Gear

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carry System

by Todd Walker

I keep an old ax in my truck. It’s far from a grub ax. It’s sharp and effective for harvesting desirable wood felled on roadside right-of-ways. The sling is made of nylon webbing attached to a down and dirty (ugly) sheath. It’s functional but not very pleasing to the woodsman’s eye.

Who cares, right? It gets the job done.

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carry System - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

You don’t have to settle for function only. Shouldn’t a woodsman have both a functional cutting tool, properly sheathed… and have the ability to transport his ax hands-free with a rugged leather sling? Yes he should.

Here’s how to make your own…

First, credit for this brilliant idea goes to an article by Steve Watts and David Wescott in an issue of American Frontiersman magazine. You’ll also find Watts and Wescott sharing woodland wisdom over at Chris Noble’s site, Master Woodsman. I pinned the article several months ago and, like so many other DiY projects, forgot about it. Then a buddy of mine, Kevin, sent me a picture of the sling with a request to help him make one. I figured I better make one for myself before inviting him over to my shop.

To make this manly sling (the sheath requires more stuff), all you’ll need is some scrap leather and a few basic tools.

Tools and Material

  • An old belt (or two unless you have a 44 inch waist), a bag of scrap leather strips sold at craft stores, or any leather material 1.5 to 2 inches wide and 48 inches long
  • 1/8 inch wide leather thongs to connect the sheath to the strap (and for splicing if necessary)
  • Scissors or utility knife
  • Leather hole punch – rotary punch, awl, drill, ice pick, etc.
  • Straight edge

Cut to Length

I’m 5′-10″ tall and of average build. My sling is 48 inches on a vintage Plumb Boy Scout ax which measures 26 inches long. The two leather thongs attaching the sling to the sheath allow for length adjustment if needed for heavy winter wear.

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carrying System | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Spliced to make 48 inches

The longest strip of leather in my remnant bag was 41 inches long. I spliced a one foot section to the sling to get to 48 inches. I think the splice adds to the appearance.

The width of the sling should fall between 1.5 and 2 inches.

Splice

To splice two pieces, overlap the two ends about two inches and punch 4 symmetrical holes through the overlapped leather (stitching the splice is an option). Thread a 12 inch leather thong through the holes  to make a “x” pattern facing the outside of the sling. Tie the ends underneath with a square knot (right over left, left over right).

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carrying System | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Underside view of the splice

 

Attach to Sheath

Punch two holes in the heel portion of the sheath. Click here for ax terminology and anatomy. Punch two holes in one end of the sheath. Thread an eighteen inch thong through the sheath holes and then into the two holes on the sling. Tie them off with a square knot on the inside of the sling. The 18 inch thong should give you ample material to adjust the sling for your stature and seasonal clothing.

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carrying System | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

On the top edge of the sheath (poll end), punch one hole about 1/2 inch from the edge of the sheath. Now punch two holes in the remaining end of the sling. These holes are about 1/2 inch in from the end of the sling. Thread another thong through the sheath hole and into the two holes in the sling. Tie a square knot to secure.

Cut a Slit

For a 3/4 ax, measure about 14 to 15 inches down the sling where it connects to the poll end of the sheath. Mark and punch a small centered hole in the sling. From that hole, measure another 4 inches and mark and punch another centered hole. Using a straight edge, cut a slit completely through the sling between the two holes. The ax handle will ride in this slit. For longer ax handles, you may need to adjust the slit placement.

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carrying System | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Slit placement for a 3/4 ax

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carrying System | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

4 inch slit

 

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carrying System | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

 

Fit and Finish

To try out your new hands-free ax carrying system, insert the ax handle in the slit on the sling and secure the sheath on the ax head. Now you’re ready to hit the woods in style. Simply remove the sheath, slide the ax handle through the sling, and do what this essential tool is made for… cutting stuff!

How to Make a Hands-Free Ax Carrying System | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Ax Related Resources

Here’s our video on making the hands-free system (frontier style sheath and sling). Start at 16:25 if you only want to make the sling. Thanks for watching, and, please subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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, Gear, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Cutting to the Chase When Choosing an Ax for Self-Reliance

by Todd Walker

Cutting to the Chase When Choosing Axes for Self-Reliance | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I, an incurable Ax Junkie, hereby nominate the man or woman responsible for hafting a stone to the end of a stick as the first inductee in the Tool-User Hall of Fame. Second only to clubs, axes are possibly the oldest tool known to man. This wooden lever attached to a stone, a simple machine, was in use over 30,000 years ago revolutionizing not only our “survival kits”, but our destiny as tool-users!

anachronisim [uh-nak-ruh-niz-uh m] – a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned.

To the modern backpacker, axes are an anachronisim. One reason I love axes is that they are no longer deemed necessary by moderns. Too heavy. Too dangerous. We have chainsaws now! Besides, who needs to process firewood when a lightweight compressed gas stove will cook freeze dried meal in a bag.

[See Christian Noble’s thought-provoking article on how Leave No Trace Killed Woodcraft… almost]

However, not too long ago, it was ill-advised to enter the backcountry without an ax. According to early Boy Scout manuals, young scouts were expected to be proficient axmen, to the point of cooking a complete meal with this cutting tool. Any person wanting to sharpen their woodcraft/bushcraft skills needs an ax.

Cutting to the Chase When Choosing Axes for Self-Reliance | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I’ve had several people ask my opinion on ax selection lately. This guide is written for those who have never owned an ax or may buy only one or two in a lifetime. It is not a comprehensive ax “Bible” but intended for novice axmen and self-reliant types wanting or needing to feel the pleasure of a hickory handle whist through air, hear the thud of metal striking wood, and watch wood chips fly.

Ax Anatomy

For the sake of clarity, refer to the diagram below of basic terminology. All you really need to know is that you grip the handle and swing the sharp end against wood.

Ax Anatomy Simplified | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The above photo features a single bit (aka – poll ax) Plumb Boy Scouts of America 3/4 ax with a fawn’s foot handle I acquired for $15. Not bad for a classic American-made ax!

  • Bit – the sharp edge that cuts stuff; also called the blade
  • Poll – the end of the ax opposite the bit; sometimes called the back and often misused to hammer metal stakes. The poll adds balance to prevent wobble during chopping/swinging.
  • Cheek – area past the bit; also referred to as the ramp or face
  • Toe – top corner of the bit; maybe to remind you to watch your toes while chopping
  • Heel – bottom corner of the bit
  • Eye – the hole in the axhead that receives the handle/haft
  • Handle – made of stiff wood with shock absorbing properties; usually Hickory in North America; also called the haft
  • Grip – no explanation needed, right?
  • End Knob – pictured is a sawn-off fawn’s foot

Ax Selection

A woodsman should carry a hatchet, and he should be as critical in selecting it as in buying a gun. The notion that a heavy hunting knife can do the work of a hatchet is a delusion.

~ Horace Kephart, from Camping and Woodcraft, 1917

Selecting an ax has many variables, but, mainly, you want one that works best for your intended purpose. I have a small collection of axes in different patterns and weights. Each design was meant to do different jobs.

Ax Purpose

Early North American pioneers relied heavily on the ax. This cutting tool built houses, provided fuel for home and camp, built furniture, cleared land, and made a great barter item. Specialty axes in skilled hands crafted ships, cabins, beams, bowls, mortise and tenon joinery, and other essential items for self-reliance.

“Knicks and dull edges are abominations, so use knives and hatchets for nothing but they were made for.” – Horace Kephart, 1917

Belt or Hand Ax (Hatchet)

The ax that serves me in the field the most is a 16 inch Wetterlings Hunter’s Hatchet. Why? It’s not burdensome to carry. She’s always strapped to my pack or haversack. Just over 2 pounds, this hatchet has preformed yeoman’s work on tasks requiring a larger ax.

Cutting to the Chase When Choosing Axes for Self-Reliance | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

When my chainsaw died, the small Wetterlings hatchet proved its worth and maneuverability on our neighbor’s storm damaged hickory tree

Note: The shorter the ax, the more dangerous it becomes. Don’t fear the ax, learn to use it properly. Swing time with your ax is the only way to learn this skill.

Cutting to the Chase When Choosing Axes for Self-Reliance | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The most frequently used cutting tool when build this shelter is hanging to the far right

From spoon carving to building semi-permanent shelter, a hatchet can do the job. When scouting for shelter material, the Wetterlings rode on a loop attached to my belt. It makes a great light camping ax as well.

Three Quarter Ax

In colder climates where large amounts of firewood are required for warmth at camp, a 3/4 ax may be your best bet. This style ax reaches from armpit to the palm of your hand with a head weight of 2 to 3 pounds and is hafted on an 18 to 28 inch handle – an ideal tool for younger woodsmen (boy’s ax) and for general use for adults.

The deciding factor on which ax to carry is often an issue of conveyance. Tramping requires that you to be the “mule.” Where weight is not an issue, as in car camping, canoe trips, or on horseback, you might opt for the larger felling ax for wood processing. All the while packing your small hatchet for a scout-about, quartering game, and other camp tasks.

The most common purpose of an ax is cutting firewood. I asked the question, “How long will chainsaws hum along?” in a previous article. Even if the gas engines keep pumping noise in the backcountry, there’s too much nostalgia and practicality to not add a good felling ax to your self-reliance toolbox.

Felling Ax

Born Again Tools: Giving New Life to an Old Ax

Jersey pattern True Temper Kelly Perfect felling ax with scalloped cheeks

Above is a True Temper Kelly Perfect with a 30 inch handle I restored. This cutting tool chops large diameter logs like a boss.

The early American felling ax was hand-forged by local blacksmiths. Ax patterns were named based on their regional location; Dayton, Michigan, Jersey, Hudson Bay, New England, North Carolina, etc. Some of these patterns are still popular with modern ax makers. A typical felling axhead weighs between 3.5 to 6 pounds with a handle length between 30 and 36 inches.

Buy New or Used?

Most American ax manufacturers bit the dust when the chainsaw was introduced in the logging industry. Buyer Beware: Axes in big box stores (made in China) are not going to be passed down as family heirlooms. My most productive ax scores have been at local antique shops, flea markets, and yard/estate sales. Old American-made axes are still available and begging to be put to use.

Most used axes will need to be re-handled. Not a problem. Here’s how to re-haft an ax. Pay more attention to the axhead’s condition and manufacturer. More detailed info on vintage axes can be found at Yester Year Tools (link in the Ax Resources section below).

Hardware stores may have a handle with good grain, but not likely. No matter where you get your new haft, check the run of the wood grain from the side view. Grain running perpendicular to the handle won’t last long. Look for grain running parallel the whole length of the handle. A few stray grains won’t hurt.

Cutting to the Chase When Choosing Axes for Self-Reliance | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A True Temper hickory sap wood handle with good vertical grain found at a small hardware store

Check the butt end of the handle. Grain running vertically on the end is what you want. Horizontal grain in striking tools won’t absorb constant shocks.

Finding a good ax that fits your needs is often a difficult task. Hopefully, this information will help with your search for a the most versatile tool of self-reliance.

Ax Resources

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Gear, Homesteading, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Burning Secret of Flint and Steel Fire

by Todd Walker

I remember singing around church campfires as a kid, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going…”  Anyone who has attempted to start a fire with just one spark understands that… it ain’t that easy.

The Burning Secret of Flint and Steel - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

 

Prepare modern and practice primitive. You won’t catch me in the woods without several Bic lighters. When I really need to start a fire, I whip out my Bic. For primitive fire craft, I may start a fire by friction. If those modern fire starters fail, primitive practice will pay off.

Before the advent of butane lighters and matches, flint and steel was the method of choice for fire starting. In the 17th and 18th century, longhunters, woodsmen, and towns people alike relied on this method. In the woods, charred plant material in a tinder box would receive sparks from the steel. Char cloth was for city folk. Dried tinder material was placed on top of the ember while in the tinder box and blown into flame. Closing the lid of the tinder box smothered the charred material for later use.

Hopefully, this article sparks your interest and sheds some light on the traditional mountain man method of making fire. Long beards and tasselled buckskin are not prerequisites to appreciate sparks flying from steel.

The Burning Secret

This article is a blend of how-to with a dash of curious survival science. Armed with new knowledge, you’ll be able to explain to your buddies the little-known secret of steel’s ability to spontaneously combust.

That rusty shovel in your shed is producing heat. It doesn’t feel hot to the touch but rust (oxidation) produces heat. Just not fast enough to burn the barn down.

You see, rust is a sign that your tool is burning… very slowly, but burning none the less. When iron comes in contact with air, a chemical reaction called oxidation begins. Oxidation produces rust and heat.

How can you manipulate oxidation to create fire?

In simple terms, speed up this exothermic reaction until you see sparks.

Iron is a pyrophoric material that ignites instantly when it comes in contact with oxygen. The reason that rusty shovel hasn’t set your hay on fire is that the steel is in a big hunk of metal slowlyburning“. The heat from oxidation is absorbed in the atmosphere before ignition can happen.

For steel to spontaneous combust, you must…

Increase the Surface Area

Need a fire fast?

A proper fire lay requires surface area. You need wood in pencil-lead size, pencil size, and thumb size wood with even finer hair-like material in the tinder bundle. Even with highly combustible fatwood, surface area matters for quick ignition. Take a thumb-size piece of fat lighter and try lighting it with a ferrocerium rod. You might do it, but only after scraping the rod to a nub. Now you’ve wasted a resource.

The Burning Secret of Flint and Steel Fire | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Example: Breaking this tiny block off a solid cube made of 1,000 tiny blocks creates more surface area

Instead, create lots of surface area by removing resin-rich shavings into a pile. Then make a feather stick from the fatwood (more surface area). One or two strikes from your ferro rod and you’ll have a flaming pile of pine shaving to ignite the feather stick. The same principle applies to iron’s ability to spontaneously combust. You have to create surface area.

Note: Before we continue, let’s clear up a common misunderstanding about ferrocerium rods and flint and steels. Yes, they both throw sparks but each has different properties. Mainly, ferro rods produce 3,000º F sparks while flint and steel sparks are in the 800º F range. Generally, flint and steel needs charred material for ignition. Ferrocerium will ignite un-charred material, marginal tinder, and melt tarps… ask me how I know.

Flint and Steel vs Ferrocerium

Flint and Steel

  • Steels will last a lifetime or longer
  • Has a longer learning curve but very dependable and rewarding
  • Less forgiving than ferro rods
  • Temperature of sparks hover around 800º F
  • In a pinch, the spine of a high carbon steel knife will throw sparks when struck with flint rock if that’s all you have
  • Works in wet conditions
  • Very old method… if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

Ferrocerium

  • 3,000º F sparks – and globs of molten metal from softer ferro rods that burn longer after being removed from the rod
  • Consumable – not a big concern if your life depends on making fire with marginal tinder
  • Easier to manipulate with less practice
  • Broken glass, 90º knife spine, metal strikers, flint rock can strike sparks from ferro rods
  • More forgiving than flint and steel
The Burning Secret of Flint and Steel Fire | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Dirt Road Girl making fire with a ferro rod

Now, back to flint and steel.

Striking steel with a hard object like flint/chert breaks off tiny pieces of steel with greater surface area than the original hunk of metal. These small particles meet oxygen and spontaneously combust. Sparks fly!

Flint and Steel Fire Craft

What you’ll need to start a fire with flint and steel… mountain man style.

  • A hard, brittle steel (iron and carbon) – old files work too
  • A rock harder than the steel – flint, chert, quartz, etc – with sharp edges
  • Charred cloth or plant material – learn to make your own char cloth here

Here’s two methods to use your flint and steel…

Hold the steel in your strong hand and the flint in the other. Lay a piece of char cloth over the top of the flint and hold it near the edge of the rock with your thumb. In a downward motion, strike the stationary flint with your steel in a smooth motion. Be careful not to hit your knuckles on the sharp rock. Once a spark lands on the char cloth, you should have a glowing ember growing in circular fashion.

The other method is to hold the flint in your strong hand and strike the stationary steel. I use this method when lighting charred plant material in my char container. It’s a safe way to strike sparks off the spine of a knife. Keep the knife stationary and strike the spine with the flint.

Flint and steel are becoming my preferred method for starting fires. Here’s a quick video on the science behind flint and steel with a demo at the end.

My daddy made a living welding and plumbing. Growing up, my hands were no stranger to side grinders. I wore out many grinding disks shooting streams of glowing sparks. What I didn’t realize then was that these tiny particles of iron were igniting when they came in contact with oxygen. I’d assumed they glowed from the friction of the grinding wheel.

Now you and I know the burning secret.

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 Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

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

SunJack Solar Charger: Portable Prepper Powerhouse

by Todd Walker

SunJack Solar Charger: Portable Prepper Power | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I go to the woods to disconnect and unplug from the madness of modern life. Times of staring at nature’s off-grid TV as it warms my feet and heats my cocoa are too few and far between. As cliche as it sounds, it don’t get much better than this!

While I love to sit and document my dirt time adventures in my leather bushcraft journal, my scribbled notes don’t “upload” well to our blog. Electronic tools are more suited for this task.

Documenting dirt time in the wild is easy with electronic gadgetry… until the battery dies. As you are keenly aware, there are no electrical outlets in white oak trees. Bring extra batteries or… harness the solar energy to do the work for you.

If you enjoy unplugging in nature but want/need to carry electronic devices, here’s a simple, portable, renewable power source I think you’ll love!

I received the SunJack Phone (14 W) solar charger and CampLight USB Bulb to review. Out of the box I realized that this charger was simple to set up and use. I like simple! Plug in any USB device (camera, phone, iPod, tablet, etc.) into one of the two ports on the internal battery pack for quick wall-charging speeds. I topped off my iPhone as quickly as if I had plugged it into my wall outlet!

Here are some ideas on how to use this Portable Prepper Powerhouse…

Camping and Bushcraft

The two USB ports on the internal battery pack allow you to charge two devices or run that way cool CampLight which contains 8 LED bulbs. As a candling device, the CampLight’s illumination is equivalent to burning a 40 Watt bulb. That’s enough light to do camp chores, perform self aid, cooking, or reading your favorite book.

SunJack Solar Charger: Portable Prepper Power | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Handling sharp stuff in the dark is remedied with the CampLight hanging from my tripod!

SunJack Solar Charger: Portable Prepper Power | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Fire in the rain

Speaking of rain, the SunJack isn’t waterproof. I kept it covered with a contractor trash bag. SunJack offers plenty of accessories… one being a waterproof sleeve that maximizes the charging capacity while enclosed. Can’t do that with my trash bag. However, the CampLight suffered no ill effects from this wet test.

The SunJack weighs only 2 lbs. and folds up to the size of a iPad (actual folded size: 6.75″ x 9.25″ x 1.75″). It can be unfolded and attached to your backpack with several rugged loops and the two cheap carabiners that are included. Or simply prop it up on the ground in full sun to recharge at basecamp.

Oh, note to GigaWatt, Inc., a way to make us outdoor types even more happy would be to add a dimmer switch on the On/Off toggle located on the 7 foot cord. This one tweak would allow for longer burn times and give just the amount of ambiance for certain situations.

Emergency Preparedness

If you’re head lamps and flashlights use AA and AAA batteries, SunJack sells a USB charger for NiMH and NiCd rechargeable batteries ($9.95 for Amazon Prime members). It would be wise to transition all your gear to run on rechargeable AA/AAA’s. Keep in mind that those round nickel-sized batteries are hard to find. Keep it simple.

Being a simple man, I’m totally impressed with the 2 Watt CampLight. I intended to finish this review before Christmas. However, I agreed to build a covered wagon bed for a friend’s 6 year-old son. In a grid down situation, this little light (3.5 ounces) offers 340 lumens of brightness. Below is a photo of one wagon wheel roughed in. The CampLight was powered by my laptop in my shop. Here’s the best part… the price ($14.95 for Amazon Prime members). Order several for emergency lighting options.

SunJack Solar Charger: Portable Prepper Power | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Welcome to the 40 Watt Club

Vehicle Kit

Spread the charging panels on the dash board on your next road trip. Either connect directly to your device or recharge the battery pack. Depending on the sun and direction of travel, the battery pack can be completely charged in 3 to 5 hours.

SunJack Solar Charger: Portable Prepper Power | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

SunJack Solar Charger: Portable Prepper Power | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Use the carabiner to clip the CampLight to the hood latch

As mentioned previously, the entire system folds up to the size of an iPad in a OtterBox case for convenient storage options. With one of the extra CampLights in the glove box, you’ll be able to change a tire or repair a water hose at night if need be.

Self-Reliance

Self-reliance is about decreasing dependence on others and building independence. This Portable Prepper Powerhouse is a good first step in that direction.

The SunJack Phone (14 W) solar charger with one 8,000 mAh fast-charge battery pack retails for $150.00 on their website… but Amazon Prime members get free shipping. Can’t afford one? SunJack is giving away this exact charger each month on their site. Scroll to the bottom of their page and you can enter to win one.

It’s rugged enough for hiking, camping, travel, hunting, fishing, and any other off-grid adventures. If you’re looking for a simple solar solution, I’d recommend SunJack!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Dress for Winter Survival Success

by Dave Steen

Going out in the wintertime can be dangerous, even when things are normal and you’re living at home. The cold winter weather can quickly sap your body’s heat, bringing you to the brink of hypothermia without notice. The one defense we have against the risks of cold weather is dressing properly to prevent the cold from winning the battle.

How to Dress for Winter Survival Success

How the Body Heats Itself

Before talking about clothing, I want to make sure we understand how the human body heats itself. Our clothing doesn’t do a thing to generate heat, it merely acts as an insulator to keep that heat inside our bodies, rather than radiating it into the cold air around us.

The body’s heat comes from the chemical reactions involved in breaking down food into energy and then using that energy. The heat produced is actually a by-product of the chemical reaction, albeit a by-product that we need. Glucose is considered by many to be the molecule that cells use for energy, but in fact, glucose breaks down into 38 molecules of Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP), which is the molecule that cells use for energy. It is the process of breaking glucose down to ATP which provides most of our body’s heat.

Each and every chemical reaction in the body produces heat. The liver, which performs more chemical reactions than any other organ, can be seen as the body’s heater. Blood actually leaves the liver warmer than it enters it. However, the liver isn’t the only heater, each and every muscle and organ performs chemical reactions, causing them to generate heat.

The most consistent source of heat in our bodies is from the body’s core. The organs in our body cavity work, regardless of whether we are exercising or are at rest. Muscles, on the other hand, only produce heat when they are active. Shivering is merely a means of forcing the muscles to work, so that they will generate heat.

Heat is moved though the body by the blood. As the blood passes from the core to the extremities, it carries heat with it. If there is not enough heat, this blood flow is restricted, so that the core can maintain its temperature.

Dressing for Warmth

Many people dress in the winter by putting on the heaviest clothing they can, hoping to keep warm. In reality, that may not work. One problem with piling on the heavy coats is that it can make you too warm, causing you to sweat. You never want to be sweating in the winter, as the sweat can turn to ice, pulling out your body’s heat.

The human body’s normal temperature is 98.6oF. So, if you manage to insulate yourself perfectly, it’s going to be like being outside on a 98.6 degree day. What does your body do on such a day? It sweats. Obviously, your insulation job has to be less than perfect, so that your body can get rid of excess heat and not get hot enough to sweat.

It’s actually more effective to dress in layers, than to dress in one heavy garment. That way, if you find yourself getting warm, you can remove a layer, adjusting your clothing to keep you comfortable, without keeping you too warm. Ideally, you want to be just a touch cool, rather than being warm.

Dressing Your Core

The most important part of your body to dress in layers is your core. You’re best off starting with a foundation of a shirt which will wick moisture away from your body. Some athletic wear is designed specifically for this, but other than that, it’s hard to find.

Your next layer should be a long-sleeve sweater, preferably out of wool. Most of the time when doing physical activity outdoors, a good sweater is enough to keep you warm. Wool repels water and can actually insulate when wet; the only material that does.

Over the wool sweater you should have a coat. It’s a good idea to have a selection of coats to choose from, so that you can pick one that is appropriate for the temperature. Even if your sweater will be enough for while you are working outside, you should wear a coat for the time going to and returning from that work. Having the coat with you is also a good precaution in case the temperature should drop suddenly.

Any coat you buy for use in the wintertime should be water repellant. You really don’t want it to be waterproof, as that will make you sweat when you are wearing it. The best insulation for coats is down or polyester fiberfill. Unfortunately, both of those will absorb water readily. Once wet, they will make you lose your body heat considerably faster than being naked. A water repellant covering will prevent that problem.

Dressing Your Legs

The most common pants that I see people wearing out in the cold is blue jeans, which are made of cotton. That means that they don’t resist water at all, but rather, they absorb it quite well. If you are going to wear blue jeans, then you should wear something that is water repellant over them.

There are actual snow pants available on the market, for about the price of a good pair of blue jeans. These are insulated, and have a water repellant nylon covering, which makes them ideal for being out in the cold and snow. However, they may be too warm for wearing out in the snow if you are working. The leg muscles are the body’s largest and can produce a lot of heat. If you are going to be working outdoors, you’re better off with wool pants.

Dressing the Rest

A hat is the most important single article of clothing you wear when going outdoors in the cold. One-fourth of the body’s blood supply goes to the brain. If your head is uncovered, you will lose a lot of heat. A good hat needs to provide insulation to the head, as well as covering the ears to protect them from the cold. The best hats are actually the fur hats, called Ushanka, they wear in Russia.

Good warm boots are an important part of dressing for winter weather. Your feet are the part of your body which will become cold the easiest, as well as being the part which your body restricts blood flow to, in the case of hypothermia. Wearing good warm boots, with wool socks will help prevent any risk of frostbitten toes.

The last thing you need to consider is gloves. After your toes, the next place that your body restricts blood flow to in the case of hypothermia is your fingers. If you are not doing work that requires fine motor skills, mittens will keep your hands much warmer than gloves will. Having all the fingers share the same space allows them to share heat as well, keeping them warmer.

davepreppingplanAuthor bio: Dave is a 52-year-old survivalist; father of three; with over 30 years of survival experience. He started young, learning survival the hard way, in the school of hard knocks. Now, after years of study, he’s grey-haired and slightly overweight. That hasn’t dimmed his interest in survival though. If anything, Dave has a greater commitment to survival than ever, so that he can protect his family. You can learn more about Dave on his site, PreppingPlans.com

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…

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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: Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , | 15 Comments

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: , , , , , , , , | 22 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

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: , , , | 8 Comments

Luci Solar Lantern Review: A Lightweight Renewable Light Source

by Todd Walker

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

luci-solar-lantern-review

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

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

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

Camping/Boating/Hiking/Bushcraft

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

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

luci-solar-lantern-review

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

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

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

Emergency Preparedness

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

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

luci-solar-lantern-review

A safe, renewable lighting source

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

Other Uses

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

luci-solar-lantern-review

Easy to read my autographed copy!

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

luci-solar-lantern-review

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

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

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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

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

Finally! A Fire Piston That’s Bomb-Proof

by Todd Walker

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

multiflame-tool-trayer-wilderness

Here’s why…

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

First, let’s look at its combustion capability.

Fire

Science students at my school are going to love this!

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

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

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

Here’s the video review:

Other Tool Functions

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

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

Conclusions

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

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

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

You can order yours at Trayer Wilderness.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Gear | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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