Monday, September 29, 2014

Top 5 Shelter Building Survival Tools

We spend so much time inside climate controlled houses, shopping malls and workplaces that we forget our lives are possible only within the span of 9 degrees.

From 95°F up to 104° F is the very narrow range of internal body temperatures we can withstand before we get into serious, life-threatening trouble.

That’s why every survival expert puts shelter at the very top of the list to make it through any emergency. If you don’t take shelter, it won’t matter how much other survival gear you might have on hand. The undeniable truth is that without our clothing, tools and technology, we are fragile creatures who can quickly perish because of what might seem like relatively minor changes in weather and temperature.

If your core temperature drops below 95° F – less than 4° below the healthy normal of 98.6° – you slip into hypothermia, which can quickly kill you. The weather doesn’t have to be cold for you to fall victim to hypothermia, either. With just a little bit of a breeze, especially if your skin is already wet with sweat from exertion, or from a tumble into a stream or pond, what feels like a warm day can quickly become a life-threatening situation.

Likewise, overexposure to strong sun and high temperatures can also kill us. Heat stroke happens when your body temperature rises only about 5.4° to around 104° F. Heat stroke can kill us even more rapidly than hypothermia.
Having a few shelter-building tools on hand can help you protect yourself against both hypothermia and heat stroke. I’ve compiled a list, and arranged them in ascending order. I’m assuming that you already have proper clothing for whatever outdoor activity you’re engaging in. I’m also assuming that you already slipped a cigarette lighter or waterproof matches or some other fire-making tool into your pocket or pack and have made some provision for drinking water.

But here is my list of Top 5 Shelter Building Tools.

Folding shovels are wonderful pieces of kit for surviving in the field. There are reasons why militaries have issued shovels to troops for literally thousands of years, going back to the Romans. Workable folding shovels – or entrenching tools – have been available since around WWI.

For outdoor survival, a packable, light-but strong-shovel is incredibly versatile. If you’re in deep snow, such a tool can help you dig a snow cave, or snow shelter around the base of an evergreen tree. In a hot dry environment, it can help you dig a depression to get out of the sun and wind, maybe even find water beneath a dry streambed.

With a small shovel, you can reconfigure the dirt floor of your shelter into a comfy bed; dig a fire pit, or a sanitary latrine. You can solve drainage problems, kill snakes, even cut small brush and bushes with a sturdy shovel.
A good friend of mine who’s an Eagle Scout likes to say, “If you’ve got a shovel, you’ve got civilization.”

Be sure to get a good, high-quality shovel. Another friend of mine once bought a cheap one from an online retailer. The very first time we took it into the field, and tried to dig worms for fish bait underneath an old cow patty, that cheap shovel folded up like a foil gum wrapper. Good thing we weren’t in a real emergency situation with that piece of junk.

#4) Tomahawk or Hatchet with Hammer Poll

Tomahawks or hatchets are also incredible survival tools. They pack a lot of power into a relatively small package that you can wear on your belt, tie to your pack, or easily carry around in your hand. The sharp edge of the hatchet combines with the length of the handle and the weight of the metal head to give you great cutting and striking power. Such tools make it easy to cut poles and stakes for shelter building. If you get a tomahawk or a hatchet with a hammer poll on the back side, you can easily drive stakes into the ground to secure tents, or the edges of your lean-to.

 Evergreen boughs instantly become the thatching for a lean-to. You can easily chop firewood. It’s also a good self defense tool. You can use such a tool to cut brush, clear a trail, mark trees to help searchers find you, clean game and break down animals the size of deer into manageable pieces. Like a folding shovel, the uses of a hammer poll tomahawk or hatchet are almost limitless.

You should never leave the house without a knife and a way to make fire. If you’re depending on the knife to potentially save your life in a survival situation, make sure you pick a good quality blade. Look at a lock blade knife like the Spyderco Endura 4 Wave Plain Edge Folding Knife, or fixed blade knife like the Rothco G.I. Pilots Survival Knife that come with good sheaths.
Knives are probably humanity’s oldest tool, starting with a sharp flake of flint, obsidian or some similar stone. A good knife offers a lot of the same versatility as a hatchet, but in a smaller, more-controllable package. While the hatchet will split wood more easily, you can actually split small logs with a knife using a technique called “batoning.” You get the edge into the small log, and use another chunk of wood – the baton – to beat the blade down the length of the piece of wood you’re trying to split.

You can do so many things with a good knife, that there’s just no excuse for not having one on you all the time. If you’re serious about being prepared, you’ll probably have several knives with you, in your pockets, in your packs, glove compartments and bugout bags. If you decide to not have a folding shovel and a hatchet, at least make sure you have a knife.

#2) String 

You can find lots of survival and primitive skills classes that will teach you traditional, ancient methods for making cordage. It’s a great skill to have. But modern cordage is so abundant and easy to get that there’s really no excuse for not having at least a hundred feet or so in your gear. If you don’t have a shovel or hatchet, or even somehow forgot to bring along a knife, you can still make a shelter with enough good string or cordage.

Run a length of string between two trees, and then drape a sheet of plastic over it and you’ve got an instant shelter. If you don’t have a piece of plastic or tarp, lean sticks against the line to form a structure Just about any string strong enough to support the weight will work. Heavy test monofilament fishing line, 550 Para cord, even a package of cheap nylon rope from a big-box store can become the central support for an instant shelter.
If you have more time, or brought some of those other tools with you, you can lash lengths of wood together to make a more solid frame structure.

Even if you don’t have a shovel or a hatchet, forgot your knife and didn’t bring any string, if you have a military surplus poncho or a tarp, you still have shelter. Many military surplus ponchos were designed as shelter halves, and have reinforced grommets made to accept tie downs or small stakes to secure them in place. Tarps also usually have reinforced grommets for tie-downs and work great as a tent or screen. Both ponchos and tarps also function as ground covers to insulate you against cold wet earth.

If all you can do is find a spot where you can lay one piece of dead wood between the branches of adjoining bushes, drape your poncho or tarp over it, stake down the edges with other sticks or even heavy rocks, and you’ve got shelter. If you can’t do that, just wrap the poncho or tarp around you for wearable shelter. If you buy a military surplus poncho, try to also get a poncho liner to go with it.

Poncho liners, sometimes called woobie blankets, add a layer of efficient insulation and padding, and really improve the heat-holding abilities. A poncho plus a woobie makes a very workable improvised sleeping blanket or bedroll. You can buy specialized survival tarps like the Sport Utility Blanket at Brownells, or even pack some heavy-duty trashbags in your kit to help you retain heat better.

It Can Save Your Life

We’ve all probably heard that it takes about 40 days to starve without food, and that we can live only about three days without any water. But just getting too hot or too cold can kill us within minutes, long before we’d have time to feel hunger or thirst. Having the knowledge and the tools to protect yourself against heat and cold is an absolute requirement if you plan to survive any sort of emergency.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Survival Knife Is A Versatile Backwoods Tool

If you’re headed into the woods, you should have a knife. Widely regarded as the single most important survival tool for those who venture into the wilderness, a quality knife sits on the top of any reputable backcountry packing list.
survival knife generally has a single, fixed blade. Folding knives can be used in many of the same ways but are not as strong or durable as fixed blades. Many hunting knives can serve dual purpose as a survival knife although they tend to be lighter and a bit less durable.
Choose a good quality survival knife with a full tang (the blade metal extends through the handle), high carbon or other hard, durable steel that holds an edge, and a simple, no-frills design. A drop point (4” to 6” long) is the most common blade on survival knives.
survival knife is one of the best tools in the outdoors. Here’s why.
Building tools — A survival knife is a great tool in itself, but it can be used to make so much more. Need a spear? Simply sharpen a stick into a point, then split the point into four by driving the knife down and into the sharpened stick. Split the points by wedging a rock between the four points and you’ve got a great spear for catching small game and fish.
Making a spear is as easy as 1, 2, 3
Speer 1
But don’t be dumb and lash your knife onto a stick. That’s the best way to lose your most important tool! Never throw your knife, whether it’s attached to a stick or not.
Fishhooks, traps and much more can be whittled from wood. Really need a projectile? Use your knife and some parachute cord to fashion a bow from a sapling!
Cutting wood – A big, strong knife can take the place of a hatchet for cutting branches and splitting modest-size wood down into kindling. Hold the knife against the surface to be cut, and hit the back of the blade with a branch a little bigger around than a broomstick. Just be careful not to hit your hand! Also, make sure the knife is pointed away from your body and doesn’t swing down into your leg after you whack it.
We document wood splitting with a knife in detail at the post “How To Make Firewood With A Survival Knife.”
knife 2
Fire starting material – Stripping bark off a tree or log, peeling birch bark or shaving dry branches is easy with a survival knife.
Make fire – A ferrocerium rod and knife make for a potent fire starter with super hot sparks. Cast them onto well prepared tinder (or better yet a Vaseline-soaked cotton ball) to build a blaze. This is a great backup technique but not a replacement for matches for daily fire starting. It’s also good to practice before emergency strikes.
Digging – It’s not great for a knife, but in a pinch they will dig like crazy. Find grubs by ripping up old logs and stumps for emergency food (ick, but full of fatty calories) or bait (much better!) or dig yourself a potty hole. If hiking many miles in the woods, a knife makes a lot more sense to carry than a shovel.
Shelter construction — To build a lean-to or other shelter, you’ll need to cut some branches and boughs off trees. Start by chopping evergreen boughs on the ground for padding then build your lean-to over them with a few stout branches as a frame. More boughs and leafy branches (palm fronds in the tropics) will make shelter from the rain and cold winds.
As a stake – Definitely not an ideal use, but if you REALLY need a stake, you can pound the knife into the ground or a tree branch to anchor whatever really important item needs staking. Better yet, use the knife to fashion a stake from a tree branch.
First Aid – Cut material into strips for bandages or tourniquets. Cut branches into splints. Cut apart packs for material to build a litter. Ingenuity and a strong knife go a long way in an emergency.
Hitting things – Break windows in an emergency or hammer nails or stakes with the pommel of the handle. Just put the sheath on for safety first!
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Getting To Know And Understand A Variety Of Knife Styles

Knives have been a part of our society from the very beginning of time.  Stones were made into knife blades by our early ancestors.  A knife is a tool that is diverse and that is used for a variety of functions.  Now a day’s knives are made from a variety of different metals but their uses remain the same.  A knife is a hand-held piece of equipment that serves different purposes.   What knife you choose is dependent on what you purpose the knife needs to serve.
Common All Purpose Knives
The most commonly purchased knife is one that can serve a variety of purposes.  One type of all purpose knives is a pocket knife.  Pocket knives are great all-purpose tools and store within themselves for ease of use and carrying.  It works on opening boxes, cutting ropes, slicing apples, opening letters or for a weapon if needed.
Switch blade knives or knives with retractable blades are another common option in commonly carried all purpose knives.  With retractable blades the knife blade retracts into the handle so that it is safely stored when not in use.  Most knives with retractable blades or even switch blade knives are good for any typical cutting jobs.  The knife handle can be made from an assortment of materials including plastic, wood, bone or more.
Fixed blade knives also are common for all purpose knives.  A blade that is fixed is typically more stable than a retractable or folding blade.  As with switch blades and retractable knives the handle can be made from a diverse selection of materials.
Kitchen Cutlery and Cooking Knives
All kitchen knives serve their own purpose.  Cutlery is designed to take on specific job in the kitchen.  There are knives for all different purposes such as bread knives, fillet knives, paring knives, chef knives and more.  Most cooking knives have thinner pliable, longer blades.  The blade is not nearly as strong as the blade on a utility knife.  Cutlery is thinner and allows for easier use to slice meat and work within the kitchen.
Combat Knives
Knives used for combat are larger and made from a variety of strong metal alloys.  They are suitable for cutting tough objects and are often used by the military as a general tool to carry as well as extra weaponry.   The larger, longer blade with the heavier handle is incredibly difficult for precise cutting or for cutting on small objects.  They are better used for heavy duty needs.
A knife is handy no matter what you do in life.   They are used for a variety of purposes and depending on what you need the knife for will depend on which type of knife you choose to purchase.  It is important not to limit yourself when it comes to buying a knife. 

Choosing Ceramic Cutlery For Your Kitchen Knives

Top notch ceramic cutlery has become the latest obsession in kitchen accessories.  If you watch cooking shows on television you will see many professional chefs using ceramic knives.  In the culinary field ceramic knives are an essential accessory for all kitchens even novice cooks.  As with all tools there is a special purpose for each knife.  There are knives for cutting meat, dicing vegetables and slicing fruit.  Ceramic cutlery is well known for retaining a sharp edge and is made from zirconium oxide.  There are several advantages to purchasing ceramic knives as well as some disadvantages.  Continue reading for more information to help you make an educated decision before investing in knives for your kitchen.
Ceramic Knives: The Advantages Of Ceramic Kitchen Cutlery
  • In comparison to steel kitchen knives, ceramic is known for retaining a sharp edge for months especially if cared for properly and used sensibly.
  • Another advantage is how user friendly, light weight and safe ceramic knives are in comparison to steel knives.
  • If you are looking for a non-corrosive option in cutlery that is stain proof these knives are the way to go.  For chefs and cooks these two options make ceramic a no-brainer over steel for professionals throughout the industry.
  • Ceramic knives are easy to clean.  Ceramic is easy provides a non-stick surface that is non-reactive making it easy to clean up after a long day of cutting, slicing and dicing.
Ceramic Cutlery: The Disadvantages Of Ceramic Kitchen Knives
  • Zirconium oxide is an expensive material therefore ceramic knives are a pricier option over there steel counterparts.  If you are looking to buy ceramic knives purchasing a block set may be a way to cut the cost.
  • Another disadvantage of ceramic is that it tends to be a bit fragile.  They are not a good choice when it comes to cutting bones off of meat or other hard materials.  Just because ceramic knives are fragile does not mean they aren’t tough enough to do most any job you need them to do in the kitchen.  They will not shatter but again caution should be shown when cutting tough bone.
  • Ceramic blades are breakable.  This is another inconvenience of ceramic knives.  Be careful when applying pressure to knife, handle them with care and use them for cutting softer foods.
  • It is also important to note that ceramic, once dull, is not easily sharpened.  In order to sharpen ceramic knives you must send it in to the manufacturer as sharpening ceramic at home is difficult and not advisable.
When looking for cutlery, ceramic is a highly efficient, useable material for kitchen knives and accessories.  Look online for deals that can make shopping for your kitchen knives affordable. 

Choosing The Right Blade For Your Next Knife Purchase

There are several types of knife blades to choose from with advantages and disadvantages to both.  There are blades for every purpose including skinning animals, opening boxes, cutting tree limbs and many more.  Below we will look at the varieties of knife blade shapes and the different uses for each to determine which blade the best is for your needs.
The clip point blade is incredibly popular on knives that are sold today including pocket knives, fixed blade knives and bowie knives.  The knife has one sharp side and one dull side that run from the handle of the knife down to the point.  The point can either be straight or curved and is referred to as the clip.  The advantage of a clip point blade is that the point is controllable and extremely sharp.  They are good for piercing as well as for slicing.  The one disadvantage of the clip point blade is that the pointy blade is narrow and tends to be weaker than on other types of knife blades.
Another all purpose knife that is popular for all types of knives including hunting knives.  The drop point is more popular for hunting because the point is easily controlled and can be maneuvered around internal organs to avoid nicking them.  The back of the knife is similar to the clip point in that the unsharpened edge runs the length of the knife with a slow curve.  The disadvantage of the drop point blade is that it is not as sharp as the clip point therefore a less suitable option for piercing.  The advantage however is that it is strong, controllable and offers a large amount of blade for slicing.
A tanto point blade is comprised of a high point with a flat grind that leads into a strong point.  The front edge meets the back unsharpened edge on an angle instead of a curve.  There is no belly area on a tanto point blade which is a disadvantage but instead has a stronger tip.  It is not necessarily the best option in knife blades for a general utility knife but if looking for a strong point that is really good for piercing hard materials the tanto blade is a perfect option.
A sheepfoot blade is a great option for cutting and slicing when a point is not needed.  The sheepfoot blade shape is typical for santoku chef’s knives.  The blade has a sharp front edge with a dull spine that curves to meet the straight edge creating a false point.  For a controllable, clean slicing knife without a point the sheepsfoot is a great option.  The fact that there is no point can be seen as a disadvantage.
If you are looking for a lightweight knife that is good for use skinning and filleting the trailing point blade is the best option.  The back edge of the knife curves upward and the blade has a large curved cutting area that works for slicing and skinning.  The high point is out of the way which is an advantage of the blade is but the point on the trailing point is weaker than other blade options.
There are several other different blade types to choose from depending on what you are looking for.  If none of the blades above fit the need consider looking into the spear point blade, gut hook blade or other options in knife blades.