Archive for the ‘Equipment’ Category

What Do You Carry in Your “Day” Pack?

What Do You Carry in Your "Day" Pack?

Yesterday, news station WNEP reported that in Gouldsboro State Park, located in Northeastern Pennsylvania, a search began for a lost woman who had gotten separated earlier in the day from her companion while on a day hike.  Happily, the search ended after four hours as a rescue.  However, if she hadn’t been found before nightfall, this event could have easily been now reported as a body recovery.  Why?  Because the pair had prepared their backpacks only for a “day hike,” and not for current conditions, let alone an unexpected overnight. While waiting to be found, what made the situation difficult, even painful, for the hiker was the sudden drop in temperatures yesterday to below freezing.  Although temperatures had been chilly most of last week, they were largely seasonal, even mild.  In fact, I did yard work on Saturday wearing a light jacket and shorts.  However, temperatures surprised many of us […]

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Equipment Review – LifeProof iPhone Case

Equipment Review - LifeProof iPhone Case

About two weeks ago, I cringed slightly when I paid $79.95 for a LifeProof case to protect my iPhone 4 mobile telephone.  However, at this point, I can easily say that I couldn’t have spent my money better. To be clear, it’s not that I necessarily minded paying such a high cost to protect my iPhone, because the simple reality is that my mobile telephone is far more to me than just a luxury or convenience, it is a genuine work tool.  Primarily, of course, I use my iPhone to help run my True North programs.  Among so many things, I can quickly respond to client emails during the week or help direct them to a meeting site should they suddenly become lost; I regularly use a mix of Applications to check the weather forecast, sunrise and sunset, and topographic maps to help with planning; and, of course, depending on my location, […]

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How to Fix Broken Zippers

How to Fix Broken Zippers

If you are like me, then you have faced the aggravation of dealing with broken zippers on gear and clothing.  While it is a simple problem in theory to fix, the reality is that it is potentially quite frustrating, time consuming, and expensive (relatively speaking). This morning, I came across the website of FixnZip, makers of zipper repair products. Check out their website for more information.  And please check out too their videos below. I am intrigued enough that I plan on buying a few repair kits.  I’ll be sure to let you know what I find out. ——————— How to fix a broken zipper on a jacket:   How to repair a broken tent zipper:

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Paracord – The Wonder Tool!

Paracord - The Wonder Tool!

In my opinion, every survival kit should include at least a 50′ hank of parachute cord.  As it is  exceedingly strong and exceedingly versatile, parachute cord has, almost quite literally, a 1,001 uses.  In terms of wilderness survival it ties together all seven survival priorities.  Among other things, it can be used, then, to: form a ridge line for my shelter and tie down the ends; fashion a bow string for a primitive fire; construct a litter to evacuate a patient; and sew a ripped jacket.  It can even be used to make a fishing lure! To show you how, I have provided the following video.  I thought it a good one so decided to pass it along. Moving on … What is parachute cord?  Parachute cord was originally developed during World War II solely for use as the suspension lines in a parachute.  However, because the nylon cord is strong, […]

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Knife Review – Fallkniven F1

Knife Review - Fallkniven F1

Anyone who has taken one of my wilderness survival courses, or has spent time with me in the backcountry, knows full well that I have a penchant for equipment that is of Swedish origin.  There are probably several reasons, but the overriding one is simply that I love equipment that is well crafted and built to endure.  Sweden, then, is lucky enough to be home to many such products. In as much, my primary survival knife is the F1, manufactured by Fallkniven, a company based in — Yes, you guessed it — Sweden. With a total length of just over 8 inches (the same size and length as my folding knife), the F1 certainly doesn’t fit the image of the typical “survival knife,” but, trust me, looks can be deceiving.  It is an extremely versatile knife that can be used, not just for slicing, but chopping, prying, and pounding.  Which […]

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Hydration – The Real Value of Sports Drinks

Hydration - The Real Value of Sports Drinks

It is again summertime, and if you are like me or many of my wonderful friends, you are spending as much time outdoors enjoying it as fully as possible.  But it has been warm, and over the last month or so, even very hot and humid.  Not that I am complaining mind you, after all summer should be just that, summer.  Still, it helps to remind us of the importance of being properly hydrated.  This is something of which we as a nation are certainly well aware thanks to the marketing efforts of large multinational corporations that manufacture electrolyte drinks.  The problem, though, is that by and large their messages are misleading and their products not necessarily as helpful as advertised. The real value of taking a wilderness medicine or survival course, isn’t so much learning to deal with a problem as it is to prevent the problem in the first place. […]

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Survival Lesson – Learning from Other People’s Mistakes

Survival Lesson - Learning from Other People's Mistakes

In almost anything in life, there are many ways to learn and improve, but probably one of the most effective and lasting ways is through trial and error.  There is nothing like the proverbial 2×4 being cracked against your head to keep you from making the same mistake twice. The same is true when it comes to wilderness survival, but the problem is that sometimes that mistake that you make might literally be your last.  That’s why it is especially helpful (and far less painful or embarrassing) to learn from someone else’s mistake. So, one great resource that I encourage to check out is the National Park Service Preventive Search and Rescue “Lessons form the Field.” With a very similar approach to how the NTSB studies plane crashes to help make the airline industry more safe, so does the NPS PSAR.  Their blog is a collection of actual accidents that have occurred […]

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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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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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Suggested Resource for Land Navigation

Suggested Resource for Land Navigation

Yesterday, at Hartwood Acres County Park, I spent the day teaching “Basic Wilderness Navigation.”  The main goal of this course is twofold.  First, of course, is to provide our students with the fundamentals of using a compass and map so that they can begin to feel more confident as they prepare for, and engage in, their chosen outdoor activities.  But, the second, and arguably the most important goal, is to provide each student with a solid foundation of understanding for their continued self learning.  That’s because, as I stress at the conclusion of our various land navigation courses (not to mention many of our other courses, like wilderness first aid), their training hasn’t ended, rather, it has only just started.  In short, and in common parlance, if you don’t use it, you’re going to lose it.  So, I very often recommend the book, Be Expert with Map and Compass by Bjorn […]

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