Better Me than the Students… Lesson Learned

“Holy Hell!” I thought, as my pack lay hanging by a line up in the tree about twenty-five feet off the ground. “How am I going to get it down from there?” I thought. I’m sure a handful of students were also pondering the same thing. I’m not going to lie, I thought about leaving the pack hanging and walk away having learned my lesson, but how dreadful a thought knowing a pack worth one hundred seventy five dollars, not including it’s contents, would spend the rest of it’s days hanging by limb, literally. I guess I should start at the beginning in how I ended up in this predicament.

Having come off of the knife sharpening portion of the class, we quickly moved into and through the knot tying portion of the class. During the discussion on tying out ridglines for a tarp and how to secure a tarp to the ridgeline, I shared one of my favorite knots with the students, the Klemheist. Like the Prusik, it grips around the line and slides when one grips it at the hitch, but tightens when the loop end is pulled.

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Intelligent Survival

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There is no shortage of information on survival on the net, both good and bad. But how does one separate the chaff from the seed? To First understand how to discern fact from fiction, one has to understand how people tend to accept information.

Fallacies

A fallacy is a flaw in reasoning, undermining the validity of an argument or position

Though many, here are some common fallacies found in the survival community.

Appeal to authority— People tend to accept, at face value, information put out by leaders in the community, even if the information sounds illogical. So and so carries a ferro (ferrocerium) rod and he’s been studying survival forever, therefore it has to be the best. I am so and so and have done such and such. You should listen to me.

Appeal to celebrity— People tend to believe the word of popular people. This is why celebrity endorsements are so popular. Marketeers understand an endorsement from a celebrity can reap millions.

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Dunning-Kruger Effect and Survival

The internet is an amazing tool. It has enabled the exchange of information which may have otherwise only been known to no one but a few people. The rate, freedom, and amount at which knowledge is spread is unbelievable. This, however, is also the dark side of having this ability—Along with good information, and no filter in place, an amazing amount of bad or dated information is also passed on. And certainly the survival community is not exempt of such exchange. Unfortunately, following some of the bad information can make a bad situation worse.

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Campfire Reflector Wall Doesn’t Work… Part 2

Last week I wrote an article on the science of why a campfire reflector wall, as shown in the original article, doesn’t work to reflect heat the way we have been led to believe for so many years.

I explained how the Inverse Square Law affects the heat radiation, so there would be no noticeable difference in temperature rise.

I must admit, a lot of the responses I read across various discussion boards and forums was absolutely fun to read. I mean I was getting railed left and right. Lets see some of the more fun ones

Have they ever camped?
If it’s good enough for the SAS, it’s good enough for me

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Does The Campfire Reflector Wall Work? NO… Here’s Why

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The campfire reflector wall is somewhat the mark of the experienced outdoorsman. But do they actually work they way they are purported, to redirect heat at the back of the fire to someone on the opposite side of the fire all snug in their lean-to? The short answer is NO! It doesn’t, however, stop others from continuously preaching it and can be found in many survival books. In all honesty, I too, many years ago, believed it. But why doesn’t it work? Well, first lets look at what we are discussing, so we are all on the same page.

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Beyond the Skills

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“Alone” celebrated as one of televisions most highest rated new reality show.

In a world where we are glued to the news during a high speed chase, fighting, accidents, etc., It’s no wonder the show had such a high rating. Week after week, we would sit in front of the television and watch as ten participants, one by one, would tap out, due to their mental demons poking and prodding at their souls. Houses in Vegas were placing odds and taking bets, week after week, on who would tap out next and who would stay.
Various online bushcraft sites and forums were a buzz with the show, but for different reasons than the rest of the viewing audience. These folks would tune in week after week in hopes of gleaning one more appreciable trick they could add to their bushcraft chest of knowledge. Often times, some of the comments surrounded, “I wish they would show more skills”, or “Why didn’t they just do this or that?”. Hundreds and hundreds of comments would be made surrounding the skills and how they—the commenters—

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Epic Survival

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If you know who Matt Graham is, you’ll be pleased to know his new book has just been released. If you don’t know who Matt Graham is He was one of the stars of “Dude You’re Screwed” and “Dual Survival”. Aside from staring on those programs, Matt is a world class athlete, having run the entire length of the California portion of the Pacific Crest Trail in record time, climbed El Capitan and came in third place running against over 30 horses. Matt is a modern hunter gatherer who has lived a good portion of his life off of the land using primitive skills. He’s run along side the Tarahumara Indians and has worked at BOSS where he’s lead month long hunter gatherer courses.

This book is not about tangible skills, as many would hope it is. This book is about Matt’s life and his journeys as he edges out his place in life as a hunter gatherer.

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Trick Way to Keep Your Lighter Dry

I don’t carry a ferro (ferrocerium) rod. I’m not a fan of them, for reasons you will find out later and it has nothing to do with my ability to start a fire with them. As a result, I carry a lighter, a few to be exact. But as others will be more than happy to point out, a lighter will run out of fuel, not work when it’s wet, have problems when it’s cold and suck at high altitudes. Lets address some of these points with logic:

Runs out of fuel- It sure does, just like you wear out your socks and underwear, which is why you have several pair. But did you know an average size BIC lighter has up to three thousand lights worth of fuel. That equals up to about eight fires a day for an entire year. Check the BIC website under faq

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Boyz in da Woodz

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in three short episodes for Complex Media, titled “Boys in the Woodz” The idea was to take two hip hop artists (up and coming in this case) and teach them some outdoor skills.

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Trust the Sun—Natural Navigation

I’m often admonished by others, survival instructors included, towards my dismissal of a compass for navigation and also the fact I say a map is more important than a compass for navigation. I even jest at survival manuals that teach how to find cardinal directions by the shadow stick method— place a stick in the ground and place a stone or marker at the tip of the shadow cast by the stick and continue to do so every fifteen methods to determine an approximate East West line. Another is the watch shadow method—By pointing the hour hand at the sun, way between the hour hand and 12 o’clock is South, or North, depending if you roll counterclockwise or clockwise in your estimation. Sound Confusing? Don’t worry you don’t need it. These tips are nothing more than fodder to fill the pages of books, but frankly not needed. The fact is, these are relatively new creations, yet navigators have been navigating without these techniques for centuries.

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