How to Heat a Survival Shelter Without an Indoor Fire

How to Heat a Survival Shelter Without an Indoor Fire

Staying warm without fear of burning up

Building Fires

A fire lay is excellent at warming you up… So long as it’s not inside your survival shelter

Nothing in the backcountry gives off heat like a roaring fire. That’s why our recent ancestors built fireplaces in their log cabins – and more remote forebears burned fires in whatever structure they called home. And since it’s not wise to have a fire in a primitive hut made of sticks and dry vegetation (or a cave, for that matter), it’s good to know of other ways to heat your living and sleeping area. By digging a hot rock heating pit in the dirt floor of a shelter, you can enjoy the heat of a fire – with far less danger to yourself and your shelter. Here’s how.

Start by digging a small pit in the floor of your shelter, a little bigger than the bowling ball sized rock that you will be using to transfer heat. Dig the hole to match the rock’s size and shape, and find a flat rock to cover the pit. Make sure that you get your two rocks from a dry location (water-logged rocks tend to explode when heated, so do not use rocks pulled from rivers, streams, and ponds). Ensure that everything fits together well before you heat up the stone, since a 1200 degree F rock isn’t a fun thing to juggle. You could even recess the hole of the pit surrounding the cover, so the flat rock sits flush with the dirt floor (not a trip hazard). When it’s time to use your set-up, heat up your pit stone in a fire for about an hour (but don’t heat the lid stone), carry the stone to the pit (a shovel works well), and drop it in. Seal the pit with your flat stone lid, and bask in the radiant heat that will last for several hours.

For sustained heat, you could always have another rock of a similar shape and size to your first rock at the ready, so that when the first rock is done cooling off, the second rock can be swapped in its place to keep the heat going. This trick works best in very dry soil and with a red hot rock. Just clear all flammables out of the way as you move the near-molten stone toward the waiting pit!

Ever used hot rocks as a heat source for survival? Please let us know by leaving a comment.

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How to Start a Fire in the Wilderness?

This is a great blog written by Brandon Cox about how to start a fire in the wilderness. Check out his site stayhunting. He has some really cool articles and information. Thank you Brandon for letting us share your blog.

How to Start a Fire in the Wilderness?

By Brandon Cox / January 27, 2017

How to Start a Fire

Fire is so crucial for survival in the wild especially when lost or just taking an adventure. Ever wondered why almost every person starts a fire when in the wild whether camping or just taking an adventure? In a short while, I will show you exactly why fire is so important in the world and why you must know how to start one. You can agree with me that most people in the wild who find themselves in a situation where they need fire don’t have a lighter.

Well, I promise to show you exactly how you can start a fire in the wild with or without a lighter but first let’s see why fire is so important in the wild.

How to Start a Fire in the Wilderness?

Why is It Important to Start a Fire?​

Most people think of fire as a luxury only to realize of its crucial importance when in an outdoor visit or a survival situation. In a survival situation, fire can be lifesaving enabling you to do a lot and get through the danger of the wild. Most of the threats that people face in the wild when in a survival situation can easily be solved by fire going to show its importance.

Most common ways people die in the wildness and how fire can help?​

  • Hypothermia due to lack of body heat: Fire warms you.
  • Snake and spider bites: Fire scares them away.
  • Attack from predators: Fire keeps them away
  • Insect bites: Fire again keeps them away
  • Dehydration: Fire helps you melt water in ice regions
  • Hunger: Fire helps cook edible raw food
  • Think of committing suicide: Fire boosts your morale becoming your only friend

Those are just good examples to show you how fire is so important in the wild. In when in places with water sources, you will still need fire to boil the water and kill the pathogens and other bacteria in the water. Fire in the wild at night can be the only difference dying and seeing the light in the morning. It will warm you, give you light to accomplish tasks and scare away wild animals. The smoke from the fire can also act as a signal to the search team.

Do you see the importance of fire in a survival situation in the world?

I know you agree with me on this. Fire in the wild is very important to survival. The discovery of fire is what has changed humanity.​ Even before we learn how to start a fire in the wild, let first see how to prepare the ground for a well-built fire.​

​How to Build a Well-built Fire?

Well build fire

You don’t just gather wood and start the fire as most people think. Starting a fire in the wild requires you to prepare. Even in your home, you have the fireplace nicely set. The very first step in starting a fire in the wild is building a good fire pit.

1- ​Build a Fire Pit

There are no fire rings in the wild, so you have to prepare a fire pit. First, choose a good location as this is where you will most probably spend the night. Doing it under a huge tree or under some cliff will ideal. All the vegetation and grass on the chosen spot must be cleared for a distance of 8-10 feet. Once you have a cleared area, dig several inches into the soil to remove the top layer which is set aside for emergencies. You can even use the loose soil as firewall and mount it around the newly built fire pit. If in a place with rocks, mount rocks on the edge of the fire pit to insulate it.

2- Gather Materials​

What does your hunting backpack have that can help you gather as many materials as possible. You will need different materials that catch fire easily and others that burn for long periods. You can make it in the wild starting fire without enough materials to keep the fire going once it starts.

Scope the area and collect as much wood as you can to help you with the fire. If you’re in the camp where there is tinder, then use to start the fire.

​Tinder

Tinder is among the smallest and easiest materials to get a fire started in the campfire. The following are some of the tinder forms:

  • Wadded paper
  • Wax
  • Wood shavings
  • Cardboard strips
  • Fire starts and commercial fire sticks
  • Dryer lint
  • Dry leaves (works well in the case of wildfire where other materials are not easy to find)

Kindling

The next step is kindling the fire where you size it up by adding small branches and twigs that you collected earlier. Branches and twigs of about 1/8 and inches into the fire to size up slowly but ensure you don’t put it out.​

Tip: Add small twigs and branches and slowly increase their size as the fire grows.

Firewood

Lastly, you can add logs that burn for long to keep the fire going up to the next day. Whole logs or split ones can both work depending on how long you want the fire to burn. The logs and woods must be completely dry to burn and stay lit for long.

Tip: Splitting logs might be impossible in the wild so start by putting them near the edge of the fire and let them catch fire slowly.​

Water

Water is very necessary just in case you need to out the fire in the morning all when finished. Pour water on the fire when done to stop it spreading to other areas. Stir the ashes to ensure there is no fire left and then pour more water. You can always repeat this over and over until the ashes are cool to be held in your hand before you leave the scene. The worst mistake you can do is leave a campfire or a fire in the wild unattended as this can lead to a catastrophic widespread of fire burning the entire area.

Tip: The dirt or dug soil can be used to cover the fire area and prevent any chances of the fire starting on its own.​

Ignition Source

What is the easiest way to start a fire in the wild? If lucky to have a match or lighter in your hunting bag, then you’re good to start. However, what happens when you have nothing that can start fire fast? This is where your fire starting skills are tested. You have to go the old ways our ancestral used to start a fire with any available tools. Did you know your bow can be used to start a fire? If you go hunting with bows and arrows, then your bow can be used to start a fire, but we will get to that in a short while. There are several other ways to start a fire in the wild that will discuss in a little while as you look forward to improving your fire starting skills in the wild.​

3- Six Popular Ways You Can Build a Fire

​Before you build a fire, you need to understand all the six popular ways that people build a fire in the wild to suit specific reasons. The arrangement you choose to build your fire will determine how long it lasts and how fast it burns. You can see why it is important to know the way you will build your fire. I’ll show you some of the most popular ways that people build fires in the wild and the purpose each way serves.

​3.1- The Teepee Fire

The teepee is the most popular arrangement and one you need to know. Build a tepee by arranging the tinder and kindling it in the shape of a cone. Lit the center and let the logs burn from inside falling inward to feed the fire. Building a tepee is ideal when you have wet wood or green wood that does not burn well. The flame is usually hottest at the tip where there is oxygen. The heat generated from this arrangement is very intense and burns out wood quickly but ideal for warming you at night.

The teepee arrangement is probably the one you’ve seen in survival series where one needs to keep warm and have the fire burn until morning. The thicker end of a log or stick should always be placed at the top where the heat is intense so that it burns inward.

Video illustrating the teepee fire arrangement

​Pros

  • Gives intense heat
  • Starts fire faster
  • Can burn wet or green wood

Cons

  • Burns woods quickly

​3.2- The Lean-to Fire

The lean to fire is another great arrangement that does not need a lot of effort if you set it out correctly. Choose a medium sized log and place tinder next to it. The kindling is the leaned across the log as illustrated in the video below. Small dry branches and twigs can be placed after several layers of tinder. Once you light the tinder, you can add as much kindling as needed to grow the fire.

Video how lean fire is built

​Pros

  • Fire will size up without much trouble
  • Once set up, fire starts pretty fast without any additional task

Cons

  • More tinder and kindling are required.

3.3- The Cross-ditch Fire

The Cross-ditch fire is by far the most lasting arrangement for making any wildfires. On a tinder bed, put kindling in a crisscross fashion before you add woods and logs. Once everything is set, light the tinder and fire will slowly size up.

Video how cross-ditch fire is built

​Pros

  • Efficient consumption of fuel
  • Long lasting to see you through the night
  • Suitable for cooking

Cons

  • A bit tedious to build

3.4- The Log Cabin Fire

The log cabin fire simply means creating fire by having a cabin arrangement. This is achieved by first kindling twigs and branches into the shape of a cabin while leaving a space in the middle. Place two sticks in opposite directions 4-6 inches apart. Continue stacking more sticks across each other until a square cabin is created.

Create a reasonably sized box and add tinder into the box. Once tinder is filled in the box, place more sticks on top of the cabin to cover the tinder. When everything is set, go right ahead and light your tinder.

Video showing the log cabin fire

​Pros

  • Rarely collapses
  • Long lasting
  • Provides warmth on all sides

Cons

  • Burns out wood much faster

3.5- Upside Down (Pyramid)

The upside down fire is where your fire starts at the top and burns all the way down. It is quite simple to start. Place two small branches or logs on the ground in a parallel position. Have another solid log on top of the first layer in a perpendicular position. Keep on adding a few more layers alternating their direction each time. Each layer placed must be smaller than the previous layer.

When done, light the top of the layer and leave the flame to travel naturally down. This is another great way to light a fire in the wild without straining.

Video Upside down fire

​Pros

  • Long lasting
  • Fire burns downwards requiring no attention during the night
  • Quite fast to start

Cons

  • Requires several logs that might have to use some power tools like chainsaw to cut and split firewood
  • Does not produce intense heat

3.6- Create a Star

The star arrangement of fire is where you place log from different side meeting in the middle to form what appears like a star. I know woods in the wild can sometimes be in shortage especially if your hunting backpack does not have enough cutting items. Saving the few logs you find can get you through the cold of the night. This arrangement is quite effective at preserving wood where you pull them back a bit when you need to decrease the intensity if the fire.

Video How to build the Star Fire

​Pros

  • Quite effective and long lasting
  • Consumer wood well
  • Conserves fuel

Cons

  • You have to monitor and control the fire regularly

4- Bonus: Tips/Tricks When Building a Well-built Fire

4.1- ​Choosing the Fire Location

Choosing Fire Location

Fire in the wild does not have the comfort zones that come with building fires in the camp or at homes. There is no fire pit, and one has to set a good spot to create a fire pit. You can agree with me choosing a location is very important. You don’t have to be the one burning the forest down. Stay away from trees and bushes that may catch fire and spread it.

A clear area away from dry leaves and other dry twigs is an ideal one. You don’t want to wake up smelling smoke everywhere so carefully choose a location that does not bring smoke your way. Check for the breeze and if its steady, you will know which direction the smoke will be going. Start your tinder where you intend to build your fireplace. Many times I have seen people start a fire somewhere and carry the tinder to another place. If you start your tinder somewhere else, then create a temporary fire there before transferring the fire to your main location.

4.2- Choosing the Foundation​

Foundation

Choosing a good foundation is crucial as poor foundations will kiss fire that as just started. Avoid wet and cold areas if possible and build your fire on a dry foundation. In cases where every part is wet or cold, try and build a foundation for your fire using dry rocks. I REPEAT, DRY ROCKS as wet rocks can explode in your face. I will tell you later on why wet rocks are not ideal for starting a foundation especially those taken from the riverbed area.

The aim here is to elevate your foundation away from the water beneath. Dry dirt can also be used to raise the foundation higher. If possible, try and make air flow beneath the foundation. A good way to do this is have rocks on two sides with two opening instead of having rocks circle your foundation. A good spot with a good foundation and big rocks around it will make it easier for you to start a fire and maintain it. The big rocks act as the windbreaker creating a barrier around the fire pit preventing the wind from spreading the fire.

4.3- Best Time to Start a Fire in the Wild​

When is the best time to start the fire? Do you wait until dark falls to start the fire? When planning to start a fire, timing is very crucial. It is always important to start the fire a few hours before the sun goes down. This can be 2-3 hours earlier as you need the light of the sun to collect materials and observe what you’re doing.​

4.4- Safety Tips​

  • Never Leave Before Putting out the Fire​ – Fire might not seem dangerous especially when controlled but can turn ugly and destroy millions of properties and life. The first rule when leaving the spot of the wildfire is always to turn it off. I have said this before and will say again; ensure you extinguish the fire completely before leaving the scene. Poor water on the fire and cover it wet soil before pouring more water. You must be able to hold the wet ashes in your hand and confirm there is no slightest of burning wood that can start a wildfire once you’ve gone. Most of the fires seen around the world are mostly caused by human error, and you don’t want to be one causing it.
  • Never use Rocks from the River Beds​ – I talked about this earlier when building your foundation using rocks. Wet rocks from the river beds have water in them that will expand once heated. These rocks can explode on your face causing serious injuries when the water expands and breaks them apart. The water in the rocks boils and increases in size exploding the rocks into small pieces. It is simple science that you probably learned in high school that you must be aware of when using rocks to build a foundation.
  • Build Fires Away from Branches and Steep Slopes​ – To avoid the risk of the fire spreading, build it away from overhanging branches, rotten stumps, dry grass, leaves, logs and steep areas. Even the extra wood you set aside must be piled some distance away from the fire.
  • ​Never Leave a Wildfire Unattended – Even the smallest of breeze will spread the fire away and start a wildfire. This is why it is necessary to have every material ready before you starting the fire.​

Pro Tips to Start Fire in the Real Challenge Situations- Advice from the Famous Blogs

You probably have everything you need to start a fire in the wild but what if the situation is challenging? Can you start a fire in a rainy or windy condition? Advice from famous blogs written for the survival men and women out there will show you how to start a fire in the most challenging situations.

1 – Start a Fire When Wood is Wet – From EHow

It seems totally impossible to start a fire when the wood but when that is the only option, you have to do it to see the next day. You must put in some extra effort to overcome the challenges of damp wood. It might be a bit challenging, but the steps from the Ehow should help start the fire easily


2 – Start a Fire When It Raining – From ArtOfManliness

Starting fire is one thing and knowing how to start it in a rainy condition is a whole new thing. You can agree with me that learning the skill to start a fire in a raining place is important for avid campers and frequent hikers. Choosing a good location and collecting dry tinder are among the most important things to do. The ArtOfManliness blog clearly illustrate how to start a fire when it is raining.


3 – Start a Fire  When There is Snow – From OffTheGridNews

Starting fire when there is snow should not be difficult as long as you have a few dry limbs to set the base. The problem is when your wood is frozen. Frozen wood is even harder to start than wet wood as you have to thaw it first. Start by choosing wood from high up the branches where there is no snow. Lay the base of logs in the snow to act as your foundation. The melting snow should not worry you as it rarely melts and if it does it will not affect your fire. You can then pile your tinder and kindle it before lighting the tinder.

If there are rocks around, building a fire pit and raising your spot some levels above the ground is also a good idea. Follow this OffTheGridNews for step by step instructions on how to start a fire when there is snow.


4 – Start a Fire  When it’s Windy – From ModernSurvivalBlog

Well…, Windy conditions create a dangerous situation to start a fire in the wild. In fact, some states even have laws restricting fires in the wild or outdoor spaces when the atmosphere is windy. Windy spreads fire quite faster, and you can have the whole forest to fire in minutes. So, how do you get to start a fire in a windy situation?

The Dakota Fire Hole​

The Dakota fire hole is a method used to start a fire in a windy area and has several advantages over other methods.​

How to build a Dakota fire hole?

  • Dig a hole a foot long and a foot wide
  • Enlarge the bottom of the holes inches wide to accommodate more wood
  • The hole becomes the chamber of the fire pit
  • One foot away from the hole, dig an airway channel that will connect to your Dakota hole at the bottom
  • The diameter of the airflow must be a foot and angle down towards the bottom of the Dakota hole
  • Fill your fire pit with tinder and kindling before lighting it
  • Adds more materials to build the fire
  • The airflow acts as a suction drawing in air and resulting in a hot and efficient burning of wood.

​Pros of the Dakota hole

  • Burns very hot
  • Uses little fuel
  • Creates less smoke
  • Safe when there is the wind
  • The flame burns under the ground shielding it from being seen during the dark
  • Easily supports cookware
  • Easy to extinguish by filling the hole with soil
  • Avoids Detection

Cons

  • Might not be visible to the search team
  • A bit tedious to build

Top 20 Best Ways to Start a Fire Without a Match Lighter

Fire by Friction

1. Hand Drill

The hand drill is one of the simplest and old ways to make fire. Create a V-shaped notch on a board or piece of limb and drill it with a dry stick until the tip glows red and you have your ember collected. You must have your tinder nearby to blow and get a flame.​

2. Fire Plow

The fire plow is one of the simplest methods to start a fire in the wild if your hands ache from the hand drill method. It is simply rubbing two sticks together until heat is generated through friction. Create a groove on a piece of wood and use a stick and move a stick through the grove forth and back until ember is created. Once again, you must have your tinder nearby.​

3. Bow Drill

This is where your hunting tools come into play. In the bow drill, you don’t need your arrows but the bow to create heat on a piece of dry wood through friction. The string of your compound bow is used to tie to a dry wood that is then rotated on a dry board or piece wood to create an ember.​

The bow drill is easy on hands and requires less effort to drill. However, in a real life situation, it can be difficult to set up requiring a reliable cord.

4. Fire Saw

This method uses a piece of wood that is practically sewed into another wood on the ground to cause ignition.​ You can check this video on how fire saw works:

5. Fire Thong

The fire thing is a friction method that is quite fast and efficient. The method uses a split branch and a split rattan to create friction. The rattan thong is sawed forth and backward against the underside of the board to create an ember.

​6. Flint and Steel

In the flint and steel method, a spark is created from the steel when the two are put under pressure. You must have your tinder ready for the spark to land on it and start the fire. The ArtOfManliness giving you a full explanation of the flint and steel method

​7. With a Dead Lighter

You can start a fire using the dead lighter pretty simple using some deodorant and a piece of tissue. Spray the aerosols all over the tissue. You must have the tinder and kindling ready. Go ahead and flints the wheel on the lighter placing it closer to the tissue of paper. It may take several attempts, but eventually, the fire will start.

​If your lighter is dead, then don’t just throw it away, it can help you start a fire without straining a lot.

Using the Lens Based Methods

8. Lenses (Mirror/Glass/Magnifying)

You probably tried this when you were little children using lenses to focus light from the sun on the same spot for a few minutes. The concentrated watts from the lenses hitting your tinder will start a fire.

​Lenses can be quite effective in a real life situation. You just have to imagine of all the items in your hunting backpack that might be having lenses.

9. Fire from Ice

You will need a clear piece of ice to start a fire. Shape the ice with a knife to create the rough edges or grind it on stone. Use the heat of our body to finish shaping your ice by melting the rough edges. Hold the ice perpendicularly to the sky and move it to focus the brightest light on the tinder. The tinder will first smoke before igniting but be careful not to drip water on it.

​This is a good one if you’re lost in the wild, and there is ice. Make sure you start the fire before the sun disappears as we discussed earlier. 2-3 hours before the sun goes down is ideal.

10. Coke Can and Chocolate Bar

Any can with a bottom similar to a coke can also be used to start a fire. The bottom of the can is used to reflect light and focus it on the tinder, but first, you have to make it shiny enough using a chocolate bar. A chocolate piece can be used to brush the bottom of the can and make it polished.

​You can even try this on your own to know you can do it when in the survival situation. Who knows what comes your way in the wild.

11. A Flashlight

With your tinder and kindling set, break off the glass cover from the touch but don’t damage anything else. Take out the bulb and break it without damaging the filament. Put the remains of the bulb into the flashlight and screw it. Now you can place your tinder into the top of the flashlight and fill it up. Now turn the flashlight on. It has to ignite although sometimes it can fail if the process is not done correctly.

​Next time you get lost in the wild and need some fire, maybe is important to sacrifice that flashlight for warmth during the night.

12. With Water: Five Ways to Start Fire with Water

It a very unusual way but believes me water can start a fire. All the five ways use the same principle where water is used as the lens to focus light on the tinder and start a fire. The following are ways you can use water to start a fire:​

  • ​Water in an empty light bulb where the water in the bulbs acts as a magnifying lens.
  • Water in a plastic bottle
  • Water in a plastic wrap
  • Water and a picture frame
  • Using ice lens as discussed earlier

Using Chemical Combustion

13. Potassium Permanganate Crystals and Glycerin​

The use of chemicals is not the safest ways to start a fire and should only be attempted when it is the last solution. This is a chemical reaction with an explosive effect so ensure there are no kids around. When you mix these two compounds, a roaring fire explodes. Make sure you have your tinder nearby to start the fire.

14. Brake Fluid and Chlorine

Mixing a brake fluid and chlorine is a fun experiment that usually leads to an explosive reaction from which fire can be started. It is quite dangerous, and only a small amount can be used to start a fire.

​With Battery

15. Batteries and Steel Wool​

This one is quite simple and easy to perform. Just buy some batteries and some very fine steel wool. The finer the steel wool, the better it will spark. Rub the battery on the steel wool, and you will see sparks forming. However, you must be careful as the sparks can be quite dangerous.

​16. Gum Wrapper and Battery

The foil gum wrapper and battery does the trick helping you start fire quite fast. Make igniter strips using the wrapper. Shave small bit from the wrapper gum and create a 2mm bridge in the middle. Find a battery like the AAA batteries and hold the igniter to the ends of the battery. Sparks from the igniter will immediately start a fire.

​17. Jumper Cables and Car Battery

Get the jumper cables hooked to your car battery and try to let them touch. The Spark created can start a fire in the tinder.​

The jumper cables and the car battery is an essential one of you get stuck with your car in the cold and need some fire. It is an easier option that will not strain you.

18. Pencil and Car Battery

This is pretty similar to using the jumper cables, but here you don’t need sparks, the pencil connected to the jumper will become red hot and start burning your tinder.

Use Any Simplest Way to Start a Fire

19. Use the Fire Piston​

Fire pistons can also be used to start a fire. The fire piston compresses air rapidly heating it to the extent of igniting a fire. If you don’t have one, here is how you can build one using a few spare tools:

​The use of a fire piston is quite fast but one you might not have with you in the wild. However, it is always good to know what it can do.

20. Using Fire Steel

Fire steels produce molten sparks when scraped, and this can be used to ignite your tinder. A knife or scraper can be used to scrap it and get the ember.


Correcting Common Mistakes When Starting a Fire

​Smothering the Fire

​Most people in a rush end up throwing wood into the fire even when it is not ready. You have to know when to add wood to the fire. Smothering the fire will block the flow of air and eventually kill the fire. Take it slow and kindle it slowly until it is large enough to add small pieces of woods.

Starting Fire Without Enough Firewood Around​

How often have you found yourself looking for more firewood just as the fire starts to size up? You should not start a fire without accumulating enough firewood to see you through the night. This means leaving the fire unattended in search of more fuel. The fire can extinguish, and you start a fresh or even spread when you’re gone.

Leaving the Fire Unattended​

Never leave the fire unattended at any time as this can be the reason for a wildfire. Once the fire is set, you have to be around monitoring and controlling it at all times. There should be water close by or some wet soil in case it starts to spread.

Using Rocks from the River​

Rocks from the riverbed have water in them that boils turning into steam that can explode on your face. This is a common mistake that you should avoid when making a fire bed foundation. The explosion of the rocks can lead to serious injuries.​


Final Verdict

If you’ve gone through the entire article, then trust me you can start a fire anywhere no matter the conditions. Fire is crucial in pour lives and learning to start in any condition can mean the difference between death and life. Most of these techniques might not appear useful as you’re reading them from the comfort of your home but quite crucial in a survival situation.

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90 Days part two

What you have to look forward to in a collapse situation:
Black Friday madness reveals animalistic behavior of modern people
Multiply this x everywhere!

I left off in Part 1 talking about mapping software.  There is other software out there but this is what I use. This software will let me print my maps as well. Use your mapping software to plan the locations of your caches as well as your AO of relocation for the 90 days.

Include a good field guide to edible plants, with actual photos rather than drawings. Get one with plants native to your geographical area. Don’t leave a path of destruction behind you, leave some to re-populate the area. Outdoor Life has a good book on edible plants titled: Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide.

Learn and practice Bushcraft skills. If you lose your main pack, these can sustain you until you retrieve your next cache. Keep your maps and compass upon your person, as well as your GPS if you use one. Store your map in a Gallon size Ziploc bag. Have a “Survival” kit that never leaves your person except to sleep, and is then kept by or under your pillow (a rolled up M-65 field jacket) and tethered to your belt. Learn to identify at least 10 wild edible plants.

The minimum for your “Survival” kit is the means to: Start a fire – matches, firesteel or butane lighter (3 methods is great), medium folding knife (suggest Buck 110) and small knife sharpener, water purification tablets or Frontier Straw, ziplock bag or soda bottle – to carry water, Mylar space blanket (x2) – shelter and warmth, 20 feet of Duct tape, and bug repellant.

A deck of Wild Edible Plant Playing Cards would be a great addition also. Currently available on Amazon, Camping Survival , US games Systems, Inc.  and others. Do a web search and find even more links at a variety of prices.

Many hikers advocate traveling with a minimalist pack, using ultralight equipment. This would allow you to move quickly if pursued. A light pack also means sacrificing comfort, so there is a need to balance utility with ease. You don’t want to make the experience any worse than it is. If you can afford it, get the U.S. Army surplus bivvy cover (or the the complete sleeping setup). They can be purchased for a reasonable price and are made from Gore-Tex (no relation to Al Gore thankfully) a waterproof breathable fabric. I have heard claims that you can sleep in a mud puddle without getting wet using one. This would eliminate the need to carry a tent, just bring a 6’x8′ or 8’x10′ tarp to cover your gear and make a small shelter when you are not in your bivvy. Don’t forget bug repellant and mosquito netting for the warmer months.

When traveling the backwoods, it is prudent to be prepared for an encounter with bears. This means cooking and eating away from where you will be sleeping. There are specific containers that are made for storing your food in when traveling in bear country. Whether you use one or not is your personal choice, but be prepared to suspend your food in a heavy contractors trash bag from a tree limb more than ten feet off the ground. Other pesky critters might make a try for your food so be prepared to trap them and add them to your food supply. Bring several snares or 220 Conibears to catch them.

Encountering a bear on the trail, or worse yet, in your camp can be a very scary and dangerous experience. Purchase at least two canisters of bear spray for each person, hanging one from your pack straps when hiking, and have a holster to hold the canister when you are moving about camp or foraging for food or firewood.

One such supplier of pepper spray and bear spray is Buy Pepper Spray Today. They have other self defense items for sale also, such as stun guns, batons and kubotans.

It would be advisable to have a powerful handgun also if you are traversing known bear territory. The smallest caliber I would personally carry would be a .357 Mag with hot loads. A .40 caliber or larger weapon would be better yet. No handgun? Then a shotgun with slugs and 00 buckshot alternated in the magazine.

A newer development that I have been following is the Mexican drug cartels are moving into the wilderness areas closer to their markets and setting up shop growing weed for the surrounding areas. There have been several record busts in Washington and Oregon of late.

This creates a twofold problem. If you are looking to setup caches, you may run into the cartel operations or the DEA out looking for them. Neither one is a good encounter.

By: Selous Scout

HOW TO STAY WARM INDOORS WHEN THE POWER’S OUT (& IT’S FREEZING OUTSIDE)

FORGET HOME HEATING AND THINK SMALL INSTEAD

Advice for anyone living in a cold climate trying to heat a home when there’s a power outage is to forget home heating and think small instead.

Why on earth would we already start by advising you to forget home heating and aim your goals at thinking small instead?

Let’s get into it!

HOW TO HEAT AN ENTIRE HOME WHEN THE POWER’S OUT

You don’t have many options here, and unless you’re: 1. Set up for these options already, or 2. Willing to drop a lot of cash to set yourself up for them – they’re just not going to work out for you. What are these options?

  1. Use a home heating system that completely depends on wood fireplaces.
  2. Use electrical power generators.

Expensive as hell to do if they’re not already options in your home. Actually, they’re expensive to take advantage of even if they are already options in your home (firewood/gas are not unlimited/free resources!).

With the first option, most will have a fireplace, but that usually will only heat up a single room: the one it’s in.

With the second option, again, most will never bother to have the kind of system installed where a generator heats your entire home.

This is fine though – better than fine actually. Because heating one room instead of an entire home is exactly what you should be doing in a winter emergency where the power goes out.

Why? Heating an entire home in an emergency instead concentrating your efforts on particular things that would be terribly expensive to lose power to – i.e. freezers, fridges, etc.. – well it’s just not wise.

Most would not bother using their generators to heat their entire home ever, and for two good reasons:

  1. This would be very expensive to do in the first place, and
  2. Depending on how long the emergency situation lasts (you never know!), you could potentially run out of fuel for the generator well before the emergency is even over.

So by just using the generator where you need it most (i.e. freezer & fridge, if there’s enough in there to warrant it) you’re saving a lot of money as well as giving yourself the best chance of your generator having enough fuel to last through the entirety of the emergency situation.

Alright, let’s take a look at your most realistic options for heating now.

 

1. CAMP OUT IN ONE ROOM IN THE HOUSE. PREFERABLY A SMALL ONE (AS IT WILL BE EASIER TO KEEP WARM).

If everybody’s in one room with the door closed and that room has got as many blankets, jackets, coats, pets, and whatever else you have at home to keep y’all as warm as possible, you’re going to have a lot easier of a time trying to stay warm by comparison to trying to heat multiple rooms.

When it comes to sleeping, you don’t need to share a bed if you don’t want to, but if it’s not something you mind, why not? If you’re not into sharing a bed, drag extra mattresses or sofa cushions into your room of choice and have everyone sleep separately, but by being in the same room, you’re making sure none of your individual bodies’ heat production is going to waste – it’s helping to keep the room warm.

NO ELECTRICITY/FUEL/FIRE OPTIONS

These techniques will keep your core temperature up, but won’t waste your money, your fuel, or your energy to keep them going. Use as many of them as you’d like, as they all play nice together.

2. STAY IN A TENT.

We all know that being in a tent in cold weather outdoors does wonders for being able to stay warm.

Set up camp inside a literal tent in your bedroom or “warm room” of choice. Sit and sleep in there with whomever is perfectly happy being in the tent with you. Wise to get a big tent that’s large enough to fit everyone in your family, with wiggle room to spare (blankets take up a lot of space!).

Obvious to say the least, but you’ll all be much toastier inside the tent than outside it. And, let’s be real, this’ll help you all sleep better.

3. STAY IN A SUB-ZERO SLEEPING BAG.

Sub zero temperature sleeping bags are a must-have when you’re thinking about outdoor survival for cold weather climates, and again, if the weather’s bad out and there’s no power, you should be using these tools to keep you warm inside. You don’t have to sit in a tent the whole day, but if you just want to warm up, and definitely when you’re ready for bed, it’s an excellent tool to make use of.

4. LINE YOUR TENT WITH MYLAR THERMAL BLANKETS.

We’ve all seen how bushcrafters will often line their shelters with mylar thermal blankets to stay warm outdoors, and when it’s all they’ve got, how just this simple tool is often enough to keep them toasty through some very cold nights.

Still not enough heat in your tent because it’s super cold in your neck of the woods? Chances are lining your tent in these will really help you stay toasty.

5. THROW YOUR BLANKETS AND/OR SLEEPING BAG INTO A THERMAL BLANKET AND STAY IN THAT.

You know they actually make survival blankets in the shape of sleeping bags? Super handy if you’ve not got a great sleeping bag, or of course if it’s still freezing inside your tent.

6. COVER YOURSELF IN EMERGENCY MYLAR THERMAL BLANKETS.

Yes, I haven’t finished with these yet. They seriously keep you so toasty and this step is probably overkill at this point, but if you haven’t got one of the thermal survival blankets I mentioned in the previous suggestion, but want the same effect, or if you prefer to just be plain cooked when you’re sleeping, throw a mylar blanket or two right on top of what you’ve got (a sleeping bag, blankets, thermal blankets, etc.).

Basically, if you’re trying to stay warm in a freezing winter with no power to your home, and you’re doing it on a budget, or with no electricity/fuel/power options whatsoever: treat your indoors like it’s winter survival outdoors. Add layer after layer of thermoregulation-oriented survival gear until you and your family are toasty.

ELECTRICITY/FUEL/FIRE OPTIONS

Sometimes, you won’t feel like turning a room of your home into a hot mess of blankets, sleeping bags, mylar blankets, and tents. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to be able to take advantage of more modern and less budget options. What to do in these cases?

7. KEEP A FIREPLACE FIRE GOING IN YOUR ONE ROOM AND HAVE EVERYBODY IN THE FAMILY STAY THERE.

Easy as pie. Doubt you will need a tent if you’ve got this, though I’d still keep the sub-zero sleeping bags and blankets galore in the room in case someone’s not happy enough with just the fire.

If you’ve got a fireplace in a non-open concept room as well as enough firewood to last you ages, no reason you shouldn’t use this method.

Stay safe, and make sure you’ve got your fireplace properly ventilated, that there’s nothing flammable near it, and if you’re going to bed, put it out or make sure to have shifts where at least one or two people are up to watch it. But hell, a good ‘ol fireplace can really keep you cozy with minimal effort.

8. NO FIREPLACE? TURN ON AN INDOOR-USE GAS HEATER FOR A FEW HOURS HERE AND THERE WHEN YOU’RE WATCHING.

Thomas and I were flat out of luck with no fireplace in our home when the electricity went out that one winter in Toronto. I’m terrible with the cold, so I couldn’t stand our bedroom with just the two of us and our cat in it at night. And yes, we were silly enough not to have prepped enough to have the kind of gear stockpiled that it would take to go the no electricity/fuel/fire options way.

What we did have was a propane/butane heater (like this one), and if I’m honest, not a lot of fuel for it. So we rationed out a few hours of warmth before bedtime, being very careful to ventilate our home by opening a window when it was on and watching it like a hawk simultaneously. About a half hour before bed, we’d shut it off, confirm it was off repeatedly, then sleep.

Not the best option, and definitely not what I’d do now, but if it’s all you’ve got, you make do with what you have. Banging my head on a wall these days for being a prepper who was not prepared for that kind of a situation, but you know – live and learn. And we’ve definitely learned.

THE MOST IDEAL PREVENTATIVE OPTION

In an ideal situation, given we had the money, what would we have done? The absolute best method I’ve found:

9. BUILD A BRICK ROOM-SIZED SHED/GARAGE SEPARATE FROM THE HOUSE AND PUT A FIREPLACE THERE ALONG WITH A GAS COOKER.

You know how comfortable you’ll be there? Our neighbours back in Toronto have this kind of a setup and so when the power went out, Thomas and I quite literally spent every morning and afternoon with them, enjoying our time sitting around the fire chatting away, before sadly hopping off to our cold home for nighttime.

Make sure you build this place large enough that you’ll be able to throw everyone in the family comfortably in at night, and you’ll literally be happy as clams throughout the outage. Obviously, again, make sure to practice fire safety (nothing flammable near the fire, good ventilation at all times, and make sure someone’s up whenever the fire’s going), but pretty much, with as much wood as you can get stockpiled, you’ll be cozy no matter how long the power outage lasts. You’re set as long as you’ve got firewood for the fireplace and enough gas for your cooker.

Living the high life during a winter emergency this is.

Enough suggestions? I think you get the picture. You can definitely stay warm and cozy indoors in sub-zero winter climates when the power goes out. Yes, you and your family members may be driven mad having to spend so much time in a single room together, you may be absolutely covered from head to toe in coats and blankets and mylar tarps, but you said you wanted to stay warm, didn’t you?

MORE WINTER PREPAREDNESS RESOURCES

If you live in a cold climate and are working on buffing up your winter preparedness, take a look at our winter emergency supply list to make sure there’s nothing on it you’re currently missing that you may want.

Besides the items on that list, which primarily concentrate on warmth and indoor cooking ability, there isn’t much difference between winter preparedness and any other type of preparedness. So if you’re interested, also take a look at the comprehensive list of survival gear we put together to compare your kits and at-home resources to.

YOUR SUGGESTIONS FOR STAYING WARM IN COLD WINTERS?

As usual, if you’ve got any tips and tricks I’ve missed mentioning here, let me know in the comments! Would also love to hear about any experiences you’ve had with cold weather during power outages if you have any stories for me!

Survival Skills you should know or learn

Disasters and emergency situations are an inevitable part of our life. It is how we respond to such situations that plays a major factor on our survival. You may have all the knowledge about prepping but as we all know a disaster can change everything in an instant and you may be forced to survive without your emergency survival kits. Without the right skills for survival your chances of surviving a disaster or emergency situation will be greatly affected. It is important to understand that because of modern commodities our knowledge for basic survival has greatly diminished.  This will basically have a negative effect to us in an extended disaster survival situation and can mean the difference between life and death. Here are the basic survival skills that you need to know or learn in order to ensure you and your family’s chances of survival:

Learn how to grow food and or find it.

Disasters can change everything in an instant. You may be well prepared to survive indoors but what if you are forced to survive outdoors without any supplies? This is where self sufficiency with acquiring food becomes a necessity. Growing food for your family as well as the hunting and gathering approach are the best skills to learn to keep you and your family from starving when surviving outdoors.

  • Grow your own survival food.
  • Know what wild plants and insects are edible.
  • Ways to fish without the tradition equipment.
  • Hunting with trap and snares.

How to find water and purify it.

This is the most important skill everyone should learn in order to survive. As we all know it is impossible for us to survive without water so it is important to understand the importance of knowing how to get and purify water. You need to realize that unless your water source is a spring chances are your water supply will run out and you need to find an alternative source. Knowing how to purify your drinking water is also very important to ensure that it is clean and potable.

Learn about clothing repair.

You need to master this skill as clothing is one of the most important elements when surviving. From basic sewing to making clothes from bolts of cloths or leather it is important to master this skill to help ensure your chances of survival.

Learn basic grooming skills.

Basic grooming skills are very important to learn to keep your family clean and healthy in a survival situation. Keep in mind that being healthy is one of the most important factors in ensuring you and your family’s survival.

Learn first aid.

During a disaster situation you cannot expect to get medical professional help so it is important to know how to treat yourself and others as it will be your only chance in a emergency situation. Every household or group should have a good first aid manual and kit before and during a disaster situation.

How to start and maintain a fire.

This is one of the most essential skills you need to learn in order to ensure your survival either indoors or outdoors. Learning how to start a fire and have it going when you need it can mean the difference between life and death in a survival situation. Fire can be used to cook food and purify water not to mention keep you and your family warm ensuring your chances of survival.

Learn how to defend yourself and be willing to do it.

Owning a firearm and knowing how to use it is one of the most basic things to learn to ensure that you are able to protect yourself and your family in a emergency situation. It is important to understand that during a disaster or emergency situation there will be a lot of desperate people who will not think twice in harming you and your family just to get to your supplies. Defending yourselves with clubs, knives, and basic hand to hand combat are also necessary skills to learn.

Learn and train your mind to expect the totally unexpected.

Disaster situations can change everything in an instant, but no matter how much we know this actual disaster and survival events will surely freak us out. Training ourselves to prepare and practice all sorts of drills for various horrors is great way to prepare us for such situations. You also have to keep in mind that there will always be a big possibility of something strange, weird, and frightening things to happen when in a survival situation. By doing this you will eventually condition your mind to accept such scenarios.

Understand the world and potential disasters that await.

Keep in mind that timing is everything and knowing how to react and respond properly to disaster or pending disasters can mean the difference between life and death. This can be done by monitoring world and local news and be informed and aware to see a situation developing and act on it before it actually occurs. It is important to understand that knowledge plays a vital part in ensuring your survival.

Learn and condition yourself into a survival mentality.

Everyone has to learn the skill of scrounging around and finding what they need. You must learn to see in your mind that certain items can be very useful for your survival. Having a survival mentality will greatly increase your chances in finding solutions to problems that will surely occur in a survival situation.

The Best Types of Wood and Tinder for Starting a Friction Fire

fire1

Few survival skills frustrate a person like bow and drill fire starting. After a couple of crushing failures, most people are ready to write off the method as unattainable. Or the other side of the spectrum prevails. People see bow and drill fire starting performed “easily” on television and assume it’s an easy skill to do, so they never even try it. They then walk around with a false sense of confidence, certain that they could do it “if they had to.” Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but it’s not that easy. But neither is it unattainable, once you know the tricks. The most common place where people get stuck in their quest for friction fire is in material selection, and with that in mind, I have prepared a list for you. Use this list of plant families to get you started, then focus on each species for its own subtle merits and flaws. Don’t forget to experiment, either! Just learn how to identify poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac and any rare, local undesirables (like Florida poison tree) before you accidentally grab them!

Friction Fire Materials: Bows, fire boards, drills, handhold blocks and tinder

Annona family (Annonaceae)
Pawpaw—wood for boards and drills, inner bark for tinder

Aster family (Asteraceae)
Weed stalks for hand drills, seed down for tinder

Basswood family (Tiliaceae)
American Basswood, Linden—wood for boards and drills

Beech family (Fagaceae)
Oak, Beech, Chinkapin, etc.—wood for bows and handhold blocks

Birch family (Betulaceae, Cupuliferae)
Birch and Alder—wood for boards, drills, bows and handhold blocks

Cattail family (Typhaceae)
Stalks for hand drills, seed down for tinder additives

Cypress family (Cupressaceae)
White Cedar, Red Cedar, Juniper—wood for boards and drills, bark for tinder

Dogbane family (Apocynaceae)
Fiber for tinder and cordage

Goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae)
Weed stalks for hand drills

Laurel family (Lauraceae)
Sassafras, Spicebush—wood for boards and drills

Legume family (Leguminosae)
Black Locust, Redbud—wood for bows and handhold blocks

Magnolia family (Magnoliaceae)
Tulip Poplar, Magnolia, Bay—wood for boards and drills, bark for tinder

Maple family (Aceraceae)
Maple, Boxelder, etc.—wood for boards, drills, bows and handhold blocks

Olive family (Oleaceae)
Ash—wood for boards and drills

Pine family (Pinaceae)
Hemlock, Pine (soft pine with low resin and no knots)—wood for boards and drills

Snapdragon family (Scrophulariaceae)
Mullein—stalks for hand drill

Sumac family (Anacardiaceae)
Wood for boards, drills, bows and handhold blocks

Walnut family (Juglandaceae)
Hickory and Walnut—wood for bows and handhold blocks

Willow family (Salicaceae)
Poplar, Cottonwood, Willow, etc.—wood for boards and drills

Linked from: http://www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/survivalist/best-types-wood-and-tinder-starting-friction-fire

12 OUTDOOR SURVIVAL SKILLS EVERY PERSON SHOULD MASTER

Think fast: You’re stranded in the woods with darkness falling and no help in sight. Can you to get safety before the elements (or wild animals) get to you?

 

Survival Skill #1
Locating a Suitable Campsite
“You want to stay high and dry,” Stewart says. Avoid valleys and paths where water may flow toward you (flash floods get their name for a reason—they can deluge a low-lying area in minutes). Choose a campsite free from natural dangers like insect nests and widow-makers—dead branches that may crash down in the middle of the night—as well as falling rocks. Ideally, you want to be close to resources like running water, dry wood (from which you can assemble your shelter and build a fire) and rocky walls or formations that can shield you from the elements.

 

outdooor

Survival Skill #2
Building a Shelter
Not surprisingly, hypothermia is the number one outdoor killer in cold weather. That means a well-insulated shelter should be your top priority in a prolonged survival situation. To make a simple lean-to, find a downed tree resting at an angle, or set a large branch securely against a standing tree, and stack smaller branches close together on one side. Layer debris, like leaves and moss, across the angled wall. Lastly, insulate yourself from the cold ground–which will draw heat from your warm body–by layering four to six inches of debris to lie on.

Survival Skill #3
Starting a Fire With a Battery
Any battery will do, says Stewart. “It’s about short-circuiting the battery.” Connect the negative and positive terminals with a wire, foil (like a gum wrapper), or steel wool to create a spark to drive onto your tinder bundle. Have your firewood ready.
Survival Skill #4
Building Your Fire
Stewart views fire building in terms of four key ingredients: tinder bundle of dry, fibrous material (cotton balls covered in Vaseline or lip balm are an excellent choice, if you’ve got them) and wood in three sizes—toothpick, Q-tip, and pencil. Use a forearm-sized log as a base and windscreen for your tinder. When the tinder is lit, stack the smaller kindling against the larger log, like a lean-to, to allow oxygen to pass through and feed the flames. Add larger kindling as the flame grows, until the fire is hot enough for bigger logs. Check out some of our fire starters.

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Survival Skill #5
Finding clean water
“You’ll come across two kinds of water in the wild,” Stewart says. “Potable water that’s already purified, and water that can kill you.” When it comes to questionable water—essentially anything that’s been on the ground long-term, like puddles and streams—your best option is boiling water, which is 100 percent effective in killing pathogens. But sometimes boiling isn’t an option.

Rain, snow, and dew are reliable sources of clean water you can collect with surprising ease, and they don’t need to be purified. With a couple of bandannas, Stewart has collected two gallons of water in an hour by soaking up dew and ringing out the bandannas. You can also squeeze water from vines, thistles, and certain cacti. Are there any maple trees around? Cut a hole in the bark and let the watery syrup flow—nature’s energy drink.

Survival Skill #6
Collecting Water With a Transpiration Bag
Like humans, plants “sweat” throughout the day—it’s a process called transpiration. To take advantage of this clean, pure source of water, put a clear plastic bag over a leafy branch and tie it tightly closed. When you return later in the day, water will have condensed on the inside of the bag, ready to drink. Check out some of our products for collecting water.

outdoorr
Survival Skill #7
Identifying Edible Plants
There’s no need to go after big game in a survival situation, and chances are you’ll waste energy in a fruitless attempt to bring them down. “Make your living on the smalls,” Stewart says. That means eating edible plants (as well as small critters like fish, frogs, and lizards).Separating the plants you can eat from those that will kill you is a matter of study and memorization. Buy a book to familiarize yourself with plants in different environments. And don’t take any chances if you’re uncertain (remember how Chris McCandles died in the end of Into the Wild). A few common edible plants include cattail, lambsquarter (also called wild spinach), and dandelions. Find these and eat up.

Survival Skill #8
Using a Split-tip Gig to Catch Critters
Gigging (hunting with a multi-pronged spear) is the simplest way to catch anything from snakes to fish. Cut down a sapling of about an inch in diameter, and then split the fat end with a knife (or sharp rock) into four equal sections ten inches down. Push a stick between the tines to spread them apart, then sharpen the points. You’ve got an easy-to-use four-pronged spear. Much easier for catching critters than a single sharp point.

Survival Skill #9
Navigating By Day
If you ever find yourself without a GPS tool (or a simple map and compass) you can still use the sky to find your way. The most obvious method to get a general bearing by day is to look at the sun, which rises approximately in the east and sets approximately in the west anywhere in the world. But you can also use an analog watch to find the north-south line. Just hold the watch horizontally and point the hour hand at the sun. Imagine a line running exactly midway between the hour hand and 12 o’clock. This is the north-south line. On daylight savings? Draw the line between the hour hand and one o’clock.

Survival Skill #10
Navigating By Night
Find Polaris, or the North Star, which is the end of the Little Dipper’s handle. If you can find the Big Dipper, draw a line between the two stars at the outer edge of the constellation’s dipper portion. Extend this line toward the Little Dipper, and it will line up with Polaris. Face Polaris, and you’re facing true north. If there is a crescent moon in the sky, connect the horns of the crescent with an imaginary line. Extend this line to the horizon to indicate a southerly bearing. Once you determine your direction, pick a landmark nearby or in the distance to follow by daylight.

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Survival Skill #11
Tying a Bowline
Knots come in handy for a slew of survival scenarios—tying snares, securing shelters, lowering equipment or yourself down a cliff face. Ideally, you should have an arsenal of knots, from hitches to bends to loops, in your repertoire. But if you learn only one, learn the bowline.

“It’s your number one, go-to rescue knot,” Stewart, who uses a mnemonic for every knot, says. It’s foolproof for fastening rope to an object via a loop, particularly when the rope will be loaded with weight: the harder you pull, the tighter the knot gets. Stewart’s mnemonic for tying the bowline from any angle is “the rabbit comes out of the hole, around the tree, and back in the hole.” Use this mnemonic, says Stewart, and “it doesn’t matter if you tie it spinning on your head. It’s going to come out right.”

Survival Skill #12
Sending Up a Survival Signal
At times—like when you have a debilitating injury—your only hope for getting saved is to maximize your visibility so rescuers can find you. Two methods, if used properly, will guarantee that, if someone’s looking, they’ll see you.The first is a signal fire—and the first rule is to put it out in the open for visibility. That means hilltops or clearings in a forest where nothing, like a cliff face or trees, will disperse the smoke. Create a platform to raise the base of the fire off the ground so moisture doesn’t saturate the wood. Save your absolute best combustible material for your signal fire to guarantee a quick light. Once the fire is lit, pile on green branches, like pine boughs in winter, to produce thick smoke. “It’s not about warmth, it’s about 15 seconds of smoke,” Stewart notes. “That’s about all you’ve got when you hear a plane before it’s out of sight.”

The second is a mirror signal. A flash from signal mirror—even at night, by moonlight—can be seen for miles, much farther than any flashlight. You don’t need a store-bought signal mirror to be effective. Improvise with any reflective surface you’ve got, from rearview mirrors or headlights to a cell phone screen. Aiming the reflection is the key, and it’s simple. Hold out a peace sign and place your target–be it plane or boat–between your fingers. Then flash the reflection back and forth across your fingers.

Types of Campfire

Having a campfire is a big part of camping. But do you know what type of campfire to make?

Don’t believe everything you watch on TV or see in the movies. There are different types of campfire. Some are best for heat and light, others are best for cooking over.

TV shows and films often have a roaring fire with pots and other items cooking over the flames.

Whilst it’s not impossible to cook that way, you’ll usually end up with burnt andundercooked food.

Hot coals and embers are actually much better to cook over as they give out a good steady heat, and it’s easier to control the temperature by adding or taking away hot coals.

Flame tends to burn yet not get that hot, at least not hot enough to cook the inside of your food before it scorches the outside.

If you want to do a lot of campfire cooking for your family, I recommend you get a Dutch Oven.

Dutch Ovens and other cast iron cookware work really well with hot coals, as the heat from the coals transfers to the iron, making it ideal for frying, baking, and roasting.

Let’s look at a few different types of campfire.

The Tepee is the classic looking campfire and is ideal when you want to create a quick fire to warm up with.

Pile up dry tinder kindling and set it alight. Then start placing sticks around it in a tepee shape, making sure that you don’t smother the fire.

As the fire gets bigger you can use larger sticks and logs.

This is a good fire that puts out a tall flame and heat in all directions, making it an ideal campfire to sit around in the evening.

You will need plenty of fuel close to hand as this type of fire burns quickly.

However, the tepee campfire is not a good choice if you want to cook food.

If you want a campfire to cook over, then you need to build a Criss-Cross fire.

You build this by simply placing a criss-cross of logs, stacked on top of one another.

I find it easier to light by creating a small depression in the ground and start a small fire with dry kindling first, then start adding more small twigs to the fire, and then build the crisscrossed logs above the fire.

Although the fire’s shape does provide a flat platform to cook things over, eventually the logs will collapse in on themselves.

This is not a problem, as it’s the hot embers and coals that this sort of fire makes that you then use for cooking with.

So what if you want to sit around a campfire and cook? How can you have a good campfire that does both?

Well, the ideal solution is a Keyhole Firepit.

You cut a keyhole shape in the ground and start a Tepee fire in the round part of the keyhole.  This fire provides light and warmth.

Now you can either wait for the Tepee fire to create enough hot embers or start a second fire for cooking with.

If you decide to wait, then rake hot embers from the main fire into the slot where you can cook food.

Alternatively, start a small criss-cross fire in the slot to create some embers while the tepee fire is warming everyone and lighting up the camp.

The Swedish Torch campfire is very popular on the internet. After all, using this design, a single log can burn for hours.  Sounds amazing, right?

The concept is quite simple.

You cut some slits into a log. You stand the log on its end and start a fire in the top. As the fire embers fall into the slits the log starts to burn.

Air is drawn into the slits and the log burns down from the top and the inside.

We’ve created something like this before, and although you can have a log burning for a long time, it doesn’t give out as much heat or light, so a group of you at a campsite won’t be keeping warm by this fire, unlike a tepee fire. Though if there’s just one or two of you and don’t have much wood, the Swedish Torch could be a good choice.

You’ll also want make sure the log is firm. You don’t want it falling over, especially with kids around.

If the top of the log is also flat you could place a small pan or pot on the top and use the log to cook on. The Swedish Torch does put out a lot of heat at the top of the log.

Here’s a video from the internet on making a Swedish Torch campfire.

So there you go, a couple of different methods of creating a campfire.

Here’s a handy summary:

5 Survival Skills You Can Practice While Camping

Have Fun While Honing Your Survival Skills

There is no better way to practice your survival skills than to practice these life saving skills while you are camping – anything from building a shelter to identifying edible plants.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned survivalist, I believe in always staying on top of your game with these 5 survival skills which can literally save your life in a survival situation.

1. Building a Fire

Learning different methods of how to build a fire is important. The easiest way, of course, is to use matches or a lighter. It is important to remember, however, that you should never rely just on these 2 methods alone – your lighter could run out of fluid or your matches could get wet. Primitive methods are important for EVERYONE to learn. The following methods are great to practice while you are camping:

Ferro Rod – Check out this great video on different ferro rods you can use.

Hand Drill – Check out this video tutorial for step-by-step instructions.

Bow Drill – Check out this video tutorial for step-by-step instructions.

2. Building a Shelter

Learning how to build a shelter is another must-know skill for any survivalist. While you’re camping, you most likely will have a tent and a air mattress with warm blankets. However, one day you could be in these same surroundings without these luxuries therefore, building a shelter is a skill that you will need to learn to protect you from the elements and quite possibly – predators.

The following article, written by Ruth England (co-star of ‘Man, Woman, Wild’) gives detailed instructions and viable information on how to build different types of shelters.

3. Water Purification

Another must-have skill is water purification. Purifying water is so important. If it looks clean, purify it anyway. Water that has not been filtered or purified can lead to serious illness and sometimes death due to bacteria and other waterborne pathogens.

4. Different Methods of Fishing

When you’re a survival situation, food is important to keep your energy levels up – preferably a food source that has lots of protein. The following video, Survival Fishing Tips & Techniques, shows you how you can fish in a true survival situation. This video is extremely informative — a must watch!

5. Learning to Identify Edible and Medicinal Plants

Sometimes, in a survival situation, food that contains protein is hard to find. Learning how to identify edible plants (some of which also provide medicinal properties as well) is a must REMEMBER this important rule: Every edible plant has a look-alike, so please be absolutely certain that you are picking the right plant as your food source! I can’t stress that enough! Keeping a book on edible plants with photo identifications is a great addition to your survival gear.

Campfire Infographic

How to Build the Perfect Campfire

Whether you’re building a campfire to enjoy with friends on a camping trip, or you need it to keep warm and stay alive through a cold winter night, knowing how to build a great fire is a must-have skill.

To build the perfect campfire, you need just the right combination of the perfect tinder and firestarter, as well as the right conditions to keep your fire fed with oxygen so that it can stay burning as long as possible. There’s really an art to it, and it’s fun to perfect your campfire building skills.

How to Build a Fire Bed

Did you know that you can have your fire and sleep on it as well?  Most people are content to sleep as close to a fire as possible in order to stay warm at night.  However, we all know that this doesn’t always work as effectively as we would like.  Parts of our bodies get really hot while others receive little or no heat at all.  Let’s explore a really easy trick that can give you the best of both worlds and provide a long-lasting source of heat that your whole body can enjoy.

Did you know that you can have your fire and sleep on it as well?  Most people are content to sleep as close to a fire as possible in order to stay warm at night.  However, we all know that this doesn’t always work as effectively as we would like.  Parts of our bodies get really hot while others receive little or no heat at all.  Let’s explore a really easy trick that can give you the best of both worlds and provide a long-lasting source of heat that your whole body can enjoy.

How to Make Waterproof Matches

If you carry matches as your primary means of starting a fire, I highly advise rethinking that strategy. While some outdoorsmen seem to think it’s more “outdoorsy” to carry matches, in a survival situation, do you want to look like Bear Grylls, or do you want to stay alive?

waterproof-matches

If you carry matches as your primary means of starting a fire, I highly advise rethinking that strategy. While some outdoorsmen seem to think it’s more “outdoorsy” to carry matches, in a survival situation, do you want to look like Bear Grylls, or do you want to stay alive?

While my number on choice of fire starting tools is usually a lighter – again I’m concerned with staying alive not looking cool – I do think carrying backups to that lighter is extremely important. If matches are one of those backups, they need to be waterproof.

You can purchase commercial waterproof matches, or you can save some money and make your own.

Making waterproof matches

waterproof-matches2

Method 1: Candle Wax or paraffin wax

An ordinary box of strike anywhere matches can be turned into a box of waterproof survival matches with an ordinary household candle.

  • Melt some candle wax or paraffin wax in a pot. If the candle is already inside a glass jar, the safest method would be to leave the candle in the jar and let the wick slowly melt the wax.
  • Dip the match heads into the liquid wax and coat the entire match head.
  • Let the wax harden over the match head.
  • When needed, the wax can be picked off the head before striking the match

waterproof-matches3

Method 2: Fingernail Polish

With a small bottle of fast drying nail polish you can easily coat your match heads, making them completely waterproof.

  • Paint the match head with the nail polish, coating it a little past the head on to the wood stick.
  • Let the matchstick dry completely.
  • Matches coated with the nail polish don’t need any kind of prep to light them. They should be ready to strike without having to pick off the polish.

waterproof-matches4

Method 3: Turpentine

Turpentine is another easy way to make your matches resistant to water damage.

  • Pour 2 to 3 large tablespoons of Turpentine into a small glass jar.
  • Place the matches head down into the jar and let sit for 5- 10 minutes.
  • Remove the matches and let them dry for 20 minutes.

Making Fire With a Bow Drill

Imagine you’re hiking with some friends on a day hike on a trail you’ve never been on.  The trail is well marked in places, not so much in others.  At one point you stop to make a quick bathroom break and tell the others to keep going, you’ll catch up in a little while.  After you’re done you amble up the trail happy to have a few minutes alone.  Suddenly you realize you haven’t seen any trail markers recently and you realize you’ve wandered off the trail.  You don’t panic, but you hurry ahead to where you think the trail must be.  Without realizing it you’ve walked further from the trail and out of hearing range from your friends.

Imagine you’re hiking with some friends on a day hike on a trail you’ve never been on.  The trail is well marked in places, not so much in others.  At one point you stop to make a quick bathroom break and tell the others to keep going, you’ll catch up in a little while.  After you’re done you amble up the trail happy to have a few minutes alone.  Suddenly you realize you haven’t seen any trail markers recently and you realize you’ve wandered off the trail.  You don’t panic, but you hurry ahead to where you think the trail must be.  Without realizing it you’ve walked further from the trail and out of hearing range from your friends.

bow

You’re Lost

You’re lost in the wilderness and sundown is an hour away.  Next you realize that all you are carrying with you is a plastic water bottle half full, a small bag of GORP, and a light windbreaker jacket.   It’s supposed to get down into the 40′s during the night and you’re gonna freeze your ass off.  What do you do now?  Most people would suffer through the night and probably be ok in the morning after freezing all night.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get a fire going and sleep next to it all night?  Luckily, you read this post and remember how to build a bow drill and even practiced with it.  Right?  So let’s build a bow drill set and start a fire.

bow2 Spindle, bow, and bearing block.

Materials:

First, you can build a set without a knife and paracord, but it’s much easier if you have them.  Even a small pocket knife would be invaluable for this task.

There are several pieces that make up the bow drill:  the bow, bearing block, fire board, and spindle.

– Spindle:  The spindle is the part that drills into the wood.  The spindle and fire board should be made from the same material.  Softwood like cedar or fir is best for this as it’s easier to get a good coal.

– Fire Board:  This is the part that lays on the ground and receives the spindle.

– Bow:  The bow can be made of just about anything as long as it has a slight curve to it.  The cordage should be fairly rugged, but can be made from natural cordage if you don’t have anything available.

Getting some smoke.

bow3 Getting some smoke.

– Bearing Block:  This is a piece of wood, or a rock, or a knife that can hold the top part of the spindle.

– Cordage:  As mentioned earlier a good piece of paracord will make this a lot easier, but it is possible to do this with natural cordage, although you’ll need to angle the bow so the cordage doesn’t rub against itself and break.

Getting Everything Right

Once you have all the steps down it’s actually fairly easy to get the coal needed to light your tinder.  But everything as to work in harmony or you just won’t get the coal.  The spindle has to be cut properly, the fireboard needs to be burned in and the notch has to be right.  The bearing block needs to be lubricated and your bow must grip the spindle properly – not too loose and not too tight.

Also Read: Primitive Skills School

Once all these pieces come together you’ll need to use proper form in order to get the coal.  Check out the video for more information on a bow drill and to see whether or not I can actually start a fire this way.