Thursday, 27 July 2017

4 Tips For the Successful use of a Ferro Rod

I love spark rods. These durable, yet affordable spark throwers will work in any temperature extreme and even work after being wet. And while a butane lighter may work best in most situations (since an open flame ignites a wider range of tinder than sparks alone), a “Ferro rod” makes a great piece of backup gear. They’ve also been around for over a century. Ferrocerium was invented in 1903 by the chemist Carl Auer von Welsbach in Austria. This alloy produces hot sparks in excess of 3,000F when it’s scraped against a rough surface or sharp edge. The recipe for this alloy varies, but it’s generally 50 percent cerium, 25 percent lanthanum, 19 percent iron, with small amounts of praseodymium, neodymium, and magnesium.

Carl Auer von Welsbach 


Ferrocerium rods are a popular fire starter among survival enthusiasts, though quite often, they are sold in packaging that is devoid of detailed instruction. This knowledge gap leads to frustrated newbies and mistaken claims that the products don’t work. Over the years, I’ve watched fledgeling survivalists stumble over the same problems—which are easily solved with a little understanding.

1. Scrape Off The Paint

Many spark rods are coated with a slick black paint to prevent corrosion and to keep them from scraping against each other during manufacture and transport to the marketplace. This paint will need to be scraped off before the sparks start to fly. Most often, the pressure you’d apply to scrape off sparks will also scrape off the paint and expose the ferrocerium.

2. Scrape Hard

I often advise my students to scrape the rod “like you’re trying to break it!” Dainty scraping won’t remove enough material from the rod or provide enough friction to ignite the scrapings. Scrape it like you mean it!

3. Pick The Right Fuel

Spark rods don’t light everything on fire. You’ll need natural plant-based fuzz for the tinder on this ignition method. Cotton balls and dryer lint are great choices in the backyard, while cattail seed down, goldenrod fluff, and milkweed down are great materials to source in the wild. Dry, dead leaves and coarse wood shavings may also seem like a fit, but those usually won’t light with sparks alone. You’d typically need the open flame of a match or lighter to get them going.

4. Move the Rod, Not the Scraper

I often see beginners throwing more tinder around than sparks. Thankfully, there’s an easy way to correct that flawed technique. If you hold the scraper still and pull the rod away (imagine you’re pulling the cord to start a chainsaw or push mower) you won’t knock the tinder all over the place. You’ll still get your shower of hot sparks, without the destructive follow-through of the scraper.

Friday, 16 June 2017

How to Identify Amanitas


The Amanita Family

The Amanita Family is certainly one of the most interesting for foragers, and definitely one that any novice forager should quickly familiarise themselves with.

The Amanita family contains roughly 24 species in Britain and some are among the most deadly poisonous mushrooms in the world.

Of the 24 at least 6 are listed as deadly among the books I own. Those are The Death Cap, The Destroying Angel, The Gemmed Amanita, The Panther Cap, The Spring Amanita and The Fools Mushroom. Not all of those are pictured here.


Some Amanitas are edible but not mushrooms we consider safe for the novice forager. The most important thing for any novice forager to learn is how to recognise the Amanitas and what edibles they can look like.

Before even considering eating any of the edible members of this family, or picking any mushroom that can look similar to them, it is worth noting that there is no known cure for the combination of toxins found in some Amanitas. 


A slow death is likely if you ingest these mushrooms, accompanied by terrible pain and extreme gastric problems as they destroy your internal organs.

Identifying all the Amanitas can be tricky but there are some key characteristics most share that you should look out for.

How to Identify the Amanitas.

1. All have white gills and white spores. 

2, All normally have a bulbous base, so when identifying mushrooms you don't know; it is important to get to the very base of the stem or stipe to see what's there. This can often be buried under the forest detritus or even the mud itself.

3, Many grow from an egg sack like structure called a volva. The volva can closely resemble other young mushrooms such as puffballs or stinkhorn eggs or even young Agarics (field mushroom types), so this should be taken into consideration when harvesting any of those edible mushrooms.

4, The remains of the volva can often be seen on the top of the cap of the mushroom, particularly the death cap, which often has the white remains of the volva left.

5, Most have a skirt, and the skirts can either be smooth or striated. Look closely at the skirt characteristics when you start to try to identify the individual species within the family. 

The Grisettes; a subspecies of the Amanitas generally do not have skirts.  Be aware that the skirt on a mushroom can sometimes come off due to weathering or by being brushed or blown off.

6. Many have speckles or spots on the top as with the archetypal gnome seat, The Fly Agaric or Amanita muscaria pictured on the right. This is a very interesting mushroom, and though it is used recreationally it falls into the deadly mushroom category as it has been known to cause deaths. 

Each Fly Agaric mushroom has an unknown quantity of the poison muscarine in it which can have fatal effects.

Different members of the family have slightly different types of speckles, some are scales left from when the mushroom broke through its egg, some seem to be flaky and some are much more like a calcite build up on top of the cap. 

All of these different types of 'speckles' can be washed off by the rain, and some of the most deadly members of the family often have no speckles at all.

Mushrooms that can be confused with Amanitas

Puffballs; small white puffballs can resemble Amanita eggs, always cut your puffballs in half and make sure there isn't a little mushroom inside to be sure you don't have an Amanita.

Young Field Mushrooms or other Agarics; If you pick a young Agaric before the cap has opened then you are running the risk of it being an Amanita. Check the colour of the gills, as with the Amanitas they will always be white and with young Agarics, they will always be off-white to pink.

Russulas; The Gemmed Amanita on the right can look like the common yellow Russula if all of the speckles have been washed off the top. Check the shape and texture of the stem. The Russula stem will be straight and white like a stick of chalk and have no skirt. The Amanita stem will be bulbous at the base and probably have a skirt.

Parasols; there are a number of superficial similarities between the Parasol and the Amanita family. Check the cap of your Parasol to make sure it is actually scaly rather than having scales you can brush off.

Edible Amanitas; the most likely mistake to make is when picking other edible members of the Amanita family, so if you are going to try experimenting with edible Amanitas extreme caution is required. Never eat any mushroom from this family unless you are 100% sure of what it is and that it is edible. Never eat any members of this family raw.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

How to make a wood whistle



Take my word for it, carving a whistle from elder is an empowering activity, one that traces the handiwork of our ancestors and resounds in you long after the note has disappeared into the autumn air. And it’s dead simple. All you need is a penknife and a pair of eyes.

Elder is extremely common and easy to identify. Look around roadside verges, parks, woods, wastelands and railway lines for a bush-like, shrubby tree. It has oval-shaped, serrated leaves that grow in opposite pairs and a cracked, corky bark that's grey-brown in colour. The telltale squishy removable pith, which makes it such an ideal whistle making material, runs through its core.




Use a straight branch a bit thicker than your index finger and around ten centimetres long. At this width the pith inside should be at its widest, taking up most of the cross-section. The ratio is important; the tube needs to be hollow enough to create a decent whistle, but not so thin that it splits during its creation. Ideally, the wood will be two or three millimetres thick.

With a penknife, shave away the outer bark and use a sharpened stick to push out the pith in the middle to leave a clear, wooden tube. Now cut the ‘voicing mouth’ two centimetres in from one end by slicing vertically down onto the tube at 90º and meeting this line with a 45º cut. Repeat until the hole resembles a smile that exposes the hollow tube within.

Next, find a round stick that is a touch wider than the end of the whistle and strip away the outer bark until it fits in the tube all the way up to edge of the voicing mouth. Then slice it a flat top with one or two decisive strokes and push it snugly into place. Cover the other end and blow. The flat surface allows the air to hit the voicing mouth cleanly, whereupon it splits to produce the whistle noise.

Regardless of where you source your elder, make a patch of woodland your workshop. Carving is one of the most therapeutic pastimes possible. It is psycho- and physiotherapy, pulling us out of our everyday worries and stresses with gentle focus. The level of concentration required also renders the work delightfully silent labour, leaving our ears open to the sounds of nature all around.

Part of the thrill of British woodland is the stark relief it gives us from our everyday existence, imparting a non-human otherness. Watching the industry of animals in autumn, even one so common as the grey squirrel or ground beetle reminds us of the mind-bogglingly varied contemporaries we share our planet with.

The elder tree has long been thought to be the favourite dwelling place of other, more mystical creatures. Faeries were once said to love the music from flutes made of this wood above all others. After some adjustments, the whistle should work wonderfully, sending sylvan notes through the trees. An elder whistle produces an organic, woody note, closer to that of a birdcall than anything else. Far from scaring away the wildlife, it is as if you’ve found the language of the forest itself.

Making and playing a whistle allows us to bottle something of the joy of the wood even when you return home. For a moment at least, when you take the whistle from a shelf and blow it, the walls and furniture of the room fade away you are back in the trees.



Saturday, 20 May 2017

How to Cook in a Steam Pit



The steam pit is one of those traditional cooking methods that is a fair bit of work, but it's also worth the trouble. If you've been to a real Luau, you have enjoyed the results of a steam pit (or steam mound). These cooking techniques use a hole or mound with hot rocks at the bottom, with layers of dirt, vegetation and food above the hot rocks. The heat of the rocks produces steam from the dirt and vegetation, cooking great tasting food that stays hot for hours until you're ready to eat it.

To start out, a pit of varying depth and width is dug in the dirt, clay or sand. The pit can be as small as one foot deep and one foot wide, or as big as you need if you have enough hot rocks and food to fill it. I typically dig two feet wide and a foot and a half deep to cook for a few people, but I once dug a steam pit as big as a grave to cook 72 fish for a large group.

Next, you'll need rocks and lots of firewood. Select suitable rocks from a high, dry location. These rocks are placed in the bottom of the pit to see how many it will take and where the stones fit best. You have a choice now of leaving the stones in the pit and building the fire on top of them, or taking the rocks out of the pit and placing them in a big fire. Either way, the stones should be heated for two hours.

If you heat the rocks in the pit, you must scoop the remaining wood, charcoal, coals and ash out of the pit when the rocks are hot enough. The wood, ash and charcoal will give the food an unpleasant "wet smoked" flavour otherwise. If you heat the rocks outside of the pit, you can use a shovel to scoop them up and move them into the pit. You can also just roll them or slide them with a stout pole.

Once the pit has the hot rocks in it, cover them with an inch or two of dirt or sand. Then place 6 to 8 inches of vegetation over the dirt. Next, put your food in a single layer, with the things that need the most cooking in the centre and the other foods around the edges. Leave a few inches of space between the foods and the wall of the pit for even cooking. Then cover your food with another 6 to 8 inches of vegetation.

Once you have your food in the pit between layers of vegetation, you can cover the pit with the dirt from digging the hole. A layer of bark, mats or cloth could go on before the dirt to make dirt removal easier when the cooking is done. When the final dirt goes on, your work is done. Just come back three or more hours later, dig up your food, and enjoy.

Tips for working with a Steam Pit:


  • A "rock kettle" can make a good steam pit, but you'll still have to dig up some dirt to cover it.

  • Work quickly to get your vegetation and food in the pit so that your hot rocks don't cool off too much before you seal the pit.

  •  A few cups of water poured over the top layer of green vegetation will generate more steam and conduct heat to your food more efficiently.

  • Use enough dirt on top so that no steam is seen escaping.

  • In freezing cold weather, you may need to build a fire on top of the pit.

  • If the ground is cold and/or very wet, use a thin layer of small or thin rocks before putting in the bigger hot rocks. This will keep the soil from conducting away too much of the rock's heat.

A wide variety of non-toxic vegetation can be used in Steam Pits. Here is a partial list of materials that are good -- and some materials to avoid.

Good Steam Pit Vegetation:


  • Grasses, sedges, cordgrass, cattail leaves, reeds and rushes edible weeds like amaranth, lamb's quarters

  • Leaves and leafy branches of mild smelling and tasting trees like maples and willows

  • Good tasting and smelling leaves of sassafras and spicebush

  • Seaweed (but watch out for sea lice and other little sea creatures)

  • White Pine needles (and most other pines, except for ponderosa and loblolly pines which may be toxic)

Toxic or Foul Tasting Vegetation:



  • Oak, walnut and tulip poplar leaves -- Foul tasting

  • Buckeye and horse chestnut tree leaves -- Toxic

  • Cherry tree leaves -- Become deadly poison as they wilt

  • Pokeweed leaves and stalks -- Toxic to poisonous

  • Rhododendron, laurel and most evergreen shrubs -- Toxic to poisonous

  • Iris leaves and jimsonweed leaves -- Toxic

  • Some ferns -- Toxic

  • Any unknown herbs, weeds, wildflowers or shrubs -- Potentially toxic

Please tell let me know in the comments if you have done this technique, or just enjoyed the results of this great outdoor cooking method.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Guest Post - How to Carry Your Pack



I see many people packing and carrying their bag wrong. Many will see it has in important, but it is very important and why I am able at 49 to carry a large pack for a long distance with next to no issues.

Many will understand that the weight needs to be distributed to the top of the bag and yet important things need to be accessible in case of requirement. This is very true. But not many know why.

Your spine is shaped in such a way as to carry its self and a bearing load in a specific manner. There are synovial joints (liquid filled capsules) between each vertebra all the way down the spine and also muscles between and supporting each spinal section, front side and back (agonist, antagonist and synergist) These synovial joints are filled with synovial fluid which offers lubrication to the joint like the oil in a car ball joint, It protects the articular cartilage from rubbing and wearing away. The lining of the capsule is called the synovial lining which secretes the liquid into the capsule. These capsules are designed to protect the joints in a particular way so as to ensure damage is avoided over time.

If the spinal alignment is out of it's correct and desired line of pressure absorption it will cause the vertebrae to be compressed in the wrong direction. This will also stop the muscles around the spine (the local core muscles) from performing within their range of movement. This over time will cause spine alignment issues and short term back pain and aching during a hike or bag carry.

There is also a connective tissue in the lower back called the thoracolumbar fascia which assists in support and protection of the lower thoracic and lumbar spinal area. This fascia connects lower muscle groups to upper muscle groups and shares the load between the two. A badly carried bag or weight distribution will cause the pivot point to lower and will to a degree bypass the fascia creating too much emphasis into the sacroiliac joint at the centre of the upper hip girdle.

This will create pain to or even in some cases damage to the lower lumbar region and can cause sciatic nerve compression issues. This is why there are some nay options with newer rucksacks. The waist belt is well padded and designed to share weight bearing into the hip girdle rather than just the centre lower back and the shoulder straps allow for good bag alignment down through the spine from the atlas - cervical spine - thoracic - to the lumber and finally into the coccyx area.

Many military designed Bergen's may not have as much support in the lumbar region. This in many cases is because they are designed in the most part to be used with a webbing belt. This allows the Bergen to sit on top of the kidney pouches. These are mainly the older Bergen's as the newer options now have good lumbar support and a generous waste belt. Packing the weight to the top of the bag again ensures the bag removes emphasis from the lumber pivot point and allows the weight to be directed down through the spinal correctly, NOT so the shoulders can take the weight. Too much weight into the cervical spine and shoulder area will cause upper nerve issues and can leave you with nerve impingements and ulnar nerve compression issues which in many cases will show as pain in the shoulder or elbow region due to nerve feedback looping going on... these impingements can be painful and difficult repair.

So DO NOT tighten your shoulder straps up to take the weight of your pack! Allow an even distribution of weight from the shoulder through to the hip girdle.

Some of the old army bags do not allow for a correct distribution without a webbing belt so just ensure you do not overload these bags or carry them for extended distances.



I hope this helps someone?

Please feel free to comment



Saturday, 8 April 2017

"Made in Spain" First Impression Review: Cudeman 298 Kc



I love the Spanish-made Cudeman knives I have had the pleasure of reviewing and using some of the vast range.

Cudeman knives are synonymous of quality using premium steels like Bohler or Mova and non-rotting handles like micarta and G10 and in some occasions a nice exotic wood. Cudeman have been making knives for over 25 years and have produced some of the sharpest blades that exceed the demands of their users. Easy to sharpen, Easy to maintain and best of all easy to sharpen when needed.

the Spanish are one of the world's most experienced edged tool makers with a tradition that goes back to when the Romans invaded Spain in 236BC. They came up against warriors armed with Toledo swords and spears. History tells us that the Romans won and that Spanish Toledo steel weaponry became the standard for the Roman legions.

The SPECS:

  • BLADE LENGTH: 11 cm
  • HANDLE LENGTH: 12,5 cm
  • OVERALL LENGTH: 23,5 cm
  • BLADE  THICKNESS: 5,33 mm
  • BLADE WIDTH: 3,8 cm
  • GRIND: FULL FLAT GRIND
  • BLADE FINISH: SATIN FINISH
  • BLADE SHAPE: DROP-POINT
  • STEEL: N695 BÖHLER
  • HARDNESS: 59/61 HRc
  • TANG TYPE: FULL-TANG
  • HANDLE MATERIAL: COCOBOLO WOOD
  • SHEATH: BROWN LEATHER (INCLUDED)
  • KNIFE WEIGHT: 254 gr
  • SHEATH WEIGHT: 286 gr
  • OVERALL WEIGHT: 646 gr

EXTRAS:

  • HOLE FOR SAFETY CORD
  • MULTI-POSITION SHEATH
  • PARACORD 280 cm
  • FIRESTEEL
  • LEATHER LOOP WITH ACCESSORIES
  • SHARPENING STONE + SIGNALLING MIRROR




The 298 KC come with a sturdy multi-position leather sheath, along with a sharpening stone combined with a signalling mirror, a Ferro rod and striker and some paracord.




The knife handle in incredibly ergonomic and very comfortable in the hand, The Back of the blade had a flat grind suitable for striking a Ferro rod if you prefer this to the striker. By personal choice, I prefer the full flat grind on this compared to other knives which have a scandi finish. This will be an excellent knife for game prep in the field along with many other tasks in the field.




Like all Cudeman knives, the 298 Kc shaving sharp right out of the box meaning is ready to use the day you buy one. Overall, this looks one superb all around bush knife.

I am planning to give the 298 Kc a lot of use over the next couple on months and I shall give an in-depth review within a couple of months

Monday, 27 March 2017

3 Tips for Better Tinder

Tinder is the dead, dry plant-based material that is capable of turning a coal, ember or spark into a flame. Tinder is one of the foundation pieces for fire making, and you can often find excellent tinder in the form of grasses, leaves, pine needles, fibrous tree bark, weed tops, seed down, wood shavings, and more unusual stuff like palm fibre and certain mosses. Whatever you choose, these natural materials should have several things in common.

First, it should all be dead—but usually not rotten—plant based materials. Rotten plants usually lose more and more of their fuel value as they decompose. But there are always exceptions. Just remember ... dead plant-based materials.

Second, it should be as dry as it possibly can be. In rainy weather, this may mean finding a few scraps of tinder at a time, even one leaf at a time, and KEEPING the tinder dry while you search for more.
Finally, it should be light, airy and have a lot of surface area for its mass. In other words, it needs to be fluffy. Materials that are not fluffy should be processed in some way to increase their surface area so that they can reach their combustion temperature as quickly as possible.

Not every tinder type is “ready to use” when you find it in nature. It may be too coarse, too flat, or too solid to burn effectively. But with the right processing technique, we can change this vital material - increasing its surface area and enabling it to burn quickly and easily. Here are three ways you can get your materials in shape for fire starting.




1. Shred It


That’s right, tear it apart by hand! Start by tearing at large sections, and then tear the remainders into shreds. This technique works well for tree bark fibre (like tulip poplar, basswood, cedar, pawpaw and many others). You can also shred weed tops and seed down into a fluffier form.

2. Pound Away


Easy and therapeutic, pounding your tinder with a rock can separate the fibres nicely (and give you a constructive place to vent your rage). Most of the fibrous dead inner tree barks and plant stalk fibres work really well with this trick. Wad up the fibres into a ball or fold them into a linear bundle, and pound them with a rock or similar hard object. Turn the bundle often, and you’ll cover all of your surface area with no trouble. Pound your tinder on a hard log or a stone for best results. Keep working until your tinder has the desired fluffiness. If you don’t have a dry place to work, shred the tinder instead of pounding. By pounding on damp or wet surfaces, you’re driving moisture into the tinder and reducing its flammability.


3. Scrape and Scratch


When dealing with trees that have a fibrous outer bark (like cedar, cypress and juniper), you can use your trusty knife or even a sharp stone to scrape off fibrous tinder. This can even be done on live trees, without harming them. Just scrape off some of the fibrous outer bark, and collect the fuzz you remove. You can also scrape wood to make wood shavings if no other tinder is available (or dry).

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Product Review: Lomo SW1 Sports Watch



Lomo® Watersport and Ewetsuits UK were kind enough to send me a couple of their huge range to review. For this review, I will focus on their SW1 Sports Watch.

This watch does not come in any fancy packaging which is not really needed and helps to keep the cost down. On receiving this, the first test I put it through was to drop it in a glass of water for a couple of hours. after which, it carried on working no problem at all.

The second test was the pedometer. I walked into work on a route I normally drive, which is 2.74 KM. The pedometer was surprisingly accurate as it measured the distance at 1.72km.


Features:


  • 12/24hr time
  • Dot Matrix LCD Display
  • Heart Rate Display
  • Pedometer
  • Usable down to 10m underwater
  • Dual Alarms
  • Countdown timer
  • EL backlight
  • Hourly Chime
  • Durable strap
  • Uses CR2032 battery



As far a watch for work and activities goes, there is no superior to the Lomo SW1. It's virtually invincible. I spent a lot of time out in the woodlands and I wear this watch as it's so reliable and does everything you could want. I've swum with it, gone neck deep in mud with it, been in below freezing temperatures for days, got oil on it, scrambled on rocks, covered in grit, in salt water for prolonged periods and yet it still goes on!! The battery life is amazing as well. All my friends agree this is a watch to have. Sure, have a fancy watch for events and going out but this watch cannot be bettered for the working day. The generous watch strap is long enough to wear on your wrist over a wetsuit.

All in all, I cannot find any fault with the Lomo SW1 and for only £25 it is a serious rival to many sports watches costing over £100

Was this review helpful? If so, please stop by Lom Gom's Facebook page and "Like" us! 

Monday, 13 March 2017

Make the Most of Your Fire with a Reflecting Wall

Retain more heat from your fire with a fire wall.


The reflecting wall is a great structure to build in semi-permanent camps, and you can even build quick ones at overnight stopping points. These walls block some of the wind (when positioned correctly) and they reflect more of the heat of a fire back toward the user. When used in conjunction with a survival shelter, these walls can create a much more comfortable micro-climate by literally “fencing in” the heat. The wall can be any size or shape, and built from many different materials. Of course, bigger is better. And smoother walls reflect heat better than rough ones. But as long as you have something in place to reflect back lost heat, each stick you burn will make you feel warmer than you would feel without the wall.

Wooden Walls


Any wood can be used for a reflecting wall. If you’d like it to last, cut and stack green wood for your wall. The extra moisture of live wood will limit its flammability. If you’d like the wall to double as a firewood drying rack, you can build it from dead wood that is wet. Just pull out the sticks as they dry, throw them in the fire, and replace them with new wet pieces as you go. You could even use rotten wood to build your wall, if that’s all you have available. The bottom logs or poles that are closest to the fire will dry out and begin to burn first, unless you plaster them with mud, prop flat stones against them, or build the wall far enough away (about 1 yard) that it cannot burn. To build your wall, gather a pile of logs or poles, and drive two stout stakes into the ground. They should be closer together than the length of your shortest log. Set your thickest log on the ground, butted up against the two stakes, then drive in another pair of stakes to pin the log in place. If you plan a low reflecting wall, use stakes about a yard long and drive one foot into the ground. Go for longer stakes is you want a higher wall.

Stone and Mud Walls


For semi-permanent camps (or when stone is your most abundant resource), build a stone wall to bounce back the heat of a fire which would normally be lost. The rocks can be laid “dry” (without any mortar), or you can use mud or clay as a mortar substitute. Mixing dead grass with the mud will add additional strength to the mortar. And if enough mud and grass were available, you could even build your reflecting wall entirely from mud mortar (also known today as “cob”). Make it wider at the base for stability, insert sticks here and there for internal support, smooth the surface for heat reflection, and don’t go too high all at once. Top heavy mud walls tend to flop over.

A Note on Safety



For any rocks you plan to use near a fire, make sure you get your rocks from a dry location. It’s also smart to test them in a campfire (while you’re at a distance) to make sure they don’t explode. NEVER use rocks you collected by a waterway (high rate of explosion). Ever built a fire reflecting wall? Please share your results by leaving a comment.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

How to Build An Emergency Shelter

You could be out in the woods you discover that you are lost. Or perhaps you’re driving along a rural road and your car stalls or gets a flat tyre. Maybe you’re doing some canoeing and it overturns on the lake, forcing you to swim to shore after which you find you’re many miles away from your camp and anyone else.

Regardless of the situation, when you’re stuck outdoors away from civilisation, lodging, or nearby help, you may need to build an emergency shelter. Especially when the weather conditions are cold and wet, or will be soon due to an approaching storm or nightfall, an emergency shelter could literally be a life saver. Here’s how to build a good one that will offer you protection from the elements and hold you over temporarily until you can get to safety or get rescued.

State of mind


Before you get started on a suitable shelter, though, you must be in the right frame of mind. Okay, so you’ve gotten into a sticky situation. The first thing you must resist is the urge to panic or make a hasty decision that makes a bad situation worse. Rather, do this instead:

  • Stop and breathe slowly for a couple of minutes. Accept the situation as it is, and calm yourself. Think clearly and rationally.
  • Assess your surroundings. What kind of environment are you in? Forest? Mountains? Countryside? What’s the weather and temperature like? How much daylight remains?
  • What materials do you have with you? What’s out in the environment that you can use?

Choose a suitable location


Now that you’ve gotten your mental bearings, you can begin planning your shelter. And that first requires picking a location. This is the part where the evaluation you performed earlier comes into play. You’ll want to set up your shelter on dry ground, out of the wind if possible, and near resources such as trees and bushes. If a stream of clean drinking water is nearby, even better.

Assess your materials


The purpose of an emergency shelter isn’t to be all fancy and super comfortable. It’s to get you through the night alive and stave off hypothermia. So don’t worry about having the perfect materials lying around, since all you need is the basics. First, check your own belongings. Do you have a weather parka/poncho? Emergency blanket? Any kind of tarp or plastic bags that can act as covering?

Assess your environment


Now, look at the surrounding environment. Do you have tree branches, boughs, ferns, dead wood, leaves, and bushes around? Is there any “natural” shelter around such as an overhang, rock wall, or cave that can act as part of, or all of the shelter?

Decide what kind of shelter to build


After you’ve evaluated your location, materials, and environment, now it’s time to decide what kind of shelter to build. Keep in mind that it may be cold, dusk may be approaching, or you may be tired, hurt, or ill. So again, nothing fancy, just a quick overnight shelter to protect from the elements. There are dozens of outdoor shelter types you could build ranging from simple to complex, but the one of the quickest to construct is a basic double lean-to or A-frame shelter.


The A-frame shelter, 


For an A-frame, you’ll need to start with a long, thick branch or log about one and a half times your body length. This is the backbone of your shelter. Then, either prop one end against something sturdy like a fallen tree or an upright tree at a low angle and the other end into the ground. Next, place smaller branches along the sides to form “ribs.” The ribs or the walls should be lined up along both sides so that the skeleton of the shelter takes on an “A” shape.

Once the frame of the shelter is erected, you then begin filling in the space with leaves, branches, moss, and ferns. Keep working until you have the entire shelter covered, as you’ll need to keep the wind and rain out, and also trap heat from a fire if you can manage to build one. If you have a tarp, garbage bag, or poncho, you can drape it over the shelter for added insulation. And make the shelter as compact as possible, to help retain body heat. Of course, if there are others with you, then alter the size accordingly.

Try to be comfortable


You’ve got a shelter that should keep the wind, rain, and snow off of you, but it will still be quite cold.  So be sure to insulate your body from the cold ground, which sucks away body heat quickly. Lay down a bed of the same materials you used for the frame right on the ground to lay atop of. Bundle up under an emergency blanket or anything extra on hand, And of course get a fire started if at all possible. Be sure to build the fire close enough to the shelter so that you get some of the radiant heat, but not so close that your shelter catches fire.

When dawn breaks, you might be a bit worse for wear, but you’ll be alive. You feel a sense of accomplishment that you were able to take care of yourself (and others if they’re with you). And you can reassess your situation anew, and determine the best plan to get back to safety.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

"Made in Spain" First Impression Review: Cudeman MT5 120-K Wilderness Survival Knife



Cudeman was kind enough to send me their MT5 120-K  Wilderness Survival Knife to test and review. I thought I would post a quick "First Impression" review ahead of the main review so that readers can get an idea of the looks, dimensions and sheath.

The SPECS:


  • Overall length: 22.5 cm 
  • Handle length: 11.5 cm 
  • Handle Material: Cocobolo wood or Micarta (in various colours)
  • Blade length: 11 cm 
  • Blade thickness: 5 mm
  • Steel Blade: Bohler N695 58-60 HRC
  • Weight: 225 g
  • Sheath: Leather sheath

The Cudeman MT5 120-K   came packaged inside their a beautifully presented box.


My first impression after pulling it out of the box was that the MT5 120-K   looked more attractive than most of the stock photos I've seen on the internet. The leather sheath's earth-toned "Deep Brown" colour coupled with the satin cocobolo wood  handle offers a pleasing contrast, with a look that says "serious wilderness knife."



The Cudeman MT5 120-K features a 22.5CM  Stainless 11CM long blade with a full flat ground/spear-point design and a small bevel at the edge. The cocobolo handle is secured to the tang of the knife with three stainless steel Allen screws. One feature I particularly like is the wide lanyard hole in the handle. It should make lashing the knife to a pole for use as an improvised spear easier. MT5 120-K   has a full tang and the blade is just over a 5MM thick.

Sheath


The sheath is a high quality, heavy duty leather with multi-position belt fixings. The knife is held in place by a single retention strap with a heavy button snap.






Comparison Shots


MT5 120-K  next to the Mora Bushcraft Forest




First Impression Summary


The MT5 120-K  looks to be a very promising medium-sized bushcraft/wilderness survival blade. It is comfortable in the hand, and the blade is a simple, no-nonsense design that's built for function over style, something I find appealing. The back of the blade is sharp enough to spark a fire steel or to scrape magnesium or natural tinders for fire-making.

The back of the blade is also ground flat all the way to the tip, making it well-suited to batoning. The leather sheath is very attractive and functional.

The knife came shaving sharp right out of the box, something I've only ever seen with mora knives when they're new. It's nice to see this knife rivals the latter.

Overall, this looks to be a great all around bush knife. The Bohler N695 stainless steel blade should hold an edge well, and the full flat grind should lend itself nicely to wood carving, food prep and batoning. I plan to give the MT5 120-K  a good thrashing over the next couple of  months in the field, and I'll report my findings in an in-depth review sometime in April/May


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

How to Purify Drinking Water



In our everyday lives, we don’t often give the purity of our drinking water a second thought. We just blindly assume the water from the tap is safe, and we have even more confidence in the bottled water we buy from the store.

But in an emergency situation like a natural disaster, or being out in the woods without access to pure water, the cleanliness of our drinking water takes on a heightened importance. As ingesting water from a source that harbors dangerous pathogens and/or heavy chemicals can bring on rapid sickness that can lead to death, knowing how to purify water is an absolutely essential skill that everyone should have.

Methods for Purifying Water


So if you’re on a hike or lost outdoors, or in an urban environment where flooding/water main break has contaminated the water supply, you shouldn’t trust any water source that wasn’t already prepackaged. But you’ll only survive a few days at most without water, so you’ll have to drink eventually. In the meantime, here are several ways you can purify your drinking water.

  1. Boiling – This is by far the safest way to ensure the water you’re drinking is free of harmful bacteria. Although water reaches a boil at 212 degrees, it’s been said that you can kill any bacteria at just 158 degrees. To be safe, bring the water source to a boil and let boil roll for at least 2-3 minutes. There may still be sediment or particulates in the water depending on the source, but at least you’ll know it’s free of potentially deadly pathogens. Use a cup, canteen, bottle, or any container you have around for the task. It also helps to have some sort of fire-starting implement on hand to speed up the boiling process.
  2. Purification via pumps and/or filters – You can find all kinds of pumps and filters at sporting goods and camping stores. So if you happen to have a store-bought filter with you, you’re in luck. These work by forcing the non-potable (undrinkable) water through filters of either charcoal or ceramic, and also treating the water with chemicals. Even if you don’t have a ready–made filter, you can use some of the key elements to partially purify your water in a pinch. Filtering water through regular charcoal, for example, is excellent for removing particulates. A regular coffee filter works well also. But you’ll still need to boil the water to ensure no bacteria is present.
  3. Purification drops/tablets – This method uses chemicals such as iodine 2% and potassium permanganate added to the water in drops or tablets to purify it. After treating the water this way, be sure to give the chemical at least 20 minutes to work. Yes, the water will taste bad, but it will be safe to drink.
  4. Evaporation – What you’re trying to do here is get the water source to evaporate, which leaves the bad stuff behind, and then capture the evaporated drops somehow. One way to do it is to wrap plastic around a branch or living greenery and then collect and drink the condensation. Or you could create a still and capture a few evaporated drops, but either way, the amount is really insignificant. So employ this method only in the direst emergencies.
  5. UV Light – Did you know that UV light can kill bacteria? If you have a clear, plastic bottle on hand, fill it up with water and set it out in the sun for about five hours, double that time if it’s cloudy or overcast that day. It’s not the most optimal method, but it’ll work when you can’t boil the water.

Lastly, whatever you do, don’t drink your own urine or any salt-water like that found in an ocean or lake. The salt will bring on dehydration much faster than if you weren’t drinking anything at all, and it will kill you in short order. And if you absolutely must drink untreated water, try to locate a clear, running stream to sip from until an alternative source can be found.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Lom Gom the Caveman is now on Twitter!

Lom Gom the Caveman is now on Twitter! If you have a Twitter account pleases sign up to stay informed on updates, articles and reviews. Thank you!





In other news, Lom Gom the Caveman is now approaching 200,000 page views since starting up on 26 July 2016 Thanks for coming back to visit and as always, comments are always welcome!

5 Essential Bushcraft Knife Skills to Learn

The best bushcraft knife in the World will not guarantee it's going to be useful for you in the wilderness.  In order for it to be useful when it really counts,  you need to learn and practice some basic bushcraft knife skills.  In this article, I'm going to show you 5 knife skills that you can start working on today.


The great thing about learning to use your bushcraft knife is that you can do this in your backyard.  Thpractisinging is fun and over time you will become proficient with your bush knife.  Then if the need ever arises in the wilderness or a survival situation you will be prepared and know that you have chosen the right knife for the task.

Carving


Carving is probably going to be one main uses for your bushcraft knife.   This will allow you to make useful tools like spoons, bowls, and fire boards.  Carving is also something that is fun to practice at home and will greatly increase your overall control with your bushcraft knife.

You are also going to find out how well your bushcraft knife does at some of the smaller tasks.  Many people want a thick long blade for their main knife but those knives can suffer sometimes when it comes to the finer tasks like carving.

There are many knives made especially for carving like hook knives.  And while I use and suggest you have these knives as well, I also suggest you learn to do carving with your main bushcraft knife.  That way if the situation ever arises where it's the only knife on your person you know what to expect from that knife and your bushcraft knife skill set.

Batoning


Okay, I'm going to start right off by saying that batoning is controversial among bushcrafters.  Many believe that you shouldn't use your bushcraft knife for batoning, myself included.  I prefer to carry an axe, saw or hatchet to perform wood tasks around the camp.

However, I still feel like it's a skill you should learn and practice because you never know when the situation arises that you don't have an axe or hatchet.  It's better to be prepared and know whether or not your knife can handle the task of batoning when you are at home in your backyard than when you really need it.

Most of your batoning will be done in the form of splitting wood.  You will need to select a bushcraft knife that is a few inches longer than the wood you are trying to split. 

Place the wood on a solid surface standing on end.  Then place your knife on top of that.  Strike out towards the exposed tip of the knife with a small hard piece of wood (the baton).  Keep batoning the knife until you split the wood. 

Try not to hit directly on the tip to protect the knife if possible.  A thicker blade will usually give you better results when batoning and is less like to take damage.  Also, it's important to have a full tang knife blade when doing this to avoid breaking the knife from the handle or scales.

Besides splitting wood, you can also baton with your knife when truncating wood.  This is when you are cutting small diameter wood into shorter pieces.  The procedure is basically the same as splitting wood but instead of placing the wood on its end you are placing it on its side.

Finally, you can baton with your knife to make deeper notches in your wood (similar to a wood chisel) or to also cut off small branches.   Even though not everyone agrees on using their knife for batoning I would still recommend learning the skill and to make sure you have a knife that can hold up to this bushcraft knife skill.

Feather Sticks


Making feather sticks is an important bushcraft skill to learn with your knife.   Feather sticks will allow you to start a fire when wood is damp and other methods might fail.  They will provide quick and intense heat for your fire at the beginning.  Another thing is that by making feather sticks you will improve your other bushcraft knife skills.

A good method is using a light touch to make light slices in the wood.  This will give you nice curls in your feather stick.  By practising this skill you will see how well your knife's blade bevel and sharpness does with this common bushcraft tasks.

Practice this skill in conjunction with your carving and fire starting skill below.  In no time you will be able to make some impressive feather sticks and you will be prepared to light a fire in adverse conditions.

Fire Starting


Making a fire is paramount in survival situations or just general bushcrafting.  It's important to know if your knife can handle this task.  It's also easy to practice at home in your backyard.

One technique to practice is whether or not the spine of your bushcraft blade can ignite a ferrocerium rod.   The Ferro rod is an easy way to start a fire and can be used thousands of times over. 

In order to do this, you will need a knife with a good 90-degree spine in order to throw a good amount of sparks.  You may need to file the knife spine down to achieve this but it's definitely worth the effort.  A good shower of sparks could be the difference between getting a fire started and sleeping in the cold.

Another fire starting technique to learn is flint and steel.  This technique will only work with your knife if it has a carbon blade.  A stainless steel knife blade won't throw off a spark when struck with a piece of flint.   For this reason, many bushcrafters only use carbon knives.

As with all bushcraft skills, practising fire starting at home and often will make your proficient for those times when you need to get a fire started in the wild.  I also suggest practising not only with dry material but also wet material.  The same applies to cold and warm weather.  It's much easier to gain confidence on starting a fire in wet cold conditions knowing your house is just a few yards away.

Chopping


As if batoning wasn't' controversial enough, I give you chopping.   Many people like to use their bushcraft knife to chop down small trees to make shelters or tools around the camp.  This can be very hard on a knife blade and can loosen handle scales and damage knives.

I'm going to say the same thing here as I did with batoning in that it's a good bushcraft knife skill that you can learn at home.  You will know right away if your knife is good for this type of task. 

The most common method of chopping with a knife is getting out towards the end of the handle with your grip.  Some people only use 3 fingers to grip the handle which makes it easier to give the knife some swinging momentum when striking wood.  Just be careful that you still have a decent grip on the knife for your own safety and the safety of others.

You might also find after using your knife for batoning and chopping that it will work but isn't great for those tasks so you will instead choose to carry and axe, saw or hatchet into the woods.  Again better to learn that now that in a situation where you really need it.


Summary


You will notice that the theme of this article is to practice these skills at home before you are in a situation where your life may depend on it.  Not only will you find out what your bushcraft knife is capable of but you will also improve your own bushcraft skill set. 

An okay bushcraft knife is better in someone's hands with expert skills than a great bushcraft knife is in someone lacking good bushcraft knife skills.  By working at this you will become the former and it will be less stressful when you need these skills.

I hope this helped and please if you have any tips of your own, comment with your thoughts below

Friday, 24 February 2017

What Do You Think Of The History Channel's Show "Alone?"



I'm curious, what do you all think of The History Channel's  show "Alone?" All the contestants appear to be Youtube guys, which makes sense since they have more experience with video, etc. I have great respect for them putting themselves out there like that. But many seemed to not have much experience spending time alone in the woods considering they are billing themselves as survival experts. After just a day or two, some were crying on camera. One couldn't make fire with fatwood, which is waterproof and burns in the rain. Many could not get a fire going after several days, unaware of how to dry tinder inside a jacket.

Still, I think it is an entertaining show and shows the harsh reality of life in a survival situation. I do think it's overzealous that History branded all of them as "survival experts" just because they have Youtube channels. Some of these guys obviously have good skills and are entertaining to watch, but some have padded their resumes a bit, or else History did it for them. Had they not been represented as survival experts, I would say most of them have done a great job so far. 

Maybe History Channel should just remove the "expert" moniker and then the show would better represent itself. I think many people have grown weary of survival shows misrepresenting themselves in this manner. What do you think?

Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Facebook

Friday, 17 February 2017

How to Sleep Well Outside



This post is aimed primarily at those who are getting started with camping, bushcraft etc. and will probably be old hat to most of you.  I won’t be covering hammock camping because I shall be covering that in a later post.

“The matter of a good portable bed is the most serious problem in outfitting. A man can stand almost any hardship by day, and be none the worse for it, provided he gets a comfortable night’s rest; but without sound sleep, he will soon go to pieces, no matter how gritty he may be.” – Horace Kephart

If you have read Horace Kephart’s “Camping and Woodcraft”, you know that he was a very practical and experience-based outdoorsman. Though some of his equipment and methods may be antiquated (he published his most famous book around a century ago, after all), a great amount of useful information can still be gleaned from his writings today, in my opinion, especially if you are fond of older-style gear and ways as I am. Kephart’s statement about sleeping outdoors is as true today as it has ever been, and my own experiences have mirrored this.

After trying an array of different tents, tarps, wool blankets, sleeping bags, browse beds, foam pads, animal fleeces, bivvy bags and combinations thereof in a variety of temperatures and conditions, I have identified the six conditions which I find must be met in order to sleep well:

1. Make sure you don’t get wet, whether it be from rain, snow, ground moisture or perspiration. Make sure your tarp or natural shelter is large enough (and thick enough, in the case of a natural shelter) to provide effective protection against the rain, which can drive sideways in windy conditions. This isn’t much of an issue if you are in a good fully enclosed tent. A plastic sheet or sufficient natural bedding material will separate you from the dampness of the ground if not in a tent. If your bivvy is not breathable, leave it unzipped part or most of the way to allow moisture from perspiration to escape so that it does not soak your sleeping bag.

2. You should be protected from the wind to prevent cold air from displacing the cocoon of warm air around you. Fully enclosed tents do this automatically, but tarps and natural shelters must be positioned so that their open side does not face the prevailing wind. Having a wind-proof bivvy bag makes positioning of the outer shelter less of an issue.

3. The material around you should be thick and insulative enough to provide insulation from the cold air. The colder the air, the thicker and more insulative the material, whether it be man-made or natural materials. It’s a good idea to use sleeping bags rated to lower temperatures than you think you’ll experience, just to be on the safe side. If using natural materials, wool blankets etc., only field testing will tell you if your insulation is warm enough. A proper heating fire can negate the need for material physically surrounding the body if you go that route.

4. The material underneath you should be thick enough to provide insulation from the cold ground. In many cases, a lot more heat can be lost through the ground than through the air, so ground insulation is one of the most crucial elements to keeping warm and sleeping well. If using spruce boughs in cold weather, for example, make your bed thick (30 cm/12 in thick at least). Some materials compress a lot when you lie on them, so be doubly sure you have enough. I have heard that inflatable sleeping pads are not as effective as good foam pads in cold weather, so that’s something else to be aware of.

5. The material underneath you should be thick enough to compensate for the hardness of the ground and any objects in/on it which would otherwise be uncomfortable to sleep on. Sleeping on the ground is a lot different from sleeping in your bed at night. The ground does not adjust to the contours of your body, so it’s your body that has to do the adjusting, including on rocks, sticks and other such annoyances (which, by the way, should be moved away beforehand anyway, if possible). Sufficiently thick bedding increases comfort immeasurably.

6. There should be a layer of protection against creepy-crawlies, mosquitoes etc. at some level if they are out and about. Whether it’s a tent or tarp’s mosquito netting, a smudge fire or mosquito netting stretched over the face area of the bivvy bag (my favourite method), there must be some physical or chemical barrier which prevents annoying insects from preying on you. Forgetting this crucial element in an area swarming with biting bugs can make any sleep, much less good sleep, very difficult.

These things may seem obvious to many of you, but if you are starting from scratch without much guidance, some of them may not be immediately evident. If it seems that I’m being overly thorough, it’s for the sake of completeness. If it seems I’m not being thorough enough, please share what you know!

After (lots of) trial and error, I’ve arrived at the following setup which works well for me (not saying it’s perfect or ideal, just that it works for me):


Shelter: Simple tarp or multi-configuration floorless tent with a plastic ground sheet (Open shelter allows heat from the fire to enter.)

    Outermost sleep system layer: waterproof bivy bag, unzipped to allow moisture to escape.

    Inside the bivvy bag: one or more sleeping bags on top of climate-appropriate sleeping pads/animal fleeces (Having the sleeping pads inside the bivy prevents me from rolling off them, which I often tend to do.)

    In the Summer: mosquito netting stretched over the area of the bivy bag near my face.

    Here are a few other ideas which can help improve the quality of your night out:


    • Placing a bottle full of warm to hot water in your sleeping bag can help keep up the temperature inside.
    • Keeping a clean bottle with a tight-fitting cap (“pee bottle”) inside your sleeping bag can allow men to answer nature’s call without having to leave their sleeping setup (sorry ladies).
    • Drinking a bit of hot tea before bed can help keep you warm for a while after going to sleep.
    • If you wake up a bit cold, “exercise” inside your sleeping bag (sit-ups etc.) to heat yourself and the bag again.
    • If your clothes are not especially dry, change them before going to bed to avoid bringing extra moisture with you into your sleeping bag.
    • Keep extra socks handy in case your feet get chilly overnight. In colder conditions, long underwear, gloves and a balaclava may also be useful.
    • Don’t set up camp in a recessed area, if you can avoid it because it will likely be colder than surrounding areas.




    Thursday, 9 February 2017

    Can Bushcraft Save The Planet?

    I think there is one particular outdoor activity which might be more effective at helping people learn to care for the environment than any other. Could bushcraft be that activity?   


    Environmental Education (EE) as it exists now is a relatively new field, developed as a result of growing concern that the environment was suffering from pollution, deforestation, desertification etc. as a result of human activity. Although the  Schools Councils 1974 Project Environment discussed the difference between education  ABOUT, FROM and FOR the environment, EE was not addressed on a global scale until the Tbilisi conference in 1977. Organised by UNESCO the conference brought together delegates from  66 nations and representatives from UN agencies and NGOs to participate in the world's first intergovernmental conference on environmental education. 

    As a result of this conference, a declaration was adopted, after a unanimous agreement that EE had an important role in the preservation and improvement of the global environment. This declaration included the following goals; 



    • to foster clear awareness of, and concern about, economic, social, political, and ecological interdependence in urban and rural areas;
    • to provide every person with opportunities to acquire the knowledge, values, attitudes, commitment, and skills needed to protect and improve the environment;
    • to create new patterns of behaviour of individuals, groups, and society as a whole towards the environment.



    Traditionally Outdoor Education has included EE among its aims and objectives, although it could be argued that actually most outdoor education does not directly meet the goals of EE instead focusing on the acquisition of technical skills, team building or confidence. But I think there is one particular outdoor activity which might be more effective at delivering the goals of EE than any other. 


     BUSHCRAFT AS A TOOL IN ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION



    Bushcraft is one of those activities which takes place out of doors which I think has the most potential to allow for the delivery or inclusion of EE. In my opinion, the most important aspect of bushcraft is gaining the knowledge that allows you to practice whether as a hobby or a professional instructor. This knowledge is far more important than the kit you own - whether your knife is a £300 and custom made or a cheaper £15 model. 

    Practising bushcraft pulls you right into the environment, it can't be carried out in an artificial setting, it can't be separated from the environment and in fact, you could say it is symbiotic with it. Think of the skills that you use to sustainably harvest resources from the woods, coppicing for example. Coppicing has been carried out in the British Isles for hundreds, if not thousands of years and maintains many broadleaved woodlands which exist in the state we see them in today. 

    If you are coppicing for shelter poles, material for

    construction projects, walking sticks, stocks of firewood to be dried for later in the year or material for carving and whittling you are using your knowledge of when to cut to encourage regrowth, how to cut to prevent or reduce the chance of disease, which species are suitable for coppicing and for your desired use. Also, whether or not you realise it or not, you are actually creating a niche habitat in a woodland.  You are demonstrating a greater understanding of your local environment than most people (as long as you are carrying out your bushcrafting responsibly and sensitively in places where you have permission). But I also feel strongly that although involvement with the natural environment, outdoors, can promote an appreciation of the environment, this is by no means automatic nor, if it does occur, does it always extend to the environment as a whole but possibly only to a very limited area where a person feels they have responsibility or a vested interest. So as a bushcrafter do you only have a vested interest in that small piece of the 'environment' where you have permission to practice? 

    I would argue that as bushcraft is such a broad topic which draws on the knowledge and skills of first nations and traditional skills from all over the globe, bushcrafters are in an excellent position to broaden our own minds and the minds of those we teach as to issues beyond our normal stomping grounds. In fact, the following quote sums up a lot of my reasoning as to why bushcraft could be so valuable in EE;

    “Within the context of their own lifestyles indigenous peoples have been practising ‘environmental education’ for thousands of years.” (S. Sterling, Sustainable Education,  2001).

    So much of what we practice is based on these skills because quite simply indigenous people relied ENTIRELY on their environment for their subsistence and over-hunting, over-fishing, pollution of water sources, the decimation of woodlands or other habitats due to fire, natural disaster or exploitation could literally cost them their lives. However they chose to teach the next generation to respect their environment, it was effective. The Tukano Indians of South America believed in a 'Master of Animals' who would punish them for over hunting. The Australian Aboriginal cultures tell stories of 'Dreamtime' or the creation which teaches lessons about how to live. Every other culture has its unique traditions and beliefs which govern how they live and how they interact with their environments. As bushcrafters, we have a responsibility, and a better opportunity than many to deliver engaging activities outdoors which bring people into direct contact with the environment on a level which means they have to think about how to care for that environment. 

    We need to rekindle that indigenous knowledge and pass it on as there aren’t many people now who seek as close a relationship with the natural environment as we enjoy.