Posts in the survival category

Altoids Tin Firestarter: Survival Skills That Can Save Your Life

Altoid Tins make great survival tools.  There are many sites and you tube videos that give directions on putting together an Altoid Tin Survival kit. I thought I would do something a little different with my Altoid Tin. I like fire starter kits. I decided to put together an Altoid Tin Fire starter to help you with your survival skills.

ultimate survival blastmatch firestarter

Fire starter kits are simple. You need some type of tinder, and a fire starter. The trick is figuring out how to get it in an Altoids Tin. I like to take a premium fire starter when I am out in the woods. I like a lot of spark. I normally take a blastmatch with me because it works with a one hand single motion. I tried the Blastmatch and it would not fit in the tin. I settled on an Swedish Army Fire Starter by Light My Fire. They make spark that comes out as hot and ready to perform.

altoid firestarter kit

Now the tinder. I chose cotton balls and petroleum jelly. Cotton balls are light, easy to light and burn for a long time. Dip them in petroleum jelly, they light that much easier and burn that much longer (around 3 minutes). I added cotton balls and put some petroleum Jelly in an old balm jar. A rubber band holds the kit together in your pack. You now have the perfect tool for survival, light and compact.

altoid can firestarter kit

As you look at the picture you can tell I added a Meyerco Dew Claw. These are small, lightweight and could be used to scrape tinder from different sources.

altoid can firestarter kit wrapped

The next step was to try out the kit. Looking at the picture it worked just fine.

altoid firestarter kit fire

Posted by ES Team on 05 November, 2014 camping, survival | 0 comments | Read more →

Surviving the Wire Ring Saw

There are many types of Wire Ring saws out there. They are included in most survival kits. Wire Saws are light weight and they are supposed to cut through wood, metal, plastic and bone. Wire saws can be handy out in the wilderness. They look cool in the survival kit but many perform poorly out in the field. The first rule of thumb is to buy a good one. That way they won't snap when you need one.

We sell a wire saw at Extremely-Sharp that has over 100 lbs breaking strain with a 24" sawing edge. With that type of strength it may well be the most effective wire saw available. Our saw cuts through wood, plastic, bone, and even soft metals. They are constructed with 8 strands of interwoven stainless steel wire.  We call it the strongest wire saw ever.

Wire Ring SawYou can cut from the front or from back.  The most efficient method is the wrap around pull.   However you decide to use your saw it is much like flossing your teeth, nice long strokes.  The wire ring saw works well using the saw alone.  But a partner, one person on both ends make cutting faster and easier.The rings of the wire saw can hurt your finger.  The rings  get cold in winter.   There are some wire saws that come with nylon handles, but they are heavier in a pack and bulky in a survival kit.   An easy fix for handles is to take some additional para cord with you and make handles for your saw.  Most people in a survival situation have access to para cord.  When camping or backpacking para cord is a vital item to pack. Hand straps can save your fingers.

Start your cut small and slow.  As the cut deepens the surface area will increase.  With a even steady pull your speed can increase.

Remember that you are using energy when using your wire saw. If you are in a survival situation make sure the job is necessary before you expend the energy.

Wire SawYou don't want to let the saw blade get hot.
  The hotter the blade gets the more potential for snapping and breakage.   While cutting with your saw take some breaks and feel the blade.  If it does not burn your fingers it is OK to continue sawing.Wire saws are designed for smaller sticks.  In most survival and camping situations you will not need to cut large trees.  You never know when you might need to cut bone.  These saws cut bone fast and smooth.

You can take your wire ring saw and turn it into a bow saw.  Find a smaller branch that can bend.  Green wood works best and is easier to make a bow with.  Notch both ends of your bow and string the bow with your wire saw.  Now you can saw from the top.   Don't rush it, let the saw do the work.  Using the bow saw means a  lot less effort and less calories.  Using the wire saw as a bow is one and half times faster than using a plain wire saw.   Using your saw in a bow helps prevent breakage of your saw, keeping your wire blade straight.

Wire Saw Diagram

A wire ring saw is a great addition for anyone whether for survival, backpacking or camping.  Wire saws don't weigh much and  well worth packing.Maintenance of the wire saw  is easy.   They store well.  It is important to keep a coat of oil on your saw to prevent rusting.  The oil will ensure years and years of hard use  from your saw.

When you are out practicing your survival skills your wire saw can be used for survival projects.  We have used our wire saw as a snare and have had good results.  With a little imagination the wire saw makes survival fun.

Posted by ES Team on 28 October, 2014 camping, get outdoors, how-to, survival | 0 comments | Read more →

How to Use the Butt of a Knife

When looking at knives most people concentrate on the blade.  There are many blades, many jobs.  Picking the right blade can take some time and research. 

When buying a knife you might want to look at the other end.  In a survival situation the handle and the butt can be as important as the blade. Having a solid metal butt or a full tang extension is the way to go. The primary reason you want a solid metal butt or a tang extension beyond the end of the handle material is so you can hammer on the end of the knife.   A metal butt gives you the ability to drive your knife into something without damaging the handle.  This works great when working with larger pieces of wood and turning them into smaller pieces of wood, know as batoning. You can use your knife to split wood.  Stick your knife in your log and hit the end with something like another log or a rock and now you have split the wood.

A hammer is a vital survival tool.  A solid flat or extended pommel  can also be used as an improvised hammer. When you are in a survival situation or in the woods a hammer comes in handy. The pommel is easier to use than a rock or a piece of wood.   If you are camping and setting up a tent the pommel works great pounding in those stakes.

How to Uzse the Butt of a Knife

When looking at handles you want to have a  full or half cross hilt.   A good hilt will prevent accidental cuts if your hand slips.  You don't want a serious cut when medical attention is unavailable. A  half guard gives better control of the blade when precision is called for.  Some knives have a small portion of the top back end of the blade notched with grooves or ridges that creates a non-slip spot to put your thumb or a finger on when needed for those types of jobs.

Looking at a handle with a lanyard hole is  important.  A lanyard prevents the loss of your knife. You don't want to accidentally lose the most valuable survival tool you have.   When using your knife always use a wrist lanyard especially, when working over water or long drops. You'll want a  cinch on your strap to tighten it to the wrist.  A simple loop can simply slip off your wrist.

If you can try out the handle before you buy. You want the handle to be comfortable in any position.  The best handles provide a firm grip.  When the handle is wet you want it to be slip-resistant.   Be wary of handles that are too grippy or made from aggressive materials because they can cause hot spots and blisters when heavily used.  This is why skeletonized handles are usually wrapped with parachute cord.

When buying a knife the blade is not the only thing to consider. Spend some time on the handle. You will be happy you did.

Posted by ES Team on 21 October, 2014 how-to, self defense, survival | 0 comments | Read more →

How to Use The Backpacking Hobo Stove Great Survival Tool

Backpacking Hobo Stove Great survival tool

In the last article I explained how to make a hobo backpacking stove and now in this posting it seems appropriate to explain the why.

There are many different types of stoves to take with you to the back country. There are some very expensive and fancy stoves out there.   If money is an issue, there are some inexpensive stoves. There are many different types of fuels that can be chosen. White gas, butane, esbit,  and wood are just a few. The problem with many of your stoves is the weight. Most weigh over a pound and then you have your fuel. The more days you are out the more fuel you have to carry.

The wood stoves on the market are rather heavy but there is no fuel to carry. Esbit stoves are light weight but there is fuel that has to be carried. Esbit tablets don't weigh much but when you are trying to shave off pounds from your pack ounces count. For every 16 ounces you can shave off you have dropped the weight of your pack by a pound. In your living room a pound does not seem like much. After several days and 15 miles a day on the trail, each added pound becomes a burden.

Being an ultra lite backpacker, I am always trying to find ways to shave off ounces. The backpackers kitchen is a great place to focus on unneeded weight. I wanted to be able to get my whole kitchen, which means, stove, pot, tinder, fire starter and other cooking supplies, down to 16 ounces. To do that I would have to give up carrying fuel.

I have always been intrigued by hobo stoves. They are usually made with coffee cans and coffee cans are to large and to heavy to carry in the woods. Besides metal coffee cans are hard to find now a days. What I needed was a hobo design but smaller.

backpacking hobo stove survival tool

My son and I began to measure cans.  I am sure we looked a little funny at the local grocery store measuring cans.   We first measured soup cans.  We could of made a soup can work but it was smaller than we wanted and our pots would not fit inside a soup can.  After looking at many cans we decided on the classic V-8 can.  The V-8 can was workable, had a good weight and our pots would fit in the can, taking little space in the pack.

After we built the stove we had to try it out.  First we put our kitchen together and it fit in the pot tight. The stove and kitchen weighed in at 14 ounces. We beat our goal by 2 ounces.  The only thing left was to try it out.

We got some simple tinder, cotton balls, and some small sticks.  We started the cotton balls with our fire starter and started feeding sticks into the flames.  It was a great success, better than I imagined.  We had three cups of water boiling in 7 minutes. That is a lot of water to boil in a small amount of time. 

We have now taken our stove out several times to the woods.  Our stove has served us well, made some fantastic meals and hot beverages. The great thing about this stove is that you can find fuel that burns almost every where. You can take this stove on the mountain, on the plains, in the desert or even on the beach.  I have been on the tundra and on the tundra burning materials can be harder to find.  Materials can be found but you may want to carry fuel when backpacking on the tundra. 

Here is our video showing the hobo stove at work.




Posted by ES Team on 06 October, 2014 camping, ES family, how-to, survival | 0 comments | Read more →

Roughin' It With Bannock

Roughin' it with bannock

If you are going to be out in the woods for a long time, you may want to consider taking Bannock with you. 

Bannock is a quick biscuit–type bread used through out the world. Bannock is a small flat  loaf of bread. Modern Bannock usually has a  leavening agent. There are many different  types of Bannock with different names.   Bannock recipes are simple and designed to be cooked on a campfire. Bannock is great in the woods, warm, light  and filling. It is like manna from heaven.  Add some honey and you will never want to be without it. 

Bannock is Gaelic in origin. There are reports of soldiers eating Bannock on Hadrian's Wall over 1000 years ago. Bannock was primarily in Ireland, Scotland and Northern England till the 1500's. Eventfully Bannock arrived in the new world and was quickly adopted by Native Americans through out North America. Native Americans call their Bannock Fry Bread. But honestly, the controversy rages on whether Europeans brought Bannock to the New World or did they they had fry bread in the Americas long before Europeans arrived. We may not have the answer to that question but we do know that it is common thought that Bannock was favored by nomadic tribes because the dry mixture stayed fresh for long periods. They would add the fat or oil at cooking time.

Bannock is a versatile, quick, great tasting bread. Originally  bannocks were heavy, flat cakes of unleavened barley or oatmeal dough formed into a round or oval shape and cooked on griddles or hot stones. Now a days Bannock ingredients have been modernized, which includes adding a leavening agent, producing a lighter fluffier dough. You can include extras to make your bread interesting such as raisins, currents, blueberries, cinnamon or cheese if desired.

Every outdoors-men should know how to make this bread that sustained hungry voyageurs, settlers, and First Nations peoples alike in the early days of our country. Bannock, also known as fry bread, skaan, scone or Indian bread, is found throughout North American tribes, including the Inuit of the north and down south to the Navaho of Arizona.

Bannock can be fried, baked or cooked around a stick over hot coals. You can also drop spoonfuls of batter in a stew, producing something like dumplings. But most things just taste better cooked over an open fire or that perfect bed of coals and Bannock is one of them.

Cast Iron Pan BannockThe best Bannock to me is carefully winding it around a stick, cooking it in an open fire, buttering it and just eating it. If you want a little more, cover your bannock with jelly, honey or syrup. Wrap your bannock over an impaled polish sausage or hotdog. To cook your Bannock on a stick dust your hands with flour, spoon up a handful of batter, and use your hands to pat it flat and shaping it onto stick. Make sure your edges are well pushed into each other so your bannock won't separate while baking.  Cook your bannock 7-10 minutes over coals until golden brown. Rotate continually for even baking and prevent burning.

Frying bannock in a cast iron pan is a great way to enjoy this bread. Put a few heaping tablespoonfuls of batter in a hot greased frying pan. Cook much like a pancake, do not use to much oil.  After it has cooked for a few minutes lift the edge with a spatula to keep it from burning.  Flip your bannock when the bottom is golden.  Remove from heat once both sides are browned and cooked.

Bannock Recipe

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 6 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup lard
  • 2 eggs, optional
  • 1 cup water or more

Combine the first four ingredients. Add the lard slowly, rubbing it in to form fine crumbs. Combine the eggs with water and add to the flour mixture.   If you are not using eggs just add your water.  Stir your mixture to form a soft dough, and knead briefly.

If using a frying pan to bake, grease the pan then dust with flour. Place about a quarter of the dough in the pan and heat. Bake until the bottom is lightly brown, then flip. Bake about 10 minutes on the opposite side. Bake remaining dough in similar fashion.

If baking in oven, pat down into greased pie plate. Bake in 400 degree oven for about twenty minutes, or until cooked in the middle.  Don't forget you can fry your dough in oil or slap it on a stick.

You can add raisins, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, or whatever you like for a dessert bannock. Bacon bits, diced Spam, dried or fresh herbs, or cheese make a savory bannock.

However you decide to make your bannock it is a great addition to any survival situation, camping trip or some home cooked bread for dinner.

Posted by ES Team on 05 October, 2014 camping, history, how-to, recipes, survival | 0 comments | Read more →

Surviving With Candles

I am constantly looking for simple survival tools.

There is a simple survival tool available to us all.  Candles….

Candles are the perfect survival tools.  Every good emergency kit and bug out bag should include some emergency candles. Candles are used for everything from lighting a room to providing extra heat in an emergency.

Fans of classic survival books will remember the time  it was encouraged to carry around a candle nub for survival purposes. I have been around backpackers all my life.  Some of those old backpackers I knew would not go in the woods without their candle. It seems that many people don’t think about the candle much anymore.

Candles are great for providing you with hours of light. In non-windy conditions, a candle can light your way and give you enough light to work. If it is windy, you can rig a wind screen by cutting a piece off an aluminum can or putting the candle inside a clear glass container.  Now a days you can go to any outdoor store and buy a candle lantern.  They are much lighter than the standard battery lamp.

Copper Lantern Surviving with Candles

Copper Candle Lantern

Let's talk about Cooking. A good candle can actually provide enough heat to cook or boil a small amount of water. You won't be able to use your candle nub to grill up a steak,  but with a candle nub you can generate enough heat to warm up tea, coffee, soups along with many other types of food and drink. Just find a couple bricks or rocks to make a stand that supports your cook pot. Place the nub under the pot, light it you have dinner. We all know it gets cold in the winter. If you find yourself out in the winter an emergency a candle in your tent will provides some nice  extra warmth. It is surprising how much a candle can heat up a small tent. Now that we are mentioning tents,  Candle wax works good in the field for seam sealing those pesky leaks that spring up. Lighting Fires in the woods can be hard. It’s a lot easier, and safer to use a candle to light your fires than it is to hold a lighter or match.  Light a candle and drip some wax on your tinder or kindling.  Light the fire with the candle’s open flame. If you have extra candles you can build the fire around the candle, light your candle and your fire will start with ease.

Surviving with CandlesWax prevents rust.  You can coat your knives, tools and other equipment with candle wax to prevent them from rusting. A thin coat works well and you can renew it as often as needed. Wax also works as a decent lubricant, just rub your candle. You can even use a thin coat of wax on a hat for waterproofing.  The wax won't completely water proof a hat  but it will certainly make it water resistant.
When using a bow drill place a small flake of wax into the bearing block of a bow drill.  As you work your drill it will melt the wax and become slippery. This frees up the top of the drill and focuses the friction at the bottom of the drill.

If there is a serious emergency out in the field, candle wax can be used as an adhesive on cuts and wounds much like stitches.

I have never tried this but I have heard that people warm up some wax and mold it around a fish hook that creates a false grub or maggot.

Bottom line is that things seem to be  getting tougher. Emergency candles are long lasting,  provide safe emergency lighting and are easy to store in survival kits. Power outages are a much more common occurrence than they used to be. Power Outages can occur from wind, snow storms, excessive power demands, floods and earthquakes. We never know when a disaster will occur. Terrorism is on the increase along with floods and hurricanes.  A small investment now can mean the difference between life and death in the future.

Posted by ES Team on 04 October, 2014 camping, fishing, survival | 0 comments | Read more →

Zip Ties, Cable Ties, a Survival Must

Seasoned survivalists know that our gear does not have to be expensive. What we want in our  gear is functionality. We want our gear to be effective. If you have spent some time out in the woods you know you can't do without duct tape. Duct tape is an essential and the cost is minimal. Another essential in my pack are zip ties also known as cable ties.  They are primarily used by electricians. However, they make great fasteners. Mostly designed for  one time use. Cable ties are a must. They are essential for survival, backpacking and Bug out bags.

Cable Ties

Cable Ties

There are so many useful things you can do with a zip tie. They are lightweight, and cheap. A perfect item to throw in as part of your camping gear, into your survival kit, or even incorporate them into your everyday carry gear, these Zip Ties should be something that you don't leave home without.

Black ones are the best because they do not weaken when exposed to sunlight for long periods of time. Keep different sizes with you in your pack for different jobs. I keep the 1/16'" and 1/8" wide 10" to 12"  long ties. They seem the most useful. They take a second to apply, almost impossible to break, or cut.

You can buy reusable cable ties but I have found the one use cable ties work the best. 

Buy American made ties, stay away from china made ties. China made ties tend to snap.

When you are in a survival situation you never know when you’ll need to fasten something, strap something down or tie some up.  Zip ties have a million uses. Almost anything that needs to be held together can be held by zip ties. Your imagination is the limit. 

I have used ties to:

  • Attach items to my pack 
  • Secure a light fixture overhead on a tree branch
  • As emergency shoe laces
  • Lost a button once and a cable tie worked as a replacement
  • Drawn two belt loops together as a quick belt
  • Lashed a knife to a pole for a spear
  • Building survival  shelters
  • Used two cable ties to repair the shoulder buckle on my pack:
My Fixed Pack Buckle
  • Used ties to make a snare for catching prey
  • Secured a tent in place
  • Hold wooden poles together
  • My zipper pull snapped off my jacket and I replaced it with a tie
  • In my garden for tying tomatoes and cucumbers
  • Cable ties allow for one-handed fastening due to their design, which for me having only one arm comes in handy

I have heard of people using ties for:

  • Tying trousers down in tick country
  • Handcuffs when needed
  • As a tourniquet
  • Wrapping together ropes and hoses
  • Boaters using ties for depth markers
  • Used to hold a splint in place
  • Securing a heavy duty plastic crate to an ATV

There are many uses for these lightweight, but effective fasteners. The next time you are getting ready for the trail or putting your bug out bag together, remember your cable ties.

Posted by ES Team on 03 October, 2014 camping, hunting, survival | 0 comments | Read more →

Bad Weather Car Kit

Be Prepared.

The south has had some bad weather the last month. It's about time to learn how to prepare for it just in case you get caught in another snowpocalypse. Ice on the roads can leave you stranded. We put together this list of the minimum for your southern bad weather car kit preparedness.

We understand that the south has warm ground, so new falling snow will freeze to black ice immediately.  It isn't the same as the north on the roads and with horror stories of 8-14 hours of being stuck in cars and roads closing... you want to make sure you've prepared yourself with a few essentials. You may want to include something for traction like sand/catlitter/salt - if you're going for gold on this. I've also heard of people adding toilet paper. Smart move.The south has had some bad weather the last month. It's about time to learn how to prepare for it just in case you get caught in another snowpocalypse. Ice on the roads can leave you stranded. We put together this list of the minimum for your southern bad weather car kit preparedness. 

Although an ice scraper might seem like an obvious snowy weather must, many people forget about important items such as a pocket knife and a couple of bottles of water! You don’t want to forget about the essentials people.

Please leave other ideas for what to keep in an emergency kit in the comments below.  And don't forget to visit for help in the future.

Posted by ES Team on 02 October, 2014 how-to, survival | 0 comments | Read more →

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