Archive for the Survival Gear Category

So, you thought it was safe

Posted in pets, Search and Rescue, Survival Gear with tags , , , on December 7, 2010 by rattlerjen

I am afraid you are still going to have to squeeze that tube of goo in between the shoulder blades of your pups this month.  I found this lovely creature on the dog bed in my living room this fine evening.

Actual Size!

She looks a bit like I did after my thanksgiving meal last week, but this girl did not dine on turkey.  She dined on blood, puppy blood.

Shouldn’t these guys be sleeping this time of year or frozen to death?

According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, ticks can be active anytime the temperature is above 45 degrees Farenheit.  In many places, ticks can be active all year round.  So, even if the temperature drops below freezing at night, you just need a nice warm day to bring them back out and on to your dog.

The tick pictured above is the commonly found American Dog Tick. Only the tiny deer tick and western black-legged tick are known to transmit Lyme Disease.  Ticks of any species are not good for dogs as they can carry other diseases both transmittable to dogs and humans.

I found this great little tool perfect for removing ticks from either myself or my dog.  It is called a tick key, and it can be found at pet stores and most outdoor equipment stores.

The best thing to do is of course prevention.  Lesson Learned:

My topical doggie flea and tick goo will be coming out of the tube on a few furry doggie shoulders at the beginning of every month from now on.

How to make a One Match Fire

Posted in how to, howto, Search and Rescue, Survival Gear with tags , , , , , , on June 22, 2010 by rattlerjen

Fire is an important thing to have in a survival situation.  It allows you to stay warm, boosts morale, cook food, and purify water.  It is not as easy to make as you might think.  In a survival situation, or even when backpacking in the woods, one match is all it should take.

Here, we learn how to make a one match fire from our favorite outdoor guru, Rob Speiden.

First, you must gather kindling and tinder.  tinder and kindling

Tinder should be light and fluffy.  This is what the match will light on fire.  People who get good at making fire are able to get tinder to alight in flame with a single spark.  This takes lots of practice, but can be done.  We shall be prepared, so no firebowes mate.

Bark that peels like paper from a tree such as cedar or birch, cotton dipped in Vasoline, char cloth, and lint from the dryer work well.  Unfortunately,  leaves do not work very well because they burn at such a low temperature it takes an enormous amount to light the kindling.  Gather far more tinder than you think you need.

Kindling are dry branches and twigs as big around as your thumb or smaller.  Only gather these from the dead lower branches of trees, not from the ground or they are likely to be wet.

If it snaps it is dry if it is green or wet it will bend.

Gather several armloads.  Then go back and gather more.  No one ever gets enough of this stuff.  Break the kindling into 6 inch lengths.

Find two forked sticks and break them off about 6 inches from the fork.  Shove these guys in the ground about a foot away from one another.  Now, break a twig off of a green branch and lay it across the two forks.  You want the branch to be green as you want it to resist burning for a long time. It will look like you are about to rotisserie a chipmunk.  (I heard they are quite tasty.)  Don’t jump the gun folks!  You are going to need this little frame to build your fire on, so put that rodent away.

Start building a little a frame house with the six inch lengths of kindling.  Make sure you have provided for airflow and enough room in the structure for your hand.  Pile it on. Remember, there’s not really any such thing as too much kindling.

The most important part of fire making:  Sit back and watch all of your hard work BURN!

Survival Weekend: After Lunch

Posted in Search and Rescue, Survival Gear with tags , , , , , , , on June 21, 2010 by rattlerjen

The buffet, it was massive!  Really folks, you probably could have ordered a few pizzas and been done with it. There were three kinds of sandwich meats, four cheeses, deli mustard, onion rolls, creamy potato salad, bagels, donuts, gatorade, soft drinks, chips, cookies, and food galore.

On our packs went and waddle waddle waddle our feet shuffled.  To the other side of base camp our destination was.  To a graveyard in the middle of a forest, creeeeeeepy!  Down a trail and up a creek was the path to take.

I don’t think this trail is on the map.  Bullocks!

No problem, just look at the nice beetle that clicks and pops like popcorn. DISTRACTION!  How is that for self defense!  BOING!

We split off into multiple groups to try different routes.  I decided to tag along with a newer volunteer in our organization.  This was the very first time she had done orienteering.  It was a perfect opportunity for me to learn more.  Rob must have sensed trouble and decided to tag along with us.  (I could get lost in my own sock drawer.)  We let the new woman do all of the navigating.  I succeeded in clearing up a bit of navigation confusion, Yay me!  Then proceeded in confusing us both a minute later.

We stood at a joining of two drainages, which is the correct one?

Rob is the Awesome.  He taught us a few new skills so that we were able to figure it out ourselves.  All you have to do is point your compass up each drainage and determine the bearing it follows and match that to the map.  Spiffy!

I learned that most trail maps are out of date and possibly useless; topo maps are the bomb.

The cemetery turned out to be a charming little plot of a half a dozen old stone markings surrounded by a little metal fence like what you would see around a really nice garden.  The area past the graveyard opened up into a gorgeous bright green meadow.

Rob started pulling bark off of a dead cedar tree.  GOLD!  I stuffed a ziplock bag full of the magical paper thin strips.  We gathered together with the others under a tiny canopy of trees.

That is when we found out what the heck was in Chris’s bag.

Are you sure this is big enough?

She came prepared man!  The whole team could probably use that thing as a shelter.  After teasing our poor team member, we decided to have a bit of fun.    At her expense of course.

We learned three valuable ways to make a shelter:

Shelter burrito,


and Lean-to.

When constructing your shelter of choice don’t forget your pink string.

This of course matches your pink knife, pink water bottle, pink clothing, pink….

*Cough* umm yeah.  What were we talking about?

Up Next, How to Make a Fire or How not to burn yourself.

Survival weekend training fun

Posted in life with a working dog, pets, Search and Rescue, Survival Gear with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2010 by rattlerjen

Every year our team has a survival training weekend. This was my first time participating.
We had the great pleasure of Rob Spieden to teach the class for the entire day.

A flurry of emails before the weekend quickly spoiled any hope of me losing any weight during the weekend and dashed my hopes of eating beetle stew.  A great pot luck feast was brewing amongst the team.  My husband and I brought two dozen donuts.  I sat them on the classroom table near enough food to feed three times the class’s partipating number.

We had just enough time to finish our coffee and donuts before Rob decided classrooms are boring.  After a wonderful introduction to the use of maps and compass, most of us already had one or two classes under our belts on the subject, we staggered outside.  Under the weight of our packs and maps in hand, we staggered into the woods to find our first orienteering marker.learning to navigate

This marker is a four foot tall wooden post with the top painted orange and a white number carved into the side.  We had to bushwack by a route through the woods to find it.  Our small group of troublemakers walked straight down the road where it comes to a stop at another road crossing it.  We then cut into the woods and down a drainage nearly straight to the marker.  It was the easy route.

With a simple walk upstream we walked nearly right into the marker.

On a lovely carpet of bright green moss we sat and waited for the other groups to catch up. They had taken more challenging routes and found the marker soon after we did.  On the perfect area for maximum relaxation, we learned about the Rule of Threes.  A simple list of things to remember in order for a human to survive.

Then, we whipped out the knives.  Big ones, little ones, pink ones, serrated ones, ones with scissors, ones with saws.  Some people had multiple knives. Some had enough knives to belong to the circus.  A few had knives that belonged on the set of Crocodile Dundee.  We like the knives.  A good thing too.  A decent knife is an important item on the list of 10 Essential Survival Items.

box turtleEveryone was instructed to find the next marker on the side of a steep hill.  I joined a group that decided to walk upstream counting drainages in order to find our marker.  A slow turtle and gorgeous warty little red toad later, we aimed ourselves up a steep drainage.  red toad

God, I am out of shape.orienting the map with no compass

At that marker we learned how to relate what can be seen on a topo map to true life.  Some people can do this crazy runnin around in the woods without a compass.  Now, that is quite cool!

It was then decided by unanimous vote that it was time for LUNCH!

The Rule of Threes

Posted in pets, Search and Rescue, Survival Gear with tags , , , , , , , on June 9, 2010 by rattlerjen


3 SECONDS – (MIND) the time you have to decide to escape or take action on an immediate danger.

3 MINUTES – (AIR) the average time you can survive without breathable air.

3 HOURS – (SHELTER) without it, time before you start dying from hypothermia (cold) or hyperthermia (heat).

3 DAYS – (WATER) the time before dehydration can claim your life because lack of water.

3 WEEKS – (FOOD) the time before you cannot do any daily necessary task because of lack of food.

3 MONTHS – (HOPE) the time without meeting anybody else before a solid depression catches you.

Our instructor suggested that we add something to 3 Seconds.lauren sleeping


Less than 3 seconds of shut-eye behind the wheel could kill.   Don’t believe me?  Close your eyes for 3 seconds and imagine you are driving at 55mph.  It’s a long time!

This is especially important for Search and Rescue Teams.  Typically a call comes for teams in the middle of the night after a full day of 9 to 5 work.  That call in the middle of the night might mean that the volunteers will be awake all through the night and possibly the next day tromping through the woods with full packs on.

If you are tired, it is better to get back in the car for a nap rather than a drive home.


If you keep in mind the Rule of 3’s before leaving for an outing, you will always be prepared.

Survival: An Introduction

Posted in Search and Rescue, Survival Gear with tags , , , , , on June 2, 2010 by rattlerjen

Last weekend was our Search and Rescue survival training overnight.  I will share with you probably the most important things a person should have with them out in the woods.  I will never go on a simple walk in the woods without everything on this list.

The Ten Essential Items for Wilderness Survival

  1. Shelter – a tarp, tube tent, or even a trash bag may be used as a shelter.  (see previous shelter burrito blog for the simplest of shelters)
  2. An extra layer of clothing – Even if it is a hot 90 degrees during the day, inactivity and night time temperatures can leave you shivering at best, dead at worst.  Hypothermia is a too common cause of death for the unprepared.
  3. Two forms of fire making – I carry at least three.  A lighter (useless if wet but it does give you lots of chances to start a fire), waterproof matches, and magnesium or flint.  I also carry char cloth or lint as tinder in a mint tin or film canister.
  4. Water – One to two liters per day per person
  5. Plastic beadless whistle – It can be heard farther than yelling.  As long as you can breathe you can blow a whistle.  You would be surprised how quickly your voice is lost from yelling.  No metal whistles either; condensation from your breath will freeze it to your lips or the metal ball within, rendering it useless.  Plus, you will look really silly with it stuck to your lips when you are found.
  6. First Aid Kit – I especially find butterfly band aids, duct tape, gauze, antihistamines, and pain meds useful.  Many good kits can be purchased from outdoor stores.
  7. Knife – Be sure to get something sturdy, but small enough to easily carry in your pocket or on your belt.  I carry a multitool and a swiss army knife.  I have found plyers to be very useful for the strangest things.
  8. Flashlight and extra batteries for it. Heck, carry two flashlights.  Leds are cheap and small enough to carry a pocketful
  9. Food – A person might be able to go several weeks without food, but nothing cheers me up than a chocolate chip granola bar when my stomach starts grumbling!
  10. Map and Compass, and most importantly, the knowledge to use them.

Shelter Burrito

Posted in Search and Rescue, Survival Gear with tags , , , , on May 31, 2010 by rattlerjen

Here is a wonderful way to keep yourself warm in the woods when in a pinch.  Gather tons of dry leaves and pile them on one side of a tarp.  Fold tarp over the leaves.  Then lay on the tarp and roll yourself into a leaf burrito.

AHHH, now doesn’t that look warm?

Once I catch up on my sleep, I will post more of survival training from this weekend!

Battle of the Survival Stoves 1

Posted in Product Review, Search and Rescue, Survival Gear with tags , , , , on April 25, 2010 by rattlerjen

Every once and a while I get in the mood to test some of my survival gear head to head. With our survival overnight on the horizon, I thought it might be nice to check out two of the most commonly carried stoves on our team.

Esbit Stove

There are two versions of this stove.  One is sold as the emergency survival stove.  It is sold as a flat piece of metal with a package of fuel tablets with it.

The other version is what you see here.  The stove folds up into a nice little package that fits nicely in your pack.  There is even room in there to store the fuel tablets and even a few waterproof matches.  Again, I don’t see the point of the emergency version as you have to carry that stuff anyway.  No space is saved with the flat folding Esbit.

The first thing I noticed is that it was very easy to open and set up.  The fuel tablets were a joke, however.  They were difficult to light, blew out easily, and did not even get close to boiling a cup of water before becoming consumed.  FAIL.  Note, tablets that come with the stove are a joke.

Pack some aluminum foil to block the wind.  The stove does not protect the fuel from the wind at all.

The Esbit provides no stability for anything put on top.  I am not sure what kind of cooking ware the designers of this stove expected a person to carry with this stove, but nothing I carry would work for this thing.  I suppose I could put my backpacking fry pan in my survival gear….

I expect a stove that can at least boil one cup of water.  This stove:  FAIL.  For now, I will blame that on the fuel tablets.

Cup Stove

This sucker does not exactly fold into a nice small package, but you can use the inside of it to store all of your fire lighting equipment.  I was disappointed there was nothing provided to place the fuel tablets on.  On a bare patch of ground, much of the heat would have been lost to the ground.

This stove came with the same lame fire tablets that are sold with the Esbit stove.  They were hard to light and never boiled the water in the cup that CAME WITH the stove.

I loved the stability provided for the cooking pot.  I think this stove squeaked  by as a winner due to the wind blocking ability and stability.

In short, both stoves need better fuel tablets.  Neither was well thought out for survival situations.

Both Failed to boil water, which was just sad.  Future blog:  Testing different brands of fuel tablets.

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