Offroad Trailblazers and Envoys

Survival Sucks. Know what you're doing

Discussion on how to enjoy the outdoors.

by DirtyBacon04 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:29 am

I am an expert in nothing. But know a little bit of everything. Survival skills is one of my passions. This passion came to be due to my love of the outdoors and camping hence inadvertatly finding myself in mild survival scenarios. While for me, long term was never a threat, it's always good to have the knowledge to be able to adapt.

Here are my tips for survival in the wild. Please keep in mind EVERYTHING in a survival situation is circumstantal. I can't tell you exactly what to do because it all depends on what plants i can find, what natural shelter can be found, which way the terrain slopes, cardinal directions, weather patterns, elevation, etc. This is nothing more than a general knowledge thread. This is why i recommend ALWAYS having a knife/multitool attached to your body as soon as you start the trail. Because survival isn't about bringing the proper gear, it's about having NO gear. You cant pack your truck for survival, you can only pack your brain. If you have your truck with you, it's not survival, it's camping. If you're having fun, it's not survival.

Here's the situation. Lets say your out wheeling alone. Stop for a photo op of a beautiful cliff, waterfall, mountain, etc. You slip in mud and tumble down the mountain. Or you fall into a stream and end up down that waterfall. This incline that you tumbled is 500 ft in elevation. Too steep/slick to climb back up to your salvation. Assuming your not funtionally injured, you gather yourself. You cant see a positive way up. So you guess... You head where you think
the trail was further down the mountain, or worse where you think it is ahead. You cross one ridge and you think it's just over the next one. But hours go by and your certain that you should be there by now. But it's just no where to be found.
Getting lost isn't something that happens all of the sudden. The seeds are often sewn hours prior to realization. When people get the idea in their head that they might be getting lost, their body speeds up. Blood pumps faster, mind enters "tunnel vision". Constant state of adrenaline. Burning precious calories. This is what I call "bush panic".

Once you accept the fact that you're in a survival situation there are certain things you need to prioritize. Always first is STAY CALM.
-Food
-Water
-Shelter
-Fire
-Rescue

Depending on the weather, a fire might not necessarily be #1 on your list. If it's late in the day, wandering off in an attempt to find more firewood might not be the best idea. If it's a warm clear night, shelter might not be up there either. If your near a river, check off water. And it continues. It's about knowing whats around you and what you know.
Always take inventory of your gear. Not just the stuff in your pockets either. What material of clothes you're wearing. Cotton lint is an excellent fire starter. Shoelaces have countless uses. Belt could be a torniquet. Nylon sleeve or denim pant leg can transport water. Bottom of a shirt can be cut off and wrapped around head to protect from sun or eyes to protect from snow-blindness.

Advice prior heading out: Stare at a map over and over again. Know where highways, ranger stations, housing, are. Know your cardinal directions as a compass is unlikely something you keep in your pocket. Learn fire starting techniques, as fire is almost top of a survival priority list. Know where water can be found (from staring at your map for rivers). If you're in desert, learn what plants may contain potable water. On the topic of plants, study what type of plants are in the area and thier uses. Learn to tell the difference between edible and poisonous plants, because they often grow right next to each other. Know that for any illness that can be aquired in the wild, nature often provides a cure in the same area. If long term becomes a threat, be able to catch game. Learn how to make deadfall or snare traps. Learn how to make improvised fishing gear or catch fish with bare hands.

This is by no means an 'all inclusive' how to survive list. It's more a "get the gears turning" though. Just want others to be prepared if they happen to find themselves in the same situations i've found myself in or worse. I want this to be a very real thing to other outdoorsmen. I used wheeling as an example because that is one thing we all share. Could be anything, though. Could be a plane crash, could be a scuba trip where they accidentally left you, could be a ship wreck on an island.

I have A LOT of knowledge on the topic so if you ever have any questions or specific tips you need, feel more than free to contact me.

As always, please feel free to throw in your own stories or advice.


"The more you know, the less you need" - Les Stroud 'Survivorman'
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by Trail X » Wed Feb 22, 2012 10:33 am

Well written Sgt Bacon.

I have not had to deal with a survival situation yet, but I try to be ready for it. Rarely in the US will any of us have to deal with long-term survivability. Most often, that theory is built into some sort of Armageddon scenario.

Regarding a compass, I try to remedy that issue by carrying a watch with a built in electronic compass. Two of my watches have them, and those are my off-road watches. Knife is also a good call. I've kept one in my pocket at all times since I was out of high school.
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by dvanbramer88 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:13 am

DirtyBacon04 wrote:
Once you accept the fact that you're in a survival situation there are certain things you need to prioritize. Always first is STAY CALM.
-Food
-Water
-Shelter
-Fire
-Rescue


I respectfully disagree.

#1 Stay Calm
#2 Shelter
#3 Water
#4 Fire
#5 Rescue
#6 Food.

I put food last because you can go a month with out it, and in most survival situations you're rescued in a matter of hours - a few days. Shelter is second only to stay calm because a rain storm and a little wind can literally kill you in hours from hypothermia. But being level headed is the most important thing.
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by Trail X » Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:22 am

Good points, but I'm not sure if Bacon was saying that this was the definitive order. All survival situations are different.

Forgot to add another item I always keep on me. My wife made me a survival bracelet out of para-chord.

Here's a video for anyone else that wants to make one. My wife used an S biner as the latch:



The idea is that when you get into a survival situation, you can unwind the bracelet and have a useful bit of chord.
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by DirtyBacon04 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:56 am

dvanbramer88 wrote:
DirtyBacon04 wrote:
Once you accept the fact that you're in a survival situation there are certain things you need to prioritize. Always first is STAY CALM.
-Food
-Water
-Shelter
-Fire
-Rescue


I respectfully disagree.

#1 Stay Calm
#2 Shelter
#3 Water
#4 Fire
#5 Rescue
#6 Food.

I put food last because you can go a month with out it, and in most survival situations you're rescued in a matter of hours - a few days. Shelter is second only to stay calm because a rain storm and a little wind can literally kill you in hours from hypothermia. But being level headed is the most important thing.


Right there your plan is setting you up for a potential death wish. Notice how i used bullet points instead of numbers. There is never a set priority list, because as i said before, it all depends on the situation. You make your priorities once your in the situation and you've evaluated your surroundings and gear. Typically fire is almost always #1 or #2 due to the many benefis it provides. It affords the opprotunity to cook food, boil water, keep warm, and signal for help. There is a huge phsycological boost by having a fire, and the mind is the most important thing to keep in tact. You could have all the training in the world, but without the will to survive, it's just a matter of time before you become one with the earth again.
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by dvanbramer88 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:48 pm

DirtyBacon04 wrote:


Right there your plan is setting you up for a potential death wish. Notice how i used bullet points instead of numbers. There is never a set priority list, because as i said before, it all depends on the situation. You make your priorities once your in the situation and you've evaluated your surroundings and gear. Typically fire is almost always #1 or #2 due to the many benefis it provides. It affords the opprotunity to cook food, boil water, keep warm, and signal for help. There is a huge phsycological boost by having a fire, and the mind is the most important thing to keep in tact. You could have all the training in the world, but without the will to survive, it's just a matter of time before you become one with the earth again.


Right on. I see that you left room for flexibility now. You're exactly right about the benefits of fire.
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by navigator » Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:21 pm

James, if she made you a belt out of one you, even a fit guy like you that would be a great deal of cord.
For me the amount of chord it would take to make a belt for me, I could braid it into a tow strap easily :-)
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by DirtyBacon04 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:10 pm

HAHAH self effacing fat jokes are always good.
I know i've seen watch bands made out of the braided 550 cord. I've also seen ways to make a compass out of a leaf, bottle cap, and paper clip. Improvised fire starters are always a useful skill to possess. Fire bows, sun concentration, friction sticks, etc. There are even certain first aid chemicals that, when mixed, can combust into flame. I've tested only a few of these tactics, but i will have them alll figured out soon enough.
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by OregTrailBlazin » Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:05 pm

DirtyBacon04 wrote:, sun concentration, .



Polishing the bottom of a soda can with chocolate is one of my favorites. Use the chocolate as a compound to polish the bottom of the can to a mirror finish, the concave has a great focal point to use!


If its frozen out, you can use the same can upside down and freeze water in it. Pop it out and it makes a great lens.
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by djthumper » Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:37 pm

Nicely written Bacon, I like how you gave a nice overview for everyone. It isn't something you can just practice either, unless you are taking a course and they throw you out there.
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by navigator » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:17 pm

I think one of the big things would be to practice making fire from basically nothing or items you always have on you.

The previous example of falling down a cliff could happen but the most likely event is something like you are out wheeling by yourself on a cold night and no one knows where you are at and you have a vehicle malfunction or (get stuck in pinyon squeeze!) In most cases you will stay with the vehicle and you can use a lot of resources from the vehicle.
I was just thinking, we all have jumper cables in our trucks, I expect you could take the jumper cables and some tinder, maybe even the stuffing out of a seat and get fire started. I think the key is to practice and know how to do it before the need arises.

I guess another likely scenario is you are out canoeing and the canoe flips and you are stranded in the woods.
In many cases you can follow the river to the drop/off or pick/up point. If you were on some kind of canoe/camping trip that was going to take several days to float from point A to point B that would get a little more risky. Hopefully in that situation you have some necessary items packed in waterproof bags that you can salvage.
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by gotspeed1 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:32 pm

550 paracord is definetely one of my "require" items. I've got both a bracelet (25 feet) and a rifle sling (80 +/- feet) that go with me whenever I'm in the shit.
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by Mooseknuckle » Wed Feb 22, 2012 10:23 pm

gotspeed1 wrote:550 paracord is definetely one of my "require" items. I've got both a bracelet (25 feet) and a rifle sling (80 +/- feet) that go with me whenever I'm in the shit.

Where can you get one of those bracelets? army navy store?
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by djthumper » Wed Feb 22, 2012 10:29 pm

Mooseknuckle wrote:
gotspeed1 wrote:550 paracord is definetely one of my "require" items. I've got both a bracelet (25 feet) and a rifle sling (80 +/- feet) that go with me whenever I'm in the shit.

Where can you get one of those bracelets? army navy store?


Here is one place http://www.paracordpaulsoutpost.com/cat-paracord-bracelets.cfm?gclid=CLPgzrWGs64CFacGRQod43fX6Q or google 550 cord bracelet
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by DirtyBacon04 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:13 am

you can get them at army/navy, bass pro, big 5, sports authority, Cabela's, and probably Wal-Mart. Anywhere that sells hiking/camping gear.
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by Trail X » Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:37 am

Mooseknuckle wrote:Where can you get one of those bracelets? army navy store?


Or make one and save yourself $35. The ones I saw at Bass Pro were selling for $40.
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by dvanbramer88 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:11 am

I've seen them at dollar stores but i doubt is was real 550 cord. I wouldn't depend on it.
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by HARDTRAILZ » Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:06 pm

Great points
I hate to advocate weird chemicals, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone...but
they've always worked for me.
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by gotspeed1 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:32 pm

I bought my bracelet at survivalstraps.com for $35 (a portion of the proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Project) and made my sling myself. On the website the sling is $80. I put mine together with $10 of cord, $8 of rifle attachments, and a couple hours of my time.
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by djthumper » Thu Feb 23, 2012 2:03 pm

Thanks for reminding me about the 550 cord bracelets and what not. We have a new SAR team starting up and I want to bring this up to them as part of their kits. I was asked to be their Radio/Communications Officer.

On another note is it just me or does this thread not bring up the quick reply box?
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