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  1. What are the differences between tactical and non-tactical pocket knives? There are two styles of pocket knives that are popular. They are the tactical folder and the non-tactical pocket knife. For purposes of this article, I will refer to them as tactical and non-tactical folders. These knives feature similarities and some differences. Pocket knives have been on the market for many years. However, over the years, I have seen many people discuss their preferred folding-blade knife. Some people advocate one style over another. Yet, despite the many brands and blade configurations, the folding knife has two basic styles: tactical and non-tactical. 1. The Tactical Pocket Knife The tactical folder, currently, is a knife style that is popular among preppers and outdoorsman. Television reality shows on the topic of survival and military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are the source of their current popularity. The tactical folder came about to fill a need in tactical and first-responder applications that the traditional pocket knife could not address. Some examples of tactical folders are the Benchmade® Adamas 275 and the K-Bar® Black Mule. The Need For A Tactical Blade The primary feature of tactical folders is the serrated edge on the blade. The traditional pocket knife only has a fine edge blade. The serrated edge helps service members, and first responders cut quickly through the ballistic nylon material. The primary need for this on the battlefield is cutting away tactical gear made of Cordura® nylon to get to a battlefield injury or wound on a servicemember. The tactical folder’s blade design is perfect for slicing through a MOLLE Chest Rig or cutting through a plate carrier in an emergency. Law enforcement personnel would have a similar need to treat a wounded officer in a gun battle. For example, my experiences with this problem arose while serving in the Army. I had a need to cut MOLLE straps to repair my gear. The traditional fine edge blade on my Swiss Army knife could cut the material, but it took a little effort. Then I used the serrated edge on my Gerber Gator folding knife to trim some excess off of a strap, and in one swipe, it was done with minimal effort. The Need For A Backup Fighting Knife The next major feature of the tactical folder is that the blade length and overall length will be larger than a traditional pocket knife. The secondary purpose for a tactical folder is employment in hand-to-hand combat as a backup blade. The Leatherman® or Gerber® multitools are not practical for knife fighting. Therefore, the tactical folder gives some flexibility in the way that it can be used in various tactical applications. Furthermore, the tactical folder’s overall size requires a pocket clip to be part of the handle for convenient accesses and employment. Quick Deployment Of The Blade In an emergency, the blade on a tactical folder features a one-hand or assisted-opening blade. The feature is essential for the rapid deployment of the blade for self-defense or emergency first aid to a wounded soldier in the middle of a fire-fight. A traditional pocket knife does not have these features due to the purpose of a more traditional pocket knife. The one-hand opening feature allows a wounded or injured infantryman or special forces operator to employ the knife when one hand or arm is unusable. The feature also is applicable for downed military pilots in a survival situation. 2. The Non-Tactical Pocket Knife The non-tactical folders are also known as the traditional pocket knife. The non-tactical folding knives, currently, can feature serrated or fine edge blades. However, historically, they feature only the fine edge. The blade style for a traditional pocket knife is designed for outdoor sporting and bushcraft uses. The fine-edge blade is a more practical tool for those applications. The serrated edge is not as user-friendly when attempting to construct simple traps or conduct other bushcraft tasks. The type of blade on a non-tactical folder is more useful for prepping fires and food than the larger tactical folder. Additionally, the non-tactical folder features a thumbnail notch on the blade to assist deploying the blade. Some good examples of a non-tactical folder are the Case® BoneStag Mako® or the Swiss Army Cadet. A General Use Tool Traditional pocket knives are more of a tool than a weapon. Although in an emergency for self-defense purposes, the non-tactical folder can be just as useful. Whereas, the tactical folder is designed to be more of a weapon than a tool. However, a tactical folder can be a helpful tool in the hands of an innovative outdoorsman or survivalist. The non-tactical folder’s purpose is as a general-use tool to be used for a variety of applications. These applications can be as a box cutter, splinter extractor, a hasty screwdriver, food processing, or carving a wooden toy for your children. The Non-Tactical Competition The traditional pocket knife, in recent years, has begun to feature some of the things found on the tactical folders. As stated previously, non-tactical folders can feature a partially serrated edge blade. You can also find them with one-hand opening features such as thumb studs on the spine or assisted opening. One of the more interesting traditional pocket knives to come out in recent years is the Buck Knives® 110 Auto Knife. Victorinox® is beginning to feature pocket clips on some of their knives. Final Thoughts Tactical and non-tactical folding blade knives will be around for a long time. A quality pocket knife is an excellent asset in the field and to carry around town. As a hiker and backpacker, the traditional pocket knife fits my needs for outdoor use. However, when I was serving in the US Army, the tactical folder was the knife that I carried in the field. There are many opinions out there on social media, blogs, and magazine articles about the pros and cons of pocket knives. It is recommended that you experiment with several styles of pocket knives if you are not sure which style of a folding knife is right for you. The post Differences Between The Tactical And Non-Tactical Pocket Knife appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  2. There are five things to remember before going outdoors. A recent news article discusses the rescue of an injured hiker in Colorado back in July. Jeffery Ashby is a retired NASA astronaut who decided to go on a high altitude hike by himself at Colorado’s La Plata Peak. He slipped and fell 500 feet down the mountain. The location where his fall stopped put him in an area that required an airlift rescue operation. Somewhere during the fall, he broke both of his legs. He survived his fall and injuries and was later rescued by a helicopter crew from the nearby Army National Guard aviation training center. Jeff is a retired military person in excellent shape for being sixty-five years old. He was well prepared and familiar with the area he was hiking. However, July 16, 2019, would not be an average hike. The story reminds us that on any given day, we can find ourselves in an emergency survival situation in the backcountry. Many people love to go outdoors for recreational purposes. The early fall season brings many hunters to the backcountry to hunt deer and elk. People are trying to get those last multi-day backpacking trips in before the snows come. Other people want to take that last weekend camping trip before the weather turns bad. Therefore, we should remember the following principles to help increase our chances of rescue in an outdoor emergency. 1. Get As Much Knowledge As Possible About Your Outdoor Location It is advisable to do as much research to gain as much knowledge as possible about the place you intend to go for your outdoor activity. One possible way to accomplish this is to search for news stories about the desired location. For example, some areas have a concentration of incidents of missing people. Is this a place you want to go for an outdoor adventure? Another way to gain knowledge about an area is to talk to the local park rangers. My son and I went hiking in a nearby state park. The park ranger informed me that there were only two of them working the park and rescue in an emergency would require an airlift. That was a great tip and could only be gained by talking to someone at the site. He also informed me that there are areas where rock slides occur. Again, great insight from someone working in the area. 2. Prepare Yourself and Your Gear It needs to be said to remind you to prepare yourself and your gear before going into the wilderness. Jeff Ashby was ready for his adventure, and he still experienced an emergency survival situation. His preparation saved his life due to having a working headlamp. It was used as a signal device in the pre-dawn darkness to gain attention from other hikers passing by his location. If Jeff’s headlamp batteries were dead, he might not have gotten noticed and eventually rescued. Preparing yourself also means knowing your physical and health limitations. My dad related a story about a man that he worked with who died of heart failure on a hunting trip. The hunter was not the epitome of physical fitness. He was walking on a slight incline for several miles, then fell dead from a heart attack, according to one of his hunting partners. Therefore, know if your physical fitness and health can handle a particular location, especially if the area is above eight thousand feet in elevation. 3. Develop and Distribute A Communication Plan A third thing to remember is to develop and distribute your communication plan. In a previous article, I discussed the PACE method for preparing your gear. The acronym PACE stands for Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency. It is a technique developed by infantry and special forces personal to create multiple ways to maintain communication with each other and their field headquarters. This method is an excellent tool to develop your communication plan. Your communication plan should also include a timeline for checking in and to whom you will make those checks. For example, you may wish to send a text message to your designated recipients every two or three hours. Additionally, your communication plan should also include how to contact first responders, the park ranger station, and significant others, such as parents or your spouse. Once you have developed your communication plan, distribute it to those with whom you will communicate. Everyone in your group should have a copy of your communication plan in case you get separated. Sample Communication Plan 4. Develop and Rehearse An Emergency Plan After developing a communication plan, it is advisable to create and rehearse an emergency plan before you head out to the outdoors. Your emergency plan does not have to be elaborate and complicated. It can be as simple as developing a first option and a second option if things go wrong in the field. The emergency communication plan should be part of your planning process. Everyone in your group should be familiar with and understand the emergency plan before heading out to your chosen location. One particular story that I read recently illustrates the need for developing and rehearsing an emergency plan. A group of hunters was hunting near Rainbow Lake in Colorado when a sudden blizzard hit the area. The hunters were separated at the time. Three of the four made it back to camp. When they realized one of their friends was missing, they went out again to look for him only to nearly succumb to the weather themselves. The story relates the need to develop and rehearse an emergency plan. 5. Avoid Going Outdoors Alone One of the more important aspects of outdoor adventures is not going out alone, if at all possible. Hunters like to go off by themselves, even if they are with others. It is even more crucial that an emergency plan is in place when such a scenario exists. Backpackers and recreational hikers also like to go out alone. Many of the disappearances, mishaps, and fatalities in the outdoors occurs when the unfortunate ones are by themselves. The US Army sees the need for soldiers not to go anywhere by themselves and developed the battle buddy method to ensure the safety and security of soldiers. Experienced or recreational outdoorsmen should always have a partner when going into the outdoors. Final Thoughts The fall season can be an excellent time to spend outdoors. The changing color of the leaves and the crispness of the cold morning air make being outdoors all the more pleasant. Remembering to be safe and prepared increases your chances for a great time outdoors. Knowledge of your intended location, preparing yourself and your gear, developing a communication plan, developing an emergency plan, and going out with a partner or group will cut down on the chances of a mishap outdoors. As we enter the end of the year, let us enjoy our outdoor adventures with friends and family. The post Five Things to Remember Before Going Outdoors appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  3. The top 3 single-blade pocket knives are under $100. Pocket knives are your best tool to carry for just about every small cutting need. You can carry theses knives everyday or in the field. They will serve you well for many years with proper maintenance. The basis for choosing these knives, in part, is my personal use of some of them and familiarity with others. The key factors that I look for in a single-blade pocket knife are similar for the multi-blade pocket knife. These factors are practicality, cost, construction, and reputation. The most expensive knives on the market are not always the most practical for my use of a pocket knife. For example, the Bastion Braza EDC folding knife is an example of a pocket knife that goes outside of my requirements for a pocket knife. So what are my top three single-blade pocket knives for under $100? 1. Case® TecX® TL-1 The Case® knife company, has a reputation for making high-quality pocket knives. The traditional thumbnail groove and stag bone handled knives have lost popularity in recent years. However, they are still popular with many bushcrafters and hunters. One of the modern lines of pocket knives produced by the Case® company is the TecX® series. The Case® Tec-X® TL-1 is one of the better single-blade pocket knives on the market. The pocket knife is a significant modern upgrade and continues the high quality appreciated in a Case® product. Advantages The Case® Tec-X® TL-1 has several advantages as a pocket knife. The first of these is that it features waterproof fiberglass and ABS high impact polymer handle. The benefits of this kind of handle are that it can handle the rigors of everyday use, yet, function adequately in the field. The stainless steel blade is another advantage of this pocket knife due to its corrosion resistance. The implications these features are that the knife is designed to be low-maintenance. Additionally, the three-inch blade is adequate for most cutting tasks such as making primitive traps, notching, or other small tasks around your outdoor bivouac site. Thus, if the blade is maintained correctly and sharpened, it will be ready to employ in most emergencies. Therefore, the TL-1 is an excellent option for emergency preparedness or Bug-Out-Bag (BOB) considerations. Disadvantages The one disadvantage with this pocket knife is that many do not like a 440 stainless steel blade. Bushcrafters, especially, prefer the 1095 or D2 High Carbon steel for a knife blade. Some companies produce a pocket knife with 1095 steel blades. However, for most recreational purposes, a stainless steel blade is better as an overall blade steel for its low maintenance requirements. The characteristics of Case® TecX® TL-1 are the following: • 440 stainless steel; Glass reinforced ABS handle • One-hand opening lock-back knife with Drop Point blade • Thumb stud and pocket clip features • Length: 4.5 inches closed and 3.6 ounces • Price: $22.99 2. Buck Knives® 500 Duke Buck Knives® is another reputable company in the knife-making world. Buck Knives® products find their use in the hunting sports. Hunters are the largest constituency that uses Buck products over the last 40 years. However, other companies, in recent times, have come about to compete with Buck Knives® for the hunting outfitter market. Despite the growing competition, Buck Knives® produces some quality pocket knives that bear some consideration. One of the better pocket knives from Buck that a person can purchase is the Buck Knives® 500 Duke. The Duke is a great pocket knife to meet both the needs of everyday carrying and on an outdoor adventure. Advantages The main advantage of the Duke pocket knife is that it allows for the same cutting options as the 110 Hunter®, yet, without the bulk. The knife is about one inch shorter than its larger cousin. Therefore, it fits well in your pocket. Its 420HC stainless steel blade has the possibility of producing sparks off of the spine in an emergency. However, this action should not be a primary use of the knife. The blade length of the knife is sufficient for using around the campsite or for repairing your gear. Disadvantages A primary disadvantage is the blade length of the knife. Some people like to use a pocket knife as a surrogate to a fixed-blade knife. Therefore, they are looking for a pocket knife that has a blade length of four or five inches. Thus, this pocket knife may not be the solution that they are looking to add to their loadout. The blade length of this pocket knife will not be sufficient for processing wood of significant size in the field. The characteristics of Buck 500 Duke are the following: • Blade: 420HC stainless steel; Drop Point • Blade Length: 3 in. • Handle: Dymalux® Redwood with Stainless Steel Bolsters • Lock: Lock Back • USA Made • Price: $77.00 3. Gerber® Paraframe I Gerber’s Paraframe series is one of the more popular pocket knife collections on the market. There are several styles from which to choose. The Paraframe Mini knives are part of the Bear Grylls® line of pocket survival kits. However, the regular-sized Paraframe pocket knives are more popular. These pocket knives offer a good blade material, a decent blade length, and a one-hand opening option with thumb studs. Therefore, many people like to use the Gerber Paraframe pocket knives for their everyday carrying needs. Advantages One advantage of the Gerber Paraframe pocket knife is that it is lightweight. I purchased one when I lived in Virginia and began to carry it as an experiment. To my surprise, it was not very noticeable in my pocket. Consequently, I enjoyed carrying the Gerber Paraframe over my Swiss Army knife. Another advantage of the knife, it features a pocket clip. The clip allows for secure storage when not in use and quick deployment in an emergency. The other knives in this list do not have a pocket clip due to being of a more traditional design. Disadvantages The primary disadvantage of this knife is the reputation that some have fostered about Gerber products. As a result, one may be hesitant to purchase this knife as a solution for their needs. My first exposure to Gerber products was when I was issued a Gerber MP 600; U.S. Made Multitool. It was part of my Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI) gear. My RFI gear was issued before deploying to the middle east. Coincidently, my experience with Gerber products has always been excellent. The issue with blades cracking, blades breaking, and other concerns usually reside with the way a person is attempting to use a product. Roughly handling a knife or multitool when you get angry is a quick way to ensure a blade gets broken or cracked. Additionally, I have discovered that if you attempt to use a product for something outside of its design parameters, it will fail every time. Therefore, be careful about how you are using this knife or any pocket knife. The characteristics of Gerber Paraframe I are the following: • Overall Length: 7.01in. • Closed Length: 4.11in. • Weight: 2.6 oz. • Blade Length: 3.01in. • Blade Style: Clip Point • Blade Material: High Carbon Stainless • Blade Type: Fine • Lock Mechanism: Frame-lock • Handle Material: Stainless Steel • Opening Style: One-handed opening (Thumb Studs) • Price: $28.00 Final Thoughts Pocket knives are a great asset to carry. They allow you the cutting advantage necessary when the need arises. Pocket knives are not weapons but tools to use at the appropriate time and for the proper application. Single-blade pocket knives the oldest version of the pocket knife. They are fun to carry and to use as conversation starters. As you consider a good pocket knife, that is budget-friendly, the three knives in this article are a good starting point The post The Top 3 Single-Blade Pocket Knives Under $100 appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  4. Do you know the four levels of shelter? The topic of emergency survival shelter is an essential discussion in outdoor survival. It also is one of the core essentials for any survival planning, along with food, water, and fire. The Fall season is here. Camping, backpacking, hiking, and hunting are the activities winding down before the first winter snows begin to blanket the North American continent. However, before the snows come, there are the fall rains to contend with outdoors. Thus, shelter is an essential area to address for your end-of-the-year wilderness adventure. 1. Level 1: Personal Clothing Most survival experts agree that the clothing you wear is your first level of shelter consideration. As such, it is essential to understand how your decisions about apparel can help you or endanger you in the outdoors. The principle of layering outerwear is useful when deciding what to pack and what to leave behind. A modified version of layering can look like the following: 1st Layer: Underwear, Socks and Silk-Weight Base Layers 2nd Layer: Mid-Weight Base Layers 3rd Layer: Shirt, Trousers, Shoes, Boots 4th Layer: Insulation Items (Sweaters or Fleece Liners) The kinds of items that represent this layer would be the Polartec® Classic 300 Fleece Parka Jacket Liner or the Smartwool® ¼ Zip Pullover – Merino 150 Wool Sweater. 5th Layer: Softshell/Wind Breaker Layers (60°F to 46°F) An example of clothing that falls into this category would be the or 5.11 Packable Operator Jacket. 6th Layer: Wet Weather Outerwear (Jackets, Trousers, Ponchos, Muck Boots, Over Boots) 7th Layer: Moderate Cold Weather Outerwear (45°F to 32°F) A representative of this layer is the U.S. Army M-65 Field Jacket and Field Pants with Liners and the Condor® Summit Softshell Jacket. 8th Layer: Extreme Cold Weather Outerwear (31°F to -40°F). The TruSpec® H2O Proof Gen 2 Parka falls into this category The principle of layering is essential to controlling your body’s loss of heat while in the fall and winter seasons. Equally important are the kinds of materials that you consider for your personal clothing needs. There is much debate about natural fiber versus synthetic fiber clothing. Each type of material has its benefits and disadvantages. Therefore, it is best to do some research and see which kinds of clothing materials work best for you and in the environment that you will traverse. 2. Level 2: Hasty Shelters The next level of shelter consideration is what I call, hasty shelters. These kinds of shelters are not meant to be a permanent solution. They are often associated with emergency outdoor survival or military escape-and-evasion techniques. They are temporary solutions to avoiding extended exposure to the elements, such as wind, rain, snow, or heat. Moreover, they can be a source of concealment in a military context. Examples of hasty shelters are caves, overhangs, lean-tos, debris huts, wickiups, various kinds of tarp shelters, tents, or portable hunting blinds. Furthermore, some hasty shelters can be a solution for several days to several weeks. Generally, hasty shelters are formed from the available natural resources along with the shelter items that you are carrying and the tools you have in your pack. Some areas that you may be in will not provide much for sheltering material. Therefore, what you are carrying in your backpack may save your life and prevent you from getting hypothermia or even frostbite. It is advisable to bring an SOL Escape Lite or Escape Pro Bivy and a U.S. Army GoreTex Bivy Cover as a minimal emergency hasty shelter system. 3. Level 3: Semi-Permanent The third level of shelter is those that are semi-permanent. Semi-permanent shelters take more time and energy to construct. Therefore, they are not the best solution to consider when you are lost in the woods. However, if you find one already built, this kind of shelter will enhance your chances of survival over an extended period. The main difference between semi-permanent and permanent shelters is the foundation. Most permanent shelters are built upon and anchored to a rock, brick, concrete block, or slab foundation. By contrast, some examples of semi-permanent shelters would be log cabins, trail shelters, sheds, or mobile homes. Semi-permanent shelters can be elevated off of the ground by sitting on concrete blocks, yet they are not permanently affixed to them. 4. Level 4: Permanent Permanent shelters are the final level or category of shelters to consider as you are planning your fall outdoor adventure. If you are lost in the wilderness, you are not going to spend your energies constructing a permanent shelter to get out of the elements. However, one can potentially run across a permanent shelter while attempting to self-recover in an emergency survival situation. One survival personality once stumbled across a permanent shelter while trekking through the jungles of Costa Rica. Thus, it is possible to happen upon such an accommodation. As stated earlier, permanent shelters are built upon and anchored to a rock, brick, or concrete foundation. Suburban and Urban shelters are mostly permanent shelters. In the outdoors, sometimes a person’s weekend cottage or mountain home may be hidden away until a lost person discovers them. Permanent shelters offer a longer-term solution to your shelter needs. They usually have central air and heating. There is often running water, food, and cooking implements to access. Therefore, it is best to have a working idea of what permanent shelters may exist in a ten to a twenty-mile radius of your operating area or hiking trail. For example, when I was in Virginia, I would hike a well-used trail system. I could hear in the distance the sounds of human activity. Final Thoughts Fall-time outdoor activities can be fun and memorable. However, this time of the year can also be fraught with its unique hazards. Therefore, you must take the time to think through the shelter requirements necessary to be safe while outdoors. Weather at this time of the year can change quickly. One story of a missing hunter that I read recently centered on his being caught in a sudden snowstorm in the mountains of Idaho in October. Therefore, you must have a good clothing plan and shelter plan before you head out for outdoor activity during this time of the year. The post Do You Know The 4 Levels Of Shelter? appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  5. These top 3 multi-blade pocket knives will give you the advantages that you need, whether at home or outdoors. Pocket knives are tools, not weapons. Tactical folding knives are designed for emergency rescue and tactical field activities such as emplacing trip-wired booby traps. They are also large enough to be used as a backup knife in a hand-to-hand combat situation. Additionally, tactical folding knife blades are designed for quick deployment with the use of a thumb stud or spring assistance. Therefore, tactical folders fall more into the weapon category than as field tools. By contrast, the traditional pocket knife is more of a tool than a weapon. Pocket knives were the first multitools before the plier-oriented Leatherman and Gerber concepts came to the market. Traditional pocket knives usually have one or two blades. Frontiersman and outdoorsmen use these knives for utility purposes such as setting traps, processing game, cutting bandage strips or carving simple tools. Moreover, the pocket knife tends to have an average length of the palm of a person’s hand when the blades are retracted into the handle. 1. Victorinox Swiss Army Hiker The first of the top three pocket knives that you should consider is the Swiss Army Hiker pocket knife by Victorinox®. It is my top pocket knife for either every day carrying or on the hiking trail. This knife falls into the medium knife category for Victorinox®. The Hiker combines a perfect blend of size and practicality. Some Swiss Army knives overpower you with options. However, the Hiker gives you precisely what you need without weighing down your pocket or pack. An alternative option for this pocket knife among the available Swiss Army knives is the Pioneer, Spartan, Tinker, or Farmer. The Hiker features include Can Opener, Key Ring, Large Blade, Phillips Screwdriver, Reamer, Small Blade, Toothpick, Tweezers, Wood Saw, Bottle Opener, Large Screwdriver, Small Screwdriver, Wire Stripper. It is a two-two blade knife. The two knife blades are X50CrMoV15 steel. This steel is comparable to 440A Stainless. One source gives the following explanation of the steel in the Swiss Army knife: The characteristics of X50CrMoV15 steel are the following: Very high hardness – Up to 56 Rockwell C Retention of blade sharpness Moderate corrosion resistance better than standard 12% martensitic grades Poor weldability According to the description, X50CrMoV15 uses the moderately high carbon content of 0.50% to develop a high hardness martensitic microstructure. The higher chromium plus small molybdenum addition gives a greater corrosion resistance than standard martensitic grades. Vanadium allows higher tempering temperatures to be used and gives greater toughness. Therefore, the Swiss Army Hiker pocket knife is a durable and reliable knife to take to the outdoors or around town. 2. U.S. Army Pocket Knife (NSN: 5110-00-162-2205) The U.S. Army pocket knife is an all-weather stainless steel pocket knife. Several different manufacturers have produced the knife since its beginnings. Case, Marbles, Camillus, and the Colonial Knife Company have been the makers of the knife. This pocket knife is a general-purpose knife that was a standard item in military survival kits and maintenance toolsets for many years. They are becoming more difficult to find through regular retail or online stores. You can purchase them on eBay® as military surplus. Marbles® is making a replica of lower quality than the original for less than $20. Currently, the knife can be ordered through the Colonial Knife Company® in Rhode Island. They are still making the knife to military specification per MIL-K-818D. However, an alternative option for this knife is the Boy Scouts® Camp Pocket Knife. The Boy Scout knife has the same knife blades and tools as the U.S. Army pocket knife. However, it has bone scales instead of stainless steel ones. Case Knives® used to make a similar knife to the BSA® knife. The latest search of their website reveals their version of this pocket knife is not available. The blade material for the U.S. Army Pocket knife is 440 Stainless Steel. 440 Stainless Steel is often in use with medical cutting instruments. Knife blades of this material have a resistance to corrosion and retain their edge. Since the purpose of the knife is for general use, the blade material is suitable for that application. 3. Buck Knives® 301 Stockman® Knife The Buck Knives® 301 Stockman® Knife is a classic pocket knife configuration. This pocket knife is the preferred knife of my dad. He has worn out several of these over the years. The knife has three blades which are of 420HC stainless steel. The handle comes with two options: rosewood or black Valox™. Furthermore, 301 Stockman is made in the USA. The company says of the blades on the knife, “The clip blade is good for detailed work, the spey blade is good for skinning or sweeping knife strokes, and sheepsfoot blade is perfect for giving a clean cut, especially on a flat cutting surface.” As a general-purpose pocket knife for your everyday needs or in the field, the Buck Knives 301 Stockman is an excellent option to consider if you are in the market for a quality pocket knife. Concluding Comments Pocket knives are part of the outdoor sporting world. They have been around for a long time. Additionally, these knives are a standard tool for many people who need a general use knife blade. There is some discussion about how to categorize pocket knives as tools or weapons. However, your local laws will dictate the definition and categorizing of pocket knives as weapons or tools. If you are looking for reliable and quality pocket knives, the three knives in this article are options to consider adding to your kit or loadout. The post Top 3 Multi-Blade Pocket Knives appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  6. How is your physical fitness? There are seven areas of consideration to help achieve and maintain your peak physical readiness. Physical fitness is a critical element for long term survival in the outdoors. Survival and preparedness experts agree that staying healthy and in shape will give you an edge in a survival situation. The physical fitness movement that began in the 1980s is an extension of the organic lifestyle movement of the 1960s. Thus, health, wellness, and being fit physically have characterized much of American culture over the last fifty years. The military is no stranger to maintaining good health. There are seven areas of concern when implementing your physical fitness program. 1. Nutrition The first area to consider is nutrition. Proper eating habits are a key element to any physical fitness program. Many people like diet programs such as Weight Watchers®, The Atkins Diet®, or The Paleo Diet. However, for some people, the short-term gains from engaging in diet programs never seem to translate into long-term and permanent weight loss. Some studies suggest that those who lose weight will gain over 10% more than their original weight when they stop dieting. Therefore, eating properly over your lifespan is central to maintaining proper weight and nutrition. Healthy eating means eating balanced meals and in the proper proportions every day. Remembering the five food groups for daily nutrition will help to achieve your nutrition goals. The five food groups are meat, vegetables, fruits, grains, and dairy. Portion size also is an element of proper nutrition. Those who engage in vegan or vegetarian diets will substitute the meat and dairy for other items. Healthy eating will give you the vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that your body requires. Additionally, as you consider proper nutrition and dieting, it is advisable to consult a professional, licensed nutritionist recommended by your personal or family doctor. Do not attempt a diet or nutrition regimen on your own solely based on articles or books that you read. Those sources speak to the general human condition, not your specific health concerns or needs. For example, many health experts discuss taking chondroitin glucosamine for joint health. I am not able to take it because it comes from shellfish. I have been forbidden by my doctor to eat seafood or products from seafood because of my iodine allergy. Therefore, consult your physician before engaging in a nutrition program. 2. Sleep Sleep often is overlooked as a component of good health. However, most medical experts agree that getting an adequate amount of sleep every night is part of being a healthy person. An adult person needs around eight hours of sleep every night, according to the experts. A famous general once stated that any soldier who could not stay awake for three straight days was lazy. By contrast, medical science and research relate that sleep deprivation reduces mental alertness, affects decision-making, aggravates the cardiovascular and nervous systems. Some of the survival programs on television demonstrate that after a period of low food intake and lack of sleep, many contestants begin to faint or make critical mental errors. Therefore, when appropriate, do not be afraid to sleep when your body is telling you to get some rest. 3. Activity The more obvious part and easiest to understand about physical fitness is activity. Generally speaking, an active person is a healthy person. An active lifestyle is more than just going for a jog every day or a day-hike on the weekend. An active lifestyle is one in which your mind and body are continually exercised in a positive manner. Getting outdoors is just one way to accomplish that reality. However, as it relates to survival tasks, your body needs a balanced training routine to achieve functional physical fitness. Functional physical fitness helps you accomplish the tasks necessary to enable survival in any environment, such as climbing or hand-to-hand self-defense. A balanced physical fitness training program involves three key areas: strength, endurance, and mobility. 4. Strength Strength training is a vital part of a physical conditioning program. It usually involves weight training to increase strength, power, and endurance in the major muscle groups. Strength training is an anaerobic exercise. An example of anaerobic exercise is lifting weights, push-ups, sit-ups, or grip strengthening exercises. Anaerobic exercises are those characterized by the use of resistance to build muscle mass in the body. Additionally, it is best to get your doctor’s recommendation or approval before participating in a strength training workout. It is also advisable to get a training partner if possible. Lifting weights can be fun but also dangerous. I have heard about several accidents over the years in which an overconfident individual got killed or maimed for life because of doing something irresponsible in the weight room and without a partner. Don’t be that person. Be safe, go slow, start light, and get help if you want to get the most out of a weight training program. 5. Endurance The fifth area of consideration in building your functional physical fitness is endurance. Endurance training also is known as aerobic exercise. These kinds of activities involve the intake of oxygen through the respiratory system. Thus, aerobic training exercises the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Some examples of aerobic training are running, jogging, interval running, skipping rope, bicycling, rowing, aerobic dancing, or spinning. Consequently, endurance training helps with both muscle endurance and respiratory efficiency. For example, ultramarathon runners have to have bodies that have muscle endurance and can effectively get oxygen to those muscles during their runs. Moreover, an efficient cardiovascular and respiratory system helps reduce the time needed for muscle recovery. 6. Flexibility Flexibility training is the secret to success in your training program. Stretching out your body before working out addresses your body’s ability to bend and stretch. There is some debate in professional circles about the viability of stretching before or after a workout. Some believe it is needful and others discourage it. However, my personal experience is that stretching out before and after a period of exercise helps to prevent joint, muscle, and ligament damage. When I was in the military, stretching out before and after a workout in the weight room, road march, or a run enabled me to stay fit-to-fight when others were succumbing to injury. 7. Consistency Consistency is the ultimate secret to success next to flexibility training in your physical fitness program. Your fit-to-survive program should center on consistency. Inconsistency in your training routine is a sure way to injury. An inconsistent workout tears the body down rather than builds it up. If you are going to start a physical fitness program, be dedicated to it enough to be consistent. An example of a consistent workout schedule would exercising or working out every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. There are many great workout schedules by reputable organizations on the internet. Therefore, you should be consistent with your training if you want to reduce the possibility of long-term problems like tendonitis, pulled muscles, torn rotator cuffs, or similar injuries. Final Thoughts Physical fitness is an individual matter between yourself and your doctor. As stated earlier, do not engage in a program without your doctor’s approval. My doctor has approved walking, hiking, and backpacking for my physical fitness program. Running, obstacle courses, climbing Mount Everest, or adventure sports are off the table due to my knees and back. I could do them should I have a mind to; however, is the risk worth the reward? Therefore, be safe and keep fit and enjoy yourself as you get in shape or maintain your level of physical fitness. The post How Is Your Physical Fitness? Seven Areas of Consideration appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  7. There are five survival items that you should carry at all times. We never know when we will be in an emergency survival situation. One does not need to be going deep in the backcountry to prepare for an unplanned event. There are many discussions about everyday carry (EDC), bug out bags (BOB), and other solutions to address emergencies. However, emergency survival does not gradually creep up on a person. An emergency survival situation happens suddenly and catches someone by surprise. It is similar to an ambush in combat. In the chaos of the initial minutes of a survival situation, the survival gear you are carrying will be the first items employed. Therefore, it is essential to carry these five gear items as a baseline in your emergency survival planning. These items are compatible in any environment in which a survival situation arises. 1. Triple Sensor Solar Digital Watch The triple sensor digital solar watch is a versatile survival item that you can carry at all times. The vital aspect of these watches is that they are compatible with wearing business attire or rugged outdoor clothing. The triple sensor watch is also known as an ABC watch. These watches give you three sensors that display, (A) altitude, (B) barometer/temperature, and (C) compass readings. Advantages All three capabilities allow you to have situational awareness of your environment at all times. Most of these watches have a built-in light, so the watch display is readable at night. The solar cells in the watch face charge the internal battery. As a result, the watch stays operational at all times. For example, I purchased my watch in 2015 and have never encountered a need to change the battery. Disadvantages The main disadvantage with a triple sensor digital watch is that the compass readings can be tricky to understand. Additionally, the compass does not constantly display for use like a baseplate or orienteering compass in the outdoors. Thus, the compass enables dead reckoning for gaining a bearing rather than shooting and maintaining an azimuth. However, during an emergency survival situation, the triple sensor watch can get you through the mad-minute until you can stop, observe, assess, reassess and reorient (SOAR) your situation. 2. Pocket Knife/Folding Knife The pocket knife is a traditional survival tool. The history of the pocket knife spans human history from the Iron Age to the present times. However, the pocket knife in its current configuration came about in the 1600s. A pocket knife goes by another name, such as a folder or tactical folder. Nevertheless, the pocket knife is a versatile tool to carry at all times. The environment that you function in every day will influence what kind of pocket knife that you carry on you at all times. Like the triple sensor watch, carrying a pocket knife works as well with business attire as it does with outdoor clothing. Blade Length Consideration The knife blade on a pocket knife does not have to be very long to meet your needs. The smallest blade length to of practical use is one that is between 2.5 and 3.5 inches. Some companies offer pocket knives with shorter knife blades. Consequently, those knives have a limitation in their use. However, a pocket knife blade that has a minimum length of around 3 inches will allow you to get through the initial minutes of an emergency. However, a pocket knife with a 4-5-inch blade is optimal. Is a pocket knife a tool or a weapon? The local laws governing the carrying of knives influences what kinds of knives one can carry. For example, the famous stiletto switchblade knives are illegal to carry in some places because they are classified as weapons rather than as utility tools. Some survival experts recommend carrying a knife to use as a tool and as a self-defense weapon. However, it is prudent to understand what your local laws allow and prohibit regarding the carrying of knives. Recommended Pocket Knives The Swiss Army Farmer by Victorinox is a good pocket knife to carry. Another decent pocket knife is the Stockman by Buck Knives. A budget-friendly pocket knife is the TecX® X-Pro I by Case Knives. One of these knives is a great cutting option to consider carrying as part of the baseline emergency survival gear that you carry at all times whether you are in the office or out in the backcountry. 3. Butane Lighter The butane lighter is a standard fire starting method in most emergency survival kit configurations. Butane lighters have been around for a long time. The most recognizable butane lighters are the Zippo® and Bic® brands. Zippo® lighters are made of stainless steel and can be refilled with butane lighter fluid. Bic® lighters are a disposable lighter made of plastic. Therefore, either type of lighter can enable making an emergency fire in any environment. Advantages The advantages of carrying a butane lighter are the ability to produce a flame with relative ease. These lighters can be carried in the inner pocket of a suit coat or the trouser pocket of casual or outdoor pants. Therefore, if you need to make a hasty fire in an emergency, the butane lighter enables the completion of that survival task. Disadvantages A disadvantage with butane lighters is the limited amount of fuel they carry to produce a flame. Butane fuel also evaporates over time. The Bic lighter has a vapor release button that if depressed, will release the vapors of the fuel. Bic lighters are not refillable once the fuel is gone. By contrast, Zippo lighters have a saturated cotton batting on the bottom. The butane fuel evaporates from this batting and requires periodic refilling. Thus, one needs to carry a can of butane fuel to refill a Zippo lighter. Survival Considerations Despite their disadvantages, in an emergency survival situation, the butane lighter is reliable enough to enable you to start a fire when necessary. They are safe to carry in an urban environment or on the trail. They are simple to use. 4. Micro LED Flashlight Micro flashlights are an essential item to carry on you at all times. These flashlights are sometimes known as keychain flashlights. There are two common types of these flashlights: tubular and flat. The tubular style micro flashlight looks like a miniature version of a traditional flashlight. It usually has to be twisted to be turned on. The flat style flashlight tends to have an oval or rectangular shape and operate with a button depressed switch. 5. Hand Sanitizer Wipes Hand Sanitizer Wipes are a convenient way to carry a dual purpose survival item. In a previous article, we gave some discussion about hand sanitizer as a survival item. Hand sanitizer wipes are single-use wipes that can clean your hands or function as tinder to start a fire. These wipes fit easily into a wallet, purse, shirt, or trouser pockets. A hand sanitizing wipe used with a butane lighter will allow an emergency fire to be built. Final Thoughts Emergency survival planning involves decisions about the gear one carries. Sometimes these discussions transition into everyday carry, bugging out or getting home kits. The items in the list above are not comprehensive in nature. Instead, they are a simple baseline which allows for additions and modifications to fit your environment and needs. However, one of the lessons that 9-11 teaches is the importance of carrying survival gear on you during an emergency. For example, in a mass casualty event in an urban setting, you may not be able to access that EDC bag or get to your car and pull your get home bag. Therefore, those survival items that you have access to in an emergency can influence the outcome. Moreover, in an emergency survival situation in the backcountry, you may be separated from your main pack. Thus, what you carry on yourself, such as, in your pockets, may determine the difference between life and death. For example, you may suffer a mechanical injury that immobilizes you or severely limits your ability to move. Your pocket knife, microlight, or butane lighter may be the x-factor in your being rescued. The story of Aron Ralston reveals the value of carrying survival gear on you when emergency survival happens to you. The post 5 Survival Items You Should Carry At All Times appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  8. Do you have these seven basic first-aid items? Recent events reveal the importance of carrying first aid items at all times. The discussion of rendering emergency first-aid to someone often falls into the two categories of general first-aid and trauma first-aid. The U.S. Army discovered that trauma first-aid would be more common in a combat environment. Consequently, they adopted the Improved First Aid Kit (IFAK), which became known as the Individual First Aid Kit. The IFAK is essentially a trauma kit. Therefore, there are seven items to find as a foundation to build any size first aid kit from a personal kit to a group kit. 1. Tourniquet Nearly all of the survival and preparedness experts agree that a tourniquet is a core item for any first-aid kit. A tourniquet helps stop bleeding to a severely injured extremity. However, improper application of a tourniquet can cause more injury, permanent loss of a limb, or even death under extreme circumstances. Thus, you should get certified first-aid training through the Red Cross or other authorized medical training organizations on the proper use of a tourniquet. There are several versions and styles of the tourniquet. The tourniquet that is easy to employ is the CAT Tourniquet. CAT is an acronym that stands for Combat Application Tourniquet. These are currently in use with military and law enforcement organizations. There are other kinds of tourniquets, such as the ratchet tourniquet, the rapid application tourniquet (RAT), and the stretch-wrap-and-tuck (SWAT) tourniquet. However, whichever one that you prefer, a tourniquet should be an item in any first aid kit. 2. Cutting Device Emergency first-aid may require cutting clothing away from an injury. Therefore, cutting is an essential task in first aid. An option for a cutting instrument is the Leatherman® Skeletool® RX. It is small enough that it will fit into most first-aid pouches on the market. However, if you cannot afford this multitool, then a quality pair of medical shears or scissors are a good option. Cutting is an essential task for rendering aid to a traumatic injury. A decent cutting instrument is helpful to enable this task. Therefore, a cutting tool of some type should be in any first-aid kit. 3. Disposable Medical Gloves The wearing of medical gloves is vital for both the one giving first-aid and the one receiving the aid. Medical gloves help to reduce the transferring of germs into a person’s open wounds from the hands of the one rendering aid. They also reduce the risk to first-responders from absorbing blood-borne pathogens through the skin of their hands that an injured person may have in their system. 4. Self-Adhesive Bandage Wrap Self-adhesive bandage wrap is a critical part of your first-aid considerations. The primary reason for its usefulness is that it can be applied to a wide variety of emergency medical applications. Self-adhesive bandage wrap is useful for making hasty pressure bandages, wrapping cuts with gauze, securing slings, and making slings. There is no glue-type adhesive. Therefore, these bandages work well in arid environments. 5. Quick Clot Gauze Quick Clot is a recent development in the medical field. It officially goes by the name of hemostatic gauze. The clotting agent, Kaolin, helps to enable the blood to thicken. Therefore, it is terrific for stopping the bleeding on deep cuts, gashes, and penetration wounds to the body upon which a tourniquet is not necessary. Z-Medica is the manufacturer of Quick Clot products. Quick Clot should be part of your first-aid kit considerations. 6. Disposable Medical Face Mask Many airborne contaminants and pathogens are floating in the air. We breathe them in and exhale them out every day. A medical mask should be part of your baseline considerations when building any first-aid kit. These masks do for the respiratory system that the medical gloves do for the hands. They help reduce the risk of breathing out germs into the open wounds of a person or breathing them in if the patient has an illness. Some types of medical masks have a clear plastic shield attached to prevent blood-borne pathogens from entering the body through the eyes. Therefore, a disposable medical face mask should be part of your first-aid kit loadout. 7. Israeli Compression Bandage Bandages have been part of first-aid kits since their development. The military understands that the availability of bandages is a matter of life and death for the battlefield wounded. The increase in adverse situations in our contemporary era calls for the availability of bandages in everyday life. Consequently, an essential kind of dressing is the pressure bandage. A person knowing how to apply a pressure bandage to a severe bleeding injury efficiently is a critical task to master. The best compression bandages on the market are the Israeli Compression Bandages. They are effective and easy to apply to an injury. The older, Vietnam era, pressure bandages were useful but could be cumbersome to use in a stressful situation because of the way they had to be wrapped and secured. Thus, you should consider keeping an Israeli Compression Bandage in all of your first-aid kits. Furthermore, you should always get first-aid training from a reputable organization, such as the Red Cross, before attempting to apply any pressure bandage. Final Thoughts First-aid kits are becoming an essential element to possess in the lives of everyday people. The rise in violent criminal activity in our nation has made people more aware of the necessity of keeping first-aid kits available. The seven items in the above discussion should be the foundation upon which to build your own first-aid kit. You need to get certified first-aid training through a reputable source before attempting to render any kind of medical aid to someone. The only exception should be those already well-rehearsed in giving first-aid to someone, such as military personnel, combat veterans, medical and law enforcement personnel. Once you receive training in first-aid, build your kit, then, keep it handy and ready for use. The post Do You Have These Seven Basic First-Aid Items? appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  9. Will compasses keep you on track? Land navigation is an essential skill to learn for wilderness survival. Therefore, the compass is a critical part of successful land navigation. People navigated by the stars, dead reckoning, and terrain association before the invention of the compass or the nautical sextant astrolabe. There are many kinds of compasses available to the modern outdoorsman. Compasses fall into two categories based on the method of needle stabilization, also known as damping: liquid-filled and magnetic induction. Thus, purchasing a quality compass for use in the field is as important as having an accurate topographic map. 1. Liquid-filled Compasses The most common type of compass on the commercial market are those with liquid damping. Liquid damping is the method of stabilizing needle movement by immersing it in an enclosed, liquid-filled housing chamber. Several types of liquid are in use for this method. Mineral oil, kerosene, or ethyl alcohol are the most common. Minimizing needle movement in a compass ensures maintaining a direction while trekking over land. An example of a liquid-filled compass is the Suunto Clipper Wrist Compass or the Suunto M3 Baseplate Compass. A quality liquid-filled compass is an excellent option for those who enjoy the outdoors recreationally or you are living in an urban-suburban survival zone. Advantages: The advantage of a liquid-filled compass is the retail cost to the consumer. Many of the budget-friendly compasses on the market are those that have liquid damping. Commercial button and wrist compasses use the liquid dampening method for needle stabilization. Therefore, compasses manufactured with this dampening method make them accessible to the average consumer. Examples of budget-friendly compasses using liquid-filled dampening are those by Coghlan’s and Coleman. Disadvantages: A disadvantage of compasses with liquid damping is that the liquid can form bubbles. These bubbles can affect compass accuracy. Another problem with these kinds of compasses is that the liquid can thicken in arctic temperatures. Consequently, the thickened oil restricts needle movement. This characteristic of oil-filled compasses limits there use to non-military applications. Moreover, the high temperatures in the summer in arid environments can cause the liquid to expand or evaporate. Consequently, if the housing becomes cracked, the liquid will leak out. Thus, the compass becomes inoperable. 2. Magnetic Induction Damping Compasses Compasses using magnetic induction damping are the second most common compasses available to the outdoorsman. A compass utilizing magnetic induction is one in which the needle is stabilized through a magnetized field created within the needle housing. The most common way that this happens is by a magnet passing through an electromagnetic field. However, magnetic induction damping in a typical lensatic compass occurs when the magnetized needle is moving through a copper needle housing. The U.S. Army M-1950 lensatic compass is an example of this kind of compass. Magnetic induction damping compasses are the preference of most militaries around the world. Advantages The significant advantage of a compass using magnetic induction damping over liquid damping is its use in extreme temperatures. The compass with magnetic damping is usable in extreme arctic and extreme tropical or desert environments. The absence of the liquid in the needle housing eliminates the concern over the liquid freezing or expanding due to extreme temperatures. Another advantage of these kinds of compasses is they tend to give a more accurate and stable reading when shooting an azimuth. The stability of the needle enables their use for land navigation in both night and day situations. Most military compasses copy the lensatic sighting mirror compasses first introduced by the British on the eve of the twentieth century. You can learn more about the U.S. Army lensatic compass in my article, “A Short History of the U. S. Army M-1950 Lensatic Compass.” Disadvantages A disadvantage with compasses that have magnetic induction damping is that they can be more expensive to the average consumer. The process that creates the magnetic induction damping feature of the compass is more complicated than merely filling the needle housing with liquid. Furthermore, the compass housings must be of metal construction for the magnetic damping to work. Consequently, the cost increases to manufacture these compasses. The second disadvantage of a compass using magnetic induction damping is that it can be complicated to use. For example, complaints often heard against the U.S. Army’s lensatic compass is that it is hard to use to take an azimuth and for land navigation. By contrast, those trained and experienced with these compasses use them as well as a person favoring the Suunto MC-2 Compass. Furthermore, the U.S. Army lensatic compass was designed to meet the specific needs and standards of the military and for military operations. They were not designed for use to survive the apocalypse, SHTF, or grid-down scenarios. Therefore, it is understandable why there are complaints about lensatic compasses. Final Thoughts A quality compass is a must-have item in the packing lists of your various bags. The two most common types of compasses are the liquid-filled and those using magnetic induction damping. Additionally, the compass that you adopt is one that should be accurate, durable, and magnetized for the proper hemisphere. You do not want to stake your life on a compass of lower quality. Most survival experts advise spending money on a good fixed-blade knife. The same recommendation is valid for the purchase of your compass. Furthermore, if you are a world traveler, there are quality compasses available for use in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Suunto and Brunton have compasses that meet this need. A quality compass is an instrument that will enable your survival should you get lost on the trail or the backcountry. Therefore, choose your compass wisely and deliberately. The post Will Compasses Keep You On Track? appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  10. Nine improvised survival items could save your life. Most news stories about lost or missing people give information on the gear or lack of equipment the person is carrying on them. It is interesting to read how the lost person is not taking some essential item like a compass. In the case of the missing hiker, John Donovan, everything he needed to survive was on him. However, he perished after becoming stranded in a box canyon in the San Jacinto Mountains outside of Palm Springs, California. The topic of survival gear does bring up an essential aspect of wilderness survival, the skill of improvisation. In other words, the ability to create survival tools or methods from everyday items to enable survival is an essential part of wilderness survival. There are many suggestions on the internet about creating survival hacks or improvised tools. This article will focus on those items that an average person carries when they go into a field location. Most people only go outdoors on a recreational basis. Thus, they are not thinking about bringing a complete survival loadout stuffed in a 50-75 liter backpack. They are only going outdoors for a short period and returning home. Therefore, a small day pack or waist pack is the most that they carry with them. Thus, these items can be employed in an emergency if necessary. 1. Smart Phone Signal Mirror One of the essential communication devices that one usually carries on an outdoor adventure is their smartphone. The smartphone can be an improvised survival gear item by being functioning as a signal mirror. Most smartphones have a flat-screen that is large enough to reflect sunlight. The way to use the screen on a smartphone as a signal mirror is to turn it off, then employ it in the same manner as a survival signal mirror. 2. Camera Lens Fire Starter A second improvised survival gear item often overlooked is the lens on a camera. Many people take cameras on their outdoor adventure. Small, pocket-sized digital cameras are popular with many people trekking outdoors for the day. However, the lens in the camera is an excellent fire-making source. The camera lens is a magnifying glass. The lens is powerful enough to start a fire using the sun to focus light on a tinder source. Therefore, do not be afraid of breaking apart your camera to get to the lens in a survival ordeal, even if it is an expensive Canon or Nikon. 3. Bottle Cap Survival Whistle Another great improvised survival gear item is that of making a survival whistle from a simple water bottle cap. One survival expert demonstrated this during a recent television program. I found a water bottle cap and tried the procedure myself. It works! A water bottle cap from a Dasani or Aquafina bottle can be used as an emergency whistle. You hold the bottle cap by placing your thumbs over the opening. You create a small gap between you thumb knuckles and blow air through that gap. It will make a high pitch whistle sound that is very loud. 4. Sewing Needle Compass Sewing needles are usually not considered an improvised survival gear item. However, in an emergency, they can be used as improvised compass needles to help determine magnetic north. A stainless steel sewing needle from your pocket travel sewing kit can be magnetized to become a compass needle. You take the needle and rub it rigorously for a few minutes with 100% wool material. The static electricity created from the friction will magnetize the needle. Then you can tie the needle in the middle with a piece of shirt string. You dangle the needle on the thread with your hand, and it will adjust to point to magnetic north. Another option would be to put the needle on top of a leaf and float the leaf in a container of water, and it will adjust to point to magnetic north. 5. Boot Lace Cordage Survival experts will tell you that the most forgotten source of cordage is a person’s shoe or boot laces. Possessing and utilizing cordage is an essential survival skill. Laces for military-issued boots are made of a sturdy material similar to 550 parachute cord. Some companies are starting to produce survival boot laces. Nevertheless, in an emergency, remember that your hiking boots or shoes will give some quick cordage for a multitude of emergency needs. 6. Hand Sanitizer Tinder One innovative way of your hand sanitizer is as tinder for starting a fire. Many people carry the small travel-sized bottles of hand sanitizer in their backpack. Some people carry them in the pocket of their trousers or waist pack. Hand sanitizer is a flammable gel or liquid consisting of 60-95% alcohol. Thus, it will take a spark very effectively. A more convenient way to carry hand sanitizer is in the form of a towelette. The towelettes are paper saturated with hand sanitizer. The combination of these two materials makes excellent fuel for making fires. I carry two of these in my wallet at all times to make an emergency fire when necessary. It is important to note that the medical wipes containing rubbing alcohol or BZK are not flammable and will not catch on fire. 7. Car Key Saw Your car keys can be a source for a cutting instrument. How many of us have used our keys to open packages received in the mail? In the field, your keys can offer a crude sawing device to make notches in branches for making traps or snares. Your keys do not provide the most efficient sawing edge; however, if that is all you have, do not hesitate to employ them. 8. Bandana Water Filter A lost person in the wilderness needs a steady supply of water to maintain the functions necessary to ensure survival. The bandana gives a person many options in a survival situation. The bandana can be used as headgear, tinder source, carrying device, bandage, washcloth, or signaling device. Moreover, another use of the bandana is that of a hasty water filter. The bandana, by itself, will not filter out waterborne pathogens. However, when it is used with an improvised filter using rocks, dirt, and charcoal, it is an effective means to gain drinkable water. If there is no other way to sanitize water, the bandana will filter out large particulates. 9. Duct Tape Bandages There are many uses for duct tape. Some show that duct tape can be fashioned into a water carrier, waterproofing, and as fire tinder. However, one of the most common ways that duct tape functions is for first aid. A method of using duct tape is that of bandages. Bandages can be fashioned from duct tape if one does not have or has lost their first aid kit. Many hiker, hunters, and backpacker carry a small roll of duct tape for equipment repair. Duct tape is quite useful at bandaging flesh wounds in an emergency. Final Thoughts Improvising survival tools from those things you carry on your body is a great skill to cultivate. If you find yourself lost and separated from others, the stuff you have on you can help you to survive. These items in the discussion above are not an exhaustive list. People carry different things on them. However, in a general manner, the items above are the most common. Remember that emergency survival is about staying cool, calm, collected while simultaneously being innovative, flexible, and resourceful. The post 9 Improvised Survival Items That Could Save Your Life appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  11. Do you have head protection? Two headgear options are the patrol/operator cap and the Boonie hat. Headgear is an essential item in your loadout for the outdoors. The benefits of wearing the proper headgear are many. However, the primary benefit of wearing headgear outdoors is to protect your head from the sunlight, heat, and cold. Your outdoor environment and the time of year will influence the type of headwear that you use. The use of headgear for outdoor activities is one that spans most of human history. Therefore, it is essential to protect yourself by including a headwear option in your kit. 1. The Patrol/Operator Cap The patrol/operator cap is the style of outdoor headwear with the most recognition in our contemporary era. Consequently, all outdoor sporting activities have various styles and material patterns of these hats. Moreover, the military patrol cap has its origins in the kepi hat in use with the French Army during their Napoleonic Era (1799-1820). This style of military headwear became part of the U.S. Army before the U.S. Civil War. However, modifications to the kepi were introduced in which the current U.S. Army-issued patrol cap has a direct lineage. The Kepi and Baseball Hat Connection Later, the kepi-type hat had a modification change in the United States for use in the fledgling sport of baseball on the eve of the twentieth century. The main modification was that of a soft and rounded crown which conforms to the natural curvature of the head. Baseball caps became a fashionable headwear in America throughout the latter half of the twentieth century. Currently, many sporting goods manufacturers produce their version of the baseball cap for use in golfing, fishing, hunting, running, and backpacking. A health advantage is keeping direct sunlight out of the eyes and off of the head. The double-layered military surplus patrol cap is designed to hold up to one liter of water as an emergency water carrier. The Operator Cap Additionally, a recent change to the patrol cap is in the operator cap. The operator cap is a hybrid between the military patrol cap and the baseball cap. These hats are popular with many in the security fields, SOF community, and outdoorsman. The visors tend to be reinforced, which makes them durable in the field. They incorporate breathable material into their construction. These hats tend to be lightweight. Therefore, they are practical for use in storing in cargo pockets of trousers or the outer pockets of packs. The usefulness of the operator cap is its compatibility with hunting or tactical communication headsets. 2. The Boonie Hat Boonie hats are popular with many outdoorsmen who live in the more wooded areas of the U.S. The Boonie hat has its origins during the Vietnam War era (1955-1975). The first use of these hats in the field was by soldiers of Special Operations (SOF) units and Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) units. The design of the hat seems to have its origins in the older version of the U.S. Navy rolled brim hats that were replaced by the modern Dixie Cup hat. The Boonie Hat Verses The Patrol Cap Its versatility gave soldiers an essential piece of survival gear while patrolling in the jungles of Vietnam. The Boonie hat has advantages in the jungle environment over the patrol cap. The most important benefit is it camouflages the face and head. The health advantage it gives is to allow heat to escape from the head through the venting grommets on the sides of the hat. This feature of the hat helps to reduce heat-related medical problems. Additionally, soldiers of Operation Desert Storm (1991) used the Boonie hat to help endure the heat of the desert. The Commercial Boonie Hats The Boonie hat has its counterparts in the outdoor sporting world. Hunters and backpackers began using these hats when they became available in surplus stores. Outdoor gear manufacturers then started producing their own versions of these types of hats. For example, the Fjallraven Hatfield Hat incorporates some features of the Boonie hat. Others began producing their copies of the Boonie hat calling them bucket hats, such as the 5.11 Tactical Boonie Hat. The Advantages Of The Boonie Hat The Boonie hat gives advantages over the patrol cap for hikers and backpackers. There are two advantages of the Boonie hat over the patrol cap. One is shading the back of the neck from direct sunlight. The other is that it reduces the risk of getting ticks falling from overhead vegetation. Furthermore, the Boonie hat can be folded and placed in the cargo pocket of trousers or rolled and stored in a backpack. Final Thoughts Headgear is a critical item to consider for your outdoor activities. The military patrol/operator cap or Boonie hat gives you protection from the sun. They help your body regulate heat to maintain your core body temperature. Some of the commercial versions of these hats offer UV protection, such as Columbia’s® Coolhead Cachalot cap or the Bora Bora II Bonnie Hat. Yet, some people like to go outdoors without wearing headgear. However, most people quickly learn the value of a quality hat when it is hot or raining. Hats help keep you from getting a heat-related injury or direct sunlight into your eyes. The patrol cap and Boonie cap give an extra layer of protection for your eyes when you are wearing sunglasses such as the Oakley® Flak 2.0 or the ESS® Crossbow 2X. Military surplus patrol caps and Boonie hats are a budget-friendly alternative to consider when adding headgear into your packing list. Military-issued patrol caps and boonies have a U.S. Government label stitched on the inside. The label gives information about the hat to include its national stock number (NSN). National Stock Numbers help surplus stores find what you want. Avoid purchasing the military replicas of the patrol cap or Boonie hat. They are made with substandard materials and workmanship. A military surplus store will have authentic patrol caps and Boonie hats for purchase. The post Do You Have Head Protection? Two Headgear Options appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  12. Are you ready to survive an emergency at your location? Is your survival context urban or the wilderness? In recent days, I have read a few articles and watched a few presentations relating to urban or wilderness survival. It is interesting to notice one preference over another. These preferences are due to the leanings of those making their case. One’s environment influences the preferred approach to emergency preparedness. My own experiences with outdoor recreational activities, weather emergencies, military field training, and combat deployments accentuate this truism. Thus, there are two basic categories of survival that are the most common in the literature: urban survival and wilderness survival. My article on survival approaches further breaks these down. However, in this article, I will discuss the urban and wilderness methods for survival planning from a broader perspective. The Urban Survival Approach The contemporary interest in urban survival is a more recent development in the survival and preparedness world. The popularity in the zombie genre of dystopian movies and television program seems to have been the impetus for the interest. The concern about the sudden collapse of modern society intensified with the Y2K scare of the late 1990s. Lofty Wiseman’s book, SAS Urban Survival Handbook (1996) discusses urban survival and is a standard read on the subject. Thus, urban survival became a hot topic in the early decades of the new century. What is urban survival? The name, urban, implies the context in which one needs to survive: a city, town, or metroplex. The urbanization of the United States is a byproduct of its Industrial Revolution (1865-1920). The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that close to 63% of America’s population lives in urban and suburban areas. Furthermore, strategic thinker and author, David Kilcullen writes of the increasing urbanization of warfare in his book, Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla (2013). Therefore, urban survival planning a viable exercise for those living in that context. The Uniqueness of the Urban Environment There are many contrasts between an urban environment and the wilderness environment. The concerns of the urban environment are unique. For example, a person attempting to survive in an urban or suburban context does not have to worry about building a shelter in the same manner as their wilderness counterparts. One can occupy an abandoned building or house if necessary and if it is safe. The stories of urban survival from the siege of Stalingrad to the killing fields of Sarajevo give ample evidence of the peculiarities of urban survival. A feature of urban survival are the kinds of items necessary for an emergency kit. Thus, urban survival requires some different things that are not present in a wilderness survival loadout. For example, most urban survival kits include a sillcock key. A sillcock key is unnecessary beyond the rural survival zone. Why? There are no commercial buildings with secured outside water faucets in the backcountry that require a sillcock key to access. It is common for urban survival kits to feature lock picking tools. Again, these are unnecessary in the deep backcountry for living off of the land. Lock picking tools assist in getting into buildings to obtain food, water, or shelter in an urban or suburban survival zone. The movie, World War Z, has a good representation of the importance of accessing a grocery store or hospital pharmacy during a societal collapse. Lock picking tools enable that activity. Some Observations About The Urban Environment Additionally, the urban environment offers some infrastructure that is not available to those living near or in the wilderness. Cities and towns provide a utility grid (gas, water, electricity), if operational, which allows access to potable water, refrigeration, communication, sanitation, and emergency medical care. Stable buildings offer shelter and protection from the weather, predation, and criminal activity. The main weaknesses with the urban environment are the available resources, like food, medicine, and water. In an urban collapse, such as that after Hurricane Katrina, those resources dwindle very quickly. It is estimated that major grocery stores only maintain about a 30-day supply of food and water. However, in a panic, the shelves and coolers in those same grocery stores will be stripped clean in 48 hours. I witnessed this in Virginia when a named snowstorm was going to hit our area in 2016. The local Kroger’s, down the street from my apartment, was a chaotic mess in two hours. You would have thought the zombie apocalypse was upon us. My oldest son was with me in the store. I pointed out the barren bread shelves to him. I told him that this is what happens when people fail to prepare. They become very selfish and animalistic towards others when they are fearful of their mortality. Therefore, the storage of essential necessities becomes crucial in an urban survival zone. The Wilderness Survival Approach The wilderness survival approach is the oldest of the methods. Wilderness or frontier survival is as old as humanity from the Otzi Iceman to the modern bushcrafter. As its name indicates, wilderness survival refers to surviving in an outdoor environment. There are different kinds of survival considerations for various outdoor activities. Wilderness survival preparation may be as sophisticated as a modern ultralight backpacking kit to an extended hunting trip into the Alaskan backcountry. It can also be as simplistic as employing the survival skills and tools of the Native Americans or the Mountain Men of the early 1800s. The Uniqueness Of The Wilderness Approach The outdoor environment offers its own set of unique characteristics influencing survival and preparedness. Outdoorsmen must be able to survive and sustain themselves in the field for extended periods in remote locations. There is nothing “remote” about the urban environment. Moreover, wilderness survival requires one to carry all of the survival necessities within the limitations of your pack, pack animal, or both. Furthermore, the wilderness survival approach implies being able to access and create essentials from natural surroundings. For example, flint napping a knife blade or spear point is not necessary for an urban context. Some Observations About The Wilderness Environment The main difference in wilderness survival kits and those for the urban environment are the tools. Those going into the outdoors need a fixed blade knife as their primary tool. Urban survival kits can function effectively with only a multitool. A fixed blade knife is a core item for bushcrafters and hunters. Ferro rods and strikers are the tools of choice for making fires in the backcountry. Whereas, urban survival kits usually feature a Bic Lighter. Thus, there are some differences in kit components to enable urban or wilderness survival. Some Final Thoughts Is it urban or wilderness? Your location and type of survival concern will dictate your requirements. However, for those living in the transition survival zones, it is prudent to take a hybrid or blended approach of both urban and survival techniques and kit mentality. Sigma 3 Survival School offers a great blend of both urban and wilderness survival training courses. It is best to avail yourself of that training if you are able. You may have to traverse multiple survival zones to get to safety during a mandatory evacuation. Therefore, it is wise to gain as much field time, formal training, and individual practice in both urban and wilderness survival skills within your budget and time limits. These will enhance your chances of a positive outcome in your survival situation. Further Reading SAS Urban Survival Handbook Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943 Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla Bushcraft: Outdoor Skills and Wilderness Survival The Buschcraft Bible Build the Perfect Bug Out Survival Skills: Your Guide to Emergency Wilderness Survival Survival: U.S. Army Field Manual (FM 21-76) The post Are You Ready? Urban And Wilderness Survival appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  13. Can you stay alive outdoors by assessing risks? The summer outdoor season sees an increase in reports about disappearances and accidents. A recent report from California discusses the disappearance of an experienced hiker at a campsite in the Bristlecone Pine Forest. She was later found alive after four days. The report reveals that she had to flee her location due to a threatening person. Another story relates the discovery of the body of a missing person on the Snake River in Wyoming. He was working at a KOA campsite. Outdoor activities can be great experiences. However, outdoor activities also have inherent risks. You should develop a risk assessment and reduction plan before you go on a wilderness adventure. The following principles can help you build your risk mitigation plan. 1. Assess the level of wilderness experience and field skills of yourself and others It is terrific to have a desire to spend time outdoors. There is an increasing number of people heading to the wilderness to hunt, hike, camp, or fish. The growing popularity of survival-related reality television programs and the rising interest in survival and preparedness are motivating people to get outdoors. However, the reality of being in the wilderness is different from how it is portrayed in the mass media. There is a danger of overconfidence in one’s abilities. It is prudent to be realistic in assessing the level of wilderness experience and field skills of yourself and those in your group. The less wilderness experience and skills that one has should be an indicator that they are a high risk to themselves and others. Therefore, it is imperative to take a partner with you into the outdoors. Your partner should be more experienced and have more field skills than you to compliment your weaknesses. As a matter of safety, you should never go into the wilderness by yourself regardless of how skilled and experienced you are with the outdoors. 2. Know the level of health and physical fitness of yourself and others. It is vital to know your level of health and physical fitness. Health and physical fitness play an important role in determining the kinds of activity and locations that one visits. For example, people with high blood pressure might have limitations as to the types of trails that they can trek on a backpacking adventure. 3. Understand the natural or man-made dangers of the area of activity One of the common characteristics of negative experiences in the outdoors is a lack of awareness of the risks. More specifically, there seems to be a lack of knowledge of the natural and man-made dangers in the area of activity. One type of natural hazard involves predatory animals, such as mountain lions or bears. Other inherent threats are those relating to the terrain such as cliffs, bodies of water, areas of deadfall, or unstable ground. Man-made dangers are those pertaining to human activity. These can comprise logging areas, areas of construction, or even previous criminal activity. 4. Analyze the local weather and weather anomalies of the area of activity Weather is a contributor to outdoor risks. There are reports of sudden fog, rain, or dropping of temperatures even in the summer months in some locations. It must be remembered that some local weather patterns cannot be found in a national or local forecast. The people who live near the area of your outdoor activity can provide useful information on local weather activity such as afternoon thundershowers. Analyzing the local weather traits will help make decisions about what to put in your backpack, such as rain gear or a light fleece jacket. 5. Identify the level of access to emergency help in the area of activity Sometimes people, who go outdoors, do not take into account the availability of emergency help. It is essential to have a good understanding of what kind of emergency help is available. Additionally, it is crucial to know how to access emergency help in your planned area of activity. The importance of knowing how to contact emergency help is a critical part of your outdoor planning. For example, one of the areas near me does not have a large number of park rangers. They tell you when you come into the park that most emergency help will be by airlift. They do not have the personnel or transportation available to come to your aid if you call for help. Thus, an expensive life flight to a local hospital awaits, should you dial for help. That kind of information influences your activity and what you have in your gear. Some wilderness areas have no cell phone access. How will you get help in an emergency? It is recommended that you develop a first-responder contact card. This card should have contact information for park rangers, first responders, and area hospitals. You should include emergency radio channels on the card if you are carrying a handheld ham radio two-way transceiver with you. Final Thoughts Risk reduction is an important skill to develop and exercise for those who love the outdoors. Your risk reduction plan has its limitations. However, without one, you may find your activity being less than enjoyable. Once you have identified the risks for your planned wilderness adventure, then develop and implement measures to reduce that risk. One of the best techniques to consider for risk reduction measures is the PACE plan. Additionally, your risk reduction plan should take into account the kind of activity (Mission), local and area dangers (Enemy), time of day, month or day (Time), the people involved (Troops), location (Terrain), and accesses to emergency help (Civilian Considerations). Once you have your risk mitigation plan complete, give a copy to whomever, you will be making your communication checks while you are outdoors. The post Can You Stay Alive? Assessing Outdoor Risks appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  14. Are there effective one tool options? The answer is that it depends on the intended use of your cutting instrument. Are bushcraft knives better than multitools? Are multitools better than bushcraft knives? It is essential to ensure that you have the appropriate tools for functioning effectively and efficiently in the outdoors. Most survival experts advise taking some type of cutting instrument with you into the field, such as a fixed blade knife. Comprehensive packing lists for backpackers and hunters consist of both a fixed blade knife and a multitool. However, what if you are limited to just one cutting option? The Bushcraft Knife Overview The bushcraft knife or an equivalent fixed blade knife is the tool of choice for most outdoorsman. The description of these knives are the one tool option to ensure survival and sustainment in the field. There are specific characteristics that define a quality bushcraft knife. Those features are as follows: Length of the Blade: 5-8 inches Type of Steel: D2 or 1095 HC Blade Spine: 90°, sharp-edged Coating of the Blade: None These features can be negotiable such as the case with the Morakniv® knives. The purpose of these knives is to allow a person to conduct various field tasks. The bushcraft knife blade is short enough to do small jobs like process firewood or carve traps. However, the blade is long enough to adequately process game or to function as a self-defense weapon, such as a spear. The Multitool Overview The multitool has grown in sophistication over the years. Most people’s first exposure to a multitool was either a Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman® PST. The origin of the multitool concept is with the pocket knife. The addition of multiple blades, can openers, or bottle openers as features on pocket knives reflect the multitool concept. The Boy Scout Pocket Knife was an early example of these kinds of pocket knives. However, contemporary multitools feature pliers, folding handles, with various tools that tuck into the handles. A folding blade and saw blade are often part of the modern multitool. Leatherman® and Gerber® are the largest manufacturers of contemporary multitools. The purpose of the modern multitool is to function as a compact toolbox for the handyman, mechanic, electrician, or other skilled laborers. Anglers and hunters saw that the contemporary multitool was an asset for their needs and began to use them. Thus, the multitool entered the outdoor world. The favorite features on a multitool for anglers and hunters are the pliers and knife blade. Yet, is the multitool a good one tool option for field survival? Bushcraft Knife verses A Multitool In The Field Processing Fish A recent experience of mine revealed the strengths and weaknesses of the single tool option concept. My son and I went fishing as part of a church activity in the Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico. We caught five small to average length trout. We had to cook them since we did not bring a cooler to keep them in for transportation back to the house. The cooler that I intended to take was unusable, and I did not have time to get another one before the trip. I did not have to gut the fish because the folks running the location did it for us as a complimentary courtesy for fishing in their private pond. As an experiment, I used my multitool to prepare the fish for cooking. I had my Leatherman® Sidekick® on me, so I proceeded to prepare the fish for cooking. My original intent was to fillet them to avoid my son having to eat any bones accidentally. That turned out to be a useless effort and was advised by a more experienced gentleman just to wrap them in aluminum foil and place them on the grill. This was a concept that was familiar with, so I finished preparing the other fish. After they were finished cooking, I ran into another issue, how do you effectively take the meat off and leave the bones? I decided to peel the meat off after cutting the heads and tails off of fish. The saw blade on the multitool was used to cut the heads and tails off. It quickly became evident why anglers have a filet knife in their tackle boxes. A multitool is not the most efficient tool to process fish of average size except for gutting them. Processing Game A more recent observation also reinforced the practical nature of a bushcraft knife as a one tool option over a multitool. The latest episode of the television show, Alone, shows a contestant with hunting experience attempting to process a full-sized moose with only a multitool. He successfully killed the moose with his bow and arrow. He later comments while processing the moose that he regretted not having his fixed blade knife on him. Most hunters take a game processing kit with them into the field. These kits have various blades for cutting, chopping, and skinning, as well as sawing bones. A multitool seems to have some of these features. However, the contestant quickly realized that the job of processing that kind of game with a multitool was a daunting effort. It took the contestant six hours to process the moose with his multitool and transport the meat to his bivouac location. Furthermore, as I was watching this unfold, it brought to remembrance some things that I have read or heard by outdoorsman about the bushcraft knife and its uses. Here is an excellent example of why frontiersman, trappers, and mountain men had the type of knives that they carried in the field. They found themselves having to process deer, elk, moose, or bear after hunting them. A two or three-inch knife blade or saw blade was not going to get the job accomplished. The contemporary outdoorsman is no different. Thus, as a one tool option, it would seem that the bushcraft knife is preferable to the multitool. Some Final Thoughts The bushcraft knife or the multitool as the one tool option? Which is best? The answer still comes down to what is your intended use for a cutting instrument. Most outdoor experts will advise carrying at least two or three kinds of cutting tools: a fixed blade knife, a folding knife, and a multitool. The folding knife and multitool are used for smaller tasks like fashioning fishing hooks, carving traps, or making primitive weapons. The fixed blade is used for the more significant functions beyond the campsite. However, if you are limited to just one of those three, a quality bushcraft knife seems to be the choice. The proper tool for the task is the best option of all. Yet, some people find themselves separated from their gear and only have what they are carrying on their belts. Keeping your fixed blade knife attached to your belt is a sure technique for having a knife when you need it. Thru-hikers, ultralight, and multiday backpackers tend to not carry things on the belts of their trousers or shorts. This is done for the comfort and to avoid getting sores rubbed on their body by the friction of the pack waist belt rubbing against their body and things attached to their belts. It would seem that a drop-leg approach to carrying a bushcraft knife might be an option in this scenario. Nevertheless, a quality bushcraft knife is the best one tool option for wilderness survival considerations. Therefore, shop around and find the bushcraft knife that works best for your needs. The post Effective One Tool Options? Bushcraft Knife verses Multitool appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  15. How to organize your emergency bag can be a daunting task. The building of a 72-hour emergency bag is the basic starting point for most preppers and survivalists. There are many opinions on the definitions of the various configurations for your pack or bag. A working definition for an emergency bag is one that has to keep you sustained for up to 72 hours in an emergency situation. The most common use for the 72-hour bag is in an evacuation situation due to a weather emergency. Some people call these the “Bug Out Bag” or BOB. Nevertheless, the emergency bag is a key part of your prepping strategy for any emergency scenario. In this article, I will discuss a way to understand your bag as a system of systems as you think about how to organize your loadout. 1. The Emergency Bag The first consideration in the system-of-systems approach is the backpack or bag itself. The bag will contain the other aspects of your emergency planning. These other aspects are the subsystems within the bag, such as your first-aid kit. Most experts advise building the smaller systems or kits and then find a bag or pack to contain them. It is important to remember that you will not be able to pack for every little emergency nuance. The bag or pack must be durable in its construction but also adaptable in its use. For example, a good bag or pack will be able to be used for most packing considerations and employed in most emergency scenarios. My article on six essential features of a quality backpack will be helpful to finding a decent pack. 2. The Tool System As we discuss the subsystems of the bag, one of the most important systems is the tool system. A basic tool system consists of a fixed blade, a folder, a multitool, and some wood processing tool like an ax or saw. However, your particular situation may not call for the use of all of those tools. A quality multitool and folding saw may be sufficient. Your emergency bag should contain some level of a tool system or kit. An urban or suburban environment may require some breaching or lock picking tools being added to your tool system. 3. The Fire Making System The second subsystem in your emergency bag should be your fire-making system or kit. This kit should have at least three ways to start an emergency fire. Most fire kits contain at least a butane lighter and a ferro rod. However, there are many with stormproof matches, magnesium rods, or flint-and-steel items. One of the best fire making systems on the market is the Sigma 3 Fire Kit. Moreover, tinder of some kind should be in your fire-making system, such as wet cubes or jellied-cotton balls. There are many options on the market for both a source of flame and tinder. In the end, your emergency pack should have a fire making system. 4. The Water Procurement System Another important system in your emergency bag should be water procurement system or kit. Sometimes these are called water processing kits. The water procurement system should enable you to collect and sanitize water. There are several ways to address these requirements. A basic water procurement system will have a filter straw and water treatment tablets. The water collection items can consist of a water bottle or canteen with a nesting cup or plastic bags. One of the best water procurement systems to consider is the Sigma 3 Water Kit. 5. The Food Procurement System The obtaining of food during an emergency is vital to staying healthy and alert. The recent earthquakes in California illustrate the importance of keeping food and water available during an emergency. This concept is also true of your emergency bag. An immediate evacuation order is no time to start thinking about food and water. It should already be part of your system. However, what happens when your Mountain House, Cliff Bars, or self-made food bags are consumed? It is important to think about the kinds of food procurement and processing methods to integrate into your emergency bag. Some simple traps or trapping items are good considerations. If fishing is available in your area, then a simple backpacking fishing pole and small fishing kit are excellent additions to your system. 6. The Shelter System Cover and shelter items are important to your overall emergency bag system. There are many videos on YouTube that demonstrate some options for cover and shelter. One of the best cover and shelter systems to integrate into your emergency bag are the Warbonnet Hammock and Tarp systems. They are compact and durable. However, the SOL Emergency Shelter is a good budget-friendly option as long as it is combined with other shelter items, such as a tarp or a GoreTex® bivy sack. Additionally, never forget that your clothing items are part of your shelter system. Thus, keep a change of clothes along with the appropriate seasonal outerwear in your emergency bag considerations. 7. The Sleeping System The sleeping system works in conjunction with your shelter and cover system. An emergency sleep system should contain a compact sleeping bag, a sleeping bag liner or bivy sack, and a sleeping pad. I, personally, keep a U.S. Army poncho liner on-hand in my bag as part of my sleep system. One of the best items to consider for your sleeping system is the U.S. Army Gore-Tex bivy sack from the Military Modular Sleep System (MSS). These will fit over most mummy-style sleeping bags. On the other hand, be careful about the sleeping pad that you consider. The self-inflating or inflatable mats are great for general use. However, they tend to tear and get pinholes over time, rendering them unusable. The U.S. Army sleeping pad is a good consideration for emergency purposes. It is reliable, durable, and can be used as a hasty splinting device if necessary. 8. The Communications System A reliable communication system is a must for your emergency bag. A good emergency communication system employs both passive and active communication methods. Most emergency bags contain at least an all-weather AM-FM radio, a signal mirror, and a blaze orange bandana. However, those with Ham Radio licenses will carry a handheld Ham Radio in their kit. Communication items vary from person-to-person along with regional or local considerations. Additionally, keeping some form of power such as a power bank or solar recharger should be in this system. The important thing to remember is to have some capability to signal for help in an emergency. 9. The First Aid System One of the most important systems that you can have in your emergency bag is a first aid system or medical system. Most first aid systems consist of an individual first aid kit (IFAK), a tourniquet, and a trauma kit. However, it is important to know what you will need for your personal and family as you create or purchase items for your first aid system. It is crucial to get first aid training to be able to render medical aid more effectively to someone with your kit. 10. Hygiene System The hygiene system is sometimes overlooked in some checklists that can be found on the internet. There is more to personal hygiene than keeping wet wipes in your bag. The U.S. and USMC require soldiers and marines carry personal hygiene items in their field packs. A basic personal hygiene system contains a razor, bar of soap, shaving cream, shampoo, and a washcloth. My kit consists of a disposable razor, and the following travel-sized items: a bar of soap, shaving cream, shampoo, toothbrush, mouth wash, and toothpaste. The additional items that I carry in my hygiene kit are finger and toenail clippers, dental floss, hand sanitizer, and wet wipes. Most of the hygiene items that work best in a hygiene system are in the travel section of the local Walmart, Target, or Walgreens. It is advisable to keep some flushable wipes or a roll of toilet paper in your bag. 11. The Maintenance System Another aspect of packing an emergency bag that is often overlooked is a maintenance and repair system. Gorilla tape or duct tape and a multitool can be part of the maintenance and repair system. However, most military maintenance and repair systems consist of a travel-size sewing kit with scissors. Some people recommend only carrying a heavy gauge canvas needle. What they do not tell you is that this needle is used in conjunction with braided fishing line, Kevlar string, paracord inner strands, or bank line strands. In essence, the carrying of a single canvas needle implies other sewing items are part of your loadout. 12. Security System Many people are interested in forms of personal security items such as firearms or non-lethal personal protection items. In an emergency evacuation situation, personal protection is a crucial part of emergency planning. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina demonstrates how vital it is to keep some form of personal security on you at all times. Thus, do not forget to add into your emergency bag some personal security options that are in compliance with local and federal laws. Final Thoughts Your emergency bag will help keep you sustained for a short period in an emergency. It will keep you going if you have to evacuate to an emergency shelter. There are other items to consider for your bag, such as cash and bartering items. Other things to consider are personal entertainment or morale items such a Bible, a book, or iPod. You will not be able to carry everything that you think you might need in your bag. Therefore, be both strategic and tactical about what items that you include in your system-of-system approach. Furthermore, be intentional and realistic about what you put in your bag. A well thought out emergency bag will be an asset during a crisis. The post How To Organize Your Emergency Bag appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article

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