Gear

Daily Disaster Drills and The 5 C’s of Survivability

by Todd Walker

Everyday life if full of daily disaster drills.

daily-disaster-drills-5-C's-of-survivability

1.) Red Barn Forge Bushcraft knife 2.) Fire kit – ferro rod, lighter, magnifying glass, fatwood, char tin 3.) USGI poncho 4.) Pathfinder stainless steel bottle and cook set 5.) #36 tarred bank line

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The fire alarm blared mid-sentence second period. My first thought was that this couldn’t be a routine, scheduled drill. Our sixth graders were taking one of those useless, high-stakes standardized tests. A prankster either pulled a fire alarm in the hall or the building was on fire.

Waiting for fire trucks to arrive, our class stood in a hot Georgia sun. Sweat and hints of body odor began to waft through the crowd. Occasional whines floated through the air. But no visible smoke from the building.

Thirty minutes later, “all clear” was given. A defective alarm in the system cause 850 middle schoolers to line up, somewhat orderly, on the safe edges of our school yard. Every teacher and student knew exactly what to do and where to go. We practice fire drills, religiously, once a month. No coaching or coaxing needed. It’s automatic!

Had this been a real emergency – school burns to the ground – would I have been personally prepared to get home? I know many coworkers who leave car keys, phone, wallets, and purses in their classrooms during evacuation drills. Real “what if” situations aren’t likely. It’s only a drill, right?

Emergency preparedness doesn’t cover the entire scope of self-reliance. However, it often times serves as a gateway or starting line for deeper self-reliance and Doing the Stuff skills.

Having the skills to properly use supplies and equipment is even better. Layered redundancy in tools, coupled with practiced skills, equips you to handle stuff when the “what if” actually happens.

Two is One – One is None Mentality

What’s in Your Pockets?

Back to the school yard. What’s on my person that could affect my personal survivability?  Do I have the 5 C’s of Survivability on me at all times? How about backups to these essentials?

Let’s see…

  • Car keys in my pocket – √
  • Brain – √ (“If I only had a brain.” ~ Scarecrow)
  • Combustion device in pocket and on key ring – √
  • Cutting tool in pocket – √
  • Communications device (phone) in pocket – √
  • Cover in emergency car kit – √
  • Cordage in wallet (Gorilla Tape) – √
  • Candling device (flashlight) – √ [one of the 10 C's of Survivability in my pocket]

If you’re familiar with the 5 C’s, you noticed I’m missing the all important Container from my list above. No worries.

Get Home Bag

I only teach one hour in my own classroom each day. The other four periods I move to other classrooms – away from my Get Home Bag. I can’t grab this bag if we evacuate the building after 9:50 AM. That’s why it’s smart to have layers of redundancy in your vehicle emergency supplies.

Vehicle Kit

My car keys are literally the KEY to accessing more essential survival stuff – metal container included. My vehicle is my preferred method of conveyance. If my ride dies, my hiking boots and spare socks (stored in the vehicle) are plan B for my 21 mile journey home.

I’ve written a detailed post on my car kit if you’re interested in seeing the junk in my trunk.

The Why Behind The 5 C’s of Survivability

These 5 tools have passed the test of time to help humans survive and thrive. From the first human who discovered a sharp edge on a flake of stone, our entire history changed – as did the size of our brains! The cutting tool put us at the top of the food chain. Animal fat and protein could now be harvested with sharp stuff and processed with another tool in the 5 C’s – combustion/fire.

daily-disaster-drills-5-C's-of-survivability

My nephew, Kyle, enjoying some wild ginger tea on our last rainy dirt time session

Skills to use these 5 items will always trump the “hottest”, shiny survival gadget on the market.

Here is the run down of why you should include these 5 items in every kit you pack.

To sum it quickly, specialized skills and material are needed to reproduce these 5 essential tools in the wilderness.

So you’re not into wilderness self-reliance?

You should be and here’s why

Chris Noble at Master Woodsman just gave me a different, and enlightened, perspective on what wilderness really means. I lifted these bullet points of his broader definition of Wilderness…

  • when you’re lost in the woods, roadless or not
  • it’s when the electricity stops coming through the wires to your house for a long period of time
  • or even worse, your home is damaged or destroyed from a storm or other event.  Don’t tell me after Katrina and SuperStorm Sandy those poor souls weren’t in a wilderness.
  • wilderness is an emergency situation with no immediate help [emphasis mine]

The 5 C’s are essential for any setting, urban jungle or vast wilderness. The tools pictured above fit nicely into my haversack and/or attach to my ring belt and accompany me on all treks, short or long, into my wilderness.

Below is a brief explanation and a minimum of three redundant uses for each of the 5 C’s.

A) – Cutting Tool

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – craft splints, dig splinters, remove ticks, etc.
  2. Shelter – craft stakes, toggles, supports, and other needed tools
  3. Fire – a 90º spine for ferro rod use, carve feather sticks, process wood
  4. Food – processing game and collecting edibles

B) – Combustion Device

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – sterilize cutting tools and needles
  2. Shelter – core temperature control
  3. Water – purification
  4. Fire – heat to complete the triangle of fire (heat, fuel, oxygen)
  5. Signaling – smoke rescue signal
  6. Food – cooking

C) – Cover (proper clothing is first layer of cover)

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – core temperature control
  2. Shelter – creates a micro climate for core temperature control
  3. Signaling – if your cover contrasts with your surroundings

D) - Container

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – make herbal concoctions and infusions
  2. Water – transporting water
  3. Fire – metal water bottles can be used to make char cloth for your next fire
  4. Food – collecting and cooking stuff

E) – Cordage

  1. First-Aid/Self-Aid – slings, pressure wraps, and bandaging
  2. Shelter – lashings and knots
  3. Food – snares, fishing line, hanging a bear bag, etc.

* The 5 C’s are adapted from Dave Canterbury’s Pathfinder System which I follow

Our other kits (vehicle, get home bag, and Bug Out Bags, hunting/fishing) contain duplicates of these 5 C’s and more. Obviously, our vehicles can haul more than these five items. When carrying capacity is a consideration, cull the shiny survival objects and build your skills with the 5 C’s.

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…

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Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Choosing the Best Survival Multi Tool: Tips from an Ex Multi Tool Industry Insider

by Morry Banes

As far back as I can remember the preparedness community has dwelled and kept getting back to one elusive dilemma – a survival knife or a multi tool.

choosing-best-survival-multi-tool

It is to us what “Brenda or Kelly” dilemma is to the fans of 90210, the male ones, all three of them…

It’s my opinion that the only answer that makes sense is BOTH.

Granted, nothing much to screw or unscrew when you are making a trap in the wild, and it would be hard making a decent shelter by using a flimsy multi tool blade but let us take a step back here and think about one basic fact:

Flexibility of a multi tool use is unparalleled

Smart preparedness goes beyond thinking about every possible scenario and adding stuff to your backpack. It’s about knowing that a real life situation is bound to face you with scenarios you could not have fathomed.

choosing-best-survival-multi-tool

Here, your brain is your main weapon, and you only need things that can be creatively and flexibly used. Sometimes you’ll need a light piece for small cutting tasks and sometimes you’ll need brute force of a rigid, heavy-duty tool. Nothing fits the description better than a wisely chosen multi tool.

  • How about field stripping your firearm if you carry one?

I know from experience that, with a little practice, you can strip and clean pretty much any weapon if you have the right multi tool

  • How about a medical emergency?

Ok, you have your first aid kit in place but what if you need to cut through a booth to release the ankle of an injured person or cut through close to get to the injured area. Scissors are OK, but what about having something that’s better than standalone scissors and can do a lot more…

  • The list goes on and on…

I think I’ve made my point why I think having a multi tool in your BOB is just common sense, so let’s move on to talk about what I promised in the title – choosing smart and saving money while we’re at it.

When you start researching multi tools, reading multi tool reviews and specs, it gets pretty complicated pretty fast. That’s how it was for me when I started working in a multi tool factory like a decade ago and started my multi tool collection.

It kept getting more complicated before it got really simple.

Here, we are in luck because we know exactly what we are looking for – a strong, heavy-duty survival multi tool free of stars and sparkles of advertising.

I am here to tell you how to simplify things and look past all that, because, in a survival situation, it won’t matter much if your tool is nice shiny red and packs a zillion pieces you will never use.

When choosing a survival multi tool for your BOB, as far as I am concerned, it’s about getting back to the basics and keeping things simple.

We’ll keep things simple by looking at three main aspects:

  • versatility
  • quality of the materials
  • safety of use

Again, I’ll keep things very simple.

Versatility

Sure, you can be “that guy” who spend over a grand on something like Swiss Army Giant that has 141 functions, but if SHTF you’ll find yourself using 5 pieces and carrying over 7 pounds of steel.

As I said, for me, choosing smart is looking at the basics:

  • sturdy pliers and wire cutters
  • two types of blades – serrated and regular
  • quality screwdrivers – regular and Phillips
  • bottle and can opener

Whichever tool you get, you’ll find that the Pareto or the 80-20 rules apply – you are likely to do 80% of the jobs using 20% of the tools.

It’s far more important playing your cards right when it comes to reliability of the tools.

choosing-best-survival-multi-tool

Quality

I do know the industry inside out, and if I were to design my perfect survival multi tool today, I would look for the following:

  • titanium for the handles because it will not corrode
  • 420 stainless steel for all the tools except the blades because “size-to-size” this steel is stronger than titanium and far less likely to break because of low chromium content
  • 154CM steel for the blades – because it will keep it’s edge up to 3 times longer than 420 steel

Simplicity and Clarity

That’s what I was aiming for when talking about a quality of a multi tool.

The word “quality” is so easily thrown around these days that it loses all its meaning. Every company will tell you that their tool is of “highest quality” while they are profiting on your confusion about the meaning of the word.

Well, consider me your insider in the industry and make a mental note of this definition of quality in a multi tool.

Just one more thing – stay away from anything “coated”. Read the specs carefully and look for terms like “dye-coated steel” and “titanium coated”. It’s just a way of the company to say “It’s not really steel, we just painted it so that it looks like it is”.

One could argue that titanium coating does make some sense since it will keep the corrosion of for a while. That “for a while will” usually with the time your warranty expires.

It’s money out of your pocket and not worth it. The aim of this article is to equip you with the knowledge to get a multi tool that you will likely pass on to the next generation.

Safety

This one is pretty simple. We just want something that will:

  • be easily and safely deployed using one hand
  • allow us to us a tool while a few other pieces are open
  • features a safety lock

The industry has gone a long way over the last decade in this category and a vast majority of tools that meet the criteria we’ve set in terms of versatility and quality will also be smartly and safely designed.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to read a review or two about the safety of a multi tool before making a choice. You might stumble upon specifics like how the design fits the size of your hand, which makes a lot of difference.

Resume

Not all multi tools are created equal, and it might be a cliché saying it, but every one of us has different needs.

But play your cards right with the basics, and the rest of it is just putting a few remaining pieces of the puzzle together and you’ll have a winner on your belt.

Stay smart and safe.

————————————

About the author:

Morry Banes is an ex multi tool factory worker. Today he runs a small hardware store in Oregon and talks about his passion, multi tools over at bestmultitoolkit.com.

It is a blog dedicated to all things multi tools. It’s where he shares his experiences and reviews the best multi tools on the market today.

He is also a husband and a proud father of two daughters, Dolores and Liana.

————————————

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Categories: Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

The Top 3 Tools for Mechanical Advantage in Bushcraft

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

top-tools-for-mechanical-advantage-bushcraft

Survival TV scripts promote the “get out alive” theme – as they should – it’s survival. The idea of survival conjures up roughing it, eating nastiness or not at all, sleeping on muddy ground under leaky cover, and drinking your own urine until rescued. Sounds fun, right?

Not so much.

I’m a student of the art and science of bushcraft, not to merely survive, but to live comfortably, even thrive in a wilderness setting. As George Washington Sears (“Nessmuk”) put it in Woodcraft and Camping,

We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. [Emphasis mine]

Bushcraft is primal (first; original; fundamental). The craft extends far past modern survivalism, prepping, hiking, and camping. It criss-crosses all the preparedness circles and powers the survival mindset circuitry. Self-reliance through basic, simple machines (tools) is the central theme of bushcraft.

If you hang out here for any length of time, you know how fond I am of vintage tools. In a natural/wilderness setting, tools in skilled hands can give you the mechanical advantage (MA) needed for “smoothing it” in the woods.

Here are my top 3 tools and few ways to use these simple machines while learning to “smooth it” in the woods.

Number One

In the world of simple machines, all cutting tools are wedges. The cutting tool is primary since a sharp knife, machete, saw, or ax can be used to create other simple machines. The wedge shape of your knife creates a mechanical advantage when removing material for notches, carving spoons, or dressing animals.

For instance, I wasn’t pleased with my fire reflector wall in front of my shelter. It had served its purpose as a temporary fix for my semi-permanent shelter but had begun to char with all the fires built there. I needed something more permanent.

Stone!

Thirty yards from the shelter lay a massive, flat rock perfectly shaped for a centerpiece in my reflector wall. Only one problem. Distance, time, and my physical force and capability to get it from point A to point B. Work equals force times distance. Work smart!

I didn’t want to expend too much energy remodeling my campfire. How do I get a 200+ pound rock to my camp? I remembered my daddy moving heavy objects by placing smaller pipes underneath – a technique I’d used before – just not in the wilderness.

Brilliant!

Top Tools for Mechanical Advantage in Bushcraft

Rock and roll!

A folding saw (Wedge) gave me a mechanical advantage (MA) in processing the cedar rounds (Wheel and Axle) used to roll the huge stone up a slight incline to camp. Though there was no real axle involved, the solid wood wheel worked got the job done. Less physical force saves calories. Flipping rocks this size while doing functional fitness workouts is fine. However, we want to save energy/calories to enjoy the fruits of our labor at base camp.

Your cutting tool can also be use to carve a wooden wedge for felling larger trees. Wedged tools make wedges. None of these methods are exhaustive. I’m only giving a few suggestions. You can add your own creative ideas in the comments if you’d like.

Number Two

Levers are powerful tools for creating mechanical advantage in bushcraft. There are two types of levers that give MA: First Class Lever and Second Class Lever.

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world. ~ Archimedes

Levers trade distance for force. To get the stone started onto the wheel and axle logs, I sharpened the end of one of the discarded saplings from my old reflector wall to use as a lever. Once on the rollers, I was able to push the rock to camp with less work on my part.

Levers can be counted on to save resources like the cutting edge of your ax. Dull cutting tools are dangerous. Here’s an example of a First Class Lever.

top-tools-for-mechanical-advantage-bushcraft

This forked Beech tree caught the firewood as it broke

Find a forked tree or two trees close together and place your stick of wood between the two trees. Now apply force on the lever and break the piece where it contacts the fulcrum (point where lever pivots). Stand with a wide stance and pull the lever toward your body. As your lever grows shorter, more force is required to break the wood.

This sweet set up stacked the firewood for me!

A travois is an example of a Second Class Lever. It’s basically a wheel barrow without the wheel. A travois consists of two long poles lashed together with cross braces or netting to form an isosceles triangle. Yep, geometry and physics are part of bushcraft. Native American plains indians used this as a method of conveyance for heavy loads.

Here’s Dave Canterbury’s tutorial video on making a travois in the bush.

Number Three

Cordage, whether crafted in the field or commercially made, offers MA when used as a pulley, another simple machine. My favorite knot in bushcraft for creating mechanical advantage is the Trucker’s Hitch.

While the two loops in the Trucker’s Hitch are not true-to-form block and tackle pulleys, this is a great way to apply extreme pressure on cordage for ridge lines, hanging game from a branch, or any time you need a taunt line.

Mechanical advantage is quickly achieved with cordage when making friction fires with a bow drill. Cordage wrapped around the spindle forms a primitive pulley system which decreases the amount of work required to produce a burning ember. [Work = Force x Distance] The bow drill combines several simple machines – pulley, lever, wedge, inclined plane.

top-tools-for-mechanical-advantage-bushcraft

Simple machines create mechanical advantage

Wrap Up

Learning to “smooth it” with simple tools helps erase the “rough it” aspect of bushcraft, camping, and adventures in nature. Now you can sit around the fire on your rustic camp furniture and stare, without uttering a word to your friends, at the awesomeness you’ve created with minimal tools. You’ll also admire and appreciate your connection to the land as you sip on a cup of camp coffee or pine needle tea.

Mechanical advantage is your friend 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 +, 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, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for an Heirloom Ax

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

A large part of self-reliance is learning to make your own gear. You’ll get FAT in two areas – your wallet and skill set!

Self-Reliant Summer: A DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Tools are essential for self-reliance, survival, and preparedness. You want the best you can afford. You’re not going to find heirloom quality tools, the kind you pass down to your children and grandchildren, in a big box store. Nor do you want to stake your survival on “Made in China” junk. So what’s the common man and woman to do?

Make your own!

Remember the True Temper ax I bought that wasn’t for sale? Well, it needed some TLC and a mask/sheath. Every cutting tool you use in the field should have a cover to protect the tool and you. Instead of paying to have a custom-made mask, I decided to make my own.

It’s been exactly 40 years since I did any serious leather craft. Check out the last picture in this post to see my first leather project I made in Industrial Arts Class in the 7th grade – back in the day when school kids were allowed to learn self-reliance skills like leather work, welding, and carpentry.

Ahhh, Smell the Leather!

You can make a sheath or mask for your cutting tools by repurposing old leather goods. Since I’ve taken on leather work as one of my Doing the Stuff skills this year, I decided to buy a shoulder of 8-9 ounce vegetable tanned leather from Tandy Leather. A few leather working tools were added to my arsenal as well. Of course, you could use common everyday tools to get the job done.

Gather the Stuff

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Tools and stuff

  • Leather
  • Razor/utility knife
  • Hammer
  • Cardboard or file holder for the template
  • Marker and pencil
  • Straight edge
  • Glue
  • Needles and thread
  • Awl/Punch
  • Hardware – snaps and studs (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Clips

You don’t have to tap your 401k to get started. Substitute an ice pick or other pointy object for an awl. I used a drill with a 5/32″ bit to make stitching holes for the rounded portion of the mask. Get creative and save money.

Make Your Template

Use a thin cardboard box or file folder to lay out your template. A cereal or 12 pack beer box makes a thicker template and is easier to trace around.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

You’ll need two folders

Outline the ax with a pencil and cut out the image with scissors.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Draw a straight line on the other folder using a straight edge.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Outlining the top profile of the ax

Center the ax head on the line and draw the shape on the folder.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

 

Now align the full cut out of the ax to the top profile you just traced. Draw a line around full ax profile. Be sure to match the ends of the full profile to the top profile.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Once you trace the full ax, you will sketch a 1/2 welt where the cutting edge will rest in the mask. The welt is where the blade rests inside the sheath to protect the stitching. I took this design from my Wetterlings ax mask. As you can see, the welt at the toe of the ax is short. If the welt is extended too far towards the handle on this design, the ax head won’t fit in the mask.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Cut one side of the template, fold over the center line and trace to the other side

Label and store the template for later projects.

Ready for Leather

Lay the template on your leather and outline it with a marker.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Transfer the mask template to your leather

I’ve seen people cut leather with scissors and razors. I chose to use a utility knife. Take it slow and cut the line. You want a tight fit as the leather will stretch with use.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Cutting the leather

Next, cut the welt portion off of the template. Transfer the welt template to the leather. After I traced and cut the full welt, it dawned on me that I only need half of the welt in the mask. Learn from my mistake.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Making the welt

Dry fit the mask by securing the welt inside the mask with a few clips. This will revel any needed adjustments and test the fit on the ax head.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Dry fitting

Holes – Glue – Grooves

To secure your mask to the ax head, punch an appropriate sized hole in one side of the leather to accept a snap. Without hardware, you could use a leather thong to secure the mask. Use whatever you have on hand.

Leathercraft: Making a Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Punching holes

Once you punch the first hole, align the mask by folding it over and punch through the first hole to create the second hole on the opposite side of the mask. You’re now ready to add snaps or studs to secure the strap.

Self-Reliant Summer: A DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Beveling edges

Bevel the inside and outside edges with a beveling tool. This isn’t necessary for function but adds a finished touch to the project.

Self-Reliant Summer: A DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Grooving the edges for stitching

If you have an adjustable grooving tool, set the width to about 1/4 of an inch and groove the edges where stitching will go. I got carried away and ran a groove all the way around the mask even where no stitching will appear. Very cool tool!

Self-Reliant Summer: A DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Axe

Gluing the welt

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Ax

Apply an all-purpose cement to one side of the welt and the mask. Follow the directions on the glue for wait times before connecting the two pieces.

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Ax

Punching stitching holes

Once the glue is cured, punch holes in the groove for stitching through the mask and welt. I used the new 4 pronged thonging tool. You can use an ice pick, awl, or anything that will punch through the leather. I used a drill for the rounded corners. [Experienced leather crafters, I need advice on lining up the stitching holes on the other side of the mask.]

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Ax

Attach a strap to the mask with a rivet or stud. I used a screw stud. The strap needs to fit snug. Leather will stretch with use.

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Ax

Setting the snap for the strap

I dressed up the strap with a fancy buffalo snap from Tandy.

Stitching

Here’s a quick video I found helpful for the saddle stitching on my mask.

<iframe width=”640″ height=”390″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/YE_hTVloTRo” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

I haven’t decided if I will dye this project or not. I may just treat it with Fixin’ Wax and call it good!

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Ax

Stitched and ready to go!

As promised, the picture below captures my 40 year span of leather work – ha! Don’t laugh, folks, mushrooms and leather were hot in 1974!  :)

Self-Reliant Summer: DiY Custom Leather Mask for a Heirloom Ax

Can’t believe I kept this thing all these years.

This is our first post in a series called Self-Reliant Summer. We’re highlighting the top skills members are learning in the Doing the Stuff Network! Hope you’ll join us.

Check out more stuff in the Self-Reliant Summer series

  1. DiY Custom Leather Mask for an Heirloom Ax
  2. 50+ Dumpster Diva Hacks that Convert Waste to Wealth
  3. Sick of Ticks? Take Brad Paisley’s Advice
  4. Functional Fitness: The Wild Woodsman Workout
  5. 6 No-Drama Survival Tips for a Clothed and Confident Summer
  6. 5 Tips for Epic Self-Reliance Skills
  7. Surviving Large on Small Stuff
  8. 27 Survival Uses for Common Mullein Besides Cowboy Toilet Paper

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: DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Frugal Preps, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

5 Must-Have Survival Kit Items That Won’t Require a Mule for Conveyance

by Todd Walker

Ever notice hernia bag (aka – Bug Out Bag) lists of essentials items to pack to get you through a 72 hour crisis. With only half that stuff in your bag, you’ll need a mule to get where you’re going.

5 Must-Have Survival Kit Items That Won't Require a Mule for Conveyance

We depend on modern modes of transportation – planes, trains, and cars. That’s a blessing and a curse. Even if vehicles are operational during an SHTF evacuation, roads become long parking lots. Then what? You and your family will be forced to use the oldest form of human locomotion… your feet.

Now…

Can you actually hump that 83.7 pound pack?

The fact that you’ve got a B.O.B. or Get Home Bag packed puts you light years ahead of the general population. Conveyance is the big issue though. The not-so-distant past proves that mayhem follows disaster in urban areas. If you’re trapped in the horde of humanity exiting cities, you need to lighten your load.

The must-have list below assumes you’ve been Doing the Stuff with your tools of survival. Be mindful that the added stress of a survival scenario makes the learning curve steep. Before an event is the perfect time to trade theory for action. Put on your Mike Rowe outfit and get dirty practicing your survival skills.

The number one way to increase your survivability is to always carry items that are difficult or impossible to reproduce in a crisis. At a bare minimum, every kit you pack should enable you to cut stuff, burn stuff, cover stuff, carry stuff, and tie stuff.

Cut Stuff

Ah, the good ol’ survival knife. Which is better, a 5 inch blade or the tricked out 12 inch Rambo version? Nothing gets feathers ruffled in the self-reliance community like a knife discussion.

I’ll put an end to the debate here and now. The best survival knife is the one in your hand.

The cutting tool is the hardest item to re-create in a survival situation. If a SAK (Swiss Army Knife) is all you have with you, guess what, it just became your survival knife. My SAK never leaves my pocket and sees more daily duty than any other knife I own. However, if I were limited to only one knife in a survival scenario, I’d choose a multi-tasking blade with these characteristics:

  1. Size: Fixed blade that measures 5 to 6 inch with a pointed tip. 10 to 12 inches overall length.
  2. Metal Content: Carbon steel is easy to hone and throws sparks with flint.
  3. Spine: A 90º edge on the spine is essential when making fire with a ferro rod. You can use the cutting edge on a ferro rod in dire emergencies but you lose a valuable resource – a sharpened edge.
  4. Full Tang: Partial (rat-tail) tangs are not as durable and more likely to fail/break with heavy use. Full tang knifes have solid metal the width and length of the handle.
  5. Functional: Should be able to perform detailed carving tasks, process fire wood, skin game and filet fish, food prep, shelter building, and self-defense. Your knife should fit comfortably in your hand.

    5 Must-Have Survival Kit Items That Won't Require a Mule for Conveyance

    Cutting tools!

Burn Stuff

Pack several fire starting methods in your kit. Fire equals life. Don’t mess around with fire making. Redundancy is the key.

  1. Cigarette Lighter: This is an obvious one that has bailed me out many times.
  2. Fire Starter: Fatwood, charred material in a char tin, commercial fire starters, flint and steel, ferrocerium rod, DiY waxed jute twine, steel wool and 9v battery stored separately, and a magnifying lens.
  3. Primitive Fire: Friction fire methods take skill to master – and can still fail. Always carry other fire options.

    Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

    Bow drill in the backyard

Cover Stuff

Burning precious calories to erect a natural shelter might be necessary if you’re caught unprepared. A simple, lightweight, waterproof covering to protect against the elements is easy to pack and affordable.

  1. USGI Poncho: These can be worn over clothing and gear and used as a tarp shelter.
  2. Contractor Trash Bag: Makes an emergency ground cloth or covering for your body.
  3. Emergency Space Blanket: Invest in a quality space blanket that will extend its usefulness to more than a couple of nights.
  4. Tarp: You don’t have to spend a fortune for emergency shelter. A cheap poly tarp from Wally World can get you through an emergency.

    Think Outside the Tent for Shelter

    Lean-to tarp shelter

Carry Stuff

Plastic water bottles are better than no container. But they have limitations. Their not very useful for boiling water or cooking over a fire. I like stainless steel water bottles for their durability and resilience. Bottles that nest inside a cup are easy to pack and give you two containers without losing space in your kit.

  1. Stainless Steel: Heavy duty, multi-tasker. Here’s my preferred container5 Must-Have Survival Kit Items That Won't Require a Mule for Conveyance
  2. Aluminum: Choose hard anodized aluminum if possible. I avoid aluminum for health concerns – but would use it to survive for sure!
  3. Titanium: Very lightweight but pricey.

Tie Stuff

Sure, you can make natural cordage with enough time and available resources. Time and resources are often scarce commodities. Processing plant fibers to make a ridge line for your shelter is a great skill to know and practice… but not when your life is in jeopardy. Commercially made cordage doesn’t take up much space or become a burden to carry.

  1. Paracord: 550 paracord contains seven individual braided strands within a nylon sheath making it a favorite among survivalists and campers. Interior strands can be removed and used for fishing line, sutures, snares, and other detailed survival needs. I pack 50 feet in each of our kits. But I prefer this next cordage…
  2. Tarred Bank Line: Another lightweight cord popularized in the survival community by Dave Canterbury. First used in the maritime world to preserve line and give extra bite to knots. We grew up using this cordage for trot lines and limb hooks on the Flint River. With 360 pound test strength (offered in other strengths), bank line was the only cordage I used to build my trapping shelter. Pack two 50′ hanks. Bonus – it’s cheaper than 550 cord. The Art of 'Smoothing It' in Struggleville

Emergencies are never planned. They just happen. Be prepared by packing these five essentials in all your kits.

Your Turn

Since I don’t own a pack mule (yet), I’m working towards increasing Skills to decrease Stuff in my kits!

How have you lightened your load?

Keep Doing the Stuff,

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.

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on the 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…

Copyright Information: 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 rare third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

Born Again Tools: Giving New Life to an Old Ax

by Todd Walker

A recent trip to the mountains of Georgia produced a good haul of old tools… namely, a new “old” True Temper Kelly Perfect ax.

Born Again Tools: Giving New Life to an Old Ax

 

Dirt Road Girl and I have a hobby of scavenging for old tools. We’re the dumpster divers of rust bins. We’ve found awesomeness in roadside shops, antiques stores, and yard sales. We almost missed this one. As we were literally exiting one shop, I caught the glint of rusty steel in my peripheral vision. Actually, it’s just a sixth sense I possess when old tools are nearby. The owner of the shop had returned from the woodpile with an ax in hand. I hit the brakes with my hand on the door knob!

“Hold on. I’m going to buy that ax!” I told DRG.

The owner handed the ax to me with a confused look and asked, “How am I going to cut kindling?”

Not my problem. This ax was in good overall condition. No deep chinks in the bit. The poll (butt) had minor mushrooming from a previous owner pounding it with a metal hammer like a splitting wedge. The hickory handle showed proper grain alignment with no cracks or splits. I began haggling.

Twenty bucks later I walked out with a rusty “old” ax!

Born Again Tools: Giving New Life to an Old Ax

Time to revive it…

Before buying old cutting tools, axes in particular, make sure the bit hasn’t been too abused. I buy old tools to use not set on shelves and collect dust. Rust and pitting are fine. That adds to the character of your tool. However, you’ll need enough metal on the bit to re-profile if necessary.

The stamp on my ax reads, “True Temper – Kelly Perfect”. Any True Temper ax with Kelly in the name was made after 1949. If you’re interested in more history on the Kelly Axe Mfg. Co., Wood Trekker has an interesting and thorough post on his site.

Born Again Tools

There are many ways to give new life to old cutting tools. For minor rust, I use sand paper, a wire brush, and my homemade Fixin’ Wax. Start sanding the tool with coarse grit and progress to higher grit. My progression was 80, 120, 220, 400, 800, 1,500 grit. Use a buffing compound to polish out sanding marks.

Other rust removal methods include:

  • White Vinegar bath – soak for a few hours or up to 24
  • Electrolysis (I’ve used this for cast iron cookware before with success)
  • Limon/lime juice soak
  • Wire brush attached to a drill motor or side grinder
  •  Molasses and water mix – takes longer (week) but effective

Once the rust is gone, you need to take steps to prevent future rust. I apply my Fixin’ Wax, a mix of bees wax, tallow, shea butter, and essential oil, to all my high carbon steel blades, wooden handles, and knife scales.

Born Again Tools: Giving New Life to an Old Ax

Born again ax

Fortunately, the haft (handle) on this Kelly ax was in excellent shape. In case you need to re-haft your ax, here’s a tutorial I did to few months ago that may help. I applied boiled linseed oil to the new handle after a light sanding to preserve the wood and prevent cracking. Breaking a handle via operator error (miss hitting while splitting/chopping) is another matter all together.

The toe of the ax needed file work. Use a quality bastard file to remove metal from the bit. After you achieve the desired profile, sharpen the bit. I’ll post an ax sharpening article soon.

I look forward to many years of service from this born again ax. If you have an old cutting tool or hand tool you’ve given new life, we’d like to here you process.

Ax Restoration: Making Old Tools Useful Again

My next new “old” tool in need of new life is a Lancaster Geared Blower – No. 40 for my blacksmith forge! Off to my shop…

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over on 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 the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper sites while you’re there…

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: 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 rare third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Doing the Stuff, Gear | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

A Swiss Army Bread Bag as a Common Man’s Haversack

by Todd Walker

Vintage Swiss Bread Bag Makes a Common Man's Haversack

First, let’s get some history and terminology out of the way.

WTH is a Swiss Army Bread Bag!?!?

Don’t feel bad, I had no clue until recently. I found this bag hiding in an antique store and brought it home for $8.56! I’m always thinking like a possum when it comes to vintage gear and old tools at common man prices.

Once home, DRG and I launched an immediate search on the internets for pictures identifying my new ‘old’ treasure. We looked up the name stamped on the substantial leather strap. She finally found a bag matching the description on eBay.

I felt like I’d just won the lottery. I paid half to 2 times less than what we found online.

Swiss soldiers were issued this style bag for bread rations from the 1940’s to the ’80’s. Measuring 10″ long x 10″ wide x 4″ deep, it’s made of heavy-duty canvas, saddle leather, metal rivets and studs, and sports a soft vinyl cover for rain protection. The stress points are double stitched to hold up to abuse. The sattler’s (German for exclusive leather craftsman) maker’s mark is stamped on the leather strap securing the canvas to the outer shell. My bag was made in 1969.

Why add a haversack to your gotta-have-gear list?

The quick answer: It’s reeks of manliness and has a killer blue-collar attitude! Unlike high dollar preppy pouches showcasing expensive logos hanging from shoulders at chic coffee houses, you want to be seen with a manly haversack.

Besides encouraging manliness, a haversack gives you options when roaming field and stream, backpacking, camping, or scouting game trails. By the way ladies, DRG now has haversack envy. Not sure if Coach makes a bushcraft haversack – but they should – in earth tones!

A haversack is a small bag with a single shoulder strap designed to carry extra provisions. Wikipedia reports that the term ‘Haversack’ originated from its use in carrying ‘Havercake’ or Hafer, the German word for Oats. A rough bread made of oats and water was a staple of the textile district working poor (common man/woman) in England. Havercake was carried in haversacks for meal time. In the past, soldiers used haversacks to carry 3 to 4 days of rations and extra supplies.

For self-reliance purposes, a haversack allows you to detach from your larger pack or base camp and still carry essential items for self-reliance. It also serves as an accessible container for resource gathering while scouting territory or taking day hikes.

I’d like to own a traditional 18th century long hunter haversack but my budget won’t allow for an expensive, custom-made bag. Think I’ll just stick with my common man bread bag for now.

Characteristics of a Good Common Man’s Haversack

Whatever you re-purpose for your common man’s haversack, it should have the following traits…

Sturdy Construction

Vintage Swiss Bread Bag Makes a Common Man's Haversack

Now that’s manly!!

Military surplus items are excellent common man options. They can be had inexpensively and are made to last. Even heavily used items have life left in them. Or you can make your own from waxed canvas or other sturdy material.

Functional

Vintage Swiss Bread Bag Makes a Common Man's Haversack

Leather loop on the vinyl shell allows me to hang it with a toggle or tree branch

My bag also has two more leather loops with studs I use to carry my camp ax. These loops were added by the sattler to enable soldiers to attach the bread bag to belts for hip carry.

Vintage Swiss Bread Bag Makes a Common Man's Haversack

Leather belt loops adapted to carry my 16″ camp ax

Notice the two vinyl straps on the shell pictured above the ax. My Pathfinder Bottle Cook Set attaches there with a molly strap. This frees internal space by having my container on the outside of the bag.

Compartments

Vintage Swiss Bread Bag Makes a Common Man's Haversack

Compartments aren’t necessary but come in handy

The canvas bag has two compartments. I use the larger area for essential gear (5 C’s of Survival), and the smaller section for collecting resources like fire tinder or pine sap. I also added a foldable cotton sack for extra resource gathering.

Vintage Swiss Bread Bag Makes a Common Man's Haversack

Hardened pine sap collected in a tin can to make pitch glue sticks

Practical Comfort

Vintage Swiss Bread Bag Makes a Common Man's Haversack

Dirt time with my bread bag. And no, I’m not throwing a bushcraft gang sign with my pinky finger!

Just like selecting a pistol or knife for concealed carry, if it’s not practical and comfortable, you’ll leave it at home. I discovered a modification I need to make on the bag. The thin shoulder strap digs into my shoulder. I know, right!? Man-up! But why not make it as comfortable as possible.

I’m thinking of a custom, padded paracord strap like I made for my rifle sling. Any suggestions on mods are welcome. Maybe leather.

Capacity

http://survivalsherpa.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/decontructing-my-adjustable-paracord-rifle-sling-just-for-you/

Stuff in and on the bread bag

The bread bag, along with my belt carry items, covers me in the essential equipment list. Here’s all the stuff scattered.

Vintage Swiss Bread Bag Makes a Common Man's Haversack

Either on my belt, or in the bag, I’m covered. Neck knife not pictured. Guess where it is?

If a bag is too large, I tend to over pack. I loose gear weight with my haversack by packing only these items: cutting tools, combustion, cover, container, and cordage. Oh, insect repellent is pictured. I found 3 ticks crawling on my skin even with bug juice applied.

Minimalism

Getting dirt time with a haversack promotes the idea of carrying only essential tools to train for self-reliance. Minimalism forces you to practice the skills needed to effect survivability.

If you’re interested in a Swiss bread bag, search a few online sites. The cheapest I found was 15 bucks. If you’re as fortunate as I was, you may find one at a local antique store or yard sale.

Do you have a common man haversack? Mind sharing with us?

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over on 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 the 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 Information: 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 rare third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

14 DiY Projects for Wilderness Self-Reliance

by Todd Walker

Utilize your Possum Mentality and make your own stuff. At the end of the day, your ingenuity will be rewarded with one-of-a-kind handcrafted items that will cause your haversack to swell with pride.

14 DiY Projects for Wilderness Self-Reliance

Turning your bushcraft buddies green with envy isn’t the goal, but you gotta admit, munching on pemmican you made while applying your diy fixin’ wax to your ax handle around the campfire is not only personally satisfying – but a open-source learning session.

Here’s 14 I’ve put together for you. What’s your best diy wilderness project?

A.) Simple Fixin’ Wax Recipe

A Simple Fixin' Wax Recipe for Fixin' Stuff

B.) Lashing an Outdoor Cooking Tripod

How to Build a Bushcraft Tripod for Your Outdoor Kitchen

Prefect!

C.) Turn a Wool Blanket into a Hunting Shirt

100% Wool Blanket = Awesome Hunting Shirt

Wool blanket hunting shirt

D.) A Waterproof Fire Starter Hack that Guarantees Fire

A-Waterproof-Tinder-Bundle-Hack-That-Guarantees-Fire

Waxed jute twine

E.) Uncle Otha’s Fat Lighter’d Torch

Uncle-Otha's-DiY-Fat-Lighter'd-Torch

Notice the dried chucks of pine resin to the right.

F.) Char Tins and Charred Material for Your Next Fire

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Making char material to ensure future fires

G.) DiY Survival Sling Shot for Fishing and Hunting

Deconstructing My Survival Sling Shot

Fishing and hunting options

H.) Bow Drill Bearing Block from a Fat Lighter’d Knot

A Brilliant Bearing Block for a Bow Drill Fire Set

You can never have enough fat wood in your kit!

I.) How-To Make Ranger Pace Count Beads

How-to-Make-Ranger-Pace-Counter-Beads

DRG’s bejeweled pace beads!

J.) How-To Re-Haft an Ax

The-Woodsman's-Secret-to-a-Well-Hung-Ax

Not bad for an “almost free” yard sale find!

K.) Turn a Cigar Sleeve into a Survival Fishing Kit

Fishing line taped

Fishing line taped

L.) Altoids Tin Lamp in Under 5 Minutes

Wick inserted

Wick inserted

M.) Make Your Own Pemmican

Bread of the wilderness!

Bread of the wilderness!

N.) A Bomb Proof Modification for the Pathfinder Cook Set

A Bomb Proof Mod for the Pathfinder Bottle Cook Kit

Adds an extra container to your kit

Trading theory for action by practicing Doing the Stuff skills for self-reliance is how we roll. So find your spot around the fire and share your best DiY bushcraft projects… the comment section is open!

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over on 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 the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper sites while you’re there…

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: 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 rare third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Skills: A Gear Weight-Loss Program

by Todd Walker

Skills: A Gear Weight-Loss ProgramDoing the Stuff with your gear is the most overlooked skill in the world of prepping and survivalism. In general, we tend to think un-tested gear will get us through any crisis. Just whoop out that new shiny object from your kit… you know, you’ve seen the YouTube videos.

Imagine this…

You and your family are forced, for whatever reason – really doesn’t matter why, to grab your bug out bags and get out of dodge… on foot. You’ve got 5 minutes to get out. Immediately you realize the weight of your bag alone will make your journey impossible.

Time to go on a weight-loss program – for your gear!

As some of our regular readers know, I’ve built a semi-permanent shelter in the woods. It’s my personal space where I go to get centered, re-humanized, and enjoy nature. From a survival point of view, my personal space gives me a convenient location to build skills.

More importantly, it’s a weight-loss center for gear. It does a pretty good job of keeping extra pounds off the body too.

On to the gear weight-loss program.

My first overnight outing in my shelter helped me lose extra gear weight. Granted, it was only a one-night-stand. But that one night with a new ALICE pack (All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment) was needed to compare with my old 3-day assault bag.

You see, with larger packs, I tend to over pack. The smaller ALICE forced me to downsize and prioritize my gear. Anytime I head out for some dirt time I pack, at a minimum, the first five of Dave Canterbury’s 10 C’s of Survival. This trip was no different with one exception…. I overpacked ALICE to test her fit, finish, carrying capacity, and comfort.

Below you’ll see what I packed, what I actually needed, and what I’ll leave behind next time. I packed way too much stuff for an overnight trip. But remember, I needed to get ALICE in the woods for the first time.

Stuff I Packed

Dave’s 5 C’s

1.) Cutting tools. These items are the hardest to trim for me. My only excuse is that I love sharp stuff!

  • BK2 – A pure tank of a knife with a 1/4″ full tang 1095 steel blade.
  • Mora Companion – I find it more useful around camp for finer knife work. It rides around my neck via a lanyard.
  • Opinel #8 folder
  • Leatherman multi-tool
  • Swiss Army Knife – Stays in my right pant pocket whenever I leave the house.
  • Bacho Laplander –  This folding saw was used for a lot of cuts on my shelter.
  • Ax – Wetterlings 16″ Hunter’s Ax. Small enough to fit into my rolled up bedroll, yet large enough to handle most tasks around base camp.
  • Almost Free Ax – I know, overkill for one night. Told you sharp stuff was my kryptonite.

2.) Combustion. Fire is life out there.

Skills: A Gear Weight-Loss Program

Fire kit fits inside the tin at the top

  • Lighter
  • Ferro rod
  • Flint and steel
  • Char tin and charred material
  • Fat lighter’d (fat wood)
  • Water proof jute twine and other dry tinder material
  • Mini Inferno (water proof fire starter)

3.) Cover. My trapper’s shelter was my cover for the night. However, redundancy give you options…

Skills: A Gear Weight-Loss Program

Morning coffee!!

  • USGI poncho
  • Contractor trash bag x2

4.) Container. For cooking, water, etc.

5.) Cordage. Hard to make in the wilderness – easy to just pack some in your kit.

  • 50 ft. of paracord
  • 25 ft. of #36 tarred bank line
  • 50 ft. of climbing rope
  • Two short bungee cords for my bedroll

The rest of Dave’s 10 C’s of Survival

6.) Candle (lighting)

  • Headlamp for hands free illumination
  • Pak-lite LED Flashlight – Great for lighting your shelter is the weight of a 9v battery
  • StreamLight ProTac 2L – 3 modes: bright, dim, and strobe and will light up the woods – doubles a my EDC pocket light
  • LightSpecs – almost forgot these LED reading glasses that ride on my head

7.) Cotton. 100% cotton rag or bandana can be used for bandaging wounds, char cloth, and many other survival uses.

  •  Large bandana
  • Small squares of bath towel (future char cloth)

8.) Compass for navigation

9.) Cargo tape. This may be the most versatile item in your kit.

  • Gorilla tape
  • Electrical tape from my Cigar Fishing Kit – orange in color for marking trail or signaling rescuers to your path

10.) Canvas needle. From repairing gear in the field to removing splinters.

  • Sail needle
  • Dental floss

That’s the 10 C’s. Now for the other stuff.

Bedroll

Wool blanket with ax tucked into the roll

Wool blanket with ax tucked into the roll

  • 100% queen-size wool army blanket
  • USGI poncho liner
  • Section of the billboard for a ground cloth (already at the shelter)

Food

  • Poached my bug out bag food bag – overkill again
  • Coffee and tea

Water

  • MSR Miniworks Micro filter

Sidearm

  • Springfield XD 9mm
  • 2 magazines
  • No long gun this trip

Clothing

  • Extra long sleeve shirt and the clothes on my back
  • Homemade wool hunting shirt
  • Boonie hat

Book

Skills: A Gear Weight-Loss Program

Woodcraft and Camping

  • Woodcraft and Camping by “Nessmuk”
  • Journal and pencil

Stuff I Needed

The first 5 C’s

1.) Cutting tools

By far the most used knife was my Mora Companion neck knife. There wasn’t a lot of heavy-duty campcrafting needed so my BK2 stayed in its sheath. I did cut a sapling with the BK2 to mount a frog gig on the end. Also used the packaging tool on my SAK to tighten bank line lashing on the cooking tripod I made.

The Wetterlings ax saw minor action harvesting saplings for the cooking tripod. The Almost Free Ax was never unmasked.

The pliers on my multi-tool was used to remove a container of boiling water from the toggle on the tripod.

The Bacho folding saw was use to harvest dead-fall poplar wood for a bow drill set. To shape my spindle, the Mora was all I needed.

Cutting Tools I’d Leave Behind

  1. Opinel folding knife
  2. Almost Free Ax

2.) Combustion

Used a Bic lighter and feathered fat lighter’d stick to light the camp fire. I was lazy and didn’t feel like practicing primitive fire skills. That’s why I carry a lighter.

Combustion Items I’d Leave Behind

NONE! Fire is life.

3.) Cover (Shelter)

My shelter was already built. I still carried my poncho which came in handy as an extra layer of insulation over my wool blanket.

Cover Items I’d Leave Behind

NONE!

4.) Container

The cook set served me well alone. With more than one person, a larger cooking pot/pan would be needed.

Container Items I’d Leave Behind

NONE! Add a larger bush pot.

5.) Cordage

The 25 ft of tarred bank line was used to lash the cooking tripod. Since my shelter was already built, no other cordage was needed.

Cordage Items I’d Leave Behind

NONE! Pack 50 ft of tarred bank line next trip.

6.) Candle (lighting)

My LightSpecs, headlamp, and Pak-lite saw the most action on this trip. A couple of times I almost reached for my StreamLight as the coyotes got closer in the middle of the night.

Skills: A Gear Weight-Loss Program

Red light saves night vision

Candle Items I’d Leave Behind

Pak-lite LED flashlight. Although, for the small amount of added weight, I’d probably keep it in my kit.

#7-10 – Cotton, compass, cargo tape, and canvas needle (repair kit) would stay the same.

Other Stuff

It’s really not surprising, at least to me, that I didn’t drop much weight on the 10 C’s. Those items are essential to survivability. With these tools and the knowledge and skill to use them, you increased your odds of comfortably surviving a wilderness or bug out journey.

Lessons Learned

A.) The importance of thermoregulation can’t be overstated – even in 45º temperatures. By 2 AM, I woke up to cold feet. I had let the fire die down and had not collected enough fuel to see me through the entire night. I draped my poncho over the wool blanket to add an extra layer of insulation. This did the trick.

Another point worth discussing is the lack of insulation between me and the ground. Though the ground wasn’t frozen like our neighbors to the north, the ground cloth and poncho liner was too minimalist. My remedy will be to add a foot of dried leaves and straw with the billboard on top of that layer as a moisture barrier.

B.) On firewood: Collect two or three times the amount you think you’ll need for the night. The shelter was designed to capture radiant heat via the reflecting wall and the overhang on the front of the shelter. The cool weather wouldn’t have been a problem if I had harvested enough fuel.

C.) For practice runs of one or two nights out, lose as much gear weight as you comfortably can. Make a note (an actual list) of what you needed and what turned out to be extra weight. Pack accordingly on your next outing.

For instance, I primarily used one knife. That knife should be a full tang, 5 inch high carbon steel blade or longer, 90º angled spine, and non-coated. For me it’s my BK2. Although I use my Mora as a backup.

D.) My water filter wasn’t working properly. I boiled water for cooking and drinking via the bottle cook set.

To loose gear weight, you have to test your stuff. Your bug out bag or bushcraft kit should be in constant state of evolution not a shiny object storage compartment. There’s no such thing as a perfect kit. But that doesn’t stop us from trying to create one.

As skills increase, gear will decrease.

What skill would help you lose gear weight?

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Use the hashtag #DoingTheStuff when sharing your stuff on Twitter.

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: 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, equipment, Gear, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

23+ Items You Need to Retool for Self-Reliance

by Todd Walker

Those who are paying attention are actively retooling to escape the noose of modern consumerism and become self-reliant producers.

23+ Items You Need to Retool for Self-Reliance

You can find these independent thinkers on different fronts of the preparedness movement:

  • Back-to-basics
  • Homesteading
  • Preppers
  • Off-grid living
  • Survivalists
  • Simple living
  • Bushcrafting
  • Self-reliance
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Resilience
  • Sustainability
  • DiY’ers
  • Farmsteading

Whether you’re in this movement as a hobby or a passionate pursuit, the common thread tying us together is self-reliance and breaking our dependence on our fragile system. One of the reasons we started the Doing the Stuff Network was to encourage people to learn and practice new skills. The journey we’re on will require us to retool for an uncertain future.

Hurt me with the truth but never comfort me with a lie. Here’s the truth – our fragile system of consumerism is not sustainable. Of course, you can take comfort in the lie that we can print and spend our way out of the hole we’re in – or – you can embrace the painful truth and get busy Doing the Stuff to build self-reliance.

Retool or Be a Tool

A person is a tool (blunt object) when he/she is being used without even realizing it.

You ever been used as a tool? Yes? Me too. It’s a nasty, degrading feeling when you realize a ‘friend’, coworker, or family member has you wrapped tightly in their grip. Those situations are often easily recognized.

But here’s the thing…

The vast majority of people rarely wake up to the fact that they’re a tool in the system’s matrix. That’s the ‘beauty’ of our system. We get used to being used for the good of the collective. We accept dependence and conform.

For those of you wishing to escape the system’s unsustainable human farm paradigm, if only in small ways, it’s time to retool!

Retool is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as:

1. to make changes to (something) in order to improve it

2. to reequip with tools

As #1 states, you have to make changes to something to see improvement. That “something” is you. There’s no better way to improve you than to learn new skills and enhance existing ones. New skills require new tools.

Sherpa Tip: Strive for progress, not perfection in your retooling. Buy/acquire the best tools you can afford. Cheap shiny objects from China are tempting but you’ll end up replacing them several times costing you more in the long run. Cheap tools aren’t good and good tools aren’t cheap. You can find quality, inexpensive tools at yard/estate sales and used online sites.

Get ‘em, you’ll need them someday when the power fails to help rebuild. Until then, make smart use of modern power tools while building your non-powered toolbox. Like any new undertaking, there’s always a learning curve, especially with forgotten pioneer tools.

Here’s my top 23+ human-powered tools that your grandparents or great grandparents used to forge a self-reliant lifestyle. Don’t be shy about jumping in and adding to the list in the comments.

Tools for Self-Reliance

  1. Scythe – This tool was used to cut grass at a camp I ran in Siberia in 1993. An American friend with good intentions wanted to help speed up the landscaping chores and bought a combustion engine lawn mower. It threw a rod in 15 minutes. The scythe never lost power.
  2. Hoe and shovel- There will be long rows to hoe and holes to dig.
  3. Posthole diggers – Job specific tool that is indispensable for setting fence posts and digging round, vertical holes.

    23+ Items You Need to Retool for Self-Reliance

    Scary looking fencing pliers

  4. Fencing pliers – A nasty looking tool no homestead should be without.
  5. Come-Along and block and tackle – Use mechanical advantage to lift carcasses for cleaning or persuade leaning trees to fall away from your cabin. 23+ Items You Need to Retool for Self-Reliance
  6. Wheeled carts – Based on a simple machine: lever. Give me a long enough lever and I can move the world.
  7. 4 pronged garden fork – Turns compost and sod.
  8. Containers – The most overlooked of all tools is the humble container. Collect metal, cast iron, plastic, glass, large barrels, stainless steel (milk pails), rubber, and clay containers. Animals have to be fed, water hauled, crops canned, food cooked, water stored, etc., etc.
  9. Carpentry – Hand saws (rip and cross cut), screw drivers, chisels, draw knives, shaving horse, brace and bits, spoke shave, froe, mallet, miter box, framing square, levels (4′, 2′, torpedo), hammer, pencils, and plenty of hardware.
  10. Handyman tools – Channel Lock pliers, socket set, adjustable wrenches, hand saws (cross and rip), hacks saw and blades, clamps, claw hammers (sledge, ball peen, claw), pry bars, pipe wrenches, measuring devices, heavy-duty vise, and files (all shapes and sizes).
  11. Cutting tools – Knives (fixed blade, folding, and everything in between paring to butcher), axes, hatchets, bush hook,two man saw,adz, broad ax, sharpening stones, and a butcher’s steel. I prefer high carbon steel over stainless steel for achieving razor-sharp edges. Plus, high carbon steel knives all you to create sparks with flint, chert, or other hard rock. Redundancy!

    DiY Sawbuck: Work Smarter in the Woodpile

    Buck sawing on the Sawbuck

  12. Blacksmithing – Forge, billow, anvil, hammers, tongs, post vice, files, and quench bucket. After acquiring these, you can make your own tools and needed items. Stock up on salvaged steel.
  13. Cordage – Natural and synthetic rope, twine, tarred bank line, and paracord of all sizes. Making your own takes time, resources, and skill. Stock up now. Don’t forget sewing thread as cordage.
  14. Food prep – Wood cook stove, cast iron cookware, utensils, pressure canner (relatively new tool), crocks, and churn.
  15. Personal care – Straight razor, strop, and sharpening stones.
  16. Weaponry –  Modern to primitive. Modern: At a minimum, a common caliber (for your area) shotgun (12 or 20 gauge), side arm (.45, .357, .38, 9mm, .22), high-powered center fire (30-06, .308,  30-30, .223) and rim fire (.22 cal) rifle. When you run out of cartridges… Traditional muzzleloaders: Black powder rifle, shotgun, and pistols. Primitive: bow and arrows, atlatl, slings.
  17. Music – Forgotten but important culturally and entertainment wise.
  18. Education – Books – lots of hard bound books from all genres. Writing utensils and reams of paper. Reading glasses.
  19. Trapping – Foothold,  bodygrip (Conibear), snares, and live traps. Check local laws and regulations.
  20. Beekeeping – Because we all love honey, right!? Bee hives, hive tool, smoker, hat and veil, gloves, and protective clothing.
  21. Leather work – Down and Dirty Basics: Cutting tool, punch, awl (ice pick works), needle, glue and clamps.
  22. Medical – Surgical kit that covers minor and major needs. Of course, if you don’t have the skill to use these tools, someone in your tribe may. Collect ‘em!

    23+ Items You Need to Retool for Self-Reliance

    Surgical tools a good friend gave us but I have no experience using – yet

  23. Animal husbandry – This list of tools can get long really quickly. Take care of your animals and your animals will take care of you. So here goes… Species specific halters, leads, and restraints; wound care, hoof care, syringes, oral dose syringe, etc., etc.

Some of these tools and the skills to use them were common in earlier generations. After a reset, you’ll be proud you retooled with a collection of human-powered pioneer tools. Think muscle over motor to rebuild a strong, self-reliant future for your family.

Even if you never learn how to use all these tools, they’d make great barter items for stuff you do need at your local SHTF swap meet.

What would you add to the retool list?

Retool and Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

Copyright Information: 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: Gear, Homesteading, Lost Skills, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , | 16 Comments

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