equipment

3 Skills that Cover a Multitude of Survival Sins

by Todd Walker

From the biblical perspective, sin is “missing the mark.” In wilderness survival, not hitting your target in one skill doesn’t have to mean certain death. However, fall short in these three critical survival skills, and, dude, you’re screwed!

3 Skills that Cover a Multitude of Survival Sins - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

You won’t get a second chance to see your family again if you can’t stay warm and hydrated. Core Temperature Control (CTC) is the redeeming factor.

Cold and Wet: The Perfect Storm

Your body does a remarkable job regulating core temperature. However, add moisture to the equation, drop the temperature slightly, and you’ve got a perfect storm for hypothermia.

Water saps body heat 25 times faster than air. And 70 to 80% of your body heat is lost through your head and neck. The remaining heat loss goes through your fingers, hands, and feet. The simple act of breathing in cold air and expelling warm air will chill your body.

A slight change in core temp, even by a degree or two, will affect your bodily functions. Shivering, lack of coordination, slurred speech, and numbness in the extremities are signs of hypothermia. Decrease to 91.4ºF (33ºC) and you lose consciousness. Complete muscle failure occurs at 82.4ºF (28ºC).

Core Temperature Equipment

This article is not addressing wilderness living skills or long-term self-reliance. We’re talking about surviving. You can’t very well pursue long-term stuff if you’re not equipped to survive the a short-term storm. And, by storm, I mean – when you need immediate help and none is available – in the wilderness or urban setting.

The first step to being equipped is to always carry equipment. No matter how many debris huts you’ve built, you’d be a stupid survivalist, and possibly a dead one, to not pack some sort of emergency shelter option, fire kit, metal container, cordage, and a knife.

Below is my emergency kit I carry no matter how long I plan to be in the woods.

  • Emergency Space Blanket ~ The best 12 ounce item in my kit for core temperature control. I also carry two contractor grade garbage bags – too many uses to mention here.
  • Fire Kit ~ Three different ignition sources – open flame (Bic lighter), spark ignition (ferro rod), solar ignition (magnifying lens), sure fire (diy and commercial), duct tape, and a bit of dry tinder material.
  • Knife ~ There is no such thing as “The Best Survival Knife”. However, your cutting tool should have multipurpose attributes and be hair-popping sharp.
  • Metal Container ~ A metal water bottle can be used to boil water, make char cloth, cook meals, and perform self-aid duties.
  • Cordage ~ I carry both 550 paracord and tarred mariners line.

These items are my bare bones kit and go with me camping, hiking, backpacking, and hunting. Don’t think you’ll ever need these kit items? Think again. Read this real-life survival story of an injured hunter in the Idaho wilderness.

Core Temperature Control Skills

Conserving body heat is the key to survival. Your body produces heat from biochemical reactions in cells, exercise, and eating. Without a furry coating like lower animals, insulation to maintain a body temperature at 98.6 degrees F is critical.

It all starts with…

Skill #1 ~ Shelter

Sins of Sheltering: Not carrying an emergency space blanket and wearing improper clothing.

While having an emergency space blanket is important, your shelter is built before you ever step over the door sill of your warm and cozy home. Your clothes are your first layer of shelter.

Ever see men with Sasquatch hair at the beach. No matter how thick it appears, that rug won’t insulate when wet and cold.

To trap body heat, layer your clothing. Layers create dead air space much like the insulation in house walls and attics. Layering is activity-dependent. But the basic concept applies to any outdoor cold weather activity.

Here’s my layer system…

A.) Base Layer ~Your base layer should fit snuggly to your body. Long sleeve shirt and underwear made of polyester blend for wicking perspiration away from my body. Sock liners go on first before wool socks. Thin wool glove liners are worn inside my larger leather mittens.

B.) Insulation ~ Yes, I wear cotton, and sometimes fleece, on top of the base layer. This is dependent upon my activity. If I’m really active in really cold weather, I wear a wool sweater. Wool is my favorite insulation layer. Here’s why…

  • Wool fiber absorbs up to 36% of its weight and gradually releases moisture through evaporation.
  • Wool has natural antibacterial properties that allow you wear it multiply days without stinking up camp. Not so with synthetics.
  • Wool wicks moisture, not as well as synthetics, but better than cotton.
  • Wool releases small amounts of heat as it absorbs moisture.
  • Wool contains thousands of natural air-trapping pockets for breathable insulation.

Remembering the importance of dead air space, your insulation layer should fit loosely and be breathable. Apply the acronym C.O.L.D. to your insulating layer…

  1. C – Keep CLEAN
  2. O – Avoid OVERHEATING
  3. L – Wear loose LAYERS to create dead air space
  4. D – Keep DRY

C.) Outer Layer ~ Waterproof is not your friend. Yes, it will keep rain and wetness out, but it will also seal perspiration in eventually soaking your insulation. Wear a weather-resistant shell that allows moisture to escape. The main concern for this layer is to block wind.

Your head, hands, and feet are included in this layer. I’m partial to wool hats to keep my bald head warm. In subzero temps, I wear my shapka, a Russian red fox winter hat, I bought in Siberia in the early 90’s.

Cold feet are deceptive. Frostbite can happen before you know the damage is done. Wear polyester sock liners with wool socks inside your footwear of choice.

Jamie Burleigh under an emergency space blanket shelter with garbage bag bed

Jamie Burleigh under an emergency space blanket shelter with garbage bag bed at The Pathfinder School.

D.) Waterproof Shelter ~ Again, for emergency essentials, you can’t beat a good space blanket to block wind, rain, and reflect heat back to your body. Combined with a plastic painter’s tarp, a Kochanski Super Shelter can keep you warm in subzero condition in street clothes.

Use two large contractor garbage bags filled with leaves, wet or dry, for an insulating ground pad. They don’t add much weight or take up much space in your kit.

There are many more options for waterproof covering. The above list is for your emergency kit.

Skill #2 ~ Fire Craft

Sins of Fire Craft: Not carrying multiple ignition sources and all-weather fire starters.

Fire covers a multitude of ‘sins’ in your survival skills. Even if you deliberately commit the offense of not packing emergency shelter, fire forgives your lapse in judgement. Scantily clad in the wilderness? Fire covers your wrongdoing. No matter how you “miss the mark” in skills or equipment, fire can redeem you.

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the woods I’m sure you’ve heard Mother Nature humming these classic lyrics…

“… Like it always seems to go, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

Are you a fair-weather fire crafter?

That’s a good place to start. Nothing wrong with learning in the most fire-friendly conditions. You’ve got dry tinder, kindling, and fuel to burn. This may not be the case when your life depends on making fire in the wind, rain, and snow.

Cheating is NOT a Sin

There is absolutely no such thing as cheating when it comes to building a life-sustaining fire. Who cares what Bushcraft purists think! Your loved ones aren’t worried about style points in fire craft. They want you home alive. So cheat!

For the weekend camper or woodsman, carry these foul weather fire cheats…

Fire Cheat #1 ~ One of the most overlooked fire starters that should already be in your pack is duct tape. Loosely wad up about 2 foot of tape and ignite it with an open flame. A ferrocerium rod will ignite duct tape. However, you have to shred the tape to create lots of surface area. This isn’t your best option if your fingers are losing dexterity in freezing temperatures.

Fire Cheat #2 ~ DiY fire starters made of wax-soaked jute twine or cotton makeup remover pads. I also carry commercially made sure fire that will burn on water.

Fire Cheat #3 ~ Always carry enough dry tinder material to start a fire in sucky weather.

Fire Cheat #4 ~ Know where to find the best possible tinder material and how to process it to create surface area. Dead hanging branches, pencil lead size to pencil size, provide kindling even in the rain.

Fire Cheat #5 ~ Fat lighter’d (aka – fatwood, resin-rich pine wood) is my lifesaver in the south. Discover your best natural fire starter wherever you’re located or plan to travel. I keep this stuff in all my kits. It’s abundant where I live.

Fire Cheat #6 ~ Dry wood is available in all weather conditions if you know where to look. Standing dead Tulip Poplar (Magnolia) is one of my go-to fire resources. The trick to getting to the dry wood is splitting the wood down to tinder, kindling, and fuel size material. The inner bark makes excellent tinder bundles!

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

One 2 inch diameter stick of tulip poplar made all this: L to R: Thumb, pencil, pencil lead, and bark tinder

And that brings us to the next skill that forgives survival sins…

Skill #3: Knife Skills

A knifeless man is a lifeless man.

The “survival” knife market is full of gadgetry. Gadgets are for gawkers. You don’t need a Rambo knife to survive. You just need a solid knife and some skill. 

Carry a good knife and practice with what you carry. Your knife may become your one-tool-option. Here are a few characteristics I look for when selecting my main knife…

  • High carbon steel blade that is non-coated. Coated knives can’t be used to create sparks off the spine with a rock to ignite charred material. Carbon steel is easier to sharpen in the field than stainless steel.
  • Blade length between 4-5 inches.
  • Full tang (solid metal under the entire handle) lessens the chance of breakage when an ax is not available to split wood and you have to resort to the baton method.
  • A 90 degree spine is useful to strike ferro rods, process tinder, scrape wood shavings for fire, and many other uses.
  • Most importantly, your knife should feel right in your hand as you use it. The best “survival” knife is the one you have on you and are proficient with.

Knife Sins: Carrying a knife but never becoming competent with your blade.

You’re not going to be carving spoons and bowls in a short-term survival situation. Your cutting tool will be used to make shelter and fire to control core temperature. Knife skills can be easily developed and honed in your backyard.

Since fire is the most forgiving if you “miss the mark” with proper shelter, we’ll cover the cutting tool’s use in fire craft first.

Have Knife, Will Burn

Even if you’ve committed the first two survival sins, your blade can save you. A knife in skilled hands can create fire from scratch. I don’t rely on friction fire as my first choice but do practice the skill in case I run into unknown unknowns.

With my buddy Bic in my pocket, I still need to process sticks to make fire quick. Both the cutting edge and spine of your knife are used to create surface area needed for ignition.

Remembering that you’re cold and wet, your fine motor skills are probably suffering. Pretty feather sticks are for style points. Style won’t save you. Fire will!

Split a dead wrist-size stick with a baton and knife into thumb size pieces to get to the dry stuff. Split a few of those pieces into smaller kindling. Grip your knife with a reverse grip (cutting edge facing up) and use the spine of your knife to scrape a pile of fine shavings off one of the larger split sticks. If you’ve got fat lighter’d, scrape off a pile of shavings the size of a golf ball. Ignite this pile with a lighter or ferro rod and feed your fire its meal plan.

Here’s a demo of a one stick fire in the rain…

Knife and Shelter

Debris shelters can be built without a knife. Sticks can be broken to length between two trees without a cutting tool. Keep in mind that this type of shelter will take a few hours and lots of calories to construct correctly.

The role of the knife in emergency shelter building is secondary compared to its importance in making fire. You won’t even need a knife to set up a space blanket shelter if you prepped your emergency kit ahead of time.

Blades are expedient in cutting cordage, notching sticks, harvesting green bows for bedding, making wedges to split larger wood without an ax, and a number of other self-reliance tasks.

Basic emergency knife skills every outdoors person should practice include…

  • Safely handling a knife ~ cut away from your body, avoid the triangle of death (the triangle between your knees and crotch), cut within the blood circle when others are nearby (an imaginary circle made with your outstretched arms as you turn 360 degrees), never attempt to catch a falling knife, keep it sheathed unless in use, and keep your blade sharp.
  • Creating surface area for fires ~ splitting sticks, feathering sticks, and shavings.
  • Grip and body mechanics ~ standard grip, reverse grip, chest lever, knee lever, and thumb assisted grip for push cuts in fine carving tasks.
  • With a piece of quarts, chert, or flint, use the spine of your high carbon steel knife for spark ignition on charred material.

Forgiveness

All three of these survival skills are needed for emergency core temperature control, but I’d place fire on top of my forgiveness list. Fire can make water potable for hydration, warm poorly clothed pilgrims, cook food to create body heat, smoke signals, illuminate darkness, and comfort the lost.

What’s your top skill for controlling your core temperature? Share if you don’t mind.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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, equipment, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Education, Survival Skills, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Learn These 2 Pioneer Skills to Produce Almost Anything

by Todd Walker

Read the next two lines and stop. Look around you. Make a mental note of all the useful stuff produced from two resources… wood and metal.

Really, stop reading for a second!

Okay, come back now.

What did you come up with? If you only noted the obvious wooden and metallic items, go deeper. With a little thought, your list should grow exponentially.

Learn These 2 Pioneer Skills to Produce Almost Anything - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The fact is, wood and metal were directly or indirectly responsible for building your house, mailbox, wall clock, sofa, and the electronic device you’re reading from this very moment.

Wood and metal go together like peas and carrots. Metal tools are used to shape wood. But wood creates fire to heat metal for making said tools. And don’t forget about the useful wooden handles attached to metal tools. There’s a relationship between the two resources in which both benefit from the other. In biology, we call this mutualism.

For long-term self-reliance, learning to manipulate and exploit these resources will make you an indispensable asset to both family and community.

Blacksmithing: The Master of All Crafts

Except for harnessing fire, nothing in human history compares to the discovery of metal and its ability to be molded, formed, and poured into useful shapes. Blacksmithing is the only craft that makes their own tools and the tools of other craftsmen.

DSCN0592

Traditional Appalachian Smithy at Foxfire Museum

You don’t have to dial back in time too far to find Bob the Blacksmith being the most prominent tradesman in town. In need of a gate latch? Go see Bob. How about that crack in your froe? Bob can forge weld it and have you back splitting cedar shakes for your roof in no time. Making a hammer for your flint-lock rifle could be done by Bob.

Basic Smithing Tools

To build a functional smithy, you’ll need a few tools. No need to spend a boatload of money to get started either. Shop yard sales, flea markets, scrap yards, farm auctions, estate sales, and antique stores – the highest prices are usually paid at antique stores.

Here are the basic tools needed for beginners like me…

  • Anvil ~ A real blacksmithing anvil may be your largest cash outlay. A common man’s anvil can be a section of railroad track or large block of metal – 100 plus pounds mounted to a wooden stump.
  • Forge ~ Charcoal, coal, or gas-powered, the forge will heat your steel for shaping and tempering metal. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. A hole in the ground will work. Some sort of blower to increase heat in your coal or charcoal. Blowers are not needed for a propane forge.
Propane forge at Red Barn Forge

Dave’s new propane forge at Red Barn Forge

  • Hammer ~ A 2 to 3 pound hammer to work hot metal. You can add to your hammer collection over time. There are four basic types of hammers for moving metal: straight peen, ball peen, cross peen, and sledge.
  • Tongs ~ Long handle pliers used to grip hot steel while hammering.
  • Vise ~ A bench vise mounted on a sturdy work bench. I’ve yet to acquire a blacksmithing post vise.
  • Files ~ Flat and half-round
Learn These 2 Pioneer Skills to Produce Almost Anything - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

File and file card

  • Quench Bucket ~ Container large enough to hold about 5 gallons of water to cool hot metal and for tempering.
  • Safety Equipment ~ Eye protection, ear protection, leather boots, natural fiber clothing, welding gloves, fire extinguisher and water bucket/hose, first aid kit.
  • Like other crafts, there are almost endless numbers of tools and items you’ll want to acquire as your skill level increases.
The "anvil" is a solid piece of steel I'll mount to a stump.

The “anvil” (lower right) is a solid piece of steel I’ll mount to a stump.

Though I’ve always known the importance of this craft historically, my dabbling has only produced a few items. However, after a recent Georgia Bushcraft camping trip, I realized it’s time to get serious about hammering steel.

Stephan Fowler of Fowler Blades spent two hours in the rain demonstrating, in less than optimal conditions, the process of turning a file into a functional cutting tool. The blade was not his best work considering he used a crumbly rock as an anvil, an air mattress pump for a billow, and burning chunks of hardwood on the ground as his forge.

I was honored to have won this file knife which Stephan made in a fire challenge during the campout!

I was honored to have won Stephan’s survival file knife in a fire-building challenge during the campout!

Check out what Stephan produces when he has access to his real forge → here.

And now for the video of Stephan making a knife from a file, in the rain, on a rock anvil…

Your skill level doesn’t have to be superior to be useful for long-term self-reliance. The more you hammer steel and study metallurgy, the better you become.

Blacksmithing Resources

Blacksmithing in America was hot and heavy during our pioneer days in North America. Not long after the Industrial Revolution, the art of blacksmithing survived only as a specialty craft. Thankfully, the secrets of metallurgy, once guarded in guilds, is being passed on through modern-day blacksmiths. Here are a few resources that I’ve found helpful in connecting with local craftsmen.

Woodworking

The craft of woodworking compliments blacksmithing more so than any two trades I know. Developing the skill to make handles for metal tools or mill lumber from a tree to accept the nails you forged on your anvil could one day feed your family in hard times. I’ll bet your master gardener neighbor would be willing to barter food for tools and repairs on her homestead.

If you’re like me, you find yourself dabbling in all sorts of pioneer skills. One skill I’ve become proficient at is carpentry. However, take away my power tools and my skill level drops several notches.

A mix of modern and pioneer tools

A mix of modern and pioneer hand tools

Working wood with pioneer tools is based on the same principles as modern woodworking… with a steeper learning curve and physicality. Don’t abandon your power tools. Here’s my list of basic wood working tools, both modern and pioneer style.

Modern Tools

  • Hammers ~ A 16 oz. claw hammer and a larger framing hammer (20 oz.) to get you started.
  • Saws ~ Circular, chop/miter, table, jig, reciprocating – cordless and corded. Cordless 18v batteries can be charged via solar chargers if the need arises.
  • Drills ~ Cordless impact driver and drill, corded drill press, and an assortment of drill bits (wood and metal), screw bits, and socket bit adapters.
  • Squares ~ Tri-square, combination, speed square, and carpenter’s square. Used to mark and test angles. Buy metal squares to use with hot metal work. Plastic melts.
  • Levels ~ Torpedo, 2 foot, and 4 foot bubble levels keep things plumb.
  • Measuring and Marking Devices ~ 25 foot steel tape measure, wooden folding ruler, carpenter’s pencil, chalk line.
  • Utility Knife ~ One of my most used tools on my belt.

Pioneer Tools

  • Hammers, Mallets, and Mauls.

  • Saws ~ Hand saws: crosscut, rip, compass saw, coping, and bucksaw.
  • Drills ~ Brace and bit, augers, bits of various sizes.
  • Squares ~ Same as listed above; Tri-square, combination, speed square, and carpenter’s square. Used to mark and test angles. Buy metal squares to use with hot metal work. Plastic melts.
  • Levels ~ Torpedo, 2 foot, and 4 foot bubble levels keep things plumb and work as straight edges.
  • Measuring and Marking Devices ~ 25 foot steel tape measure (roughing work), wooden folding ruler, steel drafting ruler (bench work), pencil, chalk line.
  • Smoothing Planes ~ Both long and short. Stanley makes great planes and can be had inexpensively but may need some TLC to make them useable.
  • Chisels ~ A variety of sizes kept super sharp… which I’m known not to do.
  • Draw Knives ~ Draw knives for roughing wood to shape and spoke shaves for finishing form.
  • Shave Horse ~ Holds stock freeing both hands to work wood with a draw knife or spoke shave.
Pioneer tools at Foxfire Museum

Pioneer tools at Foxfire Museum

  • Froe ~ A simple tool used to split (rive) wood into shingles, boards, and staves.
  • Rasp ~ Both flat and half-round. A 4-in-1 rasp is utilitarian.

Notice I didn’t delve into the actual skill sets needed. That would take a long time and lots of bandwidth. However, I do recommend that you begin stockpiling metal and woodworking tools. They may be useful one day.

Oh, and never pass up scrap metal. Collect lawn mower blades, leaf springs, bar stock, round stock, pallet wood, hardware (nails, screws, nuts and bolts), old files, tool steel, sharpening devices, sheet metal, saws, etc., etc.

I made this end table for DRG from pallet wood, 150 year-old house siding, an old yard stick, and sheet metal.

I made this end table for DRG from pallet wood, 150 year-old house siding, an old yard stick, and sheet metal.

Real stuff, almost all stuff, can be made from skilled hands with metal and wooden tools. Learning to work these two resources may start as a hobby or pastime but could very well insure your livelihood in hard times.

Did you think of anything that was made without metal and/or wood being directly or indirectly involved in the process? Bet you didn’t.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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, equipment, Homesteading, Lost Skills, Preparedness, Resilience, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , , , | 12 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: , , | 6 Comments

Is This Cotton Pickin’ Killer in Your Winter B.O.B.?

by Todd Walker

Hikers and other outdoorsmen are fond of the ‘cotton kills‘ meme. Search these two words and you’ll wonder how grandpa survived frontier life without polypropylene!

An APB has been issued on this serial killer!

An APB has been issued on this serial killer!

The survival and prepping community should take note. If you’re a lover and wearer of killer cotton, the Bug Out Fashion Police won’t be summoned to whisk you off to polypro prison and re-education camp.

Dirt Road Girl and I repack our 72 hour bags for fall/winter each year. If we ever need to grab and go, we know our kits would contain synthetic, wicking base layers from head to toe. Humidity is high in our state and I sweat a lot with a 30 pound pack strapped to my back. Synthetic material against my skin does a great job at wicking moisture to outer clothing layers.

Do we pack killer cotton in our winter kits? Yes. It has its place and uses.

Killer cotton is not lethal. Choosing the wrong clothing for your situation and environment kills!

So how did this natural, comfy fiber get such a bad rap?

The Science of Staying Warm

Cotton gained the label ‘killer’ by distance hikers for its lack of capillary (wicking) action. To explain, I’ll slip on my lab coat and grab some chalk for a science lesson. I’ll do my best to keep this accessible to our non-geek readers.

Before we begin, here’s your 3 key vocabulary terms for this lesson:

  • Conduction – is the transfer of heat when ‘hot’ molecules collide with neighboring cold molecules. Only heat can be conducted because cold is the absence of heat. Ex: I discovered early on that heat travels from the hot end of Mama’s cast iron skillet to the cold handle.
  • Insulator – materials that are poor conductors of heat. Air, cloth, wood, and water are poor conductors but make great insulators.
  • Heat transfer – thermal energy (heat) can be transferred via conduction, convection, and radiation.

What cotton holds against your skin

When dry, cotton fibers create air pockets to insulate your body. Air is an awesome insulator if it’s trapped in an area. However, cotton earns ‘killer’ status when wet.

Here’s why…

Cotton is a stingy absorber of moisture. Once saturated, it holds moisture better than polyester. When you step out of the shower, do you grab a cotton towel or synthetic one? Cotton holds on to what it absorbs.

Cotton soaks up moisture but does a lousy job of moving it away from your skin to outer layers of clothing. Your 100% cotton union suit looses its insulation value when the air pockets in the fiber fill with moisture from perspiration or water. The 50/50 cotton blends only prolong the process a bit. Either of these choices will leave you wet and cold!

The problem with being outside is Mother Nature’s mood swings. She seems to invent ways to make you shiver. If these conditions continue, hypothermia happens without self-directed action to reverse the drop in your body’s core temperature – even when it’s not freezing out.

So to be prepared, plan for the unpredictable.

Layers of Redundancy

Since humans aren’t feathered or fury (up for debate in some cases), the layered clothing strategy creates warm air pockets to slow the heat transfer from your 98.6 degree body to the external frigid temperatures. You’ve seen pictures of Sherpas standing on the top of Mt. Everest wearing a down-filled jacket. It’s not the feathers that insulate, it’s the air space created by the down trapped by the jacket shell.

Remember that heat transfer takes place from hot to cold – not the other way around.

Nature is constantly trying to create equilibrium. Thermal energy (heat) and humidity under your clothing seeks a path to colder, less humid conditions outside your body.

The first step in creating and maintaining that warm pocket of insulating air around your body is to stay dry. Due to its capillary action, I prefer polyester as a base layer against my skin.

On top of that, when conditions are cold but not wet, I wear a long sleeve cotton shirt with a wool sweater.  When it’s likely that I’ll be in wet/cold conditions, or some Doing the Stuff training with my B.O.B., I skip the cotton and go with a light merino wool or wool synthetic layer.

Frugal Tip: Never pay full price for expensive wool sweaters. Shop your local thrift stores and stock up on $5 merino wool. Ugly colors won’t matter when you need to stay warm and dry!

Some lovable wool facts:

  • Wool fiber absorbs up to 36% of its weight and gradually releases moisture through evaporation.
  • Wool has natural antibacterial properties that allow you wear it multiply days without stinking up camp. Not so with synthetics.
  • Wool wicks moisture, not as well as synthetics, but better than cotton.
  • Wool releases small amounts of heat as it absorbs moisture.
  • Wool contains thousands of natural air-trapping pockets for breathable insulation. Just ask any sheep.
Here's a 100% wool army blanket I hand stitched to make a hunting shirt.

Here’s a 100% wool army blanket I hand stitched to make a wool hunting shirt.

Now to add ‘skin’ to your outfit. The outer shell or skin can be anything that repels water. In a pinch, a contractor garbage bag will work to keep you dry. Gore-Tex is pricey. You can pick up USGI poncho cheaply online or at military surplus stores. A poncho in your kit gives you options other than rain protection.

Smart folks are prepared for both wet and cold conditions! Does Killer Cotton have a place in your winter Core Temperature Control strategy? You bet! Here’s my top 5 reasons to pack cotton.

Uses for 100% Killer Cotton

  1. High count bed sheets can be turned into lightweight, waterproof, fireproof tarps.
  2. Bandana or shemagh for making char cloth for your next fire.
  3. Self aid – cotton and duct tape can be used as a makeshift bandage, sling, wound compress, or tourniquet (as a last resort).
  4. Signaling device – orange bandanas contrast well in a woodland setting.
  5. Emergency toilet paper. Ever tried wiping your business end in the wilderness with synthetic material?

Final Thoughts

Our ancestors made it through extreme conditions without modern synthetic clothing. Would they have worn polypro underwear and base layers while forging the frontier? Probably.

Is Killer Cotton part of your Core Temperature Control strategy? Stay safe and warm 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: Doing the Stuff, equipment, Preparedness, Survival | Tags: , , | 17 Comments

Jim’s DiY Fuel Transfer Pump: Don’t Spit or Swallow

[Todd’s note: I love Texas! My maternal grandfather came from the Lone Star State. A lot of great patriots and preppers call it home.

One of our readers, Jim, from somewhere in Texas, read my post about the Shaker Siphon hose and sent me a note on his fuel transfer system. I like it! I thought you might too.]

Thanks Jim for adding value with your Doing the Stuff Tutorial!

How to transfer fuel without ‘swallowing’

by jim w, somewhere in TX

Here is my electric fuel transfer board.

DiY Fuel Transfer Pump: Don't Spit or Swallow

Jim’s compact DiY Fuel Transfer Pump wrapped up and pulled from storage

The board is plain pine that is 18″ long and 11.5″ wide.  It has a 3″ long by 1″ wide hand hold cut in the top of it to grasp it easier.

Jim's DiY Fuel Transfer Pump: Don't Spit or Swallow

Fuel board set up and unwrapped

I painted the board OD GREEN to go with my military equipment I collect.

It has a MR. GASKET diesel micro electric fuel pump #12D mounted to it, via two holes drilled and one bolt, two washers and one nut per hole that holds it in place.  I also used the inline fuel filter supplied by Mr Gasket, though you could choose another type if you wanted to as there are lots of them available.

Here is the description from Advance Auto Parts website – http://shop.advanceautoparts.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_electric-diesel-fuel-transfer-pump-mr-gasket_6340003-p   (I have NO AFFILIATION WITH THEM – I just surfed the web until I found a description I liked). On this website, they list the price as $59.99 – including the inline fuel filter:

Jim’s DiY Fuel Transfer Pump: Don’t Spit or Swallow

12-volt electric diesel fuel transfer pump is safe for diesel fuel use. Simple 2 wire design, self priming, includes 100 micron in line filter. 4-7psi 35GPH, small universal design allows easy set and installation anywhere. Solid state worry free electronics, 12 volt negative ground systems only.

Once the electric fuel pump was wired with an additional 6′ of wire, I added two alligator clips.  I then attached the inline fuel filter to the fuel pump. Next I added two lengths of 1/4″ fuel hose.  On the outgoing side, I put a 7.5′ piece of fuel hose.  On the incoming side, I put a 6.5′ piece of fuel hose.  That gives me a total of 14′ of fuel hose from source to destination.

Auto Zone sells fuel hose by the foot for $1.29 in my area: http://www.autozone.com/autozone/accessories/Armor-Mark-5-16-in-SAE-J30R7-fuel-and-emission-hose-Sold-by-the-foot/_/N-257j?itemIdentifier=4955_0_0_

It works great.  I either use a battery in the vehicle I’m transferring fuel to OR carry a spare battery along when I’m out in the middle of nowhere to run this pump.

While 35 GPH (gallons per minute) sounds fairly slow (and it is), MOST fuel tanks these days are 20 gallons or less.  So you could fill a 20 gallon tank in about thirty to forty minutes.

Please be aware that these days, new vehicles have some form of ‘anti-siphoning’ device built into the fuel filler tube before it reaches the tank.   If, on the other hand, you drive military vehicles like I do, that is never an issue.  Plus if you are just transferring fuel from one of your own fuel canisters, this is an easy, clean way to do so.

If you do not have ANY of these items on hand, as I did, your overall cost would be around $110.   That does not include the battery to run it.

  • Pump $65
  • Fuel hose $20
  • Board  $5
  • Two nuts/bolts & four washers $5
  • 6′ wire and 2 alligator clips $10

With the exception of the fuel pump and hose, I’m guessing on the cost of the other pieces.  I ACTUALLY HAD everything but a new pump on hand and splurged the $50 for it.  I made this several years go and it works every time I hook it to power.  I also have these installed in my military vehicles, one of which I’ve owned more than four years.  They all work every time you turn the key.

If power is an issue, for fuel stored in barrels, I recommend a rotary hand pump.  http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200129224_200129224    – that link is for a ‘Fill Rite’ from Northern Tool company $200  (again, NO AFFLIATION, I just got mine there). Not cheap but will last for your lifetime.

I hope that helps give insight into OTHER choices other than the fuel pump [Shaker Siphon] displayed here earlier.  It’s a good alternative, but if you are serious about your preps, a great fuel transfer pump is the way to go.  Whether you are transferring 5 gallons or 500, not having to do it by ‘sucking’ is a good thing.

This Doing the Stuff Tutorial contributed by WALLEW (aka – jim w – from somewhere in TX)

————————-

If you have a Doing the Stuff project you’d like to share, drop me a line via email ~ survivalsherpa (at) gmail (dot) com

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.

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, equipment, Preparedness | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

A DiY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

by Todd Walker

Could you survive in the wilderness with only a sling shot as your weapon?

A DiY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

A DIY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

Lots would depend on your survivability. Having a means to harvest protein and animal fat would surely increase your chances.

In a perfect world, the sling shot would not be my first choice. But having options makes one more robust.

When Dave Canterbury first talked about hunting big game with a sling shot, I thought he’d lost his mind. But then again, I’ve seen him do amazing things with common, everyday items. [Note: Check your local hunting regulations before hunting with a sling shot.]

I first saw his video on his pocket hunter over three years ago before he was co-starring on Dual Survival. I was impressed. So much so that I turned my wrist rocket into a DIY version of his now patented Deluxe Pathfinder Pocket Hunter Kit

My version is rough, but functional. I have three points on arrows for my sling shot: fishing tip, broadhead, and judo points. Here’s a look at a judo point on a wooden arrow.

A DiY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

Judo point ready to slay a spud.

The purpose of the judo point is to snag on brush, grass, or the ground and flip the arrow up to make finding a missed shot easier. It’s used for hunting small game animals.

The smallest game I could legally hunt today was Mr. Potato Head. Dirt Road Girl offered up a sacrificial spud. The hunt was on!

A DiY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

Use the same draw technique as you would with a traditional bow.

A DiY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

Dead spud at ten yards!

Both field points and broadheads penetrated this target about 5 inches at ten and 15 yards. Just like finding your anchor point in archery, shooting sling shots are no different. I anchor at the right corner of my mouth and aim instinctively.

Back when I built my pocket hunter, I secured a Whisper Biscuit between the arms of my sling shot with wire ties. I can fold the arrow rest down to shoot ball bearings or pebbles.

My arrow with the fishing tip is carbon. I secured a piece of nylon bank line to the arrow. This line is attached to the line spool on the PVC pipe on the wrist rocket. I mounted the pipe on a piece of aluminum plate screwed into the base of the wrist rocket. When shot, the line peels off the spool perfectly.

A DiY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

Bow fishing set up.

The main drawback of my pocket hunter is carrying full length arrows. Dave fixes that issue with take down arrows.

You can check out his kit at his Pathfinder Store. The Three-Piece Take Down Arrows are sold separately. I’ve added them to my wish list. This allows you to carry a silent, but deadly, weapon in your survival kit – all in one self-contained bag. Brilliant!

A DiY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

I use an old military surplus medic IV bag to store and carry my pocket hunter. Just need those break down arrows to complete the kit.

As I said in the beginning of this article, I would prefer to have a long gun for wilderness survival. But the pocket hunter is another option for redundancy in harvesting game quietly in a survival scenario. Options are good!

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, equipment, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , , | 32 Comments

All American Sun Oven: Off-Grid Cooker Review and a DiY Version

by Todd Walker

This past April I was contacted by Billie Nicholson of All American Sun Oven asking if I’d be interested in testing their solar appliance. It just so happens that my 8th graders were getting ready to study solar energy.

“You bet! I’ll test it at home and with my students.”

Below are two tests I ran on the All American Sun Oven. First, school with hotdogs. Second, home with hot wings.

Too cool for school

solar cooker, All American Sun Oven,

The All American Sun Oven at my middle school.

The Sun Oven arrived in the middle of a unit we were teaching on solar energy. Perfect! I was immediately impressed at its quality construction, simplicity, portability, and general idiot-proof-ness (the one-piece reflector was genius). The shipping box contained the basic get-started paperwork plus an instructional CD with hundreds of suggested recipes and advice.

Being the frugal teacher I am, I talked my co-teacher into bringing the food for our first test. He brought hotdogs. Turns out he’s cheap frugal too.

We set up just outside the classroom on a partly cloudy day. Focusing the oven to collect the most solar energy was easy. The Sun Oven has two alignment holes on the top of the oven to help you focus the sun’s energy for the best cooking temp. There is an adjustable alignment leg (self-contained in the unit) in the back to give the proper vertical angling of your cooker. Aligning the sun with the ‘focus’ holes on top and the up or down of the back leg, we were ready to cook in no time. For windy days, the cooker comes with two stakes to anchor the alignment leg to the ground.

I placed the oven out around 30 minutes before our class began. [Note: Follow the Pre-cooking instructions before you cook your first meal. They recommend you place a container with three cups of vinegar in the oven, place cooker in the sun, and wait 90 to 120 minutes before cooking a meal.] This brought the temperature up to 250 degrees with the sun peaking in and out of the clouds. When the sun cooperated, the temp would reach 300 plus with no problem.

We placed the cheap hotdogs in a Pyrex dish with a lid, set it on the Duel-Purpose Leveling Rack, shut the lid, and realigned the oven every 30 minutes. I was afraid that even a simple meal like hot dogs would not cook on a partly cloudy day.

I was wrong. We cooked the meal for an hour and a half with sporadic sunshine. The hotdogs were too hot to eat as steam rushed around the Pyrex lid when we brought the dish inside.

Most of the students were really impressed – as impressed as microwavable middle schoolers can be at the end of a school year.

The performance task for the solar energy unit was to build their own solar cooker. We had some creative and interesting units built. Below is one I was particularly proud of that was modeled after the All American Sun Oven. It turned a chocolate candy bar into mush. That’s all they brought to cook.

diy solar cooker, student built solar cooker

Student built solar cooker modeled after the All American Sun Oven. They used a milk crate, cardboard boxes, aluminum foil, plastic film, shredded paper for insulation, and duct tape (an essential for any good DiY project).

Sun Hot Wings on the All American Sun Oven

To test the Sun Oven at home, I prepared my chicken wings as I do anytime I grill hot wings. They marinate 24 hours in the special sauce before going on the Big Green Egg. I pulled six wings out to cook in the Sun Oven.

sun hot wings,

Sun Hot Wings ready to cook in a covered dish on the leveling rack.

I focused the Sun Oven and left the wings to cook. The oven reached 315 degrees in my backyard. Tip: Find a spot that gets full sun for several hours so you don’t have to chase the sun with your oven. I had to move the oven three times to escape the shade cast by trees.

As the Sun Oven worked its solar magic, I cooked the larger batch of wings on my BGE. Dirt Road Girl and I enjoyed the meal and washed the dishes when I remembered the Sun Hot Wings outside.

One of the benefits of the All American Sun Oven is that your can’t burn your meal. The oven is designed to heat evenly and hold the moisture in the food. Good thing, because I forgot about my Sun Hot Wings. They’d been cooking for two hours.

Here’s the thing I hate to admit. The Sun Hot Wings were better than my standardly amazing grilled hot wings! The only drawback to the Sun Oven wings was they didn’t have the grill marks. Other than that, they were ‘fall off the bone’ tender and full of juicy flavor.

There’s so many uses for the Sun Oven. There’s many recipes on their website and even more on the CD that comes with the oven. From asparagus to turkey, if you can cook it in your conventional oven, you can bake, steam, or boil it on your Sun Oven. Even if the extent of your kitchen experience is ‘cooking’ a bowl of instant oatmeal, you’ll look like a real chef with the Sun Oven.

Cleaned, closed, and ready for storage.

Cleaned, closed, and ready for storage.

Off-Grid Cooking Benefits

  • No fuel needed – runs on free sunshine
  • No smoke or fire if OPSEC is ever a concern
  • Compact, light weight, and user-friendly
  • Even without focusing the oven every 30 minutes, it will still slow cook your meal like a crock pot
  • A great cooking alternative for car camping
  • Use the Sun Oven even with the grid operating to save money on electric or gas stoves
  • Pasteurize or boil water to purify for drinking in an emergency
  • Dehydrate food for long-term storage

The one con of the All American Sun Oven happens to be its most appealing feature – fueled by free sunshine. Without direct exposure to sun, you’ll have to use another method of cooking. However, free solar energy is the most plentiful and inexhaustible source of energy we have around.

The Sun Oven has been used around the world to provide off-grid cooking alternatives to people in all kinds of situations. From feeding orphans in Uganda, to North American hunters who love moist venison, it gets the job done. One of my favorites place the Sun Oven has been used is by Sherpas at base camp on Mt. Everest. Not any deadwood there for a camp fire.

I highly recommend one as an off-grid cooking alternative and long-term money saver if you have funds available. The basic model runs around $300. Their website offers more models and lots of other accessories you can check out here.

I hate to send it back to the company. I may have to save my money and keep this one. I’d always considered building a DiY solar cooker. But I don’t think I could match the All American Sun Oven’s performance.

Keep doing the stuff,

Todd

P.S.

If you’ve made an effective DiY solar cooker, please let us know how it worked. Maybe you could share it on a guest post here.

 

Categories: equipment, Preparedness, Resilience, Survival | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Are You a Desk Jockey? Stand and Deliver

My standing workstation in my classroom.

By Todd Walker

When I took a stand two years ago, I’ve never sat at my classroom desk again.

Research has shown prolonged sitting to be neither healthy or natural for us. I built my standing desk out of a throw away desk and some scrap plywood, added paint, and mounted it on top my sit down desk. Being on my feet all day wearing minimalist shoes while teaching, has helped my posture.

It’s rare that I’m behind my desk during class anyhow. However, when paperwork and bureaucratic pencil-pushing call, I stand and deliver – literally.

To refresh my mind and get my blood pumping, I knock out several sets of push ups behind my desk on my PVC DiY push up handles.

Easy and cheap PVC pushup bars

Easy and cheap PVC push up bars

Doing push ups outside in the sunshine is my favorite place. Time constraints and weather don’t always allow me to do so. These bars are sturdy and allow me to twist my wrists to a natural angle during exercises.

Oh, and here’s a closeup of the poster on my wall behind my standing workstation.

The Primal Blueprint Pyramid

The Primal Blueprint Pyramid

You’re turn to stand and deliver. Got any stuff you do to blend health and fitness into your daily work routine?

 

 

 

Categories: equipment, Frugal Preps, Survival Education | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Confessions of a Flashaholic

“Hi, my name is Todd and I’m flashaholic.”

I’m addicted. Is there a recovery program called Flashlights Anonymous?

Confessions-of-a-Flashaholic

Two StreamLights: (L) Stinger LED; (R) Protac Tactical Flashlight 2L ~ my EDC torch

Dirt Road Girl stumbles upon my hidden stash, rolls eyes, and offers up a little prayer for intervention. She reaches for an ink pen only to find what she thought was a writing utensil is… you guessed it… a freaking flashlight!

Disclosure: I don’t advertise or make money from this blog. Any products or links mentioned are for educational purposes only. If I like a product, I’ll recommend it.

Just last week, a student asked me if that was a flashlight clipped into my front pocket. Even at school, I can’t seem to break the habit. Is it a disease? Maybe it’s the choices I’ve made. The company I keep. Maybe, as an infant, I was breast-fed too long or not enough.

Seriously, I’m drawn to lights like a moth to a flame. I see no way of breaking free. Nor do I intend to.

I own 3 or 4 pair of reading glasses with lights. These get the most use of any of my torches. During lessons in my classroom, I often turn the overhead lights off for easy viewing on the active board. To help a student at his/her desk in low light situations, I often illuminate their work with my LightSpecs. At first, kids made fun of my “glowing glasses”. Now, its old hat for Mr. Walker to light up their work space.

We recently lost power at school and the backup generator failed. My interior room with no windows was pitch dark. I simply reached up, hit the switches near my temples and then grabbed my EDC torch from my back pocket. The howling stopped.

Tacticool Flashlights

By far, my LightSpecs see the most use. They’re not a defensive tool per se.  Wearing them switched “on” would give an aiming point for a gun-wielding thug.

A “tactical” flashlight is needed for self-defense applications. I’m not a fan of tacticool stuff. I want my stuff to be functional and dependable. Depending on your budget and individual preference, there are many lights to choose from. Before buying, keep these tips in mind.

Size Matters

You want a torch that fits in the palm of your hand. Like a concealed carry gun, if it too large, you’re likely to leave it at home. It should easily fit in your pants pocket or attach to your belt or purse. A 3 D-cell Maglite makes a great blunt force object but not an everyday carry item.

Lumens

Most experts recommend 100 + Lumens. I own a couple of Streamlight flashlights. I acquired my first while on the road, literally. The flashlight gods dropped it in the middle of the road last year on our way home from school. I yelled, “FLASHLIGHT!”, did an immediate U-Turn, and saved this torch from destruction. DRG shook her head in disbelief at my addiction and driving. The strobe feature is designed to disorient and confuse an attacker with 125 Lumens. The battery is rechargeable. No need to get all the bells and whistles. Press on, press off with enough Lumens to temporarily blind a threat is all that’s needed to give you time to fight or flee. Here’s the charging cradle I just received…with a spare battery always trickle charged.

Streamlight charging cradle for my found Stinger and spare battery

StreamLight Stinger LED in the charging cradle with a spare battery

Construction

If all you can afford is a plastic flashlight, buy it. True tactical lights are lightweight metal, waterproof, and durable. If employed in striking with the bezel end, it’s sure to leave a mark on the threat.

Sticker Shock

You don’t have to mortgage you home to buy a quality torch. I’ve got some disposable lights – the ones you buy that come three to a pack at the box stores for 10 bucks that would make great barter items. For a quality light, you’re going to have to spring for a little more. I just ordered a few more of the Streamlight 88031 Protac Tactical Flashlight 2L. A 180 Lumen light for $44.00. I use mine for EDC – Every Day Carry. It clips into my left front pocket. The other two will make great stocking stuffers. Correction. DRG has just added one to her purse.

  • For more research, check out CandlePowerForums, a site with more information than you can shake a flashlight at. That’s right. There are entire sites that feed my addiction.
A few "drugs" for fellow flashaholics

A few “drugs” for fellow flashaholics

Little Lights

Button Lights

DRG has a small button light on her key chain. You can find these at camping stores, online or brick and mortar outlets. They’re useful for finding stuff like keyholes or dropped items. I carry a button light designed to clip on web gear on my “Get Home Bag“. It emits a blue light powered by a small LED bulb. Clipped on my boonie hat, it offers just the right amount of non-white light when getting set up in my hunting stands.

Pak-lite LED Flashlight

I first heard of these on a review at SurvivalBlog. These little LEDs on a battery get rave reviews. EagerGridlessBeaver Blog has an extensive write-up on testing these simple lights. You’ll want one after reading it.

Pak-lite LED Flashlight, Basic Economy

Head Lamps

These offer hands-free illumination. I keep them in my kits, BOB, and toolbox. Remember to keep fresh batteries on hand.

The Light Emitting Diode is your friend. Don’t leave home without ’em.

Keep Doing the Stuff!

Todd

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Categories: Camping, equipment, Gear, Preparedness, Self Defense | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

Chainsaw Use and Maintenance for Beginners

It’s Sunday. No better day to catch up on your reading. Grab a hot cup of coffee, adult beverage, or both and crank up your chainsaw skills. Caffeine to keep you alert – alcohol to sanitize the chainsaw gash in your thigh. Joel also wrote a bit recently called What I believed when I was a little boy. Enjoy.

Chainsaw Use and Maintenance for Beginners

by Joel over at Joel’s Gulch

Here’s TUAK’s very first (and possibly last) how-to essay. If you already know how to use and maintain a chainsaw, or if you just don’t have one, proceed no further because this is rather long.

If you do own one and are feeling a bit uncertain on some related matters, click away.

BTW, if you do take the time to read this for information and find it inadequate, please leave a comment as to how it could have been improved. When writing a piece like this it’s very easy to make assumptions about what readers do and don’t already know. Y’know?


This is my Chainsaw. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

The thing to remember about a chainsaw, in terms of its maintenance, is that any time you’re using it you’re beating the hell out of it. A good saw will give you years of good, trouble-free service just like any tool. But that’s only if you treat it right. You just can’t ignore maintenance and expect it to keep running, because a little abuse and neglect goes a long way.

Consider the engine, for example.

That tiny little single-cylinder, two-stroke sucker can only do its thing under full-throttle, at which it’s cranking something like 13,000 RPM. The frictional loads it has to deal with are enormous (more on them later.) It has no liquid coolant, no bath of crankcase oil, and it will drag six feet of sharpened chain links through hard, seasoned wood all day long. Or not, depending on whether you do your part.

So let’s go through the parts of the chainsaw, and what care it needs to keep running right.

Read the rest here

Categories: equipment, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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