Factors Influencing Winterizing Your Get Home Bag
Factor #1: EnvironmentThe 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 DistanceMoreover, 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: ExperienceA 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 ItemsThe 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 ItemsThe 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 ItemsAdditionally, 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 ItemsAdditionally, 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 ItemsMoreover, 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.
ConclusionIn 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.
5 Best Bushcraft Saws
For years we have been using silky saws in the field and they have performed exceptionally well. So this list will heavy on the silkies, but we will cover some other saws as well. There is a ton of different saws out there on the market to choose from, the options can be overwhelming to a newbie. So we have tried everything out there and narrowed it down to a handful of saws for you that will work best for bushcrafters and outdoorsman. All of this equipment has been in use by SIGMA 3 Survival Instructors for years, since it is one of the single most important survival tools we bring to work. Our day job consists of showing up in the woods with a knife, saw, axe, and nothing else. That is what we teach with for most classes, so we use them a LOT!
What to look for?
Folding saws are the best option. Pack-ability is always a concern when carrying woodworking tools. You can only carry so much and you want it to be lightweight, durable, and very efficient at cutting small to medium-sized logs. As well as being able to take something larger down if need be. You’d be surprised how large of a tree you can take down in a short amount of time with a mid sized saw. Well over 12″ trees are possible and as a survivalist, you really shouldn’t have a need to take anything larger down. But if you do, then plan on carrying an axe. Our favorite axe at the moment is the Hults Bruk Akka Forest Axe. You can take down anything you need with an axe this big, and the head is light enough you can choke up on the handle and do light cutting work.
Why a folding saw over a buck saw?
The problem with bucksaws is that the depth of your saw will determine how large of trees you can cut. Which can be a problem if you’re carrying a big clunky buck saw, and it won’t even cut large logs if needed. They tend to be heavier and much bulkier, which makes them an issue to carry in backpacks. Whereas a folding saw can cut larger logs and will slide right into one of your pockets. The Silky Ultra Accel actually fits perfectly into the upper left cargo pocket of the Fjallraven Vidda Pro Pants (My favorite outdoor pants of all time).
Some things only a saw can do:
- straight cuts for notching, survival traps, shelter building, and much more
- Faster cutting and less work than axes. It takes about 1/3 the effort to use a saw versus an axe.
- Fit into small pockets.
- Cut quickly in confined areas.
- Strap it to a pole and cut limbs way out of your normal reach.
Why does a survivalist need a saw more than an axe?
People who travel in the woods often, tend to try and do it lightweight. Tool heavy yes, but as light as they can go to get the job done. Why carry a big 3 lb axe if you don’t need it? I primarily carry an axe for winter trips in colder climates and in places you need to chop lots of standing dead wood to burn. Unless I have to process and split a lot of wood, I don’t really need an axe for most 3 season trips. The saw can do anything I need and then some. Plus it fits in your pocket and the only survival tools that matter are the ones you’ll actually carry regularly.
There issues with almost every folding saw on the market. It isn’t designed to necessarily replace an ax, it should be paired with one. Because of the two items, the axe is far more durable, even though it’s not as efficient. I typically carry both and end up using my saw 80% of the time. Remember that your wood working tools are your survival tools, because they can help you construct items for your longer-term survival. Not to mention a fire is pivotal to survive in any environment and you want a few tools at hand to process wood.
Silky Issues- This saw has the hardest steel by far, meaning it holds an edge much much longer. But the harder a steel, the more brittle it is. The only issue people have with silky’s ever is that if you abuse the blade it will break. You have to use it properly and never force it through wood or allow the blade to bind. If done right it will fly through the wood with very little effort on your arms. The silky also has a very wide kerf (thickness at cutting edge), meaning it binds the least of all the saws. This is a professional tree trimming saw and is by far and away the fastest cutter. Just be careful when using the blade so as not to break it. I’ve never personally broken one after years of use, but I have seen it happen.
Corona Issues- This saw has a thinner kerf and will bind a little more than the silky’s. It also has an issue with the bolt loosening and once you lose the bolt, the saw is almost worthless. The blade is also softer so the edge won’t last as long. And it’s more likely to bend than the silky saws. That being said, it’s durable enough that you can straighten bends in the blade. All in all, this a fantastic saw for the money. It was my go to saw before finding the silky ultra accel.
Bahco Issues- This saw is the slowest cutter of all the saws by far. But it is probably the most popular bushcraft saw in the world. Not sure why they are so popular other than the durability of the blade, which is why it made the top 5 list. You can literally bend the bushcraft saw blade at a 90-degree angle, and then bang it out straight with a log. Its an amazingly tough blade, but it has some drawbacks. The kerf on the saw is very thin, meaning the blade binds a lot. It is also a small saw, and can only process small limbs. You can’t cut even half as large of trees with this bushcraft saw, as you can the silky or corona. You also have to be careful the bolt doesn’t fall out on this saw. It has to have loctite added to the threading or it will come loose in the woods and be rendered useless.
Top 5 Bushcraft Saws:
- Silky Ultra Accel (All time favorite saw)
- Silky Pocket Boy (Best Pocket Sized Saw)
- Corona Clipper 10-inch Curved Blade Folding Razor Tooth Saw RS 7265
- Silky Big Boy (Largest bushcraft saw in class)
- Bahco 396-LAP Laplander Folding Saw, 7-1/2 -Inch Blade, 7 TPI
Just a couple of good buck saws:
The Realities of Winter Hammock Camping
In the last year, I have been all over the country living in my hammock. I decided to go homeless by choice in August 2017, so that I could be a nomad and live on the move in my favorite hammock system of all time. The Warbonnet Blackbird XLC is by far and away the best overall hammock system in the world in my opinion. I loved it so much, I got rid of my house so I could travel and live in it full time. They even have a new model they just released, in which we will do a write up on later. But the changes made to the Blackbird XLC are exactly what was needed to take the system to the next level.
During these travels, I’ve lived in my hammock in Puerto Rico after the Hurricanes devastated the island. I lived on the front of an airport, to beaches along the coast, to the front porch of buildings. I traveled from a tropical environment to a winter environment and that made a world of difference in how I set up my hammock to endure the weather. We recently camped out in just above zero temperatures in Northern PA and stayed extremely warm in our shelters even in a foot of snow.
Insulating Hammocks in Below Freezing Weather
The main problem with hammock camping in cold weather is the issue with convection underneath you. Wind blowing below you will suck heat away from you quicker than anything else and that is why you must know how to properly setup for winter hammock camping. There are many ways to set up for winter hammock camping conditions, but not all are equal.
Different ways of setup:
- Top Quilt and Underquilt- This is my preferred method for winter hammock camping. But it is also the most expensive and least modular for other uses. The top quilt is only 3/4 of a sleeping bag, eliminating weight from the bag where it isn’t needed. When in a hammock, it does no good to insulate underneath yourself with a typical sleeping bag because the insulation becomes compressed and provides no warmth. That is why an under quilt is so important because it makes up for the lack of insulation underneath you. And since the under quilt isn’t compressed by your body, it will provide substantial warmth. Down is the material of choice for insulation on hammocks, especially if conditions are consistently below freezing. The only time synthetic insulation would be better is if the conditions were constantly wet. Even then most down quilt manufacturers use silicon-treated down these days, so them getting wet is less of an issue than in the past.
- Sleeping Bag and thermal pad- The next best option isn’t as warm, but it allows you to utilize sleeping bags you already own instead of having to purchase quilts that can really only be used for winter hammock camping. The problem with this option is that traditional sleeping bags are difficult to get in and out of in a hammock. The underneath portion of your sleeping bag is useless and a thermal pad is absolutely essential for staying warm. No matter how good your sleeping bag is rated, you will still get cold underneath you without a thermal pad.
- Utilizing Tarps for warmth- One of the most important options for warmth is how you use your tarp. I’m a firm believer in having a tarp that will block the wind and rain from all directions. These triangular or partial coverage tarps aren’t good enough for cold conditions. Because if the wind can blow across your hammock because the tarp doesn’t block it all the way around, you are likely to get cold. The Warbonnet Superfly tarp is the best I’ve seen so far in these types of tarps. It is constructed to act like a tent around your hammock and if you want to block the wind in cold conditions you’ll need to put your tarp flaps all the way to the ground. This will block the wind effectively and make your shelter much warmer.
- Blackbird XLC Top Cover and Under Quilt Cover- Recently Warbonnet changed some aspects of their Blackbird XLC. They added a top cover that can be purchased at any time because they aren’t custom to each hammock anymore. And they also have two vents added to them, which are essential for letting out moisture from your breath. The top cover itself will add around 15 degrees of warmth to your winter hammock system, but the problem with the original design was condensation build up inside the hammock from your breath throughout the night. This was a very big problem before because your breath would freeze to the inside of the hammock, causing your insulation to get wet. They have also designed a new underquilt cover, that is designed to block more wind and help keep your underquilt compressed against the hammock. This was a problem before with any underquilt, because if you moved too much the quilt could slip off. And this new design prevents that as well as adding more wind protection for winter hammock camping.
- Thermal Pads- I truly believe that whether you use a sleeping bag or quilt system, that you truly should use a thermal pad for both setups. Its amazing how much warmth a Therma-rest pad can warm you sleep system up. In fact, I’d say it’s the single most important thing for staying warm when winter hammock camping.
Benefits of Winter Hammock Camping
If you have followed our social media, you know that we are HUGE advocates of winter hammock camping for many reasons. Here the reasons we choose hammocks above other shelters:
- Fast setup and flat ground not needed. You can camp on the side of hill, next to a waterfall, or anywhere you can find trees. There are even ways to setup them up without trees.
- No need to clean the ground up on your site or prepare sleep area.
- Super Lightweight and Packable. The warbonnet blackbird XLC weighs only around 3 lbs for the whole system and more if you add quilts and other accessories.
- SuperFly tarp can be used as a tent if hammock not needed.
- Most comfortable night sleep you can get in the woods. The blackbird XLC forces your body to sleep in an anatomically correct position and has eliminated all my back pain. I’ve considered hanging one in my bedroom when I quit being homeless.
- Lightweight and Packable
- Durable and comfortable- I’ve had the same hammock for 3 years and it has no noticeable wear of any kind, even after living in it full time for the last six months.
Of all the choices available for cold winter camping, hammock camping with quilts is by far and away our favorite. The only downside to hammock camping versus other types of camping is you can’t have a fire next to any hammock system. The material is too lightweight to have a fire anywhere even close to it. We recommend keeping your hammock a minimum of 20 yards away from any fire. Other than the lack of exterior heating capability, the only other downside is you must have trees to hang the hammock. But even if you don’t you can put your superfly tarp straight to the ground and it can double as a floorless tent. All in all, you can’t go wrong with a Warbonnet XLC hammock system. If you can’t afford one, ENOS is a great secondary option. But they aren’t even close in comparison to quality, comfort, or utility uses.
Recommended Winter Hammock Camping products:
Sure there are tons of articles and info out there on the subject of fatwood, so what makes this one different. In this article, we plan to reveal a few things you probably didn’t know about it and what works best when using it. This survival blog will even show you how to make it on your own if you can’t find any good fatwood.
What is Fatwood?
Fatwood, is a resin impregnated pine wood that can be found on pine trees and is probably the best natural fire starter available. It’s waterproof, rot resistant, extremely flammable, and in abundance when pine is in the area. Most evergreen trees contain terpene in their tree sap. This sap flows to an area that is scarred and damaged, attempting to heal that area. As the terpene evaporates in the sap it will harden, becoming resin and over time it will not be sticky any longer. The resin at all stages is flammable and burns well. This same resin can be used for pitch glue and all types of bushcraft needs.
Where to find fatwood?
The best way to find fatwood is to find fallen dead pine trees that are on the ground. When a tree dies the terpene in the wood will move to the interior heartwood of the tree and it will saturate the inner wood creating fatwood. Sometimes you can find sections of it the size of a small tree, within the inside of a large fallen rotten tree. You can also dig around rotten pine stumps to find large sections of it as well. Remove the punky rotten material from around the fatwood and this wood will be golden in color and very resinous in feel. You will also smell a heavy scent of turpentine in the wood and the stronger the smell the better the wood.
Fatwood can also be found in the lower branches of the tree in the small node that connects the branch to the tree. Where the tree connects to the trunk, is usually where it is found and most times it can be 2-6 inches in length out along the branch. Spruce fatwood is found only a couple inches up the branches and does not have as much fatwood as pine. Having some fatwood in a tinder box or tinder pouch , can be very useful in all type of weather conditions. So see if you can find some in your area then you definitely want to store it for later fire making uses. Fatwood makes a great tinder anytime, it will burn long and hot. When in wet conditions, its used for drying damp materials so they will combust into flame and this can make the difference with marginal wet tinder material. It will catch almost anything on fire if you have enough of it.
Large sections of it can also be used as a torch for lighting purposes around camp. Put the fatwood into the spears we make on the youtube channel and have a portable torch you can use for light in the woods. These can be used to attract fish for night time fish spearing as well! Since the fatwood puts off a tremendous amount of toxic smoke, this can also be used to combat mosquitoes in your camp. You do not want to breath fatwood smoke though, so caution should be used when in primitive shelters. Some people even take large sections of fatwood and make them into walking sticks so they are insured to always have a great firestarter.
How to make your own fatwood?
If you can’t find any fatwood in your area then you simply need to make some. It is so simple to make fatwood and you will have the same types of results as the natural fatwood. All you need do is melt your sap down in a container large enough to soak your sticks into. Once the sap is melted completely in the container, then add your finger sized sticks of cedar or dried pine to the melted sap. Lightly simmer the sticks in the sap for around 30 minutes and make sure you don’t get fire to hot or the sap will ignite into flame. Once the sap has soaked into the pre-cut sticks, then all you need do is let them air dry and they are ready for fire making.
You’ll need the following 3 items:
- Sap from pine, cedar, or fir tree
- Good flammable dry wood such as white cedar or dried pine
- Boiling container; preferably something you don’t mind ruining such as an aluminum can.
How to Prepare it?
Methods to prepare fatwood for fire starting is most commonly done in a two ways. The first is by taking a knife and thinly shaving off the fatwood to make shavings. The shavings should be thin and usually will be curled. A small pile the size of a golf ball or larger is a good amount. The shavings will light easily by using a flame or even sparks from a ferrocerium rod. The second way is by taking a sharp edge on the spine of a knife and scraping the fat wood to make a sticky dust. Also, the fine dust can be scraped off with a sharp stone, a piece of broken glass or other sharp object. After getting a small ball of dust in a pile you will be able to light this with a flame or ferrocerium rod. The SIGMORA (Official S3 Survival Knife) has a custom scraper on the back that makes perfect scrapings of fatwood for catching sparks and it is our preferred tool for this job.
Fatwood is probably the single best fire tinder you can carry with you and is usually in great quantity if pines are in the area. This tinder is even better than birch bark and many modern tinders as well. It’s free, abundant, and one of the most useful fire making tinders you can harvest. Go out and get some and try it today!
Many of our readers have expressed an interest in learning how to keep bugs from biting them and what methods I use to prevent bites. This has always been a subject of great concern to me because I can legitimately say that the area I live in has the worst bug problem of any place that I have ever visited. I’ve seen people come to camp and get a 100 tick bites in only half a day and they didn’t even walk through the woods. Our ticks are literally like invading army ants and the chiggers are extremely bad too! These little ticks actually set ambushes and will wait on objects that you frequent and then attack at the first opportunity. We even have airborne paratrooper ticks that literally wait for you to pass under them and then they launch themselves from trees to get at you. Dealing with this and some of the other problems has made me a bit of an expert in living in the woods with the bugs. So in this article I am going to discuss the methods that have worked best for me and have prevented me from being eaten alive by the hoards of ticks that frequent our survival training grounds!
HERE IS YOUR ANSWER! BE SAFE, BUY THE BEST!
Sawyer Products SP649 Premium Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent Trigger Spray, 12-Ounce
Now for some answers on dealing with BUGS!
Clothing, Boots, and Personal Gear-
I CAN’T SAY THIS ENOUGH! In order to prevent bug bites in the woods you must dress properly. Having the correct outfit for your area is liking dawning a suit of armor that makes you invincible to those devil bugs! Here are the rules to follow when dressing for the woods!
- Always tuck your pants into your boots! And if you’re not wearing boots then you should pull your socks over the top of your pants. This prevents the bugs from being able to even get in your clothing.
- Tuck your shirt into your pants! If you have tucked your pants and your shirt in, then you have pretty much won the battle already. Why? Because the only place they can get in is on your arms and if you wear long sleeves then they can only get in on your hands and neck area.
- Wear a long sleeve shirt. Some areas are so hot that this isn’t feasible, but if you can manage it then it is always best to wear a long sleeve shirt. This means the only place the bugs can get in is on your hands and neck area.
- Treat your clothing with permethrin. Permethrin is by far the best bug juice that you can get and much better for you than deet. It’s a great feeling to walk into a seed tick nest and have them all over your clothing and within seconds the ticks starting walking in circles and falling off as if they were drunk!
- Don’t wear bright colors or use any type of perfumes or things that smell different than the natural environment!
Permethrin vs Deet
When I did my wilderness medic training I had the honor to train under Dr. Frank Hubble, who is one of the top wilderness doctors in the world. He has experience in dealing with killer jungle diseases and travels to areas that are full of killer diseases contracted from bugs. So needless to say, I trust his experience when it comes to dealing with bugs.
First he taught me about the effects of permethrin vs deet and after learning the negative effects of deet, I will never go back. When deet is applied to your skin it immediately starts soaking into your skin and quickly finds itself in your bloodstream and then moves to your spinal column. Permethrin is less of a health risk, can’t be applied to the skin, and is far more effective with none of the risks of deet. Deet is only effective for a few hours before having to re-apply which makes it a no go in my book.
My choice is permethrin for dozens of reasons. The first reason being is that it lasts on your clothing for an extremely long time, as many as 40 washes if applied correctly. The second reason being is that it kills the bugs instead of just repelling them. The bugs will crawl up your clothing a foot or so and then fall off dead. Whereas with deet it will only repel the ticks and I’ve seen from experience that if a tick is determined enough the deet won’t stop them whereas the permethrin will. I could write a whole article just on the advantages of permethrin over deet but we have to move on. You can pick up bottles of permethrin in walmart for about 10 bucks a bottle in the sporting goods department.
There are tons of different products out there on the market that will help protect us from bug bites but they come with pros and cons just like everything else. What’s great about natural products is they are better for the environment and we eliminate the chance of having harmful carcinogens soak into our bloodstream like deet does. But how effective are they? In my experience, they are far less effective than using a product like permethrine. But they do work, especially if used in conjunction with proper clothing. Downside is that they are just like deet and wear off in a few hours so you have to keep re-applying.
I’ve had the opportunity to test many of these methods because we have an area I train at that is so overrun with mosquitoes that I have literally had my whole face swell up like an allergic reaction from all the bites. This type of training environment helps you figure out real quick what works and what doesn’t! You can make your own effective natural repellant by lightly simmering noxious herbs like yarrow or American beauty berry in a light olive oil and then adding the oil to a little spray bottle. The oil will allow the herbs to last much longer on the skin and clothing. Apply liberally as needed for your environment.
While I do on occasion use plants for a repellant by rubbing them on my skin, they don’t work for very long. If you wipe a plant like yarrow all over your exposed areas, it will help cut down on the number of bug bites but it won’t prevent all of them. But this method only lasts a short amount of time. This is why we have to mix these plants with oils to spray on our skin and clothing. For survival situations, you can rub mud all over your exposed areas but this method is only marginally effective also.
Smudge Fires and Shelters
Lastly, how do we deal with bugs in our survival shelters and our camping area. The single best way to drive back the hordes is to make a smudge fire that will help ward them off. It’s the same thing as throwing a citronella candle out in your backyard. You can build a smudge fire with any kind of moist woods that will put out a lot of smoke. This can also be done with termite damaged wood as well as toxic tree smokes like pine or cedar. Just add the smudge woods on top of a fire that already has a good bed of coals and let it smolder and the bugs will run away.
Types of Bug Bites
Chiggers- Let’s talk first about the chigger, because they are my least favorite to deal with! But I bet some of you northerners are wonderin what the hell a chigger is! Well let me tell you that they are the worst of the bunch when it comes to makin yah itch like crazy. The problem with chiggers is that you can’t see them and once they bite you they leave an itch that usually lasts a couple of weeks. Contrary to popular belief they do not bury themselves in your skin. You can actually wash them off with your hands and a little water. Chiggers are usually around moist areas and I get them the most by walking through grassy areas.
Once the chigger has bitten you, then you the only thing you can do is treat the symptoms. The itch comes from an allergic reaction caused by the chigger ingecting his saliva into your skin. Most bites occur in areas that have thin skin because the chiggers mouth and feeding structure are very delicate. So you usually get bitten behind the knee, waist, ankles, and feet. And putting finger nail polish and other crazy remedies won’t help much other than temporarily relieving the itch. I find that using analgesic remedies that actually numb the skin by far and away work the best. Chigger X is a great product that works great on other types of bites also. But my favorite way to treat these bites is to make a salve from the yarrow plant because it numbs the skin and deals with any infection issue that might occur from the break in your skin. Check out our youtube video on making the perfect wilderness salve for my favorite treatment. CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO!
Ticks- By far we have more ticks in our area then any other type of biting bug and they usually come in droves. So I have a ton of experience in dealing with these little critters. I can’t express enough to you how important it is to prevent tick bites. Ticks carry so many types of debilitating diseases it’s ridiculous. Lyme disease is probably the most well known of the different diseases ticks can cause, because lyme can cause major health problems if not dealt with correctly. I’ve known many friends that have contracted it in our area and have also rid themselves of it. My good friend Michael Patrick (Owner of Maine Primitive Skills School) has healed himself of lyme disease twice using medicinal plants. I won’t get into all the treatments possible for ticks but if you do get lyme disease or some other nasty disease they can be treated using medicinal plants as well as modern medical methods. Just watch out and try not to get bitten.
Mosquitoes- These little flying blood suckers cause the least amount of itching and discomfort but they also cause the greatest disease born threat. Contrary to popular myth, the mosquito is the most deadly bug on the planet and kills millions of people every year! Malaria is the most well known disease but mosquitoes have probably a 100 well known diseases worldwide that can cause massive health problems as well as death! The thing about malaria is that it never ever goes away, you have it for life. So if you travel then I highly recommend treating your clothing and being prepared for the areas you travel to. You don’t want to come home from vacation with a life threatening disease.
Without a doubt in my mind the single best way to deal with bugs in the wilderness if to first dress properly and to treat those clothes with permethrine. If you dress properly, it is the equivalent of dawning bug armor with the highest level of protection. There are dozens of other methods out there to deal with the bugs but they all only last a short amount of time and only maintain a marginal degree of effectiveness against hungry bugs. So my choice is always to where the right kind of clothing treated with a good dose of permethrin. Try these methods on your next outdoor adventure and post your comments back here. We want to hear your feedback!
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The Perfect Wilderness Salve
Last year I made an all natural product for medicinal uses that surpasses my expectations all the time and I just had to share it with everyone! If you don’t know what salve is then you are in for a real medicinal treat. Salve can be used for an amazing amount of external ailments. I have personally used it on boils, bites, blemishes (pimples), deep cuts, infections, and rashes! Its made of a medicinal concoction that relieves all types of symptoms. This salve is the single best thing I have ever used for treating poison ivy. Its really amazing at how well it works. The yarrow numbs the skins and eliminates the itch and the anti-inflammatory plants dry the wound up! Try it for yourself!
Salve is made as follows:
Items Needed: olive oil (or rendered fat for primitive applications), bees wax, medicinal herb concoction of your choice, boiling pot, mason jar, cook top or fire
Favorite Personal Herb Blend: When you combine all these plant medicinal properties together this recipe creates one of the most potent external creams that one could have. Better than anything I have tried store bought.
Yarrow- coagulant, pain reliever, astringent, disinfectant, anti-bacterial (extremely powerful herb)
Willow- anti-inflammatory, contains same properties as active ingredient in aspirin, chewing bark relieves headaches
Plantain- great for all kinds of external wounds, anti-bacterial, and many wonderful properties that have been used as a medicinal for thousands of years
Garlic- known for its abilities to kill hundreds of different micro-organisms, anti-viral, bug repellent, etc.
Fill a pan with small amount of water about an inch or two deep. Bring it to a slow rolling boil on low heat. Next fill your mason jar with your custom herb concoction and then cover the herbs with olive oil. The more herbs the more potent its medicinal properties. Set the jar in the water and let them simmer for 20-30 minutes. Make sure to not let mixture get to hot or it will hurt the medicinal potency of the herbs. After the mixture has had plenty of time to simmer then remove the mason jar and pour the contents through a piece of cheese cloth to filter all the particles out. Keep filtering until cleared of leftover herb particles. When you have properly strained everything, then set the mason jar with the olive oil back in the water on low heat. Then begin adding your bees wax. Amounts vary depending on how much you plan to make, but just add enough to give the mixture the consistency of Neosporin after it has cooled. Set it out in a cool dry spot to setup and come back a few hours later and it is ready to go. This salve will last for years and is guaranteed to produce awesome results. Try this recipe out sometime and make comments about your results in the forum.
As some of you know, I have recently been up in Montana for the last couple of months and I didn’t get to go on near as many adventures as I would have like, but still got some time in the bush. And let me tell you that Montana definitely has some wilderness. It is such a wonderful state for the explorer. There is one memorable expedition in particular that I would like to share with everyone.
One weekend I decided that the tourist trap destinations around Bozeman were not cutting it and I decided to step things up a little. The first thing I did was talk to the locals and ask them how I could find some remote locations that I would not run into a soul. Talked to an old fella that had lived there most of his life and he told me I should take a lil trip up to the Absaroka mountains! Well I took him up on that idea and planned a trip to go see em’. It would be a solo trip and didn’t really have an exact plan laid out, I just kind of turned the wheel where the spirit took me and went with the flow. After traveling down a backcountry road for around half an hour it started to turn uphill very quickly. Before I knew it I found myself as far as the road would take me. It took me to this absolutely gorgeous box canyon surrounded by mountains on all sides. At the end of this canyon was a huge peak with snow still on the peak; keep in mind this was in August at the hottest time of the year.
The ridges are so high on both sides of the canyon that you cannot see the surrounding skyline. I grabbed my ruck out of the truck and took to hiking. Before I knew it I had found a suitable campsite and my senses began to tell me that I should prepare a shelter quickly. I listened to my intuition and began building a temporary survival shelter and wouldn’t you know it; a storm front started rolling over the mountain. I knew I should prepare quickly because this was a new environment and I could not afford to be complacent. I found an overturned burned out tree that had a hollow spot under the trunk just big enough for me to sleep comfortably, so I made camp under it. As soon as I got my shelter suitable, wouldn’t you know it started raining and then it began hailing. As the storm tore through the canyon, I felt invincible in my lil tree shelter because I knew that it would completely protect me from the storm!
The rain was sporadic and somewhat irritating. I would get out to begin gathering and it would start raining. Now I normally wouldn’t mind a little rain, but my go pack got stolen a few weeks prior and I had no rain gear! If it was warm, no problem! But the nights were getting down in the 30’s at night in August, so I decided to stay dry in my shelter. After many hours of this, I started to get a bad feeling again like maybe I should head back. Since it was going to be miserable camping with no rain gear in a thunderstorm in the mountains, I decided to just pack it up and say maybe I’ll come back next weekend. As I packed up I started to feel a sense of urgency come over me and I began to move a little quicker. Not knowing why I was feeling this, I just hoofed it back to the truck. Fired up the truck and started to head down the mountain! Got around the first corner and that is when I knew why I had that bad feeling. The storm had turned the road I came in on into a slip and slide. Let me tell you folks, this was the first time in a long time I have been scared in a survival situation. The cliffs were tall enough that a person could drop a thousand feet without having a single thing to stop them on the way down. This road was lined with cliffs along the whole way and the clay substrate had become as slippery as oil. I started sliding down the incline sideways towards a drop and began to prepare to dump the truck over the side and jump out the other door when I got control again. When I came to a stop I said a little prayer to the creator and told him I’d like to get home in one piece if he could manage it. After that I maneuvered all obstacles out of my way in the truck in case God decided I didn’t need my truck to get home.
Now, I consider myself a pretty good off-road driver. I have taken numerous driving courses in the military including a no holds barred off road humvee class. My truck is no humvee I can assure you, but I knew with a little concentration and God’s helping hand I could get back. I took my seatbelt off and super-charged my awareness!
As I traveled down the mountain I had to carefully slide the truck through narrow corridors in some pretty nasty mud. The problem wasn’t just the cliffs I could go off, I also had to contend with the fact that if I didn’t maneuver correctly I would get the truck stuck. That would be a long hike back to civilization, but it wasn’t the walk back I worried about; I was worried about the astronomical tow bill! Needless to say, after some white knuckle moments I finally made it back down the mountain. If I had not left when I did and had kept riding out the concentric ring of storms blowing through, I don’t think I would have been able to drive off that mountain.
I guess the lesson behind the whole adventure would be. Don’t freakin go into deep bush with bald tires and a crappy two wheel drive truck if you can’t afford the tow trip back. And to get some dang rain gear before you head to the hills. Unless you just want to miserable without it! Because regardless of how good you are at survival there is always a need for human beings to have technology and tools. Whether that technology is primitively made or the most space age modern material, you need to have something or yah just not gonna enjoy yourself! Man is superior to all other animals because of his prowess for making tools. So, don’t leave home without those basic necessities unless you plan to spend long enough in the bush to make them all. And always listen to the spirit that guides you. Some would refer to that as your intuition. Simply put; Go with your gut!
About a month ago I decided to go do some storm work in OKC, since the Fort Smith area seems to be dead for construction right now. I decided to camp out instead of getting a hotel room and save some money. So for the last 3-4 weeks I have been camping out by the lake and going to work in the morning. But I have an interesting survival story to tell about some of the things that went down while we were camping. The location isn’t exactly remote in fact it was within city limits on a little spot called lake arcadia. We found a somewhat secluded spot to set up camp and basically just slept out on the ground with nothing but a small pad and sleeping bag. No shelter, no tent! It was great except when there was a lot of condensation on the ground from overnight dew. But I thought it would be a great idea to get some survival training in while I’m out of town. So, I went traveling around the lake looking for food and found some delightfully ripe mulberries. They are so tasty! Their were many wild edibles, to many to mention, but needless to say someone could feed themselves quite easily with just a little gathering.
But what I really wanted to talk about in this story is the crazy fish! Their are more carp on this lake than any other I have ever seen in my life. At dusk and dawn the fish are just everywhere, not to mention all the snakes that like to swim by 4 feet from my bed to say hey at night time. But the fish were nuts! The water was up into the woodline around the lake so you could wade up in the shallows and see them moving everywhere. So needless to say I grabbed my survival walking stick which converts into a spear, fish gig, or blowgun. I screwed on the fish gig around 3 in the mornin and went out in the full moon and started stalking the fish. It was quite amazing to see them in the moonlight and you could stalk up to within a few feet without them seeing you. Before the little hunt was over I had speared two carp around 4-6 pounds and called it quits after that. Don’t like to kill more than neccessary. But I could have easily killed 20-30 fish if I wanted. It was like spearing fish in a barrel. For those of you who have never spear fished before, it is very difficult and this was a rare situation where it was relatively easy. It takes extreme patience and stealth to spear fish in less than the most optimum of conditions, so this was quite a treat to say the least. Seems I learn something new every time I go out! I love survivalism, it truly is the ultimate sense of freedom to know that no matter what happens that you will be able to provide for yourself and others.
I think survivalism is very much like martial arts in a lot of ways. For those of you who have trained in any kind of fight sport, then you know that sense of confidence that training installs in your mind. Survivalism gives you that exact same confidence, but on a whole other level. It not only gives you a sense of confidence, but also teaches you an entirely new way of living that will bring about a higher state of health for the body and the mind!
Well, I figured I would sit down and write my first blog on what I did today? Well, I went down to work on the camp and got an awesome hammock installed between two hickory trees today. I know, I know; its not exactly primitive but it was made in China, so I bet you a lil sweat factory worker in some lil primitive village made it, so I thought what the heck. What would be nicer then a big comfy hammock for the camp? Yall are gonna really think I’m not doing it primitive after I get my camp kitchen and bar fully stocked. Yes Yes, I can do everything the hard way but I have come to the philosophy that if you have done the basic survival techniques numerous times that you can let modern technology jump in and help you focus on other things for mastery. Because doing things the old way all the time can become very time consuming.
On the way to the camp (2/3 of a mile from camp) I have to go up the hill and there is a gate where who knows how many snakes live, I’m always real careful around this gate because you never know when one is going to be out of his hole. Well sure enough, I start looking around and there was a 3′ water moccassin sitting there sunning himself, so I decided to go introduce myself to him and see if he was friendly. I think he was a little cold from the last few days because he didn’t move too much, but I introduced myself by grabbing a stick and poking him a little to see if I could get an opportunity to pick him up. Now, I’m not a snake tamer or anything, I don’t play with em like the croc hunter, but every once in awhile I’ll pick one up. But this one decided not to be friendly and go back down his hole. So I went on about my day.
After that I went to camp got the hammock hung up and decided to clean up camp a bit and call it a day (only short afternoon trip to camp) so I could do some exploring for some wild edibles and sure enough I found some tasty treats! Ran onto some Sumac trees (the non poisonous versions of course), and they are pretty tasty if you haven’t had them! You take the ends off the new growth branches, peel the outside coating off, and eat the center; its very much like asparagus with a fruity flavor.
If you have never had sumac lemonade then buddy you are missing out! You take seeds in the summer after they turn dark red and make them like you would sun tea (or boil them) and they make this very wonderful tasting lemonade that the indians use to drink all the time. Add sugar and I think it tastes better than store bought lemonade!
Ran into some other tasty wild edibles but nothin to write home about. After got done feeding my face with the tasty nibbles I headed back to the truck and headed home. On the way back to the house not far from camp; I saw 4 separate groups of deer in sporadic spots along the road. They were moving quite a bit before sundown today! Two weeks ago I had stalked some Turkeys through a field and as I was trying to get behind them, I low crawled up through some brush and saw one of these deer about 25 yards away in some dense cover. She turned around and headed another direction, but it was fun nonetheless sneaking that close to a couple of turkey and deer at the same time. Thats it for todays field log keep tuned in for entry logs, I am going to try and report back on things that happen to me in the field and the new stuff I learn.
Survival Chick said on 4/30/10 – 12:38PM
Comment: Any suggestions on a book for wild edibles?
Founder said on 5/1/10 – 06:58AM
Comment: Well, I use Peterson’s Field Guide for Wild Edibles. It is okay and gets the job done, but it is lacking a lot. I’m actually writing my own book on the subject right now! The book will contain pics of the plant in its different stages, it will be color pics, each plant will have two pages devoted to it, one for info and one just for pics. The basic info will tell you where to collect the plant, how to prepare it, its medicinal uses, etc. And it will be field worthy as well, small/compact, water resistant, lightweight and will contain the top two hundred tastiest wild edibles. I will be selling the book on the website probably by the end of the year and hope to get it published. The market is really lacking any useful field guides on the subject. I’m also going to make an Iphone app, because there isn’t a single app on the subject that I’ve found. Thanks for the comment!