I was going through the inventory on our website and came across the figure 9 carabiner, I had seen them previously in catalogues, but hadn’t really ever looked at them with any interest. At roughly the same time one of our forum members (Thank you “SafetyDude”) started a thread about this neat gadget that he found at a local home improvement store. Between his description of this gadget, and my curiosity, I decided that this thing might have some use. My first thought of what it might be useful for was setting up a tarp shelter, so I got one and tried it out. Here are the results.
Did I mention that it’s spring in KY? I realize that the setting isn’t very “Wilderness”, but I enjoy the beauty of nature in many forms. Back to the task at hand, the figure 9 comes with clearly written and illustrated instructions that detail three ways of using it. I will probably find more ways to mis-apply this thing, and I’m sure you can too. It’s rated for 150 lbs. I think this applies to a vertical load. I don’t intend to ever try that figure for accuracy, the packaging also clearly says “Do not Use for Climbing!” which (I hope) is obvious. That aside the figure 9 is very handy for rigging tarp shelters. I tried it with a diamond shelter, and the lean-to configuration above. Using it allowed me to provide a ridgeline and to tension the tarp. As you can see (check out how bowed out the tarp is) there was a pretty stiff breeze blowing, and after I got everything rigged, the figure 9 held quite well. Providing tension to the lines with it is simple and easy.
I used nylon tape here to make a better contrast in the picture, you can use cordage from 1/8” to 3/8” with the figure 9, paracord works well with it.
Here is another picture of the same configuration above. It’s oriented 180 degrees opposite the other knot. What I found was that the shelter set up, time wise, consisted of 10 minutes of positioning the tarp and anchoring the lines and about 10 seconds of bringing everything to the correct tension with the figure 9. Oh, as a side note when you use stakes to fasten down the corners of your tarp on a windy day, make them about 12-18 inches long and angle them against the tension on the tarp.
My stakes were angled, but they should have been longer and possibly thicker, oh well live and learn.
Conclusion: For my money the figure 9 is hard to beat. True you can use knots to do the same thing, and I recommend knowing how to use both. But for quick and easy, you can’t beat the figure 9.
We wanted to take a look at some of the basics of a survival/preparedness scenario in which you and your group, particularly a family unit, would need to be on the move. We often get asked questions in this regard and thought it best to go ahead and put a blog post together about it. I can summarize the rest of this post in three words: knowledge, sharing, and mules.
Please note that the ideas of running from trouble may be the best option for your group. It is definitely not going to be easy. Quite frankly it is going to be much harder than you think and you will need to have lots of knowledge to make it. Gear simply makes certain aspects of such an event much easier, but lets be clear, the proper mindset and knowledge is what allows us to continue to survive. I have a friend who was living within a few short miles of Chernobyl when it exploded and caught fire releasing large amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere in 1986. She was forced to immediately leave with two children and no supplies. Both her children died from exposure, and she nearly so, despite her doing an excellent job of making the best of the situation. She has been basically running and moving from the effects of those dark days ever since. I say this to you as a sober reminder that it is not going to be easy, it will be hard. Prepare your gear and practice with it now, to be as ready as possible.
You will want to share both skills and gear with those in your group. One of the comments we regularly get is that one of the members wants to carry the brunt of the weight. While this is certainly noble, it is not realistic and not sound planning. You must plan for the eventuality that someone’s gear may be lost or otherwise gone. If someone in the group is carrying all the food, and that person’s pack is lost for some reason, then you will have to procure food from the environment in which you are making a go of it. So it is best to divide the gear evenly among the group. So that if someone is lost, or their pack is lost, you do not also lose a vast amount of gear.
This doesn’t mean that you might have one or multiple people in your group that can carry extra weight. By all means use them for this purpose. I refer to these people as mules, in that they are the ones that will be carrying heavier loads than everyone else. For example, everyone should have their own knife, but a mule might be the one carrying a bow-saw, or shovel, or extra food, etc. etc. I often suggest to family groups that they all divide their supplies but that the mule of the family carry an extra pot for the group, or the larger amount of rope, etc.
These are just a few ideas for preparing your family or other other group unit for being on the move. For more ideas check out our forums, and/or leave a comment question here so we can help you.
Until next time I hope to see you on, or off, the trail!
The Fold-A-Cup is one of those pieces of kit that you look at and aren’t really sure you need. It kinda looks gimickee and sort of like one of those all-in-one, buy it before their all gone, once in a lifetime deals (that is advertised Every week) that fast talking guys with hair transplants and braces sell on the home shopping network. Let me assure you though, this cup is a great piece of gear. It holds 6/10ths of a liter/quart, and folds roughly in half. (Which allows you to fit two, yes two, in the space a normal cup would take up……ok I’ll stop now.) Seriously it is a great way to carry a cup, large enough to double as a bowl, in your pocket.
What impressed me about the cup was its ability to insulate your hand from very hot liquids (AKA hot coffee/tea). Unlike some of the products you see on the previously mentioned TV boredom factory, this one shows real thought and effort in the design and materials. It gets a “Dan Rating” of 5 out of 5 stars.
In this review I want to explore the Sawyer .01 water filtration system. Sawyer took a different approach to water filters than most companies do. They don’t use a ceramic or charcoal filter; they use membranes with a micro-pore system. The system they use is based on technology used in kidney dialysis. They guarantee their filter for 1 million gallons. That guarantee really caught my eye, as I prefer gear with a long lifespan. Because of the style of filter they use, their system doesn’t need a pump like most long term water filters use. I’ve found that their filter does well with just a gravity feed. The kit I bought included three ways to use the filter; a setup that uses a bucket or other container as a reservoir, a setup that connects the filter to your faucet, and one that uses the water bladders that sawyer includes.
This is the stock photo of the kit I bought.
This is my bucket rig; sawyer includes all the hardware including a drill bit! (but no bucket)
This is the faucet rig.
I bought three extra two liter water bladders as well.
And here’s a shocker, sawyer included spare parts….what an amazing concept! And of course the included syringe for backwashing.
Pros; the filter has an Awesome lifespan! , it is simple and easy to use, comes with a syringe to backwash the filter (the key to the long life), very compact, no moving parts.
Cons; only one so far the output side of the filter has a cap where you have to pull on it to open it, my opinion is, it may be easy to contaminate if you’re not careful or washing your hands regularly.
Final Thoughts; this is an awesome personal water filter. At 60 bucks (or less for a smaller kit) this filter is a wise investment, especially considering the potential lifespan. If you establish a routine when you use the filter you could avoid ever contaminating the pull cap. Something as simple as Always opening it in a certain way Every time, and making sure that the method you choose is easy and easy to keep clean.
Fire is, perhaps, the first tool man learned to use. With a fire, you can: maintain your core body temperature, purify water, cook food, create vessels and containers, create a psychological edge (positive attitude/outlook), keep away the “boogie man”, and signal for help.
I’m going to describe three simple ways to start a fire, all of them cheap, easy, and effective.
First is the old standby the Cigarette Lighter. There are hundreds of types of lighters, as long as the lighter you choose is reliable and easy to use, who cares about brand. That said some brands are more reliable than others, sometime you pay slightly more for a reason. If you’re a bargain hunter, you can buy lighters by the case, ebay usually has good deals. As with anything, lighters do have some downsides. If it’s wet you’re going to have to dry it off before it’ll work. If you are in a very cold climate,
a lighter might not work at all. Eventually, it’s going to run out of fuel, so you need to keep a replacement (or several).
My second pick is the simple wooden stick match. Wooden specifically because, although, they’re more expensive than paper books of matches, they’re also more reliable and less affected by dampness. Matches can range from the simple wooden strike on the box type to more expensive waterproof, windproof, “Survival” matches. For everyday use the regular ones work very well. When you absolutely Need a fire the “survival” matches are great, especially when it’s rainy and windy.
My third choice is the fire steel. I carry one made by “Light my fire”, but there are other good quality brands other than that. Use of a fire steel requires knowledge of local tinder items, or, at the very least, that you carry good dry tinder. Other than that a fire steel needs nothing else (other than some elbow grease). A good fire steel is; not affected by water, easy to use, puts off a very hot spark (around 3000 degrees), is easy to carry (light and compact), and very affordable (they range between 10and20dollars).
All three of these options have advantages and disadvantages, but I personally find it best to carry………All of them. I carry a fire steel all the time and matches and a lighter in my woods backpack. Redundancy in this area is not essential, but then neither is surviving. I would prefer to have all three and only use one than to need an alternate and not have it. Oh yeah about the “cheap” part of the title, not one of these fire sources costs more than a trip to the ER for exposure treatment. Think about it.
As a confirmed gear junkie, I like flashlights. I carry one on a daily basis in a pouch on my belt. It’s a “Four Sevens” model that answers all of my needs (your needs may vary). But I didn’t start out with a high dollar model I started out with a trusty old mini-Maglite (actually two). The first maglite I carried on a consistent basis was the “original” mini maglite, the second was a led version that had some extra features (four different modes). All of these lights use “AA” size batteries, so no problems there and they all fit very nicely on your belt, in a pocket, or in a bag. All three of these lights are useful, rugged, and reliable. Any of these three flashlights could meet your needs. I feel confident recommending any of them.
Good. The original “Mini-Maglite” might be defined as a classic, it’s been around for more than thirty years, and has been the inspiration for many other flashlights that have long since vanished. It uses a single bulb and produces a useful amount of light. It is water resistant (it can be water proofed), it has one “mode” (on or off) and other than the bulb it’s relatively unbreakable. There are many upgrades available so you can customize your maglite to your preferences.
The Upsides; A reliable basic flashlight, good battery life, not likely to break (other than the bulb).
The Downsides; Low light levels, one operating mode (on or off), no (stock) pushbutton operation.
Better. Recently (within the last 7-8 years) Maglite recognized that they were getting left behind. Led (Light emitting Diode) flashlights were taking over the market. Maglite had a tried and true product, but it wasn’t the “latest and greatest”, and there were several companies taking advantage of this and offering led upgrades. So Maglite started offering their two and three cell mini-maglites in led form. I had one of the three cell led lights, and it worked very well, I currently have one of the two cell lights and it’s a good light too. The two cell light has four “modes” bright, dim, beacon (it blinks) and an SOS signal (it blinks in Morse code).
Upsides; Adjustable output modes (bright, dim), four modes (bright, dim, beacon, SOS), same basic reliable construction and function as the original, better battery life (thanks to the led bulb).
Downsides; Same twist head operation (it can get confusing with four operating modes), relatively low light output (but it’s better than the original).
Best.* Two years ago I was looking at a website that has a multitude of flashlights (Going gear.com, kind of a competitor but not really). Being a gear junkie I was in my element and being cheap I was looking through their close out section. A “Four Sevens” flashlight caught my eye. It used two “AA” batteries; it had seven modes (dim, brighter, medium, brighter, blinding, beacon, strobe, and SOS), a push button on the tail cap (very handy), a maximum output of 208 lumens (yes, that’s significant for a two AA flashlight), and best of all it was on clearance!(for 4 times as much as a mini-Maglite!)
Upsides; Massive light output levels (for a two AA flashlight), a pushbutton tail cap switch, seven operating modes, relatively good battery life, a pocket clip, and did I mention massive light output?
Downsides; Seven operating modes (they can get confusing, and most of the time I only use two), battery life (it’s still good, just not on the highest light output levels), price (on sale about four times as much as a mini-maglite).
Since all three of them use two AA batteries which are cheap and easy to find, that isn’t a factor (some flashlights use very expensive, specialty batteries to get maximum results). They’re all constructed well, and they all provide useful amounts of light.My conclusion is all three of these lights are good. It all depends on what you want/need and what you don’t mind paying for.
I have an addiction, I confess, and it involves outdoor gear. I like it, A Lot, and I have no intention of seeking help! One of my favorite pieces of outdoor gear is the humble knife. Outdoor knives range in style and size, from machetes to neck knives with a large variety in between, size wise, Mora knives fall somewhere in the middle. Style wise they’re somewhere between “homely as a mud fence” and “Functional”. It seems that the Swedish value a knife according to how well it Works rather than how well it Looks. In this review I look at the five Mora knives that I have and show the strengths, weaknesses, and purposes of each.
Firstly the Mora Companion knife, it has a 4” high carbon steel blade. Its handle is green plastic with a non-slip rubber grip area. I have two of these that look very similar, but actually look and feel, like two different knives. The difference between them is that one is a regular companion and the other is a companion “Robust”. The robust model has a thicker blade and a longer/wider handle. The regular model is on the left, the “robust” is on the right. Read more
I sincerely hope that we have made it abundantly clear how important it is to maintain your core body temperature in a crisis and/or survival event. One of the the items that we recommend you keep in your vehicle during the winter season are wool blankets. These are also so easy to carry in a survival go-bag set up as well.
Not only can you use the blanket as it was intended, you can also use it as a wearable shelter. Wool has the incredible usefulness that it will continue to insulate you even if it is wet. In this video we demonstrate how to simply use it over you so you have a warm shelter. Coupled with a garbage bag, you can keep most of the outside environmental elements off of you as well. Watch the video then read the follow-up comments of caution below.
I want to caution you about using the garbage bag simply because it will not allow moisture to escape. If you can get by without using it, it will allow humans perspiration or other moisture to evaporate more easily. However, if you are caught in a downpour, it will be a nice addition to this simple set up.
I have used this exact setup on a number of occasions, both when I was a kid and later as an adult. It is rather easy to continue to get work done with something such as this. You can usually use your own belt to cinch it together, or the ever present paracord, that should be in all your survival kits.
I hope you liked the video, please subscribe to the Dan’s Depot Channel if you have not done so already.
Until next time, I hope to see you on, or off, the trail!
Injuries to the skin are one of the most common injuries an individual can sustain. These injuries can range in severity as well as well as complexity of treatment. Wounds may be superficial and linear (which are very painful) such as paper cuts, or deeper (as in lacerations), they can also be abrasions (scraping of the skin), punctures of the skin can be another common injury, and the last classification of traumatic wounds to the skin are avulsions (tearing of the skin). Injuries to the skin though are universally approached in a pretty straight manner. Compression is the standard first line of treatment, and this is usually an instinctual response. Inspecting the wound usually follows and this also is often instinctual.
When administering first aid to a bleeding individual (not yourself) ALWAYS wear medical grade protective gloves to prevent transmission of HIV / Hepatitis or any other blood borne pathogen. Everyone should have several pairs in their first aid kits. Another point to bear in mind is that if the injury is a deep puncture wound or the person has not had a recent (within the last 5 to 10 years) tetanus shot or booster or if the cut is from a human or animal bite – immediate medical attention should be sought.
Lacerations & Avulsions:
A laceration is a wound that penetrates all layers of the skin and may also continue into subcutaneous fat, muscle, blood vessels, and nerves. A laceration will display a gap in the skin that can be opened or closed when pressure is applied along the sides of the wound.
- Stop the bleeding: application of pressure with a clean cloth, rag, or gauze for 1 – 3 minutes is usually enough for smaller wounds. If you still have “oozing” – you may need to apply continual pressure for 20-30 minutes. Don’t keep checking to see if the bleeding has stopped because this may damage or dislodge the clot that’s forming and cause bleeding to resume. If blood spurts or continues flowing after continuous pressure, this may indicate injury to an artery or a major vessel and can be a life threatening injury. If bleeding is severe, you can consider applying a tourniquet to the area proximal (nearer to the heart) to the injury. Tourniquets should always be attempted to be placed over a wide as possible area to prevent tissue damage from the pressures applied by the tourniquet.
- There are several chemical coagulation products out there which are very effective. I personally do not use them since they are kind of expensive, have an expiration date and I have gotten by on several occasions without the need for such a product – even with real massive wounds I have treated. Just be aware that there are other products out there.
- Once bleeding has minimized or even stopped, it can be carefully rinsed or flushed out with sterile saline solution, sterile water (boiled & filtered), or peroxide. I recommend NOT using peroxide more than after the initial injury since it can dislodge blood clots as well as be toxic to the local cells necessary for healing. I always perform a saline flush after using peroxide. The area surrounding the cut can be cleansed with commercially available antiseptic wipes or simple soap and water – with care taken to minimize the soap which gets into the wound.
- Dry the wound well & it is usually a good idea to apply a thin film of antibiotic ointment and dress the wound with a bandage.
- Sometimes lacerations need suturing (stitches). This promotes healing and reduces scarring. The length of time stitches stay in depends upon the location of the laceration, its length and/or depth, and associated tissue damage. If the laceration Is not very deep or long, adhesive strips (“Steri-strips”) can be used to bring a clean, uninfected cut together. I always carry them in my first aid kit. “Butterfly” bandages help serve this purpose also, as does superglue”
- An abrasion is the removal of the top layer or layers of skin by the friction of anything rubbing directly on the skin. Usually, an abrasion oozes blood or fluid from injured capillaries (small blood vessels). Because superficial nerve endings in the skin are exposed, abrasions tend to be very uncomfortable.
- As soon as possible, clean the abrasion with clear water and soap (remember to wear gloves at all times if not treating yourself). A surgical soap, Chloraprep, Betadine, or Hibiclens, is preferable, but any mild soap without fragrance can be used. Try to remove all foreign material from the wound using a clean bandana, cloth or preferably sterile gauze pads. If you cannot remove all imbedded material, seek additional medical care. Remaining material may cause infection or tattooing of the skin.
- Generally, abrasions should be covered and kept moist. Maintain a moist environment, though covering the wound with an anti-bacterial ointment, or applying a gauze pad moistened with sterile saline and then wrapping the area or covering the area with a dry bandage. Change this dressing once or twice a day until healing is complete. When an abrasion is over a joint or a moving body part, keep the abrasion moist until healed.
- Puncture wounds have a high association with infection. Once the bleeding has been controlled (as above), wash the area similar to how you’d wash an abrasion (see above) and monitor for signs if infection (pain redness / swelling / oozing / pus / odor). Seek professional medical attention as soon as possible if any of the signs of infection occur.
- Puncture wounds to the chest can cause collapsed lungs – monitor for signs of painful or shallow breathing or breathing which is becoming shallower. If any of these signs occur -apply tape (duct tape is awesome for this type of application) or an impermeable bandage to “seal” the air leak which is causing the lung to collapse. Get the victim to a hospital ASAP.
- Puncture wounds to the neck & back are especially dangerous for nerve or spinal cord damage & the severity of the injury / situation needs to be evaluated before any action is taken.
- Puncture wounds to the abdomen can be concerning for injury to the intestines or other organs. Watch for signs of internal bleeding such as a distension (ballooning out) of the abdomen, abdominal pain, nausea or diahrrea. This is a medical emergency that needs to be taken to the hospital ASAP.
- Wool or Fleece Blankets – both of these materials continue to insulate even if they are wet.
- Down clothing or bags – goose down and other similar materials do not insulate when wet, but there is not much better on the market to help maintain warmth.
- Candles – If you have never tried burning a candle in a small area, you should try it. It is quite amazing how much warmth can be provided off of one small calendar when it is contained in a small area such as a car.
- Hand and other body warmers – there are many different commercial available options here. Most are simply in packaging once they are exposed to air, they then warm up and can be utilized in pockets, shoes, etc. to help warm up extremities.
- Head coverings – 60-70% of your body heat escapes through your head and the back of your neck. Keeping this portion of your body covered is incredibly important.
- Flashlight – invaluable piece of equipment when darkness sets in, also can work as a signalling device.
- Fire starting materials – particularly lighters and/or ferro rods. Please remember if you build a fire using fossil fuel (petroleum, gas, butane, propane, kerosene), you should do so outside of the vehicle. One of the products of burning fossil fuels (carbon monoxide) is deadly. Please keep in mind that you may have gas in the tank that you can siphon out for your use here. Siphon by removing a small hose from inside of the engine (if you are broke down and cannot move). *Please note all the videos we have on the Dan’s Depot Youtube Channel, that help with building fires*
- Signalling Devices – without traveling too far from you car, find something to use as a flag pole of sorts. Try to have cloth, plastic, or other material that contrasts the surrounding area you find yourself in. We try to keep bright orange bandanas in our vehicle for this purpose, as they vary from both snow and green vegetation. *We have a useful video on signalling as well*
- Other people – perhaps not the most comfortable situation, but huddling together under a blanket helps you to use one another’s body heat.
Remember to have a high quality – well stocked first aid kit as well as medical grade gloves. Duct tape, some extra clean bandanas or rage and superglue are always in my bug out and hiking bags! The most important thing to remember in any medical emergency is to STAY CALM!!
Until next time – stay healthy! Dr. E
Developing a Car Survival Kit focused on a winter time climate situation, has a more added focus on staying warm in a crisis situation. Even if that crisis situation is nothing more than you have slid off the road. Past years have proven that it is to easy to slide off the road, go into a drainage, and no one know you are even there. This more easily happens than one might think. Concern for safety in this situation can be compounded by continual heavy snows, and snow plows covering up your car.
The other obvious concern, is breaking down or simply getting lost in a remote area. This too has been in the news in the last few years. In one situation in particular, it led to the death of someone.
Putting together a winter car survival kit has the obvious focus of maintaining your core body temperature as close to 98.6 degrees as possible. This can be done in a variety of ways but we are going to consider only that your intent is to shelter in place. First and foremost your car is a shelter, so if at all possible, utilize it as such to keep you out of the elements. Beyond that there are several things that should stay in your care during winter months. They will serve to help you, particularly in a this shelter-in-place situation.
Beyond those basics to help you stay warm, there can also be a few small autor repair items that can always make some quick fixes to get you off the side of the road. A pair of jumper cables, basic serpentine belt, radiator hose, and duct tape, and a can of fix-a-flat type of tire inflator can go a long way to helping get you back on the road from some minor auto issues. Also, never leave home without plenty of fuel in your vehicle. Alot of survival folks recommend never having less than half of a tank of gas in your car at all times.
Until next time, I hope to see you safely on, or off, the trail!