Archive for July 2013

Equipment Review – Axe

Equipment Review - Axe

If you are in the market for a survival knife and spend time perusing the various online catalogs, you will quickly notice that the manufacturers and distributers give much attention to their particular line of machetes.  For good reason: the machete has a long history of being a robust, versatile and dependable tool that can be used in a wide variety of ways under even the most extreme conditions.  Still, I can’t help but believe that they are being used nowadays as more of a marketing gimmick.  It is a shame to see such a fundamentally wonderful tool too often being designed to put style over substance — That is, to offer the general public what it believes a “survival” tool should look like, rather than provide it a tool that can be most effectively used in actual reality.  The frequent use, then, of “Zombie” in product monikers, like the […]

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Snakebite – Find the Snake or Not?

Snakebite - Find the Snake or Not?

One of the treatment issues in wilderness medicine that seems to generate the most amount of debate, even confusion, involves how to best care for a patient in the backcountry who has been bitten by a venomous snake.  In particular, the general consensus, including some popular first aid manuals, is that it is important to find and identify the snake, whether to simply eyeball it, or take a photograph, even to kill it in order to transport it to the hospital.  Sounds reasonable, right? … It is only logical that physicians would want to know the exact snake so that they can administer the exact antivenin, right? Wrong on both counts. The initial reason is that of simple scene safety.  First off, if you are the victim of the bite, there is no sense risking the increased spread of the venom through your system as you exert yourself, not to […]

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Survival Kit – A Suggested Starter List

Survival Kit - A Suggested Starter List

I am often asked by students or those with whom I am engaged in general conversation, “What is the best survival kit that you recommend?”  My response is typically, “There are no ‘best’ survival kits … In fact, I can’t recommend any.”  This almost always generates a quizzical look so I then must follow with a more detailed explanation.  The short of it is that the “best” survival kit is one that you make that best reflects your intended activities, level of training, and budget.  Thus, no off the shelf survival kit can suffice. For example, someone who typically hikes in the desert likely needs a different inventory than someone who typically hikes in mountains; or someone who skies the backcountry will have different priorities than someone who sea kayaks.  Besides, how many survival kits come with such important items (for those, like me, with terrible vision) as prescription eyewear? […]

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