Archive for the ‘Equipment’ Category

First Aid Tip: Burns

First Aid Tip: Burns

Now that Summer is almost here, many of us will be spending more time in the out of doors.  That often means either camping, hiking in a local park, or even just lazing around in the backyard (which I fully hope to be doing).  While, certainly, the risk of injury in any of these situations is low, problems can manage to arise.  So, a little knowledge and preparation can go a long way should something happen.  One type of typical outdoor injury is burns, and, in fact, the most common cause arises from cooking accidents. Whether it is caused by your backyard grill or your camp stove, minor burns to your hands may be caused by inadvertently grabbing hot metal; and potentially major burns may arise from stove flare-ups and scalds from tipping over pots of boiling liquid.  In fact, these kind of burns can be more serious than that […]

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Gear List: The SAM Splint

Gear List: The SAM Splint

While I teach survival and wilderness medicine courses, I really don’t like to refer to myself as an “instructor.”  In fact, each time that I do, I cringe inside.  Certainly, I understand the appropriate context of the word, but, to me at least, it purports that I know it all.  Which I don’t.  Every time I teach a class, no matter whether its advanced or beginner, I learn something new.  And in between classes I continue to try to learn.  Which is frustrating sometimes because it seems that the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know!  So the process of learning never ends.  I see myself, then, as a student. While teaching a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course last weekend to a group of Scout leaders, one asked me a question about the SAM splint that we were using at the time.  I was able […]

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Communing with the Dead

Communing with the Dead

On Saturday, my postwoman handed me the latest version of Accidents in North American Mountaineering (ANAM) that I had ordered earlier in the week.  When I get home tonight from a meeting with my friend, J.C., I fully intend to crack open a beer, plop down on my couch with my fresh copy, and, soon after I start to read, begin heavily marking the pages with my highlighter and pencil.  Since it is the sixth year in a row that I’ve been reading this journal, I know that it will probably take me about a week to finish — And I will appreciate every minute of it. Whoa, wait a minute, Erik, isn’t it a little weird to “appreciate” page after page of death, injury, and mortality statistics?  I wrote “appreciate,” not “enjoy.”  Besides, I read it … and often recommend it to my students … for very good reasons.  After […]

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Preparation is Key

Preparation is Key

Whether it is preparing for an unexpected survival or medical emergency,  a common misconception exists.  That is, that one can effectively deal with the emergency with only the barest minimum of equipment.  For example, some people believe that they should be able to survive if they were suddenly blindfolded and dropped into the wilderness, in winter, dressed only in their underwear and equipped simply with a knife (Don’t laugh, I have actually heard this).  Perhaps this might work on a television reality show, but I doubt that it would work in actual reality.  This misconception can potentially be deadly. Consider the heroic rescue reported by The Salem News this weekend in Peabody, Massachusetts: A snowplow driver, who was parked in the break-down lane of Interstate 95 on Friday, watched a Jeep Wrangler slam, at roughly 60 miles per hour, into the back of a front-end loader being operated by a co-worker. […]

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Search-And-Rescue: What Do They Carry?

Search-And-Rescue: What Do They Carry?

I spent a week last Spring in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  These mountains are some of the most beautiful, and welcoming, that I have ever seen.  But as one gazes upon its rolling peaks, it is wise to remember the adage, Looks can be deceiving.  After all, this is the home of Mount Washington, famous for its dangerously erratic weather, which for 76 years, until 2010, held the record for the fastest wind gust ever recorded on the Earth’s surface.  During all seasons of the year, outdoors people, from novice to experienced, are routinely needing to be rescued from its various peaks and slopes.  Just for the short period that I was there, there were at least three major search and rescues, and a few minor ones.  Sometimes the endings are happy, many times they are not. In this part of the country, search and rescues are conducted […]

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The Survival Knife: Which One for You?

The Survival Knife: Which One for You?

For anyone who spends time in the outdoors, arguably, one of the most important items to consider having with you is a knife.  It can certainly be handy as an all-around tool, but, more to the point, it plays a vital role in your survival pack.  After all, preparation is a key component to best responding to an acute emergency situation and a knife can help you more easily do 1,001 things.  So, spending a little time considering which knife can best serve your personal tastes, your chosen outdoor activity, your potential needs, while not burning a hole in your wallet, can pay off huge dividends.  Let me, then, offer you a few thoughts which you might find helpful to get your started. A survival knife isn’t just used for cutting.  In a survival situation, you will most likely also be using your knife to pry, pound, chop, dig, scrap, […]

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Equipment Review: The BioLite “CampStove”

Equipment Review: The BioLite "CampStove"

I came across a product about six months ago that I thought might be very useful in the backcountry, but, since I was busy with other projects, I filed it away with the genuine intent of reexamining it later when I had some more time.  However, after watching repeated news updates about the sufferings of residents in the metropolitan New York City region following Superstorm Sandy a few weeks ago, I decided that I needed to pull out that file and take another look.  The product is the CampStove by BioLite. Initially, my problem was needing to recharge my iPhone while on extended courses or outings.  I am not an active technology user, especially in the woods, but I have  found that a smartphone can be a terrific safety and teaching device.  Before I even venture out, alone or with a group, I use various applications to check such things as […]

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Tourniquet: Fact v. Fiction

Tourniquet: Fact v. Fiction

Recently, I was reading a popular wilderness first-aid handbook that is used to trained thousands of Americans each year and one of the sections really bothered me.  In its outline of how to control severe bleeding, it indicated that a tourniquet is used “only” as a last resort since it may “cause gangrene” and “may require surgical amputation of the limb.”  The handbook also advises that in the event that a tourniquet must be used, that it should be loosened in “five minute” intervals to check if bleeding has stopped and to “allow some blood flow” to the affected limb.  Sounds reasonable enough, right?  Except that it isn’t accurate. According to much medical evidence, the reality is that a tourniquet, used by a trained wilderness first-aid provider, may, in fact, be the initial method of bleeding control in severe extremity bleeding. Much of what the medical community now knows about the […]

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Emergency Water Filter

Emergency Water Filter

Here is an unconventional, yet practical, piece of equipment for you to consider adding to your emergency survival kit.  The “HydroPack,” manufactured by  Hydration Technology Innovations, will make any water on the ground, no matter how muddy, brackish, even polluted, absolutely potable. You are not sure at what I am exactly getting?  Okay, then, consider the following emergency scenario: You left your home bright and early to spend a beautiful Summer day hiking.  However, just after lunch you realize that you took a wrong trail.  Initially, you thought that you could easily backtrack, but, hours later, now with the sun beginning to set, you reluctantly acknowledge that you are really lost and will be spending the night.  Complicating the situation is that hours earlier you took the last sip from your water bottle (after all, you only brought enough for a “day” hike), and the afternoon was much hotter than […]

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Outdoor Photography

Outdoor Photography

So as to better inform others of the activities and adventures that are taking place at True North, we make the effort to regularly alternate our various photographs.  Like the ones that currently grace the header and footer of our Facebook page.  Thanks to local professional photographer, Abie Livesay, we are extremely lucky to have more than a few beautiful ones from which to chose. During the weekend of May 26-27, 2012, True North hosted a “Fun” Survival Overnight for a group of individuals who have some of the highest PMA levels that Erik and Larry have ever seen.  True North planned the event in order to help make up for a survival training course for which this group had registered the previous November, but which … How shall we say? … had gone slightly awry thanks to an unplanned abundance of hunters roaming the Laurel Highlands searching for bears. […]

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