Self-reliance

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex

by Todd Walker

Which word in the title lured you to this article? That’s a rhetorical question really.

Whatever the reason, thanks for reading!

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

We’re not analyzing all the different labels related to preparedness. That’s a waste of time. If you believe your label (bushcraft, prepper, homesteader, survivalist, etc.) is superior to all others, stop reading now. Other venues are available which encourage you to crawl onto a pedestal of superiority.

Tess Pennington, author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, addresses the preparedness community’s cubical mindset in the intro of her book:

“Once again, we have compartmentalized ourselves. Well, I hate to break it to you all, but we are all one in the same. That’s right folks, same group; different names. Potato, potahto. There are however, varying degrees of preparedness and this is where the difference lies. Preppers range from people who have a first-aid kit in the car to those who have an underground bunker. That said, it’s about time that we start embracing one another as a preparedness community and be more positive and uplifting towards one another’s endeavors.”

With that out of the way, let’s get started with…

Primal (First) Skills

If you started your journey to self-reliance as a prepper, why should you be interested in mating primitive skills with prepping?

My philosophy of preparedness is in a constant state of evolution. Reliance on gear and tools has always been a key component. Humans have always been tool junkies. We’re really no different from our Stone Age ancestors. The difference is that their survival depended upon their ability to make said tools.

For instance, imagine your popularity if you were the first human to make fire by friction repeatable. Now your tribe’s mobility isn’t tied to carrying smoldering embers nestled in dry animal dung and plant fibers. The game changed. Grok can now make fire from materials found on the landscape. No previous fire required. This new technology expanded his survivability in a big way!

There in lies the conundrum with new discoveries and technologies…

For most of us, we’ve forgotten our roots. Domestication occurred. We’ve grown dependent upon modern tools and gadgets. Nothing wrong with modern stuff. I’ve got Bic lighters scattered throughout all my kits. The challenge is to practice primitive while carrying 21st century gear. To do so…

“We need to see ourselves in prehistory.”

- Scott Jones in A View to the Past

I’m I saying replace your carbon steel cutting tools and synthetic cordage and stainless steel water bottle for flint knives, nettle cordage, and deer stomach containers? Nope! Not even close. But you’ve gotta admit, owning the skills to do so would give you options. And options make us Anti-Fragile.

Here’s a truth Dave Canterbury drills into our self-reliant mindset. The 5 C’s of Survivability are the most difficult to reproduce in nature. To do so, you need knowledge, skills, and resources –  which may not be readily available. These five; cutting tool, combustion device, cover, cordage, and container, most directly affect our number one priority in wilderness survival – core temperature control. So don’t hit the wildness without them.

But what if… you dump your canoe or lose all your stuff? Your belt knife is still attached but that’s about all. Will you be able to reproduce the missing 5 C’s from the landscape… even your cutting tool?

Primitive Skills Reduce Survival Stressors

Mors Kochanski’s bushcraft motto is, “The more you know, the less you carry.” Caught without modern gear in a survival situation can add lethal stress.

Knowing how to deal with the stress of having no cordage to lash a shelter together can be reduced if you know how to make cordage from plant and tree fibers. More time and calories are required to make natural cordage, but owning this skill gives you one less thing to worry about.

Learning primitive skills can be done at two speeds… incrementally or total emersion. I’ve chosen the incremental approach. Most moderns will.

Bill of Instinct Survivalist, another new buddy, Kevin, and I spent last Saturday at a local (Georgia) primitive skills workshop taught by Scott Jones. The class focused on fire, cordage, and sharp stuff (stone cutting tools) – 3 of the 5 C’s of Survivability.

This is a small fraction of the knowledge and skills our ancestors passed down for outdoor self-reliance and wilderness living. With that said, it’s a good place to start.

Primitive Skills Every Prepper Should Know

1.) Natural Cordage

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

18 indigenous cordage fibers Scott Jones has on display for demonstrations

Primitive skills take practice. Learn to identify, harvest, and process the local resources nature provides. Scott’s board (pictured above) revels a sample of 18 natural fibers suitable for cordage.

From L to R:

  1. Red Cedar
  2. Bald Cypress
  3. Atlantic White Cedar
  4. Red Mulberry
  5. Black Locust
  6. Yellow (Tulip) Poplar
  7. Winged Elm
  8. Paw Paw
  9. Basswood
  10. False Nettle
  11. Blue Star
  12. Milkweed
  13. Dogbane
  14. Evening Primrose
  15. Spanish Moss
  16. Button Snakeroot
  17. Yucca
  18. Cattail

We made 2-ply cordage from Yucca, Tulip Poplar, Okra, and Dogbane. Yup. Don’t compost all those okra stalks in the fall.

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Indigenous cordage I made this weekend. Clockwise from 12:00 ~ Dogbane; Tulip Poplar; Okra; and Yucca. Moose, our dog, thought the okra and yucca were chew toys.

I filmed a video on making cordage with Dogbane Sunday. The fibers were too small to add much instructional value. I’ll use a larger material next time. Until then, you may find Dave Canterbury’s cordage video as helpful I did…

2.) Fire by Friction

I’ve made fires using a bow drill many times. However, Scott ruined my previously held belief that resinous woods like pine are not suitable for bow drills. That theory went down the drain as every student created glowing embers with a pine hearth board and pine spindle. Here’s a quick video of the fun…

3.) Stone Cutting Tools

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Bipolar Flaking technique… wear eye protection and watch those fingers!

The simplest way to create a sharp edge comes from bipolar flaking. All you need is an anvil (large base stone), hammer stone, and a smaller rock (chicken egg size) to crack like you would a nut. Place the egg sized stone upright (pole to pole, hence the term bipolar) on the anvil and strike it with your hammer stone. If you miss hit, expect blood, swearing, and possible tears. Wear eye protection.

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

This crude technique takes little skill and provides sharp tools like scrapers, sharp flakes, and small stone drill points. You could make and use these simple tools even with no flintknapping knowledge.

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Scott Jones demonstrates how to make an arrowhead from glass

Practicing primitive skills develops a Possum Mentality. You’ll become keenly aware of raw resources, especially other people’s trash. For instance, bottoms of glass bottles can be made into arrowheads and cutting tools.

Pictured below are a few products of my Possum Mentality over the years:

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Possum Mentality: Top row is a sample of points I’ve found over the years. Bottom row are multi-functional products of bipolar flaking.

Be True to Your Nature

We preppers and self-reliance technicians love gear. But all gear and tools eventually fail. Having the knowledge and skills to use available resources to make stuff from the landscape is essential for both short-term and long-term survivability.

What happens when prepping and primitive skills have sex?

The offspring of this union breeds a self-reliance trait found only in prehistory which expresses our true nature. To tap into your true nature, I recommend Scott Jones’ book, A View to the Past: Experience and Experiment in Primitive Technology.

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, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Lost Skills, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Top 31 Uses for “Killer” Cotton in Core Temperature Control

by Todd Walker

Top 31 Uses of “Killer” Cotton for Core Temperature Control | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Cotton got a bad rap with the advent of modern synthetic outdoor wear. I love the properties of my synthetic base layers. In cold environments, I wear synthetic wicking material against my skin. I’ve also been known to wear…. wait for it… fleece! But I’m more a fan of natural fibers like cotton and wool.

Being modern is not always better. While some situations require a blend of new and old school clothing, nothing beats wearing my favorite flannel shirt as I brew my morning coffee on an open fire at the Dam Cabin.

IMG_0824

Abby is fond of fire too

In fact, besides being comfortable, cotton can be a life-saver! Wilderness survival is all about Core Temperature Control and cotton plays a vital role.

Here are my top 31 ways Killer Cotton can be used to control your core temperature and effect your Wilderness Survival Priorities…

Priority #1: Self Aid

Self aid is your number one priority in a wilderness survival scenario. If you can’t move effectively, your chances of survival plummet. If you’re a minimalist gear junky like me, cotton material excels to meet this survival priority.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Shemaghs make great slings.

I’m not suggesting you not carry a first aid kit. That’s completely your choice. There’s a difference in first aid kits and prescribed medications. Carry all medicines you require. But for the most common injuries you’ll encounter in a wilderness scenario, your 10 Piece Kit is your first aid kit.

  • Bandaging
  • Sling
  • Wound compress and pressure dressing
  • Cleaning
  • Padding for splints
  • Cover burns and keep moist
  • Straining medicinals in the field
  • Hot/Cold wrap
  • Tourniquet as a last resort

Priority #2: Shelter

Clothing is your first layer of cover.

  • Yes. I wear this “killer” as mid-layers in the winter! Be smart while wearing cotton by following the C.O.L.D. acronym…
  1. C – Keep cotton CLEAN
  2. O – Avoid OVERHEATING
  3. L – Wear loose LAYERS to create dead air space
  4. D – Keep cotton DRY

Priority #3: Fire

Top 31 Uses of “Killer” Cotton for Core Temperature Control | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

My buddy Joel making char cloth in his stainless steel water bottle. Photo credit: Iris Canterbury, The Pathfinder School

  • Char cloth for your next fire
  • Makeshift wick for tallow or other oil lamps
  • While not clothing, many folks use cotton balls/pads and Vaseline as fire starters
  • Wind screen to start a fire

Priority #4: Water/Food

Top 31 Uses of “Killer” Cotton for Core Temperature Control | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Pre-filtering with a bandana into a metal container. Photo credit: Iris Canterbury, The Pathfinder School

  • Container for foraged food and other resources
  • Waxed cotton material can be used in water collection
  • Pre-filter to strain larger “floaties” while collecting water from outdoor sources. This decreases the chances of clogging commercial filters. Bandanas won’t filter out micro organisms. Boiling is the best way to kill these nasties.
  • My friend Joshua over at The 7 P’s Blog has a great tutorial on building a DiY Tripod Water Filter using… you guessed it, cotton.
  • Collect and absorb moisture from dew and plants
  • Insulator to grab hot pots off the fire
  • Use it as a tea/coffee ball

Priority #5: Signaling

Pack at least one orange bandana in your kit.

  • Orange bandanas used alert rescuers
  • Strips hanging as trail markers

Bonus Uses for Cotton

  • Toilet paper – ever tried wiping your business end with synthetic base layers?
  • Feminine hygiene
  • Personal hygiene, wash cloth, cleaning your teeth
  • Cool looking dew rag
  • Handkerchief – Yup.

Cotton can be a killer. But as you can see, it can also save your life.

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, First Aid, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

Why Advice from Survival Ultracrepidarians Should be Avoided

by Todd Walker

[Edited 12/7/2014: After re-reading this post, and especially Blue’s comment, I realized that I may have come across as bashing ultracrepidarians. My intention was to motivate all who happen to stumble upon this post to start Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance and let the drama die. We all have to start somewhere.]

Wow! This is my new favorite word!

Ultracrepidarian – Pronunciation: êl-trê-kre-pê-der-i-yên

1. [Adjective] Is the habit of giving opinions and advice on matters outside of one’s knowledge, experience, or expertise.

2. [Noun] Someone who talks about things of which they know little or nothing.

To hear this fancy word pronounced audibly, click here. Synonyms include:

  • egotistical
  • know it all
  • smarty pants
  • smartass

In matters of survival and self-reliance, you don’t have to look far to find keyboard commandos telling you how-to do stuff. In the world of survival, spewing advice with little to no knowledge, much less actual experience, is becoming epidemic. The imagery of Brad Pasley’s song/video Online comes to mind.

You’ll find this patch pompously displayed on Ultracrepidarian’s jacket sleeves as they talk down to you from their computer lair…

dangerous-survival-advice-ultracrepidarian

Who you choose to listen to is your choice. However, advice of self-proclaimed ‘experts’ is at times just plain stupid – and if practiced, could be deadly. So who should you listen to?

Trade Theory for Action

Knowing stuff is part of our educational journey to self-reliance and preparedness. Gain as much knowledge through books and/or other instructional materials as possible.

But here’s the catch…

Having knowledge in your head from a book or video will never be enough for some situations. Experience in the real world is 100 times more valuable than head knowledge. You’ve read articles or online discussions before that didn’t feel right in your gut. Then you realize it’s pure theory.

So how do we gain experience?

Answer: By Doing the Stuff.

It’s that simple. Learning through experience is the hard way. How will you know if you can start a fire in the rain or wet conditions until you test your fire craft skills and find the satisfaction and warmth of doing so. That may be why some choose knowledge over actual experience. It’s much easier to know about stuff than to actually do the stuff.

Three examples of Ultracrepidarian advice below are widely accepted as “normal” in a survival situation… but may end up killing you. Being dead is anti-survival.

A.) Wild Edibles

Survival students deem wildcrafting as a top skill to learn. So we go out and buy popular field guides which are basically regurgitated info from books written by original authors in the early to mid 20th century. “Facts” get twisted when field experience is lacking and publishing houses get involved.

Samuel Thayer, author of The Forager’s Harvest (which I highly recommend), points out many mistakes of the most popular wild edible field guides lining bookstore shelves today. The authors were observing and not doing the stuff in the field. They failed to verify through experience.

Remember, you can eat anything once.

Here’s an interesting take on eating (or not) during a short-term emergency event over at Master Woodsman.

B.) Bugging Out

4 Monolithic Myths About Bug Out Bags

Another area of Ultracrepidarianism buoyed by opinion is found in the idea of bugging out. Bug out bags or 72 hour kits have their place. And it’s usually not on your back. Let’s put to rest the romanticized notion of throwing a 70 pound bag on your back and humping it across 4 states. With a reliable means of conveyance, good fitness level, skill, and luck… maybe.

Sound advice in such an event would be to have a pre-planned, well stocked location as your destination and a way to get there. If you don’t, you’ll likely become a refugee. Here I am giving my opinion on something I’ve never had to do. However, two years ago I tested a 40 pound backpack on summer hikes. It’s physically demanding. Add survival stressors or young children to the equation and you’re cooking a horrible recipe. Just some food for thought.

C.) Bombproof Gear

The internet is full of untested shiny objects heralded as essential by Ultracrepidarians. Ignore this junk. Stick with basic gear that has been proven over time to work.

How’s a 5,000 year old test for you?

Otzi the Ice Man was discovered by hikers in the Swiss Alps in 1991. Otzi’s preserved remains show he lived around 3,300 BC. His core gear is not much different from what we carry today.

My entire B.O.B./72 hour emergency kit contains only 10 core items. Yup. My gear weight-loss program works. With proper knowledge and the skills to use available resources, the 10 C’s of Survivability is enough.

Here’s the multifunctional 10 piece kit I pack to stay alive if the need arises…

1.) Cutting Tool – Fixed blade knife

  • 5 to 6 inch blade
  • High carbon steel
  • 90 degree spine
  • Non-coated blade
  • Full tang

2.) Combustion Device

  • Bic lighter – thousands of open flames
  • Ferrocerium rod – 3,000 degree sparks

3.) Cover/Shelter

  • Proper clothing
  • Emergency space blanket
  • Clear 9×12 painter’s tarp
  • Two 55 gallon drum liners
  • Set up in 5 minutes or less

4.) Container

  • 32 ounce stainless steel water bottle with nesting cup
  • 30 liter dry bag

5.) Cordage

  • 36# tarred mariners line (preferred over paracord)
  • 25 ft. 550 paracord

6.) Cotton Bandana

  • Multiuse
  • Self-aid
  • Char cloth – next fire

7.) Cargo Tape (Gorilla Brand)

  • Shelter
  • Self-aid
  • Fire extender

8.) Cloth Sail Needle

  • Repair equipment
  • Self-aid
  • Navigation

9.) Candling Device

  • Self-aid
  • Signaling
  • Navigation

10.) Compass

  • Self-aid
  • Fire
  • Navigation

There’s no fancy shiny survival objects in my 72 hour kit. These 10 items see plenty of dirt time each week. They are light enough to carry in my haversack every time I’m in the field Doing the Stuff.

Advice is plentiful. Sound advice is hard to come by. Don’t trust anything read here or anywhere else without first verifying the info for yourself!

Just for fun, the next time your involved in an online survival discussion, tell the know-it-alls you enjoyed their ultracrepidarian advice. They’ll take it as a compliment.

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, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Education | Tags: , , | 12 Comments

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: , , , , | 8 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: , , , | 4 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.

IMG_1123

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

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: , , | 12 Comments

5 Lessons on Self-Reliance at The Pathfinder School

by Todd Walker

For two years I’ve tried to attend a class at Dave Canterbury’s The Pathfinder School. Finally got the chance this weekend after a lot of penny-pinching and saving. Was it money well spent? You bet!

Iris and Dave Canterbury being gracious as usual.

Iris and Dave Canterbury being gracious as usual.

Investing in knowledge and skills is a no brainer. Books, videos, and blogs, depending on the source, can be a value adding resources. I wanted to test my skills, in a somewhat controlled setting, before having to do the stuff to survive! My buddy and I, Dave W. (DW), drove 10 hours, slept and trained in the rain, cold, and sleet to hone our 72 hour wilderness survival skills.

E.D.I. (Educate, Demonstrate, Imitate) is a method used to teach every skill at the school. This takes the guess-work out of each task you’re asked to perform.

Jamie Burleigh demonstrating the 5 minute emergency shelter

Jamie Burleigh demonstrating the 5 minute emergency shelter

The Pathfinder System is built around the Triangle of Survivability: Knowledge – Skills – Resources. Each side of the triangle is designed to maintain Core Temperature Control (CTC) in a 72 hour wilderness survival situation.

Here are the key lessons learned…

Your kit (gear) is a resource. Every time you venture into the woods, your kit should contain the 10 C’s of Survivability. Each of these 10 pieces must have at least 3 multifunctional uses. The first 5 C’s (Cutting tool, Combustion device, Cover, Container, Cordage) directly affect your CTC the most. This gear is the hardest to reproduce in a wilderness survival situation.

Lesson 1: Get the Best Gear You Can Afford

I’ve written about and logged many hours of dirt time practicing with the 5 C’s, but not at the intense level DW and I experienced this weekend. A lot of gear marketed in the survival/preparedness community will fail when you need it the most. Not all my gear came from the Pathfinder Store. However, let me say this, if you choose to purchase their stuff, be assured that these items have been tested in the real world.

For instance, my knife came from Red Barn Forge. I brought two back up knifes just in case. These spare cutting tools never left my pack. The “Beast” curled fine feather sticks, batoned through 4 inch logs with ease with only a light stropping of the blade from the original two month old factory edge. [I wanted to wait until after this class to give this knife a full review. Stay tuned!]

There are common man options for gear that won’t break the bank. My homemade bed sheet tarp (Cover) rocked in the rain, sleet, and cold! I slept dry and warm in my wool blankets and hammock.

I intended to use my Swiss Army Bread bag as my haversack for the class. Realizing that it was too small for the job, I improvised and used my $10 yard sale backpack. It proved functional and easy to carry.

Lesson 2: “If it ain’t raining, you ain’t training”

Fire. Over twenty fires in three rainy days with wet wood. Your pack should always contain a sure-fire method of combustion.

selfreliance-lessons-pathfinder-school

Dave and me making fire… Sherpa hat and all.

When you’re wet and cold and have marginal tinder material, a Bic lighter will ignite duct tape. Make a loose bundle of Gorilla tape about the size of a golf ball and light it with your Bic. This burning ball of tape will extend your fire (10-15 minutes) to dry and ignite wet tinder material. If processed correctly, you can even ignite the tape with a good ferro rod.

Duct tape ignition with a ferro rod

Duct tape ignition with a ferro rod

In the real world, it rains. Stuff gets wet. In your fire kit, always carry dry tinder material. Jute twine, Gorilla tape, and fatwood are excellent ways to start a fire in wet conditions. You’d be smart to carry a commercial sure-fire back up or make and test your own.

Fire is life out there! Fire effects your survivability in many ways:

  • Self-aid
  • Shelter
  • Water
  • Fire/heat
  • Signaling
  • Food
  • Psychological comfort and morale booster

Practice Doing the Stuff with fire in controlled conditions before your life depends on producing a flame in the wild. A sustainable fire, like all things survival related, can be condensed to the input/output paradigm. The resources you put in determines your outcome.

Collecting “smalls” for fire is crucial. I’ve never collected so many pencil-lead size and pencil size twigs in a three-day period in my life. The students who produced chest-high, body-wide 5 minute fires (output) were the ones who took the time to gather 55 gallon drum liners full of smalls (input) from dead hanging trees and branches… and of course, paid attention to the instructor’s demonstration of building a proper fire lay before imitating. Practicing fire craft before attending the school also helps. ;)

Carefully control the input factors to reach a perfect outcome (survival). Practicing wilderness self-reliance skills in all-weather conditions. What works in dry conditions will likely fail when wet.

Lesson 3: Discover Redundancy in Your Kit

Never pack an item in your kit that can’t perform at least 3 functions to effect your survivability. With the proper resources, skills, and knowledge, your 10 piece kit should be able to meet these seven survival priorities…

Priority #1: Self-Aid

If you’re injured, you’re chances of surviving a 72 hour scenario are decrease without performing self-aid.

  • Cutting tool – ** used to effect all 7 survival priorities but not listed **
  • Combustion device
  • Cover
  • Container
  • Cordage
  • Cotton bandana
  • Cargo tape (get Gorilla brand)
  • Cloth sail needle
  • Candling device (flash light, head lamp, candle, etc.)
  • Compass

Priority #2: Shelter

Creating a mini micro climate for CTC (Core Temperature Control)

  • Cutting tool
  • Combustion device – heat
  • Cover – clothing, tarp, tent
  • Cordage
  • Cargo tape

Priority #3: Water

  • Container
  • Combustion device
  • Cover – make shift container
  • Cotton material – filter
  • Cargo tape – DIY container in case metal container is lost
Water boiling challenge

Water boil challenge

Priority #4: Fire

  • Cutting tool – processing wood, spine used to produce sparks with flint
  • Combustion device – obvious, right?
  • Container – used to make char cloth
  • Cotton material – char cloth to create next fire
  • Cargo tape – fire extender
  • Candling device – illumination
  • Compass – magnifying lens on a good compass for solar ignition
Fire on the hill

32 fires on the hill

Priority #5: Signaling

  • Combustion device – smoke generator
  • Cover – a reusable emergency space blanket (reflective side) or orange on the outside
  • Cotton material – contrasting color from natural surroundings
  • Candling device – flashing light
  • Compass – with a mirror to reflect sun light
Smoke generator for signaling

Smoke generator for signaling

Priority #6: Food

  • Combustion device
  • Container
  • Cordage
  • Cotton material
  • Candling device

Priority #7: Navigation

  • Cloth sail needle – magnetized for a DIY compass
  • Candling device – night navigation
  • Compass – investing in a quality compass should be your 2nd priority after a knife

Lesson 4: Pre-Planning and Teamwork

You won’t always have a partner with you while in the great outdoors. On solo trips or with a group, leave a written plan with a friend or family member describing, in as much detail as possible, where you’re going, when you left and plan to return, who is with you, and how you plan to get there (car camping, hiking, etc.).

Part of "Team Wisdom" - The Bragg clan from PA and two Georgia boys on the right

Part of “Team Wisdom” – The Bragg clan from PA and two Georgia boys on the right

The importance of teamwork can’t be overstated. My buddy, Dave W, covered my weaknesses in the navigation course more than a few times. Even after watching and listening to our instructors, Brian Manning and Matt Mahoney, I wasn’t able to get my bearings on the compass until Dave W. demonstrated the technique on our first trial in the woods. He saved us on the night navigation course more than once.

If you happen to be out with a friend or group, know each other’s strengths and learn from them. Iron sharpens iron.

Lesson 5: Pass on the Knowledge

Dave Canterbury taking time for an interview with Tommy Bragg for his high school career project.

Dave Canterbury taking time for an interview with Tommy Bragg for his high school career project.

Mastering the basics in any craft takes time and knowledgable mentors. The staff at The Pathfinder School are students of self-reliance. They don’t know it all. Who does? They’re not self-appointed experts. They learn new stuff with every class… and pass on this knowledge.

One of Team Wisdom's, Brain Manning, hamming it up on the last day

One of Team Wisdom’s instructors, Brain Manning, hamming it up on the last day

As students, we should all stay curious, hungry, and humble. The best way to learn a new skill is teach it. Decompressing after the trip, Dirt Road Girl and I sat and talked in our living room about the many fire deliverables Dave and I performed.

“Let’s build a fire!” she said.

DRG collected smalls, processed tulip poplar bark for tinder, made fatwood scrapings, a fatwood feather stick, and started her first 5 minute sustainable fire with a ferro rod in the backyard! Her input produced the desired output… a sustainable fire!

Self-Reliance Lessons Learned at the Pathfinder School

DRG's burning it down!

DRG burning it down!

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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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, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , | 13 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

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, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 32 Comments

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