Quick Tip #18

Take whatever knife you regularly carry in the wilderness and check the spine on it. If it is rounded over or doesn’t have a good 90 degree edge on it, modify it. Of course this is only if you are willing to make adjustments to your knife. Well wearing proper eye and hand protection you can either use a file, belt sander or grinder to put I nice 90 degree angle on the spine of your knife. With the adjustment to your knife done, you’ll now be able to use a ferocerium rod more efficiently and you can now use the spine of your knife to make fuss by running the spine of your modified knife down certain types of wood. The fuss will just make it that much easier to start a fire. Hope this was informational and someone finds this helpful. Thanks for reading! What modifications have you made to your knife and why?

The Science and Art of Tracking by Tom Brown Jr.

I’m reading through Tom Brown Jr.’s book “The Science and Art of Tracking” again. If you are not familiar with this book or with Tom I highly recommend this book as well as many of his other books. This book is about so much more than just tracking. This book is great for anybody that spends time in the wilderness. It will even help you become more aware of your surroundings in everyday life. It is more about being aware of your surroundings and the impact or signs left behind by humans, animals or even the elements. It’s a change in mindset. You become more aware of the story of what happened prior to you entering the current place you find yourself standing in. You learn that there is so much more to the story of that animal track you found. Was that fox running frantically to get away from something? Was it wounded? Was it hunting? Was it strolling through the woods without a care? Was it female or male? You get the point. There’s more that can be gleaned from a track than most people will ever see if they even notice the track at all.

 
Why is that limb on the tree broken? Why are there no limbs on one side of this tree? How was this hill formed? Is this path man maid (cut in) or worn in? How did that trash end up there? There are clues to the answers if you look close enough and learn to observe all that goes on around you. Watch the people around you as they go about life. Be aware of how a man might affect the environment differently than how a woman does. Children will have a different affect as well. Now notice how someone stronger affects things differently than someone weaker. It all tells a story. By noticing these things in everyday life you’ll begin to notice things in the wilderness you never noticed before. You’ll notice where that fox bedded down last night, that deer that was chased through the woods by a pack of coyotes, the squirrel that was sitting on the tree branch through the rain and how that tin can ended up on the side of the trail.

 
There is so much more to see in the wilderness than to just “suffer” the trail to get to some gorgeous view. Take the time to really enjoy the time you spend in the wild whether it is to hunt, backpack, hike, camp or for whatever other reason you may find yourself in the wilderness. There is so much more to see and there’s a story there waiting to be reed. Do you or have you ever taken the time to really read your environment? Have you taken the time to learn how to track? If you’ve read this book, what are your thoughts about it?

Winter Car Kit

With colder weather gripping many of us this is a good time to take a look at putting together a few things to keep in your vehicle, if you haven’t already, in case of a vehicle break down or you get stuck on impassable roads. This is especially important for areas that get bitter temps and lots of snow. These items could be lifesaving or at the very least make you more comfortable well you wait for help to arrive. What each person chooses to carry in their vehicle will depend on the location they live and travel in as well as their needs. This is just a base list to work from and please cater it to your own needs and environment. This list will assume that you already have some sort of road hazard kit.

 

Basic Vehicle Kit

Sleeping Bag or wool blanket: Because I already own a -15 degree sleeping bag, instead of taking up storage space somewhere in the house, I store it in my truck in case of a breakdown. This way if it’s really cold out and I know I’m going to be stuck for a while, or even overnight, I can just slide into my sleeping bag and stay much more comfortable and warmer than if I only had a blanket or lite sleeping bag. In warmer areas a blanket or lite sleeping bag will work fine but for the area where I live I need a heavier sleeping bag.

Flash Light with fresh batteries: Preferably you would want a headlamp so your hands would be free to do other things. Having some sort of light is too valuable not to keep a working light in your vehicle. Make sure whatever light you use, works and has fresh batteries. You may want to even pack some spare batteries as well.

Food and Water: A simple bag of jerky, trail mix, dried fruit or anything you can come up with will work. If you get stuck somewhere overnight or longer you will be thankful you have some food and a couple bottles of water available.
A Book or deck of cards: These will add in keeping you from becoming bored or mentally breaking down. Being able to have something to do well waiting for help, will help keep your spirits up and you’ll be less likely to become overwhelmed by your situation.

 

Extra Items

*These are things that you don’t necessarily need, but they will make an overnight or longer breakdown “easier” to survive.

Weather radio: You’ll be aware of the weather and what’s going on as well as not necessarily feeling alone.Emergency blanket: This will help reflect heat. This is on top of having a sleeping bag or blanket.
Hand and Feet warmers
Knife with possible added fire kit
Some sort of cordage
Emergency candle
Extra medication

 

This is just a simple list to give you some ideas of what to keep in your vehicle during the colder winter months. Again please adjust it to your own needs and environment. Just by having a basic kit (sleeping bag, light, food and water) it will drastically improve your spirits and comfort. One thing I recommend doing, and you might already do this, is to plug your cell phone into its charger every time you get into your car to head somewhere during the winter. This way, if for some reason you break down, whether you are way out in the middle of nowhere, or on a busy street somewhere, you won’t be pulling your cell phone out to call for help and find that it’s dead or low on battery power. I hope this helps in some way, or it at least gives you some ideas of what to place in your car kit during these cold winter months. I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable winter. Please feel free to share what you keep in your car kit and why. Thanks for reading!

UST Orange Survival Bandana

I’m not one for promoting deals I’m running on my website here on my blog but I thought the current deal was worth mentioning. Now through December, with every purchase of $25 or more, you will receive a UST orange survival bandana. These are no ordinary bandanas. Printed on them are many survival tips that can be very useful in the event of a survival situation. These would be great for kids or adults that are lacking in survival/camping knowledge. There’s the obvious many extremely useful ways to use a bandana but now you would also have many survival tips that you wouldn’t necessarily have to remember or have to call back to memory in a survival scenario. This is just a great way to take something you may already be carrying and make it even more useful. Also, all orders in the continental U.S. will receive free standard shipping through December. Just click on the store button and place an order of $25 or over to receive your free bandana and free standard shipping. Hope everyone is doing well and getting the chance to enjoy the great outdoors.

survival-bandana

Inexpensive Quality Knives

You don’t have to spend a ton of money for a decent bushcraft or survival knife. Now I do agree in most cases that you get what you pay for but there are some exceptions to the rule. I own some expensive knives but this year I have mostly just carried my Mora companion, with attached fire kit, and an Esee Avispa folder. Both of which are fairly inexpensive, not overly heavy but are very well made knives. I also usually take a small hatchet for cutting up firewood so I’m not using my knife to baton wood (I just prefer to save my knives from this abuse if I can).

Mora makes great quality products that can take abuse but at an expense that you wont mind if you loose or damage it. I have added a fire kit to the outside of mine. The fire kit consists of a ferocerium rod, 1 piece of quik tinder (burns for 2 minutes) and is attacked with a 1 1/2″ ranger band. The Mora knife I carry is made of high carbon steel. This is a great quality for bushcraft or survival but also means the knife blade needs more care and cleaning. It is highly worth it in my mind.

The Esee Avispa is a great addition to the Mora. I carry a pocket knife on me daily because I find I use it and need it a lot. So it’s only natural for me to be carrying a folder. The blade on the Avispa is made of Aus-8 stainless steel. I like to have a stainless steel folding knife as a companion to any high carbon steel fixed blade I would be carrying because it saves me from pulling out my fixed blade knife every time I need to cut something and the stainless blade needs less care and upkeep than the high carbon steel blade needs. Also I like the fact that if I loose one knife I’ll still have one available to me instead of loosing my only knife and having nothing else to use.

These two knives together weigh less than one more expensive bushcraft or survival knife by themselves. For about $50-$70 you could have a great set up for your wilderness adventures. Before anyone complains, what about this knife or that knife, I know there are many great and expensive bushcraft and survival knives out there as well as better folders but these just happen to be what I’m carrying a lot these days and I think this is a great setup for those that can’t afford much or don’t want to spend a lot on one or two knives. These are fairly inexpensive knives but are better quality than their price portrays.

I hope this was helpful to some and an encouragement that you don’t need to spend a ton of money on gear to go out and enjoy the wilderness. Feel free to let me know what your favorite knife or knives are to carry on your wilderness adventures. As always get out there and enjoy the wilderness and maybe even relax and unwind a bit.

Hypothermia

At this time of year as the weather becomes warmer during the day people tend to get careless about staying dry as well as keeping their clothes from getting wet. The warmer weather feels great and it seems warmer than it is because we have become acclimated to the colder temperatures. This can make for a dangerous situation. In many areas during spring there can be huge temperature swings between day and night. You could have temperatures in the 80’s during the day and then they can dip below freezing at night. This could be a deadly combination if you find yourself wet and cold.

WIKIPEDIA Definition and Effects of Hypothermia

 
Hypothermia (from Greek ὑποθερμία) is a condition in which the body’s core temperature drops below that required for normal metabolism and body functions. This is generally considered to be 35.0 °C (95.0 °F). Body temperature is usually maintained near a constant level of 36.5–37.5 °C (97.7–99.5 °F) through biologic homeostasis or thermoregulation. If a person is exposed to cold, and their internal mechanisms cannot replenish the heat that is being lost, the body’s core temperature falls, and characteristic symptoms occur such as shivering and mental confusion.
One of the lowest documented body temperatures from which anyone has recovered was 13.0 °C (55.4 °F) in a near-drowning incident involving a 7-year-old girl in Sweden in December 2010.[1] Hypothermia is the opposite of hyperthermia which is present in heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

 

Mild

 
Symptoms of mild hypothermia may be vague, with sympathetic nervous system excitation (shivering, hypertension, tachycardia, tachypnea, and vasoconstriction). These are all physiological responses to preserve heat. Cold diuresis, mental confusion, and hepatic dysfunction may also be present. Hyperglycemia may be present, as glucose consumption by cells and insulin secretion both decrease, and tissue sensitivity to insulin may be blunted. Sympathetic activation also releases glucose from the liver. In many cases, however, especially in alcoholic patients, hypoglycemia appears to be a more common presentation. Hypoglycemia is also found in many hypothermic patients, because hypothermia may be a result of hypoglycemia.

 

Moderate

 
Low body temperature results in shivering becoming more violent. Muscle mis-coordination becomes apparent. Movements are slow and labored, accompanied by a stumbling pace and mild confusion, although the person may appear alert. Surface blood vessels contract further as the body focuses its remaining resources on keeping the vital organs warm. The subject becomes pale. Lips, ears, fingers and toes may become blue.

 

Severe

 
As the temperature decreases, further physiological systems falter and heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure all decrease. This results in an expected heart rate in the 30s at a temperature of 28 °C (82 °F).
Difficulty in speaking, sluggish thinking, and amnesia start to appear; inability to use hands and stumbling is also usually present. Cellular metabolic processes shut down. Below 30 °C (86 °F), the exposed skin becomes blue and puffy, muscle coordination becomes very poor, walking becomes almost impossible, and the person exhibits incoherent/irrational behavior including terminal burrowing (see below) or even a stupor. Pulse and respiration rates decrease significantly, but fast heart rates (ventricular tachycardia, atrial fibrillation) can occur. Major organs fail. Clinical death occurs.

 

Paradoxical undressing

 
Twenty to fifty percent of hypothermia deaths are associated with paradoxical undressing. This typically occurs during moderate to severe hypothermia, as the person becomes disoriented, confused, and combative. They may begin discarding their clothing, which, in turn, increases the rate of heat loss.

 
Rescuers who are trained in mountain survival techniques are taught to expect this; however, some may assume incorrectly that urban victims of hypothermia have been subjected to a sexual assault.

 
One explanation for the effect is a cold-induced malfunction of the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates body temperature. Another explanation is that the muscles contracting peripheral blood vessels become exhausted (known as a loss of vasomotor tone) and relax, leading to a sudden surge of blood (and heat) to the extremities, fooling the person into feeling overheated.

 

Terminal burrowing

 
An apparent self-protective behavior known as terminal burrowing, or hide-and-die syndrome, occurs in the final stages of hypothermia. The afflicted will enter small, enclosed spaces, such as underneath beds or behind wardrobes. It is often associated with paradoxical undressing. Researchers in Germany claim this is “obviously an autonomous process of the brain stem, which is triggered in the final state of hypothermia and produces a primitive and burrowing-like behavior of protection, as seen in hibernating animals.”This happens mostly in cases where temperature drops slowly.

 

 

It is important to dress in layers just like you would during the winter months. As you become warm remove a layer at a time until you are not perspiring. Try to keep your clothing as dry as possible. If you find yourself crossing a river or stream, try to cross at a shallow point or carry clothing across if possible. If clothing becomes wet either because of the environment or because of perspiration, try to get the wet clothing dry before dark when temperatures start to drop. Dry clothes over a fire or try to get them dry by laying them on large warm rocks in the sunlight of the day. Whatever you must do to get dry and warm before dark do it.

 
It is important to carry rain gear and a good waterproof shelter at this time of year as well. A day of hiking in a cold drenching rain can sap you of energy and drop your core temperature quickly once you stop moving. The last thing you want to do is to have a poor shelter that is not waterproof and find yourself in a freezing rain storm in the middle of the night. It’s all about being smart and preparing ahead of time. Be prepared for the changes of temperature and weather that go along with this time of year. The better you are prepared, the better the chance that you will enjoy your trip and return safely. Be wise about the clothing you are wearing and the materials they are made out of. Know and learn the limitations of all your gear. Enjoy your spring hiking and camping! Take in the fresh air and new life that is coming forth. This is such a wonderful time of year to be out on the trail enjoying nature. What special gear is a must have for you at this time of year? What special trip do you have planned for this spring? (Please share photos of your trip)

Survival and Bushcraft Knives

As a seller of outdoor survival gear I setup at a lot of outdoor shows and gun shows as a vendor. It never fails; most people will buy cheaply made gear over quality made gear, even if their life may depend on it, when it comes to cost. I see this at every show I‘m at. I sell good quality survival and bushcraft knives and then I have to carry cheap china made knockoffs that I wouldn’t trust my life with, but at least ¾ of my knife sales come from the cheap knives. I understand people want to save money somewhere but a knife is a very important tool for survival and you don’t want one that is going to fail you when you need it most. I carry multiple pocket knives and a couple of them are cheap pocket knives but I always have one good quality knife with me at all times if possible.

Before you just go to the store or knife show and find yourself staring at knives trying to pick one out to buy without even knowing what you want in the knife or what your intentions are for it, figure out ahead of time what your purpose is for this knife and what characteristics you want this knife to have. It’s never a good idea to buy survival or bushcraft tools spontaneously. You will most likely regret it and you’ll probably end up with a tool or item that doesn’t quite fit your needs. Below are a few examples of some things you should answer before purchasing a survival or bushcraft knife.

Answer These before Going to Buy a Knife

• What is your intended use for the knife?
• How much use will it get?
• Is it a backup knife or your main survival or bushcraft knife?
• Do you want a high carbon steel or stainless steel blade?
• How long do you want the blade and handle to be?
• How thick would you like the steel to be?
• What material would you prefer the handle be made out of?
• Do you want a good hefty knife?
• What kind of grind do you prefer the knife have?
• Do you want serrations on the knife?

Questions to Ask Well Looking at Knives

• Is it comfortable in your hand?
• Is the knife to long or to short?
• Will the knife slip out of your hand if the handle gets wet?
• Is it full tang?
• Where was the knife made?
• Does the knife look and feel durable?
• Does the knife have a good quality and durable sheath?
• Will the knife easily fall out of the sheath or does it lock in?
• Is the sheath to bulky that you won’t wear or use it?

These are just some sample questions that you should ask yourself before and well you are buying a knife. There are a lot of good quality custom knife makers out there, so you can custom make a knife to fit what you want. You can have a custom knife made at a very reasonable price if you look around online. There are also some quality knife companies that have decently priced survival and bushcraft knives available. Tops, Mora, Condor, Bushcraft Northwest, Blind Horse Knives, Esee, Falkniven and Gerber (only the U.S. made knives) all make great survival and bushcraft knives and some of them are very reasonably priced. Mora is a great entry knife into bushcraft and they are very inexpensive. They are made in Sweden.

Personally I try to buy knives that range from $30-$200, maybe even up to $300. I’m afraid that if I spend much more than that, I’ll be afraid to actually use the knife for its intended purpose. You can also, if you have the equipment, toy around with making your own knives. There are a lot of YouTube videos available to help you make your own knife.
My point in all this is to say that when it comes to a knife or any other survival tool that is going to take a lot of abuse and that your life may at some point depend on, it is not worth saving a little bit of money well sacrificing quality and durability. A better quality knife will last you much longer in the end. What knife do you carry for survival or bushcraft purposes? How much did you pay for your knife or are willing to pay for a quality made survival or bushcraft knife?