AT Overland Equipment

Wilderness Survival 101


Senior Staff
Stuff happens. You never know what it may be. A storm washes out the road home. A natural disaster strikes and leaves you stranded. We see it on the news all the time so why not give it some thought and try not to be a statistic?


Before you take off and go anywhere you should tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back or be arriving at your final destination. Just in case you don't make it back or to your final destination within a certain time a search and rescue (SAR) party will know where to start looking for you. Should you become lost or stranded in a disabled vehicle or you're a survivor of a plane crash, it's best to remain with the vehicle or plane. But if there's no vehicle or plane and you are on foot and you have no idea where in the hell you are or which way you should go, it's best to stay where you are as it will be easier for a SAR party to find you in a stationery position then to try to look for you wandering around aimlessly not knowing where in the hell you are going.

What to do if you suddenly find yourself in a bad situation?

STEP ONE: Stop! …Now take a deep breath, and resign yourself to your current circumstances. Do not panic, and do not feel ashamed at being in your predicament. Some of the best woodsmen in the world have become lost or disoriented, so set your mind to come through this with your honor intact. People have died of a combination of stupidity and panic. They run frantically, in big circles, through the woods at night trying to find their way out. If you are in a vehicle – stay with the vehicle! If not, the best thing to do is often to find some shelter for the night and find your way out come morning. Once you are calm, check yourself over. Your health and welfare are paramount. Address any immediate needs (injuries) as best you can, and then read on.

STEP TWO: Take stock of what you have, and what your immediate needs are. Be creative. Most of the items can have multiple uses, and are limited only by your imagination. As for your immediate needs, here are a few simple rules. A healthy human can survive for several weeks without food, and several days without water, but in many cases only several hours without proper shelter from the elements. Evaluate the weather for where you are, and to what extremes it may go. Shelter from the elements or a fire may well be your first priority. There should be multiple items in your kit to help you build a fire. As for shelter, a clear plastic painter’s tarp and a survival blanket can help. The survival blanket can also help to reflect the warmth from a fire. Be careful not to damage them or any other piece of gear. You will most likely need them later. Example: instead of poking holes in a tarp to tie it off, push a small pebble up from under the tarp, and tie off around it. Try using rocks instead of stakes to hold down corners, etc. Once you have some shelter from the elements, you can take a little time to plan for your other needs.

STEP THREE: Step three is water. You must drink plenty of water even if you do not feel thirsty. An adult should drink at least a couple of liters per day (more in hot climates). If you spent the night on high ground, then plan on moving camp. In most areas, just continue to walk downhill and you will eventually find water. Watch animals or follow their tracks. They will usually lead to water. Birds also tend to congregate near water. In dry areas, you may have to consider other means, such as a solar still. If you are getting water from streams or ponds, boil before drinking, or use water purification tablets or straw.

STEP FOUR: Signal. Some of the signaling items you have are the whistle, the mirror, the blanket, and of course, fire! Signaling is best accomplished by making yourself as big as possible. Smoke signals work well as does anything that can be seen or heard from a long ways off.

STEP FIVE: Food, as mentioned above is probably not something you need to consider unless you are reasonably sure that rescue is a good many days or weeks off. As a general rule, avoid plant life unless you know for a fact that something is edible. The easiest rule to remember is that if it walks, swims, crawls, or slithers… thump it, and muck it on down! Use your knife, hooks and line, make a spear, make snares with your 550 cord. Use your imagination! The facts are, ALL fur bearing animals are edible. ALL birds are edible with no exceptions. Grubs found in rotten logs are edible, as are almost all insects (6 legs).


a. With training, equipment, and the WILL TO SURVIVE, you will find you can overcome any obstacle you may face. You will survive. You must understand the emotional states associated with survival, "knowing thyself" is extremely important in a survival situation. It bears directly on how well you cope with serious stresses, anxiety, pain, injury, illness; cold, heat, thirst, hunger, fatigue, sleep deprivation, boredom, loneliness and isolation.

b. You can overcome and reduce the shock of being isolated if you keep the key word S-U-R-V-I-V-A-L foremost in your mind. Its letters can help guide you in your actions.

(1) S - Size up the situation; size up your surroundings; size up your physical condition; size up your equipment.
(2) U - Undue haste makes waste; don’t be too eager to move. Plan your moves.
(3) R - Remember where you are in relation to where you need to be, and in relation to help. The location of local water sources (this is especially important in the desert). Areas that will provide shelter. The above information will allow you to make intelligent decisions when you are in a survival/evasion situation.
(4) V - Vanquish fear and panic.
(5) I – Improvise; the situation can be improved. Learn to use natural things around you for different needs. Use your imagination.
(6) V - Value living. Remember your goal - getting out alive. Stubbornness, a refusal to give into problems and obstacles that face you, will give you the mental and physical strength to endure.
(7) A - Act like the natives; watch their daily routines. When, where, and how they get their food. Where they get their water.
(8) L - Live by your wits. Learn basic skills.



In a survival situation, an individual may well find himself without a compass. The ability to determine directions may enable an individual to navigate back to his unit or to a friendly sanctuary. Two methods that are easy to use when there is sunlight are the shadow-tip and the watch.

a. Use The Sun To Find Approximate True North. This method can be used any time the sun is bright enough for a stick to cast a shadow. Find a fairly straight stick about three feet long and follow the diagram below.

Shadow-Tip Method

b. Watch Method. You can also determine direction using a watch. The steps you take will depend on whether you are in the northern Temperate Zone or in the southern Temperate Zone. The northern temperate zone is located between 23.4 north and 26.6 north. The southern Temperate Zone is located between 23.4 south and 66.6 south.

Watch Method

c. Procedures in the northern temperate zone using a conventional watch are as follows:

(1) Place a small stick in the ground so that it casts a definite shadow.

(2) Place your watch on the ground so that the hour hand points toward and along the shadow of the stick.

(3) Find the point on the watch midway between the hour hand and 12 o'clock and draw an imaginary line from that point through and beyond the center of the watch. This imaginary line is a north-south line. You can then tell the other Directions.

NOTE: If your watch is set on daylight savings time, then use the midway point between the hour hand and 1 o’clock to draw your imaginary line.

d. Procedures in the southern temperate zone using a conventional watch are as follows:

(1) Place a small stick in the ground so that it casts a definite shadow.

(2) Place your watch on the ground so that 2 o'clock points to and along the shadow.

(3) Find the midway point between the hour and 12 o'clock and draw an imaginary line from the point through and beyond the center of the watch. This is a north-south line.

e. A hasty shortcut using a conventional watch is simply to point the hour hand at the sun in the northern temperate zone (or point the 12 at the sun in the southern temperate zone) and then follow the last step of the watch method above to find your directions. This shortcut, of course, is not as accurate as the regular method but quicker. Your situation will dictate which method to use.


The main constellations to learn are the Ursa Major, (also known as the Big Dipper or the Plough), and Cassiopeia.

Neither of these constellations ever sets. They are always visible on a clear night. Use them to locate the North Star, also known as the polestar or Polaris.

The North Star forms part of the Little Dipper handle and can be confused with the Big Dipper. Prevent confusion by using both the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia together. The Big Dipper and Cassiopeia are always directly opposite each other and rotate counter clockwise around the North Star. The Big Dipper is a seven star constellation in the shape of a spoon (or as our cousins on the other side of the Atlantic say, a dipper). The two stars forming the outer lip of this spoon are the "pointer stars" because they point to the North Star.

Mentally draw a line from the outer bottom star to the outer top star of the Big Dipper's bucket. Extend this line about five times the distance between the pointer stars. You will find the North Star along this line.


Cassiopeia has five stars that form a shape like a "W" on its side. The North Star is almost straight out from Cassiopeia's center star. After locating the North Star, locate the North Pole or true north by drawing an imaginary line directly to the earth.

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Water is one of your most urgent needs in a survival situation. You can’t live long without it, especially in hot areas where you lose so much through sweating. Even in cold areas, you need a minimum of 2 quarts of water a day to maintain efficiency. More than three-fourths of your body is composed of fluids. Your body loses fluid as a result of heat, cold, stress, and exertion. The fluid your body loses must be replaced for you to function effectively. So, one of your first objectives is to obtain an adequate supply of water.

a. Purification. Purify all water before drinking, either (1) by boiling for at least one minute (plus 1 minute for each additional 1,000 feet above sea level) or boil for 10 minutes no matter where you are; (2) by using water purification tablets or (3) by adding 8 drops of 2-1/2% solution of iodine to a quart (canteen full) of water and letting it stand for 10 minutes before drinking. Rain water collected directly in clean containers or on plants is generally safe to drink without purifying. Don’t drink urine or sea water -- the salt content is too high -- Old bluish sea ice can be used, but new, gray ice may be salty. Glacier ice is safe to melt and drink.

For civilian water purification tablets, use chlorine dioxide type like Katadyn MicroPur MP1. It destroys viruses and bacteria in 15 min., Giardia in 30 min. and Cryptosporidium in 4 hrs (a microorganism that is the most common cause of upset stomach/diarrhea in untreated water in the US). Unlike iodine, chlorine dioxide does not discolor water, nor does it give water an unpleasant taste. It also doesn’t leave behind any by-products in treated water, unlike other purification agents like bleach or iodine.

b. Desert Environment. In a desert environment water has a tremendous physiological effect. If you do not plan properly and cannot be resupplied, your water supply could run out. There are four indicators or signs of water that you should look for in the desert. They are, animal trails, vegetation, birds, and civilization.

c. Survival Water Still. For the below ground solar still you will need a digging tool.

(1) You should select a site where you believe the soil will contain moisture (such as a dry stream bed or a spot where rain water has collected), where the soil is easy to dig, and where sunlight hits most of the day. Proceed as follows:
(a) Dig a bowl-shaped hole approximately 3 feet across and 2 feet deep.
(b) Dig a sump in center of the hole. The depth and the perimeter of the sump will depend on the size of the container that you have to set in it. The bottom of the sump should allow the container to stand upright.
(c) Anchor the tubing to the bottom of the container by forming a loose overhand knot in the tubing.
(d) Place the container upright in the sump.
(e) Extend the unanchored end of the tubing up, over, and beyond the lip of the hole.
(f) Place plastic sheeting over the hole covering the edge with soil to hold it in place.
(g) Place a rock in the center of the plastic.
(h) Allow the plastic to lower into the hole until it is about 15 inches below ground level. The plastic now forms an inverted cone with the rock at its apex. Make sure that the apex of the cone is directly over your container. Also make sure the plastic cone does not touch the sides of the hole because the earth will absorb the condensed water.
(i) Put more soil on the edges of the plastic to hold it securely in place and to prevent loss of moisture.
(j) Plug the tube when not being used so that moisture will not evaporate.

d. You can drink water without disturbing the still by using the tube as a straw.

***In especially dry desert conditions, water output can be increased by placing succulent plant material inside the still.***

If so, when you dig the hole you should dig out additional soil from the sides of the hole to form a slope on which to place the plants. Then proceed as above.


Making a Water Filter


This unit is housed in a hollowed out log, (see cutaway view above) rolled up bark, or whatever else you can make a tube out of (a pant leg for instance).
Item 1 is the crucial part. It is crushed black charcoal (not ash). This is wood that has been charred to black, and then crushed up to sand or powder consistency.
Item 2: Sand is packed on either side of the charcoal.
Item 3: Grass, moss, leaves or other material is packed in to help retain the sand.
Item 4: Finally, a rock pushed into either end to hold it all in place.

The rocks are not tight enough to seal anything, they simply keep everything in place. You can skip both the grass and rocks if you have extra fabric to tie around the ends to hold in the sand. Once the filter is completed, water is slowly poured in from the top and allowed to filter down through. The first few gallons of water that go through will be a bit murky. Toss these, and keep pouring... it will clear right up.

*Footnote: Viruses are typically not an issue in water sources unless you are traveling into tropical regions. Most viruses found in the waters of N. America are bacteriophages. They are dangerous to bacteria such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia and other single cell protozoa.... which are the critters you're trying to get rid of anyways. The point is that, if the charcoal layer is properly packed, this filter should trap the stuff you're primarily concerned about. In other areas, you will filter and then BOIL the water. The filter will take care of the murkiness, taste, etc and then the boiling will get the rest.

Using Household Bleach to Purify Water

Almost all laundry bleaches, whether Clorox or any other brand, have 5.5% Sodium Hypoclorite, which is a suitable purification chemical for water. Bleach in a suitable container with an eyedropper dispenser makes a nice addition to any camping/survival kit. Make sure you do not use powdered, scented or other non-pure bleaches.

Prior to the addition of bleach, remove all suspended material by filtration (through a cotton cloth or improvised sand filter for instance) or by simply allowing sediment to settle to the bottom.

Add 8 drops of bleach per gallon of water (or 2 drops per quart). If the water was filtered, then shake it up for even dispersal of the bleach, and wait 15 minutes. If it has sediment at the bottom, don’t shake it up. Instead, allow the treated water to stand for 30 minutes.

Properly treated water should have a very slight chlorine odor. If you can't smell chlorine, repeat the dosage and allow the water to stand another 15 minutes.

For cloudy, green or really nasty water (ie: swamp water), you can start with 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water (or 4 drops per quart). As detailed above, smell the water. If there's a faint odor of chlorine, the water is drinkable. If not, then repeat the treatment.

Treating Larger Quantities of Water

- 1 teaspoon equals 60 U.S. drops. Therefore a teaspoon of bleach treats about 7.5 gallons of clear water or about 4 gallons of dirty water. The teaspoon measure is handy for treating 5 gallon buckets of water.

- 1 tablespoon equals 180 U.S. drops. Therefore a tablespoon of bleach treats about 20 gallons of clear water or about 10 gallons of dirty water.

- 1/4 cup equals 720 U.S. drops. Therefore a quarter cup of bleach treats about 90 gallons of clear water or 45 gallons of dirty water. (a quarter cup measure is suitable for use in a 55 gallon drum of fairly dirty water).

How Does Bleach Work? (and why the smell test?)

Bleach is an oxidant, and it will react with and kill pretty much any microscopic cellular life (including viruses) that it comes in contact with. When it reacts, the bleach is actually consumed in the process.

Because killing microorganisms also consumes the bleach, the scent test tells you whether or not there's anything left to kill. If there's no chlorine odor, then all of the bleach was used up, meaning there could still be living organisms. If there is a chlorine odor, however faint, after 30 minutes, it tells you that all of the bacteria, viruses and other nasty stuff are dead, and the bleach has done its job with some to spare.


There are many plants throughout the world. Tasting or swallowing even a small portion of some can cause severe discomfort, extreme internal disorders, or death. Therefore, if you have the slightest doubt as to the edibility of a plant, apply the universal edibility test described below before eating any part of it.

a. Universal Edibility Test. Before testing a plant for edibility, make sure there are a sufficient number of plants to make testing worth your time and effort. You need more than 24 hours to apply the edibility test outlined below:

(1) Test only one part of a potential food plant at a time.
(2) Break the plant into its basic components, leaves, stems, roots, buds, and flowers.
(3) Smell the food for strong or acid odors. Keep in mind that smell alone does not indicate a plant is edible.
(4) Do not eat for 8 hours before starting the test.
(5) During the 8 hours you are abstaining from eating, test for contact poisoning by placing a piece of the plant you are testing on the inside of your elbow or wrist. Usually 15 minutes is enough time to allow for reaction.
(6) During the test period, take nothing by mouth except purified water and the plant part being tested.
(7) Select a small portion and prepare it the way you plan to eat it.
(8) Before putting the prepared plant part in your mouth, touch a small portion (a pinch) to the outer surface of the lip to test for burning or itching.
(9) If after 3 minutes there is no reaction on your lip, place the plant part on your tongue, holding there for 15 minutes.
(10) If there is no reaction, thoroughly chew a pinch and hold it in your mouth for 15 minutes. DO NOT SWALLOW.
(11) If no burning, itching, numbing, stinging, or other irritation occurs during the 15 minutes, swallow the food.
(12) Wait 8 hours. If any ill effects occur during this period, induce vomiting and drink a lot of water.
(13) If no ill effects occur eat 1/2 cup of the same plant part prepared the same way. Wait another 8 hours. If no ill effects occur, the plant part as prepared is safe for eating.

b. DO NOT Eat Unknown Plants That Have The Below Characteristics:
(1) Have a milky sap or a sap that turns black when exposed to air.
(2) Are mushroom like.
(a) Resemble onion or garlic.
(b) Resemble parsley, parsnip, or dill.
(c) Have carrot-like leaves, roots, or tubers.

Unless you're a certified expert not just in plants, but in the plants of the given region you happen to be in, stay the hell away from the plants!

Here's the facts...
- ALL fur bearing mammals are safe to eat, and will provide you with nutrients and calories.
- ALL 6 legged insects are safe to eat, and will provide you with nutrients and calories.
- Almost all freshwater fish and almost all birds are safe to eat, and will provide you with nutrients and calories.
...and finally
- MOST plants will harm you, make you sick, or worse... poison you. There are actually very few that will provide you with any nutrients or calories.

It's a simple equation... if it walks, crawls, swims, or flies, the odds are in your favor that it's not only safe to eat, but that it will provide you with the nutrition and energy your body needs. If it sits there like... umm... like a plant, the odds are against you both for your own physical safety, and for nutritional content. It's just not worth the gamble unless you're absolutely sure!

a. Animal Food. Animal food contains the most food value per pound. Anything that creeps, crawls, swims, or flies is a possible source of food, however you must first catch, kill and butcher it before this is possible. There are numerous methods for catching fish and animals in a survival situation. You can catch fish by using a net across a small stream, (figure 11-4) or by making fish traps and baskets.

Making a gill net from string or paracord.


b. Improvise Fish Hooks And Spears And Use Them For Conventional Fishing, Spearing and Digging.


spear head types and configuration.JPG


a. For an unarmed survivor or evader, or when the sound of a rifle shot could be a problem, trapping or snaring wild game is a good alternative. Several well-placed traps have the potential to catch much more game than a man with a rifle is likely to shoot. To be effective with any type of trap or snare, you must--
(1) Be familiar with the species of animal you intend to catch.
(2) Be capable of constructing a proper trap.
(3) Not alarm the prey by leaving signs of your presence.

b. There are no catchall traps you can set for all animals. You must determine what species are in a given area and set your traps specifically with those animals in mind.

Look for the following:
(1) Runs and trails.
(2) Tracks.
(3) Droppings.
(4) Chewed or rubbed vegetation.
(5) Nesting or roosting sites.
(6) Feeding and watering areas.

c. Position your traps and snares where there is proof that animals pass through.
You must determine if it is a "run" or a "trail." A trail will show signs of use by several species and will be rather distinct. A run is usually smaller and less distinct and will only contain signs of one species. You may construct a perfect snare, but it will not catch anything if haphazardly placed in the woods. Animals have bedding areas, waterholes, and feeding areas with trails leading from one to another. You must place snares and traps around these areas to be effective.

d. For an evader in a hostile environment, trap and snare concealment is important. It is equally important, however, not to create a disturbance that will alarm the animal and cause it to avoid the trap. Therefore, if you must dig, remove all fresh dirt from the area. Most animals will instinctively avoid a pitfall-type trap. Prepare the various parts of a trap or snare away from the site, carry them in, and set them up. Such actions make it easier to avoid disturbing the local vegetation, thereby alerting the prey. Do not use freshly cut, live vegetation to construct a trap or snare. Freshly cut vegetation will "bleed" sap that has an odor the prey will be able to smell. It is an alarm signal to the animal.

e. You must remove or mask the human scent on and around the trap you set. Although birds do not have a developed sense of smell, nearly all mammals depend on smell even more than on sight. Even the slightest human scent on a trap will alarm the prey and cause it to avoid the area. Actually removing the scent from a trap is difficult but masking it is relatively easy. Use the fluid from the gall and urine bladders of previous kills. Do not use human urine. Mud, particularly from an area with plenty of rotting vegetation, is also good. Use it to coat your hands when handling the trap and to coat the trap when setting it. In nearly all parts of the world, animals know the smell of burned vegetation and smoke. It is only when a fire is actually burning that they become alarmed. Therefore, smoking the trap parts is an effective means to mask your scent. If one of the above techniques is not practical, and if time permits, allow a trap to weather for a few days and then set it. Do not handle a trap while it is weathering. When you position the trap, camouflage it as naturally as possible to prevent detection by the enemy and to avoid alarming the prey.

f. Traps or snares placed on a trail or run should use canalization. To build a channel, construct a funnel-shaped barrier extending from the sides of the trail toward the trap, with the narrowest part nearest the trap. Canalization should be inconspicuous to avoid alerting the prey. As the animal gets to the trap, it cannot turn left or right and continues into the trap. Few wild animals will back up, preferring to face the direction of travel. Canalization does not have to be an impassable barrier. You only have to make it inconvenient for the animal to go over or through the barrier. For best effect, the canalization should reduce the trail's width to just slightly wider than the targeted animal's body. Maintain this constriction at least as far back from the trap as the animal's body length, then begin the widening toward the mouth of the funnel.

(1) Treadle Spring Snare. Use a treadle snare against small game on a trail. Dig a shallow hole in the trail. Then drive a forked stick (fork down) into the ground on each side of the hole on the same side of the trail. Select two fairly straight sticks that span the two forks. Position these two sticks so that their ends engage the forks. Place several sticks over the hole in the trail by positioning one end over the lower horizontal stick and the other on the ground on the other side of the hole. Cover the hole with enough sticks so that the prey must step on at least one of them to set off the snare. Tie one end of a piece of cordage to a twitch-up or to a weight suspended over a tree limb. Bend the twitch-up or raise the suspended weight to determine where you will tie a 5 centimeter or so long trigger. Form a noose with the other end of the cordage.

Tredle 1.jpg

Route and spread the noose over the top of the sticks over the hole. Place the trigger stick against the horizontal sticks and route the cordage behind the sticks so that the tension of the power source will hold it in place. Adjust the bottom horizontal stick so that it will barely hold against the trigger. As the
animal places its foot on a stick across the hole, the bottom horizontal stick moves down, releasing the trigger and allowing the noose to catch the animal by the foot. Because of the disturbance on the trail, an animal will be wary. You must therefore use canalization.

g. Trapping game can be accomplished through the use of snares, traps, or deadfalls. A snare is a noose that will slip and strangle or hold any animal caught in it. You can use inner core strands of parachute suspension lines, wire, bark of small hardwood saplings as well as hide strips from previously caught animals to make snares.

(1) The drag noose snare is usually the most desirable in that it allows you to move away from the site, plus it is one of the easiest to make and fastest to set.


Drag Noose Snare

It is especially suitable for catching rabbits. To make the drag noose snare,make a loop in the string using a bowline or wireman’s knot. (When using wire, secure the loop by intertwining the end of the wire with the wire at the top of the loop). Pull the other end of the string (or wire) through the loop to form a noose
that is large enough for the animal’s head but too small for its body; tie the string (or attach the wire) to a sturdy branch. The branch should be large enough to span the trail and rest on the bush or support (two short forked sticks) you have selected. A snared animal will dislodge the drag stick, pulling it until it becomes entangled in the brush. Any attempt to escape tightens the noose, strangling or holding the animal.

(2) Another type snare is the locking type snare loop (figure 11-8) that will lock when pulled tight, ensuring the snared animal cannot escape.


Use lightweight wire to make this snare, i.e., trip wire, from vehicle or aircraft electrical system. To construct this snare, cut a piece of wire twice the length of the desired snare wire. Double the wire and attach the running ends to a securely placed object, such as the branch of a tree. Place a stick about 1/2 inch in diameter through the loop end of the wire; holding the wire taut, turn the stick in a winding motion so that the wire is twisted together. You should have four to five twists per inch. Detach the wire from the branch and then remove the loop from the stick; make a figure 8 in the l/2-inch loop by twisting the loop over itself then fold the figure 8 so the small loops are almost overlapping; run the loose wire ends through these loops. This forms a stiff noose that is strong. Tie the loose end to the stick (for a drag noose square) or branch you are using to complete the snare. This is an excellent snare for catching larger animals.

(3) Another means of obtaining game is the use of the deadfall trap


h. Once you have obtained your fish or game you must clean/butcher and cook/store it. Improper cleaning storing can result in inedible fish and game.

(1) Fish. You must know how to tell if fish are free of bacterial decomposition that makes the fish dangerous to eat. Although cooking may destroy the toxin from bacterial decomposition, do not eat fish that appear spoiled. Signs of spoilage are:

• A peculiar odor.
• A suspicious color. (Gills should be red or pink. Scales should be a
pronounced-not faded shade of gray).
• A dent remaining after pressing the thumb against the flesh.
• A slimy rather than moist or wet body.
• A sharp or peppery taste.

(a) Eating spoiled or poisoned fish may cause diarrhea, nausea, cramps, vomiting, itching; paralysis, or a metallic taste in the mouth. These symptoms appear suddenly 1 to 6 hours after eating. If you are near the sea, drink sea water immediately upon on set of such symptoms and force yourself to vomit.
(b) Fish spoil quickly after death, especially on a hot day, so prepare fish for eating as soon as possible after you catch them.
(c) Cut out the gills and large blood vessels that lie next to the backbone. (You can leave the head if you plan to cook the fish on a spit).
(d) Gut fish that are more than 4 inches long cut along the abdomen and scrape out the intestines.
(e) Scale or skin the fish.
(f) You can impale a whole fish on a stick and cook it over an "open fire". However, boiling the fish with the skin on is the best way to get the most food value. The fats and oil are under the skin, and by boiling the fish, you can save the juices for broth. Any of the methods used for cooking plant food can be used for cooking fish. Fish is done when the meat flakes off.
(g) To dry fish in the sun, hang them from branches or spread them on hot rocks. When the meat has dried splash it with sea water, if available, to salt the outside. Do not keep any seafood unless it is well dried or salted.

(2) Snakes. All poisonous and nonpoisonous fresh water and land snakes are edible.

CAUTION: Take extreme care in securing snakes as the bite of some poisonous
snakes can be fatal. Even after a snake's head is cut off, its reflex action can cause it to bite, injecting poison. The best time to capture snakes is in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are low and they move slow. Kill or use a long stick to pin down its head and capture it. To pick up a snake, place the index finger on the top rear of its head with your thumb and middle finger on either side of the head behind the jaws. Keep your index finger on top of snake’s head to prevent it from turning inside its skin and biting you. To prepare snakes for eating use the following steps:
(a) Grip the snake firmly behind the head and cut off the head with a knife.
(b) Slit the belly and remove the innards. (You can use the innards for baiting traps and snares).
(c) Skin the snake. (You can use the skin for improvising, belts, straps, or similar items).


(3) Fowl. Your first step after killing a fowl for eating or preserving is to pluck its feathers. If plucking is impractical, you can skin the fowl. Keep in mind, however, that a fowl cooked with the skin on retains more food value. Waterfowl are easier to pluck while dry, but other fowl are easier to pluck after
scalding. After you pluck the fowl:

(a) Cut off its neck close to the body.
(b) Cut an incision in the abdominal cavity and clean out the insides. Save the neck, liver, and heart for stew. Thoroughly clean and dry the entrails to use for cordage.
(a) Wash out the abdominal cavity with fresh clean water. You can boil fowl or cook it on a spit over a fire. You should boil scavenger birds such as vultures and buzzards for at least 20 minutes to kill any parasites. Use the feathers from fowl for insulating your shoes clothing, or bedding. You can also use feathers for fish lures.

4) Medium to Large Sized Mammals. The game you trap or snare will generally be alive when you find it and therefore dangerous. Be careful when you approach a trapped animal. Use a spear or club to kill it so you can keep a safe distance from it. After you kill an animal, immediately bleed it by cutting its throat. If you must drag the carcass any distance, do so before you cut off the hide so that the carcass is protected from dirt and debris that might contaminate it. Clean the animal near a stream if possible so that you can wash and cool the carcass and edible parts. Fleas and parasites will leave a cooled body so if the situation allows, wait until the animal cools before cleaning and dressing the carcass. To skin and dress the animal.



Skinning Game

(a) Place carcass, belly up, on a slope if available. You can use rocks or brush to support it.
(b) Remove genitals or udder.
(c) Remove musk glands to avoid tainting meat.
(d) Split hide from tail to throat. Make the cut shallow so that you do not pierce the stomach.
(e) Insert your knife under the skin, taking care not to cut into the body cavity. Peel the hide back several inches on each side to keep hair out of the meat.
(f) Open the chest cavity by splitting the sternum. You can do this by cutting to one side of the sternum where the ribs join.
(g) Reach inside and cut the windpipe and gullet as close to the base of the skull as possible.
(h) With the forward end of the intestinal tract free, work your way to the rear lifting out internal organs and intestines. Cut only where necessary to free them.
(i) Carefully cut the bladder away from the carcass so that you do not puncture the bladder (urine can contaminate meat). Pinch the urethra tightly and cut it beyond the point you are pinching.
(j) Remove the bladder.
(k) From the outside of the carcass, cut a circle around the anus.
(l) Pull the anus into the body cavity and out of the carcass.
(m) Lift or roll the carcass to drain all blood.

NOTE: Try to save as much blood as you can as it is a vital source of food and salt. Boil the blood.
(n) Remove the hide, make cuts along the inside of the legs to just above the hoof or paw. Then peel the skin back, using your knife in a slicing motion to cut the membrane between the skin and meat. Continue this until the entire skin is removed.
(o) Most of the entrails are usable. The heart, liver, and kidneys are edible. Cut open the heart and remove the blood from its chambers. Slice the kidneys and if enough water is available, soak or rinse them. In all animals except those of the deer family, the gall bladder (a small, dark-colored,
clear-textured sac) is attached to the liver.
(p) Sometimes the sac looks like a blister on the liver. To remove the sac, hold the top portion of it and cut the liver around and behind the sac. If the gall bladder breaks and gall gets on the meat, wash it off immediately so the meat will not become tainted. Dispose of the gall.
(q) Clean blood splattered on the meat will glaze over and help preserve the meat for a short time. However, if an animal is not bled properly, the blood will settle in the lowest part of its body and will spoil in a short time. Cut out any meat that becomes contaminated.
(r) When temperatures are below 40 degrees, you can leave meat hanging for several days without danger of spoilage. If maggots get on the meat, remove the maggots and cut out the discolored meat. The remaining meat is edible. Maggots, which are the larvae of insects, are also edible.
(s) Blood, which contains salts and nutrients is a good base for soups.
(t) Thoroughly clean the intestines and use them for storing or smoking food or lashings for general use. Make sure they are completely dry to preclude rotting.
(u) The head of most animals contains a lot of meat, which is relatively easy to get. Skin the head, saving the skin for leather. Clean the mouth thoroughly and cut out the tongue. Remove the outer skin from the tongue after cooking. Cut or scrape the meat from the head. If you prefer, you can roast
the head over an open fire before cutting off the meat. Eyes are edible. Cook them but discard the retina (this is a plastic like disc). The brain is also edible; in fact, some people consider it a delicacy. The brain is also used to tan leather, the theory being that the brain of an animal is adequate to tan its hide.
(v) Use the tendons and ligaments of the body of large animals for lashings.
(w) The marrow in bones is a rich-food source. Crack the bones and scrap out the marrow, and use bones to make weapons.
(x) If the situation and time allow, you should preserve the extra meat for later use. If the air is cold enough, you can freeze the meat. In warmer climates however, you will need to use a drying or smoking process to preserve it.

One night of heavy smoking will make meat edible for about 1 week. Two nights will make it remain edible for 2 to 4 weeks. To prepare meat for drying or smoking, cut it with the grain in quarter inch strips. To air dry the meat, hang it in the wind and hot sun out the reach of animals; cover it so that blow flies cannot land on it.

(y) To smoke meat, you will need an enclosed area – for instance, a teepee or a pit. You will also need wood from deciduous trees, preferably green. Do not use conifer trees such as pines, firs, spruces, or cedars as the smoke from these trees give the meat a disagreeable taste.


(z) When using the para-teepee or other enclosed area with a vent at the top, set the fire in the center and let it burn down to coals, then stoke it with green wood. Place the strips of meat on a grate or hang them from the top of the enclosure so that they are about 2 feet above the smoking coals. To use the pit method of smoking meat dig, a hole about 3 feet (1 meter) deep and 1 1/2 feet (1/2 meter) in diameter. Make a fire at the bottom of the hole. After it starts burning well, add chipped green wood or small branches of green wood to make it smoke. Place a wooden grate about 1 1/2 feet (1/2 meter) above the fire and lay the strips of meat on the grate. Cover the pit with poles, boughs, leaves, or other material.


A shelter can protect you from the sun, insects, wind, rain, snow, hot or cold temperatures, and observation. In some areas your need for shelter may take precedence over your need for food, possibly even your need for water.

a. Types Of Shelters. After determining your shelter site, you should keep in mind the type of shelter (protection) you need. The below listed factors are considered:

(1) How much time and effort are needed to build the shelter?
(2) Will the shelter adequately protect you from the elements (rain, snow, wind, sun, etc.)?
(3) Do you have tools to build it? If not, can you improvise tools from materials in the area?
(4) Do you have the type and amount of manmade materials needed to build it? If not, are there sufficient natural materials in the area? You need to know how to make different types of shelters. Only two are described in this handbook. Additional information is available in US Army FM 21-76.

b. Poncho Lean-To. It takes only a short time and minimal equipment to build this lean-to. You need a poncho, 6 to 10 feet of rope, three stakes about 6 inches long, and two trees (or two poles) 7 to 9 feet apart. Before you select the trees you will use (or decide where to place the poles), check the wind direction. Make sure the back of your lean-to will be into the wind. To make the lean-to:

(1) Tie off the hood of the poncho. To do this, pull the draw cord tight; roll the hood long ways, fold it into thirds, and tie it with the draw cord
(2) Cut the rope in half, on one long side of the poncho, tie half of the rope to one corner grommet and the other half to the other corner grommet.
(3) Attach a drip stick (about a 4-inch stick) to each rope 1/4 to 3/4 inches away from the grommet. These drip sticks will keep rainwater from running down the ropes into the lean-to. Using drip lines is another way to prevent dripping inside the shelter. Tie lines or string about 4 inches long to each grommet along the top edge of the shelter. This allows water to run to and down the line without dripping into the shelter.
(4) Tie the ropes about waist high on the trees (uprights). Use a round turn and two half hitches with quick-release knot.
(5) Spread the poncho into the wind and anchor to the ground. To do this, put three sharpened sticks through the grommets and into the ground.
(6) If you plan to use the lean-to for more than one night, or if you expect rain, make a center support to the lean-to. You can do this by stretching a rope between two upright poles or trees that are in line with the center of the poncho.
(7) Tie another rope to the poncho hood; pull it upward so that it lifts the center of the poncho, and tie it firmly to the rope stretched between the two uprights.
(8) Another method is to cut a stick to place upright under the center of the lean-to. This method, however, will restrict your space and movements in the shelter.
(9) To give additional protection from wind and rain, place boughs, brush, your rucksack, or other equipment at the sides of the lean-to.
(10) To reduce heat loss to the ground, place some type of insulating material, such as leaves or pine needles, inside your lean-to.

NOTE: When at rest, as much as 80 percent of your body heat can be lost to the ground.

(11) To increase your security from enemy observation, lower the silhouette of the lean-to by making two modifications.
(a) Secure the support lines to the trees knee-high rather than waist-high.
(b) Use two knee-high sticks in the two center grommets (sides of lean-to), and angle the poncho to the ground, securing it with sharpened sticks as above.


c. Field Expedient Lean-To. If you are in a wooded area and have sufficient natural materials, you can make an expedient lean-to without the aid of tools or with only a knife. You need more time to make it than the shelter previously mentioned, but it will protect you from most environmental elements. You will need two trees, (or two upright poles), about 6 feet apart; one pole about 7 feet long and 1 inch in diameter. Five to eight poles about 10 feet long and 1 inch in diameter for beams, cord or vines for securing, the horizontal support to the trees and other poles, saplings, or vines to crisscross the beams. To make this lean-to:

Lean To Shelter.jpg

(1) Tie the 7-foot pole to the two trees at point about waist to chest high. This is your horizontal support. If there is a fork in the tree, you can rest the pole in it instead of tying the pole in place. If a standing tree is not available, construct a bipod using an Y-shaped sticks or two tripods.
(2) Place one end of the beams (10-foot poles) one side of the horizontal support. As with all lean-to type shelters, make sure the backside of the lean-to is placed into the wind.
(3) Crisscross sapling or vines on the beams.
(4) Cover the framework with brush, leaves, pine needles, or grass, starting at the bottom and working your way up like shingling.
(5) Place straw, leaves, pine needles, or grass inside the shelter for bedding.
(6) In cold weather you can add to the comfort of your lean-to by building a fire-reflector wall. Drive four stakes about 4 feet long into the ground to support the wall. Stack green logs on top of one another between the support stales. Bind the top of the support stakes so the green logs will stay in place. Fill in the spaces between the logs with twigs or small branches. With just a little more effort you can have a drying rack: Cut a few 3/4 inch diameter poles (length depends on distance between the lean-to support and the top of the fire-reflector wall). Lay one end of the poles on the lean-to horizontal support and the other ends on top of the reflector wall. Place and tie into place smaller sticks across these poles. You now have a place to dry clothes, meat, or fish.
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A fire can full fill several needs and in a survival situation can mean the difference between life and death. You can use fire to purify water, sterilize bandages, signal for rescue, drive animals from their hides for capture and eating, smoke and preserve food, softening tar for adhesives, making charcoal for medicinal purposes, and provide protection from insects and animals. Fire not only cooks and preserves food, it also provides warmth in the form of heated food that saves calories our body normally uses to produce body heat. It can be a psychological boost by providing warmth, peace of mind, and companionship. You can also use fire to manufacture tools and weapons.

Fire can cause problems, as well. If you are hiding from someone, the enemy can detect the smoke and light it produces. It can cause forest fires or destroy essential equipment. Fire can also cause burns and carbon monoxide poisoning when in a shelter. Always weigh your need for fire against these risks and the possibility of starting a larger forest fire.

Four things must be present at the same time in order to produce fire:
1. Enough OXYGEN to sustain combustion,
2. Enough HEAT to raise the material to it's ignition temperature,
3. Some sort of FUEL or combustible material, and

Oxygen, heat, and fuel are frequently referred to as the "fire triangle." Add in the fourth element, the chemical reaction, and you actually have a fire "tetrahedron." The important thing to remember is: take any of these four things away, and you will not have a fire or the fire will be extinguished.


Understanding the "Fire Tetrahedron" (above) is key to succesful fire starting and maintenance. When operating in remote areas you should always take a fire starting kit i.e. a blastmatch, charcloth, fire piston or a supply of matches in a waterproof case and keep them on your person.
>Tinder is dry material that ignites with little heat or spark and lights a fire. The tinder must be absolutely dry to be sure just a spark will ignite it. You are looking for a thin material with a large surface area. The best wood from trees are the dead branches that have not fallen off yet.

If you have a device that generates only sparks, charred cloth (called charcloth or char cloth) will be almost essential. Charcloth holds a spark for long periods, allowing you to put tinder on the hot area to generate a small flame. You can make charred cloth by heating cotton cloth until it turns black, but does not burn. It can also be created by placing cotton cloth in a tin and and setting the tin into a campfire. Once it is black, you must keep it in an airtight container to keep it dry. Prepare this cloth well in advance of any survival situation. Add it to your individual survival kit.
Materials that make good tinder include:

  • Dry pine needles, leaves or grass
  • Birch bark
  • Dead, standing (usually one season old) goldenrod
  • Cloth, lint, or frayed rope (if made from plant fibers and not treated with fire retardant)
  • Char cloth
  • Cotton swabs, tampons
  • Paper, paper towels, toilet paper, etc.
  • Dry bread or knäckebröd and shoe polish
  • Punk wood (in the process of rotting) or charred wood
  • Some types of fungus (best known is the amadou or horse’s hoof fungus)
  • Bird down
  • Small twigs (poor tinder but commonly available)
  • Fatwood, also known as rich pine or pine knot.
  • Fine-grade soap-coated steel wool
  • Shaved magnesium or other alkaline earth metals

>Kindling is readily combustible material that you add to the burning tinder. It is bigger than tinder but smaller than fuel wood. Again, this material should be absolutely dry to ensure rapid burning. Kindling increases the fire’s temperature so that it will ignite less combustible material (i.e. the fuel wood).

>Fuel is less combustible material that burns slowly and steadily once ignited.

a. When selecting a site to build a fire, you should consider the following:
(1) The area (terrain and climate) in which you are operating.
(2) The material and tools available.
(3) How much time you have.
(4) Why you need a fire.

b. To prepare a site for a fire, look for a dry spot that has the following:
(1) That is protected from the wind.
(2) That is suitably placed in relation to your shelter (if any).
(3) That will concentrate the heat in the direction you desire.
(4) Where a supply of wood or other fire burning material is available.
(5) If you are in a wooded or brush-covered area, clear brush away, and scrape the surface soil from the spot you selected. The cleared circle should be at least 3 feet (1 meter) in diameter so that there is little chance of the fire spreading.

c. Dakota Fire Hole. In some situations you may find that an underground fireplace will best meet your need. It conceals the fire to some extent, and protects it from bad weather and also serves well for cooking food. To make an underground fireplace or Dakota fire hole:


(1) Dig a hole in the ground.
(2) On the upwind side of this hole, poke one large connecting hole for ventilation.

A Dakota Pit Fire is also used when one wants to be inconspicuous. This is one of the fire types that the Air Force teaches for use by downed pilots who must evade an enemy whilst surviving. This is due to the fact that it does not throw much light, and is therefore primarily used for warmth. These can be used in conjunction with various types of shelters to warm them while drawing air from outside the shelter, but care must always be taken when a fire is used inside your shelter.

d. Above Ground Fire. If you are in a snow covered or wet area, you can use green logs to make a dry base for your fire. Trees with wrist-size trunks are easily broken in extreme cold. Cut or break several green logs and lay them side by side on top of the snow. Add one or two more layers, laying the top layer logs in a direction opposite those of the layer below it.

fire base.gif

e. There are several methods for laying a fire for quick fire making. Three easy methods are Tepee, lean-to, and cross-ditch. Arrange tinder and a few sticks of kindling in the shape of a cone. Fire the center. As the cone burns away, the outside logs will fall inward, feeding the heart of the fire. This type of fire burns well even with wet wood.

(1) Lean-To. Push a green stick into the ground at a 30 degree angle. Point the end of the stick in the direction of the wind. Place some tinder (at least a handful) deep inside this lean-to stick. Light the tinder. As the kindling catches fire from the tinder, add more kindling.

(2) Cross-Ditch. Scratch a cross about 1 foot in size in the ground. Dig the cross 3 inches deep. Put a large wad of tinder in the middle of the cross. Build a kindling pyramid above the tinder. The shallow ditch allows air to sweep under the fire to provide a draft.


A favorite "easy fire" is the log cabin fire. It is less vulnerable to collapse than the teepee but it is also inefficient. However, these qualities make it an excellent cooking fire as it will burn for a long period of time and its frame can support cookware.
Begin with a tinder pile around which you will place kindling. As with construction of a log cabin, place the first two pieces of kindling parallel to each other on each sides of the tinder. Next place the second pair of kindling on top of the first and perpendicular to it on opposite sides of the tinder. Continue adding kindling in this manner using progressively thinner sticks of wood as you near the top of the structure.

You can also lay kindling across the tinder in between the successive layers of kindling. The tinder will light the kindling laid across it and as the kindling burns, it will fall into the middle further fueling the fire.

A hybrid of the Teepee and Log Cabin Fire can be built too by building a small teepee structure inside the log cabin structure. First erect a small teepee fire and then construct the log cabin around it. The teepee structure allows the fire to light quickly and the log cabin structure sustains the fire for longer periods of time.

log cabin fire.jpg

NEVER leave a fire unattended. ALWAYS properly extinguish fires in the field.
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To be able to construct shelters, traps and snares, weapons and tools, and other devices; you should have a basic knowledge of ropes and knots and some of the terminology used with them. The terms are as follows:

  • Bight. A simple bend of rope in which the rope does not cross itself.
  • Dressing the knot. The orientation of all knot parts so that they are properly aligned, straightened, or bundled. Neglecting this can result in an additional 50 percent reduction in knot strength. This term is sometimes used for setting the knot which involves tightening all parts of the knot so they bind on one another and make the knot operational. A loosely tied knot can easily deform under strain and change, becoming a slipknot or worse, untying.
  • Fraps. A means of tightening the lashings by looping the rope perpendicularly around the wraps that hold the spars or sticks together.
  • Lashings. A means of using wraps and fraps to tie two or three spars or sticks together to form solid corners or to construct tripods. Lashings begin and end with clove hitches.
  • Lay. The lay of the rope is the same as the twist of the rope.
  • Loop. A loop is formed by crossing the running end over or under the standing end to form a ring or circle in the rope.
  • Pig tail. That part of the running end that is left after tying the knot. It should be no more than 4 inches long to conserve rope and prevent interference.
  • Running end. The free or working end of a rope. This is the part of the rope you are actually using to tie the knot.
  • Standing end. The static part of rope or rest of the rope besides the running end.
  • Turn. A loop around an object such as a post, rail, or ring with the running end continuing in the opposite direction to the standing end. A round turn continues to circle and exits in the same general direction as the standing end.
  • Whipping. Any method of preventing the end of a rope from untwisting or becoming unwound. It is done by wrapping the end tightly with a small cord, tape or other means. It should be done on both sides of an anticipated cut in a rope, before cutting the rope in two. This prevents the rope from immediately untwisting.
  • Wraps (Figure G-1). Simple wraps of rope around two poles or sticks (square lashing) or three poles or sticks (tripod lashing). Wraps begin and end with clove hitches and get tighter with fraps. All together, they form a lashing.


    The basic knots and methods of tying them that you should know for your survival are as follows:

  • Half-hitch. This is the simplest of all knots and used to be the safety, or finishing, knot for all knots. Because it had a tendency to undo itself without load, it has since been replaced by the overhand.

  • Overhand (Figure G-2). This is the simple knot that most people tie everyday as the first half of tying their shoes. It can also be used to temporarily whip the end of a rope. This knot should replace the half-hitch as a finishing knot for other knots. This knot alone will reduce the strength of a straight rope by 55 percent.


  • [*=left]Square (Figure G-3). A good, simple knot for general purpose use. This knot is basically two overhand knots that are reversed, as in Right over Left, Left over Right. It is used to tie the ends of two ropes of equal diameter together (just like your shoe laces) and must be secured with an overhand on both ends. It is easy to inspect, as it forms two loops and is easy to untie after being loaded.

  • [*=left]Round turn and two half-hitches (Figure G-4). This is the main anchor knot for one-rope bridges and other applications when a good anchor knot is required and where high loads would make other knots jam and difficult to untie. It is most used to anchor rope to a pole or tree.

Figure G-3. Square Knot Secured by Overhand Knots


Figure G-4. Round Turn and Two Half-Hitches

  • Clove hitch and end-of-the-line clove hitch (Figures G-5) and G-6). It can be used to fasten a rope to a tree or pipe and also puts little strain on the rope. It is an easy anchor knot but tension must remain on the knot or it will slip. This can be remedied by making another loop around the object and under the center of the clove hitch.

    Figure G-5. Clove Hitch


Figure G-6. End-of-the-Line Clove Hitch

  • [*=left]Sheep shank (Figure G-7). A method of shortening a rope, it may also be used to take the load off of a weak spot in the rope. It is a temporary knot unless the eyes are fastened to the standing part of the rope on both ends.


Figure G-7. Sheep Shank

  • Double sheet bend (Figure G-8). This knot is used to tie together the ends of two ropes of equal or unequal diameter. It will also join wet rope and not slip or draw tight under load. It can be used to tie the ends of several ropes to the end of one rope. When a single rope is tied to multiple ropes, the bight is formed with the multiple of ropes.


Figure G-8. Double Sheet Bend

  • Prusik (Figures G-9 through G-11). This knot ties a short rope around a longer rope (for example, a sling rope around a climbing rope) in such a manner that the short rope will slide on the climbing rope if no tension is applied, and will hold if tension is applied on the short rope. This knot can be tied with an end of rope or bight of rope. When tied with an end of rope, the knot is finished off with a bowline. The nonslip nature of the knot on another rope allows climbing of ropes with foot holds. It can also be used to anchor ropes or the end of a traction splint on a branch or ski pole.


Figure G-9. Prusik, End of Line


Figure G-10. Prusik, End of Line and Center of Line


Figure G-11. Prusik, End of Line With Bowline for Safety

  • Bowline and bowline finished with an overhand knot (Figure G-12). Around-the-body bowline was the basic knot used for rescue for many years as it provided a loop, which could be placed around the body, that would not slip nor tighten up under strain. It has been replaced by the figure 8 in most applications as the figure 8 does not weaken the rope as much.

Figure G-12. Bowline and Bowline Finished With an Overhand Knot

  • Figure 8 and retraceable figure 8 (Figure G-13). This knot is the main rescue knot in use today. It has the advantage of being stronger than the bowline and is easier to tie and check. Its one disadvantage is that when wet, it may be more difficult to untie than the bowline after being stressed. The figure 8 (or figure-of-eight) can be used as an anchor knot on fixed ropes. It can also be used to prevent the end of a rope from slipping through a fastening or loop in another rope when a knot larger than an overhand knot is needed.

Figure G-13. Figure 8 and Retraceable Figure 8

G-3. There are numerous items that require lashings for construction. Figures G-14 through G-16 show types of lashings that you can use when constructing tripods, shelters, and racks.


Figure G-14. Shears Lashing


Figure G-15. Square Lashing


Figure G-16. Tripod Lashing

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1. Heat Syncope:

a. Definition - Syncope fainting episode occurring when the body, in an effort to cool itself, causes the peripheral blood vessels to dilate to such an extent that the blood flow to the brain is reduced.

b. Cause:

1) Physical exertion in hot climate
2) Dehydration

c. Signs / Symptoms:
1) Brief loss of consciousness
2) Dizziness
3) Restlessness
4) Nausea / vomiting
5) Rapid, weak pulse
6) Cool, moist skin
7) Core temperature is normal or mildly elevated

d. Treatment:

1) Place patient in a recumbent position in a cool place.
2) Administration of sports drinks as tolerated (ex. Gatorade) or intravenous fluid replacement (0.9% Normal Saline or Lactated Ringers).
3) Patient’s LOC should return to near normal fairly quickly. If LOC does not return quickly, consider other causes of syncope such as hypoglycemia, hyponatremia, heat stroke, etc.

2. Heat Cramps:

a. Definition - Slow, painful, skeletal muscle cramps and spasms usually in the muscles most heavily used, that last for 1 to 3 minutes.

Cause - Salt depletion through excessive sweating.

c. Signs / Symptoms:

1) The muscles are tender (myalgia)
2) The skin is usually moist
3) Core temperature may be normal or slightly elevated

NOTE: There is always a history of vigorous activity preceding the onset of symptoms

d. Treatment:

1) Rest in a cool environment
2) Drink a sports drink, (Gatorade)
3) Rest for 2 –3 days with no exertional activities (NO PT!)

3. Heat Exhaustion:

a. Definition - A systemic reaction to prolonged heat exposure (hours to days) and is due to electrolyte depletion, water depletion and water intoxication (electrolyte / water imbalance).

b. Causes:

1) Salt depletion through intense sweating
2) Replacement of body fluids with water and not electrolytes
3) Prolonged heat exposure

Signs / Symptoms:

1) Dilated Pupils
2) Headache
3) Fatigue
4) Dizziness or delirium
5) Hyperirritability / anxiety
6) Nausea / vomiting
7) Oliguria (decreased urine output)
8) Heavy perspiration
9) Hyperventilation (rapid / shallow)
10) Weak / rapid pulse
11) Hypotension
12) Cool, clammy skin
13) Normal to elevated temp. (rectal temperature is usually 99° - 103°F)

NOTE: Signs of heat syncope and heat cramps may accompany heat exhaustion.
d. Treatment:

1) Provide adequate fluid hydration, either orally or intravenously
2) Salt replacement
3) Rest in a cool environment
4) Restriction of activities for the next few days


a. Definition - A severe, life-threatening, failure of thermoregulatory mechanisms, resulting in an excessive rise in body temperature.

*NOTE: THIS IS A TRUE MEDICAL EMERGENCY ! Heat stroke mortality may be as high as 80%. It is the cause for 5000 deaths per year of which two-thirds are 65 years or older. A temperature greater than 108 degrees F may produce irreversible brain damage.

b. Cause - Impaired heat loss mechanisms due to exposure to high heat or overexertion.

c. Signs / Symptoms:

1) Respirations - Deep then shallow
2) Pulse - Rapid and strong, then Rapid and weak.
3) Blood Pressure - Elevated initially, then hypotensive
4) Dry, hot skin
5) Constricted pupils
6) Dizziness / weakness
7) Nausea / vomiting
8) Confusion / delirium
9) Irrational behavior
10) Loss of consciousness
11) Convulsions
12) Body core temperature usually 106°F (41°C)

NOTE: Importance should be placed on distinguishing between Heat Exhaustion vs. Heat stroke - A change in LOC (Level of Consciousness) is more pronounced in Heat Stroke.

d. Treatment:

1) Maintain the patient’s ABCs
2) Rapidly reducing the body core temperature using external cooling (methods are discussed in Section #D) - vent or remove clothing as appropriate.
3) Gain IV Access - (Normal Saline or Ringers Lactate)
i) Give NO more than 500 cc in the field (dehydration may NOT be the primary etiology of the Heat Stroke).
ii) Vigorous fluid resuscitation may precipitate development of pulmonary edema.

NOTE: The PRIMARY goal and focus should be to reduce the body core temperature to less than 103°F, but not below 98°F.


1. Direct Cooling:

a. Items are placed around the body to assist in the dissipation of excess heat:

1) Apply ice bags to vascular areas of the body (e.g. axilla, groin, scalp, and
neck regions).

2) Wrap the body in cool blankets / sheets.

2. Room Temperature Water Misting:
a. Method of heat loss is through conduction.

b. Procedures:

1) Spray or mist a heat casualty on a mesh hammock applying a film of water on skin.

2) A fan may also be utilized to increase the effectiveness of this method. The advantages are:

i) Method is fast (3-10 minutes)
ii) Requires minimal monitoring of patient.
iii) This method does not require cold or ice water. Ambient air temperature water is all that is required.
iv) Can treat multiple casualties simultaneously.
3. Immersion:

a. Method of heat loss is through conduction.

b. Immersing the patient in a bathtub filled with cold water:

1) Requires constant monitoring of the patient during the procedure
2) This method takes 10-40 minutes.
3) Concerns when using Ice Water Immersion:

i) Could cause peripheral vasoconstriction, which would impede the rate of heat loss.
ii) It could cause shivering, which would increase heat production.
iii) May cause hypothermia if the patient is left in the water for too long.
iv) Difficulty monitoring body core temperature.

CAUTION: Hourly fluid intake should not exceed 1½ quarts (roughly 1.4 liters). Daily fluid intake should not exceed 12 quarts (roughly 11 liters or 3 gallons).
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1. Hypothermia:

a. Definition: A systemic, non-freezing cold injury in which the body's core temperature falls to 95°F.

1) Occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can generate it.
2) Freezing temperatures are not necessary to produce hypothermia. Exposure to wind, rain, and cool temperatures increases body heat loss.

b. Cause:

1) Prolonged exposure to cold and / or wet conditions
2) Inadequate clothing / protection
3) Dehydration / inadequate nutrition
4) Poor physical condition
5) Traumatic injuries (any trauma patient is extremely vulnerable to hypothermia)

c. Signs / Symptoms (PROGRESSION of HYPOTHERMIA):

1) Mild Hypothermia: Core Temperature of 97° - 91°F.

a) Early Signs / Symptoms

1) Alert and conscious
2) Intense shivering
3) Increased blood pressure

Mild Hypothermia:

1) Late Signs / Symptoms
2) Poor judgment / irrational reasoning / maladaptive behavior
3) Shivering begins to diminish
4) Normal blood pressure
5) Increased respirations
6) Increased heart rate, then a progressive decrease in heart rate

3) Moderate Hypothermia: Core Temperature of 90.9° - 81°F.

a) Early Signs / Symptoms

1) Shivering replaced by progressive muscular rigidity
2) Patient is stuporous
3) Incontinence (cold diuresis)
4) Pale, slightly cyanotic
5) Progressive decrease in heart rate, respirations, and blood pressure
6) Cardiac arrhythmias
7) Dilated responsive pupils

b) Late Signs / Symptoms

1) Decreased LOC (responsive to painful stimuli)
2) Bradycardia
3) Bradypnea
4) Dilated, sluggish pupils
5) Cyanosis
6) Cardiac arrhythmias (noted by irregular pulses)

4) Severe Hypothermia: Core Temperature 80.9°F or Less.

1) Unconscious (does not respond to pain)
2) Loss of reflexes and voluntary motion
3) Barely detectable or non-detectable vital signs
4) Pupils fixed and dilated

d. Treatment:

1) Move casualty to a warm shelter, prevent further heat loss
2) Remove wet clothing if situation allows
3) Loosen or remove constrictive clothing
4) Warm the casualty:

a) Warm, moist air via boiling water or hot shower (inhalation is the fastest way to warm the core)
b) Sleeping bag re-warming (place patient in bag with one (1) or two (2) buddies)
c) Heating pads or packs (groin / armpits / neck)
d) Water bath re-warming (water temperature between 100 - 108°F
e) Hot, sweet drinks if conscious

5) Monitor vital signs. Observe for cardiac abnormalities
6) Monitor core temperature (rectal temperature)
7) Warm I.V. solutions (pre-warm solution in warm water or between MRE heaters)
8) Maintain ABCs. If CPR is initiated, maintain extensive re-warming efforts to ensure circulation of warm blood to the body’s core.

*NOTE: Remember, a patient is not dead until they are warm and dead!

2. Chilblains (Pernio):

a. Definition: Non-freezing injury, typically of hands and feet. Is not of major clinical significance to military operations.

b. Cause:

1) Exposure to air temperatures just above freezing

2) More likely occurs in dry, cold, windy air, yet can be associated with high humidity

c. Symptoms:

1) Erythema and cyanosis to exposed extremities 12 - 14 hours after exposure, skin lesions will appear. They will look nodular or appear as plaques (patches on the skin).

2) Intense pruritis (itching)

3) Burning paresthesia

4) Tender blue nodules follow re-warming and may last up to fourteen (14) days

d. Treatment:

1) Treatment is supportive

2) Gradually re-warm the exposed area at room temperature.

3) Wash and dry the affected area

4) Apply a dry, soft sterile bandage

5) Elevate extremity

3. Frosbite:


a. Definition: Actual freezing (crystallization) of tissue fluids in the skin and subcutaneous tissues. Ice crystals form between and inside the cells with resulting tissue destruction.

b. Cause:

1) Exposure to temperatures 32°F (0°C) and below.

2) Depending upon wind velocity and ambient air temperature, the exposure time necessary to produce frostbite varies from a few minutes to several hours.
c. Signs / Symptoms:

1) Superficial Frostbite:

a) Cold, stinging and / or aching sensation progressing to numbness
b) Red, progressing to white skin color
c) Skin feels cool to "frosty,"
d) Generalized edema with a "doughy" resiliency to touch

2) Deep Frostbite - Progressive Process:

a) No feeling present in affected area
b) Translucent, waxy to yellow color
c) Solid or "wooden" feel to touch
d) Large blisters develop
e) Extreme edema possible

d. Treatment:

1) Do not re-warm if there is a possibility of refreezing
2) Rapid immersion in warm water; 104 - 108°F, until skin is pliable and erythematous at the most distal parts of the frostbitten extremities
3) Monitor vital signs and signs of hypothermia
4) Leave blisters intact
5) Do not use ointments
6) Do not rub
7) Do not give alcohol or tobacco

4. TRENCH FOOT (IMMERSION FOOT) : An injury that results in damage to the extremity due to prolonged exposure, (usually excess of twelve (12) hours) to water of 33°-50°F.


Definition: The burning of the conjunctiva and superficial cells of the cornea by ultraviolet light.

b. Cause: Exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays in conjunction with gray, cloudy conditions, whiteout snow conditions, or bright, sunny conditions in a snow-covered environment.

c. Signs / Symptoms:

1) Gritty sensation in the eyes
2) Pain in the eyes
3) Increased lacrimation (tearing)
4) Photophobia
5) Blurred vision
6) Headache
7) Hot sensation in the eyes

d. Treatment:

1) Patch affected eyes for twelve (12) hrs.
2) Oral analgesics (do not put local analgesics into the eyes)
3) Do not put steroid medications into the eye
4) Re-examine eyes on a daily basis
5) CASEVAC as the operational environment permits

*NOTE: Although not a cold injury, carbon monoxide poisoning is of concern in cold weather. Confinement in an enclosed area with insufficient heating units accompanied with inadequate ventilation is the cause (inside vehicles, shelters).
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1. Fang Marks - Fang marks may be present as one or more well defined punctures, or as a series of small lacerations or scratches, or there may not be any noticeable or obvious markings where the bite occurred. The absence of fang marks does not exclude the possibility of envenomation (especially if a juvenile snake is involved). However, with rattlesnake envenomation, fang marks are invariably present and are generally seen on close examination. Bleeding may persist from the fang wounds. The presence of fang marks does not always indicate envenomation. Rattlesnakes when striking in defense will frequently elect not to inject venom with the bite, resulting in a “dry bite.”


Manifestations of signs and symptoms of envenomation are necessary to confirm diagnosis of a snake venom poisoning.

2. Signs / Symptoms:

a. Crotalidae Bite i.e. Rattlesnake:- Symptoms vary depending on the type of snake, and the amount of venom deposited, i.e. younger rattlesnakes tend to dispense all of their venom in relation to a larger, older rattlesnake dispensing either none or a lesser amount.

1) Excruciating pain at the site of the bite
2) Presence of fang marks
3) Tissue swelling at the site of the bite, swelling begins within three (3) minutes and may continue for up to an hour with enough severity to break the skin.
4) Severe headache and thirst
5) Hematuria from bleeding of major organs
6) Discoloration of surrounding tissue due to lysis
7) Tingling or numbness of face and scalp
8) Muscle fasiculations (twitching)

NOTE: Death may occur within 24-48 hours if left untreated. Even with treatment, there is the possibility of loss of effected extremity or a portion of it.

b. Elapidae and Colubridae Bite (i.e. Cobra / Boomslang):

1) Impairment of circulation:
i) Irregular heartbeat
ii) Lowered blood pressure
iii) Weakness and exhaustion
iv) Circulatory system collapse

2) Severe headache, dizziness, blurred vision, hearing difficulty, confusion and unconsciousness
3) Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
4) Chills and rapid onset of fever
5) Muscular incoordination and twitching
6) Excessive perspiration
7) Respiratory difficulty leading to respiratory arrest

c. Hydrophidae Bite (Sea Snakes):

1) Stiffness, muscle aches and spasms of the jaw
2) Moderate to severe pain to the effected limb
3) Blurred vision and drowsiness
4) Respiratory paralysis


1. Keep the victim calm and reassured. If possible, allow the affected area to rest at a neutral level in relation to the victim’s heart.
2. Identify the bite site.
3. If the bite is on the hand, finger, foot or toe, immediately remove any rings, bracelets, watches or any constricting items from the extremity. Wrap leg/arm rapidly with 3” to 6” ACE bandage past the knee or elbow joint immobilizing it. Leave the fang marks open. Wrap no tighter that one would for a sprain.
4. Apply a proper splint
5. Make sure pulses are present.
6. If the situation dictates CASEVAC, you will not have a means of definitive treatment (i.e. anti-venin). If the tactical situation does not allow for immediate evacuation, then monitor ABCs and give supportive care as necessary (maintain airway, control bleeding, treat for shock, monitor site for swelling).


a. DO NOT cut or incise the bite site
b. DO NOT apply ice or heat to the bite site
c. DO NOT apply oral (mouth) suction
d. DO NOT remove dressings / elastic wraps
e. DO NOT try to kill the snake for identification as this may lead to other people being bitten
f. DO NOT have the victim eat or drink anything

NOTE: Most definitive care for envenomation is anti-venom ASAP at a hospital.



1. Bees, Wasps, and Ant Stings:

a. Most of this group sting their victims.
b. Primary effect is from the strong histamine reaction they cause.
c. Stinging, burning sensation with swelling. This swelling, when caused by stings around the head and neck, may be severe enough to impair the airway.
d. The stinger of Bees should be removed immediately to prevent more venom from entering the victim. Remove the stinger by scraping across the skin with a knifeblade, ID card or similar object. Grasping the stinger with tweezers only injects the remaining venom into the victim.
e. Some species of ants, especially the fire ant, can bite and sting repeatedly.
f. Antihistamines, ice and pain medications are helpful
g. In severe cases give Benadryl Injectable 50 mg SQ first.
h. If the patient is allergic to the venom, treat the anaphylactic reaction with Epinephrine 0.3 mg 1:1000 SQ.

NOTE: Bees only sting once and leave the stingers and venom sac embedded in the skin. Wasps can sting multiple times.

2. Centipedes, Millipedes, and Caterpillars:


a. Signs / Symptoms:

1) Centipedes - Caused by a bite. Immediate severe pain with redness and swelling. Sometimes necrosis and ulceration may occur.
2) Millipedes - Millipedes secrete a toxin on their skin. Itching and burning occur upon contact with skin.
3) Caterpillars - Caterpillars have venom in hollow hairs all over their bodies. Contact with these hairs causes severe burning, pain, redness, swelling and necrosis of the tissue.

b. Treatment:

1) Similar to that of a bee sting. Focus mainly on anaphylactic reaction.
2) For millipedes, wash skin with soap and water to remove secretions.
3) For caterpillars, use scotch tape to remove hairs from skin. Do not rub area.

3. Spider Envenomation:


a. Black Widow Spider : They are glossy black with a red hourglass on the underside of the abdomen.


1) Signs / Symptoms:

i) Initial pain is not severe, but severe local pain rapidly develops.
ii) The pain gradually spreads over the entire body and settles in the abdomen and legs
iii) Weakness
iv) Tremors
v) Sweating
vi) Salivation
vii) Nausea
viii) Vomiting
ix) Respiratory muscle weakness combined with pain may lead to respiratory arrest
x) Hypertension
xi) Rash may occur
xii) Anaphylactic reactions can occur, but are rare
xiii) Symptoms usually regress after several hours and are usually gone in a few days

2) Treatment:

i) Clean the site with soap and water
ii) Intermittent ice for 30 minutes each hour
iii) Supportive care as necessary
iv) Antibiotics if infection occurs

b. Brown Recluse Spider: They are small, light brown, and have a dark brown violin design on the top of their thorax.


1) Signs / Symptoms:

i) Most often a painless bite. May present with sharp/stinging sensation.
ii) A painful edematous area with a purple colored center surrounded by a red halo appears after a few hours.
iii) A macular rash may occur.
iv) After two (2) or three (3) days, there is an area of discoloration that does not blanch with pressure.
v) After a week or two, the area turns dark and the scab falls off leaving an ulcer.
vi) After this happens, secondary infection and regional lymphadenopathy occur.
vii) The ulcer will persist for weeks or months.
viii) In many cases a systemic reaction may occur that is serious and may lead to death.
ix) The systemic reactions occur mainly in children and include fever, chills, joint pain, splenomegaly, vomiting, and a generalized rash. These reactions may occur at any time that the ulcer is present.

2) Treatment:

i) Cold compresses intermittently for the first 4 days.
ii) Apply bacitracin
iii) In some cases it may be necessary to excise all the indurated skin
and fascia before healing will begin.
iv) Provide supportive care as necessary.
v) Tetanus prophylaxis and antibiotics are necessary to control secondary infection.
vi) Anaphylactic reactions may occur.

4. Scorpion Envenomation:

a. General Description: These arthropods inhabit temperate climates around the world and number greater than 650 species. Fifty species can cause serious disease in humans.


b. Symptoms: Symptoms are graded by the following scale:

1) Local pain and or parasthesis at site of sting.
2) Pain or parasthesis remote from the site of sting in addition to local
3) Cranial nerve dysfunction; blurred vision, wandering eye movements,
hypersalivation, trouble swallowing (dysphasia), tongue twitching/spasms, problems with upper airway, slurred speech.
4) Somatic skeletal neuromuscular dysfunction, jerking of extremity(ies), restlesness, severe involuntary shaking and jerking that may be mistaken for a siezure.

c. Diagnosis: Positive “Tap Test” - excruciating pain when tapping on the affected area. This is the only true way to diagnos a scorpion bite.

d. Treatment:

1) Based on level of envenomation.
2) Supportive care, ice applied to the site for thirty (30) minutes each hour until
symptoms subside, oral analgesics are also helpful.
Airway management, supportive care as necessary, CASEVAC if tactical situation requires, if tactical situation does not allow to evacuate, then continue supportive care.
Survival Kits and Bug Out Bags - these are discussed in depth HERE

Here are the basics of Bug Out Bags and Survival Kits

BUG OUT BAG LIST: Pick a good bag with strong, comfortable straps that you can easily carry, you will probably be on foot! Keep it in your rig if you are on a trip - it's no good to you if it's not with you!

1. Water:

One liter per day, per person is really the bare minimum while one gallon per person per day is ideal, so your 3 day Bug Out Bag/72 hour kit should have at least 3 liters of water. To expand your capability or to survive longer than a couple of days you will need a water purification system. This can be as simple as boiling water, or a serious water filter (Katadyn, MSR etc).

For water purification tablets, use chlorine dioxide type like Katadyn MicroPur MP1. It destroys viruses and bacteria in 15 min., Giardia in 30 min. and Cryptosporidium in 4 hrs (a microorganism that is the most common cause of upset stomach/diarrhea in untreated water in the US). Unlike iodine, chlorine dioxide does not discolor water, nor does it give water an unpleasant taste. It also doesn’t leave behind any by-products in treated water, unlike other purification agents like bleach or iodine.

How you carry your water is equally important. I prefer one liter clear Nalgene type bottles in addition to a hydration bladder (Camelbak, the Source, etc). If boiling water for purification is indicated, see #6 Basic Gear, Cooking, below.

2. Food:

For a 3 Day Bug Out Bag Backpack Meals and Energy Bars can be sufficient. Back pack meals are freeze dried meals that you just add boiling water to. They are light weight and last a long time, but need water. MRE’S are great too and require no water, but are heavier. Canned goods work, but again they are heavy to carry.

3. Clothing:

Your Bug Out Bag clothes should be similar to what you would pack for a weekend backpacking trip. Do not opt for cotton clothing, it holds zero heat when wet and takes forever to dry, modern materials or even old school wool is your friend in the woods. Wool is desirable as wool insulates even when wet.
  • A pair of sturdy boots or shoes
  • 2 pairs of gloves (work type and warm type)
  • A pair of long pants (preferably not cotton blue jeans)
  • 2 Pairs of socks (preferably wool)
  • 2 Shirts (Maybe 1 long sleeve and 1 short sleeve for layering)
  • A Jacket that is both warm and protection from rain and wind
  • Warm long underwear of some kind
  • A hat (boonie cover and a beanie)
  • A Shemagh/Bandana (many uses)
  • Sunglasses
4. Shelter:

If you are going to survive for 3 days or more you are going to need protection from the elements and a warm, dry place to sleep. You need at least:
  1. Some type of tent or tarp.
  2. Cordage: 550 cord or some good rope and plenty of it. Heavy duty fishing line is multipurpose.
  3. A ground tarp for underneath your shelter to stay dry and/or a sleeping pad for insulation from the ground (Do not underestimate heat loss via conduction on cold ground).
  4. Some type of bedroll, preferably a good sleeping bag .
5. First Aid Kit:

Trying to cover everything you need in your Bug Out Bag First Aid Kit is nearly impossible here as contents may vary due to geographic location, environmental risk factors, individual health and personal needs.

I recommend spending the money on a good made in USA first aid kit. Suppliers to SOCOM like North American Rescue and Chinook Medical provide the best off the shelf solution and are worth every penny.

If you are on a budget I recommend that you build your own first aid kit instead of buying one of those cheap, prepackaged first aid kits that claim to have 1001 things for any emergency. My experience is that these types of kits are usually filled with fluff that makes for nice marketing, and not enough of what you really need for wilderness type trauma.

If you possess higher level medical skills and training, building your own "mission specific" kit is the norm.

6. Basic Gear:

Basic Gear sounds repetitive but it is the category for the things you absolutely cannot live without but that don’t really fit well into another category: Things like a sewing kit, fish line & hooks, lures, snare wire, zip ties, trash bags, duct tape, binos, 12 hr candle, sunscreen, chapstick etc.

a. Rain Gear – Have 2 ways to stay dry in the rain. Poncho and Coat are good coupled with your shelter

b. Fire – A bare minimum of 3 different ways to make fire. Fire steel/fire piston/lighter etc. With that you can get a flame but you will have to actually build the fire up too: do you have tinder? You can use cotton balls soaked in vaseline as tinder or you can buy their WetFire brand tinder that floats, and lights, in water. You’re also going to need something to cut your firewood. A high quality folding saw is priceless.

c. Cooking – Bare minimum here is a small titanium pot/large cup to boil water in for both drinking/purifying water and cooking. A small backpacking stove like a Jetboil or MSR Reactor provide a top shelf, ready made solution.

d. Light – A high quality LED flashlight and a headlamp and a backup set of batteries for each.

e. Survival Knife – The most often used and most versatile tool in your bag will be your survival knife. A quality, heavy duty American made blade is priceless. Also doubles as a weapon.

f. Comfort items, money, etc – Small things like TP, baby wipes, some gum or hard candy are a huge morale booster. It's also a good idea to have some money stashed in that bag.

g. Navigation – A waterproof paper map of your area, compass, GPS device, and a personal locator beacon (Spot, EPIRB, ResQLink, inReach etc) are all desirable. Have more than one way to determine your location and your destination, and ensure that you do NOT rely solely on GPS or electronic aids. The paper map and compass will always be the gold standard - know how to use them.

h. Signalling. Have a whistle and a signal mirror. Consider a lightweight orange air panel for high visibility.

i. Respiratory protection. Protecting your body is important. Hazards like viral infections, forest fire smoke or volcanic ash could be an issue. Add a NIOSH-approved N95 mask to your kit.

*If electronics are part of your plan (cell phone, GPS etc), have a way to recharge your devices. I prefer a small solar panel in this role.

7. Personal Defense:

Being prepared to defend yourself is part of the survival mindset. Obviously a firearm of some sort is best for this. Why? Because 2 and 4 legged animals don’t like guns. A .45 is good but a .44 magnum is better against apex predators, and .454 Casull settles all doubts.

Pick what works for you, and get training. In an emergency situation you will rely on that training and your muscle memory to prevail.

Examples of different style kits - use what works for YOU:




Funny that a bug out bag is basically identical to what I take on a backpacking trip. I don't have any car camping equipment but I have all the bug out stuff.
Funny that a bug out bag is basically identical to what I take on a backpacking trip. I don't have any car camping equipment but I have all the bug out stuff.

That's a good place to be - Ideally, you have "one bag to rule them all" that you use literally for everything. Then you KNOW you have what you need, and that it works. Everything else gets jettisoned. Just remember to adjust load for season and "mission" ;)
Speaking of survival, I ran across some cool survival kit info today. Our Astronauts, and the cold war Soviet Cosmonauts, had some pretty well thought out survival kits.

Here's the Cosmonaut kit, check out their Russian fishing gear.


And here's the American Astronaut kit.

Each Apollo mission was equipped with two rucksacks providing equipment to allow for crew survival for up to 48 hours on land or in the water after landing. This is one of two rucksacks flown on the historic first lunar-landing mission, Apollo 11, in 1969 with Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin.

It includes three water containers, one radio beacon with spare battery, three pairs of sunglasses, six packages of desalter chemicals, one desalter kit, two survival lights, one machete, and two bottles of sunscreen.

I always thought the cosmonaut's TP-82 was cool but then I kinda like that goofy bolt action shotgun they make too (TOZ-106). :spy
So, I've always wondered about the back yard swimming pool as a drinking water supply. I got the purification, filtering basics, If the pool is properly cared for there should be 1-2 ppm of chlorine. If it's yours, you should know this. Now the to get the chlorine stabilizer out, for drinking.
(cyanuric acid is stablilizer) Does a carbon filter remove cyanuric acid ? If so, you just need a means to push pool water thru the filter at a recommended psi for filtering. Just asking from So Cal.
About pool water in an emergency...

Two chemicals typically find their way into swimming pool water to effectively treat the water. One is chlorine and the other is cyanuric acid.

The chlorine is added to kill germs. It’s that simple. What’s complicated is the source of the germs. Here are a few of the vectors or sources that bring bacteria and viruses to swimming pools:
  • The wind.
  • Branches and leaves that fall into the pool.
  • Our feet delivering everything we’ve stepped on and in, to the water.
  • All parts of our bodies and everything that clings to it, everywhere.
  • Bathing suits T-shirts or anything else someone wears in a pool.
  • Insects that fall into the water.
  • Bird droppings.
  • Mucous, sweat, and other human secretions.
  • And the family dog when we decide it would be cute for him or her to take a dip.
Chlorinated pool water won’t hurt you if you accidentally gulp down a mouthful, drinking highly chlorinated water over a period of time can do some serious damage to your organs and your gastrointestinal system.

In fact, the first sign of mild chlorine poisoning is diarrhea. The chlorine kills the good bacteria in our intestines that help us to digest food. Diarrhea is the result. The simple fact is that you have to get the chlorine out of the water before you drink it. Bromide is sometimes used as a chlorine alternative for sanitizing pool water, and that’s not any safer to drink.

If you have a swimming pool test kit for chlorine, you should know that water with chlorine levels less than 4 ppm (parts per million) are considered safe to drink. However, there may be other chemicals or pollutants present, so don’t assume potability (water that’s safe to drink) is all about chlorine levels.

Cyanuric acid is often added as a pool conditioner to raise the acidity of the water to inhibit the growth of algae. The algae that often grows in swimming pools is slimy and encourages bacterial growth. The appearance of algae in water is typically a sign of high alkalinity and an improperly maintained swimming pool.

It also stabilizes hypochlorous acid which is a product of the pool chlorine and the cyanuric acid resists the destabilizing effects of ultraviolet light on the chlorine. It’s relatively safe to swim in water treated with acids if they’re used in the proper proportions but they’re also not safe to drink in quantity.

A good water filter designed to purify water in the wild will effectively allow you to filter swimming pool water and make it safe to drink. Look for a filter that has both carbon and ceramic filters built in.

The carbon filter will remove the chemicals and the ceramic filter will remove any bacteria that has survived the chlorine. Giardia is a good example of a bacterium that is highly resistant to water treatment, so don’t assume the chlorine has killed all the germs.

The ultraviolet radiation from the sun breaks down chlorine. This can happen in a matter of hours unless the pool has been stabilized with cyanuric acid. In that case, the chlorine can resist the ultraviolet light for weeks.

One way to accelerate the UV process is to harvest a small amount of water in a clear, sealed container. Start with a gallon. Allow it to sit in the sun. It’s like making sun tea without the tea. If you know or suspect the pool water has been treated with cyanuric acid, this can take two weeks or more. That’s not much help if you’re out of water, so a water filter is your best bet.
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