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How is your physical fitness? There are seven areas of consideration to help achieve and maintain your peak physical readiness. Physical fitness is a critical element for long term survival in the outdoors. Survival and preparedness experts agree that staying healthy and in shape will give you an edge in a survival situation. The physical fitness movement that began in the 1980s is an extension of the organic lifestyle movement of the 1960s. Thus, health, wellness, and being fit physically have characterized much of American culture over the last fifty years. The military is no stranger to maintaining good health. There are seven areas of concern when implementing your physical fitness program.

1. Nutrition

The first area to consider is nutrition. Proper eating habits are a key element to any physical fitness program. Many people like diet programs such as Weight Watchers®, The Atkins Diet®, or The Paleo Diet. However, for some people, the short-term gains from engaging in diet programs never seem to translate into long-term and permanent weight loss. Some studies suggest that those who lose weight will gain over 10% more than their original weight when they stop dieting. Therefore, eating properly over your lifespan is central to maintaining proper weight and nutrition.

Healthy eating means eating balanced meals and in the proper proportions every day. Remembering the five food groups for daily nutrition will help to achieve your nutrition goals. The five food groups are meat, vegetables, fruits, grains, and dairy. Portion size also is an element of proper nutrition. Those who engage in vegan or vegetarian diets will substitute the meat and dairy for other items. Healthy eating will give you the vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that your body requires.

Additionally, as you consider proper nutrition and dieting, it is advisable to consult a professional, licensed nutritionist recommended by your personal or family doctor. Do not attempt a diet or nutrition regimen on your own solely based on articles or books that you read. Those sources speak to the general human condition, not your specific health concerns or needs. For example, many health experts discuss taking chondroitin glucosamine for joint health. I am not able to take it because it comes from shellfish. I have been forbidden by my doctor to eat seafood or products from seafood because of my iodine allergy. Therefore, consult your physician before engaging in a nutrition program.

2. Sleep

Sleep often is overlooked as a component of good health. However, most medical experts agree that getting an adequate amount of sleep every night is part of being a healthy person. An adult person needs around eight hours of sleep every night, according to the experts. A famous general once stated that any soldier who could not stay awake for three straight days was lazy.

By contrast, medical science and research relate that sleep deprivation reduces mental alertness, affects decision-making, aggravates the cardiovascular and nervous systems. Some of the survival programs on television demonstrate that after a period of low food intake and lack of sleep, many contestants begin to faint or make critical mental errors. Therefore, when appropriate, do not be afraid to sleep when your body is telling you to get some rest.

3. Activity

The more obvious part and easiest to understand about physical fitness is activity. Generally speaking, an active person is a healthy person. An active lifestyle is more than just going for a jog every day or a day-hike on the weekend. An active lifestyle is one in which your mind and body are continually exercised in a positive manner. Getting outdoors is just one way to accomplish that reality.

However, as it relates to survival tasks, your body needs a balanced training routine to achieve functional physical fitness. Functional physical fitness helps you accomplish the tasks necessary to enable survival in any environment, such as climbing or hand-to-hand self-defense. A balanced physical fitness training program involves three key areas: strength, endurance, and mobility.

4. Strength

Strength training is a vital part of a physical conditioning program. It usually involves weight training to increase strength, power, and endurance in the major muscle groups. Strength training is an anaerobic exercise. An example of anaerobic exercise is lifting weights, push-ups, sit-ups, or grip strengthening exercises. Anaerobic exercises are those characterized by the use of resistance to build muscle mass in the body.

Additionally, it is best to get your doctor’s recommendation or approval before participating in a strength training workout. It is also advisable to get a training partner if possible. Lifting weights can be fun but also dangerous. I have heard about several accidents over the years in which an overconfident individual got killed or maimed for life because of doing something irresponsible in the weight room and without a partner. Don’t be that person. Be safe, go slow, start light, and get help if you want to get the most out of a weight training program.

5. Endurance

The fifth area of consideration in building your functional physical fitness is endurance. Endurance training also is known as aerobic exercise. These kinds of activities involve the intake of oxygen through the respiratory system. Thus, aerobic training exercises the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Some examples of aerobic training are running, jogging, interval running, skipping rope, bicycling, rowing, aerobic dancing, or spinning.

Consequently, endurance training helps with both muscle endurance and respiratory efficiency. For example, ultramarathon runners have to have bodies that have muscle endurance and can effectively get oxygen to those muscles during their runs. Moreover, an efficient cardiovascular and respiratory system helps reduce the time needed for muscle recovery.

6. Flexibility

Flexibility training is the secret to success in your training program. Stretching out your body before working out addresses your body’s ability to bend and stretch. There is some debate in professional circles about the viability of stretching before or after a workout. Some believe it is needful and others discourage it. However, my personal experience is that stretching out before and after a period of exercise helps to prevent joint, muscle, and ligament damage. When I was in the military, stretching out before and after a workout in the weight room, road march, or a run enabled me to stay fit-to-fight when others were succumbing to injury.

7. Consistency

Consistency is the ultimate secret to success next to flexibility training in your physical fitness program. Your fit-to-survive program should center on consistency. Inconsistency in your training routine is a sure way to injury. An inconsistent workout tears the body down rather than builds it up. If you are going to start a physical fitness program, be dedicated to it enough to be consistent. An example of a consistent workout schedule would exercising or working out every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. There are many great workout schedules by reputable organizations on the internet. Therefore, you should be consistent with your training if you want to reduce the possibility of long-term problems like tendonitis, pulled muscles, torn rotator cuffs, or similar injuries.

Final Thoughts

Physical fitness is an individual matter between yourself and your doctor. As stated earlier, do not engage in a program without your doctor’s approval. My doctor has approved walking, hiking, and backpacking for my physical fitness program. Running, obstacle courses, climbing Mount Everest, or adventure sports are off the table due to my knees and back. I could do them should I have a mind to; however, is the risk worth the reward? Therefore, be safe and keep fit and enjoy yourself as you get in shape or maintain your level of physical fitness.

Nine improvised survival items could save your life. Most news stories about lost or missing people give information on the gear or lack of equipment the person is carrying on them. It is interesting to read how the lost person is not taking some essential item like a compass. In the case of the missing hiker, John Donovan, everything he needed to survive was on him. However, he perished after becoming stranded in a box canyon in the San Jacinto Mountains outside of Palm Springs, California.

The topic of survival gear does bring up an essential aspect of wilderness survival, the skill of improvisation. In other words, the ability to create survival tools or methods from everyday items to enable survival is an essential part of wilderness survival.

There are many suggestions on the internet about creating survival hacks or improvised tools. This article will focus on those items that an average person carries when they go into a field location. Most people only go outdoors on a recreational basis. Thus, they are not thinking about bringing a complete survival loadout stuffed in a 50-75 liter backpack. They are only going outdoors for a short period and returning home. Therefore, a small day pack or waist pack is the most that they carry with them. Thus, these items can be employed in an emergency if necessary.

1. Smart Phone Signal Mirror

One of the essential communication devices that one usually carries on an outdoor adventure is their smartphone. The smartphone can be an improvised survival gear item by being functioning as a signal mirror. Most smartphones have a flat-screen that is large enough to reflect sunlight. The way to use the screen on a smartphone as a signal mirror is to turn it off, then employ it in the same manner as a survival signal mirror.

2. Camera Lens Fire Starter

A second improvised survival gear item often overlooked is the lens on a camera. Many people take cameras on their outdoor adventure. Small, pocket-sized digital cameras are popular with many people trekking outdoors for the day. However, the lens in the camera is an excellent fire-making source.

The camera lens is a magnifying glass. The lens is powerful enough to start a fire using the sun to focus light on a tinder source. Therefore, do not be afraid of breaking apart your camera to get to the lens in a survival ordeal, even if it is an expensive Canon or Nikon.

3. Bottle Cap Survival Whistle

Another great improvised survival gear item is that of making a survival whistle from a simple water bottle cap. One survival expert demonstrated this during a recent television program. I found a water bottle cap and tried the procedure myself. It works!

A water bottle cap from a Dasani or Aquafina bottle can be used as an emergency whistle. You hold the bottle cap by placing your thumbs over the opening. You create a small gap between you thumb knuckles and blow air through that gap. It will make a high pitch whistle sound that is very loud.

4. Sewing Needle Compass

Sewing needles are usually not considered an improvised survival gear item. However, in an emergency, they can be used as improvised compass needles to help determine magnetic north. A stainless steel sewing needle from your pocket travel sewing kit can be magnetized to become a compass needle.

You take the needle and rub it rigorously for a few minutes with 100% wool material. The static electricity created from the friction will magnetize the needle. Then you can tie the needle in the middle with a piece of shirt string. You dangle the needle on the thread with your hand, and it will adjust to point to magnetic north.

Another option would be to put the needle on top of a leaf and float the leaf in a container of water, and it will adjust to point to magnetic north.

5. Boot Lace Cordage

Survival experts will tell you that the most forgotten source of cordage is a person’s shoe or boot laces. Possessing and utilizing cordage is an essential survival skill. Laces for military-issued boots are made of a sturdy material similar to 550 parachute cord. Some companies are starting to produce survival boot laces. Nevertheless, in an emergency, remember that your hiking boots or shoes will give some quick cordage for a multitude of emergency needs.

6. Hand Sanitizer Tinder

One innovative way of your hand sanitizer is as tinder for starting a fire. Many people carry the small travel-sized bottles of hand sanitizer in their backpack. Some people carry them in the pocket of their trousers or waist pack. Hand sanitizer is a flammable gel or liquid consisting of 60-95% alcohol. Thus, it will take a spark very effectively.

A more convenient way to carry hand sanitizer is in the form of a towelette. The towelettes are paper saturated with hand sanitizer. The combination of these two materials makes excellent fuel for making fires. I carry two of these in my wallet at all times to make an emergency fire when necessary.

It is important to note that the medical wipes containing rubbing alcohol or BZK are not flammable and will not catch on fire.

7. Car Key Saw

Your car keys can be a source for a cutting instrument. How many of us have used our keys to open packages received in the mail? In the field, your keys can offer a crude sawing device to make notches in branches for making traps or snares. Your keys do not provide the most efficient sawing edge; however, if that is all you have, do not hesitate to employ them.

8. Bandana Water Filter

A lost person in the wilderness needs a steady supply of water to maintain the functions necessary to ensure survival. The bandana gives a person many options in a survival situation. The bandana can be used as headgear, tinder source, carrying device, bandage, washcloth, or signaling device.

Moreover, another use of the bandana is that of a hasty water filter. The bandana, by itself, will not filter out waterborne pathogens. However, when it is used with an improvised filter using rocks, dirt, and charcoal, it is an effective means to gain drinkable water. If there is no other way to sanitize water, the bandana will filter out large particulates.

9. Duct Tape Bandages

There are many uses for duct tape. Some show that duct tape can be fashioned into a water carrier, waterproofing, and as fire tinder. However, one of the most common ways that duct tape functions is for first aid. A method of using duct tape is that of bandages. Bandages can be fashioned from duct tape if one does not have or has lost their first aid kit. Many hiker, hunters, and backpacker carry a small roll of duct tape for equipment repair. Duct tape is quite useful at bandaging flesh wounds in an emergency.

Final Thoughts

Improvising survival tools from those things you carry on your body is a great skill to cultivate. If you find yourself lost and separated from others, the stuff you have on you can help you to survive. These items in the discussion above are not an exhaustive list. People carry different things on them. However, in a general manner, the items above are the most common. Remember that emergency survival is about staying cool, calm, collected while simultaneously being innovative, flexible, and resourceful.

Are you ready to survive an emergency at your location? Is your survival context urban or the wilderness? In recent days, I have read a few articles and watched a few presentations relating to urban or wilderness survival. It is interesting to notice one preference over another. These preferences are due to the leanings of those making their case. One’s environment influences the preferred approach to emergency preparedness. My own experiences with outdoor recreational activities, weather emergencies, military field training, and combat deployments accentuate this truism.

Thus, there are two basic categories of survival that are the most common in the literature: urban survival and wilderness survival. My article on survival approaches further breaks these down. However, in this article, I will discuss the urban and wilderness methods for survival planning from a broader perspective.

The Urban Survival Approach

The contemporary interest in urban survival is a more recent development in the survival and preparedness world. The popularity in the zombie genre of dystopian movies and television program seems to have been the impetus for the interest. The concern about the sudden collapse of modern society intensified with the Y2K scare of the late 1990s. Lofty Wiseman’s book, SAS Urban Survival Handbook (1996) discusses urban survival and is a standard read on the subject. Thus, urban survival became a hot topic in the early decades of the new century. What is urban survival?

The name, urban, implies the context in which one needs to survive: a city, town, or metroplex. The urbanization of the United States is a byproduct of its Industrial Revolution (1865-1920). The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that close to 63% of America’s population lives in urban and suburban areas. Furthermore, strategic thinker and author, David Kilcullen writes of the increasing urbanization of warfare in his book, Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla (2013). Therefore, urban survival planning a viable exercise for those living in that context.

The Uniqueness of the Urban Environment

There are many contrasts between an urban environment and the wilderness environment. The concerns of the urban environment are unique. For example, a person attempting to survive in an urban or suburban context does not have to worry about building a shelter in the same manner as their wilderness counterparts. One can occupy an abandoned building or house if necessary and if it is safe. The stories of urban survival from the siege of Stalingrad to the killing fields of Sarajevo give ample evidence of the peculiarities of urban survival.

A feature of urban survival are the kinds of items necessary for an emergency kit. Thus, urban survival requires some different things that are not present in a wilderness survival loadout. For example, most urban survival kits include a sillcock key. A sillcock key is unnecessary beyond the rural survival zone. Why? There are no commercial buildings with secured outside water faucets in the backcountry that require a sillcock key to access.

It is common for urban survival kits to feature lock picking tools. Again, these are unnecessary in the deep backcountry for living off of the land. Lock picking tools assist in getting into buildings to obtain food, water, or shelter in an urban or suburban survival zone. The movie, World War Z, has a good representation of the importance of accessing a grocery store or hospital pharmacy during a societal collapse. Lock picking tools enable that activity.

Some Observations About The Urban Environment

Additionally, the urban environment offers some infrastructure that is not available to those living near or in the wilderness. Cities and towns provide a utility grid (gas, water, electricity), if operational, which allows access to potable water, refrigeration, communication, sanitation, and emergency medical care. Stable buildings offer shelter and protection from the weather, predation, and criminal activity.

The main weaknesses with the urban environment are the available resources, like food, medicine, and water. In an urban collapse, such as that after Hurricane Katrina, those resources dwindle very quickly. It is estimated that major grocery stores only maintain about a 30-day supply of food and water. However, in a panic, the shelves and coolers in those same grocery stores will be stripped clean in 48 hours.

I witnessed this in Virginia when a named snowstorm was going to hit our area in 2016. The local Kroger’s, down the street from my apartment, was a chaotic mess in two hours. You would have thought the zombie apocalypse was upon us. My oldest son was with me in the store. I pointed out the barren bread shelves to him. I told him that this is what happens when people fail to prepare. They become very selfish and animalistic towards others when they are fearful of their mortality. Therefore, the storage of essential necessities becomes crucial in an urban survival zone.

The Wilderness Survival Approach

The wilderness survival approach is the oldest of the methods. Wilderness or frontier survival is as old as humanity from the Otzi Iceman to the modern bushcrafter. As its name indicates, wilderness survival refers to surviving in an outdoor environment. There are different kinds of survival considerations for various outdoor activities. Wilderness survival preparation may be as sophisticated as a modern ultralight backpacking kit to an extended hunting trip into the Alaskan backcountry. It can also be as simplistic as employing the survival skills and tools of the Native Americans or the Mountain Men of the early 1800s.

The Uniqueness Of The Wilderness Approach

The outdoor environment offers its own set of unique characteristics influencing survival and preparedness. Outdoorsmen must be able to survive and sustain themselves in the field for extended periods in remote locations. There is nothing “remote” about the urban environment. Moreover, wilderness survival requires one to carry all of the survival necessities within the limitations of your pack, pack animal, or both. Furthermore, the wilderness survival approach implies being able to access and create essentials from natural surroundings. For example, flint napping a knife blade or spear point is not necessary for an urban context.

Some Observations About The Wilderness Environment

The main difference in wilderness survival kits and those for the urban environment are the tools. Those going into the outdoors need a fixed blade knife as their primary tool. Urban survival kits can function effectively with only a multitool. A fixed blade knife is a core item for bushcrafters and hunters. Ferro rods and strikers are the tools of choice for making fires in the backcountry. Whereas, urban survival kits usually feature a Bic Lighter. Thus, there are some differences in kit components to enable urban or wilderness survival.

Some Final Thoughts

Is it urban or wilderness? Your location and type of survival concern will dictate your requirements. However, for those living in the transition survival zones, it is prudent to take a hybrid or blended approach of both urban and survival techniques and kit mentality. Sigma 3 Survival School offers a great blend of both urban and wilderness survival training courses. It is best to avail yourself of that training if you are able. You may have to traverse multiple survival zones to get to safety during a mandatory evacuation. Therefore, it is wise to gain as much field time, formal training, and individual practice in both urban and wilderness survival skills within your budget and time limits. These will enhance your chances of a positive outcome in your survival situation.

Further Reading

Can you stay alive outdoors by assessing risks? The summer outdoor season sees an increase in reports about disappearances and accidents. A recent report from California discusses the disappearance of an experienced hiker at a campsite in the Bristlecone Pine Forest. She was later found alive after four days. The report reveals that she had to flee her location due to a threatening person. Another story relates the discovery of the body of a missing person on the Snake River in Wyoming. He was working at a KOA campsite. Outdoor activities can be great experiences. However, outdoor activities also have inherent risks. You should develop a risk assessment and reduction plan before you go on a wilderness adventure. The following principles can help you build your risk mitigation plan.

1. Assess the level of wilderness experience and field skills of yourself and others

It is terrific to have a desire to spend time outdoors. There is an increasing number of people heading to the wilderness to hunt, hike, camp, or fish. The growing popularity of survival-related reality television programs and the rising interest in survival and preparedness are motivating people to get outdoors. However, the reality of being in the wilderness is different from how it is portrayed in the mass media. There is a danger of overconfidence in one’s abilities.

It is prudent to be realistic in assessing the level of wilderness experience and field skills of yourself and those in your group. The less wilderness experience and skills that one has should be an indicator that they are a high risk to themselves and others. Therefore, it is imperative to take a partner with you into the outdoors. Your partner should be more experienced and have more field skills than you to compliment your weaknesses. As a matter of safety, you should never go into the wilderness by yourself regardless of how skilled and experienced you are with the outdoors.

2. Know the level of health and physical fitness of yourself and others.

It is vital to know your level of health and physical fitness. Health and physical fitness play an important role in determining the kinds of activity and locations that one visits. For example, people with high blood pressure might have limitations as to the types of trails that they can trek on a backpacking adventure.

3. Understand the natural or man-made dangers of the area of activity

One of the common characteristics of negative experiences in the outdoors is a lack of awareness of the risks. More specifically, there seems to be a lack of knowledge of the natural and man-made dangers in the area of activity. One type of natural hazard involves predatory animals, such as mountain lions or bears. Other inherent threats are those relating to the terrain such as cliffs, bodies of water, areas of deadfall, or unstable ground. Man-made dangers are those pertaining to human activity. These can comprise logging areas, areas of construction, or even previous criminal activity.

4. Analyze the local weather and weather anomalies of the area of activity

Weather is a contributor to outdoor risks. There are reports of sudden fog, rain, or dropping of temperatures even in the summer months in some locations. It must be remembered that some local weather patterns cannot be found in a national or local forecast. The people who live near the area of your outdoor activity can provide useful information on local weather activity such as afternoon thundershowers. Analyzing the local weather traits will help make decisions about what to put in your backpack, such as rain gear or a light fleece jacket.

5. Identify the level of access to emergency help in the area of activity

Sometimes people, who go outdoors, do not take into account the availability of emergency help. It is essential to have a good understanding of what kind of emergency help is available. Additionally, it is crucial to know how to access emergency help in your planned area of activity. The importance of knowing how to contact emergency help is a critical part of your outdoor planning.

For example, one of the areas near me does not have a large number of park rangers. They tell you when you come into the park that most emergency help will be by airlift. They do not have the personnel or transportation available to come to your aid if you call for help. Thus, an expensive life flight to a local hospital awaits, should you dial for help. That kind of information influences your activity and what you have in your gear.  Some wilderness areas have no cell phone access. How will you get help in an emergency?

It is recommended that you develop a first-responder contact card. This card should have contact information for park rangers, first responders, and area hospitals. You should include emergency radio channels on the card if you are carrying a handheld ham radio two-way transceiver with you.

Final Thoughts

Risk reduction is an important skill to develop and exercise for those who love the outdoors. Your risk reduction plan has its limitations. However, without one, you may find your activity being less than enjoyable. Once you have identified the risks for your planned wilderness adventure, then develop and implement measures to reduce that risk. One of the best techniques to consider for risk reduction measures is the PACE plan. Additionally, your risk reduction plan should take into account the kind of activity (Mission), local and area dangers (Enemy), time of day, month or day (Time), the people involved (Troops), location (Terrain), and accesses to emergency help (Civilian Considerations). Once you have your risk mitigation plan complete, give a copy to whomever, you will be making your communication checks while you are outdoors.

How to build an emergency fishing kit is important to outdoor survival. The spring and summer fishing season is in full swing. Many people are heading outdoors to enjoy camping, fishing, or hiking. A personal emergency kit is a critical item to have with you while outdoors. However, most advice about individual emergency kits gives little insight into a fishing kit. Trapping small game seems to be more prominent in personal survival kits than fishing.

In this article, I will discuss how I made my emergency fishing kit. The emergency kit that I have developed for myself is one that works for me and is by no means the apex of all emergency fishing kits. It is functional and practical based on my needs. The kit is small so that it will fit in my pocket emergency survival kit. Moreover, it is tailored for the kinds of fish that are available in the areas that hike and backpack here in the southwest. You can take these principles and build your kit that is tailored to your outdoor context.

1. Container

The container that I use to put the contents of my emergency fishing kit is a jewelry Ziploc bag that is 3 inches by 2 inches. These can be purchased at places like Hobby Lobby or Michael’s Arts and Crafts. If you wish to make your emergency fishing kit more comprehensive, then the Plano fishing accessory box or a surplus U.S. Army M258 Individual Decon Kit Container are great options to consider.

As you think about the kind of container for your emergency fishing kit, there a couple of criteria to ponder when making this decision. First, is your fishing kit going to be part of a more significant loadout, such as being in a separate pouch in your backpack? Second, do you want your fishing kit to be part of your emergency kit? For me, I already carry a fishing kit in my backpack. I wanted a fishing kit small enough to fit in my emergency kit as part of my back up option.

2. Fishhooks

The fishhooks that I use are three #4 Snell hooks by Eagle Claw®. I secure the hooks with transparent scotch tape. The line is then wrapped around itself into a small enough loop that it fits in the bag. My reasoning for using these hooks is because, in a field environment, my fingertips tend to get chapped pretty good. These hooks are more comfortable to employ with the use of a barrel swivel with a safety snap than trying to make a fisherman’s knot with sore fingertips. The key is getting the rod prepped before my fingers start to get chapped. Thus, in an emergency scenario, an essential task would be to secure a wood branch suitable for a fishing pole and get it set up as quickly as possible. In case, a pole cannot be obtained, then setting up a trotline is a second option.

One optional consideration for hooks are the jig head hooks. These are special weighted hooks designed to be used in conjunction with soft bait lures such as worms or grubs. However, it is best not to get too fancy with your emergency fishing kit. If you choose to set up your kit to include lures, I would recommend only putting one or two jig head hooks of ¼ oz with a couple of grubs.

3. Fishing Line

A good fishing line is a key to an effective fishing kit. I use 100 feet of the 65-pound test, braided line by Power Pro®. It must be remembered that survival fishing is different than sport fishing. Braided fishing line is the best for survival purposes because of its durability and the multitude of uses this kind of line gives a person in the field. My fishing line is wrapped around a plastic floss sewing bobbin. A lighter test line is an option, but this is what I use in my kit.

4. Leader Line

One consideration to think about adding into your kit is a leader line to complement your fishing line and hooks. A nine to twelve-inch steel leader line is an average length for most fishing needs. However, for my kit, I use the 8-inch micro-leader from Eagle Claw® with a 12-pound test rating in my fishing kit.

5. Sinkers

Sinkers in your emergency fishing kit give it the ability to set up different rigs based on your level of fishing aptitude. The weights to have in your emergency kit are the split shot sinkers. I have these in my kit because they are easily placed on the fishing line by just pinching them closed. There are no fancy knots to tie as with more heavier sinkers such as a swivel sinker. Split shot sinkers do not take up much space in my container. Therefore, I put three to four split shot sinkers in my emergency fishing kit.

6. Barrel Swivels w/Safety Snap

A barrel swivel with a safety snap is a versatile item in your fishing kit. It will allow you to conserve your fishing line by letting you replace hooks without restringing your pole. They will also allow you to set up different rigs without cutting up your line.

7. Lures

Lures are an interesting topic of discussion when it comes to personal emergency fishing kits. There are two basic categories of lures: soft lures and hard lures. The soft lures work best for small fishing kits like mine, such as the 2-inch grubs by Berkeley® or the Storm® WildEye™ Swim Shad. However, some of the hard lures are small enough to be a great option to consider, such as the Rapala® 1-inch minnow.
The question of using fly lures for fly fishing comes up for an emergency fishing kit. Fly fishing is a special type of angling technique. If you are experienced with fly fishing and regularly catch fish with this technique, then it would not hurt to include a couple of fly lures in your kit. However, for those not proficient in fly fishing, it is recommended that you do not include fly lures in your kit.

8. Bobber

Some premade emergency kits include floats or bobbers. However, having a float or bobber is not essential to getting the most out of your survival fishing kit. If you want to build a kit with a float or bobber, then the small, ¾ inch snap on ball floats would be sufficient. However, if your fishing rig requires a float, some options to consider would be a cork stopper for bottles. Bottle corks come in various sizes and can be purchased for a few dollars at a craft or hobby store. Furthermore, if you need a float for your rig, you can fashion one from any piece of wood found in the field.

Final Thoughts

The summer months in the outdoors brings its unique set of survival concerns. Those living in areas where freshwater fishing is plentiful understand the value of angling for food. Backpackers and hikers also enjoy a good time fishing while on the trail. An emergency fishing kit is a must for the outdoors. A person that becomes lost or separated from their gear will have a survival edge with a small fishing kit in their emergency kit. Thus, as you reflect on the suggestions above, keep in mind your needs and level of experience. Therefore, experiment and tailor your kit to your needs.

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

Sewing String to Parachute Cord Management

 

1. Stainless Steel Sewing Bobbins

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

Advantages

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

Disadvantages

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

2. Plastic Floss Bobbins

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

Advantages

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

Disadvantages

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

3. Spool Tool™

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

Advantages

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

Disadvantages

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

4. Atwood Tactical Rope Dispenser

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

Advantages

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

Disadvantages

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

Climbing Rope Management

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

1. The Alpine Coil

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

Advantage

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

Disadvantage

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

2. The Butterfly Coil

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

Advantages

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

Disadvantage

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

Final Thoughts

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

Have you ever heard about how to create a tactical land navigation kit? Land navigation is critical to emergency wilderness survival. The U. S. Army has a vested interest in the vital skill of moving on the battlefield. Navigation over familiar and unfamiliar terrain in all types of weather conditions during daylight or evening hours makes our military a formidable force. An essential element of this task is training individual soldiers, Commissioned Officers, Warrant Officers, and Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) to be proficient at land navigation with a map, compass, and map protractor. Our sergeants prohibit the use of GPS devices during individual training on land navigation.

One of the techniques that I picked up in my military career was to have a personal land navigation kit in your rucksack as part of your packing list. It was during my time at Fort Benning, Georgia, that this technique first came to my awareness. Leaders are to be ready at all times to plot accurate map coordinates, mark accurate azimuths, and calculate and covert map and compass azimuths at all times. Of course, some did that better than others, as the old puns demonstrate regarding “butter bars” and land navigation. I still have my land navigation kit. It continues to have the original items that I used over the years. In this article, I will discuss how you can create your own Land Navigation Kit.

The Pouch

 

Spec-Ops Brand® Pack Rat Drop-In Organizer

 

The starting point for creating your land navigation kit is to purchase a tactical administrative pouch. The one that I use is the Spec-Ops Brand® Pack Rat Drop-In Organizer pouch. It has been around for a while and is now only offered in two colors: Black and Multicam®. The one that I used was initially in olive drab, and then I changed it out for the ACU digital camouflage version. This pouch is a little bulky for the average outdoorsman. However, it holds all of the items that I will identify for the packing list.

Description: 10” high, 7.25” wide x 3” thick. Total Capacity: 217.5 cubic inches.

The Packing List

 

1. Staedtler® Lumocolor® Permanent Markers, Super Fine Point

 

 

The Staedtler company makes the most excellent tools and equipment for draftsman, architects, and engineers. These markers are unique for using with laminated topographic maps. The recommendation for using permanent markers is that the ink will not run or bleed when it gets wet. Thus, this makes these markers and valuable tool for marking maps in rainy or wet conditions outdoors.

The super fine tip is excellent for making small marks and notes on a laminated map. For example, if you find a stream that is not on your map, the blue super fine tip marker can be used to mark it. You can also make small notes and labels near key terrain features as you navigate over your chosen route.

2. Staedtler® Lumocolor® Permanent Markers, Fine Point

 

These fine point markers from Staedtler are superb for making larger notes or markings on your map. These markers are great for marking roads or trails or other larger items on your map. The eight-count pack has all of the colors usually associated with maps. The fine-point and super fine-point markers are valuable writing instruments for your land navigation kit.

Note: Staedtler also makes an alcohol marker for removing lines and marks made with these pens. Thus, you can purchase this item if you are going to use permanent markers. Additionally, some people like to use hand sanitizer to remove lines, markings, or notes from their laminated maps.

3. Staedtler® Lumocolor® Permanent Marker 350 Wide Chisel Tip

 

The Staedtler broad-tip makers are great for marking tactical or operational boundary lines on a map. However, there is little application for tactical markings on a civilian map. So why the wide-tip markers? These markers are a great back up in case you need to make notes on objects like rocks if you become lost in the wilderness. The waterproof qualities of these markers allow them to be used as an alternative to the Sharpie® Industrial Permanent Markers.

4. MGRS-UTM Map Protractor

 

Map protractors are a must if you have a topographic map. My kit has typically at least three protractors. My kit has at least three protractors stored in the interior pocket of the pouch. You should always carry extra map protractors. If you are not sure about which ones to purchase, check out my previous article on map protractors.

5. ACCO® Banker’s Clasps

 

Banker’s clasps are used to hold your map to a map board. Some people still use map boards. These are exceptional items to help keep your map or other things in place. An alternative to these clasps is paper binder clips. Paper binder clips have other uses besides holding a map to a map board. However, I used the clasps during my military career, and they were great for my land navigation needs.

6. Westcott® Metal Ball Bearing Compass with Pencil

 

A pencil compass has limited applications outside of military map use. They are useful items for drawing arcs from a known point. The military use for a pencil compass is to identify distances and ranges from a known location, like your patrol base. However, there are a few instances where these would be helpful to land navigation for civilians. The most likely use would be to draw a communications arc for your handheld radio (HHR) from your bivouac site or bugout location on your map. Another use for the pencil compass is to help determine the range for line-of-site (LOS) considerations. Additionally, the golf pencil on the compass can be a backup writing utensil in an emergency.

7. Zebra® M-701 Stainless Steel Mechanical Pencil

 

A Zebra mechanical pencil has its best use on a non-laminated paper map. The permanent markers mentioned above will smudge or bleed through a paper map. The mechanical pencil is useful for drawing accurate azimuth lines and plotting grid points. It is also helpful for making marks or notes on the map as you use it.

8. Zebra® F-701 Ballpoint Stainless Steel Retractable Pen

 

The Zebra® pens are the best on the market for general use considerations. As with the mechanical pencil, the ballpoint pen is best for making notes and lines on a paper map. It also can be an emergency writing device should you need one. The other advantage of a ballpoint pen is that the ink is waterproof. A good alternative for the Zebra® is the Skilcraft U.S. Government pen.

9. Sharpie® Accent Pocket-Style Fluorescent Yellow Highlighters

 

The next item in the land navigation kit is a yellow highlighter. The highlighter is a versatile item. It not only highlights important or critical information on your map, but it also glows in the dark when a blue-filtered light shines on the marked item (Tscherne, “A Map Marker Lighter,” Ranger Digest No. VII, Paradise, CA: Loose Cannon, 2017, 117). Incidentally, this technique does work. I tried it by highlighting something on a note card that I had laying around my office and using the blue filter on my L-light flashlight.

Final Comments

A land navigation kit is a great item to consider adding to your loadout. The kit discussed in this article is a little bulky for most outdoorsman. However, I would recommend that you use this article to come up with your own user-friendly land navigation kit. The items in this kit have been used in a multitude of environments and scenarios. They work for their intended purposes and help make the task of map reading and land navigation more efficient. Therefore, enjoy experimenting with your own personalized land navigation kit.

There are 4 tips to consider for decisions about EDC options. My wife and I, recently, were discussing the topic of Everyday Carry (EDC). That conversation became the motivation to write this article. Prepping and survivalist interest is growing. Consequently, there are many people new to the jargon and concepts they are seeing on the internet. Therefore, it is helpful to keep in mind these four tips when considering what to carry for your EDC loadout.

Tip # 1: Assess Your Daily Environment

The first tip about EDC options is to assess your daily environment. The environment in which you will function everyday is the foundation for considering your EDC options. The world that we live in is not homogenous. My particular daily situation does not have the same nuances as someone else’s environment. Some people live and work in the suburbs, like Poway, California. Other people live in rural areas away from daily access to the high energy of a big city. Still, others live and commute within a highly urbanized metroplex, like Los Angles, New York, St. Louis, or Dallas-Fort Worth.

A particularly challenging daily environment to assess is one in which a person commutes long distances between work and home. I remember hearing about a professional athlete in California, who travels almost two hours, one-way, every day between his home and place of work during the season of his chosen sport. Thus, a person like that will have a unique set of EDC considerations. Therefore, it is essential to assess your daily environment.

As you assess your environment, you will want to ask and answer some crucial questions about your situation:

  • What is the level of crime in my area?
  • What is the most common kind of crime in my area?
  • How often will I be away from home?
  • How much and how far will I commute every day?
  • What is the type of transportation that I will use every day; car, bus, subway, train, taxi, carpool, airline?
  • What is the nature of the traffic in my area (easy, hard, frequent traffic jams, etc.)?

If you can answer some of these basic questions, then you may find yourself drifting into a discussion about getting home. Thus, you should be very thorough in assessing your daily environment.

Tip # 2: Assess Your Level of Readiness

The next important EDC tip in your item considerations is to assess your level of readiness. How physically fit are you? Do you have handicaps that require special equipment? Have you included an EDC, prepping, or survival line-item in your yearly budget? How proficient are you in self-defense, handling firearms, or using non-lethal weapons such as pepper spray? The point here is not to imply that you should shore up your weaknesses. Instead, these are influences in determining what items you should be considering for your everyday carry loadout.

For example, if you have never handled a firearm, you have no business carrying one until you get properly trained and licensed to carry it. If you have never had martial arts training with knives and weapons, then you have no business carrying a karambit knife because an internet personality demonstrated using one. Furthermore, how often on a daily basis will you be employing the things you desire to carry? Therefore, assessing your level of readiness should determine what you include in your EDC loadout.

Tip # 3: Assess The Practicality Of Your EDC Item Considerations

A third EDC tip concerns practicality. Now that you have assessed your environment and your readiness, you can now begin to think about what items to consider for your EDC loadout, in essence what are your needs? An important principle to remember is what works for someone else may not work for you. For example, some people carry an EDC backpack. There are many videos on the internet discussing what to pack in an EDC backpack. Remember the keyword in Everyday Carry is everyday. How practical is an EDC backpack to your situation? It might be overkill, especially if you are at your suburban house most of the day.

Furthermore, the practicality of your items will be influenced by your level of familiarity with them. Multitools are a favorite everyday carry item that you find as a recommendation on the internet. Yet, how often will you use something like that everyday? I remember in the military the only people carrying multitools every day were our vehicle mechanics. Why? They are fixers in their hearts. Thus, they discover that they need to carry a multitool. They need to be ready to repair, fix, attach, or detach something, even when they are not under a vehicle. Their experience dictates that they carry a multitool. Therefore, assess the practicality of your items along with your needs or requirements.

Do not put something in your EDC loadout that you will never use or will hardly use on any given day. Everyday carry items are intended for regular or frequent use. By definition, they are not for an emergency survival SHTF scenario. For example, I saw someone on YouTube recommending an ankle-mounted first aid kit as an EDC item. First aid kits or trauma treatment items, such as tourniquets, are, technically, emergency items. It is crucial for those off-duty medical professionals and first responders to carry emergency medical kits as everyday carry items. However, for the general public, emergency medical items should be part of your individual emergency survival kits. Furthermore, your personal emergency survival kit should be part of your EDC loadout.

Tip # 4: Learn The Art Of Modifying Your EDC Items

The fourth EDC tip is learning the art of modifying your EDC items. Many people are carrying a multitude of items on any given day. As you are assessing your daily environment and item needs, remember to be flexible. As you carry your items, you become used to them to the point of not noticing that they are on you. Then, you find yourself having to travel via airline, bus, or train. Suddenly, you are facing a TSA officer screening you, and you forgot to place your multitool or folder in the checked baggage. Now you lost that $180 Benchmade Griptillian folder or $100 Leatherman Center-Drive multitool even after putting them in the bin to go through the x-ray machine. Limit your “oops” moments by learning to modify your EDC loadout for each situation.

A good practice to employ in the art of modification is layering up or down according to the need. In the military, you are trained to modify your clothing as the climate dictates. Layering your clothing is an essential technique for the winter months and in cold weather conditions. This same technique can apply to EDC considerations. You may find yourself not carrying some items on the weekend. They are simply not needed. Similarly, you may find yourself adding items if you go out of town for the weekend with your family.

Concluding Comments

Everyone carries some kind of an EDC item, such as a wristwatch or wallet. However, as we consider carrying items beyond the obvious, it is essential to be thoughtful, diligent, and practical about what you include in your EDC loadout. There are at least three conventional approaches to EDC philosophy: EDC as items of regular or frequent use, EDC as items for personal defense, or EDC as items for emergency survival. Some advocates blend elements of all of these and call it Everyday Carry. The environment in which you operate and your level of readiness will determine what you carry daily. Remember that there is always room for improvement. So, choose your EDC items wisely and continue to improve your knowledge and experience. As a result, you will modify and enhance the things you carry with you every day

There are three outstanding map protractors to consider for your land navigation needs. Land navigation is an essential part of both emergency survival and enjoying the outdoors. Many people prefer to use GPS devices such as those from Garmin®. Other people prefer to use some kind of GPS and Map application on their smartphone or tablet. However, land navigation with a paper topographic map can be cumbersome without the aid of a map protractor and a compass. Therefore, it is good to know the two basic kinds of map protractors.

Map protractors have some essential functions regardless of their calibrated scale. The three primary functions of protractors for map reading are plotting points on a map, measuring distances and determining azimuths (angles). They are helpful tools for navigating on air, land, or sea. There are different types of protractors for each of these applications. This article will focus on those protractors used with land navigation and topographic maps.

1. Military Map Protractor

 

Description

The most recognizable map protractor is the one that is in use with the U.S. military. They are scaled to the Military Grid Reference System (MGRS). They use the metric system for measuring distance and feature both compass degrees and mils around the edges. These protractors are for use with the military topographic maps. This style of the protractor is available on the civilian market. However, some are scaled for commercial maps, like a UTM map, rather than military maps. Also, you can find military protractors sometimes being sold in military surplus stores.

The significant difference between the genuine military protractors and the civilian copies is labeling. There is a label on the military-issued ones that reads something like this:

GTA 05-02-012, June 2008
DEPARTMENT of the ARMY
GRAPHIC TRAINING AID
Title: COORDINATE SCALE
AND PROTRACTOR

There are military style map protractors available by civilian vendors online. However, they are prohibited by law from putting the above label on them. Why? Because once a company does that, the product becomes the property of the U. S. government. Since they may not be under contract with the Department of the Army to supply these products, they would be in violation of the law if they put the U. S. Army label on them.

Primary Use

Moreover, military protractors and maps are for use in training and operations. Thus, genuine military protractors and military topographic maps have to be updated often. The purpose of these updates is to account for the changes in the magnetic declination of the earth. For example, if you have a genuine military protractor with a date from the 1990s, it may not be as accurate as one with a more current date. For civilian use, this factor is not as critical to land navigation.

2. UTM Map Protractor

 

Description

A commercial version of the military map protractor is the UTM map protractor. UTM stands for Universal Transverse Mercator. UTM is based on the metric grid square system of measuring distance. It has similarities with the MGRS system. These protractors have two basic styles: the military style and the nautical style. The maritime version of this protractor incorporates both topographic map scales and marine navigation tools. The sailing version looks complicated to read. However, it is not that much different than the military MGRS protractor.

Primary Uses

The UTM map protractor is most useful with civilian topographic maps, such as the ones that you can purchase from map stores. In some cases, the UTM protractor can be used with non-topographic maps. However, these protractors may not be compatible with your typical road atlas map book. So be careful about how you use one of these protractors on maps purchased at your local store.

UTM maps and protractors are mostly used for hiking and backpacking. A common way of reading UTM coordinates is “Northing and Easting.” UTM squares are further divided into kilometers similar to the MGRS system. UTM is similar but different from the MGRS system in the way that it is read and annotated on a map.

3. Corner Rulers

 

Description

The third kind of map protractor are the corner ruler protractors. These look similar to the UTM and MGRS military-style protractors. However, some of the features are different. Corner Ruler protractors do not have any compass degree markings around the edges. Next, the grid-square scale is upside down. They are designed to find a coordinate with a known grid quickly. They are not intended to find grid azimuth readings on a map and route plotting.

Primary Use

The Corner Ruler map protractor has a primary use in two applications: aerial photography and adventure racing. Their use for aerial photos is to quickly find a point on the photo within an identified grid square. Adventure racers operate on predetermined routes. Therefore, they do not need a tool that helps them traverse over open terrain by plotting a course. They just need a protractor to help find where they are on a known grid-square.

Some Final Thoughts

Map reading and land navigation are vital skills for those who love the outdoors. It is also an essential skill for emergency survival. I have found that some trail maps that are available at a trailhead or ranger station are little more than sketches. They are not to scale and are not very accurate. If this is your only map in your backpack and you get lost, a map like that might be your worst enemy.

It is vital to have an up-to-date and accurate topographic map of the area you are operating in. Along with that map, you should also have an excellent manual compass and map protractor. The MGRS and UTM protractors are the two most common kinds of protractors available. Some companies sell map protractors with both MGRS and UTM scales. Therefore, shop around and find the protractor that you are most comfortable. Then, use it regularly with your hard-copy topographic map.

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

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

1. Establish A Communication Plan

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

2. Passive and Active Signaling Method

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

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

3. Day and Night Signaling Method

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

4. Near and Far Signaling Method

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

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

5. Voice and SMS Communication Methods

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

In Summary

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

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