Camping

5 Tips to Cure Nature Deficit Disorder in Your Child

by Todd Walker

nature-deficit-disorder-cure

I couldn’t believe what my former middle school student told me in Science class!

“You grow meat in the ground.”

Not believing his jaw-dropping ignorance, I fought back the urge to laugh because he was dead serious. Clearly, “No Child Left Behind” wasn’t working. We’re all ignorant on certain subjects, but growing meat in the ground!?

His alienation from the wonders nature was all too evident… and alarming… as he truly believed his description… “They (rancher-farmer) buy meat, like rib eye, unwrap the plastic, and bury the steak in the ground like you would garden seeds. It grows and farmers pick it, re-wrap it in plastic and people buy it in the grocery store.”

I wish it weren’t true, but this conversation happened.

Then the sad OMG! truth crashed into my brain cells like a runaway locomotive…

He’d never been to a farm, let alone, camped in the woods overnight. Ever. The complete lack of experiencing the great outdoors firsthand is at epic levels. How did we fall so quickly from the self-reliance wagon in this country?

Pinpointing the cause is an exhaustive exercise for a later time.

What matters now is one child – your child.

Nature Deficit Disorder

As a whole, our younger generation doesn’t get out much except to hang out at the video store in the mall and show off their virtual skills to impress other pre-pubescent gamers. Our children have lost a vital, primal connection with nature. They suffer from a condition called Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD).

This condition, coined by Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods, is a result of our plugged-in culture which keeps kids and adults indoors. The disconnect from nature goes against what human brains are hard-wired to experience… the Great Outdoors!

Research shows that children who learn and play outdoors are enriched personally and academically in many ways:

  • Improved attention spans
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Increased academic success
  • Improved reading comprehension
  • Higher levels of self-discipline, language and social skills

The cure for NDD is simple. Get outside.

“It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.” – HORACE KEPHART, Camping and Woodcraft, 1917 (Quote from Master Woodsman page)

From personal experience with my grandson, introducing him to woodcraft and bushcraft skills created a hunger to get outside. After his first hike to my personal space in the woods, he was noticeably anxious. Within 15 minutes of setting up camp, he turns to me and says, “Ya know, Pops, I don’t feel so scared now.”

nature-deficit-disorder-cure

Max eating his first camp meal and making memories

Today, Max willingly trades video screens for streams. He’s taken a strong interest in the wonders of nature and building outdoor self-reliance skills. So much so that he’s joined a local Boy Scout troop. His wild journey has begun.

“Keep close to nature’s heart and break clear away once in a while and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean” ~John Muir

Won By One: Doing the Wild Stuff 

Kids today need one person in their life to help them connect to their true nature. They’re waiting to be Won by One. Who’s that One person?

You are!

Yep. Even if you have little to no experience outdoors, your child will respond if you lead, initiate, and unplug.

I’m developing a program called “Doing the Wild Stuff” to help students in my school escape their sterile block walls and learn in a natural environment. I’ll update you as it progresses. For now, let’s take this to a personal level – you and your child.

With holidays approaching, hopefully you’ll have extra time to start curing your child’s NDD. The first cure is as close as your backyard. And the good news is that you don’t need any specialized equipment or expensive gear to get started.

Cure #1: Backyard Bushcraft

Carve out a space in your backyard designated for practicing woodcraft/bushcraft skills. Fire craft is an essential skill every child should learn. Build a fire pit or use a charcoal grill. The fire ring will quickly become the ‘operating table’ for your NDD clinic.

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Our son’s first bow drill ember at the backyard fire pit

Once you’ve honed your fire skills, plan a backyard campout. That’s the beauty of backyard camping, the backdoor increases the comfort level for newbie campers.

Cure #2: Tools 

Kids love tools. The biggest hurdle may be your own fear of your child using sharp stuff. Knives, axes, and saws are essential tools for building outdoor self-reliance skills.

Only you know the maturity level of you child. She may not be ready to carry her own knife without supervision. Until then, model proper technique and safety rules for him/her.

Emphasize these rules:

  1. Never use a cutting tool inside the triangle of death. When cutting or whittling wood, work with the cutting surface outside the legs, never inside the triangle from the knees to the crotch.
  2. Be aware of the blood circle. Make a wide arch with your outstretched arm in a circular motion. If another person is within that circle, it is not safe to work with the cutting tool.
  3. A dull knife is a dangerous knife. More pressure is required to cut with dull tools. This only increases the chances of accidents when cutting stuff. Sharpening and caring for cutting tools is a can be taught… even to young learners. [for a progression of knife use, see Jack’s video below]
  4. Ax safety when processing wood.

Cure #3: Take a Class

If it’s in your budget, take a wilderness survival class with your child. Money well spent if you choose a reputable instructor or school.

Photo credit ~ Iris Canterbury

Photo credit ~ Iris Canterbury

I smiled when I saw kids attending The Pathfinder School Basic Class last month with their dads and even a few granddads. They learned knife skills, foraging, fire craft, and other wilderness survival skills together and bonding over campfires. The experience is priceless!

Cure #4: Schedule Outdoor Adventures

Make a date with your child on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to get outside. Plan surprise doses of adventure in the city park, backyard, or state/national parks. Where ever nature is available, get out there!

Cure #5: Field Guides

Take a field guide and journal on adventures. Field guides are available covering a variety of outdoor interests like animals, birds, reptiles, plants, and trees. Sit quietly and observe nature and reference the guide to help identify what you’ve seen.

Jot down notes and sketches in your outdoor journal. A journal helps personalize outings, reinforces knowledge, and maps available resources. Can you remember the exact location of that patch of wild edibles you noticed while trekking? Jot it down in your journal.

Though Nature Deficit Disorder isn’t an official medical condition, it describes perfectly the costs of our modern disconnect with nature. When sitting around the Thanksgiving feast with your family in later years, your children and grandchildren won’t remember their best day of television. They will, however, remember the times you spent curing their NDD.

I leave you with a young man I admire for his adventuresome spirit and commitment to Doing the Wild Stuff.

Check out Jack on his YouTube channel Self Reliance Kid.

You won’t find WiFi in the wilderness… but be assured… you’ll be well-connected!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

The Single Best Piece of Survival Gear for Emergency Core Temperature Control

by Todd Walker

Mother Nature is always true to her nature. You can’t change her. She’s beautifully rugged, awe-inspiring, and occasionally deadly. Best be prepared when she tries to make your life miserable.

best-survival-gear-for-core-temperature-control

Like duct tape and WD-40 in my tool box, there aren’t many Core Temperature Control dilemmas my reusable emergency space blanket can’t fix. This may be the best 12 ounces you can add to your hunting, hiking, camping, fishing, and/or 72 hour emergency kit.

Mors Kochanski of Karamat Wilderness Ways, the Godfather of modern bushcraft, came up with a brilliant idea called The Super Shelter. His design takes advantage of radiant heat from fire and a layer of clear plastic sheeting to help you survive extremely cold conditions.

Building The Super Shelter microclimate has been on my Doing the Stuff to-do list for a while now. Finally got some cold weather so decided to give it a test. Our midweek forecast is calling for a single digit windchill factor. A great time to put theory to the test.

The Modified Super Shelter

This design is a modification of the 5 Minute Emergency Shelter taught at The Pathfinder School. Here’s what you’ll need to construct your own…

  • 5 x 7 foot reusable emergency space blanket
  • 4 tent stakes
  • Clear plastic sheeting – cheap painter’s drop clothes run around $3.50
  • 25 feet of cordage
  • Ground insulation – 4 to 6 inches of compressed natural material or ground mat to battle conduction
  • Firewood – lots of it!

First, set up a lean-to shelter with your emergency blanket. I won’t rehash this part. For more info on this set up, click here. Lay the clear plastic over the lean-to and secure to the two back tent stakes. Nothing fancy. I simply tied each corner to the stakes. Use cordage if you’d like.

best-emergency-core-temperature-control-gear

Starting my fire with duct tape

 

Use a 6 to 7 foot long log/stick to secure the front flap over the opening of the lean-to. Roll the stick into about a foot of the front flap until the plastic is plumb under your ridge line. This secures the flap and allows a quick escape in case you need to attend to an emergency during the night. If the stick is not too large, you could simple lift it to add fuel to the fire without leaving the shelter.

The Test

I kissed Dirt Road Girl goodnight around 9 PM, went out to my backyard bushcraft area and took a temperature reading inside the shelter… a brisk 24º F. For my northern friends, this may be shorts and sleeve weather, but in Georgia, that’s nippy. By morning, the mercury read 19º.

 

I advocate trading theory for ACTION. Doing the Stuff in a controlled environment (my backyard) with untested gear and designs prepares me before I actually need the skill or kit item for survival.

Gotta Have Fire

Onto the test. There’s no such thing as “cheating” when it comes to fire in a survival scenario. Start a sustainable fire any way you can. I used a few feet of Gorilla tape and my Bic lighter to ignite my smalls and burn my fuel-size wood.

For this survival shelter, be sure to collect enough firewood to last you through the night. How much do you need? More than you just collected. A pile of dead wood the size of your shelter may get you through a freezing evening.

best-emergency-core-temperature-control-gear

Ideally, you’d want a fire burning the length of The Super Shelter (6 to 7 feet). For this test, my fire was only 2 feet in length. Even with this short fire, the temps inside the shelter grew to 62 degrees in less than 10 minutes. A long fire will have you “smoothing it” in your skivvies! Yep, no photo documentation of that epic event last night.

Clothing and Cover

Outside your first element of cover (clothing), your lightweight, multifunctional space blanket is one of the best pieces of survival kit you can carry in the woods. If you’ve dressed properly for the weather, your clothing is all you’ll need to stay warm in The Super Shelter.

My layered clothing consisted of what I’d normally wear on a camping, hunting, or bushcraft outing in cold weather.

  • Synthetic base layer top
  • Long sleeve under shirt
  • Long sleeve button shirt
  • Carhartt pants (medium-weight) – no synthetic base layer tonight since I was in my backyard
  • Sock liners and one pair of wool shocks (medium weight)
  • Pull-on leather boots
  • Homemade wool hunting shirt from an Italian Army blanket
  • Wool Sherpa hat

Lying in the shelter for 20 minutes, I began to peel layers… wool hat first. My hunting shirt became my pillow for my uncovered head. My biggest concern was my feet as they extended past my ground mat. Not an issue. My toes were toasty warm the entire 4 hour test.

best-emergency-core-temperature-control-gear

 

Why not the entire night? Remember what I said about firewood? I burned all my firewood and the shelter loses heat quickly without a radiant fire. Note to self… Get. More. Wood!

 

Conclusions

Keep in mind that this is not a long-term shelter. But for a 72-hour emergency, it is superb for Core Temperature Control. By the way, I discovered that a 9′ x 12′ foot painter’s tarp would have been enough to create this shelter. I went with a 20′ x 25′ to be sure.

Even for a half night stay, the modified Super Shelter design is totally worth packing two extra pounds for extreme cold weather outings!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

How to Build a Sturdy Takedown Bucksaw

by Todd Walker

A saw is safer to use than an ax. My Bacho Laplander folding saw has performed admirably for over 4 years. With an eight inch blade, this fine folding saw has its limitations when cutting larger diameter wood. But I love its portability. It has a permanent spot on my ring belt when I venture into the woods.

how-to-build-takedown-bucksaw

I’ve used my folding saw to cut up to 4 or 5 inch logs. Over that diameter, I usually reach for my ax. But here’s the catch…

I sometimes need a clean cut on larger logs for projects at my trapping shelter. A bucksaw would fit the bill perfectly. The thing is, I don’t want to haul one of my bucksaws to the woods. They’re too cumbersome to carry.

A takedown bucksaw would solve my problem! I needed something that I could break down and toss in my rucksack.

Dave Canterbury to the rescue! I’d seen him make a bucksaw from a few sticks in nature a few years ago. I ventured to my shelter in the woods to make one.

My attempt to make one from red cedar was a fail. I didn’t carve a mortise and tenon joint on the cross member (fulcrum).  I figured, lazily, that a point on both ends of the cross beam would work. Not so. It was fun to make but was not sturdy enough to cut small dried limbs. Thankfully, Dave also made a video tutorial for a takedown bucksaw from dimensional lumber.

Back to the drawing board in my shop.

Here’s how I made mine. (I’ve uploaded a video I made that may help with details on this project. It’s at the end of this article if you’d like to watch.)

Gather the Stuff

  • 1 Bacho 51-21 Bow Saw Blade, 21-Inch, Dry Wood (under 10 bucks on Amazon) – the saw blade will be your biggest expense on this project
  • 60 inches of 2×2 lumber (dumpster dive at building sites or buy at a building supply store)
  • 10 inches of 1×2 lumber (scrap pallet wood)
  • 2 – 10 d nails
  • 50 inches of 550 paracord

Tools

  • Saw
  • Drill and bits
  • Hammer or maul
  • Wood chisel
  • Vice – helpful but not necessary
  • Pencil
  • Measuring device

Note: I built this takedown saw in my pajamas at 2 AM. Couldn’t sleep so thought I better get busy Doing the Stuff. The only power tool used was an electric drill. Didn’t want to risk waking DRG and the neighbors. :)

Cut the Stuff

If you don’t have scrap 2×2 lumber lying around, rip a 2×4 in half (with a table saw). Unless you’re skilled in carpentry, I don’t recommend using a circular saw to rip 2×4’s. You’ll need those fingers later.

Cut List

  • 2 – 15 inch 2×2’s (verticals)
  • 1 – 20 inch 2×2 (cross beam)
  • 1 – 8 inch 1×2 (tension paddle)

Prep the Wood

Make a center mark on the two vertical pieces. This is where the cross beam will mate in a mortise (female) and tenon (male) joint.

Cut tenons on both ends of the cross beam. Mark a line about 1/2 inch on all four sides of each end of the cross member. Secure in a vice and cut the lines about 1/4 inch deep on all four sides on each end to create a shoulder tenon. Once cut, chisel the cut pieces away from the ends of the stock.

Cut a 1/2 to 3/4 inch slot on the bottom ends of each vertical piece. These slots will receive the bow saw blade. Drill a hole that will snuggly fit the 10d nails in each of the two slotted ends.

Now align the tenon on each vertical at your halfway mark and pencil in the shape for the mortise. Drill a hole inside the outline to match the depth of the tenon. My tenon’s were 3/4’s long – about half the depth of the 2×2 verticals. Chisel out the remaining wood from the mortise joint to the proper depth. Dry fit the cross beam to the verticals. Tweak the mortise as needed to gain a snug mortise and tenon joint.

Assembly

With the cross beam inserted into the verticals, install the saw blade in the two slotted ends of the verticals. Remove the blade and place it on top of the slotted verticals. With your pencil, outline the holes and bore the appropriate size hole that matches the nail you will use as a pin for the saw blade. Reassemble the saw and insert pin nails.

Drill two holes about one inch in from the end of the 1×2 paddle. Use a drill bit that will allow enough room for the paracord to pass through. Lace one end of the paracord through the two holes in a weaving fashion. Loop the paracord around the top  ends of the two verticals. Pull tight and secure the cordage with a knot. I used a fisherman’s knot.

Wind the paddle in a circular motion to tighten the cordage. Once you are satisfied with the tension on the saw blade, allow the paddle to toggle on the cross beam.

Now you’re ready to test your inexpensive takedown bucksaw. I cut a 3 inch piece of dried poplar with ease in my shop. Even the 9 inch hickory log in my sawbuck was no match for this little beast. The Bacho dry wood saw blade is fantastic for processing large dry wood rounds!

To break the saw down, simple untwist the paracord and disassemble the frame. The entire saw can be wrapped in a large 100% cotton bandana and packed in your rucksack or backpack. You can always use a multipurpose bandana for other camping or wilderness self-reliance training.

While I’ll always carry my folding Bacho Laplander, this takedown bucksaw just made wood cutting tasks at my base camp much more convenient.

Here’s my video tutorial… and a short clip of my failed attempt with natural material. If you haven’t checked out my channel yet, we’d appreciate you subscribing, liking, and sharing any material you find valuable.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

 

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Frugal Preps, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Luci Solar Lantern Review: A Lightweight Renewable Light Source

by Todd Walker

A few days before packing to go to the Pathfinder School last month, this solar-powered lantern was in my mailbox. On a whim, I decided to add it to my haversack and give it a test.

luci-solar-lantern-review

I was skeptical when I opened the package so I tossed it on our farm house table. It looked like a cylindrical beach ball – something you’d find in a shopping mall novelty store. The next day I inflated the “beach ball” light and pressed the on button. To my surprise, it worked! Note: It had not been outside in the sun, just laying in the house soaking up passive solar energy.

Luci solar lights, offered by MPOWERD, weigh 4 ounces, are idiot-proof, lightweight, durable, waterproof, versatile LED lanterns with three settings – bright, dim, and strobe.

This lightweight lantern can be employed in many areas of self-reliance and preparedness…

Camping/Boating/Hiking/Bushcraft

As a candling device (one of the 10 C’s of Survivability), Luci can operate the LED’s on her brightest setting for over six hours. No need to pack extra batteries. Everything is self-contained.

In a wilderness survival scenario, the strobe setting can be used to signal search and rescue teams if ever needed. She also offers illumination for self-aid/first aid, camp tasks, navigation, and other lighting needs.

luci-solar-lantern-review

A haversack headlight – don’t know what the circle of dots are… a tiny alien spaceship maybe?

Weighing only 4 ounces, I hung Luci from my homemade bed sheet tarp’s ridge line in arms-reach as I laid in my hammock at night. She offered hands-free lighting for my three-night camp at the Pathfinder School. Illuminating your camp space reduces the likelihood of common injuries and frustration when digging for a piece of gear or your sleeping socks.

Luci proved to be a resource saver. My headlamp, which requires three triple A batteries, was rarely lit once I made it back to my hammock each evening. She operated all weekend without being recharged in direct sunlight. If on the move, you could attach the deflated lantern to your backpack with the solar panels facing out. Deflated, the lantern is less than one inch thick. The lights work even in collapsed mode.

Emergency Preparedness

Renewable energy sources are great to have in emergency situations. In a longterm event, solar-powered lighting rocks. I’ve tried other solar flash lights that turned out to be unreliable gimmicky items. Luci filled this void with consistency in my experience.

If you have kids or pets, an open flame from a candle or oil lamp carries the risk of being tipped over and causing an even worse emergency. No worries with Luci. She won’t burn your house down.

luci-solar-lantern-review

A safe, renewable lighting source

In a vehicle emergency kit, I’d recommend attaching a small clip to one of the loop on either end of the lantern. If needed, you could attach the light to your jacket while fixing a flat tire in the dark. At 4 ounces, a gust of wind by a passing semi trailer might blow her to the next town if not secured. If stranded with a dead battery, the strobe setting would alert oncoming traffic of your location.

Other Uses

As an early riser, I tested my ability to read in the dark with Luci as my only source of light (about 65 lumens). I sat the lantern on the end table was able to see every word on the page of my newest book.

luci-solar-lantern-review

Easy to read my autographed copy!

Wrap a colored bandana around the globe for party lights on the patio! I know, can’t believe I thought of that one… but it worked. I hung it from our patio umbrella near the fire pit to cast a 10 foot diameter circle of light. Handy for when our grandson comes over and wants S’mores. By the way, they make Luci lights with colored globes which are more expensive than the Original Luci. Just add a bandana.

luci-solar-lantern-review

Reduce the glare by wrapping bandana around the globe to create a spot light effect

My experience with Luci has been positive. I’d recommend picking up a few for emergency kits and add one to your other outdoor adventure gear list. At a penny shy of 15 bucks, Amazon Prime offers free shipping. They’d make great stocking stuffers for the outdoorsman!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Gear, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

The 4 W’s of Wilderness Campsite Selection

by Todd Walker

Ah, the smell of wood smoke on flannel shirts in the morning! You nurse a cup of joe as the campfire licks a pan of bacon. Your dog watches your every move hoping you’ll share. Tonight’s dinner will be brook trout from a mountain stream… thanks to your skills with a fly rod. The scene is like a Norman Rockwell drawing!

Pre-planning your camping trip was easy. You left a written itinerary with a trusted friend in case you don’t return on time. Everything is shaping up to be a trip of a lifetime!

But did you pick a safe spot for your shelter? Choose poorly, and your adventure could turn ugly.

Here are four tips to help you select the right spot to bed down.

4-w's-campsite-selection

A.) Wind

Set your shelter to take advantage of the prevailing wind direction for the area. In places that allow open fires, shelters should be set so as to allow wind to pass between your shelter and campfire. Check regulations at state and national parks before heading out.

For cold-weather camping, avoid ridges or hilltops. Remember that cold air settles and hot air rises. Ideally, you should locate your shelter somewhere between the ridge and bottom of a hill. Position your shelter door/opening in a southeastern direction to take advantage of radiant energy from the sun’s morning rays.

Somewhere in between a peek and valley, on as flat a piece of ground you can find, is what you’re after. Clear the ground of stick-ups and rocks if you plan to sleep on the ground. Avoid setting up over an indention. If it rains, you’ll understand why.

B.) Water

Choose a spot close to a water source. Not too close. Flash flooding can wash away your good times. Look for signs of previous flooding like debris in trees along side the stream or river bank. Creek bottoms tend to be soggy and insect magnets. Adjust your site accordingly.

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C.) Wood

Look for an area with plenty of hanging dead limbs or fallen trees. Collect three times the amount of firewood you think you’ll need. It’s no fun at all to wake up cold in the middle of the night to scavenge for wood.

Living trees offer shade, canopy, and can serve as a natural wind break. Standing dead trees are to be avoided… always!

Which brings us to our last W…

D.) Widow Makers

Look up. Scan the tree canopy for dead limbs and trees. Your shelter is no match for a pine branch falling from 31 feet in the air. The same goes for loose rock ledges or possible rock slide paths. Be cautious about what Mother Nature has perched above you.

A boy scout troop used my shelter last spring. Just up the creek, some of the boys set up camp under a dead pine tree. Fortunately, the rotting tree held firm. A few weeks later a minor wind storm snapped it in half and splattered the ground where they had camped.

Paying attention to the 4 W’s will not only increase your safety and comfort, but will fill the family photo album with good memories. Now, get out there!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

DON’T PANIC! A Layperson’s Guide to Surviving Common Wilderness First Aid Emergencies

guide-to-surviving-common-wilderness-emergencies

By Kathleen Starmer, OYOInfo.net

As a rule, I don’t take life guidance from a work of science fiction. But when it comes to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I make an exception. Whether you’re dealing with the sudden onset of a blizzard or an alien invasion, you won’t be of use to anyone if you allow yourself to be seized by the sinister tentacles of panic. Take a breath. Get all zen. Channel your inner monk. NOW you’re in the proper mindset to handle an emergency situation. Let’s proceed!

DISCLAIMER: Before we get into the meat of this article, let me say this loud and clear: I am not a medical professional. In fact, let’s all say that together, shall we? “Kathleen is not a medical professional.” The author accepts no liability for anything that happens to anyone who follows the advice in this article. The information supplied herein is strictly for informational purposes, and will hopefully serve to incite you to sign up for a Wilderness First Aid course so that you can enjoy The Great Outdoors in the safest manner possible. Glad we got that squared away.

Presenting (drum roll, please) three—count ‘em: THREE!—of the most common emergencies you’re likely to confront in a wilderness situation, as well as some suggestions on how best to handle said emergencies with only a basic level of training.

Oh, My Aching Back…or Foot…or…: Muscle Strains and Sprains

guide-to-surviving-common-wilderness-emergencies

“Hold still! I’m trying to help!”

Ah, the disappointment of a twisted ankle one day into your week-long backpacking trip! Not surprisingly, the treatment for strains and sprains in exactly the same on the trail as it is on the soccer field: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE).

The “rest” part is fairly easy. If your schedule allows, take a day or two to chill out and give the injured muscle, tendon, or ligament a break. Ice can be a bit trickier. I, for one, have never hauled frozen blocks of water into the woods, but you can improvise by immersing the sore area in a cold stream for short intervals, filling a plastic bag with cold water and securing it to the injury, or even by wrapping a wet bandana around the injury and letting the breeze perform some evaporative cooling. That wet bandana can also do double-duty as a compression bandage, or you could break open the first aid kit and use an elastic wrap. Lastly, if the injury is to one of the person’s limbs, prop the offending limb on a backpack, a fallen log, or whatever handy item you can find to decrease swelling and speed recovery.

You can also offer anti-inflammatories to the patient if they wish to self-administer, and there are some fancy-schmancy taping techniques you can learn about in a Wilderness First Aid Course. Taping is especially useful if the patient needs to keep moving before they’ve fully recovered. Plus, it looks bad-ass.

“It’s Just a Flesh Wound”: Abrasions and Lacerations

guide-to-surviving-common-wilderness-emergencies

Boo boos aren’t only for the wee ones when you’re on the trail

Boo-boos just seem to be a way of life in the outdoors. In fact, lots of folks don’t consider it a successful outing if they don’t come home with at least one “war wound.” But just because skin injuries are common doesn’t mean you should get all devil-may-care about them. You can minimize the risk of complications down the line by following these simple tips.

First of all, if there is significant blood loss, staunch the flow. Just a little bit of blood is fine—in fact, it can even be good, as it will clean out the wound. Otherwise, apply pressure to the wound with a clean bandage. You can learn proper technique in any basic first aid class. Major blood loss, it goes without saying, is beyond the scope of this article.

The second thing you want to do is prevent infection. Since we’re addressing injuries in the boonies, chances are, an open wound is contaminated with nasties. You can use the alcohol wipes found in your first aid kit to clean around the wound, but it’s best not to use those wipes on broken skin because their harsh nature might actually further damage tissue. Your best bet is to irrigate the wound with clean water. Either use copious amounts of flowing, potable water, or if you’re super-prepared, use a special irrigation syringe. In the unfortunate incident of embedded debris, you can use sterilized (read: toasted in your campfire) tweezers to carefully remove it. Now, if we’re talking outright impalement, that’s a whole other issue…again, best addressed by taking a Wilderness First Aid course. Gee, you knew I was gonna say that, didn’t you?

Lastly, you want to promote wound healing. This is simply a matter of applying a proper dressing. Bonus points for elevating the injured area to decrease swelling.

You’re Giving Me a Heart Attack: Cardiac Issues

guide-to-surviving-common-wilderness-emergencies

Could be a heart attack; could be a bad cheeseburger. Play it safe and treat as a cardiac event.

You might be surprised to learn that heart attacks are among the top three causes of wilderness fatalities. It’s certainly not as “sexy” as a dramatic fall from a canyon wall, but a cardiac event has the potential to be just as deadly. So do yourself a favor: get in shape before you head out for that three-day backpacking adventure. Step away from the deep fried, gravy drenched chocolate cheesecake. Have a doctor give you the all-clear before you embark on that 14,000 ft summit hike. Do everything you can to stack the deck in your favor.

However, even the best-laid preparations can go awry, so it behooves you to know the signs of a cardiac emergency. While it’s true that less-serious conditions can cause some of these symptoms, when you’re in the wilderness, treat any patient with the following signs as though they are experiencing a heart attack until proven otherwise by a medical professional. Better safe than sorry. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the most common symptoms of heart attack include:

  • Chest discomfort, typically in the center of the chest and lasting for several minutes. It may feel like painful pressure, squeezing, or a sense of “fullness.”
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or even the stomach.
  • Shortness of breath that is not due to exertion, with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs could include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, vomiting, light-headedness/dizziness, or an impending sense of doom.

(Although the most common symptom of a heart attack for women is the classic chest pain shown in the movies, females are also more likely to experience the symptoms I’ve indicated in italics above.)

If you have any reason to suspect someone is your wilderness party is experiencing a cardiac emergency, sit them down, give them 325 mg of uncoated aspirin to chew for about 30 seconds and swallow, and make them comfortable. Ask if they are carrying nitroglycerin tablets. If they are, give the tablet container to them so that they can self-administer one dose. Keep them calm and quiet. If you have cell reception, call for emergency rescue by qualified professionals. If you are out of communication range, pick the fittest person in your party to hoof it back to civilization and bring help ASAP. A heart attack is serious business, and there are all sorts of special situations and qualifiers for this dilemma; your best bet is to get your Wilderness First Aid certification before your next outing so that you’ll know the proper course of action for your particular scenario.

So there you have it! A quick-n-dirty layperson’s guide for dealing with common wilderness emergencies. And I know I’ve said it 127 times already, but once again, with feeling: sign up for a Wilderness First Aid course today! Your life—or at least your comfort—may depend on it!

Author Bio:

guide-to-surviving-common-wilderness-emergencies

After over a decade of working as an academic ecologist and another 13 years at NASA, Kathleen Starmer created http://OYOinfo.net with the intent of bringing practical emergency preparedness to The Every(wo)man. She is particularly concerned with helping people who live in urban areas deal with the fallout from climate change-related disasters. You can follow Kathleen on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/oyoinfo), Twitter (http://twitter.com/oyoinfo), Instagram (http://instagram.com/oyoinfo), and Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/oyoinfo). You can also amuse yourselves with her amateur video production skills on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmamAXUReXQyKZOX-jf6wrQ); encouraging emails may be sent to inquiry@oyoinfo.net (mailto:inquiry@oyoinfo.net). 

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P.S. Don’t forget to register to win a $75 gift certificate from Trayer Wilderness. The giveaway ends November 3rd! Click here to enter.

Categories: Camping, First Aid, Medical, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Finally! A Fire Piston That’s Bomb-Proof

by Todd Walker

A few months ago my friends, Glen and Tammy Trayer of Trayer Wilderness, sent me their MultiFlame Tool to review. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical since I’ve yet to use a fire piston that produced an ember on a consistent basis. After two months of testing this tool, I was shocked… in a good way!

multiflame-tool-trayer-wilderness

Here’s why…

The MultiFlame Tool is aptly named. Glen Trayer reveals his genius in the design. Besides being a combustion device, it functions as a screw driver, auger, and, get this… a bore cleaner for sidearms! Multifunctional, redundant, and bomb-proof!

First, let’s look at its combustion capability.

Fire

Science students at my school are going to love this!

The primitive technology of making fire out of thin air is nothing new. Rudolph Diesel put this ancient concept to work in an internal combustion engine that bears his name to this day. Compressing air quickly in a chamber raises the air temperature to around 500º… hot enough to ignite petroleum fuel, or in our case, tinder material.

With the proper input, the MultiFlame Tool has consistently produced a burning ember with char cloth. Simply place a small piece of charred cloth in the hole at the end of the piston. Lubricate the o-ring with chap stick, saliva, fixin’ wax, skin oils, or other available lubricant. Insert the piston into the chamber and slam the piston in and quickly remove. It’s that simple.

An alternative to char cloth, chaga, known as tinder fungus, will work. I tested a piece of chaga that my buddy, Joel Bragg, gave me at the Pathfinder School the first weekend of October. On the third attempt with tinder fungus, I had a coal.

Here’s the video review:

Other Tool Functions

This tool is way more than a fire piston! You can use it as a screw driver. Any 1/4 inch hex head bit will fit the end of the piston chamber. The auger adapter accepts 5/16th inch hex shaft auger bits for boring larger diameter holes for camp craft and other wood craft chores.

Add a gun bore cleaner to the list. The round handle on the piston will unscrew allowing you to attach a bore cleaning brush for 9mm or larger sidearms. Small hex bits, cleaning brushes, and tinder material can be stored in the tin which comes with the kit. Two extra o-rings are included in the tin.

Conclusions

Would I choose fire pistons as my primary source of fire? No.

As I mention earlier, fire pistons were never a reliable combustion tool for me. However, the Trayer Wilderness MultiFlame Tool is not only a reliable ignition source, it’s multi-functionality has earned a spot in my kit!

If you’ve had epic fails with fire pistons, I recommend you try the bomb-proof MultiFlame Tool. They come in two sizes: 6″ piston ($45.00 – auger adapter not included), and 8″ piston ($75.00 – auger adapter included ~ which I reviewed). These MultiFlame Tools are made in American. Check out the other self-reliant items in their online store that has helped them live off-grid in the Idaho wilderness. Oh, and you won’t find better people to deal with!

You can order yours at Trayer Wilderness.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Gear | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How to Make an Emergency Shelter in 5 Minutes or Less

by Todd Walker

Your footing gives way and you body is immersed in 45º water. The clock is ticking. Within 15 minutes, you’ll begin to lose dexterity in your fingers. You need shelter and fire.

5-minute-emergency-shelter

Photo courtesy of Iris Canterbury, Pathfinder School photographer

What’s in your kit to help you erect a quick shelter and fire?

I uploaded my first ever YouTube video covering this topic. Check out my channel if you get a chance. I’d greatly appreciate any honest feedback from you on the video. The following is an outline of what I covered.

Here’s the stuff you’ll need for shelter and fire:

Emergency Shelter

  • Emergency space blanket
  • 4 ABS tent pegs
  • 25 feet of cordage

Hopefully you keep an emergency space blanket in your outdoor kit. If not, get one! They add little weight but have many redundant uses.

Before even heading out to the woods, prep your space blanket. Pre-install loops while you’re warm and dry. Tie a loop of cordage (#36 tarred bank line or paracord) in the four corners of your space blanket. I prefer the smaller diameter on the bank line. I used a necklace knot for the loops. Make the loops about 3 or 4 inches long… enough to slip a tent peg through.

Another time-saving tip: Practice this set up in your backyard. Keep a bowline knot tied on one end of your ridge line. Attach your pursik loop to the ridge line and leave it there. This will trim valuable minutes off your shelter set up in an actual emergency.

Fire

  • Ignition source
  • Tinder
  • Smalls (pencil lead and pencil size twigs)
  • Cutting tool

Practicing primitive fire craft in a controlled setting is smart, but you need fire now! Building a bow drill set off the landscape won’t cut it when you’re losing fine motor skills and finger dexterity at a rapid rate.

Wet and cold, you need fire fast! Always keep layers of sure-fire sources in a dry bag in your kit. A Bic lighter in your pocket, even wet, can be dried by blowing and shaking water out of the valve and striker. Ferro rods work in all weather conditions.

In my video, I collected a drum liner of smalls on my way to the site. This process takes the most time but is essential to creating a sustainable fire. In the eastern woodland, look for dead hanging limbs that snap when harvested.

Your fire kit should also be prepped with a bullet proof tinder material. Commercially made products like Mini Infernos or InstaFire burn for several minutes in wet conditions… even on water.

InstaFire: Lights in Wind, Rain, Snow, and on Water!

InstaFire on the water!

Processed jute twine is a flash tinder that burns quickly and may not ignite marginal or damp tinder and smalls. Click here for a DiY option on jute fire starters that burn for several minutes. Whatever you decide, commercial or homemade, it’s your job to test these items before you actually need them.

In Georgia, we have an abundance of fatwood. A couple of sticks always ride in my fire kits. For demonstration purposes on the video, I used fatwood. Create a pile of fatwood shavings with the spine of your knife if you have no other sure-fire starter. The increased surface of the shavings allows ignition with a spark from your ferro rod. Add a fatwood feather stick to the lit shavings and let the fire eat the smalls. This gives you time to add larger fuel as needed.

You can view my 32 ounce water boil on the video.

Knots

  • Bowline
  • Necklace/Blood knot
  • Trucker’s hitch
  • Prusik loop

These four knots are most useful in woodcraft and survival. Grab a length of cordage and practice tying the bowline, the king of bushcraft knots, while you watch TV or stand in line at the store. Simply ignore the stares. Practice until you are able to tie one with your eyes closed. I’ll do a short video on tying these 4 knots soon.

Here’s my first attempt at videos. Thanks for watching.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

47 Creative Uses for Self-Aid in Your 10 Piece Kit

by Todd Walker

Fall is a season where many of us head out to enjoy the outdoors. Crisp air, colorful leaves, deer in rut, and clear mountain streams lure us to nature. Unfortunately, there are times when things go sideways on day hikes and canoe trips. When they do, you’ll need knowledge, skills, and resources to get home safely.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

The goal of wilderness survival is simple… to effect self-rescue or be found alive. Even “minor” injures in a 72 hour scenario can decrease your chances of meeting that goal.

Self-aid should become a top priority on your skills list. Why?

You’re likely to come in contact with sharp stuff, hot stuff, slippery stuff, and/or stinging stuff on outings. I rarely leave the woods without one of these most common wilderness injuries:

  • Cuts/Abrasions
  • Burns
  • Breaks/Strains/Sprains
  • Bites/Stings
  • Blisters

You may choose to carry a first-aid kit to treat these injuries. The problem with a dedicated first-aid kit (pre-made or homemade) is that they take up space and typically have only on use. Let me state upfront, if you require daily medication for health issues, by all means, be sure to pack enough of your meds.

Can your 10 piece kit double as a self-aid/first-aid kit? Indeed it can!

First, here are the 10 essential items that should go with you on every trip to the woods…

The 10 C’s of Survivability (10 Piece Kit)

  1. Cutting tool
  2. Combustion device
  3. Container
  4. Cover
  5. Cordage
  6. Cotton bandana
  7. Cargo tape
  8. Cloth sail needle
  9. Candling device
  10. Compass

Look beyond the obvious uses for these 10 items – shelter, fire, navigation, water, etc., etc. With a little creativity and practice, your 10 C’s can effectively treat each of the most common injuries in a 72 hour wilderness survival scenario.

Here’s how…

(Adapted from Brian Manning’s hand-out and Jason Hunt’s class on wilderness self-aid at The Pathfinder School)

Cuts and Abrasions

  1. Cutting tool – use knife to remove debris from wounds
  2. Combustion device – sterilize tools
  3. Container – irrigate and wash wound with water
  4. Cover – (drum liner, plastic tarp) bandage and cover wounds
  5. Cordage – tourniquet as a last resort
  6. Cotton bandana – wipe/clean wound, bandages, dressings, tourniquet
  7. Cargo (duct) tape – all-purpose Band Aid, DIY butterfly Band Aid
  8. Cloth sail needle – remove debris from wound and stitch/suture in extreme cases
  9. Compass – good compasses have a magnifying lens that can be used to inspect wounds closely
self-aid-10-piece-kit

Using your knife to cut a duct tape butterfly bandage. Keep your knife outside the Triangle of Death. You don’t need another wound.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Pull the wound together after securing one side of the bandage to the skin. The cut should be pinched together slightly. This is a temporary fix.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Shemaghs make great slings. Get one that is 100% cotton.

Breaks, Sprains, and Strains

  1. Container – water bottle used as a hot or cold pack
  2. Cordage – splint wraps, slings (add padding)
  3. Cargo tape – immobilize limbs by taping makeshift splints in place
  4. Cotton bandana or shemagh – slings, splint wraps, padding under splints (tie smaller bandanas together for longer slings)
  5. Cover (drum liner) – water collection (cold/hot pack), splint wraps, slings
self-aid-10-piece-kit

If using a folding saw or machete as a makeshift splint, tape the cutting edge before taping it to your limb.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Immobilizing a limb. Add padding under your splint before taping.

Burns

  1. Cutting tool – remove debris and clean burns
  2. Container – use to pour water for irrigation, stop the burning process, and cold pack
  3. Cotton bandana – cover burn loosely, retain moisture on burn
  4. Cloth sail needle – clean burns
  5. Cover (drum liner) – cover and protect burns
  6. Compass – mirror and magnifying lens used to inspect burns and hard-to-reach areas on the body

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Bites and Stings

  1. Cutting tool – knife to scrape/remove stingers and splinters
  2. Container (water bottle) – cold compress to reduce swelling, irrigation – in the case of venomous snake bites, keep location cool, immobilize, and get medical help ASAP.
  3. Cargo tape – DIY Band Aids, bandage tape, remove stinger
  4. Cloth sail needle – remove stinger or splinter
  5. Compass – mirror and magnifying lens used to locate and inspect hard to reach areas on the body (i.e. – tick removal and bites)
  6. Cotton bandana – Band Aid/bandage material, pressure dressing
self-aid-10-piece-kit

Sighting mirror on compass used to inspect embedded tick on the back of the calf in the dark. A headlamp frees both hands for the task.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Cold water in a water bottle

Blisters

  1. Cargo tape – cover/shield developing hot spots
  2. Cloth sail needle – pop blister at base to drain
  3. Container (water bottle) – irrigate and clean area

Additional self-aid uses for the 10 piece kit

  • Your candling device (head lamp/flashlight) can be used for inspection and treatment at night with all the common injuries.
  • Metal water bottle and cup is useful for preparing infusions, decoctions, and sterilization of your knife or needle before cleaning wounds.
  • Besides using a tarp/emergency space blanket for core temperature control (CTC), these items can also serve as a stretcher, water collection device, and sling material.
  • Use your pack for immobilization and elevating injured limbs and or dealing with shock.
  • And of course, a proper fire kit affords you the ability to maintain CTC, heat natural medicinals, and heat compresses.

Your 10 piece kit should always accompany you on wilderness adventures. As you can see, these multi-purpose tools have many redundant uses. Heck, the 10 C’s of Survivability should go with you no matter where you’re headed.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, First Aid, Medical, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

by Todd Walker

Weight – a unit of heaviness or mass; any heavy load, mass, or object; the vertical force experienced by a mass as a result of gravitation

Gravity. It’s unescapable… on this planet. It keeps us grounded. But it also weighs us down.

I consider myself to be in decent physical condition. Even so, at my age, every pound added to my backpack affects the gravitational pull and energy needed to carry the stuff. I’m no ultralight hiker by any stretch, but I do try to lighten my load every chance I get.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps

I’ve wanted to own an oilskin tarp for some time now. They’re durable but too pricey for our budget at this time. A quality oilskin tarp (new) will set you back $200. My motto, when it comes to gear, is buy the best you can afford. Or, go the common man route and make your own.

The idea for this project came from William Collins’ 4 part series on his YouTube channel. I’ve condensed his method into a short tutorial for you.

Stuff You’ll Need

  • 100% Egyptian cotton bed sheet (flat). The higher the tread count the better. I used a king size which measures 8.5′ x 9′.
  • 20 oil lamp wicks (1/2″ x 6″). They come in packs of 5 at Wally World.
  • Boiled linseed oil – 3 to 4 cups (depending on the size of your cloth)
  • Mineral spirits – 3 to 4 cups
  • Dye (optional) unless your sheet is the color you desire
  • Containers
  • Heat source
  • Rubber gloves

Prep the sheet: Before the dyeing process begins, wash the sheet in cold water and washing powder. Then dry on high heat to close and tighten the woven fibers in the sheet.

Sew the lamp wicks on all corners and at two foot intervals along the edges. I sewed these on by hand. A sewing machine would take less time but that’s how I roll. I added 3 additional loops down the center of the sheet to allow for more options when configuring my tarp.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Step 1: Making Natural Dye

I filled the bottom of a 10 inch pot with green hickory nuts from a tree in our yard. Thank you, squirrels! Use an old pot that you don’t mind staining. I then added several black walnuts (green hulled) to the mix which happen to be dropping from trees now.

homemade-oilskin-bedsheet-tarp

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

With the dyeing agent (green nuts) in the pot, fill 3/4 full with water. Bring to a boil on an outdoor fire. Allow to slow boil for an hour or more. The longer you boil, the darker your dye will become. I was going for an earth tone.

You can also break the green hulls off the black walnuts to increase the surface area and improve the extraction process. Be aware that the hulls will stain anything they touch – skin included.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

If you choose not to make your own natural dye, RIT dye is available at most grocery stores.

Step 2: Dye the Sheet

Test the color of your dye on a piece of scrap cloth. If you’re satisfied, strain the dye mixture into a clean container. A window screen over a bucket works well.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Place the sheet into the container. Use rubber gloves to prevent staining your hands. Turn and squeeze the material for a thorough coverage.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Leave the sheet in the dye for 24 hours. Longer for a darker color. To keep the sheet submerged, I place the lid of cast iron dutch oven on top. Not recommended. The greasy drip spikes on the lid left a polka dot stain pattern on the bed sheet. What was I thinking!? I replaced the heavy lid with one of DRG’s small dinner plates and a 25 lb. dumbbell.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Step 3: Set the Dye

Wring the sheet over the container to remove the excess dye. I hung mine over a double clothes line out back to dry.

Once dry, wash it in cold water with washing powder when your wife isn’t home. No, it won’t stain the washing machine tub. The cold water sets the dye. Dry the sheet on high in preparation for the waterproofing.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Step 4: Waterproofing

Mix equal parts boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits (drying agent) in a container. I used a 5 gallon bucket. You only need enough to completely saturate the cloth. I used two cups of each and found dry spots on the sheet. Another cup of each did the trick. Other DiY’ers have “painted” the oil on their cloth. For the best coverage, message the oil into the material in a bucket. You’ll probably want gloves for this step.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Squeeze the excess mixture from the sheet back into the bucket. Funnel the extra waterproofing liquid in a smaller container and label it for later projects. I used the empty mineral spirits can.

Note on boiled linseed oil: Properly dispose of any oil soaked rags used to wipe spills. As the linseed oil dries, it creates heat and can combust spontaneously.

Worried about burning down your shop or barn while the tarp hangs to dry? Don’t be. Spreading the tarp to dry dissipates the heat.

Step 5: Cure the Sheet

Hang the oiled sheet vertically under a covered roof outside. In a hurry, I laid my sheet over the double clothes line. This method created two lines down the middle section of the sheet. Plus, it rained that evening. Dumb move. The next morning, water was standing on the sheet between the two lines. I hung the sheet under my attached shed behind my shop the next day.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

The drying time on the oiled sheet depends on humidity. Well, it rained for three days after I applied the oil. You guessed it, the tarp stayed tacky. When the weather cleared, it dried in 48 hours.

Now for the moment of truth… is it waterproof?

I hung the dried tarp on the clothes line and unreeled the garden hose. I set the nozzle on “shower” and pulled the trigger. This was my common rain shower test. It passed! No moisture behind the tarp when wiped with a paper towel.

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Dry as bone!

Dry as bone!

Now for the hurricane test. I set the hose to “jet” from three feet away and blasted the tarp. The paper towel underneath remained bone dry!

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

Even with standing water between the clothes line, no drips or moisture anywhere. Good to know the tarp could be used to harvest water in a survival scenario!

How to Make Lightweight Oilskin Tarps from Bed Sheets

As far as durability, I’m pretty sure my bed sheet tarp won’t outlast an eight ounce canvas oilskin tarps. Maybe it will. Time will tell. I’m testing it this weekend at the Pathfinder School Basic Class. I’ll update y’all on its performance.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 26 Comments

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