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?

How to Poop in the Woods

So it’s a nice sunny day and you’ve been out on the trail hiking since 6 am. You had a nice breakfast on the trail well enjoying all the scenery and noises of the wilderness. It’s now 10 am and your bowels are telling you that you had better find a toilet somewhere because things are about to get ugly. What do you do? There’s no bathroom, no toilet, nothing to hold your toilet paper and no doors for privacy, what are you going to do? Somebody might see you, and that would be beyond embarrassing. You become paranoid and look all around as if there are people lurking in the woods behind every tree and bush just waiting to catch you pooping in the woods. It’s amazing the games our own minds play on us.

First off you don’t have to be paranoid; nobody wants any part of catching you in the act. Really! If you learn a few simple rules about pooping in the wilderness you won’t have to have any worries about being on display. This is another one of those skills that you should learn ahead of time. I’m not telling you to go poop outside your home, although if you have close bothersome neighbors I’m sure they will leave you alone after seeing you practicing this skill! What I am saying is to learn proper rules and techniques ahead of time. You should know what you have to do and how before you actually need to do it. Learn local laws for disposal of toilet paper. In some areas you are not allowed to bury toilet paper in the ground and will have to burn it or pack it out. Here are some basic rules for pooping in the woods.

Rules for Pooping In the Woods

• Find a spot that is AT LEAST 200 feet from any water source, trail or campsite. (further away would be better for privacy and water sources)
• Dig a hole that is about 6”s around and 6-8”s deep.
• If using toilet paper, buy some that is made for decomposing quickly in the wilderness. (buy at any sporting goods store)
• Find a good tree to lean against or a large downed tree that you can sit on the edge of. (this will make it much easier than just squatting over a hole since most people are used to sitting on a toilet)
• Fill in the hole when you are done and place either some sticks or stones on top. (This will warn others not to dig in this area and will help discourage animals from digging it up as well)
• Wash your hands with a trail soap or natural soap and rinse over bare sand or soil that can easily dissipate the water. (Soap is better than just using a hand sanitizer)

There are many natural options to use instead of toilet paper. You can use leaves, pine cones (sounds fun), stones, large twigs and shells. Whatever you use make sure it is not poisons or will irritate your skin.

You want to have good hygiene when in the wilderness. Good Hygiene doesn’t mean that you have to bath or shower every day, but it does mean that you are washing your hands after you poop in the woods, Every Time. A lot of campers and hikers get stomach illnesses because of fecal contamination and not because of contaminated water. By just washing your hands more often, with a natural soap or liquid trail soap, you will save yourself a lot of pain and discomfort. Do not dispose of soapy water in a water source and do not use a fresh water source to wash your hands in. Carry whatever water you are using to wash with at least 200 ft away from any water source. Wash and rinse with the water and dispose of it over soil or sandy ground, not on rocks or vegetation.

If done properly you can go away proud of your new learned skill satisfied in a “job” well done. You can walk proudly down the trail knowing that you have good hygiene, nobody spotted you in “the act” and with happy bowels. If you spend any good amount of time in the wilderness, before long you will become a pro and even come up with your very own techniques for pooping in the wilderness. Do you become anxious or embarrassed when you have to “go” in the wilderness? What special tricks do you use or have learned that might help others?

Survival: What skills to learn before you need them

Many people read or watch videos about survival or bushcraft skills but few actually practice these skills. Too many people rely on tools or gear that they carry on their physical body or in a pack, but what if they get stranded without any of that gear that they have put all their trust in for survival? Will they remember what that book said, or what that video was teaching them to do, if they are caught in a true survival situation? Chances are that they won’t remember, unless they physically practiced what they were being taught. In a true survival situation or emergency your mind and body will be under a lot of stress and you will not be likely to remember things that were not practiced.

It is very important to practice any survival or bushcraft skills that you learn, on a regular basis. This way you will be more prepared if you are caught in a life threatening survival situation. By practicing these skills in a safe environment ahead of time, you’ll be able to see what really works and what doesn’t. You can fail without putting your life in danger. Try to get to the point where you can survive without any purchased man made tools or supplies. It is best to start practicing in warmer weather and then work your way up to learning to survive in colder weather and colder environments. Here is a list of survival skills that you should learn over time as you can.

Survival/Bushcraft Skills

• Primitive Shelters
• Hunting Skills (How to build traps and snares as well as fishing)
• Making Primitive Tools and weapons (for hunting and self protection)
• Primitive Fire (Using only items found in the wild)
• Foraging (what plants are edible and prevalent in the wild)
• Learning to cook, preserve and store any game you may catch.
• Learn some basic herbal medicines that you can make out of local plants.
• Learn basic first aid skills
• Be able to identify different species of trees and there good and bad qualities for different uses.
• Learn how to adapt and problem solve

Just by learning how to build a decent shelter, with nothing more than what can be found in the wild, will give you a huge advantage of surviving whatever survival situation you may find yourself in. Add to that, learning how to make primitive tools, primitive fire and hunting/catching wild game, and you’ll be at a much higher advantage than most in a true survival situation.

Learning to problem solve and adapt is one of the most important things that you can do to train your mind and body. To many people these days can’t do either of these things. To be able to look at what supplies you may have, and be able to imagine what other things that they can be used for or repurposed for could mean the difference between life and death.

For example; say that you are stuck in a survival situation and the only water source is stagnant and you know it is a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria which means you are going to need to boil the water. You have a fire but you have no container to hold the water so that you can boil it. You do have a small flat sheet of metal though (a piece of a downed plane, metal sign etc.). What do you do? Well you take that piece of metal and two rocks and begin to hammer it into a bowl shape so that when you’re done you will have a container that will hold water for boiling. You would want to use the cleaner side to house the water and remove any paint before boiling. This is just one example to get you thinking outside of your normal thought process.

Start small and simple. Try to learn one new skill each month and learn it well. Continue to practice over time. As you learn new skills go out into the wilderness for the weekend and try to survive using that new skill. If you learned how to build primitive shelters, go camping for the weekend without a tent and build your own shelter. If you learned how to start primitive fire, then leave the lighters and firesteel at home. It’s all about training yourself to become comfortable with having to survive. You want it to become second nature.

If you are building your shelter and are planning on doing any cutting down of trees, make sure it is on your own land or somebody else’s land where you have permission to practice bushcraft skills. You should not be practicing some of these skills on government and protected lands. In these areas you should practice the leave no trace method of camping and hiking.

As always practice all survival/bushcraft skills at your own risk and enjoy all of your new found knowledge. Learn to enjoy the challenge of surviving in the wilderness instead of looking at it as a chore or something to contend with. What new survival/bushcraft skills have you learned in the past month or months? Would you be able to survive without that expensive survival knife or pocket knife you always carry? We all need to continue to learn new skills and to practice what we have learned. Get out and enjoy learning to survive in the wild.

Quick Tip #7

If you find yourself in a survival situation and need to filter water but you don’t have a commercially made filter you can make one. One way that you can make a simple filter is to use a sock filled with some charcoal from the fire (cold not hot), sand and pebbles. You first place a 1-2″ layer of crushed up coals in the bottom of the sock. Then you add a 1-2″ layer of sand on top of the charcoal. Lastly you put a 1-2″ layer of pebbles or small stones on top of the sand. Now continue to keep layering these same materials in the same order until the sock is full and pebbles are the top layer.
All you do is hang the sock up if you can and carefully pour water into the top center of the sock. Make sure that you have a collection container underneath the bottom of the sock to collect the filtered water as it pours out. This is just a simple way to make a filter with materials you will most likely have in a survival situation. You can also use a plastic bag to house the filter materials but you will have to poke some small holes in the bottom of the bag to allow filtered water to drain out of the bag. Have fun making your own water filters at home and testing them out so that if you are ever in a survival situation you’ll know what works best and how to make one. As always all survival skills need to be practiced. Have you ever made a homemade water filter? How did it work?

Finding Water in a Survival Situation

These are just a few ways to find and purify water if you find yourself in a survival situation in the wilderness. Obviously if you find yourself in a true survival situation you’re going to first want to assess your situation. Make sure you and whoever else might be with you are okay. Next you will want to take stock of what supplies you might have and what could possibly hold water. Once you have completed everything you needed to, such as cleaning and patching up wounds, gathering supplies and building a shelter you are going to want to find a good source of drinking water.

When looking for water start by just looking around the area you are in. If you can’t see anything nearby then stand quietly for a bit. If there is a fast moving river nearby you will most likely be able to hear it. You can even hear small bubbling brooks pretty well if there is one nearby and you really listen for it. It helps sometimes to close your eyes when you’re listening because you’ll actually be able to hear better than when your eyes were open. I know it sounds crazy but it works.

If you can’t see or hear any water then you will have to start searching to find some. If you have them, take a pen or pencil and paper or something else you can write on and draw a map as you are walking or mark your path. This way if you find water you’ll have a map of where it is in relation to your camp. If there are others with you, you’ll be able to send them for water without having to go with them.

Well searching for water look for lush green plants, swarming insects and animal tracks. If there are lush green plants around there is most likely a water source somewhere nearby. Animals need water just as much as we do. Look for multiple species of tracks converging and heading in one direction. They are all probably drinking from the same water source. If you are high up on a mountain head down hill towards a valley or low lying area.

If you still are not able to find a good source for water there are a few ways that you can collect water if you have a few supplies. One way to collect water is to make a solar still, but you will need a piece of plastic and a collection container. Find a shallow hole in the ground with some vegetation in it and place your container in the center of the hole. Place a piece of plastic over the hole and cover the edges of the plastic with small rocks and some dirt or sand to make it air tight. Place a small stone in the middle of the plastic so that the plastic dips a little towards the inside of the container. It will take a bit of time before you collect a decent amount of drinking water but it will work. You can also “pull” water out of leafy green trees and shrubbery buy placing a bag over the end of a branch with leaves on it and closing off the open end of the bag tightly around the branch. Make sure to place a small rock in the bottom of the bag so that it stays lower than the branch. This way water can collect in the bottom of the bag.

Another easy way to get water is to collect as much rain water or dew as you can. Of course it will have to be raining for this to work. If you have a tarp, make low spots where water can collect. You can also divert water into any containers you might have. If you find yourself in an area where there is snow, you can just melt the snow with a fire or with body heat. When you are active during the day you can eat snow and this will also help you regulate your body temperature so that you aren’t sweating when you are exerting a lot of energy. Do not eat snow when you are not moving or exerting any energy. It will lower your internal body temperature and cold mean death.

Another area where you can sometimes find water is in a dry river bed. Sometimes there will be small pools of water in shaded areas, under rocks or on the inside bend of the river bed. If you find ground that is damp or moist, dig a hole and see if it begins to slowly fill with water.

If you did by chance find a decent water source you are going to want to make sure it is drinkable as best you can. Whether it is a small brook, large river, lake or pond, look around the water source. Make sure it is not near any pastures or farm land because of contamination. Make sure there is no human waste or garbage all around or in the water source. See if there seems to be a lot of life around this particular water source. Check for animal tracks to see if they are using this as a source for drinking water. You want to start with a healthy looking water source if at all possible. You also want a water source that is moving and not stagnant.

If you have containers and a bandana or some sort of piece of cloth you can place the cloth on top of the container to pre filter the water. It will help filter out large objects as well as some sand and sediment. Next you will want to boil the water in whatever container you may have. You can boil water in plastic if it is done properly and watched closely. I don’t recommend it unless you don’t have any other option. If you have a clear plastic container and can get fairly clear water you can use the sun to purify the water. Preferably you want a sunny day. Fill the bottle completely full and lay it on its side on a rock or a piece of reflective metal for four hours. If the sky is cloudy or the water isn’t clear you will want to let it sit for 24-48 hours.

Every survival situation is different and it could be as simple as you forgot your water filter well out hiking or camping. I have drunk water without any filter or purification but I was up high in elevation and it was a spring flowing out of a rock face. Everyone has to make their own decisions about what chances they are willing to take but it is a good idea to practice primitive water collection and purification to be better prepared for a survival situation. You can get water from some plants and vines as well but you must learn ahead of time what those plants and vines are. It’s all about knowledge and practicing what you have learned. How do you purify or filter your water now when you are out in the wild? Have you ever thought about what you would do if you didn’t have a water filter or some form of purification? Water is too important to our bodies to not know and learn as many ways to collect it as possible in a survival situation.