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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. How to build an emergency fishing kit is important to outdoor survival? The spring and summer fishing season is in full swing. Many people are heading outdoors to enjoy camping, fishing, or hiking. A personal emergency kit is a critical item to have with you while outdoors. However, most advice about individual emergency kits gives little insight into a fishing kit. Trapping small game seems to be more prominent in personal survival kits than fishing. In this article, I will discuss how I made my emergency fishing kit. The emergency kit that I have developed for myself is one that works for me and is by no means the apex of all emergency fishing kits. It is functional and practical based on my needs. The kit is small so that it will fit in my pocket emergency survival kit. Moreover, it is tailored for the kinds of fish that are available in the areas that hike and backpack here in the southwest. You can take these principles and build your kit that is tailored to your outdoor context. 1. Container The container that I use to put the contents of my emergency fishing kit is a jewelry Ziploc bag that is 3 inches by 2 inches. These can be purchased at places like Hobby Lobby or Michael’s Arts and Crafts. If you wish to make your emergency fishing kit more comprehensive, then the Plano fishing accessory box or a surplus U.S. Army M258 Individual Decon Kit Container are great options to consider. As you think about the kind of container for your emergency fishing kit, there a couple of criteria to ponder when making this decision. First, is your fishing kit going to be part of a more significant loadout, such as being in a separate pouch in your backpack? Second, do you want your fishing kit to be part of your emergency kit? For me, I already carry a fishing kit in my backpack. I wanted a fishing kit small enough to fit in my emergency kit as part of my back up option. 2. Fishhooks The fishhooks that I use are three #4 Snell hooks by Eagle Claw®. I secure the hooks with transparent scotch tape. The line is then wrapped around itself into a small enough loop that it fits in the bag. My reasoning for using these hooks is because, in a field environment, my fingertips tend to get chapped pretty good. These hooks are more comfortable to employ with the use of a barrel swivel with a safety snap than trying to make a fisherman’s knot with sore fingertips. The key is getting the rod prepped before my fingers start to get chapped. Thus, in an emergency scenario, an essential task would be to secure a wood branch suitable for a fishing pole and get it set up as quickly as possible. In case, a pole cannot be obtained, then setting up a trotline is a second option. One optional consideration for hooks are the jig head hooks. These are special weighted hooks designed to be used in conjunction with soft bait lures such as worms or grubs. However, it is best not to get too fancy with your emergency fishing kit. If you choose to set up your kit to include lures, I would recommend only putting one or two jig head hooks of ¼ oz with a couple of grubs. 3. Fishing Line A good fishing line is a key to an effective fishing kit. I use 100 feet of the 65-pound test, braided line by Power Pro®. It must be remembered that survival fishing is different than sport fishing. Braided fishing line is the best for survival purposes because of its durability and the multitude of uses this kind of line gives a person in the field. My fishing line is wrapped around a plastic floss sewing bobbin. A lighter test line is an option, but this is what I use in my kit. 4. Leader Line One consideration to think about adding into your kit is a leader line to complement your fishing line and hooks. A nine to twelve-inch steel leader line is an average length for most fishing needs. However, for my kit, I use the 8-inch micro-leader from Eagle Claw® with a 12-pound test rating in my fishing kit. 5. Sinkers Sinkers in your emergency fishing kit give it the ability to set up different rigs based on your level of fishing aptitude. The weights to have in your emergency kit are the split shot sinkers. I have these in my kit because they are easily placed on the fishing line by just pinching them closed. There are no fancy knots to tie as with more heavier sinkers such as a swivel sinker. Split shot sinkers do not take up much space in my container. Therefore, I put three to four split shot sinkers in my emergency fishing kit. 6. Barrel Swivels w/Safety Snap A barrel swivel with a safety snap is a versatile item in your fishing kit. It will allow you to conserve your fishing line by letting you replace hooks without restringing your pole. They will also allow you to set up different rigs without cutting up your line. 7. Lures Lures are an interesting topic of discussion when it comes to personal emergency fishing kits. There are two basic categories of lures: soft lures and hard lures. The soft lures work best for small fishing kits like mine, such as the 2-inch grubs by Berkeley® or the Storm® WildEye™ Swim Shad. However, some of the hard lures are small enough to be a great option to consider, such as the Rapala® 1-inch minnow. The question of using fly lures for fly fishing comes up for an emergency fishing kit. Fly fishing is a special type of angling technique. If you are experienced with fly fishing and regularly catch fish with this technique, then it would not hurt to include a couple of fly lures in your kit. However, for those not proficient in fly fishing, it is recommended that you do not include fly lures in your kit. 8. Bobber Some premade emergency kits include floats or bobbers. However, having a float or bobber is not essential to getting the most out of your survival fishing kit. If you want to build a kit with a float or bobber, then the small, ¾ inch snap on ball floats would be sufficient. However, if your fishing rig requires a float, some options to consider would be a cork stopper for bottles. Bottle corks come in various sizes and can be purchased for a few dollars at a craft or hobby store. Furthermore, if you need a float for your rig, you can fashion one from any piece of wood found in the field. Final Thoughts The summer months in the outdoors brings its unique set of survival concerns. Those living in areas where freshwater fishing is plentiful understand the value of angling for food. Backpackers and hikers also enjoy a good time fishing while on the trail. An emergency fishing kit is a must for the outdoors. A person that becomes lost or separated from their gear will have a survival edge with a small fishing kit in their emergency kit. Thus, as you reflect on the suggestions above, keep in mind your needs and level of experience. Therefore, experiment and tailor your kit to your needs. The post How To Build An Emergency Fishing Kit appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  5. Excellent ways to effectively manage your cordage are easily available. The effectively management of cordage is an ongoing problem for most people. Cordage can become tangled and knotted even with the best of intentions of not allowing to happen. The problem exists regardless if you have sewing string or climbing rope. I have experienced the frustration of attempting to keep my cordage neatly wound and secured only for it become a mess after several uses. However, in this article I will discuss some tips and tricks that will help you effectively manage your cordage. Sewing String to Parachute Cord Management 1. Stainless Steel Sewing Bobbins Stainless steel sewing bobbins are a wonderful way to store your sewing string, braided fishing line, or Kevlar™ line in your emergency kit. Sewing bobbins also come in plastic. Plastic bobbins are not recommended because they are not durable in a field environment. Plastic also has the quality of drying out and becoming brittle in hot dry climates. Thus, the stainless steel sewing bobbins are the best way to effectively manage the cordage in your emergency kit like twine, strings, or fishing line. Advantages The primary advantage of a stainless steel sewing bobbin is that it gives a compact and durable way to manage your small diameter cordage like braided fishing line. Stainless steel is the best material for field use because of its corrosion resistance. Another advantage of using this type of bobbin is easy of storage in smaller containers like Altoid® tins or small pouches for your personal emergency kit. Disadvantages The most glaring disadvantage of using the stainless steel bobbin is the limited amount of cordage that can be stored on them. Thus, the stainless steel bobbin an ideal option for effectively managing your cordage such as braided fishing line, jute twine, or sewing thread. 2. Plastic Floss Bobbins Plastic floss sewing bobbins are thin plastic squares that on which small amounts of sewing sting are stored. Most people have seen the paper bobbins that come in the complementary sewing kits given by some hotels. The plastic bobbins work well for small personal emergency kits. I use these to wrap my braided fishing line in my emergency fishing kit. I also have wrapped my 25 feet of Kevlar™ cord on these bobbins. The use of the plastic floss bobbins works well for storing in my EDC personal emergency kit in my ALokSak® bag. Advantages The primary advantage of using the plastic floss bobbin is compact storage. As stated above, plastic is not the best material for the field. However, for storage in small containers or pouches, these are an effective way to manage your string-type cordage. Disadvantages The obvious disadvantage of the plastic floss bobbin is its limited capacity to hold cordage. Another disadvantage of the plastic floss bobbin is that it will crack or break easy if handled in a harsh manner. Yet, despite their disadvantages, the plastic floss bobbin is a great alternative of effectively managing your cordage. 3. Spool Tool™ The managing of your parachute cordage can be an especially aggravating effort. The TricornE™ company in San Diego, California has an innovative device for storing up to 100 feet of parachute cord. It is called the Spool Tool™. This is a hard plastic device that features a holder for a Bic® Mini lighter and a cord cutter. I use one of these to store my paracord in my backpack. These are great for people who have not mastered the art of coiling and tying off paracord for storage. Advantages The main advantage of the Spool Tool™ is the ease of storing up to 100 feet of paracord. Another advantage of this device is that it has a cutting device and fire making capability. These features make the Spool Tool™ a versatile item to consider for your pack loadout. Disadvantages A disadvantage of the Spool Tool™ is that it can be bulky with 100 feet of paracord. Therefore, 75 feet of paracord works best with this item. A second disadvantage of the Spool Tool™ is that replacing the razor cord cutting blade can be tricky in the field. The two small screws that hold the blade cover and blade in place can be lost if one is not careful. 4. Atwood Tactical Rope Dispenser One of the more innovative products to come along for storing parachute cord is the Tactical Rope Dispenser by the Atwood Rope Manufacturing Company in Ohio. This is a practical item to consider when storing your paracord. As with the Spool Tool™, the Tactical Rope Dispenser is another great way to effectively manage your cordage. Advantages The Tactical Rope Dispenser is advantageous for its ease of storing and dispensing parachute cord. The TRD features a built-in cord cutter, similar to the Spool Tool™. Moreover, it also comes with a belt clip and small notches for holding the loose end of the cord. It is also easy to refill the spool with more parachute cord. Disadvantages One of the disadvantages of the Tactical Rope Dispenser is that it has a limited storage capacity of 50 feet. 50 feet of paracord is sufficient for most backpackers and hikers. However, those who spend more time outdoors usually need up to 100 feet of cord. Another disadvantage of this product is that refilling the spool can be difficult in the field. Thus, it is best to purchase two Tactical Rope Dispensers. One for regular use and one for a back up in case you run out of cord in the field. Climbing Rope Management The next level of cordage to consider managing is climbing rope. It is sometimes called assault line or repelling rope. Some experts in the field of emergency preparedness recommend keeping 50 to 100 feet of climbing rope. However, employing climbing and repelling techniques in an emergency should only be accomplished by those experienced in those skill sets. However, methods to effectively manage rope-type cordage is a consideration for some. Therefore, the following tips are given to help with managing climbing rope. 1. The Alpine Coil The alpine coil is one of the more common techniques for managing climbing rope. This technique also can be used with parachute cord. The technique is a simple coiling and then wrapping for security as illustrated in the picture. The alpine coil also can result in the rope looking like a figure eight with a wrapped middle. There are many sources on the internet and on YouTube® that demonstrate how to employ this technique. Advantage The alpine coil has the advantage of being simple. There are no complicated knotting sequences to remember with its use. As a result, the alpine coil allows for ease of storage on the outside of one’s backpack by securing it with a carabiner. Thus, this technique should be used by those just learning rope management. Disadvantage The disadvantage with the alpine coil is that it does not totally resolve the tangling concern after the wrap is loosed. A climbing rope can tend to kink and coil on itself when it is being stretched out for employment, which results in tangling. Therefore, care should be taken when unraveling the rope to prevent tangling. 2. The Butterfly Coil The butterfly coil is a rope management technique a little more complicated than the alpine coil. However, this technique works best with longer lengths of rope, usually over 100 feet. The butterfly coil allows the rope to be carried on the outside of a pack or on someone’s back as illustrated in the picture. A rope coiled and wrapped in this manner will look like there is a loop securing the rope at the top. As with the alpine coil, one can find this technique being demonstrated on YouTube®. This rope management technique is for those more experienced climbers who use this method regularly for rope management. Advantages A major advantage of the butterfly technique is that it does resolve the tangling concern. As the rope is being coiled it employs an s-style back-and-forth fold. This helps the rope to be easily employed with out tangling after the securing wrap is loosed. Disadvantage The biggest disadvantage of the butterfly coil method is that it requires some practice to get a rope correctly secured in this manner. The initial moves of the coil are simple. However, when the rope is going to be secured by the butterfly knot, there are some more hand movements necessary to complete the technique. Therefore, this management method should only be used by those after they have practiced it enough to be proficient with it. Final Thoughts This article has been a little more lengthy than normal. Yet, it is hoped that it has been informative. The topic of cordage management is one that will continue to occupy discussions around the outdoor and prepping world. The importance of storing cordage and keeping it from getting tangled is a concern for all who love the outdoors. Thus, it is my desire that this article will motivate further thought on this topic. The post Excellent Ways To Effectively Manage Your Cordage appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  6. Have you ever heard about how to create a tactical land navigation kit? Land navigation is critical to emergency wilderness survival. The U. S. Army has a vested interest in the vital skill of moving on the battlefield. Navigation over familiar and unfamiliar terrain in all types of weather conditions during daylight or evening hours makes our military a formidable force. An essential element of this task is training individual soldiers, Commissioned Officers, Warrant Officers, and Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) to be proficient at land navigation with a map, compass, and map protractor. Our sergeants prohibit the use of GPS devices during individual training on land navigation. One of the techniques that I picked up in my military career was to have a personal land navigation kit in your rucksack as part of your packing list. It was during my time at Fort Benning, Georgia, that this technique first came to my awareness. Leaders are to be ready at all times to plot accurate map coordinates, mark accurate azimuths, and calculate and covert map and compass azimuths at all times. Of course, some did that better than others, as the old puns demonstrate regarding “butter bars” and land navigation. I still have my land navigation kit. It continues to have the original items that I used over the years. In this article, I will discuss how you can create your own Land Navigation Kit. The Pouch Spec-Ops Brand® Pack Rat Drop-In Organizer The starting point for creating your land navigation kit is to purchase a tactical administrative pouch. The one that I use is the Spec-Ops Brand® Pack Rat Drop-In Organizer pouch. It has been around for a while and is now only offered in two colors: Black and Multicam®. The one that I used was initially in olive drab, and then I changed it out for the ACU digital camouflage version. This pouch is a little bulky for the average outdoorsman. However, it holds all of the items that I will identify for the packing list. Description: 10” high, 7.25” wide x 3” thick. Total Capacity: 217.5 cubic inches. The Packing List 1. Staedtler® Lumocolor® Permanent Markers, Super Fine Point The Staedtler company makes the most excellent tools and equipment for draftsman, architects, and engineers. These markers are unique for using with laminated topographic maps. The recommendation for using permanent markers is that the ink will not run or bleed when it gets wet. Thus, this makes these markers and valuable tool for marking maps in rainy or wet conditions outdoors. The super fine tip is excellent for making small marks and notes on a laminated map. For example, if you find a stream that is not on your map, the blue super fine tip marker can be used to mark it. You can also make small notes and labels near key terrain features as you navigate over your chosen route. 2. Staedtler® Lumocolor® Permanent Markers, Fine Point These fine point markers from Staedtler are superb for making larger notes or markings on your map. These markers are great for marking roads or trails or other larger items on your map. The eight-count pack has all of the colors usually associated with maps. The fine-point and super fine-point markers are valuable writing instruments for your land navigation kit. Note: Staedtler also makes an alcohol marker for removing lines and marks made with these pens. Thus, you can purchase this item if you are going to use permanent markers. Additionally, some people like to use hand sanitizer to remove lines, markings, or notes from their laminated maps. 3. Staedtler® Lumocolor® Permanent Marker 350 Wide Chisel Tip The Staedtler broad-tip makers are great for marking tactical or operational boundary lines on a map. However, there is little application for tactical markings on a civilian map. So why the wide-tip markers? These markers are a great back up in case you need to make notes on objects like rocks if you become lost in the wilderness. The waterproof qualities of these markers allow them to be used as an alternative to the Sharpie® Industrial Permanent Markers. 4. MGRS-UTM Map Protractor Map protractors are a must if you have a topographic map. My kit has typically at least three protractors. My kit has at least three protractors stored in the interior pocket of the pouch. You should always carry extra map protractors. If you are not sure about which ones to purchase, check out my previous article on map protractors. 5. ACCO® Banker’s Clasps Banker’s clasps are used to hold your map to a map board. Some people still use map boards. These are exceptional items to help keep your map or other things in place. An alternative to these clasps is paper binder clips. Paper binder clips have other uses besides holding a map to a map board. However, I used the clasps during my military career, and they were great for my land navigation needs. 6. Westcott® Metal Ball Bearing Compass with Pencil A pencil compass has limited applications outside of military map use. They are useful items for drawing arcs from a known point. The military use for a pencil compass is to identify distances and ranges from a known location, like your patrol base. However, there are a few instances where these would be helpful to land navigation for civilians. The most likely use would be to draw a communications arc for your handheld radio (HHR) from your bivouac site or bugout location on your map. Another use for the pencil compass is to help determine the range for line-of-site (LOS) considerations. Additionally, the golf pencil on the compass can be a backup writing utensil in an emergency. 7. Zebra® M-701 Stainless Steel Mechanical Pencil A Zebra mechanical pencil has its best use on a non-laminated paper map. The permanent markers mentioned above will smudge or bleed through a paper map. The mechanical pencil is useful for drawing accurate azimuth lines and plotting grid points. It is also helpful for making marks or notes on the map as you use it. 8. Zebra® F-701 Ballpoint Stainless Steel Retractable Pen The Zebra® pens are the best on the market for general use considerations. As with the mechanical pencil, the ballpoint pen is best for making notes and lines on a paper map. It also can be an emergency writing device should you need one. The other advantage of a ballpoint pen is that the ink is waterproof. A good alternative for the Zebra® is the Skilcraft U.S. Government pen. 9. Sharpie® Accent Pocket-Style Fluorescent Yellow Highlighters The next item in the land navigation kit is a yellow highlighter. The highlighter is a versatile item. It not only highlights important or critical information on your map, but it also glows in the dark when a blue-filtered light shines on the marked item (Tscherne, “A Map Marker Lighter,” Ranger Digest No. VII, Paradise, CA: Loose Cannon, 2017, 117). Incidentally, this technique does work. I tried it by highlighting something on a note card that I had laying around my office and using the blue filter on my L-light flashlight. Final Comments A land navigation kit is a great item to consider adding to your loadout. The kit discussed in this article is a little bulky for most outdoorsman. However, I would recommend that you use this article to come up with your own user-friendly land navigation kit. The items in this kit have been used in a multitude of environments and scenarios. They work for their intended purposes and help make the task of map reading and land navigation more efficient. Therefore, enjoy experimenting with your own personalized land navigation kit. The post How To Create A Tactical Land Navigation Kit appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  7. Act now! 3 amazing learning opportunities at Sigma 3 Survival School. Have you ever wanted to know how to establish your own successful survival school? Maybe, you have wanted to know more about wild edible and medicinal plants? Perhaps, you have desired to know more about survival but could not attend a full survival course? Now, the leadership of Sigma 3 Survival School is making available three great learning opportunities for you to improve your survival knowledge and business understanding. 1. The Outdoor Business Mentorship Program The Outdoor Business Mentorship Program is a 6-month long certification program. You will live in the outdoors with the owner of the school and the lead instructor of SIGMA 3 Survival School, Rob Allen, and Josh Hamlin. Moreover, this learning opportunity will teach you everything you need to know about how to build a successful outdoors business and build an online following! Also, you will complete our 45 Day Survival Instructor Program while you are in the program. Additionally, you will help run the day to day operations of SIGMA 3! Consequently, this learning opportunity will show you how to operate a successful outdoors business. Thus, by the time you complete the program, you will have a comprehensive set of business skills that will enable you to start your own successful company or open your own SIGMA 3 Satellite location. What is the reason for the success of SIGMA 3, where others have failed? Here are a few reasons: Vast experience with social media and building an online following. Understanding Search Engine Optimization and how to get found on Google! Making high-quality YouTube® videos, DVD’s, and other video production skills. Understanding how to manipulate search algorithms and get more social media attention. For free! Using Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube® to your advantage to provide cheap traffic to your website. The owner has created numerous successful companies and can give you all the info you need to start your own! 2. Two Weekend Survival Workshops The Edible And Medicinal Plants Walk The Edible and Medicinal Plants Walk is a one-day familiarization course about wild edible and medicinal plants. It is a learning opportunity to increase your knowledge about plants. Moreover, the Edible and Medicinal Plants Walk is a 3-part series. It is taken individually in all the different seasons so that students learn the cycle of plants in their area. As such, the instructors will show you how to identify and harvest these natural resources. Additionally, the instructors of the Sigma 3 Survival School will cover the 50 most common plants in the local area of the school and in North America. Furthermore, the Edible and Medicinal Plants course is a hands-on course. Therefore, you will participate in walks within several different types of ecosystems. Thus, these walks will show you how to find food in almost any environment. Moreover, students will have the opportunity to taste the identified plants. As a result, you will not only learn the edible uses, but also the medicinal, practical and various bushcraft uses of wild plants. Consequently, this learning opportunity will overwhelm you with the amount of information that you will receive. Therefore, you should bring enough writing material to take plenty of notes for later reference. Topics covered include: Learning plant family identification patterns At least 50 different edible/medicinal plants How to prepare plants for edibility Cordage plants and useful bushcraft plants Medicinal Plant applications: treating cuts, anti-diarrheal, making primitive quick clot, stopping bleeding, purgatives, anti-fungal, stimulating the immune system, skin cancers, hygiene/cleansing agents, tannic acid uses, plants with salicin (aka aspirin), laxatives, and much more! What books to buy and how to start wildcrafting This course will cover the basics of identification and procurement. Afterwards, if you want to upgrade your skills, we recommend taking the Herbal Medic course or the Wild Crafter courses. The Weekend Survivor Course The Weekend Survivor Course is for the people who cannot take off time from their employment to attend the more lengthy, multiple week survival classes! We want to be sensitive to respect your time with family and time for vacations. So, Rob Allen and Josh Hamlin came up with a learning opportunity to train you on the standard course skills in a series of weekend classes. As such, these courses will instruct you on the highlights of the more lengthy standard courses. Furthermore, our instructors will teach at a pace so that you can absorb the information. Additionally, Those living within driving distance of the Sigma 3 Survival School, now, can use their free weekends to increase their survival training and experience. While anyone can take the courses, its best suited for people within a 3-hour drive. This series of classes will cover all the highlights of our Standard Courses, in a much shorter time frame. Furthermore, they will ensure you can absorb and replicate all the skills that you are taught. This course is 100% HANDS ON and in the field training. No power point, no classroom, only real dirt time! And you can bring your kids for cheap too! Shelter and Water: Weekend 1 Fire Making: Weekend 2 Wild Plants: Weekend 3 Primitive Trapping & Fishing: Weekend 4 Primitive Tools & Navigation: Weekend 5 Scout Survivor Mini: Weekend 6 Some Final Thoughts There is always room for improving your survival skills and experience. Sigma 3 Survival School is offering some outstanding learning opportunities for you and your family to become more adept in survival techniques. You will not be disappointed by the level of training that you will receive through these learning opportunities. Whether you are looking to start your own survival school or just strengthen some areas in your survival skills, Rob Allen and Josh Hamlin will empower and equip you for success. The post Act Now! 3 Amazing Learning Opportunities At Sigma 3 Survival School appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  8. There are 4 tips to consider for decisions about EDC options. My wife and I, recently, were discussing the topic of Everyday Carry (EDC). That conversation became the motivation to write this article. Prepping and survivalist interest is growing. Consequently, there are many people new to the jargon and concepts they are seeing on the internet. Therefore, it is helpful to keep in mind these four tips when considering what to carry for your EDC loadout. Tip # 1: Assess Your Daily Environment The first tip about EDC options is to assess your daily environment. The environment in which you will function everyday is the foundation for considering your EDC options. The world that we live in is not homogenous. My particular daily situation does not have the same nuances as someone else’s environment. Some people live and work in the suburbs, like Poway, California. Other people live in rural areas away from daily access to the high energy of a big city. Still, others live and commute within a highly urbanized metroplex, like Los Angles, New York, St. Louis, or Dallas-Fort Worth. A particularly challenging daily environment to assess is one in which a person commutes long distances between work and home. I remember hearing about a professional athlete in California, who travels almost two hours, one-way, every day between his home and place of work during the season of his chosen sport. Thus, a person like that will have a unique set of EDC considerations. Therefore, it is essential to assess your daily environment. As you assess your environment, you will want to ask and answer some crucial questions about your situation: What is the level of crime in my area? What is the most common kind of crime in my area? How often will I be away from home? How much and how far will I commute every day? What is the type of transportation that I will use every day; car, bus, subway, train, taxi, carpool, airline? What is the nature of the traffic in my area (easy, hard, frequent traffic jams, etc.)? If you can answer some of these basic questions, then you may find yourself drifting into a discussion about getting home. Thus, you should be very thorough in assessing your daily environment. Tip # 2: Assess Your Level of Readiness The next important EDC tip in your item considerations is to assess your level of readiness. How physically fit are you? Do you have handicaps that require special equipment? Have you included an EDC, prepping, or survival line-item in your yearly budget? How proficient are you in self-defense, handling firearms, or using non-lethal weapons such as pepper spray? The point here is not to imply that you should shore up your weaknesses. Instead, these are influences in determining what items you should be considering for your everyday carry loadout. For example, if you have never handled a firearm, you have no business carrying one until you get properly trained and licensed to carry it. If you have never had martial arts training with knives and weapons, then you have no business carrying a karambit knife because an internet personality demonstrated using one. Furthermore, how often on a daily basis will you be employing the things you desire to carry? Therefore, assessing your level of readiness should determine what you include in your EDC loadout. Tip # 3: Assess The Practicality Of Your EDC Item Considerations A third EDC tip concerns practicality. Now that you have assessed your environment and your readiness, you can now begin to think about what items to consider for your EDC loadout, in essence what are your needs? An important principle to remember is what works for someone else may not work for you. For example, some people carry an EDC backpack. There are many videos on the internet discussing what to pack in an EDC backpack. Remember the keyword in Everyday Carry is everyday. How practical is an EDC backpack to your situation? It might be overkill, especially if you are at your suburban house most of the day. Furthermore, the practicality of your items will be influenced by your level of familiarity with them. Multitools are a favorite everyday carry item that you find as a recommendation on the internet. Yet, how often will you use something like that everyday? I remember in the military the only people carrying multitools every day were our vehicle mechanics. Why? They are fixers in their hearts. Thus, they discover that they need to carry a multitool. They need to be ready to repair, fix, attach, or detach something, even when they are not under a vehicle. Their experience dictates that they carry a multitool. Therefore, assess the practicality of your items along with your needs or requirements. Do not put something in your EDC loadout that you will never use or will hardly use on any given day. Everyday carry items are intended for regular or frequent use. By definition, they are not for an emergency survival SHTF scenario. For example, I saw someone on YouTube recommending an ankle-mounted first aid kit as an EDC item. First aid kits or trauma treatment items, such as tourniquets, are, technically, emergency items. It is crucial for those off-duty medical professionals and first responders to carry emergency medical kits as everyday carry items. However, for the general public, emergency medical items should be part of your individual emergency survival kits. Furthermore, your personal emergency survival kit should be part of your EDC loadout. Tip # 4: Learn The Art Of Modifying Your EDC Items The fourth EDC tip is learning the art of modifying your EDC items. Many people are carrying a multitude of items on any given day. As you are assessing your daily environment and item needs, remember to be flexible. As you carry your items, you become used to them to the point of not noticing that they are on you. Then, you find yourself having to travel via airline, bus, or train. Suddenly, you are facing a TSA officer screening you, and you forgot to place your multitool or folder in the checked baggage. Now you lost that $180 Benchmade Griptillian folder or $100 Leatherman Center-Drive multitool even after putting them in the bin to go through the x-ray machine. Limit your “oops” moments by learning to modify your EDC loadout for each situation. A good practice to employ in the art of modification is layering up or down according to the need. In the military, you are trained to modify your clothing as the climate dictates. Layering your clothing is an essential technique for the winter months and in cold weather conditions. This same technique can apply to EDC considerations. You may find yourself not carrying some items on the weekend. They are simply not needed. Similarly, you may find yourself adding items if you go out of town for the weekend with your family. Concluding Comments Everyone carries some kind of an EDC item, such as a wristwatch or wallet. However, as we consider carrying items beyond the obvious, it is essential to be thoughtful, diligent, and practical about what you include in your EDC loadout. There are at least three conventional approaches to EDC philosophy: EDC as items of regular or frequent use, EDC as items for personal defense, or EDC as items for emergency survival. Some advocates blend elements of all of these and call it Everyday Carry. The environment in which you operate and your level of readiness will determine what you carry daily. Remember that there is always room for improvement. So, choose your EDC items wisely and continue to improve your knowledge and experience. As a result, you will modify and enhance the things you carry with you every day The post 4 Tips To Consider For Decisions About EDC Options appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  9. There are three outstanding map protractors to consider for your land navigation needs. Land navigation is an essential part of both emergency survival and enjoying the outdoors. Many people prefer to use GPS devices such as those from Garmin®. Other people prefer to use some kind of GPS and Map application on their smartphone or tablet. However, land navigation with a paper topographic map can be cumbersome without the aid of a map protractor and a compass. Therefore, it is good to know the two basic kinds of map protractors. Map protractors have some essential functions regardless of their calibrated scale. The three primary functions of protractors for map reading are plotting points on a map, measuring distances and determining azimuths (angles). They are helpful tools for navigating on air, land, or sea. There are different types of protractors for each of these applications. This article will focus on those protractors used with land navigation and topographic maps. 1. Military Map Protractor Description The most recognizable map protractor is the one that is in use with the U.S. military. They are scaled to the Military Grid Reference System (MGRS). They use the metric system for measuring distance and feature both compass degrees and mils around the edges. These protractors are for use with the military topographic maps. This style of the protractor is available on the civilian market. However, some are scaled for commercial maps, like a UTM map, rather than military maps. Also, you can find military protractors sometimes being sold in military surplus stores. The significant difference between the genuine military protractors and the civilian copies is labeling. There is a label on the military-issued ones that reads something like this: GTA 05-02-012, June 2008 DEPARTMENT of the ARMY GRAPHIC TRAINING AID Title: COORDINATE SCALE AND PROTRACTOR There are military style map protractors available by civilian vendors online. However, they are prohibited by law from putting the above label on them. Why? Because once a company does that, the product becomes the property of the U. S. government. Since they may not be under contract with the Department of the Army to supply these products, they would be in violation of the law if they put the U. S. Army label on them. Primary Use Moreover, military protractors and maps are for use in training and operations. Thus, genuine military protractors and military topographic maps have to be updated often. The purpose of these updates is to account for the changes in the magnetic declination of the earth. For example, if you have a genuine military protractor with a date from the 1990s, it may not be as accurate as one with a more current date. For civilian use, this factor is not as critical to land navigation. 2. UTM Map Protractor Description A commercial version of the military map protractor is the UTM map protractor. UTM stands for Universal Transverse Mercator. UTM is based on the metric grid square system of measuring distance. It has similarities with the MGRS system. These protractors have two basic styles: the military style and the nautical style. The maritime version of this protractor incorporates both topographic map scales and marine navigation tools. The sailing version looks complicated to read. However, it is not that much different than the military MGRS protractor. Primary Uses The UTM map protractor is most useful with civilian topographic maps, such as the ones that you can purchase from map stores. In some cases, the UTM protractor can be used with non-topographic maps. However, these protractors may not be compatible with your typical road atlas map book. So be careful about how you use one of these protractors on maps purchased at your local store. UTM maps and protractors are mostly used for hiking and backpacking. A common way of reading UTM coordinates is “Northing and Easting.” UTM squares are further divided into kilometers similar to the MGRS system. UTM is similar but different from the MGRS system in the way that it is read and annotated on a map. 3. Corner Rulers Description The third kind of map protractor are the corner ruler protractors. These look similar to the UTM and MGRS military-style protractors. However, some of the features are different. Corner Ruler protractors do not have any compass degree markings around the edges. Next, the grid-square scale is upside down. They are designed to find a coordinate with a known grid quickly. They are not intended to find grid azimuth readings on a map and route plotting. Primary Use The Corner Ruler map protractor has a primary use in two applications: aerial photography and adventure racing. Their use for aerial photos is to quickly find a point on the photo within an identified grid square. Adventure racers operate on predetermined routes. Therefore, they do not need a tool that helps them traverse over open terrain by plotting a course. They just need a protractor to help find where they are on a known grid-square. Some Final Thoughts Map reading and land navigation are vital skills for those who love the outdoors. It is also an essential skill for emergency survival. I have found that some trail maps that are available at a trailhead or ranger station are little more than sketches. They are not to scale and are not very accurate. If this is your only map in your backpack and you get lost, a map like that might be your worst enemy. It is vital to have an up-to-date and accurate topographic map of the area you are operating in. Along with that map, you should also have an excellent manual compass and map protractor. The MGRS and UTM protractors are the two most common kinds of protractors available. Some companies sell map protractors with both MGRS and UTM scales. Therefore, shop around and find the protractor that you are most comfortable. Then, use it regularly with your hard-copy topographic map. The post Three Outstanding Map Protractors appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  10. Emergency signal planning considerations are essential to experiencing a great time outdoors. They are also crucial for ensuring that you will be discovered in an emergency situation. In a previous article, I discussed the PACE method. Initially, the PACE technique was a planning tool for ensuring communications were available to military leaders. A more frequent use of the PACE method is to help someone determine the most critical assets or capabilities required to keep activity or mission going when everything else has failed. Signaling is part of communication capability. When we think of signaling, we think someone flagging down a passing car or a search-and-rescue helicopter. However, emergency signal planning is more involved than a simple wave of a handkerchief in a desperate moment. It involves careful and intentional thought. The same is true for the other aspects of survival. Emergency signal planning is more than having access to multiple signaling devices in your backpack or emergency bag. The following planning techniques should help you better address your signaling requirements. 1. Establish A Communication Plan A communication plan is the starting point for addressing emergency signal requirements. How are you going communicate when out on the trail, hunting in the backcountry, or deep sea fishing several miles offshore? A communication plan should include two things: reporting times and methods. Survival experts advise telling someone when and where you are going. You should also let them know how often you will be contacting them while gone. Another aspect of a good communication plan is developing an emergency plan. For example, what are your friends or family supposed to do if you fail to contact them at the agreed time? This means developing and publishing a communication plan that covers these concerns. 2. Passive and Active Signaling Method The first consideration of emergency signaling is to address passive and active signaling methods. It is vital to have both a passive and an active method of signaling in an emergency. Military pilots around the world usually have passive and active means to signal for rescue. Active signaling methods are those methods that require physical effort to use, such as a flare gun or signal mirror. Passive signal methods are those that you deploy and leave. Then, they will continue to communicate in your absence, such as an arrow made of rocks, trail marking tape, or a personal locator beacon. The most effective emergency signals employ both an active and passive means of communication. The idea is that the more ways that you have to make contact with someone through visual, hearing, and smelling, you increase your chances of being found in an emergency. The survival and emergency planning literature implies that you use these methods by the items that they list for an emergency kit. However, they do not always make it obvious that this is the reason that they recommend and flashlight and a notepad. 3. Day and Night Signaling Method Another signaling method to consider integrating into your emergency plan is day and night signaling methods. These considerations are often overlooked in signal planning. We think that we will only be rescued just before lunchtime. However, many rescues can occur in the evening hours. Thus, it is to your advantage to address both day and night time emergency signaling methods. An example of a daytime signaling technique is a signal mirror. A signal mirror is only useful when the sun is up. An example of a nighttime signaling method is a personal emergency strobe light, engaging the strobe feature on your headlamp, or twirling a chem-light on some 550 parachute cord. Therefore, remember to integrate some kind of day and night signaling method into your next outdoor activity. 4. Near and Far Signaling Method The next method to consider including in your emergency signaling plan is a near and far method. The near and far signaling method is most often used in tactical environments when stealth needs to be maintained. However, it is still an option to consider integrating into your signal plan. An example of a far-signaling method would be a horn blast from your vehicle, the report from discharging your firearm, or employing an aerial flare. The point of this method is to make your whereabouts known as far away from your position as possible so a rescue team can get to you more quickly. A signal fire is also a type of far signaling technique. A near-signaling method is a little more complicated. The most common near signal method is your voice. Yelling out to those approaching your position will tip them to your exact location, especially at night. However, some near signal methods incorporate infrared light and night vision equipment. A more field expedient method for a near-signal method is hitting on a tree trunk with a stick. Some other near-signal techniques involve hand-held radios and the squelch function on the transmitter button of the microphone. 5. Voice and SMS Communication Methods Finally, the next method to consider in your emergency signaling plan is voice and SMS communications. The most common item that employs both voice and SMS texting is your smartphone. However, some communication devices only use voice or SMS texting. The PACE method is a great tool to determine what you should carry to your outdoor activity. An example of a communication device that uses only voice communications is a handheld radio, ham radio, or citizen’s band (CB) radio. These come in various sizes and qualities. An example of a purely SMS communication device would be a Garmin inReach or SPOT device. The advantages of the SMS devices are that they can send an emergency signal with your geolocation data via satellite to first responders. Therefore, as you develop your emergency signal plan do not overlook voice and SMS emergency communication devices. In Summary Comprehensive emergency signal planning starts with a thorough communication plan. These five areas of consideration for emergency signaling will significantly enhance your outdoor communication efforts. The PACE technique will help you build redundancy into your plan. Thus, combining these five considerations with the PACE planning tool will give you an excellent emergency communication plan that may save your life or the lives of others around you. It is an excellent time of the year to enjoy the outdoors. Avoid becoming a statistic by developing and implementing an emergency signal and communication plan. Be safe, be prepared, and enjoy the outdoors. The post Emergency Signal Planning That Will Save Your Life appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  11. There are 3 excellent water filtration options to keep you hydrated this summer. A recent news story relates how a couple hiking in California got lost for five days. They drank water using a LifeStraw® filtration straw to filter water from natural water sources in their area. The story underscores the importance of having a way to purify water while outdoors. Water is one of the four component elements of survival. It is especially important to stay hydrated during the spring and summer. Our outdoor planning should include addressing the need for obtaining fresh drinking water. A water filtration device is an excellent way to ensure that you can have drinking water when enjoying the outdoors. Here are three of the best water filtration devices to consider including in your packing list. 1. Sawyer® MINI One of the most popular and versatile water filtration items that one can own is the Sawyer® MINI water filter. You cannot survey the many videos on YouTube® on building emergency kits and bags without seeing the Sawyer® MINI as a recommended item on somebody’s packing list. This water filter averages between $20 and $30 at most outdoor stores. As a result, the Sawyer® MINI is a budget-friendly addition to your loadout. I carry one in both my EDC bag and my regular backpack for hiking. There also is one in my vehicle emergency kit. You will not go wrong including a Sawyer® MINI in your water filtration considerations. The Sawyer® MINI is available for purchase at the Sigma 3 Survival Store. Description Sawyer offers the following description of this water filter: The Sawyer MINI weighs just 2 ounces, fits in the palm of your hand, and provides 0.1-micron absolute filtration — removing 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera, and E.coli, removing 99.9999% of all protozoa (such as giardia and cryptosporidium), and removing 100% of microplastics. Attach the easy-to-use MINI to the included drinking pouch, use the included straw to drink directly from a water source, connect it to hydration pack tubing, or screw it onto standard disposable water and soda bottles. Rated up to 100,000 filtered gallons of water, the award-winning MINI is perfect for everything from camping with the kids to traveling abroad where tap and bottle water cannot be trusted to kitting out your emergency go bag. The company also offers the MINI in six colors: black, blue, camouflage, green, orange, and pink. Furthermore, the Sawyer® MINI is functional in several ways. The filter can be attached to a standard plastic water bottle, such as a Dasani or Aquafina bottle. It can be utilized as an in-line water filter with your favorite water bladder, like a Camelbak®. It can be used to drink water directly from a stream or lake using the included straw on one end and attaching flexible tubing on the other end. The Sawyer® MINI is a water filter that will keep you hydrated and on the move in an emergency. 2. LifeStraw Another exceptional item that one can consider for a water filtration device is the LifeStraw®. As mentioned earlier, a couple who became lost while hiking survived on rationed food and drinking water from natural sources through a LifeStraw® filter. The LifeStraw® is not as versatile as the Sawyer® MINI. However, it is just as useful for drinking water directly from a stream or collected and filtered through a water container, such as a canteen or Nalgene® bottle. The LifeStraw® averages about $20 at most sporting goods stores. The LifeStraw® is a budget-friendly option to consider as a water filtration item. As with any outdoor gear or tool, everyone has a preference for a particular multitool. The same is true when considering a Sawyer® MINI or a LifeStraw®. LifeStraw® was the first water filtration device that I put in my backpack. I still use them in my family emergency kit. Description: The manufacturer gives the following description: The LifeStraw makes contaminated water safe to drink by removing bacteria and parasites, preventing the majority of waterborne disease. Use it for drinking directly from streams and lakes, or fill up a container and use your LifeStraw to enjoy clean water on the go. The LifeStraw has countless shelf life and once opened can provide an individual with more than 5 years of safe drinking water. Durable and ultralight: weighs only 2 ounces (0.10 lbs.) Long-lasting: filters 1,000 gallons (4,000 liters), enough drinking water for an individual for over 5 years The microbiological, hollow fiber membrane filters to 0.2 microns and removes: 99.999999% of bacteria (including E. coli), 99.999% of parasites (Giardia, Cryptosporidium, etc.), 99.999% of microplastics LifeStraw® is an outstanding water filter or your children’s backpacks. Unlike the Sawyer® MINI, the LifeStraw® is a single item that can be used immediately out of the packaging. They are easy to use. Therefore, they are very child-friendly. LifeStraw® is an excellent water filtration option to consider for your family emergency or hiking considerations. 3. Aquamira® Tactical Frontier Pro Ultralight Filter Aquamira® is an industry leader in the water treatment and filtration market. Their chlorine-dioxide water treatment tablets are a standard for chemically treating water in the field. The company offers a variety of water filtration items from water filters to water filter bottles. However, one of the best things to consider as a water filtration option is the Tactical Frontier Pro Ultralight water straw. It is comparable to the Sawyer® MINI. Yet, it is has a rating to filter only 50 gallons of water versus the 100k gallon of the Sawyer® MINI. The concept for this water filter is as an emergency back up to complement other ways to process water in the field. It is smaller than the Sawyer® MINI. Therefore, it is a great water filter consideration for your EDC bag, ultralight hiking, or day hike on the trail. It is a short-term water filtration solution. By contrast, the Sawyer® MINI or LifeStraw® are solutions intended to be in use for more extended periods in more austere environments. Description: Aquamira® describes the Tactical Frontier Pro in the following way: It has a GRN Line Bacteria Filter with up to 500 ml/minute flow rate with a certified filtration for 50 gallons (over 180 L). It is ultralight and compact 2.5 oz. (71 g) packable protection. The Tactical Frontier Pro comes has a replaceable filter design means highly cost-effective extra capacity capability. Connects to bottles, bags, bladders, and gravity systems via UQC quick connects. Includes three pre-filters to extend filter life and remove twigs and debris. Comes packaged in a zipper pouch which doubles as a water collection and storage unit. Miraguard™ Antimicrobial* Technology suppresses the growth of bacteria, algae, fungus, mold and mildew within the filter media. BPA free, chemical free, and iodine free. Filter made in the USA In Summary Water is an essential part of survival in an outdoor environment. The following water filters: Sawyer® MINI, LifeStraw®, and Frontier Max are the best options on the market from which to choose. As you plan your next outdoor adventure, remember to consider a water filter straw device to include in your packing list. You never know when an emergency situation may arise. Therefore, be prepared, be safe, and enjoy the outdoors. The post 3 Excellent Water Filtration Options To Keep You Hydrated appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  12. Is your emergency survival planning on PACE? The spring outdoor season is upon us. The springtime is a great time to spend outdoors. The plans for your next outdoor experience are almost complete. Many survival experts agree that building redundancy in your gear and planning is essential to ensuring getting through an emergency. A simple method for building those layers is one that is from the military. The process for preparing and organizing your activities and gear is the PACE technique. Assessing Your PACE PACE is an acronym for Primary (P), Alternate (A), Contingency (C), and Emergency (E). These are layers of redundancy to ensure essential capabilities are available at all times under any circumstances. The PACE technique applies to the different methods of survival: primitive, bushcraft, military, or blended. However, several questions must be answered before applying this method. First, you need to answer the five W’s of your outdoor activity: who, what, where, when, why, along with how. Assess Experience and Knowledge Next, you need to assess your level of experience and knowledge: beginner, intermediate, or expert. Additionally, you should also evaluate the level of experience of others. This should be done especially if you are accompanying or leading a group. You should know yourself and those in your group. Furthermore, each member of the group needs to be aware of the level of experience of the other members of the group. Also, you and each member of your group should know what everyone else is carrying for gear. Thus, it is wise to share each other’s packing list. Assess Critical Capabilities Third, assess your critical capabilities supporting the activity: first aid, navigation, communication, security? The definition of critical capabilities are those assets that you or your group possess that if lost would jeopardize the survival of yourself or others. Consequently, that means having a good understanding of yourself and your gear and those of the others in your group. If you are in a group, one technique would be to share each other’s packing lists. Assess Local Terrain and Weather Fourth, you need to determine the type of terrain and local weather characteristics. It is crucial to survival planning to know where you are going, what time of the year you are going, and what are the patterns of weather where you are going. Others have found themselves in emergency survival situations due to unexpected weather events, such as flash floods. Consequently, they were underprepared for the scenario. Thus, take the time to really understand the historical, current, and projected weather of the location for your outdoor activity. For example, many people have reported their surprise at how cold the desert can get at night in the spring. Assess Emergency Assistance Availability Finally, you should understand the availability and access to emergency assistance near the planned activity site. One of the quickest ways to resolve an emergency survival situation is having a basic knowledge of the support available at your location and how to access it. There was a recent story of a teenage boy who ran almost six miles to a park ranger station to get help for his injured father. The young man could not do that if he did not know how to get to that ranger station. The key to survival planning is gaining situational awareness to better PACE yourself. PACE Your Critical Capabilities 1. P: Primary For the purposes of this article, the capability that will model the PACE method is communication. However, the PACE method applies to any asset or ability that you assess as critical to the success of your outdoor adventures, such as making a fire, rendering first aid, building a shelter, food procurement, or water processing. Therefore, for this hypothetical outdoor scenario, forms of communication are a critical capability that cannot be lost or activities will cease or lives will be jeopardized. An example of a primary means of communication is a smartphone. Smartphones are becoming more sophisticated every year. They come with a variety of domestic and foreign plans, as well as applications. Many smartphones can function as satellite communication devices in an emergency where there is no commercial wireless coverage. The implied tasks for keeping a smartphone running in the outdoors is to maintain wireless coverage and to charge the battery. Thus, an essential capability for smartphone use in the field is the ability to keep charging the battery with a solar powered charger. 2. A: Alternate An alternate form of communication in the field is a hand-held radio (HHR). A hand-held radio is also known as a walkie-talkie. HHR devices come in many forms. These radios can transmit and receive voice communication over a limited distance. However, for communicating with an HHR over an extended range, the ability to relay signals through a repeating tower come into play. As with the smartphone, keeping the battery charged on an HHR in the field is also essential. 3. C: Contingency The definition of contingency is a provision for an unforeseen event or circumstance. Thus, for survival planning a contingency communication asset may be a Garmin® inReach Mini or a SPOT™ Gen 3 device. These devices are for sending out emergency text messages through a satellite service with geo-location information to help first responders find you. These items are almost a last resort communication device if the smartphone or HHR radio goes down or is lost during an emergency survival situation. 4. E: Emergency An emergency communications capability is an asset that is for when all of the previous devices malfunction, get broken, lose power, or become lost. An example of an emergency communication capability might be a signal fire, signal flares, signal mirror, air horn, or a signal panel (VS-17). Therefore, an emergency signal capability could be any method that you can employ to communicate to others your location or whereabouts. Some Final Thoughts The PACE method is a valuable method to help you think through maintaining essential capabilities while outdoors. There is no right or wrong solution to determining your critical capabilities. Each outdoor activity is different. Therefore, the needs will be different. For example, a day-long fishing trip to a nearby location will be different than a hunting trip to Alaska. The same is true for preparing for emergency disasters. The survival needs for my area and family will be different than for those living in the upper Midwest. Thus, the PACE method helps you to think through the preparedness process and to resource your needs. The post Is Your Survival Planning On PACE? appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  13. There are 5 quality fire starter options to consider for your fire kit. The spring and summer outdoor season is upon us. As we plan to go and enjoy the outdoors, having a good fire kit is an essential part of your packing list. Fire is one of the core elements of survival along with food, shelter, and water. Thus, having a reliable, quality fire starter is an essential part of an effective fire kit to carry on your next adventure. These five fire starters are a great items as your build or improve your fire kit. 1. Bic® Lighter Most outdoor, survival, and preparedness experts agree that a Bic® lighter is quality fire starter. It is an excellent addition to any level of emergency survival kit. The Bic® lighter is a butane fuel lighter and will work well under most conditions. It produces a flame pretty consistently. Therefore, in an emergency situation, you can not go wrong having a Bic lighter as part of your fire kit. Moreover, carrying one of these lighters in your Urban-Suburban EDC bag is a must. There are a couple of limitations with the Bic lighters. First, they contain a limited quantity of butane fuel. The next limitation with this lighter is that the thumb-depressed valve can be pushed open. This can cause the butane vapors to escape. Finally, a third limitation of these lighters is that the butane fuel can leak out over time. However, most of these limitations can be overcome by simple hacks or with an Exotac® FireSLEEVE™. 2. Ferro Rod and Striker The ferro rod and striker another quality fire starter. Ferro rods are a standard item in most bushcraft fire making kits. The ferro (short for ferrocerium) is a metal rod of iron alloy. Ferrum is the Latin word for iron from which the ferrocerium rod gets its name. The ferrocerium rod is a combination of iron (ferrum) and cerium. Cerium is another natural element on the Periodic Table of Elements. Carl Auer von Welsbach discovered the fire making aspects of them when these two metals are combined into the alloy compound, ferrocerium. Ferro rods come in many lengths, widths and configurations, such as having a wood or plastic handle on one end. The Sigma 3 Survival Store offers one of the best ferro rods and strikers on the market. The ferro rod is 6 inches long and a ½ inch in diameter. These dimensions ensure that the rod will last in the field. Moreover, it will give you plenty of fire making capability long after the Bic® lighter has run out of fuel. The only limitation with the ferro rod and striker is it does not produce a flame within itself like the Bic® lighter. To gain a flame with this fire making instrument, you will have to possess or obtain a combustible tinder source. For more information on tinder sources check out the article, Four Optional Tinder Sources. 3. Exotac® NanoSTRIKER XL™ The Exotac® NanoSTRIKER XL is another quality fire starter on the market. It is one of the most popular ferro rods being purchased by outdoorsman. It has a small diameter (.43 in.) and a modest length (4.17 in.). The striker has the dimensions of a tactical ball point pen. As a result, it fits well into an EDC kit or any level of emergency survival kit. Moreover, it is well suited to be carried into the field on a multiday outdoor activity such as a fishing, hunting, or thru-hiking. As with the ferro rod-and-striker above, you must use this in conjunction with a tinder source. Some optional tinder sources can be Birch Bark, Quick Tender, Wet Fire Cubes, Fire Stix, or some other natural or manufactured tinder. 4. UCO Gear® Survival Stormproof Match Kit Another quality fire starter to consider for your fire kit is the UCO Gear® Survival Stormproof Match Kit. UCO produces the best quality stormproof matches and match products on the market. The Survival Stormproof Match Kit is perfect as a redundancy item in your fire-making kit. Furthermore, stormproof matches are part of most military survival kits. Therefore, you can not go wrong with adding this match kit to your field packing list. The kit comes with a clear plastic waterproof container. The container measures approximately 2.25 in. long and 1 in. wide. There are 15 water and waterproof matches inside. There is cotton batting in the lid and a paper match striker on the side. Some have complained about the quality of the matches on venues like Amazon®. However, you can purchase this match kit directly from UCO Gear or the Sigma 3 Survival Store if you want to ensure the quality of the product. 5. UST® Spark Force™ Firestarter The final consideration for a quality fire starter is the UST® Spark Force™ Firestarter. Ultimate Survival Technologies (UST)® makes two versions of this product. The Spark Force™ and the larger Strike Force™. I have owned both products and they are excellent items for your kit. You will not go wrong with either product. The Spark Force ™ is more compact. Consequently, it is more easily stored in EDC packs, your pocket, or your personal survival kit. The Spark Force™ is 3 in. long and ¾ in. wide. It has a lanyard that keeps the striker and rod together. The casing is high impact ABS plastic. The ferro rod is around 2 inches long. The purpose of this striker is for emergency situations as a backup fire making option. It was not designed to be your main fire starting instrument. Moreover, it is small enough that children can use it when they are properly trained on it. Some Final Thoughts A quality fire starter is a crucial item in your survival kit or outdoor adventure loadout. Redundancy items in your fire-making kit will ensure that you can make a fire in an emergency. One of the best fire-making kits on the market is the Sigma 3 Fire Kit. You can read my review of the Sigma 3 Fire Kit if you want more information about it. However, if you choose to build or improve your own fire-making kit, the five fire-starting options listed above will greatly enhance your fire making capability in the field. The post 5 Quality Fire Starter Options appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  14. There are eight must-have tools to include in your home emergency disaster kit. The change of seasons is upon us. The severe weather that marks the shift from winter to spring will begin soon. Are you prepared for tornados, flooding, or severe thunderstorms? Later, summer and early fall will bring similar weather emergencies to include those from the hurricane season. As the strange weather patterns affect our nation, it is prudent to consider the tools that we have available in our home emergency kits. 1. Chain Saw The chain saw is one of the top tools that emergency preparedness experts recommend that you have in your home emergency disaster kit. The advantage that you have with a chain saw is excellent. It will help you process fallen trees. Additionally, it will help cut through wood framing of fallen homes to recover or rescue someone. Several companies sell reliable chain saws: Poulan, Stihl, Husqvarna, and Black & Decker. Chain saws come in two types: gas and battery. If using a chain saw is not part of your regular routine, then it is advisable to purchase a battery powered one. People have their individual preferences on chain saw brands. So do some research and shop around for the chain saw and brand that fits your knowledge, experience, and budget. 2. Fireman’s Ax Another essential tool to keep in your home emergency disaster kit is an ax. There are many types of axes and brands. Axes tend to come with one of three types of handles: wood, fiberglass, or steel. There are three styles of bit blades for axes: single bit, double bit, and combination bit. The best ax to keep in your emergency kit is the fireman’s ax. The fireman’s ax is the standard tool in use with most fire departments. The fireman’s ax has a distinctive head. The ax head has a single-bit blade on one side and a pick poll opposite the blade. This kind of blade bit is a combination bit. Firefighters use the ax to breach doors and walls to rescue people inside a burning building. A fireman’s ax is excellent for chopping wood when necessary, such as fallen trees. 3. Limb Saw A third tool that emergency preparedness experts recommend keeping in your kit is a reliable limb saw. The advantage of having a limb saw handy after an emergency is the ability to cut smaller pieces of wood. The chain saw helps cut the large diameter tree trunks and limbs. However, a good limb saw can effectively cut the smaller diameter limbs not practical for cutting with a chain saw. There are several styles and brands of limb saws. The most well-known are the folding limb saws in use by outdoorsman. However, the limb saws that will be practical for use in the wake of a weather disaster are the larger bow or pruning saws. The are several types and brands of limb saws. The best brands on the market are Silky, Bahco, and Fiskars. Black & Decker and some other companies make powered limb saws. They look like miniature chain saws on the end of a long pole. Thus, whichever style and brand of limb saw you choose, they are a great tool to keep in your kit. 4. Gas Shut-Off Wrench The gas shut-off wrench is one of the more essential tools to hold in one’s home disaster emergency kit. The wrench is sometimes known as the utility shut-off wrench. These wrenches will shut off both the water main and the main gas valves on your home. Having one of these tools is essential. The wrench will help you turn off water and gas that may be escaping from a fallen house after a storm. There are many styles of these wrenches. Be sure to purchase one that can shut off both water and gas. 5. Crow or Pry Bar A tool that is often recommended by emergency preppers for a home disaster kit is a crow or pry bar. They are different tools with different applications. However, they both give a person the ability to pry and lift debris after a disaster. Most hardware stores sell these tools. The significant difference between these tools is their size and appearance. Typically, a pry bar is no longer than twenty-four inches, has a flat body with a curved end. The crowbar can be longer, has a rounded shape, and has a claw hook at one end, similar to a claw hammer. The crowbar is a tool to give leverage to lift heavy objects. A pry bar is a tool used by carpenters for pulling nails, lifting up sheetrock or wall paneling. Pry bars and crowbars can come in lengths that will fit in most tool boxes. They both have flattened ends with notches for pulling nails at each end of their bodies. 6. Sledge Hammer A sledgehammer is a tool that is often recommended by the experts as an essential item in one’s disaster kit. Sledgehammers come with different handle lengths and hammerhead weights. The most common sledgehammer is one with a eight-pound head and twenty-four-inch handle. Sledgehammers also have handles that come in wood, fiberglass, or steel. Sledgehammers are great for breaking concrete, masonry, and sheetrock. 7. Bolt Cutters A tool that is not often in the discussion of tools for home emergency disaster kits is the bolt cutter. Bolt cutters come in a few sizes. The most common bolt cutters in use are thirty-six inches and twenty-four inches in length. However, bolt cutters can be as small as fourteen inches. Bolt cutters are excellent for cutting through fencing, wire, anchor bolts, and padlock shackles. In the wake of an emergency, using a bolt cutter to free someone may be the difference between a rescue and a recovery. 8. Shovel The final tool that one should have in their home emergency disaster kit is a shovel. There are two kinds of shovels, a squared end, and round end. They also come with either a wood handle or a fiberglass handle. There are a variety of shovels on the market. The rounded end shovel is primary for digging. The squared end shovel is for scooping. Your situation may require keeping both types in your kit. However, a good shovel will make cleaning up your property or helping others do the same much easier. Some Concluding Observations The eight essential tools for one’s disaster emergency kit are important for post-disaster cleanup and recovery. The latest tornado disaster of recent days gives insight into how being prepared helps communities come together and recover. These essential tools will not only help you; they can help your neighbor also after a weather-related disaster. As you think about these tools, keep in mind that your location plays a part in what to include. Thus, you can not go wrong with a well thought out disaster kit containing the proper tools. The post Eight Must-Have Emergency Disaster Kit Tools appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article
  15. Individual survival gear approaches have two common categories: tactical and non-tactical. The two approaches to personal gear feature some common items. However, they also have some stark differences. Therefore, it is essential to have a working understanding of both approaches. It will help you to discern the kinds of resources to purchase and types of kits to build. In a previous article, we discussed the three popular approaches to survival. The purpose of that article is to familiarize you with the conventional methods of survival in general. In this article, we will close in on the two common approaches people use to purchase and organize their survival gear. There are a few factors to keep in mind when assessing which method to take regarding your survival or prepping loadout. The first factor influencing your survival gear approach is your experience with your equipment. People tend to fall back on what they are comfortable with in general. How a person organizes their survival or prepping gear is no different. The second factor is knowledge about your survival gear. Most people will only put gear in their survival loadout in which they have knowledge and experience. The final factor governing the approach one takes to survival gear loadout is finances. Some people cannot afford the top-of-the-line survival gear regardless of the approach that they prefer to use to build their kits. Consequently, they look for budget-friendly quality gear to develop their loadout. 1. The Tactical Approach Overview The tactical approach centers on finding a military or tactical solution to solving survival and prepping questions. The individual gear that typically identifies this approach is the military surplus items. However, the modern tactical gear designed for the military or law enforcement also falls into this approach. If one prefers the tactical approach to gear and gear organization, then learning how the military or law enforcement personnel use and organize their gear will be of interest. Typically, this approach appeals to those with current or previous military or law enforcement experience. However, there is a growing interest in this approach among those never associated with military or law enforcement. Military packing lists for various situations helps one to understand this approach. The most common packing list of this type is the ALICE rucksack packing list. Military manuals covering survival gives insight into the tactical approach to survival and preparedness. However, as with anything related to military and law enforcement, gear recommendations and techniques for their organization are directly related to military and law enforcement operations. They are never meant to be duplicated by those not employed in those professions. Advantages There are some advantages to the tactical approach. The most significant advantage is the proven reliability and practicality of military gear and its use in the field. Most individual tactical gear in use with the military or law enforcement must meet high standards and pass rigorous testing. Consequently, the tactical gear tends to be of higher quality than its non-military counterparts. Moreover, the way military and law enforcement personnel organize and use their gear also brings some reliability to the tactical approach. For example, many people are interested in how the SOF community approaches survival and prepping. Why? SOF approaches have inherent credibility and reliability. Therefore, desiring to know what gear the SOF community uses and how they organize it is of interest. Disadvantages: The main drawback with the tactical approach to gear and gear organization is it can give a false sense of security. A well-known comic artist published a meme several years ago called, Gear-do, a wordplay on the word, weirdo. It shows a soldier all kitted up to kick in doors, who is in an administrative desk job. In essence, the soldier had too much gear for the situation and his good. Furthermore, possessing tactical gear, in-and-of-itself, does not guarantee you will survive an emergency. You have to be proficient in using it. 2. The Non-Tactical Approach Overview The second most common way people approach gear purchases and organizing that gear is known as the non-tactical approach. The non-tactical approach to gear and gear organization is a favorite method of bushcrafters and homesteaders. The growing interest in being a “gray man” is also fueling the non-tactical approach. This approach emphasizes gear that reflects the frontier, old west, or everyday carry (EDC) in an urban or suburban setting. Leather and non-camouflage gear is a characteristic of this approach. Weapons preferences also tend to be non-tactical, such as revolvers over semi-automatic pistols. Leather and solid color nylon pouches are a preference over camouflage ones. Furthermore, backpacks tend to be solid colors, like black or grey, without much Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS) webbing, if any. Advantages: The main advantage of the non-tactical approach to gear and gear organization is that it facilitates stealth. Those looking to blend into their environment and to avoid confrontation should consider a non-tactical approach. Another advantage of this approach is that it tends to simplify backpack organization into dry bags, stuff sacks, or Ziploc bags. Furthermore, the non-tactical approach offers more variety of colors for a piece of gear than the tactical. Kelty, for example, offers various colors for the Redwing 50 non-tactical packs. There is a limited color choice for their tactical line of backpacks, like the Raven 2500. Disadvantages: The non-tactical approach brings some difficulties. The most significant weakness in the non-tactical approach is in the durability and reliability of the gear. Generally, non-tactical backpacks do not feature ballistic Cordura® nylon as the primary construction material. Non-tactical pouches have thin ripstop nylon. Moreover, the non-tactical approach to organizing gear is to put it into dry bags or cinch sacks. Consequently, this approach may cause a waste of time looking for an item inside a backpack. Whereas, that same piece of gear may be stored in an outside pocket of a 5.11 Rush backpack, ALICE rucksack, or Condor Battle Belt Rig. Final Thoughts The approach that one takes to gear and organizing gear will occupy much time and thought. Tactical and non-tactical approaches have advantages and disadvantages. The environment in which you will most likely have to operate during a survival emergency will dictate your preferred strategy. Some people use a hybrid approach. They borrow aspects from both the tactical and non-tactical elements and blend them into a personalized method. However, it is wise also to consider your knowledge and experience with gear and gear organization methods. Therefore, it is helpful to take time to review your approach, the gear you use, and how you will organize it. The post Individual Survival Gear Approaches appeared first on SIGMA 3 Survival School. View the full article

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