30.12.08

Fur for the modern caveman

I wonder when it was that our ancestors worked out that wearing the fur of the animals they ate would allow them to leave the savannah and venture further afield? Without a doubt clothing of plant fibres where a later development so I feel safe in assuming that it was fur clad man who originally crossed the glaciers and populated the world!

Why do I point this out? Well with the chilly weather and the forth coming Winter WEISS my thoughts have turned to cold weather clothing - I'm a complicated soul eh!! ")

There is a simple equation for the outdoors man when is comes to insultion -
Pile clothing is better than fleece and down is better than pile!!

This is a generalisation and doesnt take into account synthetics like thinsulate ect ect.

So what does that knowledge do for us? Well it means we understand that a pile fleece like a helly hansen field jacket is warmer than a standard polartec type fleece - it also arms us with the info that pound for pound in both weight and cost down is still the best insulator.

Many people go on about the qualities of Wool and I agree as base and mid layers wool is excellent for its wicking, insulation and nonodour properties - but for outer layers such as jackets or for heavier insulation then the above comes into its own and wool is found wanting (ever worns a soaked woollen jacket or jumper?).

My own dress code for the cold - winter weiss with temeperatures down to say -12c is a thin and medium wool layer under a windproof smock while active - over this I add a down vest for rest stops ect. If inactive in the snow I'll wear a snugpak Sleeka under the windproof and keep the down in my daysack for emergency use or incase the temperatures drops further!!

24.12.08

With proper training - even a weekend this near disaster might have been avoided - survivall skills arent just for christmas they really are for life - and the preserving of it!!

Missing Canadian woman survives 4 days in snow

HAMILTON, Ontario (AP) — A Canadian woman who went missing during a blizzard has been found alive, buried in 23 inches of snow four days after her sport utility vehicle got stuck in a snowy field.

A police search dog and its handler were trudging through almost knee-high snow on Monday when the dog took off across a field, signaling he had found Donna Molnar, who disappeared Friday.

Overnight temperatures dipped as low as 2 degrees (f) during the four days the 55-year-old Ancaster, Ontario, woman was missing.

"When I came up to her she was covered in snow, just her face and her neckline was exposed," said the handler, Ray Lau. "I was surprised she was alive."

Lau found Molnar just a few hundred yards away from her SUV, conscious and wearing little more than a winter jacket. Police credited the snow's insulating effect with keeping her alive.

"That's the miracle. That's a Christmas miracle. Sometimes the good don't die young. Donna Molnar is an exceptional person," said Mark Mackesy, a family friend who spent the weekend comforting Molnar's husband and son.

Staff Sgt. Mark Cox said she is in danger of losing some extremities to frostbite, though she is expected to survive.



Proof if it were needed that even the urbanite needs survival skills and survivall savvy!

But regardless we're glad she made it out alive - well done the searchers to!!

6.12.08

Survival - its practical not posh

Well at least its not about brand names and gucci gear ..........

Over the last few years bushcraft (my other love) has been taken over by commercialism (I know I sell gear too but there has to a limit) but survival being less "popular" with the TV watching population as yet and thus far, never has been about the brand names and long may it be so, survival is about improvising, adapting - its about using your brain not your wallet.

And that labourisly brings me to my point - Clothing, and cost to wear ratio's ......... or in english what clothing is worth spending good cash on and what are you better off adapting or spending less on!

Boots - footwear is important - bad or poorly fitting boots can cripple and reduce you to painful hobbling and tears - what are best - well I say in temperate conditions wear you can get by with ok footwear (but not top notch stuff) the British army boot is best value for money - these are my summer boots! But if the weather ont he turn or your going somewhere wet or cold - Lundhags win hands down - they cost a few bob but remember they will carry you everywhere and will be hard pressed daily - being waterproof too they may seem expensive but are actually pound for pound and mile for mile great value for money.

Trousers - like bots these are going to be on your body 99% of the time - they will get dirty - they will be scratched by scrubs and scorched by the fire - they will be expected to preform no matter what the weather. So whats best - well the old Britsh army lightweights used to be the thing - but loo and behold they are rarer than hens teeth these days - so whats replaced them? Well like boots I think you get what you pay for and being an item thats hard used your better off buying well - Fjellraven greenlanders are my favourites but in truth any good poly cotton trousers will do - go for trousers that are 65/35 mix and these will be fast drying and tough!

Base and midlayers are much of a much ness - ignore the idiots who say "oh but cotton kills" - cotton doesnt kill the idiot who wears it in the wrong conditions or without adequate waterproof clothing kills themself - not the cotton, soldiers world wide are clad in cotton in the worst conditions on earth and they survive so its not the cotton its the idiots lack of common sense. That said if you have the choice wool mix works best in winter! In summer I like to wear a t-shirt and a standard shirt of cotton or similar!

Outer Layers - windproof and waterproof - ok if boots and trousers are pound for pound and mile for mile worth heavy spending heres where we meet the great con - the great modern rip-off - people generally spend more money on their jackets than they do on any other item - indeed I have seen folks whose jackets cost more than all their other gear together! And why? Goretex for example isnt all its cracked up to be (I know at least one american outdoors man who calls it FLAWTEX)- I've been soak through to the skin in goretex thats become saturated and ventile while good and comfy is only cotton with a high price attached to it - and again will eventually allow water in especially if not reproofed - worse once soaked its like cardboard to wear and clammy!

The answer - well lets think about what we want a jacket for - its a shell to protect our layers and keep in the warmth - and something to offer a handy pocket or two - maybe we want a windproof and something to wear around the fire to stop our synthetic fleece melting from a errant ember! In that case you really cant bet a cheap, light cotton jacket - cotton Gaberdine was popular with the forces for its drying speed and as such any old surplus jacket would do - a M65 fishtail is good as the liners removable and its not camo - a swedish army snow parka or smock works well and if you dont like em in white dye em - make them individual!! More to the point you could buy 10 snow parkas for the price of one ventile wind shirt - or 20 for the price of a ventile parka ......................

For that waterproof here there is two options - goretex is good but as said above isnt 100% and is expensive - pu nylon is 100% and cheap but suffers condensation problems - sooooooooo if you need a jacket weigh up your options - or 99% of the time I find a poncho to be the answer - these can be pu nylon and 100% waterproof as air flow allows the condensation to disperse - best of all a poncho as every soldeir knows can also be a tarp - a floatation device - a shelter door - a leaf littler carry - a stretcher .............amd more - and best of all all these thing for least than the fith of the price of a goretex!! Another good option is a jacket made from EXEAT a nylon treatment used industrially - I have a waterproof jacket in this and its about 10 years old - still waterproof and breathable and still in regular use - and a fifth of the price of a flash goretex - if image matters spend the pennies if function matters think outside the sales and marketing box!

Practical or posh - you decide but think on it - as a survivor your not worried about being a fashion victim and while buying the best you can afford makes sense I'd say focus the pennies on the stuff you'll get the wear out and not items you'll wear only if the weather turns dodgy!!

Buy the best you can afford doesnt mean but the most expensive item - it means buy the best item suited to your needs ...................

4.12.08

the future is here........

WELL not quite the future but the future of water filtration systems at least.

Last week I spent a excellent week on the yorkshire moors enjoy the little mini ice age which popped down from Siberia, weather down to -12c is always fun and this cold snap didnt disappoint!

But I digress - during my trip I took a SURVIVA-PURA CANTEEN as my only source of water carriage and filteration - the idea being that as its a drink straight from the bottle filter and the moors are generally pretty wet I wouldnt need anything else.

Fortunately I was right and the filter excelled itself - in the picture below I'm filling the canteen from a stream but I also took water from a peaty bog, a cattle trough and various other sources all with equal success - the filter handled them all easily.



I'll not bore you with the tech details but I will say that compared to the leading filter/purifier the PRE-MAC range this filter costs less and works as well preporting to filter and clean up to 700 (ish) litres.

Only danger is the fact that the canteen is filled at source and then the filter screwed in meaning contaminated hands and canteen body are a danger - my answer was to squeese the bottle and allow a small amount of cleaned water to overflow the lid and body being iodine based it still works on contact and thus makes it all safe.

Below is a picture of the water taken from the stream int he left glass and the eiltered water int he right glass ...................this method of water precurment is so easy I predict in the not so distant future all waterbottle will be like this

15.11.08

More than a survival tin part 2

Ok guys having read the below you'll understand that our primary equpment is key - lets not forget our clothing is also our first line of defense and we should look at this with a mind to being about to live in it possibly with no shelter for at least 3 days!

Building on our clothing then comes our kit - carried on our backs and in our pockets. To simplify things think of your kit as being units of your priority list - i.e Food fire shelter water medical - so if we pack items to meet all these priorities in a emergency our asses are covered!

Below is a basic list of what I tend to carry - its changable from season to season ect but a good base line to work from and covers all my priorities .............

Personal Primary kit list – carried on the body


Bandana – trouser pocket

Compass – jacket

Torch + Lighter - trousers

2 x orange rubbish bags - jacket

Ferro rod – tinder pouch - trousers

Swiss army knife – belt in pouch

Pain killers -

Para-cord - jacket

Protein/energy bar - jacket

Sharp belt knife - Belt

Space blanket - Jacket

Whistle – jacket with compass

Ziploc bags - jacket

GPS - trousers


Day sack list adapted from Old Canadian Regulations (no longer in force)

.Food – 1 x Army 24hrs rat pack
.Cooking utensils. – Metal mug and Mess tins
.A stove and a supply of fuel – hexi and blocks
.Large camp knife – if not on belt
.A flexible saw blade - bahco/laplander
.Snare wire of at least 30 feet or 9 meters and instructions for its use.
.Fishing equipment = a gill net of not more than a 2 inch or 3 centimetre mesh.
.Mosquito headnet
.Lone wolf or poncho.
.A suitable survival instruction manual or aide memoire.
.Conspicuity panel. – Hi-Viz flag/scarf/bag
.Candle – 1 x long life
,First Aid kit + FFD
,Water filtration system
,Water carrier/bottle
.Spare tinder pouch and fire steel

Additional equipment:

Sharpening stone
Day sack to carry it all in

13.11.08

Survival is more than just a kit in a tin!

While it is widely accepted a survival kit is a major plus in an emergency situation remember also your normal kit or your emergency kit and clothing are your first line of defence.

While we train to survive with nothing it is unwise to actually go out on adventures without a well thought out kit - even for a summer day hike in the hills I'd advise taking all the usual items as well as a candle, emergency sleeping bag and space blanket as a minimum.

Below are some examples of emergency kits you might want to ponder - build your own kits and ideas from these - remember not to carry kit for kits sake and that a heavy emergency kit will be left behind and does you no go in base camp or the boot of your car!

Personal survival kit list – carried on the body

Bandana – trouser pocket
Compass – jacket
Torch + Lighter - trousers
2 x orange rubbish bags - jacket
Ferro rod – tinder pouch - trousers
Swiss army knife – belt in pouch
Para-cord - jacket
energy bar - jacket
Sharp belt knife - Belt
Space blanket - Jacket
Whistle – jacket with compass
Ziploc bags - jacket
GPS - trousers


Complete survival kit list – back up kit for day sack

Candle
Metal mug – mess tins
Dried food/rations 24hrs
Duct tape
Spare Ferro rod + Tinder
First aid kit
Fishing kit
Rubbish bags 2 x orange
Money
Paracord
Notebook = pencils
Saw
Snare wire
Space blanket
Water filter/purification
Ziplocs

Shelter sheet
Warm clothing
Hat
Water

D of E Kit List with notes - this is more the average hikers kit list but again working form a good foundation is good

Clothing
This is mandatory for everybody


Waterproof jacket with hood
This needs to be waterproof not showerproof.
Waterproof trousers
As above.
Thermal top
This must NOT be cotton. Acceptable examples include ski tops, thin fleece, Helly Hansen tops or other specialist makes eg F&T.
Fleece
Must by nylon or polypropylene NOT cotton. Primark do one for £6!
Trousers
These must be quick drying. Nylon is ideal eg Ron Hills.
Hat & Gloves
Ideally fleece.
Socks and Underwear
Carry spare socks as well.
Adequate footwear
Boots for Silver and Gold, Bronze can be done in sturdy trainers.
Personal Equipment
This is mandatory for everybody
Rucksack & liner
These can be borrowed, 60 Litres is a good size. Liner should be thick plastic (not a bin liner), Rubble Bags from B & Q are ideal. Rucksack covers are not waterproof.
Sleeping bag & mat
A 3 season sleeping bag should be fine. These have to be in a sealed plastic bag (not a bin liner). Rubble bag and Duct tape!
Water bottle
At least 1 litre, a Platypus or similar is ideal.
Watch

Wash Kit
Soap (or Dry Wash), toothbrush, toothpaste, loo roll in a plastic bag, small towel. NOTHING ELSE. No make up or deodorant!!
Torch, Whistle & Compass
Headtorches are best, B & Q sell one for £3. Good compasses are made by SILVA. Whistles are usually orange!
Mug & Spoon
Plastic! SpudUlike make a plastic spoon and fork thingy that is great.
Plastic bags for feet
Big freezer bags! Dry socks - wet boots solution for camp.
Emergency Equipment
This is mandatory for everybody
One COMPLETE change of clothing
This is only to be worn in the tent or in a real emergency. It must be ruthlessly packed to ensure it remains bone dry. Another rubble bag and duck tape!
Survival bag & Emergency rations
Big Orange plastic bag £3, some spare food.
Pen and paper
For message writing and making notes about your journey.
Personal first aid kit
Personal medication (paracetemol etc) and minor plasters for blisters.
Money
For spending on food on the journey and phone calls.
Emergency contact details
These will be on the consent letter and should be programmed into phones and written on routecards.
Group Kit
To be shared amongst the team
Stove & Fuel
These are issued.
Tent (can be borrowed)
One with a porch will help keep the inner area dry.
Matches & Washing up kit
A film case of Washing Up Liquid and a green scrubby thing. Matches need to stay dry!
Food
This should be organised as a team. Eat lots!
Group first aid kit
This will be issued and contains stuff like bandages and dressings.
Maps
These will be issued.
Trowel
For when there is no toilet!
Mobile Phone
For Emergencies only, NOT texting your mates.
Duct Tape
A big roll that can be used for loads of things.





(The following was compiled from the original sources)
Alaskan Survival Kit Regulations
Alaska state law (AS 02.35.110. Emergency Rations and Equipment) was modified a while back to reduce the equipment required to be carried. The current regulations require that no airman may make a flight inside the state with an aircraft unless emergency equipment is carried as follows:
1. The minimum equipment to be carried during summer months is as follows: (for all single engine and for multiengine aircraft licensed to carry 15 passengers or less)
(A) rations for each occupant sufficient to sustain life for one week;
(B) one axe or hatchet;
(C) one first aid kit;
(D) an assortment of tackle such as hooks, flies, lines, and sinkers;
(E) one knife;
(F) fire starter;
(G) one mosquito headnet for each occupant;
(H) two small signaling devices such as colored smoke bombs, railroad fuses, or Very pistol shells, in sealed metal containers;
2. In addition to the above, the following must be carried as minimum equipment from October 15 to April 1 of each year:
(A) one pair of snowshoes
(B) one sleeping bag
(C) one wool blanket for each occupant over four
As you can see, the Alaskan regulations are minimal and do not address much in the way of specifics or quality. The old regulations were similarly minimal, but required double the food, a gill net and a firearm and specified matches instead of a generic "firestarter." The old requirements were as follows:
1. The minimum equipment to be carried during summer months is as follows: (for all single engine and for multiengine aircraft licensed to carry 15 passengers or less)
a. food for each occupant sufficient to sustain life for two weeks
b. one axe or hatchet
c. one first aid kit
d. one pistol, revolver, shotgun or rifle and ammunition for same
e. one small gill net and an assortment of tackle such as hooks, flies, lines, sinkers, etc.
f. one knife
g. two small boxes of matches
h. one mosquito headnet for each occupant
i. two small signalling devices such as colored smoke bombs, railroad fuses or very pistol shells, in sealed metal containers
2. In addition to the above, the following must be carried as minimum equipment from October 15 to April 1 of each year:
a. one pair of snowshoes
b. one sleeping bag
c. one wool blanket for each occupant over four
Canadian Survival Kit Regulations
Canada used to have pretty stringent regulations regarding required survival gear. Then they revised the regulations, leaving the contents virtually undefined and ambiguous, presenting unscrupulous operators with loopholes large enough to fly a 747 through. The current version of the regulation follows, with the former version, a fairly good guide for what may be considered acceptable with modification by some government field personnel, following the current regulations.


Survival Equipment - Flights over Land
(1) Subject to subsection (2), no person shall operate an aircraft over land unless there is carried on board survival equipment, sufficient for the survival on the ground of each person on board, given the geographical area, the season of the year and anticipated seasonal climatic variations, that provides the means for
(a) starting a fire;
(b) providing shelter;
(c) providing or purifying water; and
(d) visually signalling distress.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of
(a) a balloon, a glider, a hang glider, a gyroplane or an ultra-light aeroplane;
(b) an aircraft that is operated within 25 nautical miles of the aerodrome of departure and that has the capability of radio communication with surface-based radio station for the duration of the flight;
(c) a multi-engined aircraft this is operated south of 66 30' north latitude
(i) in IFR flight within controlled airspace, or
(ii) along designated air routes;
(d) an aircraft that is operated by an air operator, where the aircraft is equipped with equipment specified in the air operator's company operations manual, but not with the equipment required by subsection (1); or
(e) an aircraft that is operated in a geographical area where and at a time of year when the survival of the persons on board is not jeopardized.
If you plan to carry firearms in an aircraft, including as part of your survival equipment, you should be aware that hand guns and fully automatic weapons are not legal to be carried or worn in Canada. As for any long guns, when entering Canada you must register each firearm with Canadian Customs or face severe penalties if caught.
On a related issue, the "flare gun" found in many life rafts and survival kits is not a "firearm," so do not refer to it as such when asked by Canadian Customs if you have any firearms on board. If the subject comes up, and only if it comes up, you should always refer to it as a "Pyrotechnic Signaling Device" as in "There is a 'pyrotechnic signaling device' in the life raft survival kit in accordance with Canadian, U.S. and international regulations." (This tip courtesy of National Business Aviation Association)


Old Canadian Regulations (no longer in force)
Emergency Equipment for Flights in Sparsely Settled Areas (most of the area north of 52 degrees North latitude is designated as "Sparsely Settled")
Food having a caloric value of at least 10,000 calories per person carried, not subject to deterioration by heat or cold and stored in a sealed waterproof container bearing a tag or label on which the operator of the aircraft or his representative has certified the amount and satisfactory condition of the food in the container following an inspection made not more than 6 months prior to the flight.
Cooking utensils.
Matches in a waterproof container.
A stove and a supply of fuel or a self-contained means of providing heat for cooking when operating north of the tree line.
A portable compass.
An axe of at least 2 1/2 pounds or 1 kilogram weight with a handle of not less than 28 inches or 70 centimeters in length. (typically referred to as a "Hudson Bay" axe)
A flexible saw blade or equivalent cutting tool.
Snare wire of at least 30 feet or 9 meters and instructions for its use.
Fishing equipment including still fishing bait and a gill net of not more than a 2 inch or 3 centimeter mesh.
Mosquito nets or netting and insect repellant sufficient to meet the needs of all persons carried when operating in an area where insects are likely to be hazardous.
Tents or engine and wing covers of a suitable design, coloured or having panels coloured in international orange or other high visibility colour, sufficient to accommodate all persons when operating north of the tree line.
Winter sleeping bags sufficient in quantity to accommodate all persons carried when operating in an area where the mean daily temperature is likely to be 7 degrees C (approx. 45 degrees F) or less.
Two pairs of snow shoes when operating in areas where the ground snow cover is likely to be 12 inches or 30 centimeters of more.
A signalling mirror.
At least 3 pyrotechnical distress signals.
A sharp jack-knife or hunting knife of good quality.
A suitable survival instruction manual.
Conspicuity panel.
The following are suggested as useful additional equipment:
Spare Axe Handle
Honing stone or file
Ice chisel
Snow knife or snow saw
Snow shovel
Flashlight with spare bulbs and batteries
Pack sack
Firearms are carried at the operator's discretion. However, if it is proposed to carry firearms in an aircraft as additional emergency equipment the operator should be aware that hand held pistols, revolvers, etc., known as small arms, and fully automatic weapons are not authorized to be carried or worn in Canada. (When entering Canada you must register each firearm with Canadian Customs.)
U.S. pilots contemplating flying to or in Alaska or Canada would do well to avail themselves of AOPA's "Flight Planning Guide" for Alaska and Canada and the assistance of the specialists in AOPA's Flight Operations Department (800-872-2672 or 301-695-2140).

6.11.08

The survivors mantra .............

The Quitter

When you're lost in the Wild, and you're scared as a child,
And Death looks you bang in the eye,
And you're sore as a boil, it's according to Hoyle
To cock your revolver and . . . die.
But the Code of a Man says: "Fight all you can,"
And self-dissolution is barred.
In hunger and woe, oh, it's easy to blow . . .
It's the hell-served-for-breakfast that's hard.
"You're sick of the game!" Well, now, that's a shame.
You're young and you're brave and you're bright.
"You've had a raw deal!" I know -- but don't squeal,
Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight.
It's the plugging away that will win you the day,
So don't be a piker, old pard!
Just draw on your grit; it's so easy to quit:
It's the keeping-your-chin-up that's hard.
It's easy to cry that you're beaten -- and die;
It's easy to crawfish and crawl;
But to fight and to fight when hope's out of sight --
Why, that's the best game of them all!
And though you come out of each gruelling bout,
All broken and beaten and scarred,
Just have one more try -- it's dead easy to die,
It's the keeping-on-living that's hard.


--- Robert Service

A tool for all occasions



SurvivALL is pleased to announce the arrival of the Fallkniven range to the on-line store!! These knives are the bench mark by which many are measured and the design (the traditional swedish) upon which many other models are based! The addition of this range (A2 and F1) mean that we can now offer the survivor the widest and most comprehensive choice of cutting tools to suit every need and budget.




For the medium sized EDC you now have a choice of the tough folding Normark SuperSwede or if you want a sheath knife the classic and enhanced viz Frosts Clipper or now the Bombproof survival knife of both the Swedish Airforce and the US navy and Marine aircrews the legendary F1.




And if you need something with a bit more clout, something to act as camp knife, butcher knife, axe ect then we offer you two excellent options - the SurvivALL kukri, handmade for us in the foothills of Nepal with a new more erogomic handle shape or the awesome A2 the wilderness knife.




With such choice of tried and tested - if not legendary cutting tools you can not fail to find one to suit your needs!

5.11.08

Survival Fun.

One of the great pleasures of survival training over all other forms of fieldcraft is that the survivor is expected to be able to improvise, its a nessecity - this means two things, firstly to be able to think for themselves and not be reliant on kit but secondly it also means your allowed to tinker and adapt tools and kit to suit your needs be this gaffa taping the corners of a space blanket so it can be used as a tarp or sticking a torch and a lighter together and covering it in hi viz tape so you dont lose it.

Nothing is beyond the remit of a survivor and we are given license to try anything - anything that adapts our kit and makes if work better or makes it more versatile is a tick in the box!! Just like we adapt our survival kit so do we adapt our other kit, experience will lead us to some interesting finds all of which are unique to the individual for example where for many many years I prefered the aesthically pleasing option of leather sheathes ect I now prefer to use a knife with a hardened sheath (wooden kukri or the ABS plastic of the clipper ect) as this makes the tool safer in carriage and offers us the options of whipping paracord around the sheath and can be sterilized and cleaned much easier - its not about price but oddly many of these types of tools are also cheaper so thats a bonus or the fact that instead of matches or a blue flame lighter I prefer a cheap old bic with the flame adjusted higher - I carry a couple of these spread around my kit making them a cheap, reliable alternative to the expensive blue flames or the tempermentality of matches - the clear bodies mean you can see how much fuels left and the sparker will still strike once the gas has run out giving us starks to work with.

Some things you try fail miserably but in failing you learn too - only in fearing the failure do we learn nothing .................a friend of mine says "the man who never made a mistake, never made anything!" and this is very true.

So BE A SURVIVOR - dont be afraid to improvise - adapt your kit - make the thing you need - relearn and escape the commercialism and more importantly HAVE FUN DOING IT!!

31.10.08

Grab bag - webbing - survival pack

If you search for the different survival kits recommended around the world you will find an amazing array. Some kits are recommended for bushpilots in the canadian north, others for sailors or mountaineers or close protection operatives working in hostile lands but all even, those issued to our own fast jet pilots, have one thing in common - they are all designed with the sole aim of keeping a person or group of people alive for a minimum of 72 hours.

While on our courses we train our students and clients to use and fully understand the survival tin and its concept we also demo and recommend other more expanded kits and this is what I want to discuss here.

Being able to survive 72 hours with just a survival tin is the pinnicle of our training and should be viewed as a great achievement but that doesnt mean we knowingly or willing expose ourselves for real to a situation where we need to rely upon the tin only.

As mentioned above anyone working or travelling in remote areas is recommended to carry a survival kit - this is more than a tin, although the tin can form a key part of your kit.

So call this a grab bag - others a prevent kit - my I call it my day sack ...............and this is the key to my mind as the kit I carry for an emergency is the same kit I always carry and is carried as an addition to my normal gear.

Its a habit born of the army where a soldier is trained to carry the necessary kit to survive 48 hours on the battlefield in his webbing and this is the same mind set the survivor needs to adopt.

My own kit will vary from place to place as I adapt it to the enviroment I'm in but the below are the key items I always carry.

  • Camelbak Hawg - with 3 litre bladder and two waterbottle pouches on the outside. (bladder is always emptied and inflated when doing river crossings and if worn can act as a life preservor if you fall in!)
  • Metal mug - this is used all the time - but when packing it usually has brew kit ect packed into it and lives on one of the waterbottle pouches.
  • Crusader mess tin set - again used all the time and lives in the other waterbottle pouch - usual packed with rations for 24hrs.
  • First aid kit - is not carried on my body.
  • Surviva-pura waterbottle/filter - usually empty as I use it to fill up the bladder but in an emergency would carry it and the bladder full.
  • Frost - hiviz orange clipper - no messing around here I want a practicle knife with a high quality stainless steel blade that will deal with all the tasks I might need it for - but equally I want a knife that isnt expensive as it will be hard used.
  • Bahco folding saw - not the green ones but again a hiviz orange model - remember better red than dead and in an emergency we can not affords to lose a single tool. the saw is safer to use than a axe and generally just as useful when married up with the clipper.
  • RAF survival kit - the mkIV survival kit is the best survival kit available and I usually carry one at all times - generally I break it down and carry the emergency sleeping bag, candle and space blanket ect in with my first aid items while the fire lighting kit goes in a pocket ect ect. The only thing missing from this kit is a metal boiling vessel but as we have both a cup and a mess tin thats catered for.
  • wool cap or hat
  • mosi head net - this is a versatile item and doubles up as a carry bag when gathering a filter for removing detrious from water ect ect.
  • Pak lite torch - a simple light designed to simply fit on to of a 9v battery which also glows in the dark so no risk of losing it in the dark when you need it most.

And thats about it - the main sack is still empty and I have often managed to pack the Hawg with all my gear for a weekends camp out so that gives you an idea of the room left.

From the above you can now see that a small well thought out kit is important - theres no doubt it will make life easier in an emergency all we have to do is train ourselves to remember to carry it with us - for - just like a survival tin your survival kit, grab bag, ditch kit or whatever you call it is no good to you in the car or plane or boat or back at base camp when you find yourself in a emergency situation!!

Other additions recommended would be a good manual such as Survival Advantage - the SAS Survival hand book or 98.6 degrees - a map and a compass - whistle even a mobile phone but these are items we should take as read and carried as the norm always .............................

8.10.08

What makes a good commercial survival kit??


What makes a good commercial survival kit?? I'm not talking what contents we add as this will vary from person to person and rightly so as a survival kit should reflect the persons skill level and equally shoud also reflect a persons ezperience and location.

What I am talking about is quality - do we trust the ACME survival kit or the RAF part VI survival kit?

SurvivALL stocks and sells many survival kits and survival kit items which all come with a genune NSN (NATO stock number) meaning these items are issued to military personell all around the world - so does this make the items the best quality??

Well sadly theres not answer really - the ACME kit will most likely contain a equal amount of 'tut' as will the NSN kits - but the difference IMO is that with the NSN kits we are getting two things the ACME kit doesnt offer.

1. We are getting a kit which has been tried and tested - the items in said kit may not be the best but at least they are tested and deemed good enough (bearing in mind all military suppliers are usually the lowest bidders when it comes to costing parts ect) Thus while not being excellent a ok item is still better than a bad chinese import!

2. As with the military anyone with survival training will know to adapt the kit to suit their needs, time and location - there for with a NSN kit we have two options - leave the kit in its sealed packages and use it as is or open the kit and use it as a foundation to build our own kit from safe in the knowledge our foundstion is strong.

Personaly my own 'travel or just in case' kit is made up from all the component parts of the RAF kit still sealed but packed into a mini mess tin rather than left in the stuff sack it comes with. This I hope I never need to use BUT if I do I think its contents acting as a boost to my own skills and knowledge will allow me to live like a king. The kit itself is the most comprehensive and once neatly crammed into the mini mess tin it doesnt really take up to much more room or weigh overly much more than a standard Military survival tin!!

So what makes a good commercial survival kit? Answer - the ability to adapt it and to build upon it - that linked with a faith that the contents while maybe not the greatest in the world are at least tried and test and useable!

3.10.08

Multi-tool and Survival


Does the multitool have a place in Survival?



Personally I say yes, so long as its a quality tool - nothing worse than relying on a cheap multitool which equates to being a cheap set of tools. Would you use cheap tools to repair your car or decorate your house? Would you use cheap tools if your life depended on them?? What price do you put on your life or the life of your family??



As below we've discussed the pro's of a Normark Super Swede and the awesome power and versatility of a Kukri so lets now look at a multitool - the Leatherman wave in particular as this is a tool I'm most familiar with.



Les Stroud often completed many of his survival weeks with only a multitool for comfort that alone gives the would-be survivor a good indicator to the tools uses - I've seen them in the hands of Ray Mears and Bruce Parry and when he's not sucking fish dry I'm sure even Bear Grylls has one somewhere!!


So what makes up the Leatherman Wave?



100% Stainless Steel
Needlenose Pliers
Regular Pliers
Wire Cutters
Hard-Wire Cutters
Clip-Point Knife
Serrated Knife
Saw (good enough for most craft tasks!)
Scissors
Wood/Metal File
Diamond-Coated File (great for Kukri sharpening)
Large Bit Driver
Large Screwdriver
Small Bit Driver
2 Double-End Bits
Ruler (8 inch/19 cm)
Bottle/Can Opener
Wire Stripper
Lanyard Attachment
Belt pouch supplied
Length: 4 inches / 10 cm
Weight: 8.5 ounces / 241 grams



Quite a lot in a small package eh!!



There was a time when all a person needed to survive was a good 7" sheath knife and many look back on those days with nostalgia but times have changed - where the old time survivor may have had a wooden canoe or a smashed dog sled, natural fibre cordage and canvas and skin materials to contend with the modern survivor will have everything from mechanical items such as cars and generators to work with as well as all of the above! Indeed if you can fix the broken skidoo or car suddenly your no longer in a survival situation - on the opposite side of the coin - if your vehicle breaks down and you cant fix it you COULD BE!!



Living in a world of mechanical devices or even needing a pot lifter for your stoves sees us needing a multitool. A assembly of well thought out tools can be amazingly useful and versatile - as below we mention that a small amount of basic trainng and a little common sense can work miracles - give that same person a multitool and the miracles become easier to produce and the stressors are diminished in return!!



If you can only carry one knife in the wilderness carry a big one - if you can only carry one knife in your day to day life carry a versatile one, carry a multitool AND if the brown sticky stuff hits the fan you'll be glad you did!! (You never know it might be the one tool which changes a crisis into a temporary bodge job that gets you safely home!!)
Available at all good outdoors shops or http://www.bearclawbushcraft.co.uk/trading/tools.htm

30.9.08

Survival stresses

Survival = PMA - Positive Mental Attitude


It takes much more than the knowledge and skills to build shelters, get food, make fires, and travel without the aid of standard navigational devices to live successfully through a survival situation. Some people with little or no survival training have managed to survive life-threatening situations where others have perished.


A key ingredient in any survival situation is the mental attitude of those involved. Having survival skills is important as it boosts your confidence however having the will to survive is essential. Without a PMA and the will to survive, acquired skills serve little purpose and invaluable knowledge goes to waste equally with PMA and a little commonsense even the most basic skills and training can be expanded upon to do great things.



There is a psychology to survival. The survivor faces many stresses that ultimately impact upon their mind. These stresses can produce thoughts and emotions that, if poorly understood, can transform a confident, well-trained person into an indecisive, ineffective individual with questionable ability to survive. Thus, every person must be aware of and be able to recognize those stresses commonly associated with survival.


Additionally, it is imperative that people be aware of their reactions to the wide variety of stresses associated with survival. On SurvivALL courses we aim to make the scenerio's as realistic as possible - as we used to say in the army "train hard - fight easy" as such below we will identify and explain the nature of survival stresses and those internal reactions some people will naturally experience when faced with the stresses of a real-world survival situation.

The knowledge you gain from this will help to prepare you to come through the toughest times alive.

Before we can understand our psychological reactions in a survival setting, it is helpful to first know a little bit about stress.

Stress is not a disease that you cure and eliminate. Instead, it is a condition we all experience. Stress can be described as our reaction to pressure. It is the name given to the experience we have as we physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually respond to life's tensions.


Need for Stress

We need stress because it has many positive benefits. Stress provides us with challenges; it gives us chances to learn about our values and strengths. Stress can show our ability to handle pressure without breaking; it tests our adaptability and flexibility; it can stimulate us to do our best. Because we usually do not consider unimportant events stressful, stress can also be an excellent indicator of the significance we attach to an event--in other words, it highlights what is important to us.


We need to have some stress in our lives, but too much of anything can be bad. The goal is to have stress, but not an excess of it. Too much stress can take its toll on people and organizations. Too much stress leads to distress. Distress causes an uncomfortable tension that we try to escape and, preferably, avoid.


Listed below are a few of the common signs of distress you may find in yourself or others when faced with too much stress:

Difficulty making decisions.
Angry outbursts.
Forgetfulness.
Low energy level.
Constant worrying.
Propensity for mistakes.
Thoughts about death or suicide.
Trouble getting along with others.
Withdrawing from others.
Hiding from responsibilities.
Carelessness.

As you can see, stress can be constructive or destructive. It can encourage or discourage, move us along or stop us dead in our tracks, and make life meaningful or seemingly meaningless. Stress can inspire you to operate successfully and perform at your maximum efficiency in a survival situation. It can also cause you to panic and forget all your training. Key to your survival is your ability to manage the inevitable stresses you will encounter. The survivor who works with his stresses instead of letting his stresses work on him will usually prevail

Survival Stressors

Any event can lead to stress and, as everyone has experienced, events don't always come one at a time. Often, stressful events occur simultaneously. These events are not stress, but they produce it and are called "stressors."


Stressors are the obvious cause while stress is the response. Once the body recognizes the presence of a stressor, it then begins to act to protect itself.


In response to a stressor, the body prepares for either "fight or flight." This preparation involves an internal SOS sent throughout the body. As the body responds to this SOS, several actions take place.

  1. The body releases stored fuels (sugar and fats) to provide quick energy;


  2. breathing rate increases to supply more oxygen to the blood;


  3. muscle tension increases to prepare for action;


  4. blood clotting mechanisms are activated to reduce bleeding from cuts;


  5. senses become more acute (hearing becomes more sensitive, eyes become big, smell becomes sharper) so that you are more aware of your surrounding and heart rate and blood pressure rise to provide more blood to the muscles.

This protective posture lets a person cope with potential dangers; however, a person cannot maintain such a level of alertness indefinitely.


Stressors are not courteous; one stressor does not leave because another one arrives. Stressors add up. The cumulative effect of minor stressors can be a major distress if they all happen too close together. As the body's resistance to stress wears down and the sources of stress continue (or increase), eventually a state of exhaustion arrives. At this point, the ability to resist stress or use it in a positive way gives out and signs of distress appear.


Anticipating stressors and developing strategies to cope with them are two ingredients in the effective management of stress. It is therefore essential that a person in a survival setting be aware of the types of stressors they will encounter.


Let's take a look at a few of these. Injury, Illness, or Death are real possibilities a survivor has to face. Perhaps nothing is more stressful than being alone in an unfamiliar environment where you could die from an accident or from eating something lethal. Illness and injury can also add to stress by limiting your ability to maneuver, get food and drink, find shelter or defend yourself. Even if illness and injury don't lead to death, they add to stress through the pain and discomfort they generate. It is only by controlling the stress associated with the vulnerability to injury, illness, and death that a survivor can have the courage to take the risks associated with survival tasks.


Uncertainly and Lack of Control - some people have trouble operating in settings where everything is not clear-cut. The only guarantee in a survival situation is that nothing is guaranteed. It can be extremely stressful operating on limited information in a setting where you have limited control of your surroundings. This uncertainty and lack of control also add to the stress of being ill, injured, or killed.



Environment - even under the most ideal circumstances, nature is quite formidable. In survival, you will have to contend with the stressors of weather, terrain, and the variety of creatures inhabiting an area. Heat, cold, rain, winds, mountains, swamps, deserts, insects, dangerous reptiles, and other animals are just a few of the challenges awaiting the person working to survive. Depending on how you handle the stress of your environment, your surroundings can be either a source of food and protection or can be a cause of extreme discomfort leading to injury, illness, or death.


Hunger and Thirst - without food and water a person will weaken and eventually die. Thus, getting and preserving food and water takes on increasing importance as the length of time in a survival setting increases. For a person used to having provisions foraging can be a big source of stress. But remember you can go for weeks without food.


Fatigue - forcing yourself to continue surviving is not easy as you grow more tired. It is possible to become so fatigued that the act of just staying awake is stressful in itself.


Isolation - there are some advantages to facing adversity with others. As a soldier I learnt individual skills, but we trained to function as part of a team. Although we, as soldiers, complain about higher headquarters, we become used to the information and guidance it provides, especially during times of confusion. Being in contact with others also provides a greater sense of security and a feeling someone is available to help if problems occur. A significant stressor in survival situations is that often a person or team has to rely solely on its own resources.


The survival stressors mentioned in this section are by no means the only ones you may face. Remember, what is stressful to one person may not be stressful to another. Your experiences, training, personal outlook on life, physical and mental conditioning, and level of self-confidence contribute to what you will find stressful in a survival environment. The object is not to avoid stress, but rather to manage the stressors of survival and make them work for you.


We now have a general knowledge of stress and the stressors common to survival; the next step is to examine our reactions to the stressors we may face.

Man has been able to survive many shifts in his environment throughout the centuries. His ability to adapt physically and mentally to a changing world kept him alive while other species around him gradually died off. The same survival mechanisms that kept our forefathers alive can help keep us alive as well! However, these survival mechanisms that can help us can also work against us if we don't understand and anticipate their presence.


It is not surprising that the average person will have some psychological reactions in a survival situation. We will now examine some of the major internal reactions you and anyone with you might experience with the survival stressors addressed in the earlier paragraphs. Let's begin.
Fear


Fear is our emotional response to dangerous circumstances that we believe have the potential to cause death, injury, or illness. This harm is not just limited to physical damage; the threat to one's emotional and mental well-being can generate fear as well. For anyone trying to survive, fear can have a positive function if it encourages them to be cautious in situations where recklessness could result in injury. Unfortunately, fear can also immobilize a person. It can cause him to become so frightened that he fails to perform activities essential for survival. Most people will have some degree of fear when placed in unfamiliar surroundings under adverse conditions. There is no shame in this! Each person must train himself not to be overcome by his fears. Ideally, through realistic training, we can acquire the knowledge and skills needed to increase our confidence and thereby manage our fears.


Anxiety
Associated with fear is anxiety. Because it is natural for us to be afraid, it is also natural for us to experience anxiety. Anxiety can be an uneasy, apprehensive feeling we get when faced with dangerous situations (physical, mental, and emotional). When used in a healthy way, anxiety urges us to act to end, or at least master, the dangers that threaten our existence. If we were never anxious, there would be little motivation to make changes in our lives. The person in a survival setting reduces his anxiety by performing those tasks that will ensure his coming through the ordeal alive. As he reduces his anxiety, he is also bringing under control the source of that anxiety--his fears. In this form, anxiety is good; however, anxiety can also have a devastating impact. Anxiety can overwhelm someone to the point where they become easily confused and have difficulty thinking. Once this happens, it becomes more and more difficult for them to make good judgments and sound decisions. To survive you must learn techniques to calm his anxieties and keep them in the range where they help, not hurt.


Anger and Frustration
Frustration arises when a person is continually thwarted in his attempts to reach a goal. The goal of survival is to stay alive until you can reach help or until help can reach you. To achieve this goal you must complete some tasks with minimal resources - maybe a survival kit? It is inevitable, in trying to do these tasks, that something will go wrong; that something will happen beyond your control; and that with one's life at stake, every mistake is magnified in terms of its importance. Thus, sooner or later you will have to cope with frustration when a few of your plans run into trouble.


One outgrowth of this frustration is anger - brute strength and ignorance can sometimes save you in the short term but may be detrimental in the long term. There are many events in a survival situation that can frustrate or anger some. Getting lost, damaged or forgotten equipment, the weather, inhospitable terrain and physical limitations are just a few sources of frustration and anger. Frustration and anger encourage impulsive reactions, irrational behavior, poorly thought-out decisions, and, in some instances, an "I quit" attitude (people sometimes avoid doing something they can't master). If you can harness and properly channel the emotional intensity associated with anger and frustration, you can productively act and answers the challenges of survival.


If you do not properly focus his angry feelings conversely you can waste much energy in activities that do little to further either your chances of survival or the chances of those around you.


Depression
It would be a rare person indeed who would not get sad, at least momentarily, when faced with the privations of survival. As this sadness deepens, we label the feeling "depression." Depression is closely linked with frustration and anger. The frustrated person becomes more and more angry as he fails to reach his goals. If the anger does not help the person to succeed, then the frustration level goes even higher. A destructive cycle between anger and frustration continues until the person becomes worn down-physically, emotionally, and mentally. When a person reaches this point, he starts to give up, and his focus shifts from "What can I do" to "There is nothing I can do." Depression is an expression of this hopeless, helpless feeling. There is nothing wrong with being sad as you temporarily think about your loved ones and remember what life is like back in "civilization" or "the world." Such thoughts, in fact, can give you the desire to try harder and live one more day. On the other hand, if you allow yourself to sink into a depressed state, then it can sap all your energy and, more important, your will to survive. It is imperative that each person resist succumbing to depression - PMA or focus on whats important to you.


Loneliness and Boredom
Man is a social animal. This means we, as human beings, enjoy the company of others. Very few people want to be alone all the time! As you are aware, there is a distinct chance of isolation in a survival setting. This is not bad. Loneliness and boredom can bring to the surface qualities you thought only others had. The extent of your imagination and creativity may surprise you. When required to do so, you may discover some hidden talents and abilities. Most of all, you may tap into a reservoir of inner strength and fortitude you never knew you had. Conversely, loneliness and boredom can be another source of depression. As a person surviving alone, or with others, you must find ways to keep your mind productively occupied make tools, traps, calculate time ect ect. Additionally, you must develop a degree of self-sufficiency. You must have faith in your capability to "go it alone."


Guilt
The circumstances leading to your being in a survival setting are sometimes dramatic and tragic. It may be the result of an accident where there was a loss of life. Perhaps you were the only, or one of a few survivors. While naturally relieved to be alive, you simultaneously may be mourning the deaths of others who were less fortunate, maybe family or friends. It is not uncommon for survivors to feel guilty about being spared from death while others were not. This feeling, when used in a positive way, has encouraged people to try harder to survive with the belief they were allowed to live for some greater purpose in life. Sometimes, survivors tried to stay alive so that they could carry on the work of those killed. Whatever reason you give yourself, do not let guilty feelings prevent you from living. The living who abandon their chance to survive accomplish nothing. Such an act would be the greatest tragedy indeed.


Your sole role in a survival situation is to stay alive. As you can see, you are going to experience an assortment of thoughts and emotions. These can work for you, or they can work to your downfall. Fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, guilt, depression, and loneliness are all possible reactions to the many stresses common to survival. These reactions, when controlled in a healthy way, help to increase the likelihood of your surviving. They prompt you to pay more attention in training, to fight back when scared, to take actions that ensure sustenance and security, to keep faith with his fellow survivors, and to strive against all odds. When the survivor cannot control these reactions in a healthy way, they can bring him to a standstill. Instead of rallying his internal resources he listens to his internal fears. This person experiences psychological defeat long before he physically succumbs.

Remember, survival is natural to everyone; being unexpectedly thrust into the life and death struggle of survival is not. Don't be afraid of your "natural reactions to this unnatural situation." Prepare yourself to rule over these reactions so they serve your ultimate interest--staying alive.


It involves preparation to ensure that your reactions in a survival setting are productive, not destructive. The challenge of survival has produced countless examples of heroism, courage, and self-sacrifice. These are the qualities it can bring out in you if you have prepared yourself.

Below are a few ideas to help prepare yourself psychologically for survival.

Know Yourself
Through training, family, and friends take the time to discover who you are on the inside. Strengthen your stronger qualities and develop the areas that you know are necessary to survive.
Anticipate Fears
Don't pretend that you will have no fears. Begin thinking about what would frighten you the most if forced to survive alone. Train in those areas of concern to you. The goal is not to eliminate the fear, but to build confidence in your ability to function despite your fears.
Be Realistic
Don't be afraid to make an honest appraisal of situations. See circumstances as they are, not as you want them to be. Keep your hopes and expectations within the estimate of the situation. When you go into a survival setting with unrealistic expectations, you may be laying the groundwork for bitter disappointment. Follow the adage,


"Hope for the best, prepare for the worst and deal with whatever comes your way"


It is much easier to adjust to pleasant surprises about one's unexpected good fortunes than to be upset by one's unexpected harsh circumstances.


Adopt a Positive Attitude
Learn to see the potential good in everything. Looking for the good not only boosts morale, it also is excellent for exercising your imagination and creativity.

Remind Yourself What Is at Stake
Remember, failure to prepare yourself psychologically to cope with survival leads to reactions such as depression, carelessness, inattention, loss of confidence, poor decision-making, and giving up before the body gives in. At stake is your life and the lives of others who are depending on you to do your share.
Train
Through training and life experiences, begin today to prepare yourself to cope with the rigors of survival. Demonstrating your skills in training will give you the confidence to call upon them should the need arise. Remember, the more realistic the training, the less overwhelming an actual survival setting will be.

Learn Stress Management Techniques
People under stress have a potential to panic if they are not well-trained and not prepared psychologically to face whatever the circumstances may be. While we often cannot control the survival circumstances in which we find ourselves, it is within our ability to control our response to those circumstances. Learning stress management techniques can enhance significantly your capability to remain calm and focused as you work to keep yourself and others alive. A few good techniques to develop include relaxation skills, time management skills, assertiveness skills, and cognitive restructuring skills (the ability to control how you view a situation). Remember the stratagies PLAN and Stop both will help you control your initial stress.

Remember, "the will to survive" can also be considered to be "the refusal to give up."
Good luck!


The above information and further reading can be found in various manuals including the US army Survival Manual, 96.8 and Deep Survival.

Final thought - Yoda had it right - "do or do not - there is NO try!" - keep a positive attitude!

23.9.08

Does your knife glow when Orcies are about?






Lord of the Rings fans might be interested to hear that recently the SurvivALL team have been working with the actors and production team of a new LotR's movie to train Aragorn how to be a ranger!


Teaching the lead actor survivor and wilderness living skills was great fun and watching the scenes being shot which contained the skills we taught him was a excellent way to round up our training package!!


Even more important, after seeing people bounding across the screen demonstrating skills which in many cases are down right dangerious it'll be cool to see someone on screen actually using survival skills correctly!!


8.9.08

Survival CUTTING tool combo





Cutting tools, like any tools, are the subject of much debate be it as a work tool among carpenters or as a hobby tools among outdoors folk.


As both a bushcraft and survival instructor I will use the bushcraft knife as my example here - in the area of the bushcraft hobbyist a knife, a saw and a axe are the 'norm' and as most bushcrafter’s try to emulate Ray Mears they tend to fall into the trap of buying an expensive clone of his own design of knife.


While, for craft work, the best tool you can afford is an acceptable maxim and if its your hobby you will happily spend a few pounds more for it - but does a £200 plus knife cut or carve any better than a good quality £10? Indeed I would argue that a Mora Clipper is equal to most tasks and generally as good in use as most custom £200 jobs. Further more in todays world I would also argue that a factory made knife in many ways is superior to a handmade custom job, primarily because a big business such as Mora in Sweden or Leatherman in the states has the science and technology to produce metals which are of the highest quality in mix for pennies and as such leaves the poor hand make lumbered with little choice above tool steel which they can afford to by in small quantities regardless of the steels quality (although you'd still hear arguements for Hand made steels ect - mostly from those who make them or their friends and this is fair enough a knife is a very personal thing so if the price suits you go for it!) - so a £10 brand name factory knife could and in all respects probably is equal if not better in quality of steel to any hand made £200 knife - maybe not as pretty or aesthetically pleasing however.


For the survival knife, as opposed to the craft knife, should we be any less sentimental? Should we go for an expensive tool that looks good on our hip or a cheaper more practical workman like tool?


I personally would say the survivor (and if you can afford the best please feel free to buy it - the Wilderness knife from Bearclaw bushcraft and the neck knife combo are excellent! ") ) should be more interested in usability rather than looks! The survivor wants a tool that can be used in everyway possible not a work of art they are afraid to use in case they damage it, we want a tool that is easily packed and comes in a tough sheath workman like sheath - not something we can pose with on our hip - but something we can rely on letting actions speak louder than words.


Unlike the Bushcrafter the Survivor should also be looking for a tool which has the greatest level of versatility available in one tool rather than relying on have specific tools for specific tasks aka spoon knives ect. Ideally the tool the survivor chooses should be able to act as a axe and a knife, should be able to be used to dig with (and yes I know you can carve a digging stick) and to pound, should have the weight for heavy work yet the balance for fine work, the survivor doesn’t have the luxury of a sheath knife, a axe, a saw, a spoon knife and a necker ect - the survivor at best has a camp knife and a pocket knife so the choice is vital.


The pocket knife we have discussed in the Super Swede article but what about the camp knife?


Ideally this needs to be a big knife a blade of 7 - 12 inches would be ideal! It also needs to be a no frills tool - we will use it for many tasks, we will use it hard so it must be a strongly constructed tool, reliable and easily maintained.


To my mind the Khukri meets the above criteria, and as such is an ideal tool for the survivor. This coupled with the super Swede will meet all the survivors needs - a tried and tested tool with a history of reliability behind it!! The tool itself is simple and traditionally made from Vehicle leaf suspension spring - the shape means the chopping weight is forward on the belly making the tool easily as effective as a hatchet but far safer in use. This coupled with the two little knives - Karda and Chakmak make it a good alrounder as you would expect from a tool that has been relied upon for over 2500 years!






KHUKURI \ KUKRI KNIFE: A mid-length curved knife comprising a distinctive “Cho” that is the national knife and icon of Nepal, basic and traditional utility knife of Nepalese, a formidable and effective weapon of the Gurkhas and an exquisite piece of local craftsmanship that symbolizes pride and valor which also represents the country and it’s culture. Believed to have existed 2500 years ago; “Kopi” is the probable source of the Khukuri that was used by Greek in the 4 th BC. However, khukuri came into limelight only in and particularly after the Nepal War in 1814-15 after the formation of British Gurkha Army. Basically carried in a leather case, mostly having walnut wooden grip and traditionally having two small knives, it is one of the most famous and feared knives of the world.



Khukri Musuem Nepal




The Kukri is a excellent full sized camp knife ideal for all the tasks we'd ask of a Hatchet or small forest axe - in recent trials I used my Kukri for every type of task I'd use a small axe for and it has been as easily as effective although practice and experience are require to familiarise yourself with the tool but no more so than the equal amount required to learn safe axe use.




The two smaller knives go a long way to making the Kukri a far more complete outfit. The smallers knives (usually 3" in length - 1" blade) are the Karda which is a utility blade ideal for food or game prep and all those niggally little tasks the bigger blade is deemed to cumbersome for - being of a low temper the Karda is easily resharpened. The OTHER tool is a Chakmak this is a sharpening device not really a stone more like a file or ceramic rod................but it is also a tool that can be used with flint for fire lighting as in your standard flint and steel - more versatile still ots also a excellent scrapper for the fire steel (ferro rod) casting huge sparks. While the Karda and Chakmak arent essential (as I usually carry the Kukri and the Super Swede) they do make for great additions and are ideal for the survivor looking to carry just one tool!!




The Kukri, like any knife that over the years has been relied upon by native people and that has not evolved with time, can be deemed to having stood the test of time and its lack of modern gadgets or evolution as being due to the fact IT WORKS and this if nothing else tells the survivor it is a tool to be trust and relied upon.



One down side - well only if you dont know how to sharpen a knife - is the fact they dont come razor sharp out the packet - but as we ALL know you should always sharpen a knife from new before use anyway so this doesnt matter.



Or looking at it in a positive light - from new it allows you to put the angle and cutting edge you want on the blade from the start, making its more personal and easier to maintain in the future ")








http://www.bearclawbushcraft.co.uk/trading/kukri.htm Kukri's available from bearclaw Bushcraft ranging from the 9" general purpose to the jungle slashing 12" survival model - all hand made and authentic!

4.9.08

Survival stratagies

Hopefully disaster will never strike but if it does we need a well practiced, well thought out plan or strategy to help us overcome those initial moments of panic and black hearted fear!!


A strategy which is both flexible (to allow for any situation we find ourselves in) and yet good enough to cover all likely situations.
Two strategies I like are remembered by the acronyms - PLAN and STOP


P - Protection
L - Location
A - Acquisition
N - Navigation
This is what the Military are taught and works well - tried and tested!


S - Stop
T - Think
O - Organise
P - Priorities
This is a civilian version and takes into account the fear and panic factor....................


Both acronyms work on their own but each has its limits as either or neither offer the total flexibility we really seek.


But bring them together - Stop - Think - Organise - Prioritise - Location - Acquisition - Navigation and we have a good working strategy - so let’s look at this!


Stop - don’t panic, sit down and think - calm down.
Think - where are you roughly - what skills do you have (wish you'd done a SurvivALL course now don’t you!) - will rescue be coming or are you on your own?
Organise - now’s the time to empty your pack and pockets - do a stock take - the amount of 'goodies' you find will surprise you and give you more confidence - and if you have a survival kit that you know how to use .............................................
Prioritise - Shelter - fire - food - water - what’s your situation?? Maybe signalling for help is most important - work out your priorities and get to work
Location - As a civilian location means we need to start marking our location to aid rescuers as well as to recce the location - make small circular patrols around the site and as you grow more confident make these wider and wider so you slowly discover the local resources without the risk of getting lost!
Acquisition - Having discovered the resources in your area now’s the time to being foraging and harvesting - DO NOT - pick it just because its there! Plan for the long haul - take what you need and no more - remember we can go a long time without food, that why its always better to carry a spare pound or two around the waist! Consider it emergency rations - we'll talk about fasting in a survival situation and the body’s response another time!
Navigation - Never is it advised for someone to Navigate away from a survival situation the advise is ALWAYS stay with the vehicle but if the time for rescue has past and none is forth coming then you may have to navigate out - if so ensure you can navigate, understand how to use natural compasses and map your terrain - again form a plan and ensure you leave signs indicating your direction of travel a good idea is to also leave a note on the vehicle telling rescuers when you left - where you plan to go - what you plan to do - what you have with you - what signals you will leave ect - the more information the better.

A survival strategy gives us a solid foundation to work from and prevents PANIC. Survival is more a mental exercise than a physical one and the mental exercise, as with all things starts at the planning stage.

But remember skills and knowledge build confidence once the worst happens and these are the buttresses upon which our mind can depend, these are our fall back positions and having these in our armoury means we can confidently plan our strategies!

2.9.08

SurvivALL

Several people on previewing the new blog and the new website for the Survival school have asked me WHY SurvivALL?


So here’s the answer.............
Firstly, having googled and searched the internet I found very few sites running 'proper' survival courses most just seemed to be bushcraft schools who bolted on the term survival and as such were either not sure what it was or just used it as a word to drag in extra custom - this I decided would not do as the correct skills required in a Genuine Survival scenario are usually lacking in bushcraft - this was the first thing to prompt me to set up SurvivALL which is a pure survival school with courses that are designed for ALL outdoors folk not just Bushcrafters. More than this SurvivALL is also designed for mums and dads, brothers and sisters, anyone who enjoys travelling - tourist or explorer - and who wants the reassurance of the knowledge that should the unexpected happen they can deal with it and in so doing preserve the lives of loved ones and themselves.
Secondly, and because of the above I decided upon the name SurvivALL as our courses are for us ALL. And our logo hopefully reflects this too .............IMPROVIDUS - APTO - SUPERO - means several things, improvise adapt and overcome is the rough translation, however more correctly it reads Unforeseeing (without knowing the danger, the unexpected) - to prepare (we build up our knowledge by practicing our skills to ensure we can deal with the UNFORSEEN) - to Survive (we use our built up knowledge and skills to rise above the unexpected and survive).
Unforeseeing we prepare to survive - we SurvivALL

The Rising Sun symbol on the logo is also there to remind us we train to survive - firstly because, as in many cases, survival at its most basic is doing the right things to help us live to see sun rise the next day. Many survivors are quoted as saying this, saying how they planned each day with the sole aim of seeing the next day’s sun rise! But our sun rise goes deeper - the four rays of sun light with reach out above the sun are there to remind us of two of Survivals most important Acronyms S.T.O.P or its more military cousin P.L.A.N.


So why SurvivALL and why the SurvivALL logo? Because survival is for us all - it is the foundation and the fall back upon which all outdoors folk, all travellers ( even day trippers and tourists) may (God forbid) has to rely .


And lastly, to quote Lofty Wiseman "Life we survive til we die!"

29.8.08

Better red than dead!

Unlike bushcraft hobbiests who all seem to wear the same thing - typically in green so they all look like little Ray Mears wanna be's - the general outdoors person tends to wear brighter coloured clothing, on the mountains climbers (for some reason) tend to favour blue, walkers it appears like bright multicolour clothing and this is great as if they need help they are easily seen.

But what about survival hobbiest's? Do they still wear ex Army DPM ?? Should they? And lets not confuse the Survivor here from a survivalist - the survivor typically is a member of the public who has trained to be able to survive in the wilderness using knowledge and a small survival kit at a minimum - the survivalist is someone waiting some post holocaustic world where man kind has to battle nature and itself to survive!!

At SurvivALL we practice what we preach and that is your always better in RED than Dead ...........red, enhanced orange or yellow colours which clash with the pastel world around you.

Why?

Not so long ago a chap went into the woods to play with his shiny new axe somewhere up north - he had wisely told his wife his plans ect but was dressed as a typical shrafter in a fawn and green swani - sadly he had a accident with said tool and badly injured himself slicing through much of his lower calf muscle after missing what he was chopping.

Not having a First aid kit (big mistake - always carry a first aid when you carry a cutting tool) the guy tried to stop the bleeding with his jacket but slowly due to shock and blood lose passed out.

After the alert was raised a search was set up for the missing guy - the woods where he went were searched and nothing was found ?

Night slowly decended and the guy came too where he fell - in the distance he could see torches and wanting help used used his whistle to call to the torch bearers who happened to be a couple of the search team on their way home with the search having been put off for the night ..............

So you can imagine how lucky the guy was to be found ..............................

The report on the search clearly stated two things - 1, that the woods where he was had been searched and searchers had passed with approx 5-10 meters of him 2, the whistle (and the fact he was concious at that time probably saved his life as weak ect from the injury and blood lose his chances of surviving the night (and the fact the search would have moved on) he probably wouldnt have lived to see day and if he had, immobile, he might not have gotten to safety unaided.

As survivors we can learn plenty from this, but the two key lessons are firstly, always carry a whistle - a simple distress whistle has saved more lives than any other tool (fact) so having one on you is plan common sense. Secondly wear something bright - if you must go about dressed like a commando at least carry something you can use upon your body and have it easily to hand. If you injure yourself set up your signal before you pass out!! Better still always wear something brightly coloured - a jacket is best as this can be easily removed if wanted.

Myself I wear a red Cairngorm jacket - single layer ventile - I can wear it as a jacket in the cooler months or as a heavy shirt in the warmer ones!! I also wear a bright hat either a baseball cap or a red mountain hat - but equally I usually carry a hi viz orange buff in my pocket.

For anyone who leads groups into the wilderness I would also recommend you add at least one orange survival bag to your kit - these weigh next to nothing and can be life savers - that said you need to learn how to use them correctly of course!!

So next time you go play in the woods remember its better to be RED than Dead!

On the same theme -

http://stuartsbushcraft.blogspot.com/2008/08/to-be-seen-or-not-to-be-seenthat-is-in.html

24.8.08

SURVIVAL KNIFE


As a survival Instructor in the army my 'survival' knife was originaly a old Mauser penknife then back in the 80's I saw a Lofty Wiseman video in which he favoured the NORMARK SUPER SWEDE. At the time I was going down to Brecon to do my SCBC so I bought a super swede to try it out while on the course and (until I lost it in Bosnia) that bombproof tool soon became a trusted friend.



But is it a survival knife? What is a survival knife?



The answer is simple - yes ..........................but so is any knife! Why? Because the knife you have on you at the time your forced to survive is your survival knife and you need to learn how to use it to its max!



Some outdoors folk go to the woods equipped with saws and axes and three knives of various sizes and this is fine for them - indeed if they find themselves coming'a'cropper their survival experience should be a breeze!



But we're not training to become bushcrafters or foresters (although a knowledge of survival skills would be a valued tool to both), we're training to be survivors if our normal every day activaties or outdoor hobbies go wrong - so for us a pocket knife is a far better option and to be honest even having been a bushcraft instructor myself for the past 8 years I still find a pocket knife of far more use than any other tool.



Survivorman Les Stroud favours a multitool (although recently a buck knife seems to be his favourite) and this is a good option but since returning to Survival I have returned to the trusty old Normark Super Swede.



WHY do I like the Super Swede - well its a good sized knife made of solid construction, with a strong and sturdy lock and comes at a price where your not affraid to use it - and thats the key for only buy using it can you truely learn the strengths and weaknesses of a knife!! The grip is rubberised and safe in the hand and the spine of the blade can easily be filed sqaure and then showers a good hot spark from a ferro rod.



So a survival knife is the tool you have with you at the time - if your lucky to have the whole workshop combo of saws and axes ect count your blessings but if you just a normal traveller, hiker, climber, skier ect ect and you dont want to go around carrying more cutting edges than the average Viking warrior a strong folding knife, coupled with some sense and experience, will likely meet all your needs - and for this I recommend the Super Swede!



13.8.08

An Aide Memoire


SurvivALL
Improvidus – Apto – Supero

The Quitter
When you’re lost in the wild, and you’re scared as a child,
And death looks you bang in the eye,
And you’re sore as a boil, it’s according to Hoyle,
To cock your revolver and … die.
But the code of a man says, “Fight all you can,”
And self-dissolution is bared,
In hunger and woe, oh it’s easy to blow,
It’s the hell served for breakfast that’s hard.

“You’re sick of the game!” Well now that’s a shame,
You’re young and you’re brave and you’re bright.
“You’ve had a raw deal!” I know but don’t squeal,

Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight.
It’s the plugging away that will win you the day.
So don’t be a piker, old pard!
Just draw on your grit, it’s so easy to quit;
It’s the keeping – your – chin – up that’s hard.

It’s easy to cry that you’re beaten – and die;
It’s easy to crawfish and crawl;
But to fight and to fight when hopes out of sight –
Why, that’s the best game of all!
And though you come out of each gruelling bout,
All broken and beaten and scared,
Just have one more try – it’s dead easy to die,
It’s the keeping – on - living that’s hard.

Robert Service 1874 – 1958


BE PREPARED.
Your clothing and the kit carried on your person are your first lines of defence -
As a minimum you should be,

1. Dressed for the worst weather conditions to be expected.
2. Carrying a dependable means of lighting a fire.
3. Carrying a sharp and sturdy knife.
4. Carrying a small first aid kit.
5. Carrying a minimum of one litre of water.

Other items advised are a Map of area and a Compass.
Survival kit, Mobile phone and a whistle

SURVIVAL OBJECTIVES (the three S's)
SLEEP - to be able to sleep 8 hours. Dress correctly and use a warming fire and suitable shelter.
SUPPLIES - yourself with enough CLEAN water to meet your bodies needs.
SIGNALS - to prepare for, then await rescue by aiding rescuers with well thought out signals.

BASIC FORMULA FOR SURVIVAL
Inform someone (two separate people would be better) responsible about your plans and the action they should take if you are overdue (remember to inform them you are back upon return also).
Leave the following written information as a minimum –
Time and date of departure
Where you are going – grid reference or route
What digressions you may make
Expected return time/date
Who you are going with
Your means of transportation
Mobile telephone number or other contact details (radio frequency etc)
Should you run into trouble, use all your energy to keep yourself comfortable and prepare signals to aid rescuers in finding you.
Do not try to live off the land unless you are an expert. You can easily go 40 days without eating and most rescues happen within 72 hours.
SURVIVAL KIT.
The survival kit you carry should consist of the following items as a minimum:-
1. Container – This is also your cooking pot and will aid you in water collection/purification.

To contain:
Wire saw (or similar)
Shelter – space blanket, plastic sheet or similar
Fire Steel + striker
Snare wire (approx 2m)
NATO/emergency fishing kit.
Candles x 2 (tallow if space allows)
Heliograph (maybe your compass lid will have a mirror?).
Whistle.
Tampons x2 (tinder/first aid)
Knife (small folding knife in kit is ok but a bigger camp knife is better in a survival situation)
Water carrier (also remember the best carrier of water is inside your body - dont ration water!)
A copy of this Aide Memoire.

Your normal outdoors items will also make up your survival kit items too – remember KIT is just the tip of the pyramid so do not become preoccupied with it – practice and knowledge are far more import to you and can not be lost or broken!

An Axe should be considered if in woodland or the boreal north. Emergency rations and a lightweight sleep system would be wise additions if room allows.

** Keep it simple, forget the complicated gadgets.

THE TEST TO PROVE YOU ARE BECOMING TOO COLD FOR SAFETY.

If it is difficult to touch your thumb to the little finger of the same hand your body’s coretemperature is dangerously low. STOP AND REWARM NOW before you loose the ability to light a fire or to think and reason correctly.

EMERGENCY I.A (IMMEDIATE ACTION) DRILL.
Upon finding yourself lost or in an emergency situation try to carry out the following immediate action drill.
  • Remove yourself and others from immediate danger.
  • Administer first aid where needed.
  • Stop (now is not the time to panic). If possible make yourself a warming sweet drink or light a fire.
  • Appraise your situation and decide upon your priorities.
  • Salvage/Evaluate what equipment you can.

Using all available information form your plan and take action. (remember to form a plan B and C too)

If forced to sleep out overnight without a sleeping bag (in most terrains) you must consider the following,

1. Lighting and maintaining a warming fire. Preferably building a shelter to trap its warmth.
2. Focusing upon gathering enough wood to last the night before or while you build a shelter.
3. If caught out and it is already dark, you may decide to stand or sit near a good warm fire for the whole night.

EMERGENCY BIVI
An emergency Bivi is made up of 5 distinct components.
Fire – large enough to keep you warm while you lay a MINIMUM distance of 30 inches away.
Back protection from cold – stack fuel close enough to touch your shoulder on the side away from fire.
Protection from ground – an insulating bed to stop body heat being lost – minimum depth of four fingers compressed.
Wind protection – Fire, bed and fuel should be laid PARALLEL to wind direction – block off end Bivi from which wind is blowing.
Overhead protection – is only really needed when it is raining or snowing or if you plan to stay in one place for more than one night.

If unable to build fuel pile or ambient temperature is very low sleep between two parallel fires.

FIRE SIZE.
The best size for a fire is one hot enough to force you to stay a step away. Its advantages are,
It will burn inferior fuel better.
It will force smoke up and overhead.
It will need less adjusting.
The fire will truly warm you.
By keeping a step away you will suffer less damage to clothing or person.

A fire should be hot enough to melt the snow far enough away that there is room for you to sleep between it and the edge of the un-melted snow.

However, bear in mind the old Indian maxim, “Indian make small fire to keep warm. White man make big fire – keep warm gathering firewood.”

Long log fire will warm entire body and burn fuel economically – remember to raise dogs at both ends.

Remember to build a base for your fire, feather your wood and gather enough fuel of the correct grade to feed the initial flames.

Prepare for your fire before you light it, gather enough fuel for the night and then gather the same amount again as you will always underestimate your needs. Build a reflector to increase the warmth your fire can provide you with.

Fire will boost your spirits but if you doubt your ability to light one in your present conditions consider where it would be wiser to await more favourable weather/location.

SIMPLIFIED LEAN TO.
Locate a tree with substantial overhead protection and build upon its down-wind side.
A sturdy ridge pole at least 3 arm spans long is placed at a slant and parallel to the wind with its mid point being about shoulder high.
Lean rafters against ridge pole setting angle of roof at 45 degrees to shed rain – 60 degrees to shed snow.
Thatch with any available materials to a minimum thickness of 20 inches.
Make a bed (no wider than your shoulders) under shade of shelter’s roof.
Build fire one full step away (approx 30 inches).
Block off windward end but leave down-wind end open to help reduce smoke.

SIGNAL MIRROR.
· Practice signalling on a target 100 paces away until confident.
· Hold mirror beside eye and flash onto raised fingers (or aiming mark) of other hand which are formed into a V and which have image of target between them.
· Flash and scan the horizon frequently as your signal may be seen by rescuers who are not visible to you.

GROUND TO AIR SIGNALS.
A large cross or X means “I am unable to proceed” make this at least three arm spans in length and using material which contrasts against surroundings.
Signal fires - should be arranged in a tri-angular formation consisting of 3 fires – 1 at each corner. Build these prior to use and ensure kindling etc is dry for easy, instant ignition. Lift vegetation bundle onto flames once fires established this will produce plumes of white smoke.

WHISTLE
Sound signals can travel long distances and work both day and night. The international distress signal is 6 blasts with a minute’s pause in between. Rescuers will reply with 3 blasts. It is important to remember to keep signalling until help arrives. If in doubt signal as often and as loud as possible - continue this until you can attract attention.

WATER
While food is of little short-term importance, you must ensure you drink adequate amounts of water. Staying correctly hydrated will keep you warm and enable you to continue to think straight.

You must drink a minimum of 2 – 5 litres per day in a temperate climate.
Remember to following.
Thirst is not a reliable indicator of dehydration.
Drink enough water to keep your urine straw or clear in colour.
Drink hot water if possible in a cold environment.
Filter and purify all drinking and cooking water by bringing to a rolling boil.
Do not eat snow (especially not the yellow stuff!)
Collect water in poly bag by placing it over tree bough exposed to sunlight. Tightly tie in place.
Trap rainwater and channel into Billy can.
Dig gypsy wells in likely spots such as the outside bends of stream beds or above the high tide zone on beaches. Gypsy well will also filter moister if place near brackish water.

HYPOTHERMIA
A decrease in the core body temperature to a level below 37°c at which normal muscular and cerebral functions are impaired eventually leading to coma and death.

Symptoms – Watch out for the UMBLES – stumbles, mumbles, fumbles and grumbles which show changes in motor coordination and levels of consciousness.

Assessing if someone is Hypothermic –
If shivering can be stopped voluntarily = mild hypothermia.
If shivering cannot be stopped voluntarily = severe hypothermia.

Treatment.
The basic principles of re-warming a hypothermic casualty are to conserve the heat they have and to replace the body fuel they are burning up to generate that heat. If a person is shivering, they have a temporary ability to re-warm themselves at a rate of about 2 degrees per hour. To assist them we should reduce further heat loss by,
Providing shelter and insulation.
Exchanging their wet clothing for dry. Remembering to cover the head.
Buddy up to share body warmth (all members of party not just casualty.)
Give warming sweet drinks
Evacuate.

If severe hypothermia is present.
Insulate with minimum disturbance (avoid after drop)
Shelter (without moving casualty)
Do not remove clothing
Do not apply external heat
Do not try to give food or drink if unconscious
Do not perform CPR
Evacuate immediately.

First Aid training is invaluable – attend courses run by recognised organisations. Learn to recognise and treat Hypothermia as this is by far the biggest killer in the outdoors.

FISHING KIT.
Fish using a night line as this can be working for you both day and night and will catch top, middle and bottom feeders at the same time. Bait hooks with insects or rotting material (experiment). Check your line at dawn and dusk. Move it every few days or when strikes stop. Flies can be attached to flexible (willow) poles and used in this manner. Hooks will also catch game and birds – line can be used for snares also.

SNARE WIRE.
Place snares on well used game trails aiming to catch prey as it runs between cover or at feeding/watch stations. For rabbit or small game set snare approx 4 fingers above the ground and make loop approximately fist sized. Tether well to stake driven deeply into the ground.
If using natural cordage or thin line set snare with switch arm. For squirrel set snares on a pole (8 – 10 foot long) lent against a tree. Place snares on top and both sides of pole setting these one finger high with a three finger loop.


These pages are designed to be used as an aid memoir – cut them out and place them in the bottom of your survival kit (read them and understand them first!) That way you will have them if an emergency situation is ever encountered.

Next Issue we’ll look at the Survival strategies such as P.L.A.N and S.T.O.P as we’ll as survival kits plus much more but remember survival is 90% a mental exercise – with PMA you can truly SurvivALL!

*This memoir is provided as information only. The publishers and the author are not responsible for the application of the information; this is at the sole risk of the reader and the book is made available on that understanding.