Self reliance & Personal responsibility
Learn it, know it, live it; Or die trying!
There is no system to survive. Nature tells you what she wants and you can either listen to her and live, or you can ignore her and die.
~ Cody Lundin
Forward: This short article is not meant to monger fear or install paranoia. It is meant to raise awareness & formulate questions. I hope to inspire those ready to take responsibility for themselves through education and a direct hands on approach to applying the skills of self reliance and bushcraft. In this article you will not find a how to, but instead some basic questions to hopefully inspire you to begin to formulate your approach to having a plan and being prepared.
While sitting around reading one late afternoon I get thirsty, so I go to my faucet for a glass of water. Something most of us do daily & not think of any further. In many places obtaining water is hard to do, you have to worry if its safe to drink, how to filter it, clean it, and know if it is potable. Good, safe, clean drinking water is something most Americans just never think twice about. Yet sadly if there was a disaster, like so many in the past (Hurricane Katrina to name just one) Water, water, everywhere; but not a drop to drink is what comes to mind. Why is it that our waste management and water municipalities put chemicals in our drinking water that are “in my opinion”-unneeded? Things like fluoride for example. Many of us were taught as children that fluoride was needed for the strength of our teeth. Did you know the Nazis put fluoride in the water they gave to the Jews. So, is my tap water ok to drink? This all depends on where you live and what you want to believe. I am not at liberty to tell you what you should do, but what I will say is do some digging and you’ll find what you can do for obtaining water that doesn’t have arsenic in it! If you have doubts, contact a local University or college and have it throughly tested. This in turn brings me to my next subject.
Im hungry, so I go to my fridge, garden, store, or local market:
As in the above, with mention of chemicals in our water, there are even more chemicals in our ready made consumables. You wouldnt think twice about your milk, bread, and eggs would you, but honestly you should. As previously mentioned, having your water tested; the same applies if you grow a garden. It would be most advisable to know the details of your dirt. You could be poisoning your family and not know it. You know that food and water tainted with things such as pesticides, weed-killers, and other lawn chemicals can leech into your garden and make you sick, or even kill you? You could be planting crops in tainted soil with lead, arsenic, and other heavy metals, and then watering them with water that is unclean. Only after having your dirt tested should you consider growing your own food; of course in an area far from neighbors who use lawn chemicals! This is very wise advice for those who forage wild edibles in suburban areas like parks.
On food: If there was ever a time when you needed to eat food, or make meals for your family and had no stores to rely on, no local markets, and for some reason you could not grow your own food what would you do? Do we as a Nation on a large scale even comprehend how easy it is can for what we have to be taken away from us. Better yet, how are you going to cook these items with no power, & no fuel? One safe, clean, and easy way is that of a homemade solar oven.
Right now I sit in my large apartment with running water and electricity. I look outside and see a very bad snow storm coming in, so I walk to my thermostat and turn it up a few degrees, grab a sweater and throw on some slippers. I am typing this with use of technology, etc, etc. All of these things could be taken away very easily. The food in your fridge will spoil and rot, your house will become the same temperature as outside, you’ll have no means to communicate by way of cell phone, or email. Worse, your plumbing and water will be taken out and then what do you drink? How will you use a toilet being out of tissue & then how to deal with human waste? If you have no idea what you should do in these situations, it is best for you to get educated with proper survival techniques. What could be worse is natural disaster, complete grid crash, war, or even national unrest with riots; which as I write this doesn’t seem far off.
These situations from large to small have the ability to impair even an educated person from making the right choices in their efforts to survive. You can not rely on gear if you have no training, field experience or even education. A real practical know-how, understanding science, the body and the situations you may face- having a plan will no doubt be a far more valuable resource than stocking up on useless gear. That is not to say all gear is useless, rather though knowing how to use what you have available, how to adapt and use what you have around you; be it in your house, car, or what nature provides is what makes all the difference. Many have said that being prepared is the best way you can enter a situation that is undesirable. This know-how and hopefully tried and tested way of self reliance will be easier to apply in a bad course of events if you have prepared in advance. The horrible fact that only 7% of Americans are prepared for a survival type situation; this very sad because it isn’t all that hard to educate yourself and prepare.
Ask yourself some basic questions: Can you make fire without use of lighters or matches, build a shelter that keeps you safe warm and dry? Have you the ability to obtain, filter, clean, and sanitize water? Do you know how to trap, fish, & hunt? Can you positively identify various wild edibles, safely? Can you set snares and traps? Are you able to be rescued if need be without a cell phone? All of these skills are not some backwoods primitive wilderness rubbish, only applicable in rural areas. They are in fact things everyone should know, and be able to utilize in any situation, anywhere, at any time! You have to constantly remind yourself that these things are within your power and ability to achieve. After all, you would not be here reading this if it wasnt for your ancestors. They were able to face very demanding challenges, meet them head on and succeed. I think of the Ice Age, cave bears, dire wolves; I think of draught, famine, foreign occupation and oppression. I think of the Great Depression, Civil War, and countless natural disasters. The Plague, and even religious prosecution. All these things and more have been dealt with in a very gruesome, very realistic down and dirty human way. We have overcome more than we can imagine as people in our past, and we have the ability to do so again, but… Only those with a passionate will to overcome usually live to tell such stories.
No one will teach you these things, it is up to you and it is your personal responsibility to be educated. Do your best to have a plan of action in various scenarios. I think of being at home, on the road, being at work and what I would do. How do I get a hold of my family or friends, and do they know what I will be doing and possibly where I might meet them. A well planned agreed step by step should be talked about with those you live with or care about. It is a common saying that survival is 90% mental; from knowing about science, the body, nature, practical applications of techniques in the field and largely the understanding of human psychology. Knowing what fear, panic, injury, and even stress can do biologically to the body during times of doubt & disaster is valuable for being in a situation that could otherwise be deadly. Like a great author said in one of his books: “if you are reading this during a survival situation, it is already too late”. The well known saying: Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance is a good mantra to meditate on.
Who am I to be ranting about all of this? I am just your everyday complicated man who loves the outdoors. I am not specially trained by the military, though through my education and much experience it is my opinion to agree with many of the experts on the topics I have mentioned. I know for what works for myself and my family, we have our methods that have been tried & tested. Nothing gives anyone the authority to be a ‘know it all’ in this field, rather I feel we should all grow and learn from sharing our proven methods and past wisdom experiences to aid us in our adaptability.
When 1st considering what you may need in your kit, all caution should be exercised. Spending money on gear can become an adventure into madness. I am often reminded of a saying I saw on a T-shirt Cody Lundin was wearing; it said,”The more you know, the less you need.” There are various types of kits from the one you may keep in your vehicle to a a basic one for camping or even your home or office. Essentially they are all pretty much the same, allowing you to meet the very basic needs of the situation. You could spend thousands on unneeded items if you become obsessed on reviews for the best gear. While the facts are that what you really need is a well rounded education that has experience behind it, and then only some basic tools of the trade. There is no need to buy a $500 flashlight that when for $25 you can buy a hand crank-solar charge model that also charges your phone, has a strobe option, and never requires batteries. You have to be practical and ask yourself the questions of what purpose does this item fulfill; can it be used for multipurpose needs. By no means should you just go to the woods with a knife and try and survive to test your skills, you’ll either have a horrible time and miss the point of a survival kit, or you could end up hurt or worse. What you can do is bring your kit camping, play with the items, get to know them, practice in different situations, and conditions. Get very comfortable with the knowledge you have gained through education and apply techniques out in the field. You could spend 15 yeas studying a subject and in all actuality have no real experience behind it. This is Warning to those that live in the Ivory Tower! Be cautious of any teacher, or mentor who boldly preaches his/her way to do things as dogma. In the end, the variables of Mother Nature humble even the experts. Staying positive, breathing techniques, and having a good outlook are always great ways to be when dealing with anything from; Oh shit I lost my lighter! to, Bloody hell my ankle is broken!
I am weary of anyone selling their personal survival kits online, after all who are they to sell me tape, or some other random objects I can get at a dollar store, ebay, or from a family member. Instead I like go over all gear kits and take some notes. From here I make my own lists, and I see what items I already may have in my home or garage. There are many items you can get at discount stores when beginning to build your kit. In time you may upgrade certain items so try to remember the process of building your 1st kit should not be a burden to your wallet in anyway. You do not have to go all out in one shopping spree. Set aside a little money each week, maybe like $20 that you might be spending on rubbish or frivolous expendutures. At the end of the month, see what funds you have and do some browsing for best prices of goods. It was the well known survival expert Dave Canterbury that said the best spent money of your kit should be on good quality tools. Items that make bushcraft easier, for without certain tools you can not fashion other needed things in nature without a burden to yourself ie. shelter & fire. Things like a canteen, good knife, folding saw, tarp, flint and steel, cordage, etc. I am not going to tell you what you may need or what you should buy. Though I will share with you my list so that you may either use it as a check list of items; or for a list to get you started. My list is full of what many will consider “unneeded items”, like a solar oven or even solar charger for lap tops. This is because many of my items are for home use and for my family, and not those items used for purely wilderness purposes alone. I have tried to add various items and options for those interested, though there is no way possible to make a complete end-all list. With attention to detail I hope this list will be well received. If you feel I have left out an important item, please do comment and share. As I have suggested, it is through sharing our wisdom experiences we grow and are able to adapt. All things begin as ideas in an immaterial world of dreams before we conjure them up to create them in physical form. I thank the universe for such inventions like military duct tape, and super glue. Think about where we might be as humans if the ancients had such items.
Survival Gear & Extras
Think: Protection, Shelter, Water, Fire, Food, Rescue.
Things You may desire to have: This is a basic list of items I find helpful in most situations. Obviously I do not carry all of these with me in my kit when outdoors. My personal kit is very small. Use the following as a check list if you feel inspired.
~ A backpack of some sorts- a Rucksack/ pack or ready-made carrying contraption using large cloth or blanket tied at corners and slung over shoulder. Some people like external frames with removable parts, while others like internal frame packs. Use what works for you, what you can afford, and what fits the need of what you do most often. A simple book bag work very well, as does a Blanket-pack. (see video below)
Tent (to meet the needs of the situation)
Bivy-and-or emergency shelter
ridge rest mat or sleeping pad
various sized Tarps with grommets
550lb. test 7 strand parachute chord
Tarred Twisted Nylon Twine aka. bank line
heavy duty space blanket
100% wool blanket
emergency space blanket
A good butane wind/weather proof lighter
water proof matches for back up
~ Tinder kit ideas: dryer lint, cat tails, pine resin, char cloth, cotton balls with petroleum jelly,
magnifying glass, shelf fungus, etc.
! A fire must: The know how to make fire in the primitive way without instant combustion devices. This knowledge is worth its weight in “some substance worth great value”… But not Gold because after all, it is just a shiny metal.
Cody Lundin on water: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ji7wXezaUdA&feature=related
Dave Canterbury on water purification: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GS80MMOAsEU&feature=channel_video_title
Do your research! There is a difference in methods from what many agree in types of acceptable drinking water. From Boiling, treating, filtering and purifying. You have to know your water, know what you are able to do to treat it before you can trust it. It’s always the things in water you can NOT see that make you sick or kill you. Things like bacteria, viruses, parasites, and protozoa have to be considered always present before drinking unknown water. It’s the dead animal 3 miles upstream, it’s a farmer dumping his chemicals on his property leaching into the creek, it’s biological and chemical & Its viral, and bacterial. Again, do your research.
Klean Kanteen wide mouth BPA free Stainless steel water bottle 40oz. or 64oz.
stainless steel canteen cup
tincture of iodine 2 % drops
collapsable drinking bladder 1-2 gallon heavy duty plastic
Chlorine Bleach: Sodium Hypochlorite 5.25 & 6%
non lubricated condoms
Important things and & many unneeded items:
Large survival fixed blade (examples): Busse FFBM, KA-bar long Heavy Bowie, Ontario SP52 , Ka-bar Cutlass machete and Ka-bar grass machete.
~ Not all knives or metal is created equal, do your research, read reviews and field test your knives 1st.
Folding saw- Silky foldable saws or Bacho Laplander Also Sven saws.
A small fixed blade: Ka-bar Heavy duty Warthog is my choice
A folding blade- good as a back up.
Good quality Hatchet and or Axe
Good multi-tool: Leatherman, Gerber, Spyderco, etc.
Mini strobe light
A good quality LED flash light
A good head lamp. Petzl is my choice.
Mini-led flashlight- I like the Photon Micro-Light II PRO LED Keychain Flashlight
extra batteries (dated)
extra 550lb test (7 strand) parachute cord
heavy upholstery thread and sewing kit
military duct tape
heavy duty large ziplock bags
safety pins- few sizes
scapel xacto blades
milspec snare wire 10 or more feet
a few carabiners
XL condoms non-lubercated – for water bladder use
clear plastic tube for drinking- approx 3feet
55 gallon barrel liners
bright cotton bandana
heavy duty rain poncho
sea line dry bag
solar/ wind up radio: I like the Etón Scorpion it can charge a cell phone, give weather reports, has a flashlight and even opens your beer!
solar charger for phones
led wind up flashlights
solar charger for laptop
solar food dehydrator
small mess kit- cup, pots and a pan.
Protection & hunting options:
A good knife
UDAP bear spray
small cross bow w/extra darts
blow gun w. extra darts – see link below
slingshot tweaked for big game and fishing see link below
bolo and sling
mini fishing kit: 80lb test and lower test, sinkers, hooks, lures. – see link below
wire for traps, & snares
any guns you may own
a good knowledge in the martial arts
Personal medical kit – First Aid:
Any daily medication needed. This might be inhalers, insulin, or even antacids. Things that if without could compromise your health.
note card of any pre-existing medical conditions/allergies etc.
Clothing & the Layering system:
Waterproof 3 layer Goretex parka
Polartec 300 ecws fleece uppers and lowers
upper- base layer-thermals, over layer, warmer layer, water proof gore-tex shell
lower- underwear, thermals, polartec, water proof gore-tex shell
Gore-tex water proof boots for hiking or backing. I like Zamberlan, Asolo, Scarpa, & Vasque.
Nikwax for leather boots
synthetic liner socks like polypropoline
over-socks made of Wool
Gore-tex Crocs or Gaiters
optional layers of down coat, or vest
gore-tex shell mitts / Polar Tec 300 Gloves, leather gloves for camp work
polartec Hat or wool
-20F sleeping bag or something similar for your location/situation
polartec sleeping bag liner
ridge rest sleeping pad
camp chair or something water proof to sit or kneel on.
sun glasses or ski googles
Around the House:
Rechargeable batteries AA and AAA
other various batteries – dated
hand-crank for recharging
freezer zip lock bags
strike anywhere matches
Chlorine Bleach: Sodium Hypochlorite 5.25 & 6%
extra dish soap
extra crank radio
candles and survival 7 day candles.
extra lamp oil wicks
camping fuel- white gas
distilled white vinegar
extra 7 strand parachute cord
plastic window kits
various sized cast iron pots and pans
100% wool blankets
extra tarps of various sizes
* The next step in Preparation would be Food Storage for the home. What items your family uses often, dry goods, and other nonperishable items to have on hand. Things like Dry egg powder, powdered milk, flours, rice, beans, canned tuna, etc.
The following vid clips inspired this article
Please watch them
Interview with Cody Lundin on his Book ‘When all Hell Breaks Loose”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiOYa0zBHyw
Cody and words of wisdom! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0W2vIcptkYw&feature=related
Cody Lundin at the store: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mmmpg-XCU-k&feature=related
Links to short educational vids that you might wish to know about:
Blanket wrap coat: http://www.youtube.com/user/wildernessoutfitters#p/search/14/VkSscmFKKMM
Wool blanket wrap ‘how-to’ for sleeping: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOkDlFzrYSE&feature=channel_video_title
Pocket fisherman: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GS80MMOAsEU&feature=channel_video_title
Water purification: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GS80MMOAsEU&feature=channel_video_title
Hunting slingshot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3apLrcmpeE&ytsession=lySeeszFYdVBLOhDKv_Tsn5EUGcKwcNxZo_9GTJFUtAndvIL5ZUVsVPcSvgNDhIKHGtgNWKF7BrtiMjvyhAYpRxXz8echx8HYCvxx3uGSir9G23zHioxkdZSLI5-wpVPCQsGLJaU9ho2pM2GeF_B5hrHD_KgJGRxOouQBpE0tObprLmXtNtBzod9fTNXLQgAfGLcxIt-VrMPAdVG6KmneT0qs20IGEe6ZBcGbEH8kauURp60n7bkXS_EHJw3LPnHDaHxTNxE1-zpNnJwFUzFs7y3HEmWxC40dogDPp3mdvs
~ sling bow modification: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6LxKfpAPYA&feature=relmfu
~sling bow target practice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NshtEe_TsRA&feature=related
~ sling bow fishing modification: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyxjnDNHW7Y&feature=relmfu
Please consider the following for your next book purchases:
When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes: http://www.amazon.com/When-All-Hell-Breaks-Loose/dp/142360105X
98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive: http://www.amazon.com/98-6-Degrees-Keeping-Your-Alive/dp/1586852345/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_b
The Pathfinder System: Survivability for the Common Man
Other Great links:
Many Survival topics: http://www.m4040.com/Survival/navbar.htm