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Excellent ways to effectively manage your cordage are easily available. The effectively management of cordage is an ongoing problem for most people. Cordage can become tangled and knotted even with the best of intentions of not allowing to happen. The problem exists regardless if you have sewing string or climbing rope. I have experienced the frustration of attempting to keep my cordage neatly wound and secured only for it become a mess after several uses. However, in this article I will discuss some tips and tricks that will help you effectively manage your cordage.

Sewing String to Parachute Cord Management

 

1. Stainless Steel Sewing Bobbins

Stainless steel sewing bobbins are a wonderful way to store your sewing string, braided fishing line, or Kevlar™ line in your emergency kit. Sewing bobbins also come in plastic. Plastic bobbins are not recommended because they are not durable in a field environment. Plastic also has the quality of drying out and becoming brittle in hot dry climates. Thus, the stainless steel sewing bobbins are the best way to effectively manage the cordage in your emergency kit like twine, strings, or fishing line.

Advantages

The primary advantage of a stainless steel sewing bobbin is that it gives a compact and durable way to manage your small diameter cordage like braided fishing line. Stainless steel is the best material for field use because of its corrosion resistance. Another advantage of using this type of bobbin is easy of storage in smaller containers like Altoid® tins or small pouches for your personal emergency kit.

Disadvantages

The most glaring disadvantage of using the stainless steel bobbin is the limited amount of cordage that can be stored on them. Thus, the stainless steel bobbin an ideal option for effectively managing your cordage such as braided fishing line, jute twine, or sewing thread.

2. Plastic Floss Bobbins

Plastic floss sewing bobbins are thin plastic squares that on which small amounts of sewing sting are stored. Most people have seen the paper bobbins that come in the complementary sewing kits given by some hotels. The plastic bobbins work well for small personal emergency kits. I use these to wrap my braided fishing line in my emergency fishing kit. I also have wrapped my 25 feet of Kevlar™ cord on these bobbins. The use of the plastic floss bobbins works well for storing in my EDC personal emergency kit in my ALokSak® bag.

Advantages

The primary advantage of using the plastic floss bobbin is compact storage. As stated above, plastic is not the best material for the field. However, for storage in small containers or pouches, these are an effective way to manage your string-type cordage.

Disadvantages

The obvious disadvantage of the plastic floss bobbin is its limited capacity to hold cordage. Another disadvantage of the plastic floss bobbin is that it will crack or break easy if handled in a harsh manner. Yet, despite their disadvantages, the plastic floss bobbin is a great alternative of effectively managing your cordage.

3. Spool Tool™

The managing of your parachute cordage can be an especially aggravating effort. The TricornE™ company in San Diego, California has an innovative device for storing up to 100 feet of parachute cord. It is called the Spool Tool™. This is a hard plastic device that features a holder for a Bic® Mini lighter and a cord cutter. I use one of these to store my paracord in my backpack. These are great for people who have not mastered the art of coiling and tying off paracord for storage.

Advantages

The main advantage of the Spool Tool™ is the ease of storing up to 100 feet of paracord. Another advantage of this device is that it has a cutting device and fire making capability. These features make the Spool Tool™ a versatile item to consider for your pack loadout.

Disadvantages

A disadvantage of the Spool Tool™ is that it can be bulky with 100 feet of paracord. Therefore, 75 feet of paracord works best with this item. A second disadvantage of the Spool Tool™ is that replacing the razor cord cutting blade can be tricky in the field. The two small screws that hold the blade cover and blade in place can be lost if one is not careful.

4. Atwood Tactical Rope Dispenser

One of the more innovative products to come along for storing parachute cord is the Tactical Rope Dispenser by the Atwood Rope Manufacturing Company in Ohio. This is a practical item to consider when storing your paracord. As with the Spool Tool™, the Tactical Rope Dispenser is another great way to effectively manage your cordage.

Advantages

The Tactical Rope Dispenser is advantageous for its ease of storing and dispensing parachute cord. The TRD features a built-in cord cutter, similar to the Spool Tool™. Moreover, it also comes with a belt clip and small notches for holding the loose end of the cord. It is also easy to refill the spool with more parachute cord.

Disadvantages

One of the disadvantages of the Tactical Rope Dispenser is that it has a limited storage capacity of 50 feet. 50 feet of paracord is sufficient for most backpackers and hikers. However, those who spend more time outdoors usually need up to 100 feet of cord. Another disadvantage of this product is that refilling the spool can be difficult in the field. Thus, it is best to purchase two Tactical Rope Dispensers. One for regular use and one for a back up in case you run out of cord in the field.

Climbing Rope Management

The next level of cordage to consider managing is climbing rope. It is sometimes called assault line or repelling rope. Some experts in the field of emergency preparedness recommend keeping 50 to 100 feet of climbing rope. However, employing climbing and repelling techniques in an emergency should only be accomplished by those experienced in those skill sets. However, methods to effectively manage rope-type cordage is a consideration for some. Therefore, the following tips are given to help with managing climbing rope.

1. The Alpine Coil

The alpine coil is one of the more common techniques for managing climbing rope. This technique also can be used with parachute cord. The technique is a simple coiling and then wrapping for security as illustrated in the picture. The alpine coil also can result in the rope looking like a figure eight with a wrapped middle. There are many sources on the internet and on YouTube® that demonstrate how to employ this technique.

Advantage

The alpine coil has the advantage of being simple. There are no complicated knotting sequences to remember with its use. As a result, the alpine coil allows for ease of storage on the outside of one’s backpack by securing it with a carabiner. Thus, this technique should be used by those just learning rope management.

Disadvantage

The disadvantage with the alpine coil is that it does not totally resolve the tangling concern after the wrap is loosed. A climbing rope can tend to kink and coil on itself when it is being stretched out for employment, which results in tangling. Therefore, care should be taken when unraveling the rope to prevent tangling.

2. The Butterfly Coil

The butterfly coil is a rope management technique a little more complicated than the alpine coil. However, this technique works best with longer lengths of rope, usually over 100 feet. The butterfly coil allows the rope to be carried on the outside of a pack or on someone’s back as illustrated in the picture. A rope coiled and wrapped in this manner will look like there is a loop securing the rope at the top. As with the alpine coil, one can find this technique being demonstrated on YouTube®. This rope management technique is for those more experienced climbers who use this method regularly for rope management.

Advantages

A major advantage of the butterfly technique is that it does resolve the tangling concern. As the rope is being coiled it employs an s-style back-and-forth fold. This helps the rope to be easily employed with out tangling after the securing wrap is loosed.

Disadvantage

The biggest disadvantage of the butterfly coil method is that it requires some practice to get a rope correctly secured in this manner. The initial moves of the coil are simple. However, when the rope is going to be secured by the butterfly knot, there are some more hand movements necessary to complete the technique. Therefore, this management method should only be used by those after they have practiced it enough to be proficient with it.

Final Thoughts

This article has been a little more lengthy than normal. Yet, it is hoped that it has been informative. The topic of cordage management is one that will continue to occupy discussions around the outdoor and prepping world. The importance of storing cordage and keeping it from getting tangled is a concern for all who love the outdoors. Thus, it is my desire that this article will motivate further thought on this topic.

Emergency signal planning considerations are essential to experiencing a great time outdoors. They are also crucial for ensuring that you will be discovered in an emergency situation. In a previous article, I discussed the PACE method. Initially, the PACE technique was a planning tool for ensuring communications were available to military leaders. A more frequent use of the PACE method is to help someone determine the most critical assets or capabilities required to keep activity or mission going when everything else has failed. Signaling is part of communication capability.

When we think of signaling, we think someone flagging down a passing car or a search-and-rescue helicopter. However, emergency signal planning is more involved than a simple wave of a handkerchief in a desperate moment. It involves careful and intentional thought. The same is true for the other aspects of survival. Emergency signal planning is more than having access to multiple signaling devices in your backpack or emergency bag. The following planning techniques should help you better address your signaling requirements.

1. Establish A Communication Plan

A communication plan is the starting point for addressing emergency signal requirements. How are you going communicate when out on the trail, hunting in the backcountry, or deep sea fishing several miles offshore? A communication plan should include two things: reporting times and methods. Survival experts advise telling someone when and where you are going. You should also let them know how often you will be contacting them while gone. Another aspect of a good communication plan is developing an emergency plan. For example, what are your friends or family supposed to do if you fail to contact them at the agreed time? This means developing and publishing a communication plan that covers these concerns.

2. Passive and Active Signaling Method

The first consideration of emergency signaling is to address passive and active signaling methods. It is vital to have both a passive and an active method of signaling in an emergency. Military pilots around the world usually have passive and active means to signal for rescue. Active signaling methods are those methods that require physical effort to use, such as a flare gun or signal mirror. Passive signal methods are those that you deploy and leave. Then, they will continue to communicate in your absence, such as an arrow made of rocks, trail marking tape, or a personal locator beacon.

The most effective emergency signals employ both an active and passive means of communication. The idea is that the more ways that you have to make contact with someone through visual, hearing, and smelling, you increase your chances of being found in an emergency. The survival and emergency planning literature implies that you use these methods by the items that they list for an emergency kit. However, they do not always make it obvious that this is the reason that they recommend and flashlight and a notepad.

3. Day and Night Signaling Method

Another signaling method to consider integrating into your emergency plan is day and night signaling methods. These considerations are often overlooked in signal planning. We think that we will only be rescued just before lunchtime. However, many rescues can occur in the evening hours. Thus, it is to your advantage to address both day and night time emergency signaling methods. An example of a daytime signaling technique is a signal mirror. A signal mirror is only useful when the sun is up. An example of a nighttime signaling method is a personal emergency strobe light, engaging the strobe feature on your headlamp, or twirling a chem-light on some 550 parachute cord. Therefore, remember to integrate some kind of day and night signaling method into your next outdoor activity.

4. Near and Far Signaling Method

The next method to consider including in your emergency signaling plan is a near and far method. The near and far signaling method is most often used in tactical environments when stealth needs to be maintained. However, it is still an option to consider integrating into your signal plan. An example of a far-signaling method would be a horn blast from your vehicle, the report from discharging your firearm, or employing an aerial flare. The point of this method is to make your whereabouts known as far away from your position as possible so a rescue team can get to you more quickly. A signal fire is also a type of far signaling technique.

A near-signaling method is a little more complicated. The most common near signal method is your voice. Yelling out to those approaching your position will tip them to your exact location, especially at night. However, some near signal methods incorporate infrared light and night vision equipment. A more field expedient method for a near-signal method is hitting on a tree trunk with a stick. Some other near-signal techniques involve hand-held radios and the squelch function on the transmitter button of the microphone.

5. Voice and SMS Communication Methods

Finally, the next method to consider in your emergency signaling plan is voice and SMS communications. The most common item that employs both voice and SMS texting is your smartphone. However, some communication devices only use voice or SMS texting. The PACE method is a great tool to determine what you should carry to your outdoor activity. An example of a communication device that uses only voice communications is a handheld radio, ham radio, or citizen’s band (CB) radio. These come in various sizes and qualities. An example of a purely SMS communication device would be a Garmin inReach or SPOT device. The advantages of the SMS devices are that they can send an emergency signal with your geolocation data via satellite to first responders. Therefore, as you develop your emergency signal plan do not overlook voice and SMS emergency communication devices.

In Summary

Comprehensive emergency signal planning starts with a thorough communication plan. These five areas of consideration for emergency signaling will significantly enhance your outdoor communication efforts. The PACE technique will help you build redundancy into your plan. Thus, combining these five considerations with the PACE planning tool will give you an excellent emergency communication plan that may save your life or the lives of others around you. It is an excellent time of the year to enjoy the outdoors. Avoid becoming a statistic by developing and implementing an emergency signal and communication plan. Be safe, be prepared, and enjoy the outdoors.

There are eight must-have tools to include in your home emergency disaster kit. The change of seasons is upon us. The severe weather that marks the shift from winter to spring will begin soon. Are you prepared for tornados, flooding, or severe thunderstorms? Later, summer and early fall will bring similar weather emergencies to include those from the hurricane season. As the strange weather patterns affect our nation, it is prudent to consider the tools that we have available in our home emergency kits.

1. Chain Saw

The chain saw is one of the top tools that emergency preparedness experts recommend that you have in your home emergency disaster kit. The advantage that you have with a chain saw is excellent. It will help you process fallen trees. Additionally, it will help cut through wood framing of fallen homes to recover or rescue someone.

Several companies sell reliable chain saws: Poulan, Stihl, Husqvarna, and Black & Decker. Chain saws come in two types: gas and battery. If using a chain saw is not part of your regular routine, then it is advisable to purchase a battery powered one. People have their individual preferences on chain saw brands. So do some research and shop around for the chain saw and brand that fits your knowledge, experience, and budget.

2. Fireman’s Ax

Another essential tool to keep in your home emergency disaster kit is an ax. There are many types of axes and brands. Axes tend to come with one of three types of handles: wood, fiberglass, or steel. There are three styles of bit blades for axes: single bit, double bit, and combination bit. The best ax to keep in your emergency kit is the fireman’s ax.

The fireman’s ax is the standard tool in use with most fire departments. The fireman’s ax has a distinctive head. The ax head has a single-bit blade on one side and a pick poll opposite the blade. This kind of blade bit is a combination bit. Firefighters use the ax to breach doors and walls to rescue people inside a burning building. A fireman’s ax is excellent for chopping wood when necessary, such as fallen trees.

3. Limb Saw

A third tool that emergency preparedness experts recommend keeping in your kit is a reliable limb saw. The advantage of having a limb saw handy after an emergency is the ability to cut smaller pieces of wood. The chain saw helps cut the large diameter tree trunks and limbs. However, a good limb saw can effectively cut the smaller diameter limbs not practical for cutting with a chain saw.

There are several styles and brands of limb saws. The most well-known are the folding limb saws in use by outdoorsman. However, the limb saws that will be practical for use in the wake of a weather disaster are the larger bow or pruning saws. The are several types and brands of limb saws. The best brands on the market are Silky, Bahco, and Fiskars. Black & Decker and some other companies make powered limb saws. They look like miniature chain saws on the end of a long pole. Thus, whichever style and brand of limb saw you choose, they are a great tool to keep in your kit.

 

4. Gas Shut-Off Wrench

The gas shut-off wrench is one of the more essential tools to hold in one’s home disaster emergency kit. The wrench is sometimes known as the utility shut-off wrench. These wrenches will shut off both the water main and the main gas valves on your home. Having one of these tools is essential. The wrench will help you turn off water and gas that may be escaping from a fallen house after a storm. There are many styles of these wrenches. Be sure to purchase one that can shut off both water and gas.

5. Crow or Pry Bar

A tool that is often recommended by emergency preppers for a home disaster kit is a crow or pry bar. They are different tools with different applications. However, they both give a person the ability to pry and lift debris after a disaster. Most hardware stores sell these tools. The significant difference between these tools is their size and appearance.

Typically, a pry bar is no longer than twenty-four inches, has a flat body with a curved end. The crowbar can be longer, has a rounded shape, and has a claw hook at one end, similar to a claw hammer. The crowbar is a tool to give leverage to lift heavy objects. A pry bar is a tool used by carpenters for pulling nails, lifting up sheetrock or wall paneling. Pry bars and crowbars can come in lengths that will fit in most tool boxes. They both have flattened ends with notches for pulling nails at each end of their bodies.

6. Sledge Hammer

A sledgehammer is a tool that is often recommended by the experts as an essential item in one’s disaster kit. Sledgehammers come with different handle lengths and hammerhead weights. The most common sledgehammer is one with a eight-pound head and twenty-four-inch handle. Sledgehammers also have handles that come in wood, fiberglass, or steel. Sledgehammers are great for breaking concrete, masonry, and sheetrock.

7. Bolt Cutters

A tool that is not often in the discussion of tools for home emergency disaster kits is the bolt cutter. Bolt cutters come in a few sizes. The most common bolt cutters in use are thirty-six inches and twenty-four inches in length. However, bolt cutters can be as small as fourteen inches.

Bolt cutters are excellent for cutting through fencing, wire, anchor bolts, and padlock shackles. In the wake of an emergency, using a bolt cutter to free someone may be the difference between a rescue and a recovery.

8. Shovel

The final tool that one should have in their home emergency disaster kit is a shovel. There are two kinds of shovels, a squared end, and round end. They also come with either a wood handle or a fiberglass handle. There are a variety of shovels on the market. The rounded end shovel is primary for digging. The squared end shovel is for scooping. Your situation may require keeping both types in your kit. However, a good shovel will make cleaning up your property or helping others do the same much easier.

Some Concluding Observations


The eight essential tools for one’s disaster emergency kit are important for post-disaster cleanup and recovery. The latest tornado disaster of recent days gives insight into how being prepared helps communities come together and recover. These essential tools will not only help you; they can help your neighbor also after a weather-related disaster. As you think about these tools, keep in mind that your location plays a part in what to include. Thus, you can not go wrong with a well thought out disaster kit containing the proper tools.

Everyone seems to agree that a good survival knife is an essential item for the outdoorsman, bushcrafters, or preppers. There are many good resources to access to learn about survival knives. However, the key words of versatility and practicality should influence your thinking about knives. Additionally, do you view a knife as a weapon or tool or both? Furthermore, there are at least two major things to consider before you decide on what kind of knife to purchase or carry: the purpose of the knife and the characteristics of the knife.

The Purpose Of The Knife

The defining question for determining the type of fixed-blade knife to carry is the type of use for that knife. What is the purpose or reason for carrying a knife? The term survival knife is a definition for a purpose or an application of the knife. That means that the intent of the knife is personal survival. In other words, it will be the one knife that you will rely on to save your life. However, there are many general categories of survival: combat/tactical, wilderness, urban, water/sea, jungle, mountain, desert, medical, emergency, etc. Thus, there are knives specifically tailored for each of these survival categories. Therefore, a person needs to define what kind of use they want to get out of a fixed-blade knife. Yet, there are some basic characteristics that define a good survival knife.

The Characteristics Of A Survival Knife

1. Full-Tang

The first characteristic in a survival knife is that must be full tang. The term, full tang, means the knife blade and handle tang are formed from a singular piece of steel. The tang is the part of the knife upon which the handle scales are attached. The knife tang should extend to the bottom of the handle and not taper into the handle as in a rat tail design. Some knives marketed as survival knives have a hollow handle molded, bolted, or welded to the blade. Unfortunately, this welding point makes the knife vulnerable to cracking and breaking at the joint where the blade and handle meet. However, in recent years, there has been some significant improvements on the hollow-handle knives and some people are starting to recommend them as a useful knife. What about blade thickness?

2. Blade Thickness: 3/16-1/4 inch

The second characteristic of a good survival knife involves blade thickness. A good survival knife needs a blade thickness between 3/16 of an inch to 1/4 of an inch. This provides a solid and durable blade that will last if you take care of it. The blade thickness is important if using the knife for prying things apart. Other sources will have additional considerations. However, I found that if you find a knife that meets these first two specifications then the other recommended characteristics for a good survival knife will fall into place. Furthermore, blade length is another consideration.

3. Blade Length: 4.5-6 inches

A third characteristic of a good and reliable survival knife is blade length. There are some experts that recommend that a survival or bushcrafting knife should have a blade length of no less than five inches. However, the exception to this rule are the Morakniv® brand knives. Many of the experts in the field of wilderness survival and bushcraft recommend the Morakniv® knives. Yet, a blade length of five or more inches meets the versatility considerations for a survival knife: construct improvised weapons and traps, as well as, process food. One thing to keep in mind about blade length is not to have a knife blade that is too long. A knife blade beyond six or seven inches is probably going to be too cumbersome to wield when building traps or skinning a squirrel. Not only are tang, blade length and thickness important for a survival knife, but also the blade materials are equally important.

4. Blade Materials: D2 or 1095 High Carbon Steel

A fourth characteristic for a quality survival knife is the steel used in making the knife. There is almost universal agreement that high carbon tool steel is the optimum material for a knife blade. D2 and 1095 steels are the most favorable tool steels for the blade construction of a survival knife. These blade steels are the best for those are spending a lot of time in the field such as hunters or bushcrafters. They are easy to sharpen and hold an edge well. However, a good blade steel to consider is stainless steel if there is only an occasional excursion to the outdoors. This means that it is easy to keep corrosion and rust from building up on the blade or handle. For example, many of the top game processing knives feature a stainless steel blade. So, a stainless steel outdoor knife may be a consideration for only a weekend outing on the campgrounds, cabin, or the favorite fishing hole. Moreover, the type of blade spine is also important to consider.

5. Blade Spine: 90° Spine

The fifth characteristic of a good survival knife is a blade spine that is ground to a 90° edge. This kind of edge is useful in the field. It allows a person to use the spine of the knife to scrape bark from a tree for tinder and strike a ferro rod when making a fire. It is also good for striking flint or chert rock against it to make a spark for starting fires.

6. Blade Grind: Scandinavian or Flat

A sixth characteristic of an excellent survival is the blade grind. There are two common blade grinds that one will find on a quality survival knife: a Scandinavian grind and a flat grind. The Scandinavian grid is the most popular grind of the two. The main reason that these two grinds are popular on survival knives is that they are the easiest type of blades to sharpen in the wilderness. Other blade grinds sometimes require special tools or expertise to sharpen. Thus, most of the high quality, and, expensive bushcraft or survival knives will feature these blade grinds. Moreover, there are some other things to consider when deciding about a knife to carry as a survival knife.

Other Considerations

Jimping

Some things to think about when deciding on a good survival knife are the type of additional features some knives have on them. For example, some survival knives have notches on the spine of the blade near the handle called jimping. This feature allows additional friction when using the thumb for wood carving or cutting tasks. Is jimping something that you want on your knife?

Scale Material

Another feature to ponder on survival knives are the kind of scale material on the handles. The four most common handle scale materials on survival knives are: bone, wood, rubber, or micarta. Wood, rubber, and bone are understandable scale features. However, micarta is a material that is often used on survival knives. Micarta is a composite material of polymers and linen cloth fibers. Thus, micarta has a wood-like quality to the touch.

Type of Edge: Fine or Serrated?

Finally, some commentary on serrated edges. There is much ado regarding a knife blade with a serrated edge and one without. The decision about this feature is a matter of preference. It is also being able to answer the earlier question, “What is the purpose of your knife”? If you want to cut down on weight in your backpack by carrying only one knife, then a knife with a serrated edge may be a viable option. The serrated edge provides some versatility with the ability to saw small diameter limbs or materials such as plastic. However, if you are going to carry a good multi-tool, you do not really need a knife with a serrated edge. Thus, a good survival knife is an essential piece of gear. Therefore, choose your survival knife wisely.

Recommended Survival Knives:

1. Morakniv Bushcraft 2. Morakniv Garberg 3. The Sigma 3 Survivor “Ultimate Bushcraft Blade” 4. Tops BOB Fieldcraft 5. Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion
Modifying your Get-Home-Bag (GHB) is a great way to stay ready for a winter emergency. The Fall is upon us now. Yet, Winter is about to arrive. Moreover, the winter season means traveling in dangerous weather conditions. Thus, it is critical to prepare to handle winter emergencies while on the road.Therefore, one of the ways to be prepare to face a winter travel emergency is to keep an emergency survival kit in your vehicle. A convenient way to keep an emergency survival kit in your car is through a 72-hour level backpack. For this article, this bag is different from a vehicle emergency kit. This emergency bag is for personal survival while traveling in inclement weather conditions. Some people call this type of emergency bag, a Get-Home-Bag (GHB). This bag is to enable your survival as you get back your home after leaving your car.Moreover, this article is not about building a Get-Home-Bag. Instead, the purpose of this article is to help you customize the GHB that you already have for the winter. This means examining what contents that are in your bag. What are some factors to consider when winterizing your bag?

Factors Influencing Winterizing Your Get Home Bag

Factor #1: Environment

The first factor to consider when winterizing your Get-Home-bag is your general environment. A more specific environmental consideration is the kind of winters that your area experiences. For example, people living in the Southwest do not have to worry about blizzard or whiteout conditions. By contrast, people living in the upper Midwest or New England have to take into consideration the more harsh conditions of winter. Another environmental factor that influences winterizing your bag are the winter temperatures and wind chill factors.

Factor # 2: Travel Distance

Moreover, the next factor to keep in mind is the distance that you will be traveling. People travelling long distances will have also to consider the winter conditions throughout their travel. Additionally, one should consider the type of infrastructures that can serve as emergency stopping points or emergency shelter while traveling. Additionally , experience with using your gear is important.

Factor # 3: Experience

A third factor you should consider when preparing your Get-Home-Bag is your level of experience. Your experience with the outdoors and survival gear influence what you carry in the bag. A good rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Only place items in your bag that you already know how to use. For example, a Bic® lighter is an item that you already know how to use. However, you may not know to use climbing or rappelling gear. The point here is that being stranded on a major interstate in a blizzard is no place to try something that you have never used. Thus, your attempt to experiment with an unfamiliar skill or gear in the middle of an emergency may jeopardize your life or the life of others of whom you are responsible. Therefore, as you consider modifying your Get-Home bag for winter, what are some things to think about when deciding on survival gear?

Gear Considerations For Winterizing Your Get Home Bag

The Right Backpack

The first thing to consider about your Get-Home-Bag is the bag itself. You may need to replace your current bag with something more durable. A couple of good examples of winter capable packs are the 5.11Tactical® Rush 72 Backpack (55 liters), sold at the Sigma 3 Survival School Store, or the SealLine® Black Canyon ™ Boundary Portage Pack (70 liters). Both of these packs have their strengths and weaknesses.

The strength of the Rush 72 pack is its capability for modularity. Its material is a water repelling (not waterproof) 1050 Denier nylon fabric. The main advantage of the SealLine® pack is that its waterproof 300 Denier TPU-double-coated nylon body with a 400 Denier TPU-coated nylon bottom. The waterproof material of this pack guarantees that clothing items in the bag will stay dry in rain or snow conditions. The main weakness of the Rush 72 pack is that it is not waterproof. Lengthy exposure in rain or snow water will eventually have moisture seep into the bag. The main weakness of the SealLine® pack is that it does not have any attachment points on its exterior. Thus, after selecting a winter-capable backpack, what are some winter survival gear options to place inside the bag?

Fire Making Items

The first survival gear consideration for a winter Get-Home-Bag is a fire making item. Fire is one of the four essentials of survival (Fire, Food, Water, Shelter). A great piece of fire-making gear is the Sigma 3 Fire Kit. Check out my review of this excellent fire kit for more information about this kit. In a winter scenario, being able to build a fire is critical to keep from getting hyperthermia. It allows you to stay warm, dry your wet clothing, sanitize water, melt snow, and cook food. Furthermore, meeting your hydration requirement is critical to surviving in a winter environment.

Water and Hydration Items

The second consideration for survival gear your Get-Home-Bag is hydration. Water is a primary key to survival in winter. Therefore, water procurement, treatment, and consumption are central to surviving in a winter emergency. However, finding fresh running water in a stream may be difficult in the winter. Thus, it is essential to have a capability to melt snow or ice to get fresh drinkable water in the winter. The Sigma 3 Water Kit is an excellent piece of gear to consider putting into any winterized GHB. Check out my review of this water kit for more information this versatile gear.

Shelter and Cover Items

Additionally, a third survival gear consideration for a Get-Home-Bag is that of shelter. One option for meeting your winter shelter needs would be the Warbonnet Blackbird XLC hammock system. The hammock is available at the Sigma 3 Survival store. This hammock system comes with some additional add-on items: a winter top cover and under quilt protector. If you are interested in more information on this hammock system, read my review and video at the Sigma 3 Survival Store. A further consideration for this hammock system would be a sleeping bag. The Snugpak® Tactical 4 winter sleeping bag also would be a great addition to the winter shelter consideration for any GHB. The Snugpak® sleeping bag could be attached to the bottom of the Rush 72 pack.

Food and Food Procurement Items

Additionally, a fourth survival gear consideration for a winter Get-Home-Bag is food and food procurement. Another item to think about putting in a GHB for the winter is the Yoyo Fish Trap fishing Reel or the Emmrod® Kayak King Cast Rod and Reel Kit. These items are available at the Sigma 3 Survival School Store. Pre-made meals such as MREs or Mountain House® pouches are useful items to meet the food requirements for a GHB. You can also build your meal kit by using instant oatmeal, instant rice, beef jerky, energy bars, crackers, and instant electrolyte powder (Gatorade®/Propel®).

Winter Clothing Items

Moreover, a final survival gear consideration for a Get-Home-Bag for the winter is addressing clothing needs. Winter clothing items can be bulky and take up space in the backpack. Therefore, choose winter clothing items carefully. Wool and Gore-Tex should be the kinds of materials that characterize winter clothing. Here are some suggestions for some winter clothing items.The first winter clothing item to consider are wool socks. Keeping feet warm and dry is a critical consideration when discussing surviving in the winter. The U.S. Army MIL-84K Wool Boot Socks or Smartwool® Men’s Hunt Extra Heavy Over the Calf Socks are the types of socks to consider for winter clothing in a Get-Home Bag. Some other winter clothing considerations could be having a wool-based base layer set in the bag, such as the Meriwool Men’s Merino Wool Midweight Baselayer. A military wool watch cap and Weather Wool Neck Gaiter scarf would also be a great item to consider for one’s emergency bag.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Get-Home-Bag is a great resource to have available in one’s vehicle. As the winter period of the year dawns, it is prudent to check your bag. You should analyze what winter specific survival items you need. It is possible that a more substantial bag may be necessary to meet your winter needs.  For example, the things in my GHB are easily stored in the current pack. There is no requirement where I live to maintain large bulky cold weather gear. However, I do need to preserve some winter gear in my bag for traveling in the mountainous regions of the Southwest. So as you begin to assess your winter needs for your Get-Home-Bag choose carefully and wisely the gear that you will need.

None of us like to think about an economic collapse or apocalyptic disaster, but with the instability of the economy and increasing natural disasters there is a real potential for the Stuff to Hit The Fan (SHTF).  I am not a doom and gloom survivalist, but I am a realist, and feel it is important that we are prepared for the worst.

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In the digital age, the act of exchanging actual currency has become a thing of the past.  For most we simply swipe a card with no real thought of exchange, but in a grid down situation your credit cards will become useless.  If our economy was to collapse the US dollar could be rendered valueless, and be good for nothing but tinder.

So what do you use to barter with when it comes to the exchange of goods?  During my travels in Haiti where bartering is still heavily practiced I saw trade as a daily practice.  These 21 items were the most commonly used when it came to bartering.  (Not all items come from experience in Haiti, many are just items in high demand.)

21 Items You Can Barter When SHTF

  1. Cigarettes – they can be traded individually, in packs, or in cartons.
  2. Alcohol – stock up on small bottles which will afford you more opportunities for trade, or better yet learn to distill your own.
  3. Precious Metals/Silver/Gold/Jewelry – These highly sought after valuables have been some of the only true currency for thousands of years, and will still be the go to currency.  I personally save all the silver coins I come across.
  4. Ammo/Guns – 12ga, 22lr, 7.26×39, and 9mm luger are the most commonly used ammo throughout.  Have a good variety in your inventory.
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    Canned and Dried Foods – Hangry wont begin to describe the hostility people will have when food shortages arise.  There is nothing worse than watching someone you love starve to death.  Having excess  food could have a huge impact in your favor when it comes trade.

  6. Pain Killers/Antibiotics/Medications – Sickness and infection will be on the rise with the lack of definitive care.  Medications and medical skills will become a valuable asset.  I highly encourage you to get medical training.
  7. Purified Water / Water Filters – Having the capability to drink clean drinking water is vital to your health and overall well being. You need to have several hundred gallons in reserve.
  8.  Fuel/Batteries/Power – We are extremely dependent on power in more ways than one.  Batteries are small and can hold a shelf life for years.  Fuel on the other hand is bulky and volatile if exposed to spark.
  9. Candle/Lanterns/Flashlights – Nothing worse than being stuck in the dark for long periods of time.
  10. Shoes – I had several people beg to trade me stuff for my shoes while I was oversees.  I actually ended up giving away every pair of shoes I brought (3 pairs to be exact), and had to borrow a pair from a friend so I could get on the airplane home.
  11. Toilet Paper – Yes the one paper that will actually be currency when crap hits the fan.
  12. Tampons/Feminine Hygiene Products – This can be a difficult area to consider, but if you have a wife, teenage daughter, or women in your party these are very real needs to consider.
  13. Toiletries/Soap – Staying clean is extremely important when it comes to avoiding infection and sickness.
  14. Coca Cola – I would have never guessed Coca Cola would be in Haiti, but it is everywhere, and people love it.  This favored soda is even featured under the identity of Nuka Cola in one of the most popular post apocalyptic video games Fallout, where the player trades the soda for other goods.  I know that is a video game, but I guarantee it will have value.
  15. Salt/Sugar – Not only are they essential to our body, they also increase flavor in our foods. Salt is still traded all across the world today.
  16. Matches/Lighters/Fire Starters – The ability to start a fire is crucial, and without a proper fire starter hypothermia is sure to set in on those cold winter nights.
  17. Heirloom Seeds – Granted the soil is a viable source for growing food, seeds could come in extremely useful.
  18. Warm Clothing – Wool clothing and socks are some of the warmest and most insulative, and on those cold winter days they would be worth their weight in gold.
  19. Books – In a grid down environment, or in the case someone destroys them in an attempt to rewrite history, books are the only real records of our civilization, not to mention the entertainment/enjoyment factor they provide.
  20. Specialty Items – Condoms, watches, coffee, charcoal, playing cards, make-up/cosmetics, gas mask, hazmat suits, you name it.  Anything that might be of value to someone else can be considered a trade good.
  21. Twinkies – “Those spongy, yellow, delicious bastards.” – Zombieland

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Justin “Sage” Williams

Director of Operations
Lead Instructor
Sigma 3 Survival School

Practical Alternatives for Buried Survival Caches
By Matthew Dermody

One can hardly go far into the prepper and survivalist culture of self-reliance without running into the subject of gear survival caches and doomsday stockpiles. Having a survival cache and having access to the critical supplies contained within it is essential. As more and more people choose to lose their ability to take care of themselves, the need to keep your supplies from the prying eyes of the desperately unprepared grows even more. The most commonly discussed survival cache is the improvised burial tube. Buried tubes and survival caches main mantra is ‘out of sight; out of mind’ with good reason. If people cannot see it or find it, they cannot raid it. Personally, I am not a fan of large burial tubes, although they are necessary for larger gear such as firearms, cookware, and larger shelter items.

Larger buried survival caches have their place and are fine for your final bug-out destination. Until you arrive at your final bug-out location, you may not want or be able to carry all of the gear you originally put in a large en route cache. There are alternatives to large and buried caches, all having legitimate advantages and drawbacks. Two such alternatives are aerial concealment and exposed/ground level concealment. The key word to remember here is practical. The type of cache you decide to use depends on some important factors based upon your age, your physical condition, and your environment. Here are some points to consider in selecting your cache method.

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1. What kind of equipment do you need to hide or retrieve the cache? A spade equates to digging. Digging equates to work. Work expends needed calories and energy. Even with a perfect hide location, digging requires the disposal of the excess soil and make the surrounding area look undisturbed. This is especially true if there is a chance of someone walking through your proposed survival cache site. With all the effort put in to hide the cache, you end up removing it to get to your supplies.

2. Time is not always on your side. Just as digging equates to work, work equates to time. When the time comes to retrieve the tube, are you really going to want to spend the time digging for items when you could be having a jump start to your bug-out location? Will you have enough time to sit around and wait for the cover of darkness or ideal weather conditions to retrieve your cache? Carrying an adequate spade or shovel to your hide location is going to look somewhat suspicious. If you are planning to use an easier concealed camp shovel to unearth your treasure, then you are adding even more time to the retrieval process. What if someone follows you, waiting until you are distracted or exhausted from the retrieval process, and decides to attack or arrest you? This could also happen in other cache retrieval methods, but your situational awareness is not going to be at its peak if you are concentrating on digging. For some people, climbing a tree to retrieve a cache can be unsafe and potentially dangerous. Continually scanning the area is an important consideration to the type of cache used. Certain cache types require more vigilance because your attention is divided between the retrieval process and maintaining situational awareness. Too much time spent in an area, no matter how secure you deem it to be, can put you at risk for discovery. In a SERE scenario, stopping to hide or retrieve something in the ground is going to use up time that needs to be spent putting distance between you and your pursuers.

3. Mother Nature will not cooperate during a SHTF event. Regardless of whatever causes a SHTF event requiring a bug-out to a more secure location, Mother Nature and Murphy’s Law will persist in their usual defiance of human endeavor. If things can go wrong, they will and they will do so at the most inconvenient time and season. Inclement weather is one thing, but combine the first two reasons with the addition of snow and several inches of frozen ground and you have now increased the amount of time and hard digging required. Moreover, freezing conditions can reduce manual dexterity, adding more time digging or climbing and exposes your body to the elements for longer periods. Climbing with gloves or mittens is difficult in cold weather, making tree scaling far less successful for most people.

4. Some survival cache methods and sizes may require an accomplice. Trust is a big factor when you start obligating friends to swear an oath of secrecy. The old expression, “Two can keep a secret if one is dead,” is something to keep in mind. Anyone who knows or associates with you who encounters unfriendly forces are a potential risk for compromise. These forces threaten or intimidate people into turning on you and revealing your secrets. Having a cache location that only you know about and only you can access/retrieve your goods without assistance is the safest policy. If one man walks into the woods with a shovel or rope looks suspicious, then two men with shovels and ropes screams of a conspiracy.

5. Larger survival caches are difficult to hide. If you choose to have a larger cache site, you run the greater risk of its discovery. The best advice I can give is to resist the temptation to store all your essential supplies in a single large cache. Making several, smaller caches along your travel route are a wiser choice. First, your cache locations are more scattered and random. Second, if one cache is raided, discovered, or destroyed, you lose some assets instead of all of them. An event such as this is frustrating, but you continue on to your next location, knowing that you did not lose everything.
6. How remote is the cache location? Location and remoteness also determine what type of cache is best for your situation. The more traffic, whether human or animal, will require more effort to conceal it. The more difficult it is to reach your cache in terms of remoteness and terrain, the better your chances will be keeping it hidden. While you want to make it difficult for everyone else to discover and reach, you do not want to put yourself in peril in order to conceal or retrieve your cache.

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So what are the alternatives? There are a few concealment options, and like burial tubes, they are not without their own unique drawbacks. However, these cache options eliminate or reduce some of the labor drawbacks associated with burial tubes. When the full use of technology and camouflaging techniques are applied, the appeal of the alternatives will overcome most of the negative aspects. It is important to understand that there are no 100% foolproof methods to conceal caches.

Go aerial, not burial. When discussing aerial concealment, it is important to realize that you do not want your cache swinging from branches. The first option is suspending the tube within the canopy of a deciduous tree giving you the ability to retrieve the tube by lowering with an attached rope. The option of nestling the tube in one of the higher crotches of the tree is the best. The most important thing to remember with an ‘aerial’ tube is to secure it tightly so that it cannot be dislodged by high winds or strike other portions of the tree and thereby bringing attention to it. Humans are not tree climbers by nature. Without some sort of assistance like ropes or ladders, the desire and ability to climb trees decreases with age for most people. Therefore, most individuals do not give tree canopies a second thought while looking for hidden objects.

Keep it on the down low. Meaning, ground level low; leave it out in the open. This concept is more prevalent with the popularity of geo caching. Geo caches are small, man made objects hidden within a natural setting. They contain little log books to record who finds the object and when. Because of this, the camouflage MUST be exceptional for this to work, but with some ingenuity and creativity, this is easily accomplished.
Incidentally, with these methods, you are not restricted to tubes. Food-grade five-gallon buckets with gamma seal lids hidden under rock piles, large tree stumps, etc. also work well. Large fake rocks made of plastic often used to disguise well housings and residential utilities work well as concealment, too. However, I strongly recommend adding additional textured spray paint along with gluing preserved moss on the surface to give the appearance of realism.

Two very important things to remember with ground concealment techniques:

1.) Look like it belongs in that location.

2.) Look like it has been at the location for several year, decades preferably. You also need to ensure and implement the best waterproofing methods you have at your disposal, as surface hides are much more susceptible to water seepage. Sealing every possible point where water can seep into your cache with a silicone sealant is a prudent decision. Even if your cache never is exposed to direct rainfall, dew and condensation can still creep into unsealed caches. As an added measure, make sure to use desiccant packs to absorb any moisture.

Most importantly, keep your mouth shut. This should go without mention, but do not discuss the location of any cache you have with anybody. Social media is a good place to discover people with like minded ideas, but that does not make them immediately trustworthy. Survival culture, content, and concepts are always okay to discuss, but never survival coordinates, campsites, and caches.

Matthew Dermody is a self-published author and owner of Hidden Success Tactical. He specializes in camouflage and concealment training for professional, recreational and survival applications.

Photo Credits: http://preparedforthat.com/survival-caching-part-1-mindset-need-protect/;http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2013/08/13/embrace-your-inner-pirate-5-important-considerations-for-your-survival-cache/

 

BIG CHANGES! The Urban SERE and Wilderness SERE course are now one 7 day hardcore course!

We have been running our SERE training program for civilians for years and we have always had two components to the course. Urban and Wilderness SERE training courses were each 5 day courses. Now they are one 7 day course that is more exciting than before! The wilderness SERE training module covers survival tactics in the woods, when security and stealth is your biggest priority. All the survival tactics taught have an emphasis on stealth. Our urban component covers more about kidnapping and urban escape and evasion, surveillance and counter surveillance, comms and travel plans, and much more.

Both programs are equally good and have very little overlap between the two. But because so many people are on a time crunch for training with their busy lives, we decided to roll both programs together to give you one comprehensive course that covers it all.  Most civilians don’t realize just how important this training is for them. Americans are the #1 target worldwide for the kidnapping industry. Just because your American, people in other countries think you are rich and before you know it you could be getting rolled up by some kidnap team. Statistically a civilian is far more likely to be kidnapped than a military member!

Many people are scared by the SERE training program, but that fear is totally unjustified. If your scared, your over thinking it! Most of the program is actually fun and exciting, not as hardcore as you might think. The interrogation phase is what most people stress about, and that phase is totally optional and you don’t have to do it to participate in it to attend the course. It is only about 2 hours out of 7 days of training, so don’t let the interrogation scare you off from the program. But if you do decide to participate in the Resistance Phase, you will be stun gunned, maced, and treated harshly. But after its over you will be immensely proud of yourself for not only surviving but escaping custody easily. And the more you use what we teach you, the less painful it will be. We have a 100% success rate of our students escaping illegal custody. You will get away after we get done training you. You’ll be able to escape handcuffs, zip ties, duct tape, rope, and much more! Anything that a captor could tie you up with, we will teach you how to beat it!

If you travel the world or believe one day you might need to escape and evade, then this is the course for you. We will cover all types of urban and wilderness survival tactics in this course and after the 7 days are over, you will be confident that you can survive just about any tactical survival situation. Check out the link below for more information on how you can get some SERE training!


The Lead Instructor: Sean Walker

Served 16 years with Delta Force. Participated in Tora Bora raid on Osama Bin Laden. Had 55 confirmed kills on the Kurt Muse raid. Sniper Team Leader, Master Breacher, Assaulter, and SERE expert.


clickhere

Hey Everyone,

Well we wrapped up another TV shoot with another awesome organization, the Sportsman Channel. SIGMA 3 was recently featured in the new show called “America Unplugged” hosted by Cade Courtley. The show is about preppers and survivalists that are on the path to getting off the grid and it’s a well done documentary about our lifestyle here at SIGMA 3. The show focuses on our efforts to build a self reliant homestead. Each new episode will feature a new family or group of Off Grid Survivalists. If you hated Doomsday Preppers because of the Tin Foil crazies, then you will definitely like this well thought out documentary that skips the sensationalism and gets right to the heart of how important self reliance is to everyone. We did the shoot prior to the build out of many of our homestead projects and it was in the middle of winter, so the episode doesn’t display all the awesome progress we have made on the garden and survival camp. But it was still a great episode on the philosophy of self reliance and the necessity to unplug from the grid!
We have been in the process of building out several homestead projects over the last year and we are still in the beginning phases of building a permaculture based farming setup. Our goal is to reduce our waste to as little as possible, grow most of our food needs, supply our own electricity via solar, raise various types of cattle, and become as self reliant as we possibly can. We aren’t just about wilderness and urban survival, but also homesteading and permaculture based skills as well.

We are currently still building our the Urban Farming model here at the homestead. Our idea is to create an urban design that almost anyone can incorporate if they have even a small amount of space. We are going to show all the various urban gardening techniques, so that people can pick and choose what they need for their place. This project should be completed by the end of 2014 and we will keep blogging our updates so stay tuned for future projects.

The show also covers some our wilderness survival training and it outlines how important it is to not over emphasize your gear based preparations, and instead train your mind to create everything you need from minimal resources. It encompasses our philosophy of walking off onto the land with nothing but a knife and surviving indefinitely! Please check out this episode and share it in other survival forums so that we can spread the word about Self Reliance. These old school skills are the key to our future and lets share these truths with as many people as we can. So stop sitting on the sidelines and get active in pushing these skills to your friends. Because there might come a day when you are going to depend on these same people for your life and you want them to have the best training and education they can get. Whether it’s through SIGMA 3, home training, or some other organization; make sure you get prepared today by doing some training!

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks,
Rob Allen
President
SIGMA 3 Survival School

 

So most of us have seen all the survival shows on TV that show would be survival experts eating all kinds of crazy things for the attention of it’s audience. Well I am here to tell you that these guys are idiots and I wouldn’t recommend following their instructions on things pertaining to what to eat and how to prepare it. Plain and simple, they do it for the ratings and not the educational value of the techniques prescribed. Now you can eat bugs raw and will probably get away without any harm from it, but there are always risks when doing it. Many bugs carry nasty parasites and diseases and by ingesting them we have rolled the dice that our immune system will be able to take care of them. Most of the time your immune system will  handle it but when in a survival situation your immune system is already on the edge from all the increased stress put on it. Stress decreases immune system functions and I can assure that most all survival situations are high stress ones! So don’t take the risk of eating something because it’s convenient and then paying greatly for your laziness later. Remember that some insects may contain toxins or venom and these bugs are usually brightly colored. If you have a question about the edibility of a certain bug, observe whether or not wild animals eat the insect or check a field guide to back you up. But honestly there are very few grasshoppers or similar species that will cause you any harm, they are definitely in the minority of the available bugs to eat out there!

But don’t let my harsh tone persuade you from trying these protein rich sources of calories, because bugs truly are the easiest and most nutrient dense resource available to gather in most areas. Most of the world consumes bugs in their diet and it is a much needed source of healthy stuff for our body when other more desirable sources aren’t available. Grasshoppers for instance, contain more protein than beef and chicken. But large spiders contain 3 times the protein that grasshoppers do, so these small treats add up to big calories real quick! Check out these two articles on the nutrition and how to cook up different types of bugs, you’ll be shocked! Eating Fried Tarantula’s or Bug Nutrition Table

There are many ways to gather these types of foods but all the methods require you to get out and go explore. Whether your walking through a field catching hoppers, lifting rocks to find tasty treats, or raiding an ant hill for its larvae it doesn’t matter.  Some ants are quite excellent and have a surprisingly sour taste that keeps you coming back for more. All these methods will produce calories for you time and time again should you have to resort to these more dire methods. Americans consider these emergency methods but many cultures consider them delicacies, so alter your perception and try something different for once. So look up some recipes for these items and do something crazy like adding a few bugs to your next stir fry. Hope this helps and if you like this information then please share these videos and blog. Thanks for your continued support!

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