Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Are you really prepared?

I ask this question for a simple reason. We in the present have all the bells and whistles that enable us to survive with relative comfort and convenience. We have as the basics of the survival kit go: tents, sleeping bags, cook stoves, prepared food stuffs, modern lighting devices, GPS or a compass, water filters, firearms ETC ETC you get my drift I hope. More than the basic we would like to have solar panels, generator, fixed shelter, heat source, transportation, surveillance equipment, night vision equipment, modern electronic devices of all kinds, ETC ETC and so on.

Now lets take the Eskimo of days gone by and the tribes in the jungles of South America or Africa Saharan desert they live day to day without any of the above modern trappings we depend on.

These people even today live with almost nothing and they still survive(except modern Eskimo's who have adopted modern ways). I am sure some of you have seen the series on TV with two guys who live with these so called PRIMITIVE tribes in the jungle. These people have survived in almost the same manner for who knows how long and my point is that they have SURVIVED! With none of the items we consider essential for the very same task LIVING!

Now I am not suggesting that we ditch the clothing and use just bows and arrows or blow guns but we need to take a step back and really get back to the basics of survival.

The Survivor Man series or the other guy who uses his survival knowledge are good examples of what I mean.

How many of us have actually tried to start a fire with the methods used on these shows? Or have built a shelter and searched for food in the environment that was around you? How easy would it be if you were truly in a survival situation? I mean survival with NOTHING but your brain and the clothes on your back.

I for one have tried some of the things shown on these series and I will say that it is much harder than it looks. I think I have some general knowledge of these techniques but if it came down to me having nothing available except my brain I would be hard pressed to make it happen with a positive outcome. I mean try starting a fire in the ways portrayed on these shows when you are tired, hungry, cold maybe and possibly injured. These all make using these techniques much harder. The psychological factor is also a MAJOR player.

I mean most of us are soft and lets face it as a society LAZY. We expect too much from technology to make our lives easier. In a survival situation things change dramatically. Those with military survival training or the folks in the military who tramp all over hell and half of Georgia carrying everything they need in a pack are better suited than most. But lets be honest the majority of us myself included are in no way prepared for this type of slogging around the country side on foot for days on end even without a pack.

A case in point was the story of a young girl around the teen years who was on an aircraft that crashed in the middle of some South American jungle. She was if I remember right the only survivor of the crash. Now she had NOTHING with her for obvious reasons. She was fortunate since she was raised in this environment and knew a little about what she was facing. Her father had taught her some of the things to look for in the jungle and what to avoid. These basic skills are what gave her the ability to survive and make it back to civilization. By the way she knew better than to stay put at the site of the crash and wait for help. In the jungle a crash site is swallowed up by the thick growth of vegetation. She eventually made it to a river and was helped by some river traffic. I believe she was alone in the jungle with nothing but her brain for if I remember about two weeks or so. An amazing case of true survival. Yes she had to do this in order to LIVE but the point is she did it!

I am not suggesting that we throw ourselves into a jungle and try to duplicate this brave girls feat. But the next time you go camping or go for a hike. Practice the skills that are the basics and see what it really takes to survive.

I mentioned in my BIO that I enjoy winter camping. I have spent 4 days in -20 degree F or greater weather with some of the modern items mentioned above and it was to say the least a challenge just staying comfortable. I was not alone during this and with shift work on the part of my fellow campers we kept a fire going the entire time to help with staying warm. I had no stove, no heat other than a fire. I did have a proper sleeping bag, tent, ground cover, a mat under my bag and proper clothing. Other than that we made due with the basics. We had lighters of course, axes, knives, utensils, pots and pans and store bought food stuffs, just the basics. We cooked over the fire, melted snow for water and heated rocks for warmth at night. I really enjoyed the experience and gained a lot of incite as to what is good to have and what is not.

This is the kind of thing I think will be useful for all of us to experience. You do not have to do without the basics and use whale oil for light and heat or kill a caribou for clothing but actually putting some of our gear to use on a regular basis is very important. Even if you just set up camp in your yard for a couple of days and get accustomed to using everything. Not much different than going to the range to sharpen your marksmanship skills.

Well enough of that but I hope some will take my advise and use the things that we WILL depend on when needed. This modern stuff and our brains are no good to anyone unless we use them regularly.


  1. Good Post!! I second the philosophy. Been there, done that, got the T shirt.

  2. Very good advice, my friend. When ever I get something new, the first thing I do is to learn the proper way to use it!

    Basic skills I need to concentrate on...just like you say! Probably my weakest point.

    Can never have enough knowledge...that's the most important tool!

  3. Thank you Furt and Jim, I have always tried to use my Stuff as often as possible. The more I use it the more I trust it. Sometimes I learn an items limitations under certain conditions and decide on a better or more adaptable item. I have camped in all kinds of weather and terrains with different portions of my gear and it has been quite revealing at times. I spent 1 month in the local woods with a modest pickup camper as home and learned that I did not have enough basic first aid stuff for the minor things that happen often, like enough ace type bandages for any type of sprain or strain. I found that two was not enough for the clutz factor. I have improved on that since. I now have ace area specific bandages(ankle and knee emphasis!)and several rolls. Real life use and experience have always taught me the limitations of my gear and myself. Thank you again Mark

  4. This is a great post full of very useful information. Too many have thousands of dollars worth of gear they have no idea how to use. I'd rather have a $3 knife and know how to use it than all the preps in the world with no knowledge of them. Pracitce, practice, practice with what gear and skills you have and most of the time you will be ok....most of the time. I am going to add your blog to my link list because I think you provide useful info. Thanks.