How To Make a Stick Fire

1. Find tinder. Anything that is dry, fibrous, and will take a spark or “catch” and ignite should do. Pocket lint, feather down, dried mosses, and shredded plant fibers such as cedar bark are all good examples.

2. Gather firewood. Gather several handfuls of kindling, typically tiny pieces of wood in various sizes. You want some that are as thin or thinner than a toothpick but longer; several handfuls of wood about the thickness and length of a pencil; and lots of wood up to about the thickness of your arm.

3. Make a nest. Use small fiber, such as cattail, to ignite the coal and slightly thicker fiber on the outside, such as dry leaves, to shelter the nest. Make sure you leave a hole for the coal. A cotton ball size of tinder will do.

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10 Simple Wildfire Survival Tips

Wildfires are fast moving and unpredictable. In the recent years wildfires have become a real threat to areas that were once thought not prone. You can see the smoke from miles away, but your first clue that there’s a forest fire nearby is falling ash. Hopefully you will never be that close, but if you are, evasive action may be required.


Here’s 10 simple rules to help you survive a wildfire:

  1. Leave the area. Don’t wait around to see how things develop. Wildfires are so powerful, unpredictable, and destructive, that even well-equipped and trained professional fire fighters die when they become trapped by an onrushing blaze that overruns their position.
  2. Maintain situational awareness. Be aware of what’s going on around you at all times. Simple but crucial. Continue reading

Hydration Is Key: Water Storage Ideas

Bladder Systems: A CamelBak (Bladder System) can be very useful in any emergency situation. They come in a variety of sizes and allow you to have your hands free while staying hydrated. The bladder systems can require regular cleaning, particularly in hot and humid environments. To prevent mold from developing, you can store most bladders in the freezer. The CamelBak Skeeter Hydration Pack is designed specifically to be stored in the freezer and requires no cleaning. I’ve been storing my CamelBak in the freezer for years and it works great with limited cleaning. Continue reading

Review: MSR MiniWorks Microfilter

The MSR Mini [$72.92 via Amazon] is very simple to use and has a good output-per-pump ratio. More importantly, the water tastes CLEAN and nobody gets sick. Also, it requires no chemical additives but still claims to filter everything but viruses. The chance of contracting a waterborne virus from a U.S. lake or stream (think Polio, Hep-A, SARS, and a few others which you have probably had vaccinations for) is far lower than getting sick from bacteria or parasites. If this still bothers you, you can still boil your clear, clean-tasting water just to be sure.

The maintenance on this filter is very simple. The unit breaks down into 4 major parts, and the wrist pins on the pump assembly are quick-release squeeze-and-push types. You can literally have this thing stripped down and cleaned completely in about 5 minutes, and that includes the sterilization of the filter element. A couple dabs of silicone grease or even chap-stick is all you need to lube it up when you are reassembling the unit.

It’s a great filter that I have used on many hiking trips. It pumps fast and is very handy. At 16 oz. it is not the lightest filter on the market but its design makes it very field maintainable.

The only down side that I could find with the product was that the filter is somewhat delicate. This could pose a threat if you didn’t have available replacements in a survival situation.

Review: Bear Grylls Survival Tool from Gerber

Here is my review of each component of the Bear Grylls Survival Tool from Gerber:

Pliers: The cutters are extremely solid. Whether you are stripping a wire or cranking down a loose nut it’s one of the most used items on this multi-tool. They are spring loaded and come pre-sharpened.

Wood Saw: The saw has a really aggressive profile. This seems to be the only tool that is as big as possible, and it needs to be. With a little elbow grease you can cut up some pretty sizable pieces of wood.

Scissors: It will cut paper, plastic, string, small ropes or paracord with ease. I think essentially it will cut anything you can fit in between its blades. (rocks or metal excluded)

File: What can I say…. It’s a file. On any prolonged stay in the wilderness one can offer up some of the finest manicure/pedicures on this side of Patagonia.

Serrated Blade: It can be useful when cutting through tendon on the hind quarters of a deer but you lose a little blade length because of it. It’s sharp out of the box and works well with the flint stick.

Small Flat Head: I use it on a daily basis. It is standard but I couldn’t get by without it.

Medium Flat Head: Although it is much less standard to include two sizes, I’m glad Gerber did. When it comes to standard hardware you are much more likely to find a larger slot than a smaller.

Pierce: This was very well designed. I was able to dispatch a can of its lid quickly to empty my mornings bacon grease with zero potentially dangerous slips.

Bottle Opener: I’m not sure of the validity of including this tool in modern society. I really have only used it to open my adult beverages. I don’t mind the inclusion on your everyday multi tool, but this is a SURVIVAL tool and I feel they could have come up with something more useful (gut hook or punch tool).

Philips Head: If you want to be picky it could be a size or two larger. (So you don’t strip screws) In all reality I use it either when I’m too lazy to get a real phillips head out of the tool box or if I just don’t have one on me. It saved me several months ago when my radiator hose blew off and all I needed was a phillips head to tighten down the hose clamp.