Archive for the ‘Equipment’ Category

Rescue Signaling: Tips to Consider

Rescue Signaling: Tips to Consider

Whether we choose to hike, hunt, paddle, or take part in any other number of outdoor activities where we can enjoy the harmony of nature, either alone or with friends, emergencies can occur.  While medical problems can be one possible reason, one of the most common is simply getting lost.  Regardless of the specific reason, it can be a huge boost of relief, after first instinctively reaching for your mobile telephone and dialing 9-1-1, to hear, “County Dispatch, what is your emergency?” on the other end.  However, it can be absolutely crushing to discover that you have no signal at all, or just as badly, having your telephone battery die half-way through the call. Unfortunately, both happen all too often in the wilderness. So here are few important safety tips for you to consider … 1. Being Found is Mostly Your Responsibility You should be prepared at all times to “reach out and touch someone” when the […]

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Wild Animals – Dealing with the Unexpected

Wild Animals - Dealing with the Unexpected

The purpose of this article is to share with you three easy tips on how to best deal with — better yet, altogether avoid — a surprise encounter with wildlife that could mean the difference between a great story to share with friends and a bad outcome. Still, it’s important to know that unprovoked wild animal attacks are exceedingly rare.  Consider that more people die in any given year from bee stings in urban locations than by animals — like bears, cougars, snakes, even sharks, combined.  In fact, as own Senior Instructor J.C. McGreehan is quick to point out in our survival courses, the animal most consistently responsible for the greatest number of deaths in the United States each year is the humble cow.  In short, based on my thousands of hours spent in wilderness locations, I’ve learned that wild animals generally just want us to leave them alone.  They simply […]

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How to Sleep More Warmly at Night

How to Sleep More Warmly at Night

With cold weather overnights having just arrived this week, and Winter just around the corner, I wanted to offer some often overlooked tips to help you sleep more warmly at night … Even if you use a winter-rated bag. They will not only help you to feel more rested in the morning, but help reduce the chances of a cold-related medical emergency. Put on a Hat:  While my grandmother exaggerated a bit when she told me that we lose “80%” of our body heat through our heads, research has indeed shown that we still tend to lose a lot of heat there through radiation due to blood flow.  So simply wearing a hat when we are cold will generally make us feel warmer, whether or not we are already wearing a warm coat. Wear Wool:  When it comes to clothing, wool is regularly disregarded in favor of cotton.  After all, […]

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Choosing a Satellite Beacon

Choosing a Satellite Beacon

I’m heading to Utah in a few weeks. For those who’ve talked to me for more than 10 minutes, you know that Utah is my Mecca. So needless to say, I’m super excited. I plan on driving about 2,000 miles around southern Utah over nine days. One of my stops is the amazingly beautiful, Reflection Canyon. If you have not seen pictures of this place, do yourself a favor and Google it now. Here’s the kicker — getting to Reflection Canyon requires driving down a very rough and unpatrolled “road” for about two hours. From there, you have to hike in complete wilderness (no paths, signs or guides of any kind) for 10 miles. Needless to say, there is no cell coverage and no water access of any kind the whole time. Despite me being overly prepared with tools and skill sets, I am concerned about the inability to call […]

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Making Water Potable

Making Water Potable

One of the most fundamental elements of life, and to potentially surviving a wilderness emergency, is potable water.  Yet, the methods to making contaminated water safe to drink is often misunderstood. The process involves two steps, not just one, as many believe or are told, even by the staff at big-box outdoor retail stores.  So, remember, making water potable involves both filtration and purification. Both steps are needed because, depending on your chosen methods, not all necessarily remove the pathogens that will make you sick, namely parasites, bacteria, and viruses.  Most manufactured filters will remove relatively big critters, like parasites and bacteria, but not viruses.  In turn, many purifications methods will not be fully effective if water hasn’t been initially filtered. There are several methods to filter water, whether it is a piece of equipment or some improvised means. Such examples include: Sawyer MINI Water Filtration System Lifestraw Bandana Improvised three-stage […]

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Even Small Things can be Powerful

Even Small Things can be Powerful

Whether we are hiking, fishing, paddling, or enjoying the beauty of the Great Outdoors in any number of others ways, emergencies can occur.  If you ever found yourself in the woods in need of help, what type of signaling device do you think would be the most helpful? Consider a study by the National Park Service conducted in 2014 which summarized the most common reasons why people needed to be rescued in its parks.  The single most common activity in which the subjects of a search were engaged was the “Day Hike” (42%).  This far outpaced the next activity, overnight backpacking, at 13%.  Other activities represented low single digits, where even “Technical Climbing” only accounted for a mere 2% of rescues.  And during these activities, the most common factors that contributed to the need for help were “Fatigue / Physical Conditioning” (23%) and “Error in Judgment” (19%).  I would submit that this study is representative […]

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Invest in Your Gear … You Life Might Just Depend on It

Invest in Your Gear ... You Life Might Just Depend on It

Take a good look at the two compasses in the photograph below.  Can you see any difference between them? Even though these compasses are each made by different manufacturers, their difference may only be negligible.  After all, they are both lensatic compasses with the same basic frame.  They each have sighting features.  They both have phosphorescent markings.  They are the same color.  And they both have a magnetic needle that points North. I will suggest that one big difference is the price.  One costs about $75 and the other about $25. So, let’s consider that you are in the aisle of a big-box retailer, eyeing these compasses for your next outdoor adventure.  Which one would you buy?  Would the choice be easy? … Buy the cheaper one and save $50? Would you be willing to stake your safety, and the safety of those with you, while out in the woods? Presumably, […]

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One Key to Survival: Always Keep an Open Mind

One Key to Survival: Always Keep an Open Mind

Last week, I came across the article, How the Navy SEALs Prepare for Extreme Cold Weather Survival, and How You Can Too.  Since then, I have read it three more times.  It not only taught me several important pieces of information, but it reminded me of a tremendously valuable lesson: Always keep an open mind. That’s because, to be completely honest, after reading the title, I almost passed it by, let alone even consider recommending it in the True North blog.  While I have the utmost respect for those serving in the U.S. military special operations community, and am particularly proud of several uncles who served as Green Berets in Vietnam, I am uncomfortable with how “Navy SEAL” and other special forces terms are too often used to market gear, services, and articles of questionable need and quality. In this case, though this article is intended to market equipment and clothing from Sitka Gear, it still […]

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Survival Skills: Knots

Survival Skills: Knots

At True North, our instructors teach our clients that when dealing with an emergency, a response that is simple and quick is usually best.  That’s because in an emergency, a survivor is almost always handicapped in some way by limited resources, in particular gear, energy, and time. This requires that a survivor make the most of these limited resources by making good decisions as quickly as possible, and taking action as automatically, almost robotically, as possible.  One survival skill, then, that should reflect these elements is tying knots. Why is knowing such a skill so well so important?  Because this ability can help you to hit all seven of your survival priorities.  So with the right knot, or set of knots, the survivor can more effectively and efficiently build a shelter for the night; create a bow to make a fire by friction; or make a litter to haul an injured hiker out of […]

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Signaling Equipment – Smoke Flare

Signaling Equipment - Smoke Flare

At True North we regularly explain to our clients that when it comes to being rescued, it is the responsibility of the survivor to the best of one’s ability to assist in being found.  No matter how well equipped rescuers may be, you still remain the proverbial needle in the haystack.  Even if they have helicopters with the latest in technological equipment, they could easily continue to fly above you and never even notice that you’re there.  After all, you are so very small while the world is so very big.  As a survivor, therefore, your ability is vastly improved when you are prepared with the appropriate gear, skills, and knowledge.  So, you may want to consider adding a flare to your survival kit. In particular, during our recent Advanced Wilderness Survival course, I wanted to experiment with a good visual signal, the smoke-flare.  Such a signaling device is intended for […]

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