Archive for the ‘Equipment’ Category

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 Skill: Knots

Survival Skill: 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, whether it be gear, energy, or time.  So a survivor often must 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 this 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 […]

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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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Signaling for Help – Using a Laser Flare

Signaling for Help - Using a Laser Flare

In any wilderness emergency — be it in the woods, on the ocean, or in an urban disaster — one of your survival priorities always needs to be your ability to signal for help when necessary.  After all, it is not the responsibility of rescuers to find you, rather it is your responsibility to find them.  That is, you need to get their attention to let them know where you are located.  After all, in remote locales or austere environments, you are quite likely the proverbial needle-in-the-haystack and, despite what the general public generally seems to believe, no amount of high-tech gear and aircraft used by rescuers makes their hunt for you that much easier.  Therefore, it is your duty to the best of your ability and circumstance to assist in your own recovery. How can I attract attention?  That will depend on your environment, but as s a general rule, the […]

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Outdoor Gear … Consider Renting

Outdoor Gear ... Consider Renting

I have long been a bit conflicted about the huge array of gear and clothing that retail stores — nowadays almost exclusively dominated by “big box” stores — sell to all skills levels of outdoors people at fairly astonishing prices.  I suppose that what most bothers me is the disconnect between the gear that we need  (perhaps better defined as the gear that we are told, or believe, that we “need”) just to enter the Great Outdoors.  To me, the Great Outdoors should be the great equalizer where everyone, regardless of skill level and wallet or purse size, can experience and share the beauty and wonder of our natural world. Still, I accept that having proper gear and clothing can make this experience not just more safe, but more comfortable.  Heck, let’s face it, not having a tent, or a cheap one at that, or an inappropriate sleeping bag, on a […]

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Staying Warm on a Cold Night

Staying Warm on a Cold Night

Speaking from experience, it’s seems that whenever one has to suddenly deal with an unexpected problem, rarely does it occur in perfect conditions.  This, most especially, when it involves the outdoors.  So, in this vein, my mind regularly ponders varying ways and means to effectively stay warm if one of my “day hikes” should ever turn into a overnight.  Out of this, then, let me share with you a product that you may want to consider adding to you gear inventory. Now, of course, whenever I head out into the woods on some adventure, I am properly prepared to meet my seven priorities of survival — in particular, Priority #3 Shelter — but my concern is that even if I can protect myself from the wind and rain, it may still be hard to stay warm. Build a fire, right? Building a fire to dovetail with my shelter seems to be a […]

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Tips: Cold Weather Sleeping

Tips: Cold Weather Sleeping

I know that it may be hard to believe, but activities that involve Winter camping offer some of the best opportunities of the year to enjoy the Great Outdoors.  There tend to be far fewer people on the trail, and one can, quite literally, see, hear, feel, and smell a world completely different than the one that more commonly exists during the warmer months.  But to be perfectly honest, I often need to remind myself of theses wonders in order to overcome my inherent resistance to sleeping overnight in the cold.  After all, sleeping when one is cold to the point of suffering doesn’t help make for a fun, or, from a wilderness survival perspective, a safe trip. So here a few simple tips to consider: Keep your internal furnace burning all night.  Before going to bed, eat (unless you have some kind of medical restriction) a high-calorie snack that […]

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Concept Product: Rescue Me Balloon

Concept Product: Rescue Me Balloon

In a previous blog, Rescue Signaling, I wrote about the importance in case of an outdoors emergency of being prepared to signal for help.  Particularly, I wrote that it is your responsibility, not that of search and rescue crews, to be found.  That’s because even with hi-tech equipment, which, despite common belief, they don’t very often have or use (relying to a great deal on “ground pounders” and visual sightings), you still remain the proverbial needle in the haystack.  After all, the Great Outdoors is so very big while we are so very small.  Anything, then, that you can use or do to be seen will improve your chances of going home that much sooner. Thanks to True North instructor, J.C. McGreehan, I just learned about a new product that might be coming to the market soon that could better help you accomplish this survival priority.  It’s called the Rescue Me Balloon. […]

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Controlling Severe Bleeding

Controlling Severe Bleeding

I have been working on a side project these last few weeks and thought that I would share some of the information that I have gathered regarding it.  It is arguably more geared towards the professional first responder, but it may interest and benefit many of you who are lay responders too.  After all, I am a strong advocate of the principle that, no matter one’s level of training, it is important to continually practice and learn so that one may keep one’s skills sharp and up to date.  Certainly, being prepared to protect oneself when an emergency arises, and to do the same for others, is a fundamentally important component of wilderness survival. Whether we are professional or lay trained, we all know that in a medical emergency uncontrolled bleeding is a clear life threat.  Sometimes, unlike in the photograph posted above (which I only chose to illustrate a […]

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Equipment – Some Things are Just Worth the Price

Equipment - Some Things are Just Worth the Price

The Great Outdoors is a wonderful place to recreate physically and spiritually.  Even better, in many cases, you can do so without spending a dime.  Few other things in life are more wonderfully egalitarian.  However, “without spending a dime” is just a manner of speaking, of course.  Because for the most part, no matter, how economical we may want to be when we spend time engaged in some chosen activity under the sun or stars, the basic reality is that we must spend some amount of money.  It could be just to buy a simple pair of hiking boots, a hat, a fishing pole, or the fuel that we pump into our car’s tank.  How one chooses, then, to buy any apparently necessary items most likely depends on a number of criteria.  A good set of starting points most likely are the chosen activity, one’s skill level, degree of commitment, […]

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