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survival kit checklist

Camping in the Woods Using Survival Gear

Campers and hikers all across the country buy millions of dollars worth of safety equipment and field supplies every year. This provides a protective edge if the ultimate challenge arises. Being stranded, lost or injured in unfamiliar territory can be very disturbing not to mention life threatening.

It is obvious that we cannot carry everything we own but a true list of essentials is a must any time you are in-country. Camping survival depends on it.

Light weight and dependability is the most important part of your survival kit.

  • A survival knife should be sharp and strong.
  • 15 to 20 meters of high strength nylon cord, 1/4 inch in diameter is easy to carry and could come in handy.
  • A 3×3 meters plastic tarp helps keep you dry even in wind driven conditions. Night time is the part of any camping survival adventure that will truly test your skills. And if you haven’t perfected them, you could be in a real life-threatening situation.

A safe place to sleep, out of the elements, and protected from the creatures that inhabit the woods is a must. Locating an area that can provide protection on at least 2 sides should be a top priority. Stones and rocks can be turned into a hearth for survival cooking and warmth, and should be stacked at the entrance of your shelter. Limbs cut from green pine trees can be woven into an almost water tight roof system and the tarp can be added for further weather proofing. A heavy layer of boughs will create a reasonably comfortable and dry bed.

Begin building your bed toward the back of your shelter. The fire ring will keep you warm and provide important light if done correctly, and will also discourage the wild life from wanting to share your sleeping arrangements. At this stage of the game getting through the first few hours is the most important part.

Your survival kit should include:

  • a compass,
  • medium first aid kit, and
  • small mirror. Signals with the mirror can be seen for miles.

Hopefully preparations for your excursion into the wild included some form of food. Survival cooking can be accomplished if you have a survival knife to work with.

Natural springs and streams supply water, but it should be filtered and made safe with a convenient water purification kit; this is a must for the outdoor adventurer.

Camping survival must begin with a good plan. If you are really prepared you charged your cell phone and made sure your GPS was accurate, and of course you notified your party or family as to the general area where you intended to hike. Never go into the woods without informing somebody of the time in and the time you should be returning. Be sure to stay in that general area. If you are lost, moving from place to place can only compound the problem.

Finally, pick a safe large area where you can build a large smoky fire, don’t start a forest fire, but do build a good signal fire by first clearing the area of any debris that could ignite the surrounding area. Remain calm, and don’t let yourself get hurt. Listen for any sounds of man, and if your survival gear included a loud whistle start using it at first light. If the beginning of this adventure was well planned, you will have some great stories for the grand kids.

hiking-dangers

Common Hiking Dangers and How To Prevent Them

Hiking is a summertime activity enjoyed by families and individuals all around the world. Even an activity as casual and seemingly harmless as hiking in the woods has its dangers though. Below are three of the most common dangers encountered while hiking and tips on how to prevent them.

Dehydration

It might seem like common sense, but it really is surprising how many people forget to bring an adequate amount of water when they go on a camping trip. Many campsites have water spigots these days, but it is always smart to bring along an extra jug or two. In addition, it is always a good idea to bring a water bottle (or maybe even two of them) along if you venture onto the trails for a day hike. The human body can become dehydrated in as little as 3 hours in the heat so it is essential to have something to constantly sip on.

Getting Lost

It’s all too easy to get lost when you’re in the woods. If you’re hiking with children, then it is especially important to teach them to recognize area landmarks. It is also a good idea to never leave a marked trail. Urge your children not to wander around if they become lost and to stay in one spot.

Carrying a whistle is also an intelligent thing to do as it can lead rescuers towards you if you wander off on your own.

Proper Clothing & Equipment

Weather can be a fickle thing, especially in the wilderness. Oftentimes, nighttime is much colder than people expect. In addition, even the sunniest of summer months can bring on unexpected rainstorms. It is always smart to be prepared for all sorts of weather conditions while on a hiking trip. Warm clothes, waterproofs, and a rain cover are essential even for a summertime foray into the wilderness.

Hiking trips are all about fun and that is why it is so important to be prepared and prevent common hiking dangers. The above three tips will help ensure that your hiking trip remains fun while staying safe.


firecraft: embers, survival  fire

A Fire Starting Primer for the Backcountry

A fire is a critical element in any backcountry survival situation. Should you find yourself in any such circumstance where your safety and survival is dependant on getting a fire going, are you ready and prepared to get the job done? Before heading out for adventures this question has to be addressed. It is always best to be prepared and trained before you find yourself in the bad situation. Take the time to spark up a few practice fires and pack the needed fire supplies before entering the wilderness.

What to Pack, and Where to Pack It

Any wilderness travel should include:

  • a knife or multi-tool,
  • extra food
  • water,
  • extra layers – including a hat and gloves,
  • navigation device such as map and compass or GPS – ideally both,
  • flashlight,
  • space bag,
  • signally device
  • fire starter with a lighter or waterproofed matches.

One thing many wilderness travelers fail to think of is where they pack all this gear. It is too easy to pack it, but then keep it in a dry bag or off the body. It is critical that many of these essentials be kept on the body in the case that if separated from a raft/canoe or method of transport you have the needed supplies. Obviously, any fire starter like Vaseline soaked cotton balls, or magnesium blocks and shavings should be kept in a baggy, then in a pocket.

Start the Fire

Your fire should adhere to the age-old adage of  location, location, location. Anticipate any condition that could occur that would impede the fire’s burn. Examples include:

  • wind tunnel areas in caves,
  • under snow-covered trees, or
  • in exposed areas where heavy rain fall may occur.

Next, dig a small pit and begin collecting small dry twigs, spruce or pinecones and leaves. Spruce and pinecones are some of the best natural fire starter you can use. If no cones are on the ground, find conifers and scrape off any pitch or gum seeping from the bark. Smear the pitch over small twigs. If you can only find green branches, strip off the bark and cut them in half to expose the inner tissues of the wood.

Stack the twigs into a teepee shape and place the spruce cones or fire starter material into the center. Light the starter and let the flames push upward, lighting the teepee. Be prepared with slightly larger twigs and branches, and place them in the conical teepee shape over the flames. It is important not to add too much to the fire as the flames could get smothered out.

As the fire gains strength, begin adding larger pieces of wood. Let the large pieces burn down so the dug out pit has a consistent pile of glowing coals. These coals emit the maximum amount of heat, necessary for survival.

Keep It Going

The coals provide the heat, and the flames provide the needed signal for any potential aircraft searching for you in a lost/survival situation. During prime search times, gather green conifer boughs and place them onto the fire. These create tremendous amounts of smoke that billows up, providing a good visual indicator of your location.

When you find yourself in any situation like this, keep calm, maintain a positive mental outlook and use your practiced fire starting skills to keep you warm, safe and alive.


 

The Importance of Fire for Survival

6 Reasons to Learn Fire Making Skills

Fire, what a magical thing. It pulled man out of the primordial mist, and it can keep your butt alive when things go south in the 21st century. Fire making is arguably the most important survival skill you can learn.

Warmth

Most people who die in a survival situation die from complications of hypothermia. Hypothermia is where you body temperature drops far enough that it can no longer keep itself warm. You then get all kinds of bad stuff happening to you, including hallucinations.

The famous rule of threes says you can live for three hours without shelter. Shelter keeps your body warm and fire can be your shelter. If you get a good fire going you can warm yourself back up and stay warm in just about any weather.

Cooking /Purification

Fire also lets you cook any critters you might be lucky enough to catch. Eating raw meat is no picnic. Fresh meat roasted on an open fire can have a calming effect on someone who is lost or misplaced.

Fire can also purify your water by boiling it. All kinds of little bugs live in wild water and getting one of them is bad news while you are trying to survive.

Protection

Wild animals do not like fire or smoke and will tend to avoid them. Many people are afraid of the woods, it is even worse at night. A fire gives a sense of security and protection that people can cling to when they are in a scary place. The peace of mind you get from having a fire going is worth a lot in a survival situation.

Signalling

Fires are also very good for signalling your position with smoke so searchers can find you. The old accepted practice was to start three fires in a triangular formation so searchers would know what to look for. This has proven to be a lot of extra work running between three fires not to mention having to collect three times the amount of wood.

Nowadays a single smoky fire should suffice to signal anyone who is looking for you.

Toolmaking

Assuming that you are without any tool (knife, hatchet), it is easy to use your fire as a tool or as a tool-maker. A few examples are listed here:

  • straighten arrow shafts
  • burning containers using coals
  • shaping wood, bone and even stone
  • hardening and densifying the points of wooden weapons and tools

Sense of well being

Have you ever sat by a fire and just stared at the flames? The sense of peace and tranquillity that usually come from this practice is a useful thing when you are lost and panicked. Fire has a calming nature to a panicked mind.

Staying calm and keeping your head is probably the most important thing to remember in a survival situation. Right behind that will be getting yourself a fire started. Learn and practice several ways to make a fire and you will have a good chance at keeping yourself alive in the woods.