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There are 3 outstanding wood choppers you should consider for your survival, bushcraft, or emergency kit. There are many varieties, sizes, levels of quality, and prices for these tools. These essential tools were developed to address specific local or regional requirements. The ax and machete are pretty standard solutions for most situations. Let us look at the top three outstanding wood choppers that you should consider adding to your field gear packing list.

1. Ax/Hatchet

Background

The ax or hatchet is one of the 3 outstanding wood choppers. They are the standard wood processing tool in North America and Europe. This tool has been in use and in various forms since the Neolithic Period (9500-2000 B.C.) of human history. There are many forms of the axe. The type of bit informs the purpose for their use. The basic types of axes are the felling ax, splitting ax, broad ax, adze, hatchet, carpenter ax, hand ax, mortising ax. Additionally, the hatchet and hand ax are just shorter handle versions of the felling ax.

Purpose

However, the kind of ax that is most popular for outdoor survival is the felling ax. Other names for the felling axe are the woodsman ax or single bit ax. These axes were developed to cut down and process trees common in the forests of North America and Europe, such as conifer, birch, holly, or oak.

Features

These axes usually have two main parts: the handle or haft, and the head or bit. The blade of the ax is the cutting edge of the ax bit. The handle, in a modern two-piece ax, is made of wood or fiberglass. The ax handle averages between 24-36 inches in length. The ax head averages between 1.5 and 3.5 pounds in weight. Some of the best axes and hatchets of this type are sold at the Sigma 3 Survival Store: Hults Bruk Akka Forest Axe and Hults Bruk Almike Hatchet.

Kit Compatibility

Thus, a good, high-quality ax is a must if you live in the forested areas of the United States or Europe. The Hults Bruk Akka Forest Axe is the perfect fit to carry on the outside of a backpack or to fit the vehicle emergency kit of your truck or SUV. The descriptions and pricing for these axes can be found at the Sigma 3 Survival Store. An ax is an outstanding wood chopper for your kit.

2. Machete

Background

The next type of the 3 outstanding wood choppers that you can consider for part of your survival or outdoor kit is a machete. Machetes have been in use around the world for many centuries. There are different styles of machetes with differing blade lengths.

Purpose

The primary purpose of the machete is to clear jungle vegetation. Other models of the machete are used to remove brush or cut small trees in the more arid parts of the world where wooded forests do not exist. Machetes with shorter blades are sometimes used to process game, harvest fruits or vegetables, and to prepare food for cooking. The machete is a very versatile tool. The machete is also an instrument that can be used for self-defense, as is the common practice in other parts of the world.

Features

One of the better machetes on the market is the Ontario Knife Company (OKC) Military Machete. This machete has a blade that is 18 inches in length. The blade material is 1095 high carbon steel. This is a traditional looking machete. It is the same machete currently in the inventory of the Department of Defense (DoD) with an assigned National Stock Number (NSN): NSN 5110-00-813-1286. The military sheath for this machete has the stock number: NSN 8465-00-926-4932. OKC sells a Chinese made nylon sheath separately for their machete. A machete is a valuable tool in any survival or emergency kit.

Kit Compatibility

The machete is an excellent consideration for vehicle emergency kits, backpacking, survival or emergency kits or bags, or a home emergency kit. It has its limitations but it is a versatile tool that that can handle most field and emergency needs. This is one of the outstanding wood choppers that you should consider for your kit.

3. Parang

Background

The parang is a type of machete and it is also an outstanding wood chopper. The parang is the wood cutting tool of choice in most places in South East Asia such as Indonesia or Malaysia. Whereas, the machete is more associated with South America and the Amazon basin.

Purpose

The value that this tool has is its ability to cut desert vegetation such as mesquite trees or creosote bushes. It can process wood for making fires, process food for cooking, and it can function as a self-defense instrument in an emergency.

Features

The significant difference between a parang and a traditional machete is that the parang blade is shorter, with a shallow curve at the cutting edge, and thicker. It looks like it is more akin to the conventional meat cleaver.

A parang has several types and varieties. The blade length usually averages between 12 and 18 inches. The average thickness of the blade is around 3/16 of an inch. The most common blade materials are D2, 1075, or 1095 tool steel. The Condor Tool & Knife Bushcraft Parang and the Ka-Bar Adventure® Parangatang are good examples of quality parangs.

Kit Compatibility

This wood chopper fits well in most backpacks. That is why, depending on where you live, the parang is a viable alternative to the ax or machete as your wood cutting solution for your BOB, INCH, or GHB bags. You will not go wrong with this outstanding wood chopper in your kit.

Final Thoughts

The subject of wood processing tools is one that will continue. This article discusses those tools most commonly used for chopping wood for various reasons related to survival. The preferred choice for a tool that is best for that task is going to fall on a matter of preference, most of the time. As with any tool, there are good manufacturers and poor ones of wood chopping tools. The location that you live in and the types of vegetation that is common there will determine which of these three outstanding wood choppers that you incorporate into your kit.

There are seven essential wearable EDC survival gear items to consider making part of what you carry all times. The main factors that determine what a person carries is location, experience, and necessity. The everyday gear that you take is as simple as what is on the body like watches or items in pockets. By contrast, EDC survival items can be the more sophisticated gear that you place in the bag, pack, or briefcase that you carry to school or work. However, there are a few essential items that one should consider having on your person regardless of location, experience, and necessity. What are these seven essential EDC items that one should wear or carry at all times?

Microlight or Flashlight

The first survival item to consider carrying on you at all times is some type of flashlight or microlight. Flashlights come in many sizes and configurations. The best EDC flashlight is one that you can place in your pocket. One of the best flashlights to consider is the Nitecore MT1C Flashlight. You can buy this item at the Sigma 3 Survival Store. This flashlight comes with a pocket clip and is roughly 3.5 inches long. It will fit in most trouser pockets or leg cargo pockets. This flashlight can also fit in the shirt pockets of most outdoor or tactical shirts. However, there is another type of flashlight to consider.

Another type of flashlight to think about is the microlight or micro-flashlight. These kinds of lights are sometimes called keychain lights. One recommended microlight is the LRI® Photon Micro-Light with a Covert Nose. This light is one that I personally own and is in the EDC survival kit in the cargo pocket of my pants. The second type of microlight is the ThruNite® Ti3 EDC Cree flashlight. This light has a pocket clip and is about 2.75 inches in length. Microlights are very versatile and convenient to carry on a daily basis. What is the next survival item to carry daily?

Lighter

The next survival item to carry daily is a lighter. There are many types of lighters on the market. The most recognizable is the Bic® lighter. This is a disposable butane fluid lighter. These lighters come in two basic sizes: the classic and mini. The mini Bic lighter is a favorite to carry among those who do not smoke tobacco products.
Another iconic butane fluid lighter is the Zippo® lighter. The lighter fluid in the Zippo lighter can be replenished through a cotton felt pad in the bottom of the lighter case. The main reason for carrying one of these kinds of lighters as an EDC item is their reliability. The Bic and Zippo lighters will function under most circumstances encountered on a daily basis. What about tools?

Multitool

The first tool to consider carrying every day is a multitool. Multitools come in various sizes and configurations. The two most reliable multitools are those manufactured by Leatherman® and Gerber®. I personally have owned both Leatherman and Gerber multitools, and each is quality tools. However, I would recommend the Leatherman® Skeletool™ multitool for EDC purposes. It is the right size for carrying on a daily basis without the bulkiness of the Leatherman® Wave™ or Gerber® MP 600™. Yet, the Skeletool offers the same versatility as its larger counterparts.

Pocket Knife

The second tool to think about carrying every day is a pocket knife. There are many opinions about pocket knives and other folding blade knives. A pocket knife does not have to be an elaborate tactical folder for EDC purposes. The intent for pocket knives is that they are tools and not weapons. There are folding blade knives that function more as weapons than tools. The classic stiletto switchblade knife is an example of a folding knife being a weapon and not a tool.

Furthermore, pocket knives come in many sizes and configurations. The most straightforward pocket knife has a single blade, such as the Gerber® Paraframe™. Most pocket knives have, however, at least two blades, one small and one large. Pocket knives can have various blade shapes. The most common blade shape is the drop point and clip point. There are pocket knives that use 1095 high carbon steel in their blades. The Bear & Son C205 Heritage, Walnut Midsize Lock back Folder, is an example of a pocket knife using 1095 high carbon steel in its blades. These kinds of pocket knives are excellent for bushcrafting and other outdoor applications.

However, some of the best makers of pocket knives are Victorinox® and Case®. The recommended pocket knives to carry on a daily basis are the Victorinox Swiss Army Farmer or the Case 6.5 BoneStag® Medium Stockman. These knives have blade lengths that are legally compliant most anywhere. They need minimal maintenance and will do most cutting jobs, such as cutting cordage, making a trap, stripping wire, cutting bandages, box cutting, or letter opening. The Swiss Army Farmer has more features than the Case knife, such as a saw and awl.

Wrist Watch (Solar-Powered Triple Sensor)

The final survival gear item to consider wearing on a daily basis is a solar battery powered triple sensor watch. A good watch is a valuable piece of gear to wear every day. A triple sensor watch has the features of an altimeter, barometer, and a digital compass, hence ABC. The barometer on these kinds of timepieces gives the current temperature when this feature is engaged. The solar battery that characterizes these outdoor watches keeps the watch working all year in all types of weather. The compass on this type of wrist watch is helpful because you do not have to worry about ambient magnetism affecting its reading. For example, the metal from your belt buckle or wedding band will not influence the direction given by the watch as it would your lensatic, baseplate, or wristband compass.

Furthermore, the best solar-powered triple sensor watches on the market are the Casio® Pro Trek™ Pathfinder™ PRW2500T-7 and PAG240T-7. These watches come with a titanium watch band. This watch band is excellent for rugged outdoor activities. Additionally, the more sophisticated smartwatches are great but have their limitations because of the need to update their software periodically. These two Casio watches can be worn every day in every situation. The solar-powered triple sensor wrist watch is an essential survival gear to wear on a daily basis.

Tourniquet

The final item to consider carrying at all times is a tourniquet. These used to be cumbersome to carry so most were stored inside of bags or packs. However, in recent years, manufacturers have started making belt pouches to hold a tourniquet. Blue Force Gear® and Rescue Essentials® sell tourniquet pouches that can be worn on a trouser belt or mounted on MOLLE gear. There are several versions of tourniquets on the market. The two most common are the combat application tourniquet (CAT) and the rapid application tourniquet (RAT). There is a third option available called the ratcheting medical tourniquet. This seems to be growing favorite tourniquet among emergency preppers and SOF personnel. Therefore, carrying a tourniquet should be considered as part of your wearable EDC survival gear.

Great Christmas gifts are hard to find for those who love the outdoors. Everyone has a preference. Yet, there is some excellent outdoor gear that you cannot go wrong purchasing for those who love the outdoors. Furthermore, have you thought about gift ideas for the survivalist, prepper or outdoor enthusiast in your life? Sigma 3 Survival Store is having a Black Friday sale this Thursday. Now is a great time to consider these 6 great gift ideas at a reasonable price.

1. The Sigma 3 Survivor “Ultimate Bushcraft Blade”

The Sigma 3 Survivor knife is a wonder Christmas gift idea, if you are looking for an outstanding bushcraft knife, this is the knife for you. This knife was specially developed with input from the great instructors at the Sigma 3 Survival School. Many of its features were a must-have for us as survival instructors in a bushcraft blade, and this knife includes everything we think you must have for survival. Therefore, the details of the Sigma 3 Survivor knife are below.

Specifications for this knife are as follows:

  • Steel: 1/8″ CPM3v crucible steel
  • Blade Length: 4″ blade length
  • Length: 8 1/2″ Grind: Scandi grind
  • Spine: Very sharp 90-degree spine
  • Pommel: (Unique to the Sigma 3 Survivor), fire making tinder scraper
  • Handles: Green Canvas Micarta, un-polished for increased grip
  • Sheath: Kydex

Furthermore, not only is the Sigma 3 Survivor knife an awesome gift to consider for Christmas, the Emmrod Kayak King fishing pole another gift idea for this season.

2. Emmrod Kayak King Spinning Rod and Reel Kit

Another great Christmas gift idea is the Emmrod Kayak fishing rod. Why not get ready for the Spring fishing season early by considering this great backpacking rod and real system by Emmrod. This handy and practical fishing pole will not let you down in the field. It is designed for stream fishing but is excellent for bank, pier, kayaking or lake fishing. The stainless steel pole will not break under stress like fiberglass poles. Thus, if you like hiking the backcountry to those fishing spots that no one knows about, this is the fishing pole solution to satisfy your needs.

Specification for this fishing pole is as follows:

  • 6 Coil stainless steel rod (up to 15#)
  • Includes D.C.M. reel by Emmrod
  • TPE Hybrid anti-slip handle material.
  • Spin reel seat.
  • Full-length handle
  • Emmrod patented 1/4 turn locking system.
  • Assembled in America.
  • New TPE butt cap with a lanyard ring.
  • Impact resistant nose.
  • Accepts all Emmrod stainless steel rod ends.
  • Breaks down to just 14.”
  • Excellent for open-faced spin reels.
  • Pack weight of just over 8 oz including rod end.

In addition to the great Emmrod fishing pole, have you thought about the fire starting needs as a gift for the outdoorsman in your family?

3. Sigma 3 Fire Kit

Additionally, the Sigma 3 Fire Kit is a wonderful Christmas gift consideration. This fire is an excellent solution to address the fire building needs of both experts and novices to the outdoors. The keyword to describe the kit is redundancy. Unlike most survival kits that offer one or two means to build a fire, the Sigma 3 Fire Kit gives multiple ways to make an emergency fire in a survival situation. The kit covers a multitude of survival considerations for which creating a fire would be necessary. So, what are some essential characteristics of the Sigma 3 Fire Kit?

General Description

The Sigma 3 Fire Kit comes in a Fox Tactical™ Tactical Wallet Organizer. It is a military-style tactical pouch initially designed as a pocket organizer to hold pens, a small notepad or note cards. Inside the organizer are multiple fire making items such as a Ferro rod and stormproof matches. The pouch is small enough that it can easily be belt-carried, stowed in the glove compartment of your vehicle, or stashed in your favorite everyday carry (EDC) bag. What are the features of the kit?

Fire Kit Features:

  • Fire Stix: These are All-purpose tinder sticks. They ignite easily with flame or sparks.
  • Wet Cubes: These are man-made non-toxic fire starting material that burns even on a damp surface.
  • Ferro Rod: It will produce sparks when scraped against a rough surface. It is sometimes called a metal match.
  • Survival Matches: Clear composition case with screw top lid and integrated replaceable striker. Includes 15 matches and 2 paper strikers.
  • Stormproof Matches: 25 matches per pack.

Thus, the Sigma 3 Fire Kit is a great solution and gift idea for those wanting an excellent fire making solution for the field. Moreover, another outstanding kit to think about as a Christmas gift is the Sigma 3 Water Kit.

4. Sigma 3 Water Kit

Moreover, a water kit makes an awesome Christmas gift consideration. The Sigma 3 Water Kit offers a solution to address your water needs while experiencing the outdoors. It is versatile, modular, and addresses the basic requirements for water carrying, procurement, and processing when in any environment or situation. This kit should be an essential item whether you are an avid outdoorsman, work in a large urban center, or live on a rural homestead. What are some of the features of the Sigma 3 Water Kit?

General Description

The Sigma 3 Water Kit comes in a Fox Tactical™ Hydration Carrier Pouch. This bottle carrier is a tactical MOLLE padded pouch with a drain hole in the bottom. It also has three rows of PALS webbing. There is a detachable accessory pouch that also has MOLLE PALS webbing. The style of the water pouch is sometimes called a Nalgene® Bottle carrier. What are the details of this kit?

Water Kit contents are as follows:

Specifications:

  • Total Kit Weight: 1.70 lbs.
  • Total Kit Dimensions: 10 ½” H, 5” W, 7” L

The Sigma 3 Water kit makes an excellent gift idea for this holiday season. Yet, what about shelter considerations as Christmas gift ideas?

5. Aqua Quest Defender Square Camo Tarp 10’ x 10’ (Kit)

Quality, packable tarps are also something that will make an awesome Christmas gifts. There is nothing like being able to get into some shade while out trekking through the wilderness. A tarp is an excellent solution if you are not interested in putting up a more sophisticated shelter. The versatility of a good tarp cannot be exhausted. The Aqua Quest Defender Square Tarp kit is just the solution for hunters, bushcrafters, or wilderness survival enthusiasts. Many shelter options can be employed using this shelter kit. It comes with reinforced webbing loops and stitching. Its seams are heat-taped added durability. It is made of a 70 Denier nylon with a heavy TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) coating. As a result, the tarp provides a waterproof cover in the field. It falls in the category of a heavy-duty tarp, yet it is light-weight and compresses to fit into any backpack.

Kit includes:

  • Square 10’ x 10’ Defender Tarp
  • 6 ‘Boa’ adjustable straps
  • 6 Ultralight aluminum pegs
  • Stuff Sack

Specifications for this tarp kit are as follows:

  • Tarp Weight: 3.6 lbs. (1.65 kg)
  • Total Kit Weight: 4.5 lbs (2.05 kg)
  • Packed Size: 14 x 7 x 3.75 inch (36 x 18 x 9.5 cm)
  • Total Area: 10 x 10 ft (3 x 3 m)

Therefore, keeping dry or out of the sun is important when trekking out in the field. However, what about addressing the sleeping needs as a gift for Christmas?

6. Warbonnet Blackbird XLC (Ultimate Hammock System)

Furthermore, hammocks are great Christmas gift ideas for the outdoorsman in your family. The hammocks manufactured by Warbonnet in Colorado are the best in the outdoor survival market. The Blackbird XLC is their best hammock system that they produce. These hammocks are durable yet lightweight. Most of the Sigma 3 Survival instructors own them. This is professional grade equipment that will last for years. If you want the best hammock system, the Warbonnet Blackbird XLC is the sleeping solution for you. Thus, what are the details concerning this great hammock?

Specification for this hammock system are as follows:

  • Heavyweight Double Layered Blackbird XLC
  • Weight capacity: 400 LBS
  • Item weight (webbing/buckles): 2 lb. 8oz.
  • Item weight (whoopies): 2 lb 6oz.
  • Item Weight (continuous loops): 2lb 2oz
  • Fabric: 70D Nylon (x2)

Moreover, this hammock system by Warbonnet makes a wonderful gift for those wanting a quality hammock by a reputable manufacturer.

First Aid Kits come in various levels of sophistication. As such, emergency medicine is always a central topic of concern for those prepping for emergencies or surviving in the outdoors. People who spend much time in the field will instruct that carrying a first aid kit is an essential item. Emergency preparedness literature also advises keeping a first aid kit in your home and car. However, before considering first aid items to carry, what are some general considerations concerning an individual first aid kit?

Considerations

The Level of Medical Expertise

The first thing that should influence what you put in your first aid kit is your level of medical expertise. Have you received certified training in first aid or emergency care? Are you a person with general knowledge of medical care from personal experience? First aid kits that are available at a local store are for use by the general public. By contrast, some of the more sophisticated emergency first aid kits are for those with more specialized medical training. For example, if a person does not know how to take a manual blood pressure reading, then to have an analog blood pressure cuff and stethoscope in a kit is probably not wise. Not only is a person’s level of medical expertise an influence concerning the type of first aid kit to carry, but also what is the intended use for the first aid kit.

The Purpose of the First Aid Kit

The next thing that should influence what you put in your first aid kit is your intended purpose for your kit. The purpose of a first aid kit determines what kind of items are in the kit. For example, the two most common types of first aid kits are the general first aid and trauma aid. One will have a tourniquet in it while the other will not. A general first aid kit in the home or car will be different from one that is in your EDC bag. Therefore, it is essential to define the first-aid that you expect to render before deciding what to put in your kit. Thus, as one considers carrying a first aid kit, what are the top 5 essential items that should be in any first aid or trauma kit beyond adhesive bandages, such as band-aids?

Essential Items

1. Quick Clot Bandage

Quick Clot is a blood clotting hemostatic gauze that helps stop bleeding from severe wounds and cuts. Z-Medica, LLC is the company that produces the Quick Clot line of hemostatic bandages used by outdoorsman, emergency medical personnel, and the U.S Department of Defense (DoD) agencies. Quick Clot bandages have Kaolin. Kaolin promotes the clotting of human blood when applied to traumatic wounds. Hemostatic dressings are not practical for general use as a substitute for band-aids or other cloth bandages. The Quick Clot bandage to carry in an individual first-aid kit is the Advance Clotting Sponge by Adventure Medical Kits.

2. Antibiotic Ointment

Antibiotic ointment is a valuable item to carry in a first aid kit. This topical treatment comes in various sizes. The most practical size for an individual first aid kit is the single-use packet containing Bacitracin Zinc (400 units Bacitracin), Neomycin Sulfate (5mg)., and Polymyxin-B Sulfate (5000 units). An individual first aid kit should have 3-4 single-use antibiotic ointment packets at a minimum. A triple antibiotic ointment is only to treat minor cuts and scrapes on the skin to prevent bacterial infections within the wound. Please do not use it on other kinds of infections that require stronger antibiotic treatments such as viral infections of the internal organs. Larger first aid kits for a home or car should have a tube of antibiotic ointment as part of their contents.

3. Benadryl

Benadryl is an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine. Its purpose is to treat allergies, hay fever, and the common cold. In limited amounts, it can be used in an emergency to treat life-threatening allergic reactions until emergency medical personnel can treat the allergic reaction with more potent medications. Benadryl is the most commonly used OTC medication to treat minor environmental allergic reactions.

4. Bandage Scissors or Medical Shears

Bandage scissors or medical shears are a critical tool to carry in an individual first aid kit. Both items will allow for the cutting of clothing and gauze bandages while rendering first aid. The smaller instrument will fit better in smaller general use individual first aid kit. Medical shears should be in trauma kits, and larger individual first aid kits carried in a Bug-Out Bag or a vehicle emergency kit.

5. Disposable Medical Gloves

Medical gloves also are an essential addition to any personal first aid kit. Some of the smaller first aid kits do not have a pair of disposable medical gloves in them. If you build your own individual first aid kit, then an excellent item to include is one pair of disposable medical gloves. The most common kind of disposable medical gloves are the nitrile gloves. Nitrile is a synthetic rubber. These are the preferred type of medical glove because some people are allergic to latex. Therefore, even if you are not allergic to latex, the person to whom you may render first aid might be allergic to latex. Consequently, it is wise to not take chances with someone’s life by using latex and inducing anaphylactic shock by accident. Thus, only put disposable medical gloves made of nitrile in your first aid kit.

Recommended Individual First Aid Kits (IFAK)

1. Adventure Medical Kits Adventure First Aid, 1.0
2. Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight / Watertight .7 Medical Kit

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.

Knife grinds? What are the advantages of different grinds? What are my favorite knife grinds for bushcraft? In this article we are going to breakdown everything you need to know about knife grinds and what you should choose for your bushcraft blade. So you’ve heard just about every single so called survival expert in the world tell you the most important tool to have in a survival situation is a knife. But they don’t go into much depth about what grinds you need for the type of work you expect that knife to do. So here are the top ones you need to know and what they are meant to do!

TOP 5 Knife Grinds:

    1. Scandinavian Grind
    2. Saber Grind
    3. High Flat Grind
    4. Convex Grind
    5. Hollow Grind

bushcraft knife grinds

Performance Factors to Consider

  • Cutting Ability- Heavily outweighs all other factors. If  knife doesn’t cut well, then what is the point of carrying it. You can have the best steel and ergonomics in the world and it means nothing if it doesn’t cut well.
  • Edge Retention- How long does the knife hold a sharp edge? This becomes very important when you plan to be in the field for longer periods and need you edge to hold up through tough tasks without resharpening.
  • Overall Durability- Does the knife hold up to heavy use? All that really matters is whether you can slam this baby through a cinder block un-scathed or not. I kid, I kid. Though it does seem many in the industry consider extreme durability a much higher priority than they should. Just take care of the knife and use it for what it was intended and it’s not likely to break. But always buy the best your budget can afford. Because this is the most important outdoors tool you can carry.
  • Ergonomics- How does it feel in your hand? If you have to use your knife a lot, then how it feels in your hand is pivotal. There are a lot of great knife makers out there, but very few of them understand how to build a professional grade handle.
  • Sharpenability- How difficult is it to sharpen? Can you sharpen it in the field? With all the new super steels coming out that hold an edge forever, its hard to know what is the best choice. But it really boils down to a matter of preference and what you plan to do with the knife. Many people prefer a softer steel so they can sharpen it super quickly. Other prefer something they only have to sharpen a few times a year. I lean towards the super steels that are harder to sharpen, because I don’t like maintenance that much, and they tend to perform better.

bark river knife grinds

 

Scandinavian Knife Grinds

Scandinavian Grind style knives are hands down the king of bushcraft knife grinds because they are capable of doing numerous types cutting tasks efficiently. They are definitely my favorite knife grind and I think almost all outdoors instructors can agree for woodworking and campcraft, the scandi grind cannot be beaten for general use. This is also an exceptionally easy knife to sharpen and any beginner can get one sharp in no time.

Think of the scandi grind as a double sided chisel and we all know chisels to be efficient at carving and removing wood in a controlled manner. The single most important performance factor for any bushcrafter to consider is how well the knife cuts through wood. If it can’t do that well, then sell it or chuck it in the bin for use with some other kind of job. Because cutting performance is the main priority. We need to quickly and efficiently remove wood for survival trap building, making friction fire kits, and other camp craft that is essential to our comfort and survival.

For more info on TOP 10 SCANDI GRIND BLADES OF 2018, CLICK HERE!

 

Saber Knife Grinds

I truly believe that the saber and scandi grind blades go hand in hand. You should carry both because each grind has a preferred use. Though you’ll use your scandi grind 10 times more, you should have both. The saber grind is good because it offers superior durability and will hold up better than the Scandi grind will to more abuse. The Saber Knife Grind is essentially a really high scandi grind, with a secondary edge bevel at the edge to add durability. This grind is best for limb chopping, light batoning, and taking down small trees when a saw or axe isn’t handy. Pick a blade with some weight to it that can chop and handle heavy tasks.

While this grind has better durability and edge retention, it will suffer when it comes to cutting wood efficiently. So it should be used as a backup and for heavier camp tasks. But we really think you should always have two different knives in your kit in case one is lost or broken. We also love a two sheath knife system when using kydex and for leather sheaths we like dangler options.

Favorite Saber Grinds Knife: The Standard Blade

bushcraft knife grind

 

High Flat Knife Grinds

I really love a good flat grind, because it is somewhat of a mix between a saber and a scandi grind. The cutting performance is right on par with the scandi, and I tend to like a flat grind in a larger style knife, that I want to make cut as efficient as smaller blades. You can have a very thick spined blade and cut as well as a thin blade with a flat grind. Because the edge is so thin, it has similar performance but the downside of the flat grind is the durability. Even with a super steel, you can still roll the edge or damage the steel from heavy bushcraft use. It has a very thin edge and really should be used for lighter camp tasks. This isn’t my go to knife grind and is considered more of a hybrid option.

Convex Knife Grinds

So I really love convex style knives and they have a plethora of uses. Essentially a convex knife grind offers slightly lower durability of the edge than a saber grind, but cuts closer in performance to a scandi grind. Here is the kicker, a convex grind will work better at taking small amounts of material off or doing finer cuts. While the zero degree scandi will take large amounts of wood and be harder to control for tasks such as feather sticking. It is trying to play in both worlds while offering durability & controllability. The Bark River line of knives is done in convex and is a great choice for any woodsman.

Favorite Convex Grind Knife- Bark River Bushcrafter 2

Bark River Bravo Series 1.5 & 1.25

 

Hollow Knife Grinds

This knife grind is ALL about cutting ability and remember that the thinner the edge, the better it will cut. The hollow grind is one of the thinnest and weakest edges you can get but will get razor sharp. This type of grind is always used best for skinning, gutting, and butchering animals. I’m absolutely a believer that you should carry several knives in your outdoors kit. You should have a scandi for fine wood working, a saber for heavy camp tasks, and hollow grind for cleaning game. When it comes to longer term survival, you will spend more time cleaning game than almost anything else you will with a knife. So this knife grind is a must have in any bushcrafters kits if he plans to get his meat from the land.

Favorite Skinning Blades- Havalon Piranta-Edge

Conclusion:

There are so many options when trying to pick a bushcraft blade or set of blades for outdoor use. The options can be mind numbing and overwhelming. So here is what I tell students about knives in general.

Get the best you can afford! But if you can’t afford much, then get something with a great knife grind for the task. You can put a great grind on a terrible steel and it will still cut good for awhile. Put a bad grind on a fantastic steel and it will still cut bad despite being great steel.

Grind geometry is far more important than steel choice, ergonomics, or anything else about the knife. It needs to cut well, and the grind & sharpness are the most important factors to consider. Each grind has something it’s designed to do so use the knife for it’s intended purposes. Carry several if there are several cutting tasks to be done. They weigh very little and you can rebuild almost anything with a good set of blades. So why not have them all?

survival gear

MEET THE AUTHOR

Rob Allen Survival

Rob Allen

Founder of SIGMA 3 Survival School

Here is a quick camelbak survival hack that I think you will like, and it’s something that I’ve used to cross many waterways of all different types. I first figured this tactic out when swimming across rivers while fishing. I’d see a good fishing spot and want to get across to get to the best spots but also wanted to be safe. So I came up with this method to help me, since it’s an item I always seem to carry on me.

The Camelbak is a water bladder I’ve been using ever since being issued my first one back in the army in the early 2000’s. When I first entered the army they were still using plastic canteens, but when we deployed right after 9/11, they improved gear for combat greatly. We were taught to hydrate as much as we could in the military to prevent ourselves from becoming a heat casualty. Which is a real threat with the kind of intense outdoor activities the army does on a daily basis. You had to drink water, or you wouldn’t make it through the day.

Canteens just weren’t practical all the time and couldn’t carry nearly as much water. Not to mention they were much noisier when running than a camelbak. You could carry much more water in a stealthier and more convenient manner. So it was no brainer that we would use these over the old plastic army issue canteens.

STEPS TO TURNING BLADDER INTO PFD:

  1. Empty water from bladder. Close cap tightly
  2. Blow as much air in the bladder as you can via the drinking tube.
  3. Throw it in the water and check how well it holds your buoyancy.
  4. Look for bubbles coming from cap and make sure it’s tight.
  5. Get to swimming!

survival hack

This Camelbak survival hack has got me across some pretty big bodies of water and is extremely efficient floatation device. The larger the bladder, the more capacity it has for keeping you or equipment afloat. The average bladder is 2.5-3.0 liters in capacity and that is plenty to keep a large man afloat. The larger dromedary bags that some people carry are even better, though they don’t strap on you back like a camelbak.

The backpack style versions will allow you to attach them to your back, stomach, or even wear them like a diaper for upright floating. There are many options for wearing these depending on the type of swim stroke you are doing.primitive skillsThis survival hack has got me across numerous bodies of water, including the pictured lake above. Its a legit technique to use and works almost as well as a life vest. Some other improvised techniques include tying your pant legs off into knots, filling the legs with air and using that as a floatation device. Though I don’t think it is a great method, it might be all you have. If you’re down to having to use that tactic, its probably because you ended up in the water abruptly. Basically anything that can contain air and not leak will work.

Why would you need this Survival Hack?

  • Crossing large bodies of water with safety. A float will allow even the best swimmers the safety to take a break and catch their breath.
  • Crossing quicker moving rivers to get to other side.
  • Setting limb lines in deeper water or checking fish traps.
  • Retrieving a jug line.
  • When exiting an area, you may not have a choice to go around a waterway. Sometimes you have to cross it and get wet. That is why it’s always best to put your gear in compressible dry bags.
  • Let your kids use it as floaty in case they don’t have a PFD.

List of Best Hydration Bladders & Dry Bags

 

survival hack

Author: Rob Allen (Founder, SIGMA 3 Survival)

 

 

During my 10+ years in survival I have seen hundreds of survival gadgets come and go.  Many of which I thought were clever, but would never make it, and others I thought would be great to have.  It is kind of like the fidget spinners.  They were extremely popular, and even bushcrafters were using them to make friction fire, but I knew the craze would die off.  Many survival gadgets are like that, but I wanted to share a few that I think are extremely useful:

Some of favorite survival gadgets that I use on a regular basis:

 

The Spool Tool
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There is nothing worse than tangled paracord (cordage).  If you have ever done any shelter building with cordage then you know what I am talking about.  The Spool Tool is amazing because it holds up to 100 ft of paracord, and it has a cutting blade and spot to hold a mini Bic lighter.    I absolutely love this thing.

Exotac FireSleeve
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This nifty gadget is great for keeping your Bic lighter dry.  I love kayaking, and in the winter time it is essential that you have good fire starters that will work even if they get wet.  The FireSleeve is a waterproof case for your Bic lighter.  It also has a rubber flap to slide over the gas button so it stays lit.  I did have to remove the child safety to get the flap to stay.  Overall great gadget for the price.

SpeedyJig Pro Paracord Bracelet Jig Kit
SpeedyJig Pro Paracord Bracelet Jig Kit  

I love survival bracelets, and they make excellent gift for kids and kids at heart.  Unfortunately a lot of them are overpriced, or the bracelet doesn’t fit right.  The great thing about the SpeedyJig is it is easy to use, and you can get the perfect fit every time.  Once you get the basics down then you can begin adding things to make it the ultimate survival bracelet.  I have one with some fishing line, hooks, jute twine, and even a small ferro rod attached to it.

Worksharp Guided Field Sharpener

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This amazing knife sharpener will get your blade extremely sharp.  Even if you have no experience sharpening knives the guides help you get the perfect angle for bushcraft.  I used to always struggle getting a consistent edge on my knives until I started using this handy gadget.  You can also sharpen serrations and fish hooks.  I love it’s versatility, and not only does it have diamond plates it also has a ceramic rod and leather strop on the sides.  I won’t go into the field without it.

MPOWERD Outdoor 2.0 – Inflatable Solar Light
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These amazing lanterns are great for backpacking because of their portability and weight.  They are extremely light, and they pack up nice and compact.  The inflatable design turns the light from and ordinary lamp into a bright lantern.  The best part is it is solar powered.  I had the opportunity to use one of these first hand recently during a search and rescue training I was doing.   It wasn’t no spotlight, but it lit up the area really well.  I plan on taking two with me when I go to the Jungle in June.

There are several gadgets out on the market right now, and there are sure to be hundreds more, but these 5 are winners in my book, and if you are looking at picking up any of these items be sure to support Sigma 3 and purchase from the links provided.

Thanks for Reading!
Justin “Sage” Williams
Director Sigma 3

 

Being a full time survival instructor I have the opportunity to truly test knives in the field and see how the hold up in not only professionals hands but amateurs as well. This list is my favorite blades of the last few years and have all proven to hold up extremely well in the field […]

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