Posts Tagged With: killer cotton

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…

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

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, First Aid, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

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

by Todd Walker

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

An APB has been issued on this serial killer!

An APB has been issued on this serial killer!

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

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

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

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

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

The Science of Staying Warm

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

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

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

What cotton holds against your skin

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

Here’s why…

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

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

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

So to be prepared, plan for the unpredictable.

Layers of Redundancy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some lovable wool facts:

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

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

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

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

Uses for 100% Killer Cotton

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

Final Thoughts

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

Is Killer Cotton part of your Core Temperature Control strategy? Stay safe and warm out there!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

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

Categories: Doing the Stuff, equipment, Preparedness, Survival | Tags: , , | 17 Comments

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