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There are 3 critical factors about footwear to remember. The footwear that you choose will help you or hurt you in a survival situation. Footwear is one of the standard pieces of gear that transcend wilderness or urban survival scenarios. In a previous article, there was a discussion on how to maintain and care for your feet was the focus. However, footwear, itself will be the topic of this article. I will not discuss a particular brand or style. Yet, the following factors for choosing and wearing footwear will help you decide on the other concerns. Let us see what the critical factors are to consider regarding your shoes.

Proper Fit

Properly fitting footwear is critical for the health of your feet. It is also essential for ensuring your survival in an emergency situation. The purpose of a shoe fluences its design. The fit of the shoe also will reflect how they fit your foot. For example, a running shoe will fit your foot different than a tactical military boot. Therefore, ensuring a proper fit of your footwear should be an essential aspect of what you purchase. There are two keys to remember about finding proper fitting footwear: your foot size and your foot arch.

Foot Size

The length and width of your feet can be easily measured with a device called a Brannock Device. The Brannock Device is the measuring tool that the salesman uses at your local shoe store. However, these measuring devices are available to the general public for purchase. The Brannock Device Company offers instructions on the proper measurement of your feet and the use of their equipment. Moreover, it is essential to know the length and width of your feet when choosing footwear.

 

Some will advise purchasing outdoor footwear that is ½ to a full foot size larger than your actual foot measurement. You should be careful about this technique. Others may recommend buying an equivalent female shoe if you are a male and cannot find footwear in your size. It could cause your feet to get tore up in a long term wilderness survival situation. Remember that outdoor footwear will feel snug and stiff on your feet when new. However, over time, the shoe material will get wet, dry, hot, cold, and muddy. As a result, the outdoor environment causes the shoe material to stretch and become pliable. Afterward, your feet will begin to move and slip within the footwear. Consequently, your feet will develop blisters, hammer toe, and other foot problems. These are problems you want to reduce or avoid in a field environment.

Foot Arch

Another aspect of footwear that is essential to a proper fit is your foot arch. The Brannock device will help measure your foot arch using the heal-to-ball of the foot technique. The technique is useful for finding the beginning and end of your arch. However, arch height is critical also to a properly fitting shoe or boot. Is your arch high, flat, or normal? The arch of your foot will influence if you need arch support insert (orthotics). Some footwear companies make orthotic inserts for their shoes or boots. Thus, your feet and ankles will become fatigued very quickly if you have not accounted for your foot arch type, even if the foot or shoe fits properly in length and width.

 

 

Break Them In

Another critical factor about footwear is breaking them in. Hiking shoes or boots will fit snug when you try them on in the store. However, after a few days or weeks in the field, they will become loose on your feet. There are many techniques for breaking in new outdoor footwear. Military or tactical boots that are mostly leather, such as the jungle boots by Altama®, require some effort to break-in. By contrast, commercial hiking shoes or boots made of a combination of materials, just wearing them for a couple of days or weeks as your primary footwear will break them in.

Another factor concerning breaking in the hiking boot is whether it has a Gore-Tex® liner. When you try Gore-Tex® boots on, your feet feel very snug in them. However, over time that “padded” feeling tends to lessen with the use of the boot. There are several reasons for this. First, Gore-Tex® does not have an extensively long lifecycle. Second, the principal material in Gore-Tex, latex, will lose its elasticity and other properties over time. Additionally, improper care of Gore-Tex shoes or boots will hasten this process.

Proper Maintenance

Another thing to be mindful of about footwear is adequate maintenance. All-leather boots require much more diligence in keeping them maintained than Teflon material boots. Gore-Tex lined footwear should be air dried.

Cleaning Non-Leather Footwear

You do this by removing all of the laces and folding out the tongue to open up the boot to as much air as possible. If you have a 5 to 8-inch tall boot, then you will need to try to fold down the top of the boot if it is flexible enough. Otherwise, just leave it as is. With Teflon or Teflon/Suede combination material, you can use a stiff, but a flexible brush to clean the outside. If your Teflon boots have a Gore-Tex liner, then you can wash them in clean, cold water and let them air dry on your porch or in your washroom.

Cleaning Leather Footwear

In caring for all-leather boots (not suede), you can wash them in luke-warm water with mild dish soap on the outside. Use a soft brush or toothbrush to clean off any excessive dirt. Let them air dry as described above for the Gore-Tex lined boots. You will notice after a while that your leather boots will have some white, chalky residue appearing on the surface of the boot. Do not be alarmed, this is some of the leather salts coming to the surface after being wet.

After the boots have dried, you can take saddle soap and clean off the white chalky stuff. Rub the saddle soap into the leather very thoroughly, this includes the boot tongue and seams. After using the saddle soap, you can wipe the boot down with a damp cloth to get the excess saddle soap off. Let the boot sit for a couple of hours or for a day or two to let the soap work its way into the leather.

When this process is complete, you can apply the boot polish or, in some cases, mink oil, as a way of waterproofing the boot. However, I have found if your boot leather is not waterproofed already with oils, like the Matterhorn Boot, then a boot polish is the first layer of defense in keeping the leather in top condition. You do not have to polish the boot to a high sheen, put the boot polish is critical in preventing the boot leather from deteriorating. So do not ignore its importance.

Final Observations

Footwear is a fun and exciting topic to discuss. Additionally, there two other considerations related to footwear that influence how they fit your feet: socks and lacing. Proper lacing and proper socks are essential to keeping your feet healthy when wearing your footwear. Remember when it comes to boots and the things related to your shoes, what works for you is what is best for you.

There are six essential features for quality backpacks. A great backpack is an invaluable piece of gear. An outdoor adventure will not be very pleasant if one’s pack breaks down in the field. It is important to be able to assess if a backpack will hold up to the rigors of outdoor use. There is varying styles and types of backpacks in a multitude of price ranges on the outfitter market. Therefore, it is essential to know what to look for when seeking to purchase a great backpack.

1. The Fabric Material

The first feature to look for when considering a quality backpack is the quality of the fabric material. There are two basic areas of the backpack of which the fabric will identify it as worthy of purchase: the main compartment and the strapping. As it pertains to backpacks, packs for the outdoors will have straps that function as lashing points (daisy chains), grab handles, gear security, adjustment or compression. The material that comprises the strapping is as important as that which makes up the pack compartments. The denier rating of the fabric is a key to understanding the durability of the material.

There are two popular fabrics that manufacturers use for backpacks: nylon and Cordura® fabric. Technically, Cordura® also is nylon. The difference is that Cordura® fabric is a patented and trademarked type of nylon fabric from the Invista Company in Wichita, Kansas. By contrast, denier is not a type of nylon fabric. Rather, the word, denier, is a measurement of fabric density. For example, the Osprey Xenith 88 backpack uses nylon while the current military rucksacks use the Cordura® fabric. Manufacturers will treat the nylon fabric so that it is water resistant. The type and density rating of the material that makes up the backpack is what one needs to look for when looking for a quality backpack.

Pack-Grade Nylon Fabric

Nylon fabric that is characteristic of backpacks from Osprey® or Kelty® has a fabric description of “pack nylon” or “bag nylon”. It is the same type of fabric common in luggage, gym bags, and ultra-light backpacks, gear bags, and stuff sacks. This kind of fabric has a more smooth texture than Cordura®. Pack-grade nylon fabric can come with a water resistant treatment. Some of the nylon that has a higher denier rating has a texture more like furniture upholstery. Pack-grade nylon can feature a diamond, hexagon, or checkered rip-stop texture. The one weakness with pack-grade nylon is that is less tear and wear resistant.

Cordura® Fabric

Cordura® fabric is a popular material that is characteristic of quality backpacks. Backpacks that are for tactical or rugged outdoor use tend to use this material. The major indicator that a backpack is using Cordura® fabric is that the manufacturer will stitch a small tag somewhere in an inconspicuous place on the pack that says, Cordura® fabric. Cordura fabric has the texture of the legacy cotton canvas. It has a more rough feel to it than regular nylon and requires stronger industrial stitching to make products out of it.

Cordura® makes several types of their fabric. The most common fabric in use with military and tactical backpacks is fabric from their Ballistic Fabric line. The company describes Ballistic fabric as, “Based on the original ballistic woven nylon developed for military body armor, dense, rugged Cordura® Ballistic fabrics are made with high tenacity nylon 6,6 filament yarns and offer enhanced tear and abrasion resistance.” Ballistic fabric has high abrasion resistance and a high toughness for tearing. The fabric also can have a water repellant treatment.

 

Straps, and PALS Webbing

An additional consideration concerning materials integrated on a quality backpack is the strap material. There are three basic kinds of straps or strapping on a backpack: shoulder straps, compression straps, and PALS webbing. Grab handles and daisy chain straps are also part of non-military backpack construction.

There are two kinds of material manufacturers use for strappings on quality backpacks: MIL-W-43668 Type III nylon webbing (1” wide) and MIL-W-4088 nylon webbing (1-2.25” wide). The knock-off U.S. military backpacks manufactured overseas tend to use lower quality strapping. An example of this type of backpack is the Outdoor Products Quest Backpack sold at Walmart. The U. S. Army MOLLE 3-Day Assault Pack and Medium Rucksack are examples of backpacks that use the higher quality strapping materials.

2. Stitching

Another important characteristic to look for in a quality backpack is the stitching of the backpack. The best thread material for stitching is Kevlar thread or heavy-duty industrial strength nylon thread such as that which is in parachute harnesses. It is important to look for the use of double stitching of the seams verses a single stitching pattern. The stitching that connects shoulder straps to the main body of the pack is critical to the pack’s durability in the field. Most backpacks utilize either a reinforced zig-zag stitching pattern or double-stitched boxed-X pattern as is common in parachute harnesses.

3. Closures

A third critical feature to look for in a quality backpack are the closures such as zippers, buckles and snaps. The most common zipper used on tactical and military backpacks is the YKK VISLON® Fin-Type. The most common buckles used on tactical and military backpacks are Duraflex® squeeze-type quick-release buckles by the National Molding Company®. These buckles are made of high-impact plastic. Closure manufacturers also make buckles, snaps, and zippers of stainless steel, aircraft grade aluminum, or titanium. However, these materials are less common due to the need to reduce the cost of manufacturing which keeps quality backpacks within acceptable retail pricing.

 

4. Access

A fourth consideration when looking to purchase a quality backpack is the ease of access it allows to your gear. There are many opinions about accessing the contents within a backpack. Some prefer top access. Others prefer a clamshell or draw-bridge type access. Still other people desire multiple ways to access the contents of their backpack. There does not seem to be a consensus about a preference on accessing a backpack.

Thus, a quality backpack gives the user easy access to their gear as the outdoorsman perceives it. Gear accessibility is important. Preppers, survivalists, outdoorsman, and bushcrafters will not continue to use a backpack that is more frustrating to use in the field than it is worth. There is nothing more aggravating when you are in the field and getting to your gear becomes problematic. Therefore, how you pack your backpack also determines ease of access and not just the construction characteristics of the pack itself.

5. Modularity

The next critical feature that characterizes quality backpacks is the capability called, modularity. Modularity in a pack allows the user to configure their pack for specific situations. For example, the Alps Outdoor Z Commander X backpack is a pack that features modularity which addresses the needs of big game hunters. Another pack that offers modularity features is the 5.11 Rush™ series of tactical backpacks that offer the PALS (Pouch Attachment Ladder System) webbing that allows the pack to be configured for military or law enforcement missions.

6. Wear

A final consideration for purchasing a quality backpack is wear. Is the backpack comfortable to wear for long periods of time? Some backpacks offer the user the ability to adjust the torso length. Other packs have load adjustment straps that connect the shoulder strap with the main compartment or frame. These allow the user to pull the pack closer to their body to shift pack weight off of the hips and onto the frame, whether the frame is internal or external to the pack. Quality backpacks will be comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

 

Final Thoughts

It is important to purchase a quality backpack if you are heading out for an outdoor adventure. These six characteristics of quality backpacks are a starting point for assessing a backpack that meets your outdoor considerations. There is no pack that features all of these characteristics at once. Thus, it is critical that you shop around. The best way to determine if a backpack is a quality pack is to physically examine some packs at your local outfitter store. Take your time and make an informed purchase to ensure years of great use out of your next backpack.

The best compasses for your kit considerations are those of proven quality, durability, and accuracy. The compass that you choose to include in any level of survival or outdoor packing list is one of the essential items in your loadout. As well, there are strong feelings among many about what brand or type of compass is the best on the market. However, the best compass on the market is the one that you have used and are the most confident with when you are in the field. However, the best compasses for your kit are the following:

1. U. S. Army Lensatic Compass

The U. S. Army Lensatic Compass conforms to the military standards published in MIL-PRF-10436N. Also, the military lensatic compasses are made in the United States. The current manufacturer of this compass is the Cammenga Company in Dearborn, Michigan. Of note, the previous maker of these compasses is Stocker & Yale, Incorporated in Beverly, Massachusetts. For example, the two lensatic compasses that I own are from Stocker & Yale. Moreover, you can purchase one of these Cammenga military lensatic compasses at the Sigma 3 Survival Store.

Description:

A lensatic compass is a magnetic compass that uses a magnifying glass to read its scale or dial. The U. S. Army lensatic compass is an induction-damped, handheld, north-seeking instrument with an internal, self-exciting light source, in other words, it is self-illuminating (tritium or phosphorous). The baseplate construction is of high-grade aluminum with a powder coating. The needle moves within a non-liquid filled needle housing. Thus, the military lensatic compass is one of the best overall compasses on the market.

Features:

Cammenga makes this compass with two options: model 3H with a tritium luminous dial (NSN: 6605-01-196-6971) or model 27 with a phosphorous luminescent dial (NSN: 6605-01-571-6052). Interestingly, Cammenga produces these compasses in the following colors: Olive Drab, RealTree® Camo, Black, and Coyote Brown. The compasses have a free-floating needle instead of the needle floating in a liquid (water or oil). They are also waterproof and dustproof under most field conditions. They will function in temperatures between -50°F (-46°C) and 150°F (66°C). The compass is also shockproof is dropped from up to three feet (90 cm). Additionally, they also have two needle options: Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere.

Additional Comments:

Moreover, the lensatic compass is the standard compass in all my backpack load outs. I have other compasses, but my U. S. Army lensatic compass is the one that I keep coming back to when I need reliability, durability, and accuracy. Most of all, I do not have to wait for satellite synchronization or linkage with the lensatic compass. There are no extra batteries that need to be carried in a pack because it is an analog magnetic compass. In addition to these features, the military lensatic compass also fits comfortably into the LC-2 ALICE First Aid Pouch or the MOLLE Grenade Pouch.

Best Uses:

Advanced and Tactical Day and Night land navigation
Orienteering
Hiking & Backpacking
Game Hunting

2. K&R Alpin Sighting Compass

The next type of compass that can be part of your loadout is the mirrored sighting compass. One of the best on the market is the K&R Alpin Sighting Compass. The compass is a product based on input from the German Mountain Rescue Service. These compasses are made in Germany.

Overview:

A mirrored sighting compass is a compass in which the compass dial can be viewed using a mirror while simultaneously sighting an object through the sighing notch or slot on the compass lid. That is why these kinds of compasses are not in the category of being a lensatic compass. The sighting compass is sometimes called the hand compass, forester compass, or cruiser compass. They are one-hand use compasses. Their easy use quickly found them being a favorite of the geology, marine, and forestry professions.

Features:

The Alpin Sighting Compass has several convenient features. The sighting mirror is polished stainless steel. The baseplate, compass lid, and compass capsule are made of high-impact plastic. The result is a compass that is very durable and lightweight. The needle moves within a liquid filled needle housing. The bezel is self-luminating with two large sighting notches (12 and 6 o’clock positions) on the bezel for night navigation. It also has a clinometer to measure incline while traversing uneven or mountainous terrain. K&R has three measurement options for this compass: standard, metric, and mils.

Additional Observations:

This particular compass is an excellent alternative to the military lensatic compass. The large glowing bezel makes it user-friendly for trekking at night. It is easy to use and probably a better option for those unfamiliar with using the military lensatic compass. A rival to the Alpin is the Suunto MC-2 Sighting Compass. Both of these compasses fit comfortably into the MOLLE Gen II Flashbang Grenade Pouch. The K&R Alpin and the Suunto MC-2 compasses represent the best of the mirrored sighting compasses on the market.

Best Uses:

Advanced Land Navigation
Orienteering
Hiking and Backpacking
Game Hunting
Emergency Preparedness

3. Suunto M-3 G Compass

Finally, a third type of compass option for your outdoor activity concerns is the simple baseplate compass. The baseplate compass is the most common type on the market. One can purchase these kinds of compasses with various levels of quality and in various price ranges. The primary use for the baseplate compass is in conjunction with a map.

Description:

Baseplate compasses have a clear plastic base upon which the compass mechanism sits. The sides of the baseplate usually are marked in standard increments. These markings allow the baseplate to function as a ruler for measuring distances on the map. The baseplate also has a magnifying glass embedded for observing small map details. The needle mechanism usually is liquid filled and jewel bearing.

Features:

The Suunto M-3 G Compass has several useful characteristics. The bezel is luminescent. The G model has a globally aligned needle so it can be used anywhere on the earth in both hemispheres. This model also comes in just a northern hemisphere (NH) needle orientation and a southern hemisphere (SH) needle orientation. It is incrementally marked in metric and imperial UTM scales. The compass also has a clinometer for determining the slope of an incline. This compass originates in Finland

Additional Observations:

The baseplate compass is one of the most versatile compasses that one can own. The Suunto M-3 compasses offer the basic navigational needs for most scenarios and applications. They are small enough to fit easily into a MOLLE Flashbang Grenade Pouch. They come with a lanyard which allows attachment to the shoulder strap of most backpacks. These compasses are easy to use and are an excellent option for the occasional outdoorsman or weekend hiker or backpacker.

Best Uses:

General Land Navigation
Hiking and Backpacking
Game Hunting
Emergency Preparations

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?

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MEET THE AUTHOR

Rob Allen Survival

Rob Allen

Founder of SIGMA 3 Survival School

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