survival tips

Life in the Wild

‘When Miriam Lancewood and her partner Peter set off to live alone deep in the New Zealand wilderness, they told their families they’d be back in a year. But the couple came to enjoy their nomadic, off-grid lifestyle — foraging for edible plants and killing their own animals — so much that they’re still living …

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The Compleat Survival Guide:

If you have no air, you have only about a minute to live. The absence of shelter and warmth may kill you in a few hours, lack of water in a few days, lack of food in weeks. Therefore it is clear where your priorities should lie, yet every year many folks perish/suffer mostly for …

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The Other Kingdom

This autumn we were in Scotland when our fields were alive with field mushrooms, alas. Mushroom time is one of my favourites. I always collect heaps of them, fry them up with lots of butter, onions and bacon then smother golden toast or pasta with them. I guess my waistline isn’t  missing them. This evening …

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Some handy estimation tricks.

These will come in handy on the trail. Be patient…Pythagoras: This astonishing Pre-Socratic was a brilliant mind. I guess everyone knows his ‘Theorem” about right angle triangles. The saying below might not be quite so well known (or his enjoiner, ‘Eschew beans’! I think I know why!), but we can use some of the proportions …

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Raincoat Shelter:

How to make your raincoat into a shelter. I hope you realise how this is important as every year people die because they keep on wearing their raincoat instead of sheltering under it. I know when you are out in the cold pouring rain probably the last thing you are going to think is, ‘Must …

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Naismith’s Rule

Naismith’s Rule ‘Is a rule of thumb that helps in the planning of a walking or hiking expedition by calculating how long it will take to walk the route, including the extra time taken when walking uphill. It was devised by William W. Naismith, a Scottish mountaineer, in 1892.  A modern version of this rule …

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The Lie of the Land:

If you want to move around in the bush with confidence without getting lost (and without artificial aids, except for noting the general northerly direction from the sun or its shadow – eg on your thumbnail: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/finding-your-way/) You should always take note of the ‘fall’ of the country. The fall is the slope of the …

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How Long Till Sundown?

Here is another neat trick. If you hold your hand out at arm’s length, the width of your fingers approximates to 15 minutes. You can use this to judge how long it is till sundown (and remember you have approx half to an hour of usable light after sundown). Using this you can judge whether …

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Fire on the Snow:

Obviously you can light a fire on the snow but it will quickly melt the snow, sink into it and go out. And this is just when you most need a fire, so what to do? Find somewhere clear of snow is the easiest choice: often there is little or no snow under trees. It …

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Finding Your Way:

You don’t really need a compass (and you may not always have one – though a compass and a self-winding watch are a good idea as they are two of the most reliable aids you can have). In the Southern Hemisphere the sun is always in the Northern (third) of the sky. At mid-day it …

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Carry a Knife

I have decided on the desirability of carrying a fixed blade knife mainly for those rare occasions when it is necessary to split branches to produce dry kindling and shave them to produce ‘excelsior’ (wood shavings) which are the best fire starter. Lighting a fire when it is very wet and cold is the most …

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How to Light A Fire In the Wet!

Getting a fire going (in the rain and wet) is the most important thing you need to know – ever. If you don’t know it, one day you will die from your ignorance. It will always be unexpected. Folks are always heading off for a day’s drive wearing shorts and tee shirts into the High …

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River Crossings

RIVER CROSSINGS: This is one of the most fraught parts of hiking. I have seen so many people come to grief doing this (and have had to arrange emergency air rescue for a number who foolishly injured themselves). For example, many folks will spend lots of time trying to find a LOG to cross on. …

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Rope – Don’t leave home without it!

  ROPE: Sam Gamgee was right, ‘What about a bit of rope? You’ll want it, if you haven’t got it,’ he opined, and you would be foolish if you didn’t agree. Some cordage is an essential on the trail: You need thread and needle for those torn trousers or wounds. I always have dental floss …

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How to avoid being wet & cold while camping.

Two reasons some people don’t like camping: it is wet AND cold, and uncomfortable. This does not have to be. A properly positioned tarp and a fire will take care of the former: the usual 1m tall hiking tent which you are forced to retreat to in the event of rain will make your trip …

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An Open Shelter

We always camp in an open shelter (something like this) with an open fire out the front. SO warm and cozy even on cold, wet days. This shelter is very easy to make. It consists of a square of Tyvek ‘Homewrap’ (available Bunnings in 30 metre rolls) 8’ x 8’ square. The ‘wings’ consist of …

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