Survival

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability

by Todd Walker

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

 

With winter over, at least in Georgia, you might be tempted to stash that can of cocoa powder in the cupboard for your spring and summer outdoor adventures. Leaving this viral elixir home, my friend, would be a costly survival mistake!

I’m kidding… or am I?

You see, the ancient Mayan civilization prized the wild cacao tree (Botanical name: Theobroma cacao) which means “Food of the Gods”, also dubbed “Black Gold.” So valuable in fact, early visitors to the New World noted that the cocoa bean was used as currency. Back then, money did grow on trees!

Cacao or Cocoa?

Confused?

They’re the same thing… only different. Raw cacao seeds are harvested for the beans which are then dried, fermented, roasted, and ground into a powder. This process produces cocoa and heavenly chocolate.

For maximum health benefits, raw, cold-pressed cacao beans retain the living enzymes that are lost in the traditional roasting process. Even with high temperature processing (Dutch), there’s still plenty of goodness remaining in the cocoa powder.

No matter what you call it, simply add water to make an ancient, frothy energy drink sipped by royals, warriors, and elites… without all the crappy additives in a can of Red Bull. Drinking hot cocoa made with dairy inhibits the absorption of all the great enzymes.

All who drink in this manner gain strength, endurance, energy, mood-enhancement, and nourishment from this frothy concoction. Cocoa is more than a kiddy drink on cold nights.

The 11th C of Survivability

As a student of Dave Canterbury, I practice his system of survivability. I’ve written about the importance of carrying the 10 C’s of Survivability here and here. However, I submit to you an additional kit item, the 11th C… cocoa!

Here’s why…

Each item in your 10 Piece Kit must have at least three uses other than its intended purpose. Otherwise it doesn’t meet the standard of Survivability and becomes a luxury item.

While it won’t make Dave’s official 10 C’s list, cocoa is more than a luxurious hot beverage sipped around the campfire. A tin of cocoa shouldn’t be overlooked as important in effecting your most critical survival priority…

Priority #1: Self-Aid

Staying alive in a wilderness survival scenario requires that you maintain common sense and avoid stupid stuff. Experts tell us to stay calm and formulate a plan for self-rescue or wait to be found. Easier said than done when your stress meter is pegged on red. This is the perfect time to STOP (Sit, Think, Observe, and Plan).

If your situation allows, make a cup of hot cocoa. By the time you see the bottom of your cup, hopefully, you’ll not only have figured out your plan, you’ll have the energy to carry out said plan.

Benefits of Cocoa

  • Energy – You’ll need the energy after the adrenaline and panic settles.

“This drink is the healthiest thing, and the greatest sustenance of anything you could drink in the world, because he who drinks a cup of this liquid, no matter how far he walks, can go a whole day without eating anything else.” – Anonymous conquistador

  • Morale – Cocoa raises serotonin levels in our brains stimulating neurotransmitters to lift our mood, fight depression, and rejuvenate our spirit. Oh, and lowers your stress level and improves focus and alertness.
  • Endorphins – These natural chemicals are released in the human body to relieve stress and pain. Cocoa triggers the release of these feel-good chemicals.
  • Antioxidants – Your body undergoes “biological rusting” or oxidation. Antioxidants slow this process. Raw cacao powder contains more than 300 different chemical compounds and nearly four times the antioxidant power of your average dark chocolate. [Read more cacao facts at Mercola.com] Granted, this won’t be your biggest concern for short-term survival but certainly boosts your overall health.
  • ♥ Cocoa – Cocoa reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke, high blood pressure, and even reduce the risk of cancer. Furthermore, cocoa consumption is associated with reduced cognitive decline in old age. –  Source

 Priority #2: Food 

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Rations for each man on Robert Falcon Scott’s race to the South Pole: 450g biscuit, 340g pemmican, 85g sugar, 57g butter, 24g tea, 16g cocoa. ~ Photo courtesy of Scott Polar Research Institute

  • Raw Cacao – Rich in nutritional value and solidly beats other antioxidant-rich super foods like green tea, blueberries, and pomegranate. Cacao’s nutrition profile includes protein, fat, certain B-vitamins and minerals such as calcium, sulfur, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and copper.
  • Flavonoids – Cocoa’s high flavonoid content helps to prevent your body from secreting excessive fluids… the cause of diarrhea. No fun in the woods. Unchecked, dehydration is close behind.
  • Dark Chocolate – Cocoa butter, an extraction from the cacao bean, is found in high-cacao chocolate bars. Healthy monounsaturated and saturated fat helps maintain a feeling of being full. The dark chocolate I buy comes wrapped in foil… which can be used to make fire with the batteries from your flashlight.

Priority #3: Container

Of course, this one may be a stretch. But still, if you stow your cocoa powder in a metal tin, the container could be pressed into service for boiling water or charring material.

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I enjoy an occasional cup of hot cocoa over an open fire with a pinch of cayenne pepper. However, after researching this article, I’m considering adding cocoa to my daily diet. The benefits of packing a 6 ounce metal tin of cocoa powder (not the sugary pre-mixed stuff) warrants the label… “The 11th C of Survivability“.

Additional Resources:

  1. http://flyingwoodsman.blogspot.com/2014/12/a-real-manly-drink.html
  2. http://www.medicinehunter.com/brief-history-cocoa
  3. http://www.naturalnews.com/029156_cacao_chocolate.html##ixzz3UM20hOtp
  4. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-you-should-eat-and-drink-high-cacao-dark-chocolate/#axzz3TyjmAM7n
  5. http://foodfacts.mercola.com/cacao.html

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: Bushcrafting, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Natural Health, Preparedness, Real Food, Survival | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Be Anti-Fragile: Prepare Modern but Practice Primitive

by Todd Walker

Skills get swallowed by survival gear. Depending on the latest knife, gun, or shiny-survival-object may seem like a smart plan.

The thing is…

Plans and reality are not the same thing.

Be Anti-Fragile: Prepare Modern but Practice Primitive | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Nothing’s wrong with reliance on modern survival gear. I own my fair share of modern tools of self-reliance. Thousands of fires can be started with a butane lighter. But what happens when modern equipment and gear fail? And it will fail. And rust. And get lost. And wear out.

Abrupt Changes Ahead

To handle change, you’ll need skills that gain from disorder and disaster.

There may come a time when our instant gear gratification mentality can’t be satisfied and you have to depend on your own hands to make what you need. From cordage to cutting tools to combustion… these skills won’t rust or wear out with use!

Practicing primitive goes beyond building redundancy in gear. Stone age technology connects you to your ancestral past, no matter which part of this dirt ball your family tree grew. In this context, you appreciate the deep understanding of “primitive” people, their skills, and their knowledge required to use available resources.

It takes time and energy to develop these skills. Take fire craft as an example. Once you practice friction fire or flint and steel, the skill of building a proper tinder bundle to blow your primal ember into flame makes your modern fire craft efforts more successful.

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

Flint and steel is a long-term fire-making option for your kit

Shortsighted moderns discount flint and steel as antiquated. Precisely! Practicing primitive gives you options and options make you Anti-Fragile.

Anti-Fragile Skills

Anti-Fragile didn’t originate with me. Taleb coined the term in his paradigm shattering book, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder. This book causes…

Altered thinking.

Considering the fragile world we’re in today, we need a new blueprint for self-reliance. One that benefits from disorder, randomness, and shock.

Just as fire feeds on obstacles, so do skills. Anyone who owns a skill faced high barricades that made them stronger. Anti-fragile people are much better at doing than talking.

Doers do. Talkers talk. The two are clearly unequal. Doers become anti-fragile.

Knowledge, Skills, Resources

Doing the Stuff  of Self-Reliance with your modern gear, with your knowledge, with your resources, in your area is the only way to build resilient skills. But we want more than resiliency. As Taleb explains,

“Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”

Dirt time with modern tools aids in future, unpredictable survival events. Hours of practice and testing with your cutting tool of choice shows little deviation in the outcome. The modern space blanket in your kit is a proven emergency lifesaver. With use, you’ve discovered your gear’s limitations and abilities.

You need dependable, bomb-proof gear. To some degree though, predictable equipment and tools lull us into fragility. Meaning… we become too gear dependent.

To be clear, I’m an advocate of carrying a basic kit before heading into the woods… or anywhere else for that matter. But, again, could you benefit from the harm of lost or broken tools in the wilderness?

The answer depends on whether or not you have the knowledge and skills to use available resources from your environment. There’s no substitute for investing in skills and knowing how to use local resources. As much as I’d like to try white birch bark as tinder, heard it’s good stuff, we’re fresh out in my neck of the woods. No worries… you can’t walk far in my woods without finding resin rich fat lighter littering the forest floor.

Understand that specialized skills and specific resources are needed to replace the 5 C’s of Survivability (Cutting Tool, Combustion, Cover, Container, Cordage). These tools are the hardest to replicate from the landscape. However, it’s doable.

A.) Cutting Tools

Would I willingly trade my fixed blade knife for a stone tool? Not a chance! Unless I’m forced into that situation, I’ll always choose the modern knife as my primary cutting tool. However, stone age technology paved the way for us moderns.

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

Scott Jones demonstrates how to make an arrowhead from glass

Without mad flint knapping skills, you can create stop-gap edged tools from bipolar flaking. So easy a caveman can do it!

B.) Combustion

Modern sure-fire is packed in all my fire kits. They’re consumable. Mother Nature provides unlimited primitive sure-fire if you know where to look. Your anti-fragile pine responds to shock by exuding flammable resin to protect its life, and, in turn, gives you fire and life.

What’s your local go-to natural sure-fire tinder?

Do I start all my fires with a bow drill? Nope. I carry a lighter and ferro rod. Do I practice primitive fire with different, local wood? Yup. I’ve found pine, poplar, and cedar to be my favorites.

Here’s my personal primitive skill of the month… hand drill fire. I’ve harvested dry mullein and yucca stalks for this experiment. Dirt Road Girl just smiles and watches patiently in the car as her wild husband gathers resourses in the right-of-way. I love my wife!

Be Anti-Fragile: Prepare Modern but Practice Primitive | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Mullein and Yucca stalks for my hand drill experiment

The hand drill should be a comfort zone buster. Stay tuned for my blister update!

C.) Cover

Caught in the elements without manmade cover will quickly drain your core temperature. To combat heat loss, build primitive shelters with available debris. Calories will be burned, but if this your only shelter option, it’s worth it.

Be Anti-Fragile: Prepare Modern but Practice Primitive | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Rock outcrops and ledges are ready-made shelter

You may get lucky and find a rock outcropping or cave for hunkering down. Even with ready-made natural shelter, add a 4 to 6 inch layer of compressed leaves or natural material in your bedding area as a barrier against conduction.

D.) Container

Keep an eye out for other people’s trash. Sad to say, folks are trashy in the woods. But this could be a bonanza for your survival. Glass bottles, drink cans, and plastic are all useful and should be grabbed up.

Again, crafting or burning natural containers from wood takes time, resources and skill. Expedient containers for water can be made from bamboo, if available. Turtle shells make great bowls. Baskets can be weaved from plants or crafted with tree bark. If you’re so fortunate as to find a vine of gourds, you’ve just located container heaven. Of course, gourds are a cultivated crop that originated in the wilds of Africa. If you locate a gourd vine, you’re probably close to civilization anyhow.

E.) Cordage

Many natural fibers can be made into functional cordage in an emergency situation. Simply twisting fibers together without fancy reverse twists will provide strong cordage. Roots and vines can be used to lash shelters.

Be Anti-Fragile: Prepare Modern but Practice Primitive | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Yucca plant behind my school

 

Learning to make natural cordage is a skill every outdoors person should undertake. Get in the habit of collecting natural material when trekking or hiking through your woods. Inner fibers of trees like Tulip Poplar, Red Cedar, and Black Locust make excellent cordage. Nettle, Dog Bane, and Yucca are great cordage plants in my area.

Be Anti-Fragile: Prepare Modern but Practice Primitive | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Down and dirty yucca cordage

The skills that give you options when modern gear fail will be of the primitive type. My journey into learning primitive skills continues. You never master primitive skills. There’s always something else to learn from thousands of years of history!

Taking the sage advice of Dave Canterbury to Prepare Modern but Practice Primitive has given me options… and made me a little more Anti-Fragile.

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, Lost Skills, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 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: , , , , | 7 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

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

The Single Best Piece of Survival Gear for Emergency Core Temperature Control

by Todd Walker

Mother Nature is always true to her nature. You can’t change her. She’s beautifully rugged, awe-inspiring, and occasionally deadly. Best be prepared when she tries to make your life miserable.

best-survival-gear-for-core-temperature-control

Like duct tape and WD-40 in my tool box, there aren’t many Core Temperature Control dilemmas my reusable emergency space blanket can’t fix. This may be the best 12 ounces you can add to your hunting, hiking, camping, fishing, and/or 72 hour emergency kit.

Mors Kochanski of Karamat Wilderness Ways, the Godfather of modern bushcraft, came up with a brilliant idea called The Super Shelter. His design takes advantage of radiant heat from fire and a layer of clear plastic sheeting to help you survive extremely cold conditions.

Building The Super Shelter microclimate has been on my Doing the Stuff to-do list for a while now. Finally got some cold weather so decided to give it a test. Our midweek forecast is calling for a single digit windchill factor. A great time to put theory to the test.

The Modified Super Shelter

This design is a modification of the 5 Minute Emergency Shelter taught at The Pathfinder School. Here’s what you’ll need to construct your own…

  • 5 x 7 foot reusable emergency space blanket
  • 4 tent stakes
  • Clear plastic sheeting – cheap painter’s drop clothes run around $3.50
  • 25 feet of cordage
  • Ground insulation – 4 to 6 inches of compressed natural material or ground mat to battle conduction
  • Firewood – lots of it!

First, set up a lean-to shelter with your emergency blanket. I won’t rehash this part. For more info on this set up, click here. Lay the clear plastic over the lean-to and secure to the two back tent stakes. Nothing fancy. I simply tied each corner to the stakes. Use cordage if you’d like.

best-emergency-core-temperature-control-gear

Starting my fire with duct tape

 

Use a 6 to 7 foot long log/stick to secure the front flap over the opening of the lean-to. Roll the stick into about a foot of the front flap until the plastic is plumb under your ridge line. This secures the flap and allows a quick escape in case you need to attend to an emergency during the night. If the stick is not too large, you could simple lift it to add fuel to the fire without leaving the shelter.

The Test

I kissed Dirt Road Girl goodnight around 9 PM, went out to my backyard bushcraft area and took a temperature reading inside the shelter… a brisk 24º F. For my northern friends, this may be shorts and sleeve weather, but in Georgia, that’s nippy. By morning, the mercury read 19º.

 

I advocate trading theory for ACTION. Doing the Stuff in a controlled environment (my backyard) with untested gear and designs prepares me before I actually need the skill or kit item for survival.

Gotta Have Fire

Onto the test. There’s no such thing as “cheating” when it comes to fire in a survival scenario. Start a sustainable fire any way you can. I used a few feet of Gorilla tape and my Bic lighter to ignite my smalls and burn my fuel-size wood.

For this survival shelter, be sure to collect enough firewood to last you through the night. How much do you need? More than you just collected. A pile of dead wood the size of your shelter may get you through a freezing evening.

best-emergency-core-temperature-control-gear

Ideally, you’d want a fire burning the length of The Super Shelter (6 to 7 feet). For this test, my fire was only 2 feet in length. Even with this short fire, the temps inside the shelter grew to 62 degrees in less than 10 minutes. A long fire will have you “smoothing it” in your skivvies! Yep, no photo documentation of that epic event last night.

Clothing and Cover

Outside your first element of cover (clothing), your lightweight, multifunctional space blanket is one of the best pieces of survival kit you can carry in the woods. If you’ve dressed properly for the weather, your clothing is all you’ll need to stay warm in The Super Shelter.

My layered clothing consisted of what I’d normally wear on a camping, hunting, or bushcraft outing in cold weather.

  • Synthetic base layer top
  • Long sleeve under shirt
  • Long sleeve button shirt
  • Carhartt pants (medium-weight) – no synthetic base layer tonight since I was in my backyard
  • Sock liners and one pair of wool shocks (medium weight)
  • Pull-on leather boots
  • Homemade wool hunting shirt from an Italian Army blanket
  • Wool Sherpa hat

Lying in the shelter for 20 minutes, I began to peel layers… wool hat first. My hunting shirt became my pillow for my uncovered head. My biggest concern was my feet as they extended past my ground mat. Not an issue. My toes were toasty warm the entire 4 hour test.

best-emergency-core-temperature-control-gear

 

Why not the entire night? Remember what I said about firewood? I burned all my firewood and the shelter loses heat quickly without a radiant fire. Note to self… Get. More. Wood!

 

Conclusions

Keep in mind that this is not a long-term shelter. But for a 72-hour emergency, it is superb for Core Temperature Control. By the way, I discovered that a 9′ x 12′ foot painter’s tarp would have been enough to create this shelter. I went with a 20′ x 25′ to be sure.

Even for a half night stay, the modified Super Shelter design is totally worth packing two extra pounds for extreme cold weather outings!

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, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , | 15 Comments

47 Creative Uses for Self-Aid in Your 10 Piece Kit

by Todd Walker

Fall is a season where many of us head out to enjoy the outdoors. Crisp air, colorful leaves, deer in rut, and clear mountain streams lure us to nature. Unfortunately, there are times when things go sideways on day hikes and canoe trips. When they do, you’ll need knowledge, skills, and resources to get home safely.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

The goal of wilderness survival is simple… to effect self-rescue or be found alive. Even “minor” injures in a 72 hour scenario can decrease your chances of meeting that goal.

Self-aid should become a top priority on your skills list. Why?

You’re likely to come in contact with sharp stuff, hot stuff, slippery stuff, and/or stinging stuff on outings. I rarely leave the woods without one of these most common wilderness injuries:

  • Cuts/Abrasions
  • Burns
  • Breaks/Strains/Sprains
  • Bites/Stings
  • Blisters

You may choose to carry a first-aid kit to treat these injuries. The problem with a dedicated first-aid kit (pre-made or homemade) is that they take up space and typically have only on use. Let me state upfront, if you require daily medication for health issues, by all means, be sure to pack enough of your meds.

Can your 10 piece kit double as a self-aid/first-aid kit? Indeed it can!

First, here are the 10 essential items that should go with you on every trip to the woods…

The 10 C’s of Survivability (10 Piece Kit)

  1. Cutting tool
  2. Combustion device
  3. Container
  4. Cover
  5. Cordage
  6. Cotton bandana
  7. Cargo tape
  8. Cloth sail needle
  9. Candling device
  10. Compass

Look beyond the obvious uses for these 10 items – shelter, fire, navigation, water, etc., etc. With a little creativity and practice, your 10 C’s can effectively treat each of the most common injuries in a 72 hour wilderness survival scenario.

Here’s how…

(Adapted from Brian Manning’s hand-out and Jason Hunt’s class on wilderness self-aid at The Pathfinder School)

Cuts and Abrasions

  1. Cutting tool – use knife to remove debris from wounds
  2. Combustion device – sterilize tools
  3. Container – irrigate and wash wound with water
  4. Cover – (drum liner, plastic tarp) bandage and cover wounds
  5. Cordage – tourniquet as a last resort
  6. Cotton bandana – wipe/clean wound, bandages, dressings, tourniquet
  7. Cargo (duct) tape – all-purpose Band Aid, DIY butterfly Band Aid
  8. Cloth sail needle – remove debris from wound and stitch/suture in extreme cases
  9. Compass – good compasses have a magnifying lens that can be used to inspect wounds closely
self-aid-10-piece-kit

Using your knife to cut a duct tape butterfly bandage. Keep your knife outside the Triangle of Death. You don’t need another wound.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Pull the wound together after securing one side of the bandage to the skin. The cut should be pinched together slightly. This is a temporary fix.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Shemaghs make great slings. Get one that is 100% cotton.

Breaks, Sprains, and Strains

  1. Container – water bottle used as a hot or cold pack
  2. Cordage – splint wraps, slings (add padding)
  3. Cargo tape – immobilize limbs by taping makeshift splints in place
  4. Cotton bandana or shemagh – slings, splint wraps, padding under splints (tie smaller bandanas together for longer slings)
  5. Cover (drum liner) – water collection (cold/hot pack), splint wraps, slings
self-aid-10-piece-kit

If using a folding saw or machete as a makeshift splint, tape the cutting edge before taping it to your limb.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Immobilizing a limb. Add padding under your splint before taping.

Burns

  1. Cutting tool – remove debris and clean burns
  2. Container – use to pour water for irrigation, stop the burning process, and cold pack
  3. Cotton bandana – cover burn loosely, retain moisture on burn
  4. Cloth sail needle – clean burns
  5. Cover (drum liner) – cover and protect burns
  6. Compass – mirror and magnifying lens used to inspect burns and hard-to-reach areas on the body

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Bites and Stings

  1. Cutting tool – knife to scrape/remove stingers and splinters
  2. Container (water bottle) – cold compress to reduce swelling, irrigation – in the case of venomous snake bites, keep location cool, immobilize, and get medical help ASAP.
  3. Cargo tape – DIY Band Aids, bandage tape, remove stinger
  4. Cloth sail needle – remove stinger or splinter
  5. Compass – mirror and magnifying lens used to locate and inspect hard to reach areas on the body (i.e. – tick removal and bites)
  6. Cotton bandana – Band Aid/bandage material, pressure dressing
self-aid-10-piece-kit

Sighting mirror on compass used to inspect embedded tick on the back of the calf in the dark. A headlamp frees both hands for the task.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Cold water in a water bottle

Blisters

  1. Cargo tape – cover/shield developing hot spots
  2. Cloth sail needle – pop blister at base to drain
  3. Container (water bottle) – irrigate and clean area

Additional self-aid uses for the 10 piece kit

  • Your candling device (head lamp/flashlight) can be used for inspection and treatment at night with all the common injuries.
  • Metal water bottle and cup is useful for preparing infusions, decoctions, and sterilization of your knife or needle before cleaning wounds.
  • Besides using a tarp/emergency space blanket for core temperature control (CTC), these items can also serve as a stretcher, water collection device, and sling material.
  • Use your pack for immobilization and elevating injured limbs and or dealing with shock.
  • And of course, a proper fire kit affords you the ability to maintain CTC, heat natural medicinals, and heat compresses.

Your 10 piece kit should always accompany you on wilderness adventures. As you can see, these multi-purpose tools have many redundant uses. Heck, the 10 C’s of Survivability should go with you no matter where you’re headed.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

 

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, First Aid, Medical, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , | 20 Comments

5 Lessons on Self-Reliance at The Pathfinder School

by Todd Walker

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

Iris and Dave Canterbury being gracious as usual.

Iris and Dave Canterbury being gracious as usual.

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

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

Jamie Burleigh demonstrating the 5 minute emergency shelter

Jamie Burleigh demonstrating the 5 minute emergency shelter

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

Here are the key lessons learned…

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

Lesson 1: Get the Best Gear You Can Afford

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

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

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

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

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

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

selfreliance-lessons-pathfinder-school

Dave and me making fire… Sherpa hat and all.

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

Duct tape ignition with a ferro rod

Duct tape ignition with a ferro rod

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lesson 3: Discover Redundancy in Your Kit

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

Priority #1: Self-Aid

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

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

Priority #2: Shelter

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

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

Priority #3: Water

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

Water boil challenge

Priority #4: Fire

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

32 fires on the hill

Priority #5: Signaling

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

Smoke generator for signaling

Priority #6: Food

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

Priority #7: Navigation

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

Lesson 4: Pre-Planning and Teamwork

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

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

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

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

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

Lesson 5: Pass on the Knowledge

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Let’s build a fire!” she said.

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

Self-Reliance Lessons Learned at the Pathfinder School

DRG's burning it down!

DRG burning it down!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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

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, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , | 14 Comments

Daily Disaster Drills and The 5 C’s of Survivability

by Todd Walker

Everyday life if full of daily disaster drills.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two is One – One is None Mentality

What’s in Your Pockets?

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

Let’s see…

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

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

Get Home Bag

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

Vehicle Kit

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

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

The Why Behind The 5 C’s of Survivability

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

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

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

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

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

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

So you’re not into wilderness self-reliance?

You should be and here’s why

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

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

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

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

A) – Cutting Tool

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

B) – Combustion Device

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

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

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

D) - Container

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

E) – Cordage

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

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

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

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , | 19 Comments

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

by Morry Banes

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

choosing-best-survival-multi-tool

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

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

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

Flexibility of a multi tool use is unparalleled

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

choosing-best-survival-multi-tool

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

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

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

  • How about a medical emergency?

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

  • The list goes on and on…

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

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

It kept getting more complicated before it got really simple.

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

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

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

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

  • versatility
  • quality of the materials
  • safety of use

Again, I’ll keep things very simple.

Versatility

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

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

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

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

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

choosing-best-survival-multi-tool

Quality

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

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

Simplicity and Clarity

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safety

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

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

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

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

Resume

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

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

Stay smart and safe.

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About the author:

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

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

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

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Categories: Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , | 12 Comments

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