and potentially coughing up blood. Go down, because heat travels upwards and smoke tends to be less dense at the bottom. Fire can also be dangerous in other ways, like falling debris and burning embers.

Burnt food is carcinogenic; keep an eye on that fire!

Hone your barbeque skills at home when you’re not in a survival situation: Learn the tricks behind fish versus chicken versus beef; you can even bake on an open fire if you know how. Keep in mind that when food burns, acrylamide forms – this is a carcinogenic and obviously dangerous to your health.

Putting out camp and food fires are essential.

Put simply and in the words of an anthropomorphic bear, only you can prevent forest fires. Always make sure your fire is properly extinguished (and a fire that looks dead isn’t always), never leave a fire unattended and don’t put your tents, sleeping bags, gear or combustibles too close to the fire. Sand is your best friend for putting out smaller fires, so always keep a bucket or two nearby.

Send us your best fire starting tips for in the field (or at home) through the comments.

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How To Make A Quick Emergency Lamp From A Mop

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How To Make A Quick Emergency Lamp From A Mop In a real emergency situation we all need to use everything around us in order to thrive and survive! That being said, I remember seeing this somewhere on the internet years ago and I am sorry I can’t remember which site. Luckily I can remember …

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The post How To Make A Quick Emergency Lamp From A Mop appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.

Too Camp for Camping

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Jenna and partner -Darling its a jungle out there

“Nothing about camping agrees with me,” says fashion Icon Jenna Lyons, the New York-based president and executive creative director of J.Crew. “I need a private bathroom—plus, I love the city and all its noise and concrete.”

But since her friend, Austin-based hotelier Liz Lambert, convinced her to come camping (and to Texas) several years ago, Lyons spends four days every September in the Chihuahuan Desert outside Marfa, Texas, in a vintage Spartan Aircraft trailer. She goes for the annual Trans-Pecos Festival of Music & Love, an alt-Americana crafts fair and concert held at Lambert’s El Cosmico campground (Ben Kweller and Neko Case headlined last year). “It’s just magical out there, and there’s something Planes, Trains and Automobiles about getting there that I love.” She goes with a tribe: her son Beckett, ten; her partner, jewelry designer Courtney Crangi (with her at fashon show in matching pyjamas in picture); and friends actor Mark Ruffalo and his wife, Sunrise. During the day, everyone does their own thing, popping into candlemaking or tie-dying workshops (“Mark was obsessed with fire drawing”) or the Chinati Foundation to see Donald Judd’s work. “It’s so not my daily life, but in Marfa it feels right.”

Lyons wears a lot of denim on denim here and packs her pom-pom Gaia bag and turquoise jewelry. She leaves room in her custom yellow Globe-Trotter suitcase for souvenirs, like the huge quartz cluster she picked up at Moonlight Gemstones. “I swear,” she says with a laugh, “I’m not a hippie.”

The post Too Camp for Camping appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Keeping Pack Weight Down If You Need To Bug-Out

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bug_out_open_roadYou’re at home one night and the power goes out.  Hackers have taken down the grid and you need to bug-out to your sister’s house a hundred and twenty miles away.  Traffic is gridlocked and no one is driving anywhere anytime soon.  You decide to bug-out on foot with your pack. Six miles down the road, you’re dying from the weight of the pack.  It feels like you’re carrying a Volkswagon on your back because you’ve got so much stuff in it. There’s a lot to be said for sticking to the basics when you build your bug-out bag.

By Jarhead Survivor, a Contributing Author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog

Back in the dark ages (early 1980’s) when I was in the Marine Corps, a full pack for a basic infantry man ran about sixty pounds.  That was the canvas shelter half, poles and stakes, sleeping bag, food, mess kit, clothes, etc.  Lord help you if you were the machine gunner or radio man because that added a lot more weight to what you had to carry.

Stick to Basics

bug_out_roman_legionaries_marchingI remember going on forced marches for ten or fifteen miles and suffering because of the weight.  You eventually get used to it, but I wouldn’t say I ever came to enjoy it.  I soon learned what was important and what wasn’t and ditched the excess stuff.  Apparently this has been a familiar theme through the ages because during the Civil War soldiers started out with haversacks weighing forty to fifty pounds, but soon learned to drop the excess weight and only get by with the essentials.  I’d be willing to bet the same has held true for soldiers going back to the Roman legions where they were sometimes estimated to carry up to eighty pounds – a ridiculous amount of weight.  But then again, they were professional warriors and when they signed up it was for a much longer tour than four years like the average tour today.  Roman soldiers underwent conditioning marches that were brutally hard.  Vegetius wrote in De Re Militari:

To accustom soldiers to carry burdens is also an essential part of
discipline. Recruits in particular should be obliged frequently to carry
a weight of not less than sixty pounds (exclusive of their arms), and
to march with it in the ranks. This is because on difficult expeditions
they often find themselves under the necessity of carrying their
provisions as well as their arms. Nor will they find this troublesome
when inured to it by custom, which makes everything easy.

Our troops in ancient times were a proof of this, and Virgil has remarked it in the following lines:

The Roman soldiers, bred in war’s alarms,
Bending with unjust loads and heavy arms,
Cheerful their toilsome marches undergo,
And pitch their sudden camp before the foe.

Lighten Your Pack

As you probably surmised from the title, this post isn’t about soldiers and their pack weight.  It’s about you carrying less weight so that you can bug-out effectively if it ever comes down to it.  Unless you spend every day hiking a sixty pound pack fifteen or twenty miles, the likelihood of being able to do so when the SHTF are slim to none.  From the section above I reiterate:

Nor will they find this troublesome when inured to it by custom, which makes everything easy.

Chances are good that you’d be stopping along the way and ditching gear, thus you really need to focus on packing just the essentials.  I’ve seen packs on Youtube and in blog posts that a Clydesdale couldn’t carry.  They’ve got everything in there from three changes of clothing to enough ammo to fight off the zombie apocalypse all by themselves.  And the kicker is that quite a few of those people are about fifty pounds overweight and the act of actually carrying it more than five miles would probably kill them.

The Essentials

So what exactly are the essentials?  This depends on you:  your skill level in the woods, your fitness level, your bug-out plans, your destination, and your mission plan.

hike_march_bug_outThe worst case scenario is a full scale bug-out, meaning that you’re taking off and you need to live out of your bag for a minimum of three days, but probably longer.  If you’re careful, you can probably get away with forty to forty-five pounds.   This includes a tent, sleeping bag, freeze dried food, a quart of water with water filter, spork, small cook pot and stove, fuel (unless you’re carrying a small woodstove like a Solo Stove), lightweight poncho, and other essential gear. If you buy the lightest gear (usually the most expensive too), you should be able to have a good kit that weighs in the forty pound area.  I hiked a piece of the 100 Mile Wilderness in Maine and my pack weighed forty-four pounds when I started.  I spent a lot of time getting that pack weight down, but it was worth it.  I also spent weeks leading up to that hike walking the road with the same boots I’d be wearing and carrying the pack to get used to the weight.

Read Also: Get Outdoors!

Rather than run through all the scenarios, I’ll list out some of the things I carry in my everyday woodsman kit and why I carry it.  I’ve managed to pare the weight down to about twenty to twenty-five pounds (depending on how much water I carry) and I’ve found this to be an acceptable weight as I’ve gotten older.

Then again, I also have a lot of experience in the woods and feel comfortable entering the forest with what some might consider minimal gear. I consider my kit to be a GHB or Get Home Bag, meaning I’ll only carry it about 30 miles in a worst case scenario, which for me is walking home from work.  I like to move fast and light and not be seen if at all possible.  So rather than carry weapons I choose to leave that weight behind and avoid confrontation.  I suppose the worst thing is someone steals my bag from me, which means I’ll be that much lighter on the way home.

Let me say up front that many of you won’t agree with my philosophy on firearms and that’s fine.  I live in Maine and in the area I’ll be walking through, people are unlikely to cause me problems.  If you live in the city and carrying a big pack loaded with shelter, water, and food makes you a fat target, then you’ll probably want to consider carrying a gun as protection.  Again, this all comes back to your situation and threat assessment.  But keep in mind that guns and ammo are heavy, so choose wisely.

To survive a night or two in the wild here’s what I carry for the basics:

  • Military Grade Poncho
  • Survival Knife
  • Firesteel and Lighter
  • Three Freeze Dried Meals (minimum)
  • Small Flashlight
  • 1 Quart Steel Water Bottle and Filter
  • Pot Set with Homemade Alcohol Stove and Four Oz of Fuel or Small Woodstove
  • Small Plastic Cup and Five Coffee Packets
  • Multitool
  • Map and Compass
  • Bandana
  • Titanium Spork
  • Gloves and Hat in Cold Weather
  • Sleeping bag/Wool Blanket
  • Notebook and Pen

This pack weighs between 20 and 23 pounds depending on the extras I put in.  If you’re going to rely on the above kit as your guide, other things you’ll  need to add to the list:

  • Experience in the wilderness/bushcraft skills
  • Much time spent evaluating and using each piece of equipment
  • Overall physically fit (weights and aerobics four to five times a week)
  • Skill with map and compass

Wilderness Survival Skills

packing_light_gear_minimumThe more you know about wilderness survival the less gear you have to carry; however, the longer it will take you when you have to set up camp.  It’s a trade off and you need to be able to judge yourself and the situation in order to make the best decisions.  A few days ago I took the following kit into the woods and made a shelter using no tools whatsoever.  I used two trees to break sticks to length and used fir boughs for insulation.  I used a lighter to get the fire going, but that was the only man made item I used.

Related: 15 Ways to Start a Fire

shelter_fire_camping_out-2It’s important that you tally up your knowledge, experience, and skills in addition to the gear you’ll carry. All of these things are important when trying to figure out the best way for you to bug-out. It’s also important to weigh your weaknesses.  For example:  if you’re overweight or otherwise not able to carry a pack for a long distance, you’ll need to make alternate plans.  Bugging in might be your best option, so instead of preparing to leave, you plan for an extended stay in your home or apartment.  But I digress.

Summary

In order to get your pack weight down you need to focus on the essentials.  My advice is to lay out everything you could want, put it in your pack (if it will fit) then take it for a walk.  If you can do three to five miles with that weight without much trouble, congratulations!  You’re probably going to be ok.

If you find yourself struggling after a mile or two, take your pack home and start going through your gear and eliminate stuff you don’t need.  Got a big flashlight that holds four D cell batteries?  Get rid of it and get a small halogen light that uses a couple of Triple A’s.  If you’re walking alone and have a three man tent, ditch it for an ultralight single man tent. That will save you five or ten pounds right there.  That’s the kind of mindset you need to bring to your gear.

Visualize what a camp out will look like and keep that thought in your head as you go through your stuff.  Always challenge a piece of gear.  Some of it will pass the test, but some of it won’t.  Don’t be afraid to cut back. I believe that speed in getting out of an area will be vital and it’s hard to do if you’re chained to a sixty pound pack.  After all, we’re not Roman soldiers!

Do you think a pack should have everything and the kitchen sink, or do you think a minimalist mindset is best? Let me know in the comments below. Questions?  Comments? Sound off below!

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Reunion in Rhode Island

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Drivin’ on up!

Eunice and I went on our very first weekend road trip last week! We went up to visit my Godfather, David who I reconnected with via the power of Facebook. I haven’t seen him since I was a very young child. He and his brother moved out to the west coast to pursue a career in bodybuilding. David has been back in the east coast for an artistic endeavor that’s nearing completion.

As a child, I would occasionally see him in magazines or on television and be so proud to be connected to him in some way even though he was never in my life the way Godfathers were supposed to be. He was a free-spirited young man living out his dream in L.A. and wasn’t very concerned at that point with fulfilling such a role for a little girl. It was a great disappointment growing up.

I’m no longer eight years old and since then, had suffered much deeper blows at the hands of family, thus making it easier to put past hurts behind me and reach out to him. After all, I was still so very intrigued and curious about this distant, mysterious figure that lingered in the background of my life.

I was nervous (something that rarely happens to me anymore), but when I finally saw him, he gave me a warm hug and that feeling quickly went away. David is definitely what someone would describe as “a character”… charismatic, light-hearted and somewhat eccentric. People around Providence call him “The Cowboy” because in a sea of conservatively dressed New Englanders, he stands out where ever he goes.

We took his Great Dane out for a long walk and had a good talk about his photography, my plans to venture west, and about the mechanics of life. He opened his home to me, made me awesome vegan dishes, baked for me, took me out to dinner, took me to the movies… and even made me the subject of an impromptu photo shoot! David spoiled me rotten the entire weekend. It was the first time in a very long time that I felt like the center of someone’s attention… almost like a kid! It was very well needed.

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David and his dog Cowboy

After my weekender, I couldn’t help but feel that some sort of karma had been released from this experience, as I felt so much “lighter and brighter”. It was a rewarding first trip in which a connection was reestablished. It makes me wonder what other connections will be made in the time to come…

Side note: David may seem familiar to many of you (especially those of you who came of age during the 80’s & 90’s). That’s because he’s one half of The Barbarian Brothers!

The post Reunion in Rhode Island appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Survival Tips for Camping

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The great outdoors is in fact great. It provides food, fresh air and a chance to unplug from technology and reconnect with nature. Sometimes, though, the great outdoors isn’t so great, turning your fun overnight hiking trip or weekend camping trip into a rough, wet, tiring experience. Here are 8 camping survival tips and tricks to make your experience a little more manageable and enjoyable.

  1. Make fishhooks from a zipper or tab from an aluminum can.

Whether you’ve lost, broken, run out of or forgot to pack fishhooks, don’t fear. You can make one using a zipper or the tab off an aluminum can. Simply break off the loop on one side, pull it out to a 90-degree angle and then sharpen the exposed tip on a rock until it becomes a sharp point.

  1. Use an aluminum can as a stove.

You can use a soda pop or beer can when you need a portable camping stove. First, you need to use your knife to cut a capital shaped I into one side of the can, with a vertical cut and a horizontal cut at the bottom and top. Next, you peel open the “window” you just created, place your fire starters inside the can and then light it for your very own portable, windproof cooking stove.

  1. Use loose strands from your socks as fire starters.

If you or someone with you happens to be wearing cotton or wool socks, you can use any loose strands from said socks as fire starters if you can’t find any other fire-starting materials.

Just take your shoes off, pluck the strands from each sock and make a flammable tinder pile. Once you have your little pile, set it where you want your fire and throw a few sparks on it to start your needed fire.

  1. Dry your boots out faster with fire-heated rocks.

Wet feet are the worst. Whenever your boots get wet, don’t just sit them by the campfire. That method takes way too long to thoroughly dry them out. Instead, gather up two or four large and dry non-porous rocks and place them on the edge of your campfire. Once the rocks are really hot, carefully place them into your shoes. Don’t use your hands unless you have thick gloves on, and really it’s best to use sticks or some kind of kitchen utensil to remove the rocks from the fire and place them in your shoes. This method may seem wacky, but it works at a quicker pace to thoroughly dry wet shoes from the inside and outside.

  1. Use tarp to make an emergency rain shelter.

Never leave for an overnight camping trip without a tarp, even if the weather forecast says no rain. Storms can hit out of nowhere and ruin your night in the great outdoors. A tarp makes a great shelter against unexpected rain. Create your emergency rain shelter by staking one corner of the tarp facing the wind. Next, prop a pole up under the opposite corner, and then tie a strong line from the top of the pole to a ground stake. Next you want to tightly pull the remaining two corners and stake them into the ground. The end result is a half-pyramid shape rain shelter that provides good water drainage, can stand up against strong winds and keeps you dry.

  1. Utilize a shower curtain to keep the floor of your tent dry overnight.

If you don’t have enough tarps but have an old shower curtain at home, fold it up and bring it with you. Unfold it and place it underneath your tent to keep your tent’s floor dry (as well as you and your sleeping bag) during the night and early morning. In the morning, you can throw it out or lay it out in the sun to dry so you can reuse it later that night.

  1. Keep pesky bugs away by throwing a stick of sage into your campfire.

It doesn’t matter how much you love nature—no one loves being eaten by mosquitos or having bugs flying around them and their food. If you forgot bug spray or ever run out, you can still keep those pesky bugs away from your campsite. Just find a stick of sage and throw it into your campfire. Bugs don’t like the sage scent that emits from your fire, making it an effective and natural way to keep bugs away.

  1. Always pack the right camping supplies.

Last on our list, and arguably the most important, is to bring along essential camping supplies, including a knife, warm sleeping bag, energy-boosting snacks, extra water, extra clothes, first aid kit, a compass and an emergency shelter. These supplies can literally be a lifesaver. You may not end up using every item you pack, but it’s always better to be prepared for every worst-case camping scenario.

The post Survival Tips for Camping appeared first on American Preppers Network.

2 Ax Techniques for Fast Firewood Splitting

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by Todd Walker

2 Ax Techniques for Fast Firewood Splitting ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The permanent scars on my parent’s car port floor are a reminder of that grand idea Craig and I came up with while splitting firewood in 1977. The winter wind felt like we were tied to a whipping post.

“Let’s get out of the wind.”

“How ’bout the car port? The wood’s gotta be stacked in there anyway.”

Not our best idea ever, but we set up shop on the two-year old concrete floor. Driving the metal wedge with 8-pound sledge hammers, a few, quite a few actually, shot like bullets through the wooden rounds followed by a distinctive twang of metal meeting concrete.

“Ya think he’ll notice?”

“Nah. It’s just a few dimples. And we’ll stack wood on top anyway.” Upon further inspection, they were chunks, not dimples.

Had we known of these two splitting techniques, we could have saved Daddy’s new floor… and a lot trouble when he got home from work.

The Twist Technique

The normal way to turn big rounds of wood into little stuff is to use a splitting maul or hammer and steel wedge. These tools are heavier than an ax and doesn’t mind eating grit, even an occasional rock under ground. But they’re heavy fellows and not convenient to tote to base camp. A proper ax is easier to carry and does a noble job of separating wood rounds.

There are many frustrating ways to split wood. Typically, one balances a round atop a chopping block, takes aim, swings, and one becomes two pieces. And neither piece stays on the platform for further splitting. The cycle of bending over, balancing a half-round atop the chopping block, and splitting again is about as fun as a pulling teeth. Even using an old tire to hold the stick together while splitting requires lifting and placing the wood inside the tire.

If you want to speed up the splitting process, put a twist on your swing.

Stance, Swing, and Safety

Trees, like people, are different yet have similarities. No matter the wood species, when possible to determine, split rounds from top to bottom. That is, position the wood vertically as it grew in the forest, top end up, bottom (butt) down.

Longer axes are safer than short-handled ones. When splitting, even on a chopping block (backed-up vertical stroke), with a boys ax (24 to 28 inch length), if you miss the target and chopping block all together, your follow through will likely turn your foot into a clove hoof. A 36 inch or longer handled ax extends the swing arc and would stop in the ground on miss hits.

With that in mind, and the fact that we’re not using a chopping block, we’re actually splitting what would traditionally be used as a chopping block – a big, round chunk resting on the ground. A slight twist or flick of the handle at the moment the ax meets the wood will prevent the ax from traveling through the length of wood.

To start, target the outside edge of the round. For my swing, I aim about 3 inches in on the outside edge of the chunk. My right hand grips the bottom of the handle and flicks or twists to the right on impact. You’ll be moving around the chuck steadily removing wood so make sure your area is clear of all tripping hazards and swing obstructions.

Clear, straight-grained wood like the Red Oak in the video makes for fine splitting… until you hit a knot. At that point, the twist technique is not effective. Other tree species can be difficult to split even with a splitting maul. Sweet Gum, for instance, reveals a mangled, interlocking grain which frustrates the most seasoned wood splitter. The best strategy to get through knots with an ax is to strike dead center on the knot. Or, just designate the piece a long-burner.

The Tiger Technique

Steven Edholm, who issued his crazy Axe Cordwood Challenge, along with my fellow participants have tried to come up with a name for this splitting method. Nothing official has stuck. What I’m calling this golf-like-swing is the Tiger. You may have figured out by now I’m referring to Tiger Woods, professional golfer.

Whatever you choose to call it, the Tiger is my favorite and fastest method for turning a pile of large rounds into small, burnable chunks. Before the Safety Sally brigade shuts me down for even suggesting you use what appears to be a dangerous ax swing, allow me to explain the method behind what seems to be pure madness.

Safety Concerns 

I covered the basics of swinging an ax inside and outside your frontal zone in a previous article. There are inherit dangers anytime you swing 3 and a half pounds of scary-sharp steel. I get it. No matter how many times I grip my ax, my mind pictures a few online ax injuries, which can’t be unseen, as I soberly begin swinging. Even then I must follow, without exception, the protocol of safe ax use.

A few concerns always pop up from Safety Sally folks who have never attempted the Tiger. It just looks awfully dangerous. Here’s the gist of their advice/concern…

  • A glancing blow and the ax hits your leg. Don’t split that way.
  • The log should be propped up against another back rest.
  • Looks like an accident waiting to happen – especially with a double bit ax.
  • That’s a hazardous way of splitting wood. I’ve chopped and split wood growing up. Never chopped that way.

What’s interesting is that other seasoned axmen comment on the effectiveness of this method. This is a lateral swing and is preformed outside the frontal zone. The important part is to keep your feet ahead of the point of ax impact. Clear-grained wood separates with alarming speed… and will fly many feet in the wood lot.

When clearing and area for ax work, I use this same swing to remove small saplings close to the ground. As the ax arc begins its upward motion, the bit separates the sapling cleanly. Again, follow the Frontal Zone rules for safe swinging.

Just like any other ax technique, Doing the Stuff is the key to improvement. You can’t watch the video or read about it to become proficient. Study proper technique and go split some wood.

Here’s a few photos of my firewood stack at base camp. The Axe Cordwood Challenge is coming along nicely and teaching me some valuable lessons on the journey.

2 Ax Techniques for Fast Firewood Splitting ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The front stack is all ax cut: felling, bucking, splitting, and cutting to length. The Red Oak in the rear was sawn and doesn’t count in my Cordwood Challenge.

2 Ax Techniques for Fast Firewood Splitting ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Red Oak and Tulip Poplar stacked. You can see the difference between the sawn firewood and ax-cut wood.

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.

The Cricket Trailer: RV with Low Costs to Combat High Gas Prices

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The Cricket Trailer: RV with Low Costs to Combat High Gas Prices The Cricket trailer is a great option for a camping or bug out trailer. Low cost, lots of usable space. This trailer will quite literally rock your world. Before you start reading this could I trouble you to vote for this website as …

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How To Build The Best Bug-Out Bag

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Life can throw a lot of different situations at you in a hurry, situations you might never see coming. With the world in the state it’s in, it can be easy to get scared and start feeling like you need to be prepared for “the worst.” The secret to having some peace of mind is being prepared ahead of time for the unpredictable. Because the very worst that can happen is a disaster in which you are unable to care for yourself or the ones you love. That’s where having the best bug-out bag comes in handy.

Article Originally published by Kelli Warner

The best bug-out bag is ready when you need it and contains everything required for living away from civilization for at least 7-days. A bug-out bag assumes that there may come a time when, for whatever reason, you have to leave your home and not return for at least a few days. It also assumes that, should things be so bad that you have to leave your home, you won’t be able to drive down to the local Wal-Mart and stock up on everything you’ll be needing. So it’s important to spend some time ahead of the disaster, assessing your current situation and needs, as well as anticipating your needs down the road. Creating the best bug-out bag you can for your family

 

What Is A Bug Out Bag?

Several types of emergency preparedness kits are commonly referred to as a Bug Out Bag or BOB. Each serves a different, though sometimes similar, purpose in being prepared for whatever might come your way. An everyday carry kit contains emergency essentials that you keep on your person at all times. These are items that will help you survive emergency situations and daily challenges more easily. A get home bag is designed to do just what the name implies, to get you home. It contains more gear than you would carry on your person every day, and you would typically keep it at your office or in your car. A bug out bag is an emergency kit that provides everything you need to survive for up to a week without any outside contact or resources.

It may help to think of the three types of bags this way: In the event of a disaster, your everyday carry gear gets you from where you are to your get home bag. Your get home bag gets you to your bug out bag. And your bug out bag is designed to keep you safe for an extended period of time.

 

Identifying Your Needs

Different factors mean different needs. Things to consider when mapping out your bug out bag should include:

Where do you live? Living in a rural or urban environment will influence your needs during a survival situation. If you’re likely to face survival in a disaster-stricken inner city environment, you may require self-defense and demolition tools more than shelter and fire starting materials. However, most people will likely attempt to make it to a wilderness area to wait out whatever situation they’re getting away from.

 

Where would you go if your home were no longer safe? Planning ahead gives you the opportunity to get a feel for the land and map out various strengths and weaknesses. If you require a map for your chosen area, you’ll want to include one as you pack your bug out bag.

How will you get there? Depending on the type of disaster, there’s the possibility that you’d be on foot. You may need two destinations, one you can reach by car and another by foot. If you were able to “bug out” in your vehicle, all the better, but you want to pack your bug out bag with the thought that you’ll be carrying it a long way. Keeping that in mind will help you to make realistic weight limit decisions. You could always keep an extra bag of “nice to have” items close by to throw in the back of the truck or car if you can drive.

Who depends on you? Few people live in a vacuum. If disaster struck, who would look to you for help? Do you have children in the home? A spouse or partner you need to consider? Keep these people in mind when planning your bug out bag. Involve them in planning and have them, or help them, pack a bug out bag for themselves, as well.

Unique medical needs? Do you, or those you care for, have any unique medical needs that should be considered? Rescue medications like inhalers and Epi-pens should always have a priority place in any emergency preparedness.

Once you’ve identified your needs, along with the people who will need you, make a plan with your family or extended group. Choose an area where you’ll gather should the need arise. Each person should have prepared their own bug out bag and be able to get there independently. For parents with children, consider their age and capability when creating a family disaster plan.

What Should Go In The Best Bug Out Bag?

Water – the human body can only last up to 72 hours without water. You should plan for at least a liter of water, per day, per person. Carrying all that water may not be practical, but you should have at least some packaged water in your bag, as well as ways to sanitize water for future use. Water sanitation tablets or a simple filtration system can be the easiest and lightest to pack.

Food – You’ll want food you can eat now, and ways to get food in the future. Protein bars, MREs or other dehydrated meals, jerky are great. Canned goods may be considered, but they add weight and bulk. There are many pre-packaged emergency foods available commercially. When choosing food, remember to take into account any food allergies or severe sensitivities. One of the last things you want to deal with in the bush is a severe allergic reaction.

Food preparation – Don’t forget that you’ll have to prepare your food. Be sure to include things like:

Clothing – This is a variable component, depending on your personality, region, time of year, etc. Layering is the name of the game. Some suggestions:

  • Lightweight long sleeve shirt
  • At least one pair of long pants – you might consider “zip off” convertible pants
  • Hiking boots (on your feet) and an extra pair of shoes, if possible.
  • Underwear – a change or two, it’s up to you
  • Good socks – several pairs of moisture-wicking socks
  • Fleece jacket – medium weight jacket for layering
  • Hat with brim
  • Gloves – winter or work gloves
  • Poncho
  • Neck protection – A scarf or gator, for sun or cold

Shelter and Bed

  • Tarp – must have
  • Tent – optional
  • Sleeping Bag – must have
  • Ground pad – optional
  • Extra blanket – optional

Fire – You really can never have too many methods for starting a fire. Choose at least three to pack in your bug out bag:

Tinder – You’ll want to pack several types of tinder, just in case:

  • Cotton balls coated with Vaseline (keep them in a baggie, or they’ll make a mess)
  • Paper
  • Pine chips
  • Cedar shavings
  • Dryer lint
  • Commercial fire starters, there are many

First Aid – There are several very good first aid kits available commercially. If you want to put together your own, you’ll need at least:

  • Alcohol pads
  • Band aids
  • Bandages with tape
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Vaseline
  • Sunscreen – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and all that
  • Insect repellent
  • Super glue for closing wounds
  • Medical needs – Inhalers, Epi-pens, blood pressure medications, etc.

Hygiene

  • Wet napkins
  • Hand sanitizer
  • All purpose camp soap (dish soap or bar soap, whichever you prefer, or both)
  • Mirror (hygiene and signaling)
  • Small towel and a cloth
  • Toilet paper (you’ll thank us later)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Personal hygiene needs – deodorant, feminine hygiene products, a brush or comb, ponytail holders if you have long hair, etc.

Tools – It’s easy to get carried away when it comes to tools. Because it’s important to keep the overall weight and bulk down, you’ll want to choose combination tools whenever possible:

  • Survival knife – you may already have one as a part of your everyday carry gear, but make sure you have a backup.
  • Multi-tool – there are many on the market, get one that gives you the most bang for your buck.
  • Hatchet or machete – you won’t want to do everything with your knife, so taking something heavier makes sense.

Lighting – Always have at least primary and one backup light source:

  • Flashlight
  • LED lamp
  • Headlamp
  • Glow sticks
  • Candles
  • Extra batteries

Communication – Consider that your cell phone may not work in an emergency. You might want to have a short wave radio, or some other means of communication with you, as well.

Cash – Travel funds. It’s a good idea to have some cash, and perhaps some gold or silver bullion coins, as well.

Local Map – Even if you’re familiar with the area take a map. Not having one could be disastrous.

Compass – you may already have a compass combined with your analog watch. If you do not, include one in your bug out bag.

Notepad and pencil – This is a good place to keep important numbers and addresses. Without a cell phone, many of us wouldn’t remember a phone number to call if we got the chance.

Self-defense – The need for a bug out bag implies that you are trying to survive. Take with you the best means of self-defense that you have. Include non-lethal means, in addition to whatever weapon you might choose to carry: whistle, pepper spray, etc. If you carry a gun, take extra ammunition, 25 rounds minimum.

Misc. items – Make choices based on your abilities, lack of ability, carrying capacity, space, etc.:

  • Paracord – Must have – 50′ is a good start
  • Bandannas – several cotton bandannas will come in handy for a variety of uses.
  • Duct tape
  • Garbage bags – 55 gal contractor bags are best
  • Resealable bags – four or five, gallon and quart size
  • Sunglasses
  • Sewing kit
  • Fishing Kit
  • Binoculars
  • Face paint (optional)
  • Snare Wire

How to Choose

The fact is, unless your bug out bag is a camper hooked to a truck, you just can’t take everything. That would be camping and not bugging out at all. So at some point you’ll have to make choices based on space and weight limitations. You’ll need to consider the distance you’ll be traveling, as weight can really add up over miles. Being able to get a pack on your back and walk across the yard is no test of your ability to get from point A to point B with it. Remember, the best bug out bag is the one you have when you need it. Having more than you can safely carry, could force you to make decisions about what to leave behind, while already under stress. That won’t set you up for success.

The weight recommendation for men is up to 20% of their body weight. This is an outside max, and assumes peak physical condition. Ten to 15% is a much more realistic weight goal. The weight recommendation for women is 10% to 15% max.

Everything has weight and takes up space. Refer back to your planning phase; remember to choose those items that you are most likely to need first, and add to it as space and weight allow.

Choosing a Good Pack

Keep a couple of things in mind: a compact bag, packed full, with no extra space, is going to be the easiest to carry. A larger, loosely packed bag, even with equal weight, is more uncomfortable. So choose the smallest bag that will still accommodate the volume and weight that you’re targeting. Remember, too, that the bag itself weighs something. Choosing a light but durable bag will be vital to having the best bug out bag possible.

Assembling Your Bugout Bag

Packing things flat, or rolled very tightly, will allow you to fit more in less space. Make a list of items along with their weight. Start packing the most important, keeping track of the overall weight as it grows.

Don’t overestimate your ability to carry your pack for hours at a time. This is a costly mistake that may land you without the survival gear you need. Once you’ve carried a too heavy pack as far as you’re able, you’ll have to lighten it beyond the recommended weight in order to finish your trek. That’s lose lose. Proper packing, keeping your weight limit in mind at all times, is a vital part of preparing the best bug out bag possible.

Be Prepared, Not Scared

Once you’ve packed your bug out bag, take it out for a weekend of camping and survival training. Practicing your survival skills in a non-stress environment insures that you’re ready, physically and mentally, when the challenge arises. Skills that are only in your head, may not serve you well in the field. After a weekend of surviving with your bug out bag, unpack, re-evaluate and repack. Did you find that you needed things you didn’t have? Did you have things you didn’t need, or that would have been better traded out for a different item? Preparing for the future, and whatever eventualities it may hold, allows you the peace of mind to relax and enjoy the here and now. If you’re prepared, you don’t

The post How To Build The Best Bug-Out Bag appeared first on American Preppers Network.

How To Start a Fire in the Wilderness

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How To Start a Fire in the Wilderness I can’t overstate how critical it is to learn how to start fires in the wilderness. If SHTF you should endeavor to understand the fundamental skills that underlie the process. There exist several techniques which are used depending on the urgency of the fires, the expected impact that is …

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Insta-Fire Lights On Water, Works As Tinder, Kindling And Fuel

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InstaFire Lights On Water, Works As Tinder, Kindling, And Fuel Insta-Fire is a safe, simple, and versatile new Charcoal briquette lighting and fire starting product. It has water-repellent properties, 1/2 cup of Insta-Fire has a minimum of 10 minute burn time, and is super light weight – weighing 1.8 oz. Use it to light campfires …

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How to Make Perfect Hobo Coffee without Modern Gadgetry

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by Todd Walker

How to Make Perfect Hobo Coffee without Modern Gadgetry ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Of all the pleasures of camping, sipping a freshly brewed cup of joe around the morning fire is, as the old TV commercial hummed along, the best part of waking up. Sorry, now the jingle is stuck in your head. Many campers employ a variety of gadgetry and complicated contraptions in pursuit of the perfect cup of coffee.

Wanna simplify the whole process? Of course you do.

The process is so simple you’ll kick yourself for purchasing, and packing, that expensive French press!

Harlton’s Hobo Coffee Maker

I dubbed this simple, yet amazing, bush coffee maker the “Harlton Hobo Coffee Maker” after watching a Karamat Wilderness video loaded with Kelly Harlton’s bushcraft ingenuity. I highly recommend this channel for simple solutions and philosophy of crafting in the bush!

Here’s what you’ll need to make one on your next adventure…

Materials

  • Cotton Bandana – Kelly uses a pre-cut triangular piece of parachute material
  • 3 finger-size, arm-length sticks
  • String long enough to tie around the sticks bundled together

This may be the shortest tutorial in the history of this blog. It’s so simple not much explaining is required.

Step 1: Build a Tripod 

Bundle the three sticks together. Tie your string around the sticks with a quick knot to hold them together. Fold them out to form a tripod. The height of the tripod needs to be high enough to allow your coffee cup to sit under the bandana.

If you’d like to make a more permanent tripod for base camp cooking or your backyard, check out our video below. This is a bit overkill for the Harlton Hobo Coffee Maker though. Just tie the sticks together.

Step 2: Attach Bandana

I keep a few multifunctional bandanas in my haversack. If you have a large bandana, you can fold it diagonal to form a triangle. If not, just tie two corners on two legs of the tripod with the remaining two corners secured to the third leg with a simple over hand knot.

Check to make sure your coffee cup will sit under the bandana funnel. Adjust as needed.

Step 3: Add Coffee Grounds in the Funnel

Not real complicated here. Depending on how you like your coffee, between motor oil or brown tea, add enough grounds to satisfy. I make my first cup strong. A couple of scoops filtered trough into my 16 ounce kuksa is about right for my taste. The next cup filtered through the grounds will be weaker.

Step 4: Add Hot Water

How to Make Perfect Hobo Coffee without Modern Gadgetry ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

An old bush pot I keep at base camp

Boil up some water up in a pot over the fire or stove. Once she’s boiling, place your cup underneath the bandana filter and slowly pour hot water over the grounds. Gauge the amount you pour for one perfect cup of steaming hot goodness. Have your buddy’s cup ready to slide under to catch the next cup if you happen to over pour the first cup. Don’t waste a drop.

How to Make Perfect Hobo Coffee without Modern Gadgetry ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The first cup dripping into my cup

All that’s left to do is sit back and enjoy. I’ve found my first cup is easier to swallow than my buddy’s embellished fishing tales.

Clean up is a breeze. Untie your filter and shake out the spent grounds. Be careful not to whip the filter in the air or you’ll cover yourself with used coffee grounds. Rinse out and hang the bandana to dry while you cook up a hearty breakfast fit for a woodsman. If you’ve got to get moving, tie the filter on the outside of your pack to dry while tramping to your next campsite.

The beauty of Kelly’s simple bush coffee maker is its weight, and the fact that you craft it on the spot. No modern gadgetry required to make the perfect cup of camp coffee.

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.

How To Pitch A Tent Without Poles In An Emergency

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How To Pitch A Tent Without Poles In An Emergency Knowing how to pitch a tent with no poles may not sound like life saving knowledge.. but if you think about things for a second it actually is! Say you are camping and you forgot the poles, what happens if a bear ruins the poles …

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Hammock Compatible Sleeping Bag

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Hammock Compatible Sleeping Bag If you enjoy camping but hate sleeping on the ground, the Hammock Compatible Sleeping Bag might be just the thing you need to make that outdoor adventure enjoyable. Sleeping out in the Great Outdoors can be fun, but even a comfy sleeping bag doesn’t fully disguise the fact that you’re sleeping on the ground, not …

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Emergency Lighting Under 9 Bucks

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Emergency Lighting Under 9 Bucks Affordable emergency lighting is now at your fingertips! The Luna LED Light is an awesome, very cheap prepping item I would highly recommend to have not only for the home, in case of a power cut, but to keep in a bug out bag and for camping! As you can see …

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How to Make Stone Blades for Wilderness Survival

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How to Make Stone Blades for Wilderness Survival Knowing how to make a sharp edge or a knife in a survival situation is paramount when studying wilderness survival. I think I have just found the best website on the internet  that explains and shows you how to make a stone knife. The information on the …

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Cooking With Mud Like In The Old Days

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Cooking With Mud Like In The Old Days Improvised cooking was part of everyday life during the time of the pioneers. Most families were lacking even the most basic cooking utensils. In order to prepare a hot meal, they had to improvise and look for alternative cooking methods. Cooking with mud was one of the …

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Be a Better Prepper With Camping!

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Be a Better Prepper With Camping! If you think about it, camping for a prepper is kind of a no brainer as far as training goes. Sadly, few ever take the opportunity to actually go camping for various reasons. Maybe they think they know it all already, or they can’t stand the idea of sleeping …

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Ax Chopping Platform: Speed Up Firewood Cutting Safely

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by Todd Walker

ax-chopping-platform-speed-up-firewood-cutting-safely-thesurvivalsherpa-com

On a modern homestead wood lot, one cranks a chain saw, cuts logs to the length, and splits the rounds to season. The motorized saw makes quick work of large and small wood. But in an operational base camp, lugging a chainsaw, bar oil and fuel, on a regular basis is not practical. A good ax weighs less but can get the job done. However, there are challenges to cutting firewood (not splitting) to length with an ax.

Here’s a simple solution which not only saves your ax bit from grit and rocks in the ground, but allows you to use a powerful vertical chopping stroke safely – described in our last ax work article. To cut a winter supply of firewood with an ax only, take the time to build this speedy chopping platform.

The Ax Chopping Platform

Adapted from The Ax Book (D. Cook)

Here’s what you’ll need to build your own…

  • 2 Base Logs – six to seven-foot hardwood logs about 10-12 inches diameter
  • Stop Stick – 5 inches diameter by one foot
  • Sturdy, heavy gauge wire
  • Ax, of course
  • Saw – chainsaw will speed up your project
  • Pliers for twisting and cutting wire
  • Hardware – 4 nails, 3 feet of cable or chain
  • 5 pound weight

Step 1: Cut Base Logs

For axmen, chop down a hardwood tree with your felling ax. Buck it twice to get two 7 foot lengths. Or crank your chainsaw for the task. Either way works.

The Authentic Lumber Sexual Guide to Ax Work ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The opposite, or back cut separates the log

I chose a half-broken Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua). City folk hate them in their yards due to their pesky, prickly fruit, a scourge on bare feet and medieval projectiles when mowed. Trash trees in the view of many. But very resilient.

Now for the fun part… getting them back to camp. My good friend, Cokey, pork-butt-smoker extraordinaire, speaking in full southern drawl, always has this to say about any hard work,

“It’s like haulin’ logs. Ya gotta really wanna do it.”

Ax Chopping Platform: Speed Up Firewood Cutting Safely ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

This size log would normally be split lengthwise, then quartered to haul back to camp.

And I did. I flopped and rolled my two sticks, dodging trees and obstacles, back to camp. My peavy was a fine companion to have along the journey.

Step 2: Secure Base Logs

For the sake of clarity, the end of the platform where the chopping happens we’ll call the “Head“. The opposite end of the platform will be, you guessed it, the “Tail.

Position the two logs side-by-side so the fat end of one mates up with the skinny end of the other. This will form the trough to hold the long wood you plan to chop into smaller wood. It’s a good idea to lay two length of cedar, or other rot resistant wood, perpendicular at the ends of the logs to keep them off the ground. This also makes the wiring job you’re about to do much easier, i.e. – passing wire under two real heavy logs.

Your choice in wire matters. In my video, the electric fence wire couldn’t stand the pressure. I cut lengths of rusty, but still strong enough, barbed wire from a fallen hog wire fence line near base camp. Be resourceful.

Wrap the wire around the Head of the platform and twist tight with pliers. You could also use a stout stick as a windlass. Beat the exposed barbs down if you use wire in the barbed variety.

Mr. Cook illustrates three wooden dowels driven through the two logs horizontally. If you’re building this project at your homestead, that may be feasible. Or, just drill and run all-thread rods through and secure with nuts and bolts. In the woods, I used the simple method, wire.

Step 3: Secure the Stop Stick

Butt the stop stick against the newly installed wire crossing the trough. Twist it down until taut. Too much twisting and you’ll sheer the wire and have to start over. Fencing pliers come in handy but other pliers work. Another option would be to use a Spanish windlass to tighten the wires. Ted, a member of our Doing the Stuff Network, pointed me to the Cobb & Co Hitch method.

Ax Chopping Platform: Speed Up Firewood Cutting Safely ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Stop Stick secured with front kickback guard installed

Step 4: Attach Front Kickback Guard

If you’ve ever had a wooden missile fly at your face while chopping through a horizontal stick, you’ll appreciate the importance of this step. A whole lot of pain accompanies a stick in the eye. To prevent this stick-to-the-face event, install a piece of domed wire 6 to 8 inches past the stop stick.

I cut a section of that old hog wire long enough to arch over the platform creating a two-square wide hood of sorts. It hugs the top of the stop stick with about 6 inches overhanging the platform logs. I used two 16d nails and washers to secure the four ends to the sides of the platform logs. This gives me enough room to chop firewood lengths while safeguarding my noggin from flying firewood.

Step 5: Install Rear Kickback Guard

As experienced wood lot choppers know, as the stick you’re chopping to size shortens, especially the final two short lengths, the butt end is free to fly, and often does. Another kickback guard will hold the last length in the trough. However, this rear guard can’t be secured permanently over the trough or the stock your chopping won’t rest flat between the platform logs.

Ax Chopping Platform: Speed Up Firewood Cutting Safely ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A wired rock works for an improvised backcountry weight

Screw or nail a section of chain or wire to the chopping side of the platform with a weight attached to the end of the chain. This will allow you to toss the restrain over the stock in the trough as it shortens.

The distance between the front and rear kickback guards depends on the length of firewood you need. For instance, at base camp, 18 to 20 inches is about right. Mark the trough at your desired length. From that mark, attach the rear guard about the same distance as the front guard towards the Tail end of the platform.

On a homestead, any metal 5 pound weight can be located to hold the rear guard in place. In the forest, not so much. I stole a jagged-edged rock from my fire pit, wrapped it with wire, and attached it to the end of my chain restraint. When engaged (flopped over the logs), the weight rests about midway down the opposite side of the platform.

Step 6: Wire and Notch the Tail

To wire the Tail, cut a 90 degree notch in the end of both logs. The depth of the vertical cut should be slightly past the depth of the trough. Now cut horizontally to meet the vertical cut and remove the notch and create a ledge. Wrap wire around the log ledge and twist taut. If you run the wire tight in the corner, you’ll have a small, horizontal “table top” to sit your hot cocoa while sitting on the platform around the campfire. Flat horizontal surfaces are a luxury at base camp.

Ax Chopping Platform: Speed Up Firewood Cutting Safely ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A view of the wired Tail end of the platform

Step 7: Get to Chopping

Green wood is easier to chop than seasoned. Both are easier to separate when chopped at a 45 degree angle to the grain. Feed your stock into the trough up to the stop stick. Position yourself at a 45 degree angle where you can make a full vertical, backed-up stroke in the trough on your marked chopping spot. The stock is easily separated with a single, well placed stroke. On thicker stock that doesn’t, rotate the stick in the trough and chop it once more. That ought to do it.

Remember to “engage” the rear guard as the butt end of the stock shortens and gets itchy to jump off the platform.

The Axe Cordwood Challenge

In our Ax Chopping Platform video, I mentioned Steven Edholm’s “Axe Cordwood Challenge” on his YouTube channel, Skill Cult. Some may be wondering, why in the world would a person chop a cord of firewood, a stack measuring 4’x4’x8′, with an ax only?! They’re still manufacturing chainsaws, ya know! They do indeed. I own a couple of these modern marvels.

But, the ax, a simple machine, unlike the chainsaw, requires minimal field maintenance. Granted, the chainsaw cuts firewood to length quicker than an ax. To accommodate modern cutting, you’ll need to haul the gas-oil-mix can, bar/chain oil, an extra bar and chain for saws stuck in a log, and other field maintenance tools. You’ll probably carry an ax alongside the motor saw as a backup anyway. But with modern means of travel, four-wheelers and trucks, that’s not a huge deal.

Here’s the thing, for me at least…

In my mind, more significant is the fact that ax-manship is an old-soul skill which few moderns wish to re-kindle, never seeing the possibility of a future dependent on axes to stay warm. It is neither convenient nor easy. However, ax work is my most personally rewarding, satisfying, and warming undertaking I’ve done over the years.

You find an axman, one who turns a tree into firewood by felling, limbing, bucking, splitting lenght-wise for hauling, and then, chopping wood to length, and he’ll confirm that the most challenging job of staying warm with his ax is chopping to final burning size. This chopping platform greatly increases the speed, safety, and efficiency of making long logs short.

So, Steven, I’m taking you up on your challenge. Updates will be posted on my progress. If nothing else, I’ll be in great shape from swinging steel and hauling logs.

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.

How to Purify Pine Resin and Make Pine Pitch

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How to Purify Pine Resin and Make Pine Pitch Purifying pine resin is the key to make some great wilderness glue also known as pine pitch. Make some today and get some classic wilderness skills down! Well, I have to share this topic with you as my mind has been blown. Let me first start by …

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How To Build A Semi-Permanent Family Shelter

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How To Build A Semi-Permanent Family Shelter Shelter is one of the most important things you need to know how to make in an emergency situation. This awesome, family size shelter is just a large “debris shelter” for all intense and purposes but with the added protection from the rain because of the tarp or …

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Turn Your Smartphone Into A Satellite Phone

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Turn Your Smartphone Into A Satellite Phone We all know how cell phones can work on one street and then have no signal on another part of the same street. This makes cell phone not the best option for survival if you get lost in the desert or dense woods. I found a product that …

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Learn these eight tarp and equipment tips for emergency snow shelter camping

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A tarp shelter can provide very comfortable sleeping quarters in deep snow. Here’s some gear tips to help you build that shelter.

by Leon Pantenburg

This was my shelter. It took about half an hour to construct.

The original plan was to build an igloo to sleep in. Recently, Eagle Scout Sean Jacox and I were at the annual Fremont District Boy Scouts Freezoree, a winter camping event in the deep snow of the Oregon Cascades. Between us, Sean and I have built a couple dozen igloos, and we’re very proficient at throwing up a shelter.

There was about three to four feet of accumulation on the ground, but the snow was too dry for igloo making. The top crust went down for about a foot, then got grainy. It was like shoveling sand, and there was no way to cut blocks.

Plan B was to make trench shelters. The directions are simple: Dig a trench in the snow and cover it with a tarp.

The shelters worked great. Though the temperatures were in the low teens, both of us were very comfortable. But the shelters wouldn’t have worked as well without the correct tarps, equipment and techniques.

Here are some tips and gear for making snow trench shelters.

Get a big enough tarp: When it comes to tarps and ropes, I learn from Bob Patterson. (Check out his creds below.)

A basic tenant, according to Bob, is that people always choose a tarp that is too small.  Remember, the area around the edge is a splash/blow-in (or wet) zone, he says, that is always wet in a rain storm and even worse in a high wind. This also applies to snow and sleet.

“I have two “go-to” tarps.  Both are taffeta nylon, which is heavier than rip-stop but stronger,” he writes.  “One is 12’x12’ and the other is 12’x16’ – I use the 12’x16’ the most.  I’m looking for a larger one, but I’m not going to pay $400 for it.” (Here is a good  go-to tarp.)

In a trench shelter, you need a large enough tarp so you can shovel snow up on the edges. This becomes important if there is wind and blowing snow. Also, the size of the tarp limits the size of the trench.

My 8’x 10′ tarp, which I carry for warmer weather hunting and camping, was barely adequate for my trench shelter. I would have been able to squeeze another person in, but the quarters would have been cramped. I’m upgrading to a 10′ by 12′ for snow camping.

Troop 18 Scoutmater Phil Brummett made a great tree well shelter, which I was happy to inspect!

Phil Brummett made a great tree well shelter, which I was happy to inspect! 

Carry a good shovel: I consider a lightweight backpacking snow shovel to be an essential part of my winter Ten Essentials. Get a good one. Otherwise, that storm will blow in and you’ll be forced to dig with a snowshoe or ski. That doesn’t work all that well, and it isn’t efficient.

Another good choice, recommended by survival expert Peter Kummerfeldt, is the Snow Claw. This is a backcountry snow shovel that fits in a backpack, and works well on a variety of snow conditions.

I helped make a tree well shelter with a snowshoe, and it was a lot of work. You’re better off taking the tools designed for the job.

Know how to use snow anchors: Snow anchors, or dead heads, are nothing more than a stick buried in deep snow. Anchor each corner of the tarp, then shovel snow on the edges. (Here’s how to rig deadheads.)

Cross members: Put your skis and ski poles across the trench to support the ceiling. If a lot of snow is falling, you don’t want the roof to collapse.

That means, you should probably also carry a saw or something to cut branches for roof supports. I like the Swen Saw. I used one in the Boundary Waters several years ago, and friends of mine in Search and Rescue include them in their gear. I’ve carried a folding saw in my hunting daypack for years, for survival and meat processing.

Aluminum tent stakes weigh virtually nothing. Combined with a tarp, and about 25 feet of paracord, the items can be made into an effective emergency shelter.

Aluminum tent stakes weigh virtually nothing. Combined with a tarp, and about 25 feet of paracord, the items can be made into an effective emergency shelter.

Carry paracord: I always carry paracord, in every daypack under every circumstance. Take a minimum of 50 feet. You will use the paracord for tying down tarp ends, making “rafters” for the trench and a multitude of other things. Get the good stuff with seven individual strands.

Take along a candle: A candle can supply a surprising amount of heat in a snow shelter. I lit two in mine, and went off to eat dinner. When I came back in about 25 minutes, the candles had knocked the edge off the chill. It was still cool inside the shelter, but there was a noticeable improvement.

Probably more important is the morale factor. It gets dark early in the winter, and night may last 14 hours. A candle can light the interior very well, allowing you to read or play cards. It will help you pass the time, and stay focused on surviving.

Include a closed cell foam pad: The cold from underneath can suck the heat right out of your body. While you can rely on cutting tree boughs, and lining the floor of the trench, it’s going to take a lot of extra cutting and chopping.

The safest choice is to take a closed cell foam pad, because it is the least affected, and cheapest  material for a sleeping pad.

A quality  inflatable mattress may work, but make sure you get an insulated one. I’ve used an Exped Downmat 7 for about ten years now, and it has performed magnificently. It has kept me warm, even in below zero temperatures when it was the only barrier between me and the ice underneath.

Carry a space blanket: I’m talking about the sturdy, quilted blankets, with one reflector side. This will be the vapor barrier on the floor, and the reflector side will direct heat back into the pad and bag. DON’T get those flimsy mylar blankets that retail for about $2. They are fragile and tear easily.

Knowledge: This doesn’t weight anything, and you can take it with you anywhere. Before you go into the backcountry, anticipate a worst case scenario, then think about how you might deal with it. Consider what tools you need and what techniques you might need to learn.

Then practice. And prepare to enjoy yourself in the wilderness!

Robert Patterson is on my short list of people to go into the wilderness with. Bob is a skilled outdoorsman, an avid deer hunter, and for more than two decades,  has done an annual solo, two-week canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

His career choices make Bob a great guy to review gear. A retired firefighter and first responder, Bob was also an EMT,  and his job required he be out in all sorts of nasty, cold Minnesota weather. (Bob knows his foul weather gear and is my go-to guy for questions about winter camping, rain gear or other survival clothing!)

Bob is also a retired member of the National Ski Patrol, and a certified rope rescue instructor.

 

How To Get Water, Filter and Purify 101

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 How To Get Water, Filter and Purify 101 Water is essential for surviving more than a few days and will be your #1 priority in a survival situation. On average we can survive around 3 days without water. If SHTF and you don’t have a source for water or the means to purify it, you …

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17 Cool Paracord Projects

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17 Cool Paracord Projects Paracord is super useful to have in a SHTF or survival situation, since it has so many uses. This lightweight, strong nylon rope can be used secure cargo, suspend a makeshift shelter, and even act as a tourniquet in an emergency situation. The trouble is that these kind of situations can …

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How to: Choose the right sleeping bag

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One piece of gear you don’t want to have to improvise is a sleeping bag. If you can’t sleep at night because you’re cold, the next day is guaranteed to be exhausting.

by Leon Pantenburg

I graduated, less than penniless, from Iowa State University in 1976, and decided to go backpacking in the mountains.

So I did. Trips to the Bighorn and Pryor Mountains in Wyoming only whetted my appetite for more, and I couch-surfed at John Nerness’ house in Mountainview, CA, between trips. In addition to several weekenders around central California,  my grand finale was a 14-day hike of the John Muir Trail in the Sierras.

My backpack came from Target. My clothing was whatever I had – at the time I’d never heard of cotton killing anyone. My shelter was a piece of visqueen. Freeze-dried food was too expensive, for the most part, so my diet consisted of such things as macaroni and cheese. I borrowed a Swea 123 backpacking stove.

This 1977 photo from Lassen National Forest in northern California shows my gear was pretty sketchy.  I did invest in a quality knife, sleeping bag and boots.

This 1977 photo from Lassen National Forest in northern California shows my gear was pretty sketchy.

But I didn’t scrimp on a few items. My Buck folding knife was purchased for $25 at the Ace Hardware Store in Lovell, WY. My boots were on sale at the War Surplus Store in in Powell, WY, for about $30.

But my sleeping bag was bought at an upper end backpacking store for about $80, which, at the time, was about a third of all my “assets.”

That gear was used extensively in the next few years. The Buck, a Swea 123 and the sleeping bag went on several major backpacking trips and ended being used on my six-month canoe trip down the Mississippi River. None of this gear ever let me down.

Today, I have close to a dozen sleeping bags, ranging from indoor sleepover styles to a pair of  -15 degree winter bags. All  have their specific purposes. You will decide what the best sleeping bag is for your needs, and here are some considerations.

Where will the bag be used? Location is  important. I have slept on top of a sleeping bag in Louisiana, when the night time temperature was about 90 degrees, and snuggled deep in an arctic bag one night during a raging Iowa blizzard when the temperature got to -10 degrees, not counting wind chill.

Both bags were adequate for their jobs, but radically different from each other. One could not have safely replaced the other in those dramatically-different circumstances.

If you will be tent camping, you won’t need as warm a bag as if you’re sleeping under the stars. But that doesn’t mean you can or should buy a cheap, light bag!

Possible uses: The size, weight and composition of the insulation will all  be determined by the potential uses of the bag. A backpacking mummy bag is different from a full-cut bag designed for car camping. The car camping or elk camp sleeping bag, that won’t be carried anywhere, can be roomier, bigger and heavier. If you intend to backpack, or canoe, you’ll need something smaller and more compact.

Igloo interior during winter camping outing.

A heavy winter bag would be needed to sleep in this igloo. It would also need to be one that dries out easily.

Mummy or full cut: These are the two main styles of bag.You wear a mummy bag, so if claustrophobia is an issue, don’t get one! (One of my mummy bags is so snug-fitting it feels like I’m wearing a loose sausage casing. It doesn’t bother me, but make sure you to crawl inside any prospective bag in the store before buying it.) A full-cut bag is roomier, but the additional bulk and weight makes it harder to backpack.

Type of insulation: Sleeping bag insulation can be broken down basically into two categories: down and synthetic. Decide before buying: What is the potential for the bag getting wet?

Goose down insulation is the classic insulation used in sleeping bags, and, despite all the technological advances, is still the most efficient insulation around. Goose down provides the most warmth for the least bulk and weight, allowing for very warm sleeping bags that are in very, very small packages.

But goose down insulation is USELESS when wet, and it can take forever to dry. This could be deadly: What if you fall in a creek, soak all your gear and desperately need to warm up? Or suppose part of the bag gets soaked inadvertently during a rain? I don’t own a down bag, and get along very well with my synthetics.

But some of the very experienced Boy Scout leaders I backpack and camp with do use down bags. They swear by them, and I must admit, the tiny, light bundles the down bags compress into is very appealing!

Synthetics: There are a variety of good synthetic insulation fills on the market, and
generally you’ll get what you pay for. Check the internet and manufacturers’ specifications to decide which will be best for you.

My first synthetic bag paid for itself in my first two days in the Sierras. Here’s an excerpt (to read the whole story, click on  my 1976 John Muir Trail Journal:

Sunday July 25
Last night was the worst I’ve spent in the mountains so far. It rained all night, and I got completely soaked in my sleeping bag. The rain started after I was sound asleep, and drenched me before I even woke up. (I’d slept under the stars, and not bothered to set up the tarp).
The bag kept me warm, but it was sure was wet and clammy. Stayed awake most of the night. The rain kept stopping, then pouring down, so I kept getting wet, then getting wetter.
My camp was at 10,500 feet, so the temperature was pretty cold. Some of my clothes got wet, but I made sure to keep my boots dry.
“Got up, wrung out the sleeping bag and placed everything on rocks to dry. The sun is just coming up over the mountains, and the sky is clear. Looks like another nice day.

It rained, intermittently for  nine days straight after that, and keeping anything dry was a real struggle. I’m glad I didn’t have a down bag on that trip!

Weight: Sleeping bag weight is supposed to be a determination of how warm the bag might be. But beware! A lightweight down sleeping bag will be very warm, while a heavy, cheap cotton-filled bag will be heavy and cool. A better indication of warmth is probably the temperature rating.

Temperature Rating: My experience is that the manufacturers are very optimistic and that these ratings are more a statement of purpose than anything else! My rule of thumb is to look at the temperature rating and subtract 20 degrees.

Also, some people sleep colder than others. My snow camping equipment consists of a four-season dome tent and a minus 15 degree sleeping bag. I have slept comfortably in that setup down to zero, during blizzards with gale-force winds. But my wife took the same gear on a June Girl Scout campout in Oregon and was very comfortable.

What about getting sleeping bags that zip together so the loved one can snuggle? Again, this will depend on the couple.  If one is a colder sleeper than the other, both will be miserable.

Make your sleeping bag choices wisely. Otherwise, you may have some really long, uncomfortable nights to ponder and regret your hasty choices!
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The Sol Origin Survival Kit

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The Sol Origin Survival Kit If the SOL Origin wasn’t so damn awesome, it would sound a lot like a cheesy infomercial product.  It can do everything – slice, dice, fit in the palm of your hand and save your life. I Love this kit, in fact, If I could afford it I would buy you all …

Continue reading »

The post The Sol Origin Survival Kit appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.

25 Unusual Lessons From Long-Term Camping

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long term camping

If you’ve ever gone long term camping, you’ll be nodding your head in agreement, and then will have plenty more observations to add to this list. The more camping and outdoor skills you have, the better. Just a few days ago, I was contacted by a man who is now homeless and plans on living in his car as well as a tent, when the weather is conducive.

  1. Snails can CEMENT themselves to nearly anything, and often they will do it in the least expected places.
  2. You MUST make peace with the giant spiders. They eat mosquitoes.
  3. Raccoons have no respect for personal property. They can taste pretty good, though!
  4. If you fall asleep in in the open, don’t be surprised if you wake up with wildlife curled up with you or on you. Of course the wildlife could range from a squirrel to an ant swarm.
  5. Nothing shiny is ever safe in the open from raccoons.
  6. Armadillos like to lick plastic and exposed toes.
  7. Make peace with skunks or your life will stink (literally).
  8. Always look where you’re taking a squat (answering nature’s call) at least three times before going. You’re pretty vulnerable in that position, so you want to make sure there are no unpleasant surprises.
  9. Make sure you know what bull thistle looks like. Sharp thorns but, surprisingly, quite edible.
  10. Don’t allow people to throw cigarettes in the latrines, if that’s what you’re using.
  11. Cedar smoke may be hard to live with, but mosquitoes are much harder to deal with. Burning cedar bark is a natural insect repellent.
  12. Don’t camp by still waters. If you do, you’ll only do it once. (See #11 above.)
  13. Clear well the area where you put your tent. Rocks, briars, and twigs don’t disappear just because you put a tarp over them. If your camping is truly long term, weeks or longer, every bit of gear you have needs to be treated with care. You may not have the money or opportunity to get it replaced.
  14. Racoons will chew through things they cannot open easily. It’s easier to appease the raccoon than to keep buying new things.
  15. Given time, mice and rats can chew through things you might think were rodent proof. Be on the lookout for telltale signs of their chewing.
  16. Shake your clothes and shoes well before putting them on.
  17. Wet tobacco makes fire ant stings stop hurting.
  18. You may not react to the first, second or 100th fire ant bite, but someday you will and get huge welts from them. Chigger bites are almost as bad.
  19. Don’t camp anywhere near fire ants and know what their mounds look like. You’d be surprised by how many problems can be avoided just be carefully selecting your campsite.
  20. No matter how awesome that spot in a valley looks, and no matter how much your significant other likes it, don’t camp there. Water ALWAYS goes to the valley.
  21. Do not attempt to burn American literature books. It won’t work. However, over time you’ll develop survival hacks that DO work, or you can just buy a book like this one from expert Creek Stewart.
  22. Raccoons can chew through sterilite containers. (Yes, raccoons again.)
  23. You cannot protect your valuables from raccoons unless you half bury a box in the ground and set a small boulder over it.
  24. Dont piss off blue jays. They remember and have no inhibitions in attacking you.
  25. ALWAYS, I repeat, ALWAYS check your shoes before putting them on.

What do you have to add?

The post 25 Unusual Lessons From Long-Term Camping appeared first on Preparedness Advice.

Avoid Five Common Camping Catastrophes

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Even the most experienced campers make mistakes when exploring the great outdoors. In a minor case, you forget an essential item like your toothbrush, but some can even lead to Camping Catastrophes at campsites or in surrounding areas. To avoid the worst ones, follow these five tips when preparing for your trip.

Train for Emergency Situations

Many campers are ill-prepared to handle emergencies. Set up all your camping gear in a yard or living room with your fellow campers and run through emergency scenarios, including how to deal with a spreading camp or forest fire, and certain types of dangerous wild animals and medical events. Assign people with emergency positions, such as camp firefighter, medic, or walkie talkie operator, as dictated by their skills.

Give Someone Your Plans

Another common problem is that many campers fail to have outside help on standby. Arrange backup with someone who lives or works within short driving or flying distance. Give them the dates you plan to be away, directions and a map to the campsite, and your activity schedule. This person’s job is to contact authorities if you fail to check-in at prearranged times.

Bring a Fire Extinguisher

Unbelievable as this may sound, many campers fail to take a small fire extinguisher with them. A lot of wilderness explorers believe they only need water and dirt to put out a fire, but campers can’t always deploy these types of fire suppressors fast enough when dealing with spreading fire.

Buy Appropriate Environmental Gear

Some campers risk their lives by using the wrong gear. Always take a tent, sleeping bags and blankets, clothing, and tools that have been crafted specifically to deal with the environment and climate of the area you plan to visit. For example, if you decide to go to a region that sometimes experiences flash snow fall or high winds, do not take thin, less sturdy, mild weather gear.

Remember Your Field Guides

Skilled hunters, hikers, and other types campers with years of experience under their belts know that it is impossible to memorize everything, and that it is all too easy to forget what you do know during an emergency. Take pocket field guides about regional plants and animals, medical emergency treatments and survival tips. Injury lawyers in Castle Rock say you should also think about looking into bringing some first aid and medical kits.

These tips can help reduce the risks of camping on your own. Do not leave home unless you have followed them and know the risks of your campsite.

The post Avoid Five Common Camping Catastrophes appeared first on American Preppers Network.

The Authentic Lumber Sexual Guide to Ax Work

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by Todd Walker

The Authentic Lumber Sexual Guide to Ax Work ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I’m not sure when the bastardization began. But, make no mistake, it’s happened.

From a distance, there was an aura about the young man, he looked as though he had just stepped out of a 19th century lumber camp photo, like a man who knew the secrets of ax work and living off the land. The beard, plaid flannel (red and black of course), skinny britches rolled up a few turns to show off his vintage L.L. Bean boots with just a hint of wool sock protruding at the top. I imagined the aroma of wood smoke from his stack of flapjacks and coffee would hit me as I pushed DRG’s shopping cart past him on the frozen food aisle. Nope. Just another fashion-fabulous hipster.

A lot of my authentic southern readers may have never heard of this crossbred, the lumber-sexual. My Publix sighting confirms they’re here and not going anywhere no time soon. They seem to have migrated from their native habitat up north, the over-priced Minnesota coffee shops. Apparently, the lumberjack look was a new twist for hipsters. Remember the rhinestone cowboy craze from the 70’s? Same thing. They are born from cross-breeding a metrosexual and urban hipster (google these terms to get up to speed). The closest they’ve come to chopping a tree was the cutting of the Yule log at the office Christmas party. I guess the look and feel of simple lumber attire conjures up nostalgia, and, presumably, a boost in manliness.

I get it, chic clothing trends, like chiggers in a Georgia summer, never cease. A hipster sipping a passion tango herbal tea on a leather sofa at the corner coffee shop posing as a lumberjack seems non-congruent in my mind. I’ll give ’em one thing, they can buy an authentic lumber-look, even earth scented beard balm, but, to their chagrin, they can’t buy callouses. Those come by doing the stuff old lumberjacks did.

For the lumber sexual who stumbles upon this article, and feels the need to stop playing dress up, and would like to add authentic skills to match his attire, learn the art and lore of ax work. That wall-mounted ax over your headboard longs to feel its hickory handle whist through crisp air, hear metal separate wood fibers, and watch dinner plate size wood chips fling loose. This alone will assuredly add authenticity to your next filtered Instagram ax-selfie.  An added bonus… the calloused handshake over a craft beer reeks of masculinity… adding to your woods cred.

The Authentic Lumber Sexual Guide to Ax Work ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

No worries. Fixin’ Wax helps.

This guide may also be useful for the non-lumber sexual…

Authentic Ax Work (Not AXE Grooming Products)

Outside of fire, little else can contribute more to living comfortably in the wilderness than knowing how to properly use a well-chosen axe.

~ Mors Kochanski, Bushcraft, 1988

The ax is the oldest, most under-appreciated, yet invaluable tool which serves not only as a wilderness lifeline, but a simple machine that connects your hands to the forgotten craft of ax work. You’ll need an authentic ax to get starter. Don’t waste your money on box store axes. Once in my life, only once, I traded a Benjamin and some change for a Swedish ax just because of their reputation of forging fine steel. I was not disappointed.

A more budget friendly way, my preferred path, is vintage American made axes. Forgotten and left to rust in the corner of grandpa’s shed, these old treasures are waiting to be born again and eat wood.

For more guidance on choosing an ax, check out our article here.

How to Swing an Ax

All ax swings are inherently dangerous. Some are safer than others. But that’s part of the lure of ax work. Learning to reduce the risk of maiming (or worse) is your first priority.

It may not seem obvious, but the very first step, before your first swing in the woods, is to clear every vine, twig, overhead limb, camera man, and pet away from the area of your ax arc. The smallest thing can snag the ax on both backswing and forward chop. Look up and down the tree you plan to chop for any dead limbs. These hangers earned the name widow-maker for a reason. Even a small limb plummeting from 30 feet can crack your skull or destroy a shoulder. I know of a dead pine with a trunk split cradling a wrist-size limb in the crotch, tempting me to sink my felling ax into its trunk, but I resist, hoping and waiting for a gust of wind to bring it down. My gut tells me three thuds of my ax and DRG may be a widow. Follow your gut. Wise axmen strike the tree with the poll of their ax to loosen any potential hangers. Be prepared to drop the ax and follow exit routes you’ve cleared beforehand.

Ideally, you want level ground to plant your feet for chopping. That’s not always possible. If you’re new to ax work, find level ground free of tripping and slipping hazards and sink those vintage Danner boots in firmly.

For right-handers like me, grip the end of the handle with your left hand and your right hand on top of the left. Reverse this arrangement for southpaw. As you were taught in little league baseball, do not cross your wrists, right on bottom and left on top for right-handers, on swings. Coach Melvin told me this would break my wrists.

There are two basic ax swings: lateral and vertical. Certain guidelines should be followed for each swing.

Lateral Chopping

Lateral swings (diagonal and horizontal) are used to fell a tree, cut saplings in one swoop, and finish chops to separate a log while bucking. Any strokes outside your frontal zone is considered lateral swings. What’s your frontal zone?

Adapted from The Ax Book

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. A miss hit or deflection from a full, extended-arm swing only stops when it strikes a target. Inertia forces the ax head to a stopping point, and that point could be your body if you disregard the frontal zone guidelines.

There are too many additional considerations such as, proper notching (face and back cuts), lean and lay, hang-ups, kick-backs, which can’t be covered in this one article, which is already a long but value-adding read, for you to safely chop down your first tree. I plan to write more on the subject later. Until then, read The Ax Book and watch more videos in the additional resources listed below.

With that being said, we will concentrate on ax swings which require wielding sharp steel within the frontal zone (toward your feet).

Vertical Chopping

Since the chainsaw removed the ax from most wood cutting, splitting firewood is by far the most used vertical swing presently. But, wanting to add authenticity to your life, there are other vertical strokes you should master.

Vertical chops fall into three categories…

  1. Backed up
  2. Non-backed, and
  3. Bucking, or chopping below the level of your feet

Backed Up

Backed up strokes are performed on another piece of robust wood (chopping block) wide enough to stop the ax swing momentum once it cuts through the target. The shorter the ax handle, the more dangerous the ax. The popular “boys ax” measures from armpit to finger length and makes a great all-purpose tool. However, care should be taken to understand that missing your target on vertical strokes with a shorter handle will likely bury the ax in your lower extremities. Keep the ax parallel to the ground at impact by bending your knees and waist during the downward stroke. This shortens your body and will likely sink the axhead in the chopping block, not your leg.

When chopping wrist-size green wood for your firewood pile, I’ve found this methods effective. Hold one end of the stick (about as long as you are tall) with your left hand and lay the other on a chopping block (backed-up stroke) with a notch or saddle on the edge of the stump. Accurately strike the stick where it rests in the notch at a 45 degree angle. Continue feeding the stick through the saddle notch until the last stove-length piece is left in your left hand. The angled cut should never be perpendicular to the stick. If struck too close towards your body, missing the saddle notch, the cut end will fly back toward your face like a wooden missile.

Steven Edholm has a great video demonstrating this technique on his channel, Skill Cult. He captures the wooden missile moment.

Another method, which I’m building at base camp now, is the Chopping Platform described by Mr. Cook. I’ll post the project once it’s complete.

Non-Backed Chops

Of all the vertical swings, this one possesses the most potential for injury. This stoke is not for a novice. Even experienced woodsmen make this cut only when other options are unavailable.

There may be an overhead limb which needs cutting. The safest way would be to saw the limb. However, an ax can be used with these precautions. Strike the limb with a modified grip by sliding your right hand half way up the ax handle to gain more control of the ax should it slice trough the limb. Strike at a 45 degree angle using only enough force to cut a portion of the limb’s diameter. Remember Newton’s first Law of Motion? An object (your ax) will keep moving until acted up by another force to stop its motion. Don’t let that other force be your body.

Do this ax stuff enough and you’ll encounter the bent sapling. I felled a broken Sweet Gum tree for the upcoming Chopping Platform project. In the limbing (de-limbing) video below, I demonstrate how to relieve tension with a non-backed, properly place ax stroke. Cutting a spring-loaded sapling near the ground unleashes unbelievable tension stored in the tree. If cut through, the potential energy converts to kinetic energy, and will not only mess up a well-groomed beard, but kill with a throat punch or head shot.

Bucking

Any wood large enough to stand on is fair game. The ax swing is safely backed up by the log being chopped as long the stroke stays below the level of your feet.

Again, clear all obstacles from the arc of your bucking swing. Hew two flat surfaces on either side of the cut line at the top of the horizontal log giving you a solid platform for your feet. If the log is on the ground and rocks while standing on top, step off and secure it by driving wooden wedges under each side for stabilization. Mark the width of your V notch with your ax on the side of the log to match its diameter.

The Authentic Lumber Sexual Guide to Ax Work ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

One side of a Sweet Gum log bucked

The Authentic Lumber Sexual Guide to Ax Work ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The opposite, or back cut separates the log

I’ve used two methods to buck logs. First is to make a small V notch and widen it gradually to the desired width and halfway through the log. In my experience, I find the second method, described below, a more effective bucking technique.

Stand on top of the fallen tree and begin cutting a small (2-3 inch wide) V notch on the first mark with controlled strokes. This notch serves as the side cut for the larger notch. Now begin chopping the other mark at about a 45 degree angle. Use a pattern of overlapping cuts on the full length of the second mark (bottom to top). You should begin to loosen large wood chips from the entire notch at this point. Repeat this chopping pattern on each side of the notch to about halfway through the log.

Turn 180 degrees and face the other side of the log to repeat the same pattern. Ideally, you want the point of the two V notches to meet a hair off-center in the middle. When the log is close to separation, step to one side of the notch, the one securely supported, and separate the log with a few well placed strokes.

To cut closer to the bottom of the log, bend your back and waist and swing with fully extended arms. Chopping closer to the top of the log requires that you straighten your back but maintain extended arms on full swings. Do not choke up on the ax handle to make cuts at the top of the log. Pay attention to fatigue and rest as necessary.

For accurate downward strokes, swing the ax in line with your nose as you look at your target. Ax control and accuracy will develop with practice.

For the lumber sexual, authentic fashion is job one. Hijacking the ax, the lumber attire, and the beard on Instagram will develop neither the skills nor the callouses of lumberjacks. To be completely honest, I really couldn’t give a warm spittoon of tobacco juice that you look like an authentic lumberjack. You may have bought the look, complete with an expensive ax, but you can’t buy old skills. So grab an ax – chop, chop. And no, you can’t borrow mine…

The Authentic Lumber Sexual Guide to Ax Work ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A few of my working axes

You may loan your last dollar to a friend; but never loan him your axe, unless you are certain that he knows how to use it.

~ Horace Kephart, Camping and Woodcraft

Ax Work Resources:

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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Lost Survival.

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Lost Survival.

In an ordinary lost situation if you did the right thing & notified several people in regards to WHERE you were going & WHEN you intended to return, then all you have to do is sit tight & wait for someone to find you. This is of course providing you STOP as soon as you realise that you are lost, & do not stray too far from your intended route.

IF you feel that you have strayed too far from your intended route, OR you failed to tell anyone where you were going, then there are practicle things you can do to stay safe & perhaps find your own way out.

1) If you are low on water, find some if you can without straying too far from your present position. Low ground is generally better than high ground, though a rock plateau can often hold water in holes & basins in the rock. In flat terrain look for greenery growing. Usually this is trees or bushes. This could prove to be a water hole or a water course.

2) Remember that providing you keep yourself safe & have water, TIME is not an issue. Staying alive is more important than losing your job! Concentrate on staying alive & getting out, relax if you can & don’t panic.

3) You may need to construct a simple shelter from the sun or bad weather. With this goes making a fire, but make sure the fire is SAFE & can not spread! Clear an area of 5 paces all around your camp site, but only make fire if it is safe to do so. In extreme hot & dry conditions you should not light a fire.

4) During the day listen for the sounds of people; vehicle engines, car doors shutting, dogs barking, house doors closing, the sound of chainsaws or axes cutting wood or the sound of a generator or water pump.  Look for smoke from camp fires or house chimneys. This will give you a direction to follow, but make sure you do NOT go round in circles. Line up three trees or land marks or a combination of these in the direction you need to go. When you get to the first marker, put your back against it & line up the remaining two markers with another third one. Continue on & repeat.

5) At night listen for the same sounds, but unless they are close-by, just mark the direction with rocks or sticks or mark trees & wait until daylight unless you have a torch or are fairly certain you are on safe ground. Travelling in the dark can be dangerous & you do NOT want to injure yourself. Look for vehicle headlights, radio tower lights, house lights, camp fires, lighthouse lights if you are near the coast. Watch for aircraft lights, there may be an airstrip not too far away.  

Low ground can be good for finding water, but high ground will give you the best chance of seeing something that will help you get out. High ground will also make you more visible if you keep a fire going. Adding green vegetation to a fire will create more smoke. Passing aircraft may also spot your fire. 

THREE is the S.O.S. signal, three whistle blasts, three gun shots, three fires (keep them safe), three COOEEs (a shout), three air horn blasts, three flashes from a torch at night, three flashes from a mirror during the day. You get the idea.

IF all else fails, going down hill SHOULD eventually lead you to a water course/source. EXAMPLE: you are on high ground, you go down. When you reach the lower ground, say a valley or gully, it too should go downward in one direction. Follow this downward & continue doing this until you find a water course. Mountain areas at their highest points produce what is called “Header Streams”. These are where the water source starts from & these eventually run into streams or creeks which eventually lead to lakes & rivers. Water is also a source of food, & communities are usually built close to a water source.

If you do not expend too much energy, you can survive roughly 3 weeks on water alone, no food. But you can only survive roughly 3 days without water.

The Ultimate SHTF Bug Out Camp Trailer

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Camp trailer 2

cabin_aspens_bug_outConcepts abound for how to provide shelter in the wilds after a bug out escape has been executed.  The sheltering ideas are as diverse as there are preppers and the personalities of people wanting get out of Dodge when things go south.  The options vary from the totally austere use of a mere tarp thrown over a clothes line between a couple trees, to investing in an outbound parcel of land with a house, barn, or other conventional fixed prep shelter.

In between the ends of this spectrum are all kinds of options.  Some prefer simple camping Boy Scout type tents, others opting for sturdier outfitter walled tents.  Beyond tents are fixed campers on wheels of all designs.  Some are lightweight pop-up types with a tent type fold out top, but a solid floor with living conveniences built in.  Others are just tiny, enclosed, walled, towable trailers.

Related: Choosing the Best Shelter for Your Bug Out Bag

Naturally, there are full bore travel trailers of every description on the market from basic units on one axle to huge outfits on dual axles with an extra slide out room or more, and nearly all the amenities of a regular house, only it’s portable.  These are self-contained living quarters than can be towed to any outlying camping area, to secured and hidden locations.  

Then, there is another category of camping trailers that are just a bit more out of the normal mainstream of camping units.  One such outfit named the Timberline Range Camps is located in Mount Pleasant, Utah.  A fitting location to headquarter a specialty camping trailer company.  

The Timberline Outfit

escape_trailerThis team of outdoors minded people have created a line of camping trailers including 11 different models currently available with all kinds of differences in sizes, options, amenities, and equipped to provide about any kind of an outdoor escape shelter. When making an investment like this, there is certainly a lot to consider. While this report is suggesting their use as a potential SHTF Bug Out shelter, naturally they have suitable applications to any outdoors recreational activity from camping in the great outdoors, fishing, hunting, cycle or ATV riding to just relaxing in the woods or by the stream or lake.  Such would make great dry runs for a real SHTF event.  

Just by appearance one gets the impression of the quality of these units; they definitely have an air of ruggedness about them.  They certainly are not cheaply made simple camping trailers with weak frames or construction.  These units are intended for extended outdoor living if necessary.  

The Timberline Escape Model

Camp trailerFor this report, we selected one of the eleven models to concentrate on, so readers would have an idea of the features of one unit.  The Escape being appropriately named for prepping and survival, is a unit that is 21-feet long, nearly 8 foot wide inside with an interior length of 16 feet.  The height of the unit is 11 feet.   Ground clearance on these trailers is of particular interest being 24-inches which is a very high clearance for a unit of this type.  

Contained within is a long list of standard features with other options that can be custom ordered.  First, at the rear of the unit is a full main bed, a pull out table, twin trundle bed with under bed storage.  The Escape is set up to sleep four. Forward is a kitchen, living area with seating benches, a wood stove, a 3-burner cooktop, a 2.7 cu. ft. refrigerator, and a sink.  There is a shower and a toilet.  You have to realize these campers are designed to maximize minimal space if that makes sense.  They are compact for sure, but laid out to be comfortable and utilitarian.  Amazingly, there are plenty of cabinets and storage space, too.  

These campers have a stronger frame than most and more insulation to withstand colder or hotter weather.  These units include a solar panel, 2 30-pound propane tanks, a 20,000 BTU forced air furnace and a water package including a 42-gallon fresh water tank.  The units have gray and black water holding capabilities as well.

Camp trailer 7The electric package includes outlets, lighting and other features to enhance the use of the units.  There is a full complement of inside and outside lights, running lights and tail lights.  There are two 6-vdc deep cycle batteries for the camper. Full camper hook ups are included in the event you have access to external utilities, water hookups, and gray/black water release hook ups.  Options are many including built in entertainment packages, satellite ready, a toy hauler deck for an ATV or motorcycle(s) that then becomes an exterior porch for relaxing.  

Read Also: Prepper Basics – Shelter in Place

You just have to review their web site to get a full appreciation of the design and function of these camper units.  These would be ideal for a Bug Out escape, and or a ready set up alternative shelter in place, ready to use.  Add an outside supply and equipment shed, and any prepper would be comfortable for an extended stay.  

How much?  Have you shopped the cost of a new car or pickup truck lately?  I have.  The new Toyota Tundra I would love to have tops $50,000.  I will probably settle for a Chevrolet Silverado like I have had since 2008 for around $40,000.  The base model Timberline Escape camper goes for around $42,000.  

If you think that is expensive then price other camping trailers, a few acres of isolated farmland, or woodland property, and add the cost of building a small camp house.  The Timberline’s are well within the reasonable costs for a SHTF Bug Out shelter.  And you can move it around as necessary for additional recreational options.   
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Winter Survival: How to Build a Proper Snow Cave

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Winter Survival: How to Build a Proper Snow Cave As this winter is turning out to be a really cold, snowy winter, especially for the top states, this knowledge could save your family’s life if you find yourself stranded or lost, even if you are bugging out. It’s knowledge like this that can make the …

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SurvivalRing Radio Podcast – Show 103 – Jan. 20th, 2017

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Friday night’s  show is done…news of the day, homesteading tips, frugality, home security, and brain science…understanding how your brain responds to danger…and how to make it better. SurvivalRing Radio…we’re gonna make it out alive….catch the podcast here… http://www.freedomizerradio.com/blog/2017/01/survivalring-radio-01202016/ As always, you are invited to be part of the show every week, either calling in, emailing […]

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Should An RV Be Your Evacuation Vehicle? Pros and Cons

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Should An RV Be Your Evacuation Vehicle? Pros and Cons When the shit hits the fan, you will need to bug out as soon as possible. You will need to have access to a vehicle to transport your survival group to the bug out location promptly. Remote Vehicle aka RV is one of the options …

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Ways Camping Can Help You Survive

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Ways Camping Can Help You Survive Camping season is only a few months away and for some, it never ended! Most people consider it a hobby that is done during the warmer months of summer. They can enjoy a swim in a lake or a nice hike without having to worry too much about the …

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The Portable Grill That Fits in Your Pocket

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The Portable Grill that Fits in Your Pocket An easy to set up, portable cooking device is valuable in so many situations: hiking trips, camping, and especially survival situations where we won’t have access to our normal conveniences. There are plenty of such portable cooking devices available for purchase, but how about making your own …

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Cargo Trailer Takes Off-Grid Off the Radar

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Cargo Trailer Takes Off-Grid Off the Radar Self-sufficient, off-grid housing is a goal for any prepper, and imagine if it was mobile as well! With things becoming more unpredictable every day, preppers are getting geared up for when SHTF and being able to hit the road when the time comes may be necessary. There are plenty …

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The Cheapest Bug Out Bag: 11 Steps and Less Than $100

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The Cheapest Bug Out Bag: 11 Steps and Less Than $100 Yes, you could throw together a cheap bug out bag for practically free. But will it help you survive when SHTF? You could also spend all your money on a bug out bag and let it sit in a closet and never look at …

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How To Make A Water Vessel Out Of A Log With Fire

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How To Make A Water Vessel Out Of A Log With Fire Did you know that you could use a log to store water in if SHTF? It’s a real easy project to do, it just takes time, that’s why I am calling it a weekend project. Whoever wrote the original article first language probably …

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DIY Large Mobile Solar Power System

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DIY Large Mobile Solar Power System I have covered a simple portable solar generator many times over the years.. They work great but what if you needed a bigger solar generator and still wanted it mobile enough to take it with you where ever you go, either camping or bugging out? I found a great …

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The Tent Mansion – Big Enough for the Largest Families!

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The Tent Mansion – Big Enough for the Largest Families! If you’re a serious prepper, it’s a good idea to have at least one temporary shelter option on hand at all times. An RV is always an option, but they are gas guzzlers and not exactly inconspicuous. Tents are portable and off-road friendly, but most of …

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How to Make a ‘Poor Man’s Hot Tub

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How to Make a ‘Poor Man’s Hot Tub Ok, this is just cool. This project “How to Make a ‘Poor Man’s Hot Tub” is just right up my street. If you have the back yard to do this why not put it on your bucket list. The one item you’ll need is an old cast-iron …

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How To Build A Gypsy Wagon Trailer

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How To Build A Gypsy Wagon Trailer If you are looking to build a nice camper or off the grid tiny house, I think this how to build a gypsy wagon trailer is for you. It combines the old-school look of a gypsy trailer with the modern amenities of a new camper. Best of all, you …

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How to Build a Warm Shelter Out of Everyday Materials From Any House

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How to Build a Warm Shelter Out of Everyday Materials From Any House If SHTF and you have no where to go, or you are bugging out and you lose your shelter, this article is a good read and tells you how to build shelter with common house hold materials, I’m even betting that you …

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How To Make A Horno Oven

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How To Make A Horno Oven This is a great multi purpose oven, if you are camping, hiking or just surviving this Horno oven or in simple terms, a brick or stone and mud oven could cook your food, boil water so you can drink it and keep your shelter warm long after the flames go …

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Get Outdoors!

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get_outside_benefits_survival-2

get_outdoors_winter_tipi-2Believe it or not we spend more time in our vehicles than we do outside.  I have friends who live in or around the city and their idea of getting some nature is to go down to the park and have their kids play on the swings for a half hour while the parents play on their phones.  A friend came up to our house to visit from the city a year ago and I took her young son and my five year old daughter to the woods.  This boy walked about twenty feet and tripped over a log because he didn’t know to look at the ground for obstacles.  He was so used to walking on manicured lawns and paths it never occurred to him that there might be something in the way!

By Jarhead Survivor, a Contributing Author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog

Kids between the ages of five and sixteen spend an average of six and a half hours per day in front of a screen, which is terrible; however,  I do believe the kind of screen time spent is important.  I assume that most kids spend their time watching videos, playing games, and engaging on social media.  This kind of screen time is passive and they are just sitting there slowly turning into a vegetable.  If they are producing something on the other hand, like writing a blog post, then I think the screen time isn’t as bad.  Yes, they’re not physically active; however, if they are producing some kind of content then they are stretching their minds and growing in that regard.

get_outdoors_snow_play-2Physically, on the other hand, this can’t be good for them.  I have a seven year old boy who would gladly veg in front of his Kindle playing games all day if we let him.  I also have a five year old girl who would sit in front of the TV watching Netflix and eating chips if we gave her the thumbs up, but we don’t.  My wife regularly throws the kids outside and makes them play out there.  The funny thing about kids though is that once they’re outside playing they don’t want to come in.

Balance

There’s nothing wrong with technology per se, it’s only when we allow it to consume our lives that it becomes an issue.  From the first moment we get up to the time we go to bed, we are stuck to some kind of screen.  I’m not saying I don’t, but we do try to have a little balance in our lives.  My wife hates the amount of time the kids spend in front of their devices. As such, we will force them to play outside.

Read Also: 10 Ways to Improve Your Survival Fitness

We live on a nice piece of land in Maine where there’s plenty of forest and open space.  My son learned to ride a bike when he was three, got his first motorcycle when he turned five, a 125 cc four-wheeler when he turned seven and drives them like pro.  My daughter loves to create crafts and I set aside time for her and I sit down where she will create things while I draw.  I have a tipi and wilderness camp where we spend a lot of time and the wifi doesn’t reach.  My boy can start a fire with a firesteel and can recite the Survival Rule of Threes.

get_outdoors_fire_start-2I like to think my family has a good balance with learning the old ways, being outside, and today’s invasive technology.  I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, so I remember what it was like without a smart phone, computers, and when the only TV had antennas.  Cartoons only played on Saturday and after a few hours of watching them my mom would boot us outside until lunch.  We hung out with our friends in person and built dangerous bicycle jumps, climbed trees, and did other things that, by today’s standards, would certainly have got our parents in trouble for neglect.

But let’s face it, barring some kind of major SHTF Carrington event, our smart devices are here to stay and I don’t think that’s a bad thing; however, we do need to balance screen time with outdoor time.  Kids need to get outside and play.

Location!  Location!  Location!

We used to live on a  busy main road, which I absolutely hated, but when it was just Mrs. Jarhead and myself, we were willing to tolerate it because it was easy for us to jump in my truck and drive ten miles to the local hiking trails.  As soon as we found out she was going to have a baby, we put that house on the market and moved as fast as we could.  We did not want our kids being brought up near a dangerous, noisy road.

It was the best decision we ever made.  We now live on a back road in Midcoast Maine with tons of woods surrounding us.  It’s not like we lived in downtown Manhattan before the move – we actually moved less than ten miles, but the location we chose was much better suited to our lifestyle. People might say, “But Jarhead!  You’ve never lived in the city!  How can you make a comparison?”

get_outdoors_coffee-2Good question.  Actually I used to be a consultant for a big company based out of St. Paul, Minnesota and for two and a half years I lived on airplanes, stayed in hotels, and drove rental cars all over the country five days a week.  As a matter of fact, I spent the last two months traveling in NYC:  Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.  I’ve been to just about every major city this side of the Mississippi and a few in Canada.  (I actually liked Toronto.)

So yes, I can make a strong comparison between the slow country life and fast paced, high stressed, city living.  Listen City Dweller – I’m not telling you to move to the country, although I’ll bet you’d be a lot happier if you did.  People in the cities are stuck in their high-rise caves, living on top of each other, stressed out of their minds at the high cost of living and lack of paycheck.  They stay in these dark caverns venturing out only to work or to do other things inside.  Few people actually have a chance to get back to nature and I find that very sad because they don’t realize the health benefits they are missing.

Ironically, it’s these same city people who say, “If TSHTF I’m going to bug-out to the wilderness and live there until it blows over.”  Hmmm, not so much.  Folks, if you’ve never spent any time in the wilderness and that’s your plan, I beg you to reconsider.  If I had a choice to choose between a city dweller with a full pack and my son with a firesteel, I’d take my boy ever time.  At least he knows how to start a fire using natural materials and to look for shelter!  Surviving in the wilderness is extremely difficult even for people who’ve been trained.

Get Outside!

get_outdoors_jarhead_dad-2Take your family camping.  Take them on a long hike in the woods, wherever that might be.  Let your kids know what it’s like to carry a backpack and walk for awhile.  It’s ok for them to be a little uncomfortable.  Give them responsibility to do things like gather kindling or firewood.  Show them how to set up their tent.  Allow them to help in the decision making for certain things.

My five year old loves coming out to the tipi with me because I’ll make her noodle soup.  Not the most nutritious meal, but being outside climbing trees and running around is great for my kids and we do it several times a week.  My son is old enough now to use a hatchet and loves the opportunity to swing it at dead trees to help with firewood.

Granted it’s a little more difficult in the winter, but we still do it.  I’ll go out on a Saturday or Sunday and stay four or five hours and sometimes will even spend the night out there (yes – even in the winter).  My kids come out to visit and when they’re tired from cutting and carrying wood, climbing trees and wrestling in the snow, they walk back to the house.  It’s awesome!

Related: Cold Weather Camping – Why You Should Try It 

get_outdoors_reading-2If there aren’t any kids in your family take yourself outside.  You’ll be happier and healthier for it.  Being in nature has shown to bring positive health benefits, so if you’re feeling depressed, you might want to spend a few days in nature without electronics and see if that helps before running to the doctor for a prescription. But that’s another article! Questions?  Comments? Sound off below!

 

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Hiking Boots For A Survivalist

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Another great guest post from Tina Mancini from Delivering Customers. This time about Hiking Boots. Footwear, Are Hiking Boots The Best Choice Of A Survivalist? One of the main things you need to be able Read More …

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Staying Outside Longer During The Winter Months

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Staying Outside Longer During The Winter Months Few people find the courage to adventure into the wilderness during the winter months and they prefer to enjoy the warmth of their beds. Many lack proper planning and resources to explore the white scenery and even worse, they lack the knowledge to prepare for the environment they …

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DIY Portable Solar Power Unit For Camping Or Emergencies

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DIY Portable Solar Power Unit For Camping Or Emergencies Having electricity is a huge convenience, even if you’re camping. Not only can it charge electronics you can use for critical equipment, it can make things more comfortable. Having a small power unit can help you run an emergency radio, run the lights around your camp, …

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Build a Culture of Grit and Deliberate Practice to Master Self-Reliance Skills

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by Todd Walker

Build a Culture of Grit and Deliberate Practice to Master Self-Reliance Skills - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Every craft has pinnacle performers. What separates people who master a skill from the rest of us?

They appear to have innate self-reliance super-powers. But here’s the thing…

It’s not that they were born with copious amounts of talent. Their skill wasn’t genetically transmitted. The truth is that there is not a friction fire gene, or an ax-manship gene, or a gardening gene… no matter how effortless they make it look. Talent, in and of itself, is overrated!

Whatever skill you practice, these two traits will determine your level of mastery…

Grit and Deliberate Practice.

Grit

Besides being abrasive particles in your swim trunks, as a personality trait, grit is a “positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective.” ~ source.

Angela Duckworth condensed the meaning of grit as perseverance and passion for long-term goals. ~ source.

As an educator, I see all manner intellectual measures. I.Q. has little to do with overall success. Perseverance and passion trumps smarts and talent. Over the years I’ve seen students with lower I.Q. scores outperform students with higher intelligence levels. That’s not suppose to happen.

Grittier people’s secret to lasting success is lasting. In real-world performance, with talent and skill being equal, my money is on the person with the most grit. But there’s a catch to the personality trait of grit. Simply showing up for a long time is not enough to master a skill, as we shall discover later in this article – if you have the grit to read it through.

Grit Check

Duckworth developed a scale aimed at measuring levels of grit. Find out how gritty you are by answering the 10 questions here. How gritty are you?

Grit fuels the second trait needed for mastery…

Deliberate Practice

The secret of all top performers is not a result of, as we are lead to believe, innate talent. The little known secret is the result of intense, not particularly enjoyable, practice for a minimum of 10 years. Actually, it’s no secret at all. We all know what it takes but few are willing, or in most cases, unable to pay the price.

Your goal, like mine, may not be to reach exceptional performance levels. Let’s face it, skills are perishable and there are so many self-reliant skills that no one person could ever hope to master them all. Our community is the land of “jack of all trades, master of none.”  And this is not a slam. Any progress towards breaking dependence on others and our fragile system is the step by step action needed.

Becoming proficient in the skills which captivate your interest, which is the key to getting started, is very doable by working in the “purposeful practice” stage mentioned below.

Anders Ericsson, a Swedish psychologist, has spent his entire career studying how people learn. He studied world-class performers in several fields and found these stages common in all…

  1. Naive practice
  2. Purposeful practice
  3. Deliberate practice – the Gold Standard of all three

Naive Practice

Every new skill that sparks our interest begins at this stage. We decide to trade theory for action. We practice until we’ve mastered the easy stuff. Once we reach our acceptable level of proficiency, the easy stuff becomes automatic. It’s totally okay to be fair to middling or average. However, Ericsson’s research shows that we stop improving once we reach the stage of acceptable performance – even if we continue “practicing” the skill. In fact, more years of practice on easy stuff can actually cause a decline in the skill level you’re practicing.

8 Unorthodox Fire Resources Hidden in Your 10 Piece Kit | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

My instructor, Brian Manning, Snow Walker Outdoors, explaining details on my Alpine Compass

To improve performance, you must practice at the next level.

Purposeful Practice

We’ve already learned that years of repeatedly practicing the easy stuff causes our skill to deteriorate. Nothing you probably didn’t already know, right? In purposeful practice, specific, measurable goals take you step-by-step toward achieving longer-term goals. This takes focus.

Let’s take the bow and drill friction fire method as an example. You may have watched a video, read a blog post, or seen someone demonstrate this method which sparked an interest in learning. After several attempts, you find success. You make a few more hit-and-miss fires to amaze your friends. You’re still the FNG (effing new guy) but want to improve your newfound skill.

At this point of skill progression, you break down your desired outcome into baby steps to help you get there. You spend hours of  spinning sticks together hoping to improve performance. But something is missing… feedback from someone with more experience than you in the art of fire by friction.

Direct feedback is critically important in this stage – and especially so in deliberate practice. Self-correction only happens when previous outputs are fed-back to adjust our future practice. Simply practicing for years won’t improve skills. Some educators work for 20 plus years and only have one year of teaching experience. They choose to stay in their first year comfort zone for twenty plus years – never attempting to engage students in new ways.

Moving past our comfort zone involves failing. But that’s how you got to this stage of practice… failing forward. You could spend 10 years of silently practicing the same easy steps and still be fair to middling (or worse) at primitive fire, blacksmithing, or any other self-reliance skill.

My Top 4 Most Useful Basecamp Builds ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Camp comfort!

Try something you’ve never worked on before… like twirling up an ember in the rain. You’ll fail. But learn from the experience and keep Doing the Stuff until you get it right.

The journey from Naive to Purposeful practice will greatly increase your skill level. But even purposeful practice is not enough to master a skill.

Deliberate Practice

My research attributes the following quote to George W. Loomis as recorded in the “Michigan School Moderator” (1902) discussing the best way to teach students to spell properly…

Much of the time spent in hearing children recite—guess till they get it right—should be spent in a definite teaching process, until they can not get it wrong.

How long will it take until you can’t get a skill wrong? Studies suggest 10,000 hours or 10 years of intense, deliberate practice at a craft. It took 10 years of deliberate practice before Mozart produced a memorable work. This should be instructive for all the insta-experts popping up lately. I call it the “Shroomery Effect.” They pop up like mushrooms but don’t last long.

Ancient Atlatls: How to Make a Down-N-Dirty Spear-Thrower ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Scott Jones firing the bamboo atlatl at a class this summer

This stage is very similar to purposeful practice except it involves direct instruction, teaching, and/or coaching to offer feedback and focused techniques to improve performance. Think of elite athletes. They all put in a crazy amount of hours training. But it’s not just the hours they put in but how they spend those hours. Instead of chasing the latest novelty, top performers focus on subtle nuances of their craft. Bottom line… they spend years re-working their work.

Here are a few constraints to consider about deliberate practice:

  • Resources – Time and energy, access to training material, professional instruction, and money to pay for transportation to training facilities.
  • Motivation – Having the grit to pursue long-term improvement for years of intense, boring practice without immediate reward. This stage is not inherently fun.
  • Effort – Deliberate practice can be sustained for limited amounts of time daily. Recovery time from each session is necessary to avoid exhaustion and/or injury. This why it takes a minimum of 10 years/10,000 hours to develop expertise in a skill.

Do your due diligence when choosing instructors. Seek out those who have a minimum of ten years of deliberate practice and field experience in the skill you wish to learn.

Re-Doing the Stuff

Pressing the publish button always scares me. Will people find value in my articles? Could I have improved the piece? Did I re-write enough? I don’t pump out blog posts like I did five years ago. I write almost daily but only publish about once a week. A few years ago I realized that to become a better writer, I needed to spend more time re-writing. I’m only halfway into my “10 years of writing” but I hit publish anyway. Some crash. Some fly. Some end up in the draft graveyard.

Revision is needed on my earlier line, “the key to lasting success is lasting.” Lasting is the gritty part. It’s learning to love the boring times of re-doing the fundamentals. Progressing through the stages of practice takes years of grit and intense, deliberate practice. There’s not enough time for us to master all the skills of self-reliance. But I’m committed to die trying to master a few.

Feedback time. What skill are you deliberately practicing to master? If mastery is not your goal, in which skills are you becoming proficient?

Keep Re-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.

Tactical Life, Part 1: Boots, Gloves, and Packs

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Tactical Life, Part 1: Boots, Gloves, and Packs What you wear and the gear you use can be much more than just a preference on how you look. Using quality gear has been a hallmark of the military and law enforcement for a long time. It is easy to see why, since gear reliability can be …

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What Not To Do!

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I was prompted to write this short article because I recently saw a video about survival in Arnhem Land. In this video a number of suggestions were made that I do not agree with. Rather than rubbish the video or the presenter, I prefer to simply advise what not to do in this blog.

I lived for 10 years in the Territory, I survived cyclone Tracey in 74, & prior to that I lived in an Aboriginal camp in Arnhem Land for two months.

When travelling in the Territory, wet season or dry season, do NOT set up camp anywhere near water if you intend to spend the night there, & certainly not in shaded areas near water. The reason for this is: 
(1) mosquitoes breed in water, & they love to be near water & particularly swarm in shaded areas. The dry season can get chilly & therefore less mossies especially if there is a stiff breeze blowing, but in shaded protected areas the mossies are still there.

 (2) Leaches. Leaches love the damp, & they are not just in the water. Leaches can be found in the damp areas anywhere near water & you do not want these in your shelter. 

(3) Snakes. Snakes love the water & frequent low damp areas, this is where they find their food. They are also great swimmers & will often travel by water. If snakes are to be found anywhere, it will be near water.

(4) Crocodiles. Crocs are everywhere in the Territory, a safe water hole one season may not be safe the next, because during the wet season crocs travel overland. Crocs can be hard to spot in the water, & they will often leave the water. Crocs can also run very fast on land for short distances. If you don’t want a croc dragging you out of your shelter at night then don’t camp near the water! If you have to fetch water, NEVER put your hands in the water, NEVER stand on the water’s edge. Use rope, cordage or at the very least your waist belt through the handle of a billy to dip water. Crocs are amazingly fast so take care! 

(5) Rising Water. In the wet season water holes, creeks & rivers can rise very quickly & if your shelter is too close to the water you can get flooded out. 

If you are going to make camp do it in an open area high & dry if you can with a tree or two for shade. In this way you can take advantage of any breezes blowing that will help keep you cool & hopefully keep the mossies at bay. Sometimes there is no escaping mossies, I have covered myself with a blanket, used a mossie net, & sat all night by a Buffalo dung fire drinking rum all night. The latter won’t keep the mossies off, but after half a bottle of rum you don’t really care! Come morning though you will not be feeling so good from the rum or the mossie bites!

You take care out there.
Keith.

25 Amazing Camping Recipes

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25 Amazing Camping Recipes If you find yourself off the grid, either by choice or by circumstance, you’ll need to cook meals without the usual conveniences found in the home. The easiest solution can be to open a can and heat something over a fire, but that can get old when you have a family …

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DIY Self-Pressurizing, Chimney-Type Alcohol Stove

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DIY Self-Pressurizing, Chimney-Type  Alcohol Stove If you want one of the most efficient survival cooking stoves known to man, you are at the right place… Don’t spend a fortune on the big heavy propane stoves when you can make a self-pressurizing, chimney stove for cheap. This is a great project for anyone to try out. …

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6 Reason to Add a Coat Hanger to Your Bug Out Bag

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6 Reasons to Add a Coat Hanger to Your Bug Out Bag What kind of non-conventional gear have you acquired for your bug out bag? From pennies and razor scooters, to chopstick and pantyhose, I have seen a lot of things suggested for get-out-of-dodge kits. While I am a big believer that a cluttered bug out …

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LuminAID Solar Inflatable Light, Semi-Transparent

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LuminAID Solar Inflatable Light, Semi-Transparent I have to say this piece of kit is awesome! It requires no batteries and can light up an area better than a flashlight! I know you can make a similar one of these yourself with a headlamp and a milk jug full of water but if you were bugging …

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25 Cheap Foods That Are Good for You

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25 Cheap Foods That Are Good for You Establishing a good food stockpile is an essential part of prepping. There are several things to take into consideration when building your food stores, such as shelf life, versatility, and nutrient value. It can be difficult to decide on what to stock up on, since there are …

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How To Butcher a Rabbit

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How To Butcher a Rabbit Whether you’re homesteading or prepping for when SHTF, you are undoubtedly sharpening your hunting., trapping, and foraging skills. Rabbit traps are fairly easy to set up, and these creatures provide an excellent source of protein that will see you through all of your chores. While you may be able to …

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How To Clean Your Cooking Gear with Wood Ashes The Right Way

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How To Clean Your Cooking Gear with Wood Ashes The Right Way If you are camping or bugging out and you have no soap to clean your cooking gear, do not fret , you can use the ashes from your camp fire to do the “dirt” work for you. This method has been used for …

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How to Craft a Base Camp Bucksaw in the Woods

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by Todd Walker

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My regret is that I didn’t watch more quality YouTube videos on my journey of self-reliance. There’s a sea of regurgitated material out there, and, sadly, few quote their sources of knowledge. My latest project was inspired by watching Kelly Harlton build a bucksaw with Mors Kochanski on Randy Breeuwsma’s channel, Karamat Wilderenss Ways.

For larger cutting tasks at base camp, a bucksaw is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. The 21 inch takedown bucksaw I built from scrap dimensional lumber is portable but usually hangs on my shop wall. I needed a dedicated base camp saw stowed away in my shelter.

My first foray into bucksaw building in the woods was a wobbly failure several years ago. The crossbar/upright union was the weak point. Kelly’s design fixed all that. Thank you, Kelly!

Base Camp Bucksaw

Material and Tools

  • Knife
  • Ax
  • Rope
  • Wood
  • Saw Blade
  • Hardware – two bolts, screws, nails, or key chain rings

Step 1: Collect Wood

An abundance of dead cedar surrounds my base camp. A green sapling will work just as well. I used cedar. For the uprights, cut two wrist-size (or slightly smaller) sections measuring elbow-to-finger-tip (approximately 18 inches). The crossbar should be of similar diameter and slightly longer than your saw blade. You will cut this piece to exact length later.

Remove any bark from your chosen wood. The dead cedar I used had only small amounts left. I scraped it off with the spine of my knife and added the “waste” to my tinder pile in the shelter.

Step 2: Prepare the Uprights

Lay the two uprights side by side and compare any bow in the pieces. I purposely used two cedar uprights with slight bows. The concave sides should face each other or inward.

Once aligned, baton your knife down the center end of the upright until a split is created to accept your saw blade. Don’t split too deep or the upright will become two pieces. Repeat this step on the other upright making sure the splits are on the same plane as the previous one.

Carve a shallow V-notch perpendicular to each split at the base of each upright. The notch will allow the bolts or other hardware to seat securely against the wood when sawing.

How to Craft a Base Camp Bucksaw in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I recommend carving the notch after you check to see how far the saw blade fits inside the split. My first notch is pictured too far above the bolt.

Now you’ll carve down the sides of both uprights to create a 90 degree corner which faces inward. Only whittle away enough wood to make a sharp corner so that the wood is not weakened. This corner should run from a few inches above the blade to over halfway up each upright. Take care to keep the corner edges in line with the blade splits.

How to Craft a Base Camp Bucksaw in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Whittle away to form a 90 degree corner

Step 3: Attach Saw Blade

Insert the saw blade into each split on the uprights. Use your knife to open the split slightly to start the blade if need be. Once the saw blade is inserted into both uprights, attach hardware through the holes in your saw blade. Place one upright on the ground while holding the other upright and blade vertical. Step on the bottom upright and tug to tighten the hardware against both uprights.

How to Craft a Base Camp Bucksaw in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Lay the saw on the ground and align the uprights perpendicular to the blade.

Step 4: Prepare the Crossbar

Place the crossbar across the uprights to form an H pattern in the middle of the uprights. With one end aligned at the midpoint of one upright, mark and cut the crossbar to length at the midpoint of the other upright.

How to Craft a Base Camp Bucksaw in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Leave the crossbar longer than needed until final measurements.

Next, carve away each end of the crossbar to form a tapering wedge shape. Leave about 3/8th of an inch on the end of the wedge. If using green wood, a knife works fine. I used my ax on the seasoned cedar to expedite the trimming. Again, take your time and keep both crossbar end wedges on the same plane. They should appear identical or very close once carved.

How to Craft a Base Camp Bucksaw in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

One of the wedged ends of the crossbar.

At the ends of each wedge, carve a 90 degree notch. Again, on softer, green wood, a knife will carve the notch just fine. On seasoned cedar, I used my small saw on my Leatherman tool to remove the bulk of the notch and tweaked them with my knife for final fitting.

Test the fit by placing the crossbar between the uprights. The corner notches should mate without gaps at the union points. If not, trim until they do.

How to Craft a Base Camp Bucksaw in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Spaces between these two pieces will cause instability.

Step 5: Make the Rope Windlass

Cut and smooth two paddle sticks about 8 inches long which will be used to tighten the windlass ropes. Set aside for now.

Wrap a length of cordage around the two uprights. Tie the ends of the cords with a secure knot to form a loop. Rope with little to no elasticity is ideal. I didn’t have “ideal” so I used 550 paracord. You’ll need two of these loops so repeat this process.

How to Craft a Base Camp Bucksaw in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Place one end of a loop near the top of one upright and move the other end to down the opposite upright near the crossbar. Repeat this with the other loop of cord to form an X-shape of rope between the uprights. Make a note of where the loop ends will rest. Now carve shallow notches at those locations where the loops will rest once tightened.

Step 6: Assemble the Saw

Insert a paddle stick between one set of loop cords. Rotate the paddle until slight tension is created. Repeat this process in the other loop cord. Continue spinning the paddles alternately until the saw blade is tight as a hat band. Note: Kelly used smaller paddle sticks on his saw in the video which didn’t stop on the crossbar but on the opposite loop cords. I tried this method and found, due to the length of my saw blade maybe, I needed longer paddles to create more tension. My paddles held tension by resting on the crossbar.

How to Craft a Base Camp Bucksaw in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Fully assembled and ready to go.

The crossbar can be adjusted with a few taps to help square the H frame after tensioning the saw. You can also adjust the saw’s throat depth by bumping the crossbar up or down the corner notches on the uprights.

Put finishing chamfer cuts on all the upright ends and you’re ready for some serious sawdust. This 36 inch bucksaw may be overkill for my woodcutting needs in our mild Georgia winters. Still, I think it will come in handy for the log cabin project floating amongst my gray matter.

Below is Karamat Wilderness Ways video of Kelly Harlton’s H bucksaw…

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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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.

Prevent Migraine Headaches Using B Vitamin Riboflavin

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Prevent Migraine Headaches Using B Vitamin Riboflavin Migraines are debilitating for everyone who suffers from them, and to those who are isolated or otherwise unable to access medications that provide relief they can be devastating. In the event that you are suffering from a migraine and you cannot afford to be out of commission, it …

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How to Survive Field Injuries

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How to Survive Field Injuries From snake bites to sore teeth, this guide will help you tackle almost any accident. All of these injuries are quite common and a little trip to the doctor can normally sort these out! What if there were no doctor? What if you were stranded or SHTF? I would recommend …

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Survival Gear Review: Therm-a-rest LuxuryLite Mesh Cot

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survival cot

Does you bug out plan include a truck, car or ATV?  If so, you may want to take a peek at the Therm-a-rest Survival CotLuxuryLite Mesh Cot, which is made in the USA.  What we liked about this cot vs. other cots on the market is the low profile that keeps you off the ground but will still fit into a normal camping tent.  When combined with a sleeping pad and warm sleeping bag, this cot can keep you warm and dry.  The downside of this cot is of course weight.  The ability to be off the ground is not worth the weight in your pack.

By Murphy, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

This is strictly a luxury item which is why it is called the LuxuryLite Mesh Cot.  When you have an item that weights over 3 lbs, it better be something that feeds you or has to do with water.  You would be much better off with just a normal Therm-a-rest sleeping pad for your bug out bag.  With that said, we tested it, slept on it and loved it for car camping or if your bug out plan has a car or truck involved.  It also is nice to have as back up bed for kids or visiting families if your space is limited.  It beats sleeping on the floor.

Video Review

Specs

Regular L XL
Width 24 in / 61 cm 26 in / 66 cm 30 in / 76 cm
Color Blue Blue Blue
Weight 3 lbs 9 oz / 1.62 kg 3 lbs 15 oz / 1.81 kg 4 lbs 7 oz / 2.01 kg
Length 72 in / 183 cm 77 in / 193 cm 77 in / 196 cm
Packed dimension 18 x 6 / 46 x 15 18 x 6 / 46 x 15 18 x 6 / 46 x 15
Top fabric type PVC Mesh PVC Mesh PVC Mesh

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Tech And Tips You Need Camping In The Wilderness

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By The Survival Place Blog

Are you planning on taking a trip into the wilderness for your next vacation? Then, you need to be prepared for everything that the elements can throw at you. You might think that it’s easy to survive the outdoors. Particularly, if you’re heading to a place that you know quite well. But you might be surprised because the weather can turn at any moment leaving you in trouble. For instance, you might be camping miles from the nearest point of civilization. Imagine, if fog falls thick and low over the ground. You would struggle to find your way back and would need to rely on the kit that you had with you. If you didn’t have enough supplies, you might find the next few days incredibly difficult. So, what do you need to survive camping in the wilderness?

 

A Portable Heater

 

You may want to consider purchasing a portable heater for camping in the wilderness with a good supply of fuel. It does depend on whether you’re traveling on foot or in the car. You might also want to consider whether you’ll be moving around a lot. That said if you’re camping a portable heater can be incredibly useful. Particularly, if you are camping in the winter. If you don’t take a portable heater, you need to make sure you have a survival sleeping bag. The best sleeping bag has a hood to keep you warm, even when the temperature has dropped below freezing outside. It’s possible with the best sleeping bags to stay warm and dry even without a tent!

 

A Compass

 

There are two things you’ll need to make sure that you don’t get completely lost wandering in the wilderness. The first is a map and the second is a compass. Ideally, you should have adequate orienteering skills to make sure that you can find your way back to camp. However, even if you don’t, with a compass, you should always be able to find your way back where you started. By knowing what direction your campsite is, you’ll always be able to find your way back to the starting point. You will even find some winter jackets come with compasses included on them. This shows how important that piece of kit is. You might also want to think about some night vision goggles. Night monoculars will allow you to see for miles even when it’s pitch black. You’ll always find your camp site with these and you can check out a review on a site such as www.opticscastle.com/night-vision-monocular-reviews/

 

pexels-photo-167696

Image Source: Pexels.com

Axe

 

Make sure you have a device or tool that you can use to chop down wood. In extreme situations, you might need to collect wood for shelter or even to supply fuel for a fire. Be aware that to make a good shelter or fire the wood has to be dry. If it’s not, it won’t light, and you’ll struggle to keep your body temperature at a normal level. You might be camping in an area where it is illegal to cut down trees. However, if it is a matter of survival, be prepared to ignore rules like this. Your safety should always be the top priority.

 

Tracker
Finally, this is another useful tool that you can find on most winter, explorer jackets. Check out some of the latest winter jackets on http://snowboarding.transworld.net/news/oneill-launches-gps-jacket/.  A small tracker is embedded in the material. When pressed it will send a signal to the closest rescue team. They will then be able to track your exact location and avoid you being lost in the wilderness for days.

This article first appeared at The Survival Place Blog: Tech And Tips You Need Camping In The Wilderness

Filed under: Outdoor Recreation, Wilderness Survival Gear

How to Find True North Without a Compass

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How to Find True North Without a Compass Basic survival skills are essential for anyone living off the grid, whether it’s by choice or in a SHTF situation.  In the event that you have to navigate without landmarks, technology, or even a compass, you need to know how to find true north.  On Wikihow there …

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