Monday, September 30, 2013

Building your own Personal Survival Kit [PSK]

A Personal Survival Kit [PSK] is a good idea for anyone who spends any amount of time camping or hiking in the woods. It should be compact and the intent is that it be worn on your person or carried in a pocket at all times. In that way, if you become separated from your pack, you then have a means of  making a fire, signalling help, or dealing with an injury.
The key to a PSK is to make a habit of carrying it so it becomes ingrained practice. Use it often and strive to add to it and continually seek to improve the contents of your kit.
In this photo below, we see an example pocket-carry PSK that has been assembled using an ALTOIDS mint tin:
TOP to BOTTOM - LEFT COLUMN: Band-Aids, Pencil & Ground Signal Sheet, Signal Mirror, Fresnel Lens; CENTER COLUMN: ALTOIDS tin [signalling, water collection], matches/striker, sewing kit, fishing kit, burning lens, compass; RIGHT COLUMN: Jute cordage, snare wire, lanyard with whistle, lock back knife, B.S.A. Mini-hot spark.

In the next photo below, we  see a larger belt-carry pouch PSK. The pouch was made out of scrap leather and a button made from an old coin.This kit has been expanded to include some extra kit items to give a little more margin of safety, including a poncho that could be used to build a shelter in the event of unexpected wet weather: 

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT - Leather belt pouch; Cereal box liner [useful for water gathering]; Emergency poncho with a hand warmer; Signal Mirror; Tin of Vaseline cotton, jute tinder cordage, storm matches; self-made pouch for mag bar and striker [bottom]. CENTER: ALTOIDS tin kit as shown above.

Again, the key is to carry it always and build a solid habit of having the kit with you, so it will be there when you need it.

I would also recommend the book "BUILD THE PERFECT SURVIVAL KIT" by John McCann [USMC]. It is full of photo's, tips, and information on assembling this, and other types of survival kits. His business SURVIVAL RESOURCES [] sells the book and items useful in building a PSK. I have attended courses taught by him and can personally vouch for his excellent knowledge and competence in survival-related matters.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Woods blades were meant to be used

Nothing is more annoying to me than trying to find a YOUTUBE review of a trail knife only to find tabletop videos shot indoors discussing the blade's specifications and what the knife could and/or should be capable of. I suspect these people will never get into the out-of-doors and test the blade against mud, rain, and hacking through hardwoods to make kindling for a fire. Blades are tools and as ...such were intended to be used.
The other thing that grates me is "knife snobbery"...extolling the virtues of some custom, handmade, or high-end knife, but again, never actually stepping outdoors to woods-test it's serviceability. You know these folk when they hand over their blade with pride for your inspection and you find no scratches, wear, or dents upon it.
Last weekend I twisted the blade of the large Bowie shown here in a piece of hardwood, causing a dent in the hollow-ground blade. It will remain there, for it is a badge of hard use and a tangible reminder of a great outing with good friends. 
I recall having once seen a video by Ron Hood [] in which he was batoning a piece of hardwood to make a sun compass using a clearly well-used Randall knife ...a $500.00 hand-forged blade with a 5-year wait for delivery. Now THAT I ADMIRE!
I have huge respect for the serious individual with poor kit [inexpensive gear] who actually sets foot to trail and goes,and none for the armchair adventurer with the best high-end gear who only speaks of what they might do, could do, want to do, or intend to do...AND NEVER DO.
 I think Theodore Roosevelt said it best: "It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed."


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sulphur Pots backpacking trip

Last weekend [September 22-23, 2013]. I went on a quick overnight backpacking trip here locally with some friends. We have a small bushcraft group called CENTRAL COAST BUSHCRAFT [Facebook]. We selected a campground in the Santa Lucia Wilderness called Sulphur Pots and started from Upper Lopez Canyon. The hike in took about 2 hours and involved multiple creek crossings and some brush-busting.

I used a FOX TACTICAL 72 hour assault pack for load bearing. Total pack weight went about 30 lbs. Shelter was a plastic poncho rigged with one raised corned. bedding was a leaf litter mattress. I rolled up in a GRABBER Space blanket and a wool USGI blanket. Temps overnight were about 50, so I was very comfortable. 

We were under a Level IV Fire restriction so there was no chance for a hot meal. Cold food was the order of the day. Good thing the weather was warm...made it somewhat palatable.

For water treatment I used a CAMELBAK U/V bottle. The water here was mildly odorous [sulphuric] and tasted poorly. I did not care to drink too much of it.

We did not seen any wildlife beyond a couple of tree squirrels. We did see some scat from the usual suspects...coyotes and bobcats. There was a profusion of insects, especially those annoying tiny black flies that love to insert themselves into your ears and nose.

The hike out took about an hour and 55 minutes. Overall, it was a fun and quick overnight outing.