Wilderness Survival 101

#21
Wow, so much good information.
However the solar still for water aquisition is a myth. Does not make enough water for even one person. Uses WAY more water in sweat than can ever be recovered. This has been tried and documented by several groups in varying terrain and is just not worth the effort.
I teach survival for search and rescue, any survival book that says solar stills work is not worth buying! There are a lot of bogus books out there that are just intellectual nepotism.
 
#22
I would drink the water out of my pool before I would any "city" water. But I take good care of my pool and working for the schools I now know how nasty city tap water is...
 
#23
I have many books on self reliance & survival, the 3 that are my favorites with tons of information & common sense is the old time tested tried & true Fox Fire Series, SAS Survival Hand Book in large paper back & pocket book, & Cody Lundin's "When All Hell Breaks Loose".

IMO having "some knowledge" of survival skills should be a must for any situation that could arise. Known the basics like: you can only survive 3 hours in freezing cold conditions "hypothermia", 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food & 3 minutes w\o air. I also feel that the understanding of "2 is 1, 1 is none concept" should be taken seriously not just for survival but everyday home living, it all comes to “have a back up.” This can be put into to having multiple methods, having extra gear in case of breakage, lost, or to accomplish certain goals, tasks like having contingency plan. This concept works for food storage too.

To have basic knowledge in fire starting whether by flint & steel, the use of magnesium fire starter properly, basic shelter building, navigation, self defense, basic first aid, food: whether fishing "limb lining, yo-yo's" or placement of trapping with snares, to known edible plants is only the pin point of a whole lot larger picture.

It also goes into having "some" form of understanding of nutrition value how much your body needs to power itself for it's daily functions realitically. Sounds like a lot to digest, BUT IMO having some form of survival skills is a whole lot better than none @ all. The wife & I been preppers as long as we've been together 25 plus years & still live the life style. We are both in our 60's, we both know our limitations because our age & health & most of all using plan ol' "common sense" known when to stay put or bug out.

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Dave

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#24
However the solar still for water aquisition is a myth. Does not make enough water for even one person. Uses WAY more water in sweat than can ever be recovered. This has been tried and documented by several groups in varying terrain and is just not worth the effort.
I teach survival for search and rescue, any survival book that says solar stills work is not worth buying! There are a lot of bogus books out there that are just intellectual nepotism.
Fascinating. Well, per the references and the fact that SOCOM and Naval Aviation Survival still teach this technique today in 2021 (I'm typing this from right down the road form the Naval Survival Training Institute), I'll stand by it. It does work.

That said, it's efficiency and volume are impacted by environmental factors like relative humidity etc. In these desert scenarios, multiple stills may be needed to produce the desired quantity.

Where solar stills REALLY shine in my opinion is with sea water.

Old timey but still relevant (see pic below of old USN kits), they are in basically a plastic bag you blow up that becomes a green house like balloon. Then you put sea water in, seal it up and the heat from the sun evaporates the sea water which distills the salt out of the sea water. The clean water vapor collects on the upper surfaces of the still where it condenses back into pure water (like a caevman ROWPU). These had a spherical like shape of the still that allows the pure water to drain back down the sides of the still into a collection basin in the bottom where you drink from. There is usually a drinking water tube from the clean basin to the outside of the still so you don't have to open the still to drink and start the whole process of evaporation over.

They were designed to be tied to the raft and float along behind it. They are a slow process, but will purify water.

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#25
Old timey but still relevant (see pic below of old USN kits),
My grandfather and father bought supplies for the local vocational school from decommissioned military bases in the early '60s. We brought some of these home and played with them. Worked great on surface water from grandpas field. Well, at least I didn't get sick. It was the pasture, so who knows what all was in there... The plastic taste was pretty nasty, though.
 
#26
Try it and see how much water you get..and let me know!....I say it's not worth the effort. Maybe somewhere with a very high water table would work.
 
#27
Arkansas Dan, Kody Lundin is a friend of mine, we have camped and talked survival extensively. He has another book, 98.6, the art of keeping your ass alive. Comes to survival through body thermal regulation. A good quick read.
 

Dave

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#28
Try it and see how much water you get..and let me know!....I say it's not worth the effort. Maybe somewhere with a very high water table would work.
Worth the effort? When the point is survival, and that meager amount of water, or even the chance of ANY water, may mean life or death, I’d bet my last dollar you’d be making a solar still. Pronto.

But just for you I’ll gin up a memo to the USAF, USN and SOCOM survival experts teaching this technique informing them that it won’t get any water.

;)
 

Robert

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#29
In my limited experience messing with solar stills, many years ago in Boy Scouts at the beach and again in the mountains, and then some years later in northwestern Arizona, I have to wonder if they aren't still included in survival manuals almost as much for something to do to keep your mind moving forward as they are for actual water collection. They definitely work better in some areas than others and leafy type vegetation in the hole helps but I think it's probably important to weigh the pros of a potentially small quantity of water vs. the energy and water (sweat) expenditure as well as how long you will be in that area, would you be better served using the tarp to provide yourself shade, etc. They will produce a limited quantity of water under the right conditions but other equipment might make collection and purification easier. Note, I do carry a couple of unused contractor's trash bags in my truck and one in my SAR pack.

Similarly I never found the bag over a tree branch to produce much more than a small sip either.

These are just my experiences and you should do your own experimenting so that you have an idea how to make one and how much water it will produce under your conditions.

If you're near a ready supply of water, a distillation setup would be much more efficient if you had or could improvise one; there are multiple ways to do this but here's a random example of a simple, homemade setup that I found on youtube. Definitely less expensive than a desalinator but it does require fuel.

Side note, I've taken to carrying a small square of Flextape in my daypack, etc.- it's one of the only things I've found that will actually stick to and seal a Camelbak bladder.

Jeez, I can't type tonight.
 
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Dave

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#31
They will produce a limited quantity of water under the right conditions but other equipment might make collection and purification easier.
That's my whole point, and why it's included here. In an emergency, in a SURVIVAL situation, something is better than nothing. And if it allows you to live even 1 or 2 more days, that may mean the difference between being found alive or being found dead.
 
#32
In a survival incident who is going to even have enough plastic to make even just one solar still let alone enough to make the number required to make just one liter of water a day?
Experiment your self and let me know what you come up with. It's insane to exert yourself and deplete your existing hydration with sweat digging holes in the dirt. 20 year search and rescue experience and training says most survival scenarios last about 3 days.
Don't just mind lessly repeat what you have read, practice what you preach, use you survival skills every time you go out!
 
#33
what I've noticed over the years of being a prepper, the wife & I going to numerous expo's & conventions in the midwest (when we used to) is that many who are giving seminars actually contradict others classes no matter what the topic is. This sends a totally mixed message to some one that is seeking information as a new-be or has been in the preparedness community for a few years. I myself look @ information as a buffet, pick what "we" like that fits us in how we prepared & we choose to leave the rest.
IMO the best way to prepare for an uncertain situation aka crisis is to work toward avoiding a disaster in the 1st place. In certain cases, certain situations you can not have that opportunity to turnaway from & have to deal with what is dealt. In most cases a skill sets can work for just about any situation. How "I" & the wife look @ things is the most important is not to over react, keeping calm & be level headed, then to put into play all skills one has learnt making decisions @ that time only. Panicked decisions will put you in a ugly situation immediately. Hypothermia will kill you faster than dehydration. Dehydration will kill you faster than starvation. I look @ preparedness\survival knowledge as an insurance...........for any thing that can be tossed @ us @ any time.
 

Dave

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#34
In a survival incident who is going to even have enough plastic to make even just one solar still let alone enough to make the number required to make just one liter of water a day?
Exactly the point of this. Plan ahead (a couple of trash bags can work) and have the knowledge to make one.

20 year search and rescue experience and training says most survival scenarios last about 3 days.
Again, exactly the point of knowing about when and how to use one. From extracting potable water from non-poisonous plants to removing salt from seawater, solar stills have been in use for many years and have saved many lives. The ability to extend your survival for an extra DAY can mean rescue and survival.

There certainly is a cost-benefit analysis that must be done if the energy required to build a solar still outweighs the potential water that can be accrued depending on the location of the still and other factors.

Anyone actually in an emergency situation must make informed decisions about using a solar still. It's just one more tool in the knowledge toolbox.

YMMV

;)
 

Dave

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#35
I myself look @ information as a buffet, pick what "we" like that fits us in how we prepared & we choose to leave the rest...snip...

...snip... I look @ preparedness\survival knowledge as an insurance...........for any thing that can be tossed @ us @ any time.
Exactly.
 

Robert

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#36
"It's just one more tool in the knowlege toolbox."

That should be the takeaway. I know how to build an igloo, or at least I've read how to do it and watched a video or two on it. I've never made one and I don't ever see myself making one, but I have the knowledge in the back of my head of how to cut the blocks and shape them so that they fit together and become tighter as the structure is completed. I know and have tried at least a dozen different ways to start a fire including the Coke can and chocolate bar method (yes, it actually works but it's a PITA) and making a fire piston out of a copper test stub, but I carry a mini Bic in my pocket and have a regular Bic in every bag (along with a fire steel and I don't smoke). Of course I've still got a dwell and tach meter and a timing light sitting on a shelf as well.

:mike
 

Robert

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#37
Something else I'll add, get a book on edible plants for your area and toss it in your vehicle. Know how to use it, i.e. know the parts of the plants and what the terms mean and practice IDing plants for fun. At one point, especially after I finished college, I was pretty good at IDing lots of stuff in SC, NC and northern GA but it's not something I've practiced much in the last decade or so although I can still use a taxonomic key.
 
#39
A couple weeks ago three people got severe frostbite less than 5 miles from Sedona AZ.
Idiots! They didn't know the coming weather or were ambilivant about it. They were going to repel down three descending cliff faces. After retrieving their rope they discovered they didn't have enough rope for the next descent. They were caught in the worst snowstorm here in many years. Our DPS choppers don't have long enough winch line to reach them. Ground teams from several were on screen trying to reach them from above but couldn't due to the storm. A Blackhawk from Tucson was grounded at Sedona for two days. Finally they got a short window oh opportunity and plucked them off. The ground teams had to abandon much gear only some of which was recovered later.
 
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