Quick Tip #15

Home Depot, as well as some other stores, sells bags of Fat Wood in their fireplace sections during this time of year. Grab a large bag for around $5-$6. You can add a few pieces to your fire kits or emergency bag for quick access to some good quality dry tinder. You can even add a small bundle to any outdoor enthusiasts stocking and I’m sure they will thank you. When you’re ready to use it just shave it down and add a flame or spark from a ferocerium rod. So pick some up and give it a try!

 

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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

Quick Tip #14

You know that shiny emergency blanket you have tucked away in your backpack or emergency kit? It’s got so many more uses than to be just used simply as an emergency blanket. One use we will be talking about quickly today is as a heat reflector near a fire.

Find yourself two fairly straight sticks that are about an inch or so thick and will be about two feet longer than the shorter side of the emergency blanket. Sharpen one end of each stick to a point. Now lay your emergency blanket out on the ground stretched out flat. Take one of your sticks and lay it across the short side of the emergency blanket. Leave about 1 ½ feet of the sharpened end sticking out passed the blanket and about ½ foot on the other end. Start to roll the emergency blanket around the stick about 6 or so times. Now do the same thing on the other side of the emergency blanket with the other stick.

You are now ready to setup a heat reflector by your fire. Choose whether you want the heat reflector across the fire from you or behind you. If you choose to place the heat reflector near the fire across from you, make sure, depending on the size of your fire that the emergency blanket is a reasonable distance away from the fire so that it doesn’t melt or get holes in it from sparks flying around.

Once you have chosen where you want to place the heat reflector find a thick stick or something else that can be used as a hammer. Push the pointed end of each stick into the ground as far as you can well keeping the emergency blanket in between the two sticks as tight as possible. Now hammer the blunt end of each stick, making sure not to hit so hard you break the sticks wrapped in the emergency blanket, so that the pointed end goes further into the ground. Make sure to leave 2-4 inches in between the ground and the emergency blanket so that it is less likely to get damaged. You should now have a nice heat reflector that will help you capture some of the lost heat from your fire. If you set the reflector up behind you it will help remedy the issue of having a cold backside.

As always get out and enjoy nature at your own risk and have fun doing it. Thanks for taking the time to read and feel free to leave a comment or let me know some of the extra ways you use emergency blankets.

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.