by Todd Walker
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.
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.
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.
- Wound compress and pressure dressing
- 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…
- C – Keep cotton CLEAN
- O – Avoid OVERHEATING
- L – Wear loose LAYERS to create dead air space
- D – Keep cotton DRY
- Shemagh or bandana for sun protection, head wrap, scarf, insulation when dry
- Lightweight, waterproof, fireproof, bed sheet tarp. Of course, you’ll need to prepare this tarp beforehand.
- Improvised cordage
Priority #3: Fire
- 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
- 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,
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