Posted on

Survival Gear For The Avid Hiker

So you want to go hiking…what do you do?

Just pack up a bag with some water and food, then you’re good to go?
Completely wrong!

Survival gear is necessary to go on a safe and fun backpacking adventure.

Can you imagine going out on a trail or even off trail, something terrible happening, and you don’t have any survival gear with you?

More than likely you will not have cell phone service, so there won’t be a way to contact anyone for help!

This is where that essential gear comes into play. You want to be prepared in all situations.

The typical hiker pretty much has the same list of items that are important to have on you first and foremost.

Stay with me and I’ll guide you through the most important items to pack up in that backpack!

 

Food:

Always bring along plenty of food with you.

Most experienced hikers recommend bringing at least an extra day’s worth of food.
This can be in the form of dehydrated foods, freeze dried foods, protein bars, canned foods, etc.

Keep in mind that you do have to carry everything that you bring, so be mindful of how heavy the food is.
This is why most backpackers bring the freeze dried and dehydrated foods; it is very light weight.

 

Water:

Bring your water bottles full of water, but not too much!
Water is heavy but essential.

More than likely, you’ll start out with a couple bottles of water and then you’ll have some way to filter water along the way.

This can be in the form of boiling water to drink, using specific tablets to make the water safe, or even purchasing a small pump water filter that way you can filter any water along the way and bring it along with you!

 

Shelter:

There are a number of ways to create your own shelter while hiking.

The most popular is a small tent.
(Remember, you’ll be carrying this, so don’t go out and get a huge tent. There are small hiking specific tents that are light weight)

Another option is a tarp that you will be able to hang over some cording and just do a makeshift shelter to protect you from any rain.

Lastly, a newly popular option are the camping hammocks that roll up to be small and fit right in your bag.

Most of these camping hammocks come with a rain guard or you can get one, that goes over the top of the hammock to protect you from rain and other elements.

Clothing:

You may not think is very important, but the type of clothing you bring or pack is extremely important.

NO COTTONS!

It is important to wear/bring synthetic clothing. Not only does it breathe and wick away moisture, but it has a quick drying time.

If you’re sweating during the day and your clothes do not have enough time to dry, when nighttime comes and it gets cool outside, it is dangerous for your survival to be cold and wet.

The different types and pieces of clothing that are good for hiking could be a whole write up in itself.

If you’re really serious about hiking, you’ll want to research more on the weather you’ll be dealing with and what clothes should be worn.

 

Light:

There are no streetlights in the mountains, desert, or wherever you’ll be hiking.

Bring flashlights, headlamps or any light source you prefer!

Just be sure to bring extra batteries to power up your source of light!

 

First Aid:


Bring a thorough first aid kit and don’t skimp on this!

You never know when this may come in handy.

A Way to Navigate:
The best forms of navigation to have and to learn are a compass and a map.

This could also be in the form of a handheld GPS (Don’t rely on your phone)

Heat Source:

Have a way to build a fire!

Bring along matches and/or a lighter. (I’d recommend bringing both, just in case)


For those who are really into survival, you can get a fire starter for those emergency moments.

Not only is fire essential for nighttime, but it can also deter animals, be used to cook your food, boil water, and provide warmth for cooler nights.

Tools:

The type of tools you bring are really your preference, but I’d recommend a multi tool and definitely a knife of some sort.
Having a repair kit for your gear could be handy too in case something breaks, you get a tear in your tent, etc.

Protection From The Sun:

Can’t stress this one enough! Bring your sunscreen!

Getting completely burnt on the first day of a hike can ruin the whole trip!

You’ll also want to bring your sunglasses or a hat for extra protection.

As you can see, packing up for a big or small hiking trip is not as simple as bringing some food and water.
It is my hope that this list of survival gear sheds some light on what all you should be packing up in that bag.

Maybe you thought of some of these or maybe some of these were a complete shock to you, but we urge you to get all of these before you set foot on the trails.

Keep in mind, there are SO many other different items that are very important to bring along with you on a hike, but we wanted to cover the items that you definitely can’t go without!

Survival gear is not just for crazy natural disaster emergencies…even a fun activity such as hiking requires gear to ensure your safety!

Pack up and hit the trails now that you’ve got your top essentials!
Safe is fun!

Posted on

Favorite Thermal Layer & Shell Combinations For The Woods

Thermal-Layer-and-Shell-Combos_700

Clothing for the woods, call it what you will, I’ve been asked about it a lot. I guess it’s because I spend a lot of time in the woods and have done for many years.

I do shy away from talking about kit unnecessarily because I think there is an overemphasis on accumulating outdoor kit and an under-emphasis on accumulating outdoor skills and experience.

That said, we all need some outdoor clothing and equipment, more so as we move away from the equator. In particular, our clothing forms the first line of defense against hypothermia. In the woodlands of the northern temperate zone and into the forest, where conditions can be cold and wet, we need clothing which is both protective as well as tough.

The question of what I choose to use has come up several times in my shows as well as in other questions which have been submitted to me.

I’ve been repeatedly asked to talk about what I use, what I like and why. I’ve resisted doing this for a some time as I don’t want people to feel pressured to use what I use.

I talk about three sets of multiple thermal layers combined with a shell layer which I find make particularly complimentary combinations.

I should point out these are favorite combinations of mine.

While I would, of course, recommend all of the garments I suggest, this is not me saying you have to have any of these specific items before you go to the woods.

This is not least because some of the garments I use carry a significant price tag compared to some people’s budgets.

I’ve calculated that most professional people who have a number of good quality suits for their office job have spent more on those suits, along with shirts, ties and shoes have spent more than I have on my outdoor clothing.

My clothing also needs to last. I spend a good amount of the year outdoors, through the seasons, teaching outdoor skills, guiding trips and having my own outdoor adventures.

I’m responsible for others when I teach and guide. I shouldn’t be spending time sorting myself out because I’m cold and wet, when I should be looking after my clients, running a course or a trip. I need to rely on my clothing.

People have asked, though, and I’m answering. These are clothing combinations I use year-round in northern temperate forests as well as spring, summer and autumn use in the forest. The various combinations of clothing in this video have served me well in the UK, Scandinavia and in North America.

Much of this is in woodland and it’s tough on clothing.

The shell layers are all resilient and tough, well suited to the higher levels of abrasion encountered in woodland settings.

Just in case there is any doubt, I’m not being paid to talk about any of the garments or brands in the video. All of the items were paid for by me personally.

It’s not just about specific brands or specific garments. There are some general principles at work here. I refer to some of these in the video, particularly with respect to base layers and hats. In the text below the video, I continue the discussion, drawing out some general principles which you can apply to find items of clothing which fit your budget and specific needs.

The final point, before I let you get to the video, is even though this is not a kit review, all of these garments have been used for many, many months in the field. First impressions are one thing but I don’t believe in video “reviews” which give opinions based on how the clothing looks when it comes off the hanger or out of the packet. I’ll use it for a few years and then give you an opinion…

Clothing Combinations Greater Than The Sum Of The Parts

I mention it in the overall value and performance I get from these clothing combinations is greater than the sum of the individual parts.

While I look at particular models from particular manufacturers in the video (because these are what I own), I feel it’s worth drawing out some general recommendations which you can apply using any number of different manufacturers and models.

Clothing Combinations To Keep You Warm – First Get The Basics Right

If you need to be donning warm upper body layers, then think first about what you have next to your skin. Invest in a good merino wool base layer. They make a huge difference to your warmth and comfort level. The performance they add to your overall clothing system far outstrips any additional weight or bulk.

The second basic which you need is a warm beanie hat. Again the added comfort and warmth from such a small item. A woolen head-over or scarf is also worth carrying in the colder months of the year.

Once you have the basics sorted, below are the generalizations of the three main clothing combinations I discuss in the video…

Protective Combo 1

A thin fleece pullover with zip neck, to wear over your base layer. This type of fleece pullover is both ubiquitous and inexpensive. I like simple models that can be tucked into trousers for extra warmth.

A medium to heavy fleece to wear over the thin pullover. In the video I show a medium weight fleece which also tucks in. If possible, I like this layer to have a hood as it adds a lot of extra protection from the elements for little extra weight.

A sturdy breathable smock of Gore-Tex or similar. This should be large enough to fit over the thermal garments above. This type of smock is good for prolonged periods in heavy rain. The longer smocks keep your groin (and trouser pocket contents) dry without having to don waterproof trousers. This is my go-to style of jacket for teaching courses in the northern temperate zone and wilderness canoe trips.

Protective Combo 2

A thin fleece pullover as described above or thin fleece jacket over your base layer.

A Primaloft or similar synthetic-filled duvet jacket, with a decent, full-sized hood. If the outer shell of this jacket can be made of a good windproof material then all the better. Even better still is a material which is also somewhat water resistant – shower proof if you like – which will help stop moisture going into the insulation. Belay jackets designed for climbers are a good place to look for many of these features. They also tend to be quite light for their performance. The one I use is a little over 600g (21 oz.)

A tough breathable shell jacket of Gore-Tex or similar. Triple-layered breathable membrane fabrics provide high performance and resilience. This style of jacket I use for hiking in heavy wooded areas and ski-touring. I look for good ventilation as well as good pockets for maps, compass, gloves.

Protective Combo 3

A synthetic pile-lined top with an integral windproof outer shell. There are a number of similar designs on the market, some designed to be worn close-fitting, some with a little more room. These garments tend to be very protective, even worn on their own. In the mountains, this is often all you need. The synthetic shell outer of this type of garment, however, is prone to damage from sparks in particular, but also thorns and the generally higher abrasion levels of life in the woods. In the woods, then, I recommend combining them with a tough smock over the top (see below).

A Ventile smock over the top of the above type of garment forms a very tough, protective and breathable combination for the woods.

Longevity And Value

Any of the three clothing combinations discussed above should last a long time if the items are selected carefully. None of the clothing I showed in the video is new. In fact much of it I’ve had for many years. For example, the Norrona jacket is at least 10 years old. The Buffalo Special 6 shirt is 15 years old. The Swazi Tahr is 7 or 8 years old. All of the garments have seen a lot of use. In particular the shell layers see months of use each year.

For the amount of use they have had, all of the garments have provided incredible value. And that’s before I think about how many times they’ve protected me from hypothermia.

.

Posted on

Learn How To Wash Clothes During An Emergency

wash-during-emergency

Are you ready to learn how to wash clothes during an emergency? Remember the month of September is National Emergency Preparedness month. Today I am going to show you my new and improved portable emergency washing machine. Well, it’s actually two buckets that fit inside of each other with one new change to my original style. Yesterday I shared my laundry detergent recipe.

Clean Underwear

Here’s the deal, I could go a few days and not wash my shirt or pants. Its the underwear. Yep, lets just say it how it is. We all want to wear clean underwear. Its no secret. I remember growing up and my grandmother would always shout “be sure and wear clean underwear” if we were getting ready to go somewhere. Heaven forbid the you’re in a car accident and you end up in the hospital wearing dirty underwear. Enough said, this little washer bucket set can wash clothes very well. Oh, we could only wash clothes a little at a time but that beats bending over the bathtub.

No Laundromats To Wash Clothes

If we had an unforeseen emergency the local laundromats will more than likely not be working, unless the power outage is confined to a very small area of our city or county. Another reason we need to keep up on our laundry, it’s hard when life gets hectic and we are running kids to ball games or lessons. I did learn something from one of my daughters about our washing machines. She tried washing her clothes in the short cycle. Its like 26 minutes. Hmmmm. Why didn’t I think of that? I would use less water and my clothes would be done in half the time. Keep in mind we do not have anyone in our family at the moment that has a large amount of grease coming from work. Therefore the 26 minutes works great.

Two Six Gallon Buckets

You will need two six gallon buckets, the five gallon buckets are just not big enough. I use Gamma Lids for the top because it holds the plunger in place. Yes, I am colored coded with my Gamma Lids. The color green is for the laundry. I had a friend drill the two inch holes in the Gamma Lids a few months ago.

wash-during-emergency2

Drill Four Holes

Here, my husband is drilling the four holes in the top bucket. This is my new technique to give the emergency washing machine a little more friction with the water going up and down with the plunger. There is about a three-inch area to give the water to swish around a little more when wewash clothes. Plus, this added feature will be great when we need to rinse clothes as well. I have two set of these, one for washing and one for rinsing. The four holes drilled inside the inner bucket will let the soapy water drain from the clothes after washing them. You will then put the soapy clothes into the second set of my washing machine design and “plunge” the soapy clothes in the fresh water to “plunge” and rinse the soapy water out of the clothes. Now the clothes are ready to hang on a clothesline, clothes rack or a fence.

wash-during-emergency3

The Blue Washer Plunger To Wash Clothes

Here is the washer plunger. It is totally different than the usual toilet plunger. It has four parts as shown and can really move the water around in the buckets.

wash-during-emergency-4

Easy To Store & Ready To Use

Here I am assembling the washing machine for storage until needed. I place paper towels between the buckets because they are so hard to get apart when they have been sitting in the heat in my garage for an extended amount of time.

wash-during-emergency-5

If you have this ready to use you will be ready for the unexpected emergency or disaster. All you need is water, about 1/4 teaspoon of my homemade laundry detergent to wash and rinse clothes. I hope I never have to use this, but I am at peace knowing I have this ready to go. Just add water, detergent and clothes. Woohoo!

There is one more item I want to mention. Do you have a clothesline or a way to hang up your clothes after washing and rinsing them? I found a clothesline about a year ago from Earth Easy.  I had been looking for one just like this one. I can fold it up and put it away, or leave it out all the time. It has a bag to store it in as well. Are you ready to wash clothes during an emergency?

Posted on

Prepper’s Clothing: Clothes & Shoes To Wear And Carry!

prepper

Preppers usually put a lot of thought into what they will eat, what tools they will need, weapons (to get or not to get), and of course medicines and first aid… And if you’ve also done and decided that sort of thing – then you are indeed on the path to being well prepared for most disasters. However, prepper’s clothing is the other very important thing that you need to give a thought to now – and start preparing!

To that end, we have for you here some information that may be of help. We’ve compiled a list of must-haves – as well as a list of factors to keep in mind when selecting individual items of clothing. So – to start…

Clothing essentials for every prepper

To begin with, these are the clothes that you should be dressed in when you first take your stuff and step out of the house to go off grid. These are the clothes that will allow you to cope and give you a tactical advantage over those dressed in their regular clothes:

  • Tactical pants – the keyword in all these cases is ‘tactical’ – your clothes need to be a lot more functional, because that is what gives you the advantage. Look for something that has a lot of pockets, won’t shrink, fade or wrinkle easily, and will also resist water and stains to a certain extent. Another thing you could look out for is double reinforced knees as these places are bound to face a lot more wear and tear.
  • Tactical shirt – short, needs to be comfortable – because they will determine how you feel. Look for shirts that have ‘pit zips’ which allow you to cool off if needed by undoing a few zips. Another great feature that you should look for is fire retardant material, something that will resist melting and becoming a hazard if in contact with fire.
  • Tactical jacket – jackets are primarily for protection – and this one should be able to provide that. This should also have pit zips and should be a size and shape that is conducive to layering – you never know how cold it can become.
  • Bug out socks – your feet will be bearing much of the brunt, you being on the move. And that means that your feet need to be kept safe and comfortable. Choose socks that are comfortable and aid in long hikes. One that wicks away moisture and keeps your feet fresh and dry is also going to be something you’ll appreciate in the long run.
  • Work gloves, preferably heavy duty – gloves, in any everyday situation, are built for insulation. And when bugging out, you’ll also need to keep your hands warm. But – merely keeping warm won’t suffice here… You’ll also need to keep doing the necessary chores to stay alive – like gathering fire wood, setting up a place to stay, etc. Therefore, choose work gloves over mere warm gloves – they insulate and also do not affect your ability to use your hands.
  • Sturdy shoes – as mentioned already, your feet need to be cared for. Therefore, to deal with all the hiking and off roading, you need to have sturdy shoes – ones that will support your feet and protect them. But remember to break your shoes in before placing them with your prepper’s supplies. New shoes will come with blisters and that is something you would want to avoid at all costs when off grid.
  • A hat – keeping your head protected is imperative. If you need warmth, then go for woolens. But if it’s just to protect against sunlight and rain, a plain baseball cap also work. Avoid bright colors or slogans though.
  • Last minute bug out essentials belt – this is another thing you should seriously consider. These are ideally narrow and comfortable belts with quite a few pockets sewn into them. They can be used to store absolute bug out essentials, stuff like water filtration tablets, flint, first aid basics, small knife, etc.  These are ideally worn right against your skin, under your clothes.

Since these are the absolute essentials, it is usually advisable that you keep a set of these (in your size, of course) next to your bug out bag. That goes out for each individual member in your family. When the disaster strikes, just as you stop to pick up your bug out bag, you should also slip into the clothes and then step out of your home. 

And now for a few words on…

What to look for in bug out clothes

As you can tell – the one set of essentials is good enough for you to make it out. But you will need more clothes. And these you could pack into separate bags, or keep in your bug out bag. Remember however, that unless you are bugging out close to your homestead, you should think realistically and only carry 2-3 sets, maximum. Therefore laundry is essential and you need to think realistically about that as well. And when choosing your clothes, keep these factors in mind:

  1. Choose clothing in camouflage colors and light shades. There are two reasons for this. First, if you are living in the middle of woods, the camouflage helps you to stay hidden. Secondly, bright colors always attract the eye sight. And after a disaster, people are desperate and panic and tempers are run high and the last thing you want to do is draw attention to yourself.
  2. Waterproofing is another thing that will help you. You will be exposed to the elements, and that means that there will be rain and morning dew. But clothes that are borderline waterproof, without sacrificing breathability, will allow you to at least get yourself to shelter before you get drenched completely. They also dry sooner.
  3. Warm inner clothes are another good idea. You may know just how cold the nights can become, but with the heating in your house, chances are you’ve never had to experience it. As a result, make sure you have warm pieces on hand so you can layer up as the sun goes down.
  4. Choose clothes with pockets. When you are bugging out, being able to carry little essentials with you is a great help. This could include a scarp, extra gloves, extra socks, also small weapons, fire lighting equipment, flashlights, antiseptic ointment, a compass, etc.
  5. Choose clothes that are breathable and will wick away sweat quickly. You will get sweaty, very fast and very often. And if allowed to soak your clothes, the sweat will make you cold and lead to hypothermia in colder climes. What you need are clothes that will let the sweat evaporate naturally and repel it. This way you will be protected. Mind you – 100% cottons are actually a bad choice for these situations.
  6. Also pick clothes that are suited to the place you will be in. For heavily mosquito or insect infested areas, you will need clothes that will protect you against the bugs. You can also consider mosquito and bug head net caps. In case of areas with snow, you need to again have particular clothing.
  7. One thing that we mentioned with the tactical shirt earlier – flame resistance. This is another good feature to consider. At home you probably use an induction stove or a hot plate – so you stay far enough from open flames. But when bugging out, you’ll be working pretty closely with open flames, for food as well as for heat and protection. So – take the best precaution you can by wearing clothes that do not put you at risk.
  8. A final consideration is bulletproof clothing. While this may not be an essential, it will depend on each person’s individual situation. If you think you are in an area where firearms will be fairly common, then do use some bulletproof protection. But always give it a good thought before you decide on it. Bulletproof clothes tend to be quite heavy, and that’s a lot of weight to carry around just on a hunch.

Besides these factors, there is always the thing about not being too flashy, provocative or attractive! Ladies (and even men), this is the one situation where looking good and attractive can actually land you in mortal trouble. Dress down instead, and go for regular clothes – clothes that allow you to blend in instead of stand out. The best way out for women is to dress like ‘soccer moms’ and for men to dress like regular workers. As for the children, keep them in nondescript clothes in subdued colors. 

No – prepping for a SHTF situation isn’t an easy or a quick process. It takes some time and a lot of consideration. And today the focus is on prepper’s clothing – why to take and what to take. Once you have understood the why of it – picking the right clothes and accessories will come naturally to you.