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.

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.

Quick Tip #12

Take along a folded up piece of Tyvek when you go camping, backpacking or bushcrafting. You can make it any size you want depending on your needs. Tyvek is very lightweight but very useful. When camping or backpacking with a hammock it’s nice to have a small piece of Tyvek to set your bag and shoes on when you’re sleeping at night or to lay things on well you’re setting up your shelter.  Depending on the size of the piece you take it could be used for many things, it could be used to cover firewood to keep it dry, ground cloth, make shift rain fly, food prep surface, make shift umbrella to keep rain or intense sun off, extra layer over or under your sleeping bag for added warmth, food storage bag, makeshift day bag, makeshift poncho or any other useful ways you can come up with to use it. What ways can you come up with to use a piece of Tyvek (size you would be using as well) for camping, backpacking or bushcrafting?

Survival Food: Wild Game

Right now in New York we are in the midst of spring Turkey hunting season and walleye fishing season. I absolutely love this time of year. New life is springing forth and the air seems so fresh. The weather is consistently getting nicer and the warmth of the sun feels so wonderful and energizing. I find myself wishing I could spend every waking moment, this time of year, in the wilderness instead of keeping a regular work schedule.

Anyway the reason I’m bringing up the fact that we are in the midst of hunting and fishing season (in New York) is that this is the perfect time to learn skills for gathering wild game or to teach your young children how to catch wild game. When it comes to survival, knowing how to provide food for yourself and anyone with you could mean the difference between life and death.

Since the weather is nicer and generally warmer at this time of year it is easier on younger children to be out hunting now instead of in late fall (not very warm in New York usually by then). Teaching them how to hunt and fish well they are young will give them the time to fine tune their skills and will give them an appreciation for nature. Teach them to hunt or fish with the bare minimum instead of outfitting them with every gadget known to man. This will make them rely on skill instead of technology. Use homemade lures to catch fish. Try fishing with just a stick, some fishing line, a hook and a worm or homemade lure. This can be fun and challenging all at the same time. Adults should be practicing these skills as well. In a real survival situation you will most likely not have any professional fishing or hunting equipment. Now is the time to learn and practice these skills. Not when your life depends on it.

Test your skills when hunting. If you’re a bow hunter, try hunting with a recurve or long bow instead of a compound bow. If you already bow hunt with a recurve or long bow try making your own bow and hunting with that. For gun hunters, try bow hunting or get rid of the scope and use sights. If you have an area where you are able to, you can learn how to trap. No matter how skilled we are at hunting and fishing or trapping, we can all challenge ourselves more and fine tune our skills. The older I get the more I want to hunt or fish with gear that is as basic as possible. Someday if I get the chance I am going to make my own recurve bow and hunt with it.

The point of all this is to say that you need to practice the skill of catching wild game and this is the perfect time of year to do that. If you have children you can get them involved and have fun learning together. They will never forget the time you spend in the wilderness together and these skills may someday save their life or your own. I know many people that live off and provide for their families with the wild game they catch each year. My family included. We only eat wild fish and venison. We raise our own chickens and vegetables. You can save a lot of money by living off the land instead of relying on the grocery store to provide for your family but you need to gain the necessary skills first.

Enjoy this time of year and if you have children let them enjoy it with you. Make sure you obey all hunting and fishing laws in your area and don’t be reckless. Incorporate fishing with your camping trips. This way you’ll have some great tasting free food and your kids will taste the fruit of their labors. There’s nothing more satisfying than providing your own food well out backpacking and camping. Enjoy each moment and continue to learn and teach along the way.

 

(The picture is of my brother and the turkey he shot last weekend).

Quick Tip #8

If you are learning how to make snares or already know how, this tip is for you. Add a pack of guitar strings to your Emergency/Bug Out Bag. They are perfect for making snares. Guitar strings are very strong and vary in thickness so they can be used to make snares for a range of different animals. Guitar strings will also keep a nice round shape which is perfect for making snares.
If you don’t already know how to make a snare I highly recommend that you learn. This way if you find yourself in a survival situation you’ll have another food catching skill. So go out and get yourself a pack of guitar strings and practice making snares, and well your at it throw a pack of strings in your emergency bag. Remember to follow all local hunting laws and practice everything at your own risk. Do you know how to hunt with snares? Have you ever caught anything in a snare?

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?