Thursday, May 23, 2013

TUTORIAL - Water Purification

In almost every survival situation, it is essential to have access to a healthy water source, whether it be for drinking, cleaning of utensils, cooking or keeping yourself clean.

Finding a regular access point to water is essential. I'll cover the process of finding water when not near a water body in a future post. For now, try searching for a water body such as a stream, creek, lake or river. Try and see if you can spot any animal tracks in the loamy soil near the edges of the water - even small ones such as those from rats or possums. Animals are very good at detecting contaminants in water and won't drink at a water body that has them. Signs of animals drinking there regularly generally indicate a safe water source. Healthy vegetation growing in and around the water body is also a good sign, as plants have difficulty growing in polluted water.

Check to see whether the water has a current. Water with a decent current will, generally, be cleaner than still water, as insects - such as mosquitos - will be unable to lay eggs in it, and the churning effect as it moves over the uneven bed will cleanse the water to an extent. If it is a moving water body and you have found animal tracks, try to move further upstream from the tracks to a point that doesn't have them. Then, gather as much water as you can and take it to your camp/base.

There are many readily accessible filtration systems that you can buy, such as plunger pumps or the LifeStraw (which is particularly good, and I highly recommend having one for each person in your charge) but these do eventually stop working, and it's important to know how to do it for yourself.

The first thing you need to do is filter out any large particles. You can do this quite simply by pouring the water through coarse fabric such as a t-shirt or bandana into another container. This will gather out much of the dirt, pebbles or other debris in the water. If you have charcoal in your kit/supplies, then you should crumble some of it up and smear it over the filter cloth at this point, as charcoal makes an excellent filter. Though this, on its own, is not enough to make the water safe.

At this point you need to start the purification process. Before you add anything such as bleach or peroxide, you'll need to filter out any small particles in the water. You can do this by building a rudimentary filtration system.

Get a large plastic bottle and cut the bottom off of it, then push some cloth or cotton wool balls down inside until it blocks up the mouth of the bottle. This is to stop the filter materials from falling out into your purified water container.

On top of the cotton/fabric, place a couple of handfuls of clean sand. This will be your last stage in the system, as the sand granules churn the water minutely, leaving any particulate at the top and allowing only water at the bottom.

On top of the sand, place a couple of handfuls of charcoal. This just needs to be regular wood charcoal from your fire. Very easy to make if you don't have any on hand. Charcoal is incredibly good at absorbing minute particles and bacteria from water, and allowing the water to pass by cleanly, so put a good amount on there to catch as much as you can.

On top of the charcoal, place a wide layer of small pebbles and rocks. Rock surfaces absorb much of the larger partciles from the water, but also prevent your other filters from coming out with wind and other elements, allowing you to make good use of the filter for a good while.

You will notice with this system that even pouring muddy water in at the top will produce crystal clear water at the bottom, however, this filter will not remove all of the water-borne viruses or bacteria that may be in the source water. At this point, the water will still be fairly clean, however, especially if you got it from a RUNNING water source rather than a still one.

If, however, you're still unsure about the cleanliness of the water, you can treat it with bleach (see my post on using bleach) or by using Hydrogen Peroxide, which is considered to be safer than using bleach to purify water anyway, despite it not being as strong of a bactericide. Add a few drops of it to a liter of water and watch it fizz and bubble like crazy. Any and all particulate will move to the top of the water, and after several hours, the water will be fairly clear and clean. The process is actually quite fun to watch.

Once you're done, regardless of whether or not you used the chemical phase, the last stage is to boil the water. Bring it to a rolling boil and hold it there for several minutes. Once cooled, the water will be as safe to use as you can realistically make it.

Hopefully this has been informative! For a quick and easy water filter system to throw in your bag, though, definitely grab one of the LifeStraws. I can't recommend them enough, and they're quite well priced.

Until next time!

- CumQuaT

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

INFORMATIVE - EDC WINS!

A recap of a couple of wins, (and a couple of fails) from the last couple of weeks. (First four are from the same day!)

A few bad smells were eminating from the office at work, my workmates couldn't locate anything in the roof or walls with the poor light they were using, so I grabbed my EDC torch and gave it to the boss. A couple of minutes later *BAM* we found a dead rat. Walked into the warehouse to another ungodly smell, after 5 minutes of searching under pallets with my torch. *BAM* Another dead rat. Both were disposed of lovingly.

                             
                                                                My trusty Fenix PD32!

Lunch time rolls around and i go to eat my can of beans, forgot my spoon! Luckily I carry a FRED (Field Ration Eating Device or more affectionately know as a Fucking Ridiculous Eating Device, you'll see why below). Note to self: Carry a better eating utensil!

  


I know that CumQuaT carries a CRKT Eat 'n' Tool in his EDC for just this occasion:


My other two wins came at a football game that night, Pre-match warm up I had some pain from shin splints,  so I popped a couple of Iboprofin and  ended up playing a pretty decent game. Just before half time one of the boys needed a cut strapped up because of rules regarding blood. At half time another one of the lads had  cut his knee up pretty bad on the pitch, I chucked him my IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) and he patched himself up. So all in all it was a good day.

A couple of things I still need for my bag. I carry a mechanical pencil but do not carry a pen, countless times I have needed a pen and was not able to provide one. Secondly, One of the lads came off injured last week and was asking if I had any lollies, as he needed something sweet, I did previously but DID NOT RESTOCK MY BAG. Must remember to REPLACE ANYTHING I use ASAP.

Anyway, there will be more in future! As well as another list of links for you guys to check out.

Take it easy.

Burt.

TUTORIAL - Dealing with Natural Disasters

Natural disasters are often contained to one area, but can often have devastating, wide-spread effects. In many cases, the after-effects of these disasters can cause more fatalities and damage than the disasters themselves.

Here I'll cover some of the more common natural disasters, and go over some information on how best to survive when they happen.

Flood


Large-scale floods can be utterly devastating. They destroy properties en-masse, cause large-scale evacuations, take out mains power and water affecting a much wider area than just the site of the flood, and they also are hotbeds for the spread of infection and disease. There is no way to stop a flood. Water is patient, powerful and incredibly destructive. When it goes bad, it REALLY goes bad. So there are a few things to keep in mind when flood does strike.

Be aware: Keep informed as best you can. Local authorities will generally keep television and radio communications regular and informative. If you know when it'll reach you, you'll know how long you have to prepare.

Prepare: Turn off gas and electricity to your place of residence, as floodwaters can turn both of these into very damaging forces to your property. Use this time also to prepare emergency food and water supplies, as well as warm clothing and wet weather gear. A WaterBOB is a great way to quickly store a large water supply. Gather your prepared stores and get ready to dig in. Unless you're in a particularly bad floodplain, it's safer for you to stay put, but be prepared to get out quickly if you have to.
When preparing, remember that you'll be potentially living long term in a house without working gas, power and possibly water. While there will be a lot of water around, it won't necessarily be safe to drink.

Arrange: Move everything in your house to the highest point. Make sure all of your stores and equipment are in an easy to reach place. Only the most severe of floods reach past the first storey of houses.

Be tenacious: The urge to flee your property will be high, but the safest thing for you to do is to remain with your house, even if it means setting up a shelter on your roof. If you are well prepared, it won't be a problem.

If you do need to evacuate: When moving by car, keep a close eye on the height of the road. Remember that even a slight drop in the road height can make the difference between drivable water levels and a stalled car. If your car does stall, abandon it immediately. A waterlogged car won't easily start again. The basic rule is, unless you have a specially designed offroad vehicle, you shouldn't drive through water higher than the mid-way point of your car's wheels, or your knees. If you have to cross a flooded bridge, take exceptional care, as part of the bridge may have been swept away and you might not see it through the water, which will likely be cloudy with silt.

The aftermath: The aftermath of a large-scale flood can be devastating. All of the now stagnant water will quickly breed mosquitoes which can carry diseases such as Ross River Virus and even Malaria. This will be proliferated by any dead fish or other animal carcasses which may have washed up during the flood. Keep inside your residence as much as possible and use home-made bleach spray (see bleach post) to purify the air in your house. Be sure to bury or burn any animal carcasses on or near your property to prevent the spread of infection and insects. Do not eat them, even if short on food.
Be wary of travel too far from your property until you are certain no more storms or floods are coming, as it may not yet be safe. Many instances of flood weather come in waves.

Tsunami floods: Tsunamis can be particularly dangerous to coastal communities as the floodwaters come in as a form of large tide, bringing exceptionally large volumes of water inland. The main thing to remember with tsunamis is that they come in multiple phases, so it may not be safe to immediately return to the disaster site once the waters have receeded, as you may be killed by a subsequent wave.


Drought


In the other direction, drought can be just as damaging - oftentimes moreso, as it and its effects last for much longer.
The drought itself is never the killer. It's the aftermath that does the extreme damage. It destroys crops, dries up water sources and causes the death of animals and birds in a large scale, which damages the food chain in such a way that it affects all life.
Since it is such an all-encompassing disaster, and so slow moving, there is little you can do when drought strikes, but here is my advice:

Be aware of domino effects: Drought causes dryness and dryness leads to fire. Drought may be a slow-moving killer, but wild fires are not. They spread rapidly and can wipe out incredibly large areas in a matter of hours. During a drought, everything becomes super dry and the tiniest spark, or a glass bottle left in the bush can set off a gigantic bushfire that will tear through everything in its path, especially with no water available to stop it.
In addition to fire, the carcasses of animals who didn't make it can lead to infection spreading rapidly. Bury the corpses nice and deeply to prevent this from happening. Unless absolutely necessary, avoid burning the corpses due to the high risk of fire spreading. If you must have a fire, dig a deep, wide pit away from any exposed grass or trees, exposing nothing but bare soil to the flames. Be sure never to leave the fire unattended.

Stay hygenic: Dry, hot weather can lead to the quick spread of disease. Allow yourself to sweat as it will open and clean the pores of your skin, but be aware of your hydration levels as well. Though water is scarce, be sure to maintain adequate cleanliness after defacation and before handling food.
Flies can become a serious problem in a drought. Be sure to keep all food and food preparation tools covered as much as possible to prevent the spread of disease, and try to keep food and water stores out of the way of any dust, as winds are often high during drought.

Be water-wise: Store water whenever you can get it, but be sure to sanitize it, either with bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or, if you're careful with the fire, via boiling. If at all possible, make use of multiple sanitation avenues, just to be safe. If you don't have large containers for water storage, you can create your own water tank by digging a large trench in an area that is shaded as much as possible and lining it with polyurethane sheeting, such as garbags, to make it watertight. If no sheeting is available, using clay or even cement if you have the means, is also appropriate. If you are able to build the walls of the trench up into a partial dome, it will help keep the water at a cooler temperature as it leaves a smaller opening at the top. Be wary of any water you store this way, as it will attract animals. If they contaminate it, it will contaminate you, so be careful. Boil or otherwise sanitize any and all water before consuming.
Never waste water. Think of creative ways to safely re-use water, such as using cooking water to wash yourself.

Keep hydrated: Dehydration can pose serious health risks. Remember that your body will retain water much better if you do your hydrating in large bursts, rather than sipping constantly. Try also to eat foods that are naturally high in moisture, such as fruit. Canned stores are good for this purpose.

Also be aware that, when desperate for water, animals which would normally be wary of humans, such as snakes, will become quite bold and may enter your property in search of water. Desperate animals are also a higher threat, as they may attack you if they consider you to be getting in the way of their survival.


Earthquake


There are places in the world that get earthquakes and there are places that don't. So this may or may not be relevant to you. However, since there's very little way to accurately predict an earthquake happening, surviving one depends heavily on where you are at the time that it happens.

Animals are quite good at knowing that one is about to happen, and you will notice that they become very tense and alert all of a sudden, as if preparing to bolt. Many large earthquakes come with "foreshocks" - small tremors which presage the arrival of the "main event". They are often too small to feel, but if you do feel them, immediately move to turn off gas, power and water to your property and remove heavy items from any high places that they may be. Also use this time to prepare any emergency supplies you have and prepare yourself.

If you're in a building: Move to the inside corner of a large room. If you have a basement or underground portion to the house, this can often be the safest place to go, though be sure to have a clear escape route in case the house collapses on top of you. If below, get under a solid table or large piece of furniture as this will give you protection and an airwell in the event of a collapse.

If you're in a vehicle: Stop driving as soon as you are able and stay inside your vehicle as it will provide some protection from falling debris. Remove your seatbelt and crouch in the footwell to prevent head/neck injury should anything large fall on the roof of the car. Wait out the shocks and aftershocks. When leaving the vehicle, be aware of any fallen debris or power lines that may pose a danger to you.

If you're outdoors on foot: Lie down as flat as you can on the ground. Do not try running as you may get thrown and injure yourself. Keep away from high objects such as buildings or trees. Avoid seeking shelter underneath anything as it may collapse. If you are on a slope, try to quickly move to the top of the nearest rise and stay there, as sloped surfaces are more likely to give way than flat ones.

Be wary of the aftermath: Fallen powerlines, ruptured sewage mains and unstable structures may follow a large earthquake. Be alert, be aware and move carefully in the aftermath. When opening doors or cupboards, be aware of loose objects that may fall out and injure you.
Be wary of using any water, even from taps, after an event, as ruptured underground sewage mains may have contaminated local water supply. Boil or otherwise sterilize any water before using until the all-clear has been given by local authorities.
Be wary of broken gas lines if starting a fire or using electrical appliances. You may inadvertantly trigger a large fire or explosion.


Cyclone/Hurricaine/Tornado


Weather-related disasters can be utterly terrifying. The sheer sense of power from Mother Nature can strike a deep-seated sense of fear in even the most stoic person, and there is good reason for it. Strong winds alone can destroy structures, or even rip entire trees out of the ground and fling them through windows, into buildings or into creek beds, causing floods. The floods can lead to cars being dragged around, houses being washed away and lives being taken. Given their all-encompassing nature there is no-where to hide from them, small chance of escaping them and absolutely nothing you can do to stop them. But you can be prepared for them, and the prepared will survive.

Be informed: When in storm season, keep on top of weather reports. For as long as you are able, check weather radars, news stations and reports to stay knowledgeable about what's going on and what's yet to come. Get yourself a battery or, even better, dynamo powered radio to keep abreast of the situation at all times.

Be prepared: Have plenty of stored food handy that does not require refrigeration. Keep a means close by of water purification and storage. Board up windows where you can. If no means of barricade are available, cross-hatch the windows with electrical tape to prevent glass shattering. Secure any loose objects outside, even ones that you think would be too heavy for wind to move, such as outdoor dining tables. Take note of the most secure places in your house: in a basement, under stairs, inside of a car in the garage. If your house doesn't make it, make sure that YOU do.

Fortify: Barricade windows and doors where possible. Place sandbags around the bottoms of external doors. If none are available, bags of topsoil or fertilizer do a good job of it, or, if you have the time, shovel soil into garbage bags. Seal the edges of windows with electrical tape to prevent water entry. Shut off power, gas and water to your property when you're done.

Stockpile: Store as much clean water as possible while the plumbing still works. A WaterBOB is ideal for this, but many cheap collapsable water containers are widely available to store in a cupboard for this sort of occasion. Canned food is watertight and will survive the storm. Try to keep a running supply of at least a week's worth of it for everyone in your house, just in case you are stranded, or if the storm lasts a long time.

Ride it out: In the case of a tornado (twister) seek shelter in the lowest, sturdiest part of the house, preferrably near a solid external wall and away from the center of a room, or into the smallest room available, preferrably under some solid furniture and away from windows.

While a severe storm can be quite intimidating, it is imperative that you keep a cool head. The thunder, lightning and buffeting winds can and will cause fear in both you and those in your charge, and it will be up to you to lead them and make sure everyone is safe and secure. Give people tasks to keep their minds focused. Morale is a huge factor. Once safe and secure, pull out a boardgame or some playing cards to keep everyones' spirits high, but maintain awareness of what is going on. Watch for flooding, water entry, wind damage and flying debris, but above all, keep calm.


Bushfires


Bushfires are horrifying. They can last for weeks, wipe out entire towns in a day and are incredibly difficult to stop. They are unpredictable, at the mercy of nature's whim and almost completely uncontrollable once at their peak. Keep a level head and a few tricks up your sleeve, however, and you can come out on top.

Be aware: You will smell and then hear a bushfire before it reaches you. If that doesn't set you off, the local wildlife fleeing from it should get your attention. Be aware of these signs as you'll need all the time you can get. The early you detect it, the more time you'll have to be ready for it. Watch for the smoke in the air, as its movement will show you how the fire is moving. Bushfires are moved by the winds, and the speed and direction the winds are moving will tell you the speed and direction that the fire is moving.

Prepare: The first thing you need to do is to work out multiple clear escape routes. Be sure to make more than one, as bushfires can spread rapidly and may cut you off with a moment's notice. That being said, do not immediately flee a bushfire. Cover yourself with a good covering of clothing. It may feel restrictive and the heat may be bad, but even a basic layer of clothing can protect you from burns and the waves of hot wind that will come from the fire. If at all reasonable, you can create a "fire circle" to protect yourself. Bushfire will not spread over already burned land, so if at all feasable, you can pre-burn a wide circle around your land with controlled burn techniques to prevent the bushfire spreading within the circle. Only do this if experienced, however, as it could lead to you inadvertantly destroying your own property.

Getting through it: Remember that smoke inhalation is a bigger killer than fire itself. Moisten a cloth, such as a bandana, and cover your mouth and nose to prevent smoke inhalation. Do not panic. Bushfires, while wild, will act in a relatively predictable fashion if you are observant. Watch the wind, watch the wildlife. Do not run wildly away from the fire, but instead stop and monitor the situation. There will be a clear exit. find it, and use it. If on foot, use streams or creeks to protect yourself. Partially immerse yourself in the water. Do not use water tanks for this purpose, as you may get boiled alive.
Sometimes it is possible to escape a bushfire by running through it to the already burned area in its wake. If the flames are too thick, this is far too dangerous, but sometimes there are quiet areas between the flames where there is not enough fuel for the fire to really burn well. This should be used as a last resort only, and if you're considering doing it, you should attempt to cover yourself as much as possible in mud, clay and water to prevent burns.
If you catch alight, don't keep running, as it will fan the flames. Drop to the ground immediately and begin to roll. Flames will extinguish very quickly if they have no oxygen to feed them, so the aim is to smother them as much as possible.



So hopefully this has given you some insight into how you can cope with natural disasters. Especially in light of my last blog post. Be informed, be prepared and be safe!

- CumQuaT

INFORMATIVE - Something to Prepare for - Increasing numbers of natural disasters

Hi all, rather than a tutorial today I wanted to outline something that I believe everyone should be aware of. It's a wordy post, sorry, but an important one to read.

You see many shows on National Geographic, etc, showing preppers who take things to the extreme... Storing away years worth of food, stockpiling guns and ammo, building deep bunkers and faraday cages... These people are preparing for extreme solar flares, chemical warfare, nuclear fallout, supervolcano eruptions... All manner of very nasty things. Nasty, yes, but unlikely to happen.

My personal approach to prepping is the realism of it all. What is ACTUALLY likely to happen? Sure, there are things going on in the world such as the nonsense with North Korea, international terrorism and near-earth collisions with meteorites, but all of that, in a real sense, has a small likelihood of affecting you, and the odds of you being able to suitably prepare for it are slim.

So what could REALLY happen? Well, one thing that has been proven, empirically, lately, is the effect of carbon dioxide emissions from humans over the past several thousand years.

You may have noticed that in the past several years, the number and ferocity of natural disasters has been steadily increasing... Well, just recently, papers were published showing hard evidence of why this is happening. The reason comes down to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which has recently hit a record high (during human occupation of the planet) of 400 ppm.

As soon as it hit 400 ppm the Earth itself started to go into a "cleanse" routine. It's not the first time it's happened, either. Before people evolved into what we are, the Earth built up its CO2 levels through excessive volcanic activity, leading to large amounts of gas releases and forest fires caused by lava, which blackened the atmosphere leading the planet to generate huge floods and tornadoes, etc, to, essentially, hit the reset button. Now it's happening again.

A good read of the proper data behind these findings can be found here. If you'd like a simpler, quicker version, check out this slightly sarcastic video by noted ex-physicist Henry Reich:


So, this is something to think about when justifying your prepping. It's not some crackpot, spurious thing. It's real, and it's already happening. Australia has been having massive floods and cyclones, North America has endured relentless tornadoes and Asia has had to slog through giant earthquakes and tidal waves... It's not coincidence, and all of the evidence points to the fact that it's just going to get worse.

So be prepared, stay safe and keep informed.

- CumQuaT


P.S. Here are some reference links to back up what I've been saying:

http://researchmatters.noaa.gov/news/Pages/CarbonDioxideatMaunaLoareaches400ppm.aspx
http://www.climate.gov/
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate-change
http://www.climatecentral.org/
http://realclimate.org/
http://ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faqs.html
http://globalchange.gov/

Friday, May 10, 2013

INFORMATIVE - Bleach: Handy to have around

When prepping for a "bug in" rather than a "bug out", there are many handy things to stock up on. One of those things is bleach, because it can, quite literally, save your life in an extended survival situation.

Now, the term "bleach" is fairly broad, as it refers to a number of chemical compositions which remove colour, whiten or disinfect, often via oxidation. When I say bleach, I'm referring to, and ONLY to, sodium hypochlorite. So track down a bottle or three of bleach which is pure sodium hypochlorite and you'll be much better prepared in the world.


Now, firstly, a little safety. Bleach can be quite dangerous if you don't use it properly.
  • First of all, though mild, it IS still a poison. Don't drink it, don't get it in your eyes, avoid getting it on your skin, and don't breathe in the fumes.
  • While it isn't flammable, it's a very strong oxidiser, and can make fires grow considerably. It can also potentially ignite, or aid in the ignition of, combustibles.
  • Try and wear gloves while handling it.
Now that's out of the way, how can you use it? Well, it's handy for a lot of things, such as:


Purifying Water
Add 2 or 3 drops of bleach to a liter of water (strain the water first through your bandana to remove any large particles) then gently stir it through. Let it sit for 30 minutes and it'll be ready for human consumption.


Purify Air
In a world without power and plumbling, airborne viruses and infections could spread very quickly. But if you fill a plant mister bottle with a half and half mixture of bleach and water, then spray it into the air, it will kill any nasties that are floating around. Try to avoid spraying it directly onto food or living things, though.


Sanitize Eating Utensils
The last thing you want if you're stranded at home is to get sick, so proper sanitation is extremely important. You can sanitize your food tools such as forks, spoons, bowls and bottles with a mixture composed of one tablespoon of bleach per 4 liters of water. Submerge your utensils in this mixture for 2 or 3 minutes, then drain them and air-dry. They'll be good as new. It also removes any odours from metal bowls, flasks and the like.


Kill Bacteria in Fruit and Vegetables
If you've been scavenging for food, and you find questionable produce, you can eliminate risk of bacterial infection by giving them the same treatment as you would for eating utensils above.


Many preppers forget the need to prepare for personal hygiene in a world with no easy means to do so. You'll die just as quickly from a bad infection or virus than you will from any of the other dangers that would occur in a SHTF situation.

So grab a bottle or three of bleach the next time you're at the hardware store, and stow it somewhere cool and dry. You never know when it could save your life.

- CumQuaT

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

TUTORIAL - HOBO STOVE

Can't afford a camping stove? Bored? Feeling creative? Here's a nifty little item you can make to provide you with a personal fire.

When I was young I had no money, which sucked, because I also used to go camping a bit. I could always find someone to borrow gear off, but I lacked the skills to make a suitable source to cook on. A mate of mine showed me a little contraption he called a Hobo Stove. It was easy to make and did the job.

Below are steps to make your very own stove.

Step 1: The Can

 Here we have a basic can of tomatos.





The best thing to use for this stove is an old can. You can find them anywhere and they are pretty durable. The size obviously depends on how big a fire you want and what you plan on using it for. (Larger can requires larger fuel source).


Step 2: Prepping the can

Strip away any label on the outside of the can, as it will quickly catch fire when lit. The next step is to make holes at the base of the can to allow air to flow to feed the fire. (You can make holes or cut away the middle around the top if you want, this allows items to be placed on top of the can without the fire going out.)


Step 3: Fuel                              

Scrap cardboard used for fuel


Cardboard rolled up and placed inside can. (Note the holes in the base and top)



This stove uses two sources for fuel. Cardboard and wax.

The best thing about these items is they are pretty readily accessable and relatively low cost (Or free).
Get your cardboard and lay it out. You want it to be roughly as wide as the height of the can. The length will depend on how big your can is. Roll the cardboard as tightly as possible, adding more so that it fits tightly into the can without unrolling.

Adding wax to the stove.



Next you will want to use a candle (or another source of wax) and melt it over the top of the cardboard, Ideally you'll want to fill as much of the gaps with the wax. This will produce a steady and even source to burn. (Sure this uses candles but unless you have a lot of candles you won't be cooking anything anytime soon.)

After the wax cools, you are ready to light it up! The cardboard and wax burn together, creating an intense heat that is useful for more than just cooking. To extinguish you will need to completely suffocate or douse the tin. It will self ignite if not put out properly.  For easier re-use, you can flip the cardboard and light the fresher end.

Prior to making the one for this article I created one of these stoves and used it to cook with. Mine burned for 7 hours straight, and it had only used half it's fuel. (It's pictured below.)


Have fun....

Burt.

TUTORIAL - Tying Knots

Tying knots is an incredibly handy skill, not only in a survival situation, but in daily life, too. Most people are fluent in the ol' faithful overhand knot but that just doesn't cut it in most situations as it has a high tendancy to slip, especially with smooth cordage like ParaCord. You can reduce slippage by putting in a stopper, but if your stopper slips and fails, that's the end of your knot.


Generally speaking, when that's not secure enough, people just do more of them. Yeah, it kind of works, but a) it'll still slip given enough of a load and b) good luck untying it.

The second point above is the most relevant, as in 90% of situations you'll want/need to recover your rope after the purpose has been fulfilled. A good knot, when you know what you're doing, can be super secure, not slip and, most importantly, be super easy to untie at the end.

Many people are intimidated by learning knot tying, and while it's true that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different knots, you only need to know a few to cover you in most situations, and, while they may look complicated at first, they're quite simple. I've hand-picked the most easy to learn to show you here. So grab some cordage of some kind, grab something you can tie to (I hook a large carabiner to something when I'm practicing and use that) Many of you may prefer other knots, and that's fine, but these are the ones I use most commonly.



The Carrick Bend Knot - Used for tying together two cords of the same thickness

This is a classic example of a knot that looks complex but is fairly simple, and you can get quite quick at tying it. When it comes to tying two ropes together, many people resort to a reef knot, however, reef knots are deceptively unsuitable for this task, but a Carrick Bend Knot will serve you well:


If you look closely, it's merely two loops of cord intertwined through each other. The easiest way to tie it is to fold over the end of one cord into a loop, then thread the other cord through it as shown above. Practice it a few times and you'll get it.



The Sheet Bend Knot - Used for tying together two cords of differing thickness

This knot is incredibly straightforward, but if done the wrong way around becomes quite insecure. Here's what the full knot looks like:


In the case above, the red cord would be the thicker cord, and the green would be the thinner. Once tightened, this knot is quite secure, but be aware that if you do it the wrong way around, it won't be. If it looks like this, undo it and start again:


Basically, you want the "tail" that is left of the thinner cord to be facing the tip of the "hook" created by the thicker rope.



The Running Bowline Noose Knot - Used to create a noose-like cord structure for snares

This one is deceptively straightforward. The trick is, to make a small, secure loop in the end of your cord using a bowline knot, like so:


This looks tricky, but is easy to form. Start by creating a loop in the rope:


Feed the other end of the rope through this loop:


Take the end that you fed through the loop and wrap it around the original line:


Feed the end that you wrapped around back through the original loop, and you're done:


Tighten that up and you have a fixed loop. If that fixed loop is nice and small, you can then feed the long end of your line back through this loop to create a noose. While not as strong as a proper hangman's knot, it'll do just fine for snares.



The Clove Hitch Knot - Ideal for attaching weight-bearing cordage to a fixture

This one is great for when you need to attach your cordage securely to a tree limb or a carabiner or anything else that you can wrap the cordage around.


Simply loop the cordage loosely around the fixture, cross over and loop again, tucking the end under the second loop, then tighten. Simple as that!



So hopefully this gets you started on knot-tying. It's a fantastic skill to have, and I highly encourage you to take the time to learn as many different knots as possible!

- CumQuaT

Monday, May 6, 2013

OPINION - Getting started. A beginners thought.

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Delving into the world of prepping/survival can be intimidating to many. Personally I've only ever approached it from the view of a hobbyist, (I can hear the groans of the die-hard now), I'm no-where near an expert on the subject, but I just do what I do and to hell with everyone else!

So here's a something to think about if you are just starting to get into prepping.

What is your motivation for starting?

How seriously do you want to approach it?

Thinking about this will help you in deciding what type of equipment you want to put together and if you'll need to put in place any contingency plans. Do you want to be able to survive a nuclear fallout? Or be organised and ready to take on the rigours of day-to-day life? It's up to you.

Keep it simple, keep it fun.

Burt.

TUTORIAL - Firecraft

When setting up camp, making a fire is a pretty high priority. You can use them for warmth, cooking food, crafting (they're essential for making arrows, for example, which I'll cover in a future post), sterilizing water, and, essentially, keeping you alive.

Getting one going, however, can be a real pain if you're not prepared. I personally, keep a tinderbox handy, which I'll guide you through setting up, but there are many ways of getting a fire going. From the convenient to the inconvenient.

I'll tell you now, that getting a fire started can often be a real pain in the arse, but while it is handy and often essential, it can be a massive morale booster to actually do it, and it does give you a very satisfying feeling of achievement to get it going - particularly when you have used a more "rugged" means to get it happening.

So let's start with setting up a tinderbox:


Assembly and maintenance of a good tinderbox can easily make the difference between starting a fire in a minute and starting a fire in an hour. What you put in it is very personal, but it basically comes down to three things:

Tinder
Easily combustible material that is used to ignite the more difficult to burn materials found in kindling. You use this to catch a spark and then you can use its short burn time to ignite your kindling.

Kindling
Larger, slower burning materials which still don't produce a big flame, but give you enough time to ignite your actual firewood.

Assists
Bits and bobs that help get a fire going. Should only be used as a last resort, however, as they aren't naturally occuring. These things include vaseline, firegel, magnesium powder, etc.

Proper tinderbox maintenance is an essential tool for the survivalist, as you should never let that box get empty. However, if you don't plan on keeping a tinderbox, you'll still need the above to easily get a fire happening.

Since there are many different ways to get a fire going, I'll list the methods in the order of easiest to hardest. Easier methods rely on specialised equipment that you may not have on hand in a tough spot, but if you have the tools, then your life will be made much easier.

Before we get into the methods, learn and memorize the following diagram:


This is the fire triangle. For a fire to happen, and stay happening, it needs all three sides of the triangle. Remove one, the structure collapses, and you have no fire. You need the right balance of all three.

Got it? Good. Let's take a look at the methods:


Starting a fire with....... Fire!

This is the easiest and most obvious method for starting a fire. Many people, when they go camping, keep a small, waterproof container with matches inside on their person. Oftentimes they use weatherproof matches, or 'strike anywhere' matches.


Sometimes they'll keep a cigarette lighter or a zippo on them, or perhaps a BBQ lighter. Needless to say, this is a very easy way to get your kindling started up, but remember that it is finite. It will run out, and then you'll have to resort to something a bit more manual.


Starting a fire with lensing

You can use a broken bottle or a magnifying glass to focus the sun's rays into a fixed point which can ignite your tinder. It's as simple as that.


Starting a fire with chemical aid

This is a great way to do it as you can often put together compounds which burn for quite a while, affording you the time to ignite your kindling and, through that, your firewood.

Here are a few of the chemical mixes you can use:
  • Potassium Permanganate (Condi's Crystals) and Antifreeze - Mix them together and keep mixing until they ignite. Doesn't explode, it just spontaneously starts burning. Potassium Permanganate is found in many medical supply cabinets as it is used to clean wounds, and antifreeze is kept in many cars and car yards.
  • Potassium Nitrate and Sugar - Mix them together and get a spark going on them and they'll burn extremely hot for several seconds. This mix is often referred to as "rocket candy" and is used in model rockets and smoke signals. Potassium Nitrate is often sold as stump remover and nitrogen boosting fertilizer.
  • Firegel - Sold in most camping stores, a little goes a long way with this compound, as you can smear it onto your kindling to get it to burn reliably for about a minute. A small, lip-balm sized container will set you up for a good 50 fires if you use it sparingly.
  • Firestarter Cubes - These are portable enough to keep a few in your tinder box for emergencies. They're the same things you use to get your BBQ going, and they burn VERY hot for several minutes. Really great to have lying around, and it doesn't take much of a spark to get one going.
  • Car Batteries - Not technically a chemical method, but if you connect up a set of jumper cables to a car battery and quickly tap the other ends of the cable together, it'll produce a shower of sparks that you can use to ignite your tinder. Fairly dangerous though, so be bloody careful.
 Having a chemical aide in your tinderbox can go a long way, but you have to be quite careful with them, for obvious reasons. Personally I'd recommend sticking to some of the traditional methods below, especially since, really, they're more fun and satisfying to get working (if a little frustrating sometimes)


Starting a fire with a magnesium firestarter

These are my personal favourite to use, as they last for an exceptionally long time, are extremely weather proof, and will pretty much always work, so long as you've got some patience.
There are two main types of magnesium firestarter. The first is a simple striker, and it looks like this:


These things are awesome, and you might remember that I keep a mini one on my keychain, but really, the bigger yours is, the easier it'll be to use. When you first buy it, it'll be covered in a protective black layer which you'll need to first scrape off. But once you have that off, rapidly swiping the striker against the surface will produce a blast of insanely hot magnesium fire, which will start to heat up your kindling:


The second type is a magnesium block starter, and they look more like this:





In my honest opinion, this is the best thing to have on you in a survival situation, much better than anything above or below, but that's just me. How these babies work is that the large silver block you see is a solid block of magnesium. Magnesium explodes when put into a fire, but if you use the little saw you can shave off little flakes off the block and make a small pile underneath your tinder. Once you've done that, you simply use the striker on the side to shoot some sparks down into the mix and the magnesium powder you've shaved off will burst into a small ball of insanely hot flame which will ignite your tinder, allowing you to start the fire making process.
You might think that shaving parts of this block off makes it fairly fallable, but it takes YEARS of shaving to wear it down to nothing. If you were to make one fire every day using one of these firestarters, it would probably last you about 30 years. Well worth the investment.

Now, a little tip for using the strikers on both of the above models. Many people, when they get one, tend to strike the striker down towards the fire in a forward motion. If you do this, odds are, you're going to hit the pile of tinder with your hand and knock it everywhere. Instead, keep the hand with the striker in one place, and use the other hand to rip the firestarter backwards, away from the tinder. That way, your hands never go near your fire, everything stays neat and you don't rip your hair out in frustration.

Also remember that these tools are not designed to do one strike and then ignite your tinder. You need to keep striking repeatedly to get the surface heat of your tinder raised to a combustible point, so stick with it, even when your arms get tired! The longer you go for, the hotter you'll get your mix!


The friction method

This is definitely the most caveman style way of doing it, but if you don't have any of the means listed above then it may be your only chance of getting a fire going. There a dozens of methods to make this work, but I'll show you the main two. The first is the drill method (sometimes helped with the use of an improvised bow, known as a bow drill)


The second main method is the plow method (as made famous by the movie Cast Away)


Both of these methods work just fine, but they do a real number on your hands, and both take a great deal of time and stamina.


HANDY HINT: Managed to start a fire? How about keeping a long-burn candle in your kit and lighting it before your main fire goes out? You can then use that fire to re-light other fires as you need them.

So now you know how to START a fire, what about the types of campfire? There are dozens and dozens, but I'll cover the four main ones here:


The Stone Circle Fire


A circle of stones can keep your fire from spreading, but also you can make use of the now heated rocks to keep cups and pots warm, or even for drying clothes or for cooking. I can tell you now that rock-cooked steak is some of the best you'll ever eat.


The Fire Pit





Digging a pit about a foot deep will not only keep your fire from spreading, but will keep it - for the most part - out of sight of people in the distance. Particularly good if you don't want to attract attention.


The Dakota Fire Hole


While it may sound like a sexual position, this fire structure makes a lot of sense. It's been used for many, many years as a way to keep a fire discreet, out of sight and relatively smoke free. You can make it smoke even less if you set it up near a tree, as the branches will disperse the smoke so that it becomes much less visible. It's basically a deep fire pit with a second hold dug next to it, and a small channel connecting the two. The original pit must be deep enough so that the top of the fire doesn't reach the top of the hole. You can then set up a grill or heating platform above it for cooking, and the fire will continuously burn quite hot as it gets full airflow from the second hole.


The Fire Reflector


Particularly in colder climates, a fire reflector makes a lot of sense. Use relatively young, green wood to build a wall which reflects the heat towards your shelter. This will keep you much warmer, and protect your fire somewhat as you camp.


So what makes good tinder, kindling and firewood?

Tinder
You want your tinder to be bone dry. Good materials can include newspaper, pine needles, dry grass, cotton wool balls, bird down, tampons, dry leaves, stale bread and anything else that is very dry, small and easily combustible. Whatever you choose, the thinner it is, and the more surface area there is, the more easily it will ignite.

Kindling
Kindling needs to be small, but big enough to burn for at least a little while. The best things, I find, for this, are old dry sticks and stringy bark. If you find a tree that you can easily peel the bark from, and it's stringy on the inside, then that's really good stuff. Leave it to dry out in the sun for a few hours and it'll be good to throw in your tinder box. Remember, you want it to be bone dry.
If you can find trees that have resin in their bark, then that's just amazing. Resin is any deeply sappy wood, where the sap has hardened into a solid that is infused throughout the wood. That stuff will burn like a candle for a long time, and if you can find it, store as MUCH of it as you possibly can. You never know when you'll be lucky enough to come across it again.
If you're using sticks, consider feathering the wood with your knife first. Here's a video showing how. Not only does it help the wood to catch, but it's quite fun and relaxing to do, and is a great way to pass the time and hone your knife skills:


Firewood
Wood that's still young will have white or green, stringy wood inside. Don't use anything like that as firewood unless you've got nothing else, as it will be VERY difficult to get it to burn. What you want is old, dry, preferrably naturally fallen wood such as old branches or wood from collapsed trees. You want it to be dry, dry, dry. The dryer the wood, the less smoke there'll be. Also keep in mind the "Five Times Rule". Work out how much firewood you think you'll need, and gather five times that amount. Then you'll have enough. Try to get a good range of sizes of logs, too, as the different burn speeds will allow you to keep your fire manageable at all times.

So, tips and tricks for getting it to work? Here's a few for you:

  1. Take your time. Making a fire is a very important process, but it takes work. Stick with it. You can do it. Remember that.
  2. Pull the firesteel backwards, don't push the striker forwards. Can't stress that enough.
  3. Heat and fuel are easy to remember when starting a fire, but don't forget oxygen. When you get your kindling lit, finally, don't forget to blow on it to get it growing bigger. Just don't blow too hard. You don't want to blow it out. Remember it's more the speed of the wind that will put a fire out, not the volume. So big blows, let out slowly, that's what'll get it roaring!
Hopefully this handy guide will get you set up with a nice, solid campfire quickly and easily! It's an incredibly rewarding feeling to finally have it light up, and will always garner a cheer from your group, so give it a try, practice heaps and you'll be a pro in no time!

- CumQuaT

TUTORIAL - Survival Fishing

If you're stranded somewhere and are in need of food, you can often count on fishing as a food source. If you have access to a freshwater stream or river, then you're in luck. Even many urban environments have them. You'll want to test the water to see if it's fresh or saltwater, since practically all freshwater fish are edible. If the water body is inland, odds are it's freshwater, but still be sure to check.

If you've properly built a survival kit into your 72 hour bag, you'll have a basic fishing kit, and if you have a full BOB (Bug Out Bag) with you (which I'll go into in a later post) then you'll likely have a larger, collapsible fishing rod, like this:


Whatever it is that you're using, you're going to need bait, and while they work for you, whacking a chunk of MRE bar on your hook won't, generally speaking, work. Live bait is often the best thing for you, but sometimes you won't have any available and for that you'll need to do some scavenging.

The main benefit of live bait is that it's much closer to what the fish would eat naturally, so they're more likely to go for it. It gives off similar odours and, most importantly, it wriggles around, creating vibrations in the water which attract the fish.


Bait in the Wilderness

For as long as people have been fishing, people have stuck worms on hooks, and they're great if you can find some, but remember that the fish you're trying to catch may be too small for a large worm, and it might be overlooked, so in a pinch you can use grubs and other smaller, worm-like insects, but also things like grasshoppers and even fuzzy seed pods (as they spin when going through the water) - this sort of thing is found everywhere, even in a full urban setting. Look under a rock, inside rotting tree branches, dig around underneath bushes and tree-roots... You'll find what you need.


The more the bait wriggles around and moves when its in the water, the less of a lure you'll need, but lures are always handy. Anything shiny will do. Contrary to popular belief, you don't need lots of fancy equipment to fish. You just need some line (even improvised line such as the innards of ParaCord will work), a hook (which can be improvised out of wire, buttons or the tabs of soft drink cans) some bait (as described above) and a lure (anything shiny that you can attach to the line, such as tin foil).

Other things can make your fishing experience easier, too. Try and weigh down the bait and hook with a small rock to make an improvised sinker, and, further up the line from the hook, attach a plastic bottle or a bit of styrofoam to act as a bobber - this will tell you when something is playing with your bait.

Of course, if your 72 hour bag's fishing kit is comprehensive enough, you may have ACTUAL sinkers and bobbers and hooks and lures, which is fantastic, but the above should give you some good ideas if you're working with minimalist equipment.


The Long Haul

What if you're going to be stranded for an extended period? Well, that's where setting up a bait trap comes in handy. It's not really practical to carry the proper equipment with you everywhere you go, but you can improvise a pretty decent bait trap out of a soda bottle and some bread.

Use your knife to cut a large soda bottle into two pieces, like this, leaving the bottom quite long, and the top shorter:



Leave the lid off the short half, moisten some bread and stuff it tightly into the floor of the long half. Pack it as tightly as you can. Once you're done, insert the open half into the closed half, like this:






Use some gaffer tape (which should be in your 72 hour bag) to seal up the join as tightly as you can. If you don't have any gaffer tape, you can melt the plastic together over a fire (just be careful of the fumes). Once you're done, and it's relatively solid, then you can stick it into the water, being sure to weigh it down with rocks so that it doesn't float away. Put it into a running freshwater stream, facing the open end into the current and leave it overnight. In the morning, if you're lucky, it'll be full of little bait fish that you can use for your fishing.


No-Bait Methods

There are plenty of ways to fish that use no bait at all which are fairly self explanatory, but aren't quite as relaxing as a bait-and-line method.

The first of these is spear fishing, which can be done by sharpening the end of a long stick as a spear (or attaching your knife with cordage, which I'll go into in the upcoming Improvised Hunting Weapons entry)

The second is netting, which doesn't always necessarily have to involve a net. If you have a large sheet (or even your trusty bandana) you can tie a rock into each corner and also have cordage running from each corner to a central rope, so if you lay it flat on the bottom of a creek, then pull on the rope, all four corners will come together and lift out of the water. You can place bait in the center of the sheet/net and sit and wait for the fish to swim over and have a taste.

In a pinch, you can also try hand-fishing. However, the only parts of the water where fish will be relaxed enough for you to hand-fish will most likely also have snakes, so be very, very careful and only use it as an absolutely last resort.


Any Secret Tips?

It's not really practical for a survival situation, but one of the best baits I've ever used is mixing together breadcrumbs and minced pork into small nuggets. Works like a charm every time.

Another little tip that may or may not be practical. If you're trying your hand at bait trapping, and you do it at night, green light attracts bait fish. You shine green light into the water and they just swarm to it. If you keep a green laser pointer in your bag then that'd probably do the trick, especially if you diffused it a bit.


Anyway, I hope this has been informative for you! If anyone would like any other tips, just post your comment and I'll do my best to answer!

- CumQuaT

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May Update!

Hi all! I hope you like our new logo!

If you use it, come and join us on Facebook! We have a fan-page up now. Share it around if you have any other friends who are fellow preppers!

Friday, May 3, 2013

TUTORIAL - Building a Survival Kit

So what's a survival kit? Think of it as a miniature 72 hour bag. Generally speaking, they're a good thing to have tucked away inside of your bag to keep with you, as they are quite compact, lightweight, and handy.

A survival kit contains all of your "absolulute last resort" items in it, and the contents of that kit can vary greatly depending on the needs of the individual.

An extremely bare-bones, basic survival kit would have something like the Survival Grenade:


Inside this little ParaCord-wrapped bundle are the following items:

- A large needle for sewing
- 10 feet of ParaCord
- A flint
- Vaseline-soaked cotton wool, for tinder
- A small scalpel blade
- Fishing hooks, swivels and sinkers for fishing
- Aluminium foil for cooking, warming and signalling
- Snare wire

While this is definitely a cool and attractive little package, the contents of it leave a lot to be desired, and wouldn't really do you that many favours in a tight spot. Also, once it's unravelled it'd be virtually impossible to get it all back together again for transport, so you'd be carrying the objects loose.

A more comprehensive kit can be found in something like the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Kit, which includes the following items:

- A small multi-tool with a variety of tools, including a good blade
- A waterproof bag
- Small torch
- A ring-and-chain style handsaw
- A signalling mirror
- Full-sized survival blanket
- Magnesium firestarter (FireSteel)
- Waterproof matches
- Cotton balls (for tinder)
- Snare wire
- Basic cordage
- Waxed thread (for sewing - especially good for leather)
- Small sewing kit
- Small fishing kit
- A whistle with a lanyard
- Miniature survival field guide (not overly thorough, but full of good tips)
- All contained in a bag made of RipStop material with waterproof zipper


This kit is much, much better, and still quite small. Easily held in one hand. Personally, though, I'd change/add a few things.

Firstly I'd replace the nylon cord that comes in it with some ParaCord, simply because of its multiple uses. Secondly I'd add one or two cotton handkerchiefs in there, and also a small but sturdy folding knife. I know there's a blade on the multi-tool, but multi-tool blades can't be manouvered as easily as a separate knife, and it's also good to have a backup. I'd also find what type of batteries the torch uses and take a couple of spares. Throwing in a small compass would be handy, too, and perhaps a small container of firegel. I find lip balm containers good for storing firegel, as you don't need much to get several fires going.

Also, with these kits, they often-times don't come with enough snare wire to be of much use. I'll be doing a separate article on hunting animals for food, but generally speaking the more snare wire you can fit in there, the better.

One last thing to note is that the sewing kits found in this sort of thing, generally speaking, come with terrible cottons that aren't durable enough for field use, so it's a good idea to either replace the cottons in them with higher quality, or buy a separate sewing kit from your local craft store.

Like I said, there are many varying opinions on what should be in a survival kit. If you're looking for something more thorough (and you have the cash to back it up) here's a FANTASTIC example of an exceptionally thorough survival kit, which isn't far off the one that I use myself:


It's a long video, but well worth the watch if you're looking to have a kit like this of your own. The Maxpedition organiser that he keeps it in also attaches to your bag via the cordura molle system on many tactical-style bags like the Hazard 4 Evac Plan B that I use (which I'll do a separate review video on)

So that's about all I have to say on the topic of survival kits! One day I'll do a video on using them out in the bush, but until then, hopefully these notes will help you put yours together!

- CumQuaT

INFORMATIVE - The many uses of ParaCord

So by now you've heard me mention ParaCord many, many times, but what is it?

ParaCord (often known as 550 cord) is a multi-strand-core rope that is, when made properly and not a cheap knockoff, rated to hold 550lbs (250kgs) of weight. It is very thin, very light and incredibly useful for a variety of purposes.


ParaCord is multi-stranded, and that's for a purpose. You can, in a pinch, break down ParaCord into its interal strands, making it much longer (albiet weaker) than it previously was.

ParaCord is constructed of a braided "sheath" of nylon that has a diameter of approximately 4mm, making VERY large amounts of ParaCord able to be easily carried in a small space. This sheath can be removed from the core very easily and used as its own cordage. It is braided from 32 strands of Nylon, making the texture of the sheath very soft and smooth compared to standard high weight threshold cordage.

Inside of the sheath is the core, which is made up of seven inter-woven yarns. Each of these yarns is a twisted pair, leaving you with 14 individual strands inside of every length of ParaCord. Each one of these individual strands can, alone, hold almost 20kgs of weight before snapping, which is very impressive for something roughly as thin as good cotton.


While fully assembled, having, say, a 10m length of ParaCord capable of holding 250kgs is quite handy, but in a pinch, you can break that down into 150m of usable cordage (including the use of the sheath) that is rated at just under 20kgs. That thin yarn can be used for all sorts of things, such as fishing line, stitches for clothing or wounds, binding poultices or kindling... The list goes on and on. Rope is, quite simply, one of the handiest things you can have in your pack.

When fully assembled, this rope is designed for keeping people inside parachutes, so it's super strong. You can use it - fully assembled - for improvised abseiling, flood rescue, restraining people/animals... Heaps of things. It's also slightly elastic, however, which you'll need to take into account when using it, as that can either be an advantage or a detriment, depending on what you're doing with it.

However, most people would feel uncomfortable lugging around a bundle of rope. Due to this, there are a couple of ways you can do it:

- Twisted bundle
Since ParaCord is quite thin (only 4mm wide) and extremely light, you can easily twist up large lengths of it to throw in a backpack if you carry a 72 hour bag with you everywhere. I, personally, carry 30 meters (100 feet) of ParaCord in my Hazard 4 bag and it takes up barely any space at all.


- Keychain
Many people don't want to carry quite so much, so they'll keep 5 or 6 feet of it braided into a little keychain fob, which is quite cool if you only want to carry a little.


- Accessories
If you want a long lenth, but would prefer to carry it in an easier fashion (though harder to access quickly) there are plenty of cool accessories you can get that are made with ParaCord, such as bracelets, belts, even necklaces!




So add some ParaCord to your kit! As you can see it's quite easy to carry some with you, and you wouldn't believe how many uses it has!

I'll do up a separate article soon on various quick and easy knots that you can tie in various situations. Many people are intimidated by knot tying and resort to the old, faithful over-under knot, which will slip and come loose when you really don't want it to, so some people may find the knot-tying post pretty handy!

Until then, go grab yourself some ParaCord!

- CumQuaT

Thursday, May 2, 2013

INFORMATIVE - The Bandana - Handiest Thing Ever

If you don't carry a bandana around with you in your back pocket, then you're missing out on a million different handy tools in one.

When prepping, it's always best to stock up on things that have multiple uses. For example, ParaCord, a knife, a multi-tool, etc, but when it comes to multi-purpose tools, it's hard to compare to the simple bandana. They have hundreds of different uses, and are small and light enough to just pop in your back pocket. You wouldn't even know it was there otherwise. Plus, given that they're flat and soft when folded, you can still use that pocket!


When selecting a bandana, try and avoid polyester and go for pure cotton, as it will last longer and be easier to clean. Also try and find one that's around 2x2 feet in size (one of the standard sizes is 55x55cm so that works). They fold up into a little 12x12cm square for easy carrying.

So, what can you use a bandana for? Well, here are a few uses:

- Signal (especially brightly coloured bandanas)
- Neck warmer for cold weather
- Disguise your face when you don't want to be recognised
- Tourniquet
- Wound compress
- Pot holder
- Collecting seeds, berries and nuts while foraging
- Prevent sunburn on neck
- Sling for broken arm
- As a weapon (can be used as a rock-throwing sling or as a mace/flail)
- Torn into strips for cordage or bandages
- Washcloth
- Towel
- Sweatband
- Belt pouch
- Make a bindle (bag on a stick)
- Padding a hot/cold place to sit
- Making a hard place more comfortable to sit
- Cleaning rag for knives/firearms/equipment
- Working with/sorting small items to prevent loss
- Re-usable toilet paper
- Marking a trail
- Dish rag
- Napkin
- Eye patch
- Water filtration (for silt, or in conjunction with charcoal for finer particles/impurities)
- Ear muffs
- Bind a stone with one to create a grapple for climbing
- Dust/Smoke mask (especially when wettened first)
- Head cover
- Padding for transport of fragile items in your pack
- Blindfold
- Storage of small, loose items
- Gag
- Concealment (for discreet weapon carrying)
- A wick
- Protect your hand if breaking glass or climbing
- Notepad (if a plain colour)
- Put ice/snow in it to use as a cold pack for injuries
- Group identification (if specific pattern)
- And... You know... Blowing your nose...

The list goes on and on, and really, they're only a few bucks. So go out and grab a bandana. Grab two! Throw them in your pockets or your bag and you'll be set up for so many different situations!

- CumQuaT

TUTORIAL - The Keychain EDC Concept

In an earlier article I discussed the concept of a prepper's EDC loadout. One of the biggest limitations when it comes to EDC is the limited carrying capacity of your average person while retaining some degree of comfort.

That's where the Keychain EDC Concept comes in handy. You'd be amazed the number of handy things you can keep on your keychain.

As an example, here's the keychain that I carry with me:


On this one keychain (attached to my belt with a carabiner) I have the following:

- A telescopic ink pen (always handy since you never have a pen when you need one)
- A WonKey (for those pesky wobbly tables at cafes)
- A watertight canister which holds a folded up $20 note (spare cash is always handy)
- A larger watertight canister which holds $10 in coins (for vending machines, etc)
- A keyring cigarette lighter
- A mini Swedish Firesteel
- A keyring-sized LED Lenser torch
- A tritium keyring glow-stick identifier

There's heaps more you could add, too. Just use your imagination. Using this method you can drastically expand your EDC loadout while taking up no real extra space!

- CumQuaT

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

TUTORIAL - The Wallet EDC Concept

In an earlier article I discussed the concept of a prepper's EDC loadout. One of the biggest limitations when it comes to EDC is the limited carrying capacity of your average person while retaining some degree of comfort.

That's where the Wallet EDC Concept comes in handy. You'd be amazed the number of handy things you can keep in your wallet (especially when you have the right wallet).

If I was to recommend any particular wallet design, it would definitely be T.H.E SpecOPS Wallet by SpecOpsBrand.

This wallet is seriously amazing. It can hold a passport, 8 cards, 2 IDs, lots of loose change and various small items. It also uses a patented "SharkBite" closure system which is guaranteed for life, and has two riveted holes through which a lanyard can be strung to turn the wallet into a visible ID badge.
One of my favourite features is a hidden pocket in the notes section that runs the entire length of the wallet and zips up for security.

With all of this space, you can store lots of handy items for your EDC. Here's a look at an example Wallet EDC loadout using the SpecOpsBrand wallet:


Inside of it they have:

- a CardSharp knife - a fairly decent little blade that folds into the size and shape of a credit card. Great in a pinch
- a credit card sized multi-tool - very good little mix of utilities in a very small package. It has on it a saw, knife, bottle opener, can opener, ruler, angular compass and hex-nut drivers.
- this EDC has a mini lock-pick set. Something this small would only be good in the hands of an experienced locksmith, but if you have that skill-set (and license) then good for you!

In addition to this, many other things could easily be slipped inside of a wallet like this, including:

- a thin profile high powered torch
- a thin profile digital camera
- a Swiss Army Card
- small set of nail clippers
- a small survival guide

The list goes on, and is really only limited by your creativity. You'll be amazed at how much extra you can carry while taking up no extra space on your person!

- CumQuaT