I'm a big fan of survival shows. My favorites in order are Surivorman, Dual Survival, Man vs Wild, Man, Woman, Wild, Extreme Survival, and Naked and Afraid. I also have several books on survival including the SAS Survival Handbook, Hawkes Green Beret Survival Manual and Hawkes Special Forces Survival Handbook.

After watching numerous shows, reading these books, and my own experience, it occurs to me that there are several things that are just not fun to do without the right tools. Because of that I came up with my list of the four things that one should always bring with them when playing in the outdoors to ensure a successful survival situation should they find themselves in a world of hurt.

  1. A good fixed blade knife. I personally like the Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro survival knife. Say what you want about Bear, his knife series made by Gerber is top notch. Also it comes with a fire steel (Which is my number two thing you should always carry with you, so it saves space). If you want to carry a good knife, but prefer Les Stroud, you can get his knife from Camillus that includes the same stuff as Bear's plus a few extras. A really good "no frills" knife is the simple KA-BAR trusted by Marines.
  2. A good way to make fire. I prefer to use fire steel (ferrocerium/flint striker). You may think the best thing to do is bring matches or a lighter, but in reality matches get wet and there is a finite amount of them. Lighters fail, and in cold weather can become difficult to get going. Fire steel will work no matter the weather, no matter if it is wet or not. If you don't have fire steel (Or another good way to make fire) then you will have to try and make fire by friction... Good luck with that.
  3. A good way to carry water, and treat water. I always bring with me my army canteen set. It comes with a canteen and a stainless steel canteen cup that I can use to boil water when I run out of the water I brought with me. When watching these survival shows they often find water, but have a hell of a time figuring our how to transport it and treat it so it is safe to drink. With the canteen set you will have that headache licked!
  4. Cordage. I never leave home without my homemade paracord bracelet. You can also buy paracord bracelets. That way I always have cordage available to me to do stuff like make shelter or set traps. Paracord is great because it is strong (Holds up to 550 lbs) and also has seven inner strands for doing stuff like fishing or setting snares and traps. You can bring whatever you like, but having the bracelet ensures I always have cordage with me when I need it. I also took it a step further and made a paracord hat band which means tons of cordage. Check it out:

    Besides my hat and bracelet, I've also replaced my shoelaces on my hiking boots with 550 cord as well. You can never have too much cordage!
There you have it, in my opinion if you have these four items while trekking out in the wild, you should do fine and life will be a little easier on you. I like to live by the Boy Scouts motto of "Always Be Prepared". In fact I keep these items in both my car and my truck because you never know.

Do you agree? Disagree? Do you have a different list? Let us know in the comments.

S.U.R.V.I.V.A.L. The acronym

Posted by El DiPablo | 6:00 AM |

Description: US Propaganda material (for recru...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As a former military man myself I know how much Uncle Sam loves his acronyms. Have you heard about the Navy's new program code named N.A.R.P.? It stands for the Navy Acronym Reduction Program... Kidding!

Anyway, last week I told you about Mykel Hawke's S.T.O.P. and today I have another acronym for you. This time it comes from the US Army's Survival Manual (FM 3-05.70), and it is S.U.R.V.I.V.A.L! It stands for:
  • S—SIZE UP THE SITUATION
  • U—USE ALL YOUR SENSES, UNDUE HASTE MAKES WASTE
  • R—REMEMBER WHERE YOU ARE
  • V—VANQUISH FEAR AND PANIC
  • I—IMPROVISE
  • V—VALUE LIVING
  • A—ACT LIKE THE NATIVES
  • L—LIVE BY YOUR WITS, BUT FOR NOW, LEARN BASIC SKILLS
Using the link above you can download and read the whole manual for free. The acronym S.U.R.V.I.V.A.L. can be found starting on page 1-1. I won't copy and paste it all here.

Something to think about...

English: Mykel Hawke
English: Mykel Hawke (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have several survival books at home and one of my favorite is from former special forces Captain Mykel Hawke. His book Hawke's Green Beret Survival Manual is chock full of Knowledge that will help you get out alive in any situation.

There are a few things I disagree with Captain Hawke on though. For instance, like Bear Grylls, he is a proponent of drinking urine if you need to, as opposed to many other survivalists who agree that the best use of urine is to distill it. That being said, just because he may be wrong on one thing doesn't mean everything else he says is wrong.

One of the things that Hawke says to do if you find yourself in a survival situation is to S.T.O.P.! I didn't see this in his manual, but he used to talk about it a lot when he was on Man, Woman, Wild on the Discovery Channel. S.T.O.P. is an acronym that means:
  • Situation - Think about what your actual situation is. What happened to you? Did your car break down? Were you trekking in the back country when a storm rolled in and you lost visibility and got disoriented? Are you in an actual survival situation?
  • Threat - What can kill you? Hypothermia in a wet or cold environment? Hyperthermia in a desert or really hot environment? Bears, mountain lions, moose, etc?
  • Observation - What do you see around you? What do you have on you? Take an inventory. Les Stroud recommends this as well. What can you use or do to survive?
  • Plan - Come up with a game plan. Should you stay or should you go? If you decided to go, what direction should you head to find people to get rescued? If you stay, what's your plan for shelter, water, fire and food?
You get the idea. Taking this approach forces you to calm down for a minute, and get your mind in the right place to concentrate on what you need to do to survive. It also makes you slow down and truly make the right decisions instead of rushing off half cocked and doing something stupid.

Do you agree with Captain Hawke? Do you have a similar acronym you like to use that accomplishes the same thing? Let us know what you think in the comments.

"Survival Packs" for my little adventurers

Posted by El DiPablo | 6:00 AM | ,

I love to take my kids out hiking, camping and in general showing the the great outdoors. It's something their mother was never really interested in and so before recently it isn't something that I shared with them. Back in January though she filed for a divorce and now we enjoy a 50/50 arrangement with the kids where I get them every other week. Because of that they are getting to spend a lot of time with me in the wild.

Because I want that experience to be enjoyable for them I made them some little survival packs that contain:

Pretty simple stuff really, but now they have it they are super excited to head off into the woods with dear old Dad! I decided not to give them anything to start fires with yet. I'm saving that until they are a little older.

I initially made their packs with some cheap fanny packs from Walmart, but they suck and the kids have a hard time keeping them on their waste. I decided to order them some sling packs from K-Mart to use instead. It gives them a little extra room for stuff like jackets and snacks, plus it sits comfortably on their backs instead of around their wastes. Still though, it's small enough where I won't hear complaints about how much their little bodies can carry!

Here's my little munchkins near Cotton Lake on Grand Mesa in Colorado:


Have you set your kids up with a "survival kit"? What did you put in it? Let us know in the comments!