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?

Quick Tip #17

Here are some simple stocking stuffer ideas for the camper, bushcrafter or outdoor enthusiast in your life.

 

Ferocerium Rod (fire starter)
Magnesium block (fire starter)
UCO stormproof matches or any matches you can find
Bandana or Survival Bandana (Survival Tips printed on it)
Cordage (550 or 850 paracord, 1000# Paramax, bank line or even Jute twine which can also be used as tinder for starting fires.
Small lengths of fat wood
Compass
Pocket knife or Hobo Pocket Knife
Emergency Fishing Kit
Pocket Chainsaw
Emergency Whistle
Carabiners
Emergency Blanket
Emergency Candles
Books (Survival, Tracking, Weather Patterns, Edible Plants, Shelter Building etc…)
Trail Maps
Pre-packaged Camp food or snacks (Jerky, Mountain House, Backpacker Pantry ect…)
Mora Knife
Flashlight or headlamp
Duct Tape
Small Pocket or small camp stove
Emergency Rain Poncho
Emergency light sticks
Hand and feet warmers
Water Filter

 

These are just a few ideas for those that are not sure what to throw in their outdoor enthusiasts Christmas stocking. There are plenty of other small useful things that will fit in a Christmas stocking but if you are not sure what to fill that stocking with feel free to use this list to help you out. What outdoor themed things are you putting in a Christmas stocking this year that may not be on this list?

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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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.

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.

Survival Bracelets

With all the popularity over “survival bracelets” the past couple years, I wanted to draw your attention to some survival bracelets that are made of much more than just cordage. Each bracelet is built and hand tied by us here at Armstrong Survival Gear LLC (family owned and operated). All of our cord is American made and weight tested. We try to put only quality parts into our products and we make changes periodically to better our products not to cut costs at the expense of customers.

Each of these bracelets was designed by me to help cover different needs that people would have based on their survival situation and level of expertise. Some people desire to carry and rely on as little gear as possible and others want to carry and rely on as much gear as possible. So I designed different bracelets for each of these types of people. From our base model the Fire Bracelet, which is very basic, to our Explorer Bracelet which has everything you could want in a survival kit you can wear on your wrist.

We have four models of survival bracelets. They are the Fire Bracelet, the Beaver Bracelet, the Minimalist Bracelet and the Explorer Bracelet. Each model contains different products that will help aid you if you ever find yourself in a survival situation. Here is information as well as specs for each model of bracelet.

 

Fire Bracelet

You’ll have everything you need to get a fire started; fire steel, a striker, tinder and paracord for making a bow drill. We’ve got your back!
Contains:
• 550 Paracord
• Whistle Buckle
• P-38 Can Opener
• Fire Toggle
• 2’ Jute
*optional quick tinder with ranger band

 

Beaver Bracelet

This bracelet will give you the help you need to build a shelter or to start a fire. We’ve got your back!
Contains:
• 550 Paracord
• Whistle Buckle
• P-38 Can Opener
• Fire Toggle
• Ranger Bands
• Compass
• Wire Saw
*optional quick tinder with ranger band

 

Minimalist Bracelet

Here is a simple bracelet to take care of some basic needs of survival, from starting a fire to being able to fish for some food. We’ve got your back!
Contains:
• 550 Paracord
• Whistle Buckle
• P-38 Can Opener
• Fire Toggle
• Ranger Bands
• Compass
• 30’ 50lb braided fishing line (won’t be a tangled mess)
• 2 #8 hooks
• 2 weights
• 2 swivels
*optional quick tinder with ranger band

 

Explorer Bracelet

Explore the great outdoors with peace, knowing you have the very best survival bracelet available. We’ve got your back!
Contains:
• 550 Paracord
• Whistle Buckle
• P-38 Can Opener
• Fire Toggle
• Ranger Bands
• Compass
• 2’ Jute Twine
• 18” Snare Wire
• Wire Saw
• 30’ 50lb braided fishing line (won’t be a tangled mess)
• 2 #8 hooks
• 2 weights
• 2 swivels
• 18” 45lb lead
• Dry Fly
• Bobber
• 2 safety pins
*optional quick tinder with ranger band
Here is the link if you would like to check out any of our bracelets: http://armstrongsurvivalgear.com/category/survival-bracelets/

 
My goal in creating these survival bracelets was to better something that many people were already wearing anyways. Why not better your chance of survival by wearing a bracelet that contains many aids for survival instead of one that only carries cordage? I like all my gear to be as versatile and multi functional as possible, thus the reason I designed these bracelets. These bracelets can be worn daily, thrown in an emergency bag, clipped to your backpack or clipped to your belt loop for easy access. If you are an avid outdoorsman, outdoors women or are just preparing for a possible emergency, these survival bracelets may be of interest to you. Do you wear a 550 para cord bracelet already? What limitations or capabilities does your current bracelet have?

One side note:

Our bracelets do not carry anything for water purification other than purifying water over the fire that these bracelets can help you start. I was going to include water purification tabs when I first designed these survival bracelets but the purification tabs do expire and I didn’t want people to rely on something that may not be any good when they need it most. What I would recommend doing if you order one of our bracelets is to get some Aquamira purification tabs and slip one or two tabs in their packaging underneath one of the ranger bands. This way you will have easy access to the tablets and you can change them out periodically as they expire.

Ultimate Survival Kit

I don’t want to state that this is a review of the Ultimate Survival Kit simply because I designed it and would of course be biased in the reviewing of it. So think of this as more of an informational piece letting you know that this kit exists.

A few years ago I set out to try to buy a survival kit that had everything I needed it to have, was compact and light, not half full of useless junk and had good quality items in it. What I found in searching around online and at local stores was that either survival kits were incomplete, half full of useless junk that I wouldn’t trust with my life (to keep the price down) or highly overpriced for an incomplete kit. Because of this, I decided to put my own kit together that incorporated products that were the best on the market, a kit that is very versatile, reasonably priced and full of things I would trust with my life. So the Ultimate Kit was born.

The first thing I decided right away was that I wanted everything to fit inside an Otterbox. These cases are awesome and help make the kit very versatile. They float, are water proof and are crush proof. What better case to use for a survival kit that you need to trust with your life! Next, I decided that I wanted a couple of options for starting fires as well as some tinder, a signaling device, an emergency blanket, a good quality pocket knife, an emergency fishing kit, a compass, a small saw, a light, an emergency whistle and some way of filtering or purifying water.

So I sat down and scoured the internet, read a lot of reviews, tested different items out and tried to design the kit so that it would fit in the smallest Otterbox that I could. What I came up with, and sell on my website is the very same kit that I now carry with me when I head out into the wilderness. Whether I am kayaking, backpacking, camping, hunting or anything else outdoors I always carry this survival kit with me. I also have one of these kits in my emergency bag/bug out bag. You can’t beat its quality and strength for a small survival kit. Here is the info I have on my website pertaining to the Ultimate Survival Kit:

“Our Ultimate Survival Kit is the perfect kit to carry with you on any outdoor adventure! It only weighs in at 1.5 pounds! It was designed to be as compact as possible, yet be able to float, be strong and contain most of what you would need in a survival situation. We feel we’ve accomplished this!

This Survival Kit contains: an orange emergency blanket, a StarFlash mirror, a Pocket Chainsaw, a “pico” style light, 12 Industrial Revolution Stormproof Matches, a 4seasons Spark Lite with 10 Tinder-Quik fire starters, a Jetscream whistle, one of our Survival Pods (20feet of 20lb test fishing line, 2 hooks, 2 swivels and 2 weights), a pin on compass, a Gerber mini paraframe pocket knife, a Frontier Filter (water filter straw) and its all contained in an Otterbox 3000. There’s even room to fit your favorite bag of tea and a small piece of hard candy or stick of gum. You can take it camping, hiking, boating, fishing and hunting as well as any other outdoor activity where you would find it useful and may need a tough survival kit handy. This is the same kit we here at Armstrong Survival Gear trust our lives with when we go on an outdoor adventure, shouldn’t you?”

Again my goal was to create a good quality survival kit that did not incorporate any junk products just to keep the price down. I think quality and usability matters more. This kit is designed as a survival kit not a first aid kit. You can fit some band aids as well as antiseptic wipes inside the case for minor injuries if you would like. What kind of basic survival kit do you carry and use? Have you tested the contents of your survival kit? No matter what survival kit you carry, whether bought premade or put together yourself, make sure to test all of the contents to make sure you are familiar with how they work, they work like you expect them to and that nothing is defective.

Extra Tip: I wrap 550 para cord around my kit so that I always have good quality cordage with my survival kit.