I am often asked this question, “What is the Comfort Range?” This in reference to our nice fleece Poncho Liner or our cozy Survival Blanket. I generally just give my experience in how and where I have used these items and how I fared. As time goes by I realize that I’m always stating a fairly wide span of temperatures as the comfort range, which is not really a comfort range at all as most people want to know, “how cold can I use this?” Even for myself, when I’m talking about it, I realize that my low range for comfort can vary widely, there are reasons for this, which I’ll discuss today.IMG_0506

Who came up with this temperature comfort level?

A question as common as the number of people using sleeping gear, everyone wonders how in the world that sleeping bag is a 20° F bag, “I was freezing at 35°?” The answer has a couple of directions to it, one of those is that manufacturers of gear typically want to show the maximums of their product as it gives a higher perceived value, so in this case the stated cold temperature rating might be really pushing the limits of reality. The other direction this discussion takes us is comfort, which to be honest is not any kind of fixed number that we can pin things down to. Every person has different levels of cold tolerance from another person, and to take it a bit further our own comfort level can vary widely. In the end it is very difficult to say with any kind of certainty what a product’s cold comfort level really is. All we can do is use it as a reference.

I find that when a cold spell starts and I go out in it, my tolerance for the cold is low, however once I’m out in it a while, I don’t notice the cold as much, and in the case of winter, as the season wears on, cold can become less and less of an issue.2014-08-08 16.32.40

Other things affecting comfort range that may have nothing to do with your sleeping bag or blanket

  • Humidity
  • Wind
  • A persons wellness
  • A persons current typical cold tolerance level
  • Under padding both insulation and cushioning
  • Ground conditions
    • Level ground
    • Protrusions, rocks, sticks. lumps, etc.
    • Temperature of the ground
    • Moisture level, how dry or wet the ground is
  • In hammock sleeping
    • how well the hammock is hung
    • how well suited a particular hammock is to you
    • surrounding environment, since in a hammock you can be very exposed
      • Air temperature
      • Wind
      • Weather

How do all the above listed items impact the comfort rating of a sleeping bag or blanket?

The answer to that question in a way is quite simple, if you are not sleeping, you are not comfortable. Now the lack of comfort may at times be blamed on an inadequate sleeping bag or blanket, when in reality the ground you are laying on has a couple small bumps that are just irritating enough to prevent good sleep. I find that if I’m laying there and anything is bothering me, I’m just killing time while trying to go to sleep, I notice every other bothersome thing, i.e. my feet feel cold, there’s a draft, maybe if I lay on my side, all these fidgety things just multiply. Many times in the very same temperatures, I sleep like a log, why? I took the time to prepare the foundation for my sleep. I either brought along a nice sleeping pad, or in the remote woods, I made a nice thick bed of boughs to lay on. Also a persistent wind can sometimes play havoc with sleep if it can get at me, often just a lean-to wall, or a tarp laid over top of me is all that’s needed to offset that wind and allow me a sound sleep.2013-10-11 17.14.13

As a rule of thumb I have found that when I first lay down, if there is anything that I’m noticing as bothersome, if I don’t get up and fix it, I’ll have a fitful sleep. Some of my best sleeps have been on the ground on a thick layer of pine boughs, even with a bag or blanket that is actually lacking a bit. If I lie down and it’s all cozy, I can drift right off to sleep. When in my hammock made out of my poncho, if I’ve hung it properly, I can leave the fleece liner snapped in and just a little blanket over me and be cozy at 30°, at other times if I don’t do things right 50° might be the limit. A hammock sometimes needs a tarp for wind protection as well, this can often make a huge difference in comfort level.1081401-R1-E010

The best course of action for a great nights sleep is to find out what you require individually for a great nights rest, and then prepare things to allow that. For me, one of the things I have to address is my feet, they get cold easily, even at home sometimes. If I have a fresh thick pair of socks for sleeping in, or some insulated booties,  or even a sweatshirt wrapped around them, I’m good. Usually for me if my feet are good, so am I. Figure out what your most limiting factors to a good sleep are and address them, that’s how to ensure a great nights sleep most every time.

Until next time, this is Perry Peacock, “Simplifying Survival”

Wilderness Survival Handbook – A Reviewwilderness survival handbook

I read and studied this book, “Wilderness Survival Handbook by Michael Pewtherer” two or three years ago and found it a good read chock  full of important information. If a person has studied survival topics much they will always find repeated information, however it is still valuable as it reinforces what has already been learned, also at times things are presented in a different way which helps ones understanding.

If there was one word to describe this book it would be “details” Michael gives lots of information that others do not include. Let me now take you into the book so you can get the flavor of it.

The author divides the book into two main sections 1) Seven Day Survival, 2) Beyond Survival – Primitive Skills for Wilderness Living. This is handy for the reader and student as most of the time a person would only need about three days before rescue, since the first part of the book deals with that, it lays a good foundation. Many survival books deal with a list of skills, many of which may not be needed in the typical three day scenario, nothing wrong with knowing more, but the layout in this book gets a person off to a good start, then adds much more in the last section.

Seven Day Survival

The chapter headings indicate the subject matter thoroughly covered in this part of the book

  • Preparing to Survive
  • Shelter
  • Water
  • Fire
  • Navigation
  • Medical Emergencies

You will notice the proper priority of these subjects generally and also note that he does not involve food in any way, as obtaining food is not at all necessary in a seven day survival scenario, nor even for two weeks as I have noted here in past blogs and videos,  yet it is the primary item first covered by many authors who write about survival.

The author gives plenty of detail in explaining things, that detail generally includes stories of his own experience learning and doing the things he is teaching. The Squirrel Nest and Debris Hut shelters are two examples. I remember many years ago when I was trying out leaf shelters, which are what he calls a Squirrel Nest. I built a back wall out of sticks and a foot and head wall, then I piled in leaves till I was tired of it. The leaf pile was nearly four feet thick. My thinking at the time was to just burrow in from the side. I quickly found out that one or two movements left me with no leaf cover. Later I built a debris hut with a thick layer on top and then I filled the inside with leaves as well. I had a cozy sleep inside, and the rain that night did not penetrate to me. Michael relates his learning experience as he tells  how to build these shelters. He spends eight pages on debris huts alone and includes illustrations.

Examples of detail shared pertaining to Debris Hut Shelter

  • The ridgepole should be longer than you are by about two feet
  • The ridgepole should be about waist high at the head end
  • Double check the height of the head end by laying on your side, your shoulder should be a hands length below the ridgepole.

He offers many other details and tips. Any person should be able to construct a debris hut from the directions given.

Water – the section on water is ten pages long, the following are examples of details he offers that many others do not know or simply leave out.

  •  The best action to take in any environment, desert or otherwise, it to drink water
  • To purify water a rolling boil for one minute at elevations below 6500 feet, three minutes if above
  • To find water, look for places with green moss or lots of insect activity
  • Solar Stills – “I must say that, as a survival tool, the solar still is greatly overrated.”
  • Water collected from a transpiration bag, depending on the plant, can be quite nasty to drink
  • Water from the pulp of a barrel cactus, “is more likely to make you vomit up valuable liquid than it is to quench your thirst.”
  • Sap gathering in spring and fall – “it is possible to collect more than a gallon of sap a day from a single tree”

There is so much more in the book, I have not even touched the surface of that which is covered in such an easy to read and understand method of writing. The above selections are taken from the first part of the book.

Beyond Survival – Primitive Skills for Wilderness Living

The chapter headings in this section are well worth noting to indicate the extensive subject matter the author deals with in the second part of the book. Without being too wordy he explains thoroughly many details in these chapters that are simply not even touched on by many other authors. In many books a technique or skill is mentioned but not enough information is given for a person to accomplish it.

  • Shelters for the Long Term
  • Fire making Tools
  • Food and Drink
  • Fishing
  • Trapping
  • Hunting Weapons
  • Hunting Methods
  • Rawhide Tanning Hides for Buckskin and Sinew
  • Cordage and Crude Cloth
  • Other Tools and Materials
  • Containers
  • Comfort and Cleanliness
  • lastly: Recommended Reading

Again for this section I will choose a few highlight comments so you can get an idea of what is talked about. It is worth noting that Chapter 9 Food and Drink does not deal with obtaining food and drink, but rather with preparing, cooking, storing and preserving food. There are four chapters that deal with obtaining food.

  • The author devotes nine pages just to the Atlatl with plenty of detail and illustrations
    • There are two primary throwing methods, the split finger grip and the hammer grip. Pictures and description of each are provided as well as the authors favorite and why.
  • Not only does Michael detail the making of cordage, which can be invaluable to the person staying in the wilds long term, but he also delves into the making of a simple weaving loom for making blankets, ponchos, and such. With the illustration and detail given a person could successfully start such a project. Having done this myself before in making door mats for each camp at a week long family camp I find he author’s information suitable.
  • The start of Chapter 17 Containers begins with the authors statement as follows
    • “The value of a container is often overlooked until you have none. How to carry, cook or hold the items and foods that we need for survival with no container does not at first glance appear to be a pressing question. Roasting is a fine way to cook many wild meals, but what about drinks and soupy meals? Containers are worth a lot and knowing to to make them for whatever your needs is worth the time.”
  • Pottery-there are 26 pages devoted to producing primitive pottery in the wilds, nicely detailed.
  • Shelter tip: “People usually build their hut too large; the amount of space that a person actually needs is pretty small.”

I could go on and on about this book, but it’s best for you to just get it and study it for yourself. Notice I didn’t say read it, but rather study it. If you intend to get anything useful from a book, you must study it!

Until next time, this is Perry Peacock, “Simplifying Survival”

 

Camp thoughts2-2015-03-06 19.59.10

It was the first weekend in March, and I wanted to head up one of the nearby canyons to camp. I was a little bit nervous that it might not be accessible with the recent snows and subsequent melting, but wanted to get up the canyon in the truck anyways then head off to find a camp spot. As seems to be normal for me I didn’t get away at midday from the shop as planned and I had little more than an hour of sun left when I finally took off.

Heading into the canyon the dirt road was dry and hard as the sun had time to work its magic. Driving further into the canyon it narrowed some and I started encountering patches of snow. So far everything was firm. Winding around a couple of bends I hit an area with full exposure to the sun, not yet dry but firm. All of the sudden I hit a hard to notice mud bog, I was hoping to power through it but the thick sticky clay brought all progress to a halt. I knew I should have pulled off just before that point. I was going slightly uphill, so I attempted to carefully back down but found the slight tilt to the road was carrying me toward the edge of the road, I knew if I went over it would be a long walk for help.
 1-2015-03-06 18.44.20
I remembered a time nearly forty years ago I was up in the high Uintah mountains with my dad getting a big truckload of firewood. His truck was a flatbed diesel that he used in his beekeeping business. We had worked for most of the day loading it up and were filled well above the cab. It rained a bit and as we were going down the mountain we hit a patch of slick clay. We started to slide and there was not much we could do other than try to guide the truck to the best landing spot. When we stopped, the truck had started to go over the edge toward the passenger side. We carefully got out the uphill or driver side as we were concerned the truck might roll on us.
Surveying the situation, dad was carefully eying the options. We determined that if we took our shovels and dug down the uphill side we could drive the truck forward twenty feet or so and we could get it reasonably level. After doing this we started digging a track angled to get us back onto the road. It took us a couple of hours, but we got it done and had an uneventful drive on down the canyon and into the small town of Kamas where my dads brother lived. He had been a forest ranger in the summers in that area for many years and had recommended the area where we went to get wood. When we got to his house he was about to get a rescue started to come get us.
Back at my situation mired in thick deep mud, I thought that what I needed to do was fill the mud with rocks so my tires had something good to bite into. I piled more rocks against the slope running off the road so they would tend to keep me on it. I put a layer of rocks in a slight curve behind my front tires so they could get some grip and I could work on angling the truck to the dryer side of the road. After working on it for nearly two hours I was able to get safely on the road and pulled over in a gravely area. I parked there and quickly located a spot for a camp.
I hauled my gear up to the site and started a fire just as it was getting fully dark. Now I have an nice hot drink and I’m laying beside the fire all cozy writing this blog.
Now many hours later into the night I’m curled up on my side by my little fire, just three sticks crossed about wrist thickness and about fifteen feet long provide enough heat to keep me warm. Every half hour I feed each of the sticks another six inches forward into the fire center. I have on my jacket and my fleece hood with cape, I had laid out my fleece poncho liner folded into fourths to insulate me from the cool ground. With the fire at my stomach it is enough to thoroughly warm the entire core of my body, such that even my feet are kept warm by the circulation of warm blood. Above in the sky the full moon shines brightly on me. I clearly see its darkened craters cast against the remainder of the exquisitely bright orb.
I sit up now, one o clock in the morning, dead quiet in my small canyon camp, I’ve napped by this little fire on and off for about five hours now. I feel like having a cup of hot chocolate now. My Zebra pot has been sitting next to the fire the whole time filled with water, I lift the lid, a puff of steam reveals a slow steady boil. Pouring a packet of mix into my Glacier cup I then put on a leather glove and pour some hot water. The fire crackles slightly as I take a sip of the smooth chocolate, it flows in my mouth and down my throat to my stomach, I can feel it make the whole journey. It warms my whole insides. I love being out here taking in all the splendor of the outdoors. Occasionally I hear the distant howl of a pack of coyotes, I picture them gazing at the moon as they yelp into the chilly night air.3-2015-03-07 12.44.25
Perhaps it is now time to crawl into my survival blanket and sleep the rest of the night away, it’s a battle in my mind, I’m so cozy here by the fire, but I know I’d be a little more comfortable stretched out in my blanket than curled up at the fire. Another sip or two of chocolate delay a final decision.
Times passes toward the two o clock hour, I gaze at the many stars and the moon, I hear the rushing sound of the cold breeze flowing down the canyon from the snowfields above, past me and on down into the valley below. I am unfazed, warm through and through, I read another article in the latest “American Frontiersman” magazine, another sip of hot chocolate flows through me, comfort, happiness, the great outdoors, what more could a man want on a night like this?
Until next time, this is Perry Peacock  “Simplifying Survival”

OK so now I’m really fired up, I just read a great article by Christian Noble over at Master Woodsman, the article or blog is PST perryabout LNT or Leave No Trace. Chris documents the history and the results of this lifestyle, please read his article.

Like so many things these days, someone comes up with some clever catch phrase or even just an acronym and suddenly it becomes the way things should be. LNT sounds like such s good thing to do, like it is the only way we should be. Chris points out that we are are NOT visitors here, this earth is our home, I say further, we were born out of the elements of the earth, our daily life should not consist of treating everything like a museum visit, we should be able to interact with our environment without fear of violating some creed. Many things start out as good ideas, then take on a life of their own, soon they morph into organizations that at times can seem heavy handed and dictatorial. There are always those who tend to extremism, each of us can be that way with causes we are passionate about.
It’s funny how so many things that used to be OK, are not that way anymore. What changed? Were we that bad in decades past? In my youth I had a two man canvas pup tent and when out camping I would find two sticks to use as poles as I pitched my tent, what’s wrong with that? Sometimes I like to hang a pot over a fire, to do that I gather two or more poles to make a suspension, I think its OK to do that generally. There are occasions in areas of abundant trees where it’s really nice to make some benches to sit on around the fire, why not? What’s wrong with taking three poles and a stick to make a very cozy Yukon chair? Except in delicate areas, all the above should not be out of reason.
Here are a few points to considerSurvival Debris Hut in Winter
  • I do not subscribe fully to the concept of Leave No Trace. Who says that’s the best way? In reality it is pretty hard to do.
  • Lest you think I like to churn and burn my way through life, one of the the sights I hate the most is coming into an area where everyone who ever camped there from the beginning of time decided they needed to make their own campfire ten feet from the last one, what an ugly disaster.
  • Another pet peave of mine is hatchet men, those who feel their whole week at camp must always consist of taking a hatchet and try to see how many trees in as wide a circumference  as they can manage they can mercilessly hack up. I made a video about this.
  • Now let me get this one last thing out of the way. If you are capable of hauling stuff into camp, take what’s left back out with you. Don’t throw cans, bottles, wrappers all over, don’t leave wads of toilet paper everywhere, contrary to popular belief, it does not instantly degrade into top quality compost. I also made a video about cleaning up after ourselves.
  • It is not ideal to celebrate on the 4th of July holiday (USA) by leaving the cleverly decorated red, white and blue beer cans all over creation.
  • If you have brought a firearm with you, don’t think that you need to shoot up everything in sight, just to see what happens, be a little discreet about your target practice area. Clean up your shot up cans, bottles, plates, shoes, whatever it is, leave the area nice.
  • I do not believe that if I happen to break a twig, the world will suddenly come to a screeching halt. As a former Master Gardener, I taught that proper pruning actually helps a tree be stronger, healthier, and more disease free, not that in the woods we are pruning trees to that end. The fact is, it does not hurt a tree to skim a few branches off, or to snap a few boughs to use as bedding.
    Some guys in front of Shelter built for rain

    Some guys in front of Shelter built for rain

  • Much of the time nature overproduces seedlings and young plants, an area may become a thick carpet of seedling trees, most of which over time will die out as competition for sunlight, water, and nutrients ensues. So, what if an area is loaded with eight foot tall pine saplings and I harvest a dozen for camp use? Is that going to harm the delicate balance of nature? I think not, it may help it.
  • Do I go in and clear cut every single tree in a thirty foot radius? No I would usually take one tree where two are very close.
  • I never use much of nature in areas that are heavily used by campers.
  • Campfires seem to be one of the biggest offenders when it comes to ruining a pristine location. Keep fires practically sized, every fire doesn’t have to be a bonfire. If there is already a fire area in a location use it, don’t go start another nearby. Remember you don’t have to pile a dump truck load of rocks to make a fire ring, in fact you don’t really need rocks at all, at times they are useful for a particular style of fire, at other times, it’s just a pile of rocks. Many times I make a fire with no fire ring at all and when I’m done and the ashes are cold I can spread them around, they are fertilizer you know, when I’m done it’s hardly noticeable that I was ever there.
So common sense should come into play at some point, right? It is what makes things more simple without the need for hundreds of rules. We can easily adjust our activity based on the conditions. In a delicate area with sparse vegetation, a light footprint is called for, disturb very little. No one has to tell you this, you should know it instinctively. Much of the rest of the wilderness is filled with life, trees, flowers, animals; here you can use a little of the abundance to make camp life more 2014-11-15 13.03.18comfortable. Using a little of nature while we are outdoors helps us to merge with it, creating wonderful life long memories. In a remote area, little used by others, make yourself a nice camp, one you visit often to get away, what’s wrong with that? I think there can be balance, we don’t have to go to the woods, feeling sterile, afraid to interact. I think instead of leave no trace, it should be more along the lines of, if you leave a trace, make it appropriate to the environment you are in.
Until next time, this is Perry Peacock for “Simplifying Survival”

If you read many of my blogs you will know that I love to read books, I get a lot of great information to try out next time I’m in the woods. A year or so ago I got Tony Nester’s BushCraft Tips and Tony Nester Tips and Tools book coverTools, it’s great book let me give a few highlights. Oh, by the way check out my reading list on “My Bookshelf” on our website here’s the link. I think I need to update it a bit, lol.

Tony is based out of Arizona, and has spent much of his life outdoors helping people learn to survive and to live in the wilds, he has short courses and even 4-9 week courses if you really want to get immersed in the learning process. His business is Ancient Pathways LLC

I remember years ago as a teenager working to learn some of the outdoor skills. In those days much of what was written was generalized and did not offer enough detail to be truly valuable. In this book Tony tells you what he does, he tells stories from his own life to illustrate many points. It is easy to read and straightforward. I have found that most every book I read gives me some value or perhaps a different perspective on things.

Here are some highlights.

  • There’s nothing fun or romantic about survival except, perhaps in retrospect.
  • For cold weather gear, I have two approaches depending on the weather and temperature
    • Slushy conditions above freezing-he likes wool garments as they are warm and not damaged as much by fire as other things.
    • Weather below freezing-Steger Mukluks for the feet
  • Cold weather gear is not something you want to skimp on
  • Hot cocoa and butter provide a delicious drink with extra fat and calories to help in the cold
  • Tony’s favorite knife is a Finnish Jarvenpaa Utility Puuko with 3 3/8″ blade
  • His personal cooking kit consists of a 12cm Zebra billy Pot, GI canteen cup, and a 1 liter Trangia Tea Kettle
  • “When the body is well fed the mind is also nourished”
  • He rarely sleeps in a tent and opts for using Tarps. He likes square tarps as they can use diamond configurations, when on the move he likes to use a 10′ x 10′ tarp, incidentally our PSTL is that size and there are around 50 ways to set it up.
  • Bag Balm is great for exposure to sun and wind that is common in the southwest US
  • “Look at bushcraft as a lifetime pursuit and remember that you, as a modern human, are trying to learn what took our forebearers decades to master.”2014-11-15 13.03.18
  • Tony gives his recommendations for weapons depending on need and situation. He keeps it simple.
  • In his listing of “Food for the Trail” he tries to keep it  basic with , rice, lentils, oats, flour, brown sugar, home made jerky, bouillon cubes, vinaigrette dressing, tabasco sauce and coffee. Tony shares reasons why he uses the above and some interesting other uses for some of the items.
  • Tony constantly recommends practicing all the time around home to keep sharp in your skills and lists a number of good ways to do it.
  • The book wraps up with a good Q & A section with many insights and helpful tips.

I have the electronic version, via Kindle, and that is great as he has lots of links to things he recommends so you can easily investigate further. You won’t regret the $2.99 you spend on Amazon for the book, check it out.

Until next time, this is Perry Peacock, “Simplifying Survival”

Terrifying thoughts can come to mind when you think about the question, “What if you are injured?” When we get up each day, we never imagine anything bad happening to us, that sudden shock that hits when we realize things are going all haywire, pain, disorientation, nausea. Nobody wants to have a bad day due to an injury, especially when it could possibly have been prevented. There are so many unknowns in the wilderness, things sometimes come out of nowhere. Not that nature is out to get you, as Mors Kochanski is fond of saying, “The bush is neither for you nor against you.”1-MVI_3902

So the reason for the blog is my slight injury the other day out shooting some video and messing around in the snow. The idea that day was to drive up the canyon, park, throw on the day pack and follow along the creek a ways looking for a good spot to set up the Nano Stove for some hot chocolate while working on video. I wanted to burn sticks in the stove that day instead of alcohol, I was feeling the need for fire in the stove. Somehow hot chocolate tastes better heated over wood fire, the flames licking up the side of the cup, the smell of the wisps of smoke livening the senses.2-MVI_3888

Well I headed up the creek edge, avoiding falling in the icy water. I found a spot on a north facing slope about 100 feet from the creek. There was a giant boulder with a little ledge on it that was perfect for setting up the little Nano Stove once I brushed off the two feet of snow on it. I got the fire going in the stove and headed back down to the creek to get water through the knee deep snow. when I was almost there my right leg fell through a deep spot in the snow and my foot hit a log causing my leg to twist at the knee, I felt a very sharp pain. Fortunately it wasn’t incapacitating, but it was quite painful. I was able to still get my water, make a couple delicious cups of hot chocolate, and shoot a dozen scenes of video.

Getting back out to the truck was a little more taxing with my knee hurting and having to pick my way back and forth over rocks in the creek, I wasn’t as nimble as when I came up. I got back to the truck and headed back to the shop in town. I limped around that day. That night I could not sleep for the throbbing pain. I took some pain killers and went to sleep eventually.

In all of course this story was not tragic, but it does illustrate how easily we can be injured when out. At the time I thought, “what if this happened to me way back in somewhere and were slightly worse so I could not walk?” You know that’s how it happens to folks, totally unexpected, out of the blue, all of the sudden the game has changed. We can’t always go uninjured, some things are practically unavoidable, we should never add to the risk by being foolish. I could have worn my snowshoes, I had them with me in the truck but didn’t want to bother with them.2014-11-15 13.03.18

I recall a trip of some scouts years ago in a very remote area, the boys did what boys do, crazy stuff, one boy jumping off boulders broke a leg, it was a real hassle getting him out, and very painful and unnerving for him, a shortened trip for everyone else.

Common sense should come into play, particularly when a person is located more remotely and help is hard to come by. Hope you enjoyed my story, take care, be safe. Until next time this is Perry Peacock, for “Simplifying Survival”

Pocket Dump – What I carry always
Pocket dumps are popular to do as many folks like to show what they have on them. Mine I’ll admit is not as pretty as most of those I’ve seen. The stuff in my pocket is not shiny and new, it has been there seven days a week for a year or more, even to church. I do have an EDC I’ve been using for a few years that I put together like many using a small Maxpedition pouch. I’ve found I don’t like to carry it with me all the time, although it is generally within reach. I will admit what I carry does change at times, and it should, a person should keep most handy those things used most often and some helpful items, just in case, and over time needs will change or a better alternative will be found.
So let me do a quick review of what’s in my pocket dump, but first you have probably already noticed a couple items that are not actually in my pockets, ok so I broke the rules of pocket dumping, sorry, I like to do things my own way, I’m not much of a conformist. To have some sort of organization to this, I’ll start at the left, since I’m left handed, haha, then I will go around sort of clockwise.1-IMG_3831
Left Pocket Items
• Victorinox little knife, isn’t that sweet, I don’t even know the model, it is 2.25” long. I’ve had some Swiss Army knife in my pocket for 40 years or more. These little mini’s are great, I use this one every day many times. It has a blade, flat screwdriver, file, and scissors. I abuse the scissors, I cut stuff with them that is so hard to cut it hurts my fingers, never broke the scissors. Notice I have added a 1” split ring, I did that for our PSS Poncho, that ring makes it easy to attach paracord and drop it through the cord sleeves to make a hammock.
• Lip Balm – I use different brands at times, the one shown here is by Melaluca, had it about 9 months. Lip balms are good not just for chapped lips, but fingers, ears or whatever. Also a fire starter, tear a piece of cotton shirt and rub in a little, light it and it will burn a few minutes.
• Whistle – this Fox 40 Micro is my favorite as it is small, flat, loud, can’t be overblown and takes very little effort to blow loudly. Most survival situations can be shortened by a good whistle. Nice for communication too.
• Bank Line Disk – that is my little invention, well it’s not much, but it is very handy, easy to carry, easy to dispense. It’s the best way to carry bank line I’ve ever had. It’s made of Kydex (0.015”), 3.75” diameter. The amount of bank line it will hold depends on the size. On this disk I carry #12 which has 105# test. This is the most practical size for everyday use. I use this many times each week.
By my left pocket
Mora Companion HD – I love having this on my side, it’s cheap and very good quality. I use this knife many times each day. The sheath it comes with allows easy retrieval and holstering so it’s natural to reach for it often, no hassle. I’ve beat the tar out of this thing over the years.
Neck
• This Boker Plus Vox Gnome was given to me by my good friend Ben several years ago, and I have carried it with me ever since. I made a neck cord out of glow stripe paracord. I also use this knife every day. I love this knife. The only thing about it is when I got it I abused it a little too much and bent a little kink in part of the cutting edge, made me sad. I straightened it the best I could, works great now, just a little harder to sharpen.
Hmm, Patch pocket or rear right pocket
• Fresnel lens – no I don’t use it much for fire starting, although it does work pretty well for that. Seems like every so often I need to see something I can’t quite make out, so a little magnification is needed. It’s light, thin, cheap and multipurpose.
• DMT Dia-Sharp Fine – I really love this little jewel, well it is diamond, haha. Ragnar fixed me up with this one, he gave me a piece ultrafine grit paper that I glued on the back side, making it a 2-in-1 sharpener. This takes care of me 90% of the time. I try to clean up my edges before they get bad and I can do that with this.
• EZ Clips – I usually carry two or three of these with me, they are so freakin’ handy. I use them on our tarps or ponchos, on plastic, or on webbing, anywhere I want a quick secure tie out point. I also use them to clamp two tarps together or to make a door, etc.
**OK, so this post is getting longer than I expected, I’ll continue but not elaborate too much. I am going to make a podcast/audiocast with more info and commentary.
Right Belt Loop
• Fenix P1D – Yes I also love, love this little flashlight, if I didn’t I wouldn’t carry everywhere with me. I know it’s not the newest thing in town, I’m sure I’ve had it about 8 years. I don’t just buy stuff, if I like something I’ll use it till it’s dead! I’ve never had a problem with this light. It’s only about 2.75” long and it’s light, so often I hold it in my mouth like a poor man’s head lamp. I use this light probably every day. I like it more since I got a better battery setup (details in podcast).
Right Pocket
• Olive Oil – This small bottle is used in our religion as an oil to anoint the sick, for healing and with prayers.
• Wenger Esquire or Executive 81 – This knife may seem redundant, but hey what’s redundant about an extra knife? This one is just slightly larger than the one in my left pocket (2.5″), blade is a hair larger too, the file blade comes to a point and I often use it for small Philips screws. Scissors are also a bit larger with a heftier spring setup, another feature of the scissors is that the blades are slightly serrated which provides excellent grip on slippery surfaces. I don’t use this knife as much as the Victorinox, mostly because I’m left handed and grab that one first in my left pocket.
• Bic Mini Lighter – I use this little guy most every day. In our work and all the gear we make there can be a few stray threads, a quick flash of flame easily singes them back. We use lots of lighters at work, to us Bic is the best value. We have almost no problems with them. I favor my Doan Magnesium bar (in my EDC) for starting fires, but sometimes for convenience I use this lighter, again never had a problem no matter the conditions.
• Business Cards – I carry these little mini business cards by MOO cards (1” x 2.75”) in a small ziplock pouch to protect them, so they aren’t too gross when I hand them out. On the back I have a QR code so folks can take a picture with a smart phone app and go right to our website. I always have these with me, since I’m always working.
Well I suppose that’s it, that’s my Pocket Dump, done my way. Be sure to check for the podcast for more details and comments on our YouTube channel, yeah, so it’s really an audio cast.
Until next time, this is Perry Peacock, “Simplifying Survival”

2014-12-26 12.21.50This old Chalk Line has been used by us at Wilderness Innovation for the last several years. It seems to be of better quality than our new ones. The lines are straight and clean, not fuzzy like new ones. Of course that’s not the real reason for this article. It is more about remembering the past than anything.

All our ponchos get some lines chalked on them in production as guides for sewing, you might have even noticed some slight remnant on gear you have purchased, though we try to remove them, they are just a light dusting and wipe away quickly.
As we were cleaning up yesterday to prepare for Christmas I picked up that old chalk line, it was like some magical instrument as memories of dad flooded my mind. He’s been gone for a few years now. I collected his old beat up toolbox after his passing and found in it this chalk line.
When I was quite young my grandpa Peacock moved back to Utah from Oregon, my dad and his brother Rolland built grandma and grandpas new house out of their old house in Emery, Utah. I still recall as a little kid my job was using a hammer to pull out the nails from the boards as the old house was dismantled.
Later when dad needed a shop, he learned to be a brick mason and built our shop, and many of the neighbors. That shop soon served as a shipyard of sorts as dad embarked on a project to build a cabin cruiser boat. It was a fine boat that was used for many years by our family in lakes all over the western US. We camped in that boat for weeks on Lake Powell.
In the same shop I helped dad build snowmobile trailers, which we traded a dealer for our own snowmobiles.
When I was just entering my teens dad decided to follow his father and enter the beekeeping business. We built and repaired boxes and frames for the beehives in that shop as well as extract honey in the fall.
Soon dad moved us to the country and there I helped him build a new much larger shop and honey house. I recall stacks of bee boxes that we repaired, re-nailed, sanded and painted. Dad was always buying old bee boxes from people then we would fix them up and make them look practically new. Dad built his own flat bed on a one ton truck chassis, he built large trailers to pull behind the truck.
Dad helped Uncle Rolland build several houses for his kids as they married and needed places of their own.
Our house was built on sloping ground with the road being higher than the back of the property, so dad and I were talking and I said to him wouldn’t it be cool to build a double decker garage so the cars could park in the upper level and there could be storage and a place to park the boat on the bottom, well he built it just like that.
All these things and many more I watched and helped dad do, in his spare time, as his full time employment was with the FAA as an Air Traffic Controller.
That old chalk line brought back a lot of memories to me, I’m sure there are many more in my head as well. I guess for the many things dad was to our family, the chalk line reminds me of dad the builder. Chances are that if have bought a poncho from us at Wilderness Innovation the guide line for the front seam for the hammock cord was snapped with dad’s old chalk line.
I sure miss my dad, but many odd things like this old chalk line bring back many happy memories. What is there in your life that brings back memories?
Until next time, this is Perry Peacock for Wilderness Innovation, Simplifying Survival.
1-2014-10-29 10.12.37

L to R; Woodland Tan Blackout, Multicam, Woodland, MARPAT

Making the Most of Camouflage

There are so many camo patterns in the world it can make your head spin. I know of one company alone in the USA that prints in excess of 40 patterns. There are generally two classes of patterns, military and hunting. The difference is supposed to be in what you are hiding from, humans or animals. Hunting patterns usually feature representations of various plants or plant parts, leaves, branches, bark, reeds, etc. Most military patterns are random shapes of varying sizes and colors. Some are digital or in other words pixilated. A variation is to blur the lines between shapes and colors. Other considerations in camo are light, heat and radar signatures, dealing with these is typically done with specialized coatings in the fabrics.

Note: Pictures used are for representative purposes, we feature three of our PSS Ponchos and one PST Tarp in MARPAT, a digital pattern.

How Camo Works

Essentially a person is a very different shape than the plants and landscapes found in nature and the linear layout of urban areas. The whole idea behind camouflage is to try to blend into whatever area the person is located. Probably billions of dollars have been spent in research to find the ultimate camo patterns.

I’m not here to tell you what the best all-round camo is, that is way beyond the scope of this short article, rather I want to talk some general terms and give some ideas that will help make most camos more effective, and to avoid traps that can turn even the very best camo into a worthless mess. Also I am not going to discuss why you may be desirous to be stealthy, it could be paintball, airsoft, hunting, military, evac and evade, etc., whatever the reason, the idea is to be successful.

At Wilderness Innovation we are not seeking to carry all the camo styles we can find, in fact we can’t use most of them. The vast majority of camo that is printed is for clothing, followed by packs and other gear items. A small percentage of fabric is printed for tarps and ponchos, so we are quite limited in what is available to us for the gear that we make. People ask all the time, can we make a tarp or poncho out of such and such camo, most of the time the answer is no since the majority of patterns are not printed on suitable fabrics for tarps.

1-MVI_3642

Perry wearing Woodland PSS Poncho

General Shelter Tips

  • It is far easier to do concealment in static situations, that is when you are not moving, in fact in these cases you would be surprised by how many supposed inferior camo’s can be quite effective. The trick is in how well you set up.
  • Staying concealed while moving can be very difficult since it involves not only the camo you are using but also how you move.

Tips Related to Our Gear

  • A tarp is more difficult to conceal than a person in a poncho primarily due to its size and shape
  • When setting a tarp try to hide as many of the straight lines as you can. This can be done many times by the location you choose.
    • If there is a good bit of brush and limbs these can obscure the outlines of the tarp.
    • If there are not enough around you can add some by incorporating them into the support frame of the tarp.
    • You can also tie small tree branches or boughs to parts of the tarp at tab locations.
  • A lean-to can be made with a stick frame, a tarp laid over that and finally a small amount of native vegetation laid over it. This is much quicker to do and more effective than a shelter of all native material.
  • If you are hiding out in your poncho, first of all get comfortable. Try to have a few things in front of you that block or obscure part of your profile.
    • Minimize your profile.
    • Make sure your face and skin do not stand out, cover, paint or coat with mud.
      2-2014-10-29 10.13.16

      L to R: MARPAT, Woodland, Multicam, Woodland Tan Blackout; morning sun backlight

Back-lighting is one of the biggest deal killers no matter how good your camo pattern is

Most people don’t experience this problem since they are primarily just using camo clothing which is tough to backlight. Often a shelter can be set up and it is awesome, well hidden, but as the day wears on the position and angle of the sun or even a bright moon suddenly throws light behind your shelter, the shelter is now lit up like a neon sign.  Some tips on how to avoid this problem are listed below.

  • Location is sometimes the easiest solution as it requires no additional measures. Try to pitch your shelter where strong lighting is blocked from the rear.
  • Choose a camo that has an opaque coating on the fabric underside. These fabrics look the same on the face or outside but the underside instead of a clear coat for water protection, is colored so that light does not penetrate.
  • Usually opaque coatings are called “blackout” coatings. They are not always black, we have carried some fabrics that have Coyote Brown, Tan, or OD Green blackout coatings.
  • Currently we have Woodland with a Tan blackout coating (TBO), and at times a limited amount of ACU universal digital with a black blackout coating.
  • At times your chosen camo pattern may not be opaque, but semi-opaque. The MARPAT we carry on a limited basis is like that. It works very well because although its Coyote undercoat lets some light through most of it is blocked.
  • Darker solid colors can also do well in avoiding backlighting, like our Coyote, it is not that bright generally when lit from the back. Our Black SilNylon does not light up, but becomes slightly grey under strong lighting, so it does quite well.
  • A caveat with the blackout coated fabrics is that they are a little heavier than the clear coated or silicone coated, they are still light weight however.
  • Fabrics with blackout tend to have a more mellow coloration, note the top photo and look at the two Woodlands, this does not make the standard Woodland no good, see middle photo, but it just something to consider based on your desired use.

One additional consideration is the color of the blackout coating. We originally used ACU universal digital with Black black-out. One of the difficulties inside a shelter made using this fabric is that it is very dark and is hard to light since the coating absorbs the light and does not reflect it. Shelters with Coyote or Tan black-out still block light passing through but reflect inside so the shelter is more hospitable.1-IMG_3166

Hopefully these tips can help you to minimize your visibility in whatever location you are in.

Until next time, this is Perry Peacock, “Simplifying Survival”

Deep Survival – Who lives, Who dies, and Why – A book review

“Survivors always turn a bad situation into an advantage or at least an opportunity”

Some years ago I immersed myself in a most interesting book by Laurence Gonzales, a man who spent upwards of 35 years studying survivors and trying answer the questions of why did some live and some die, the compilation of all that research was put into book form as “Deep Survival – Who lives, Who dies, and Why” published by W.W. Norton in 2005.Deep Survival Book Cover

Mr. Gonzales expertly skirts between deeply complex body and brain functions and using real life stories to illustrate various aspects in an interesting and inviting way. As I opened the pages of his book again, my mind was instantly taken back to when I read it last, recalling all the interesting things I learned.

When I have a printed book I always have a red pencil handy to mark things I want to remember and so in my review of the book I will pull some of these highlights to give a flavor of what you will find in it as you read it, which I highly recommend. There is a great deal of information relating to how the brain functions in a variety of situations, which is very helpful in understanding why we think the way we do.

The book is divided into two sections-

  1. How Accidents Happen
  2. Survival

The fifteen chapters contain lots of great stories which are analyzed to extract key elements of survival. This also keeps it interesting as a picture of the circumstance is drawn in the readers mind. The first section How Accidents Happen serves to dispel common wives tales, fears and traditions. It also shows us that some things can be prevented and some bad situations made better by understanding some of what makes things go wrong. Of course there are always things that happen that we simply cannot control and must therefore deal with them as they arise.

Here are some points in this section that I highlighted-

  • “Fear is like fire. It can cook for you. It can heat your house. Or it can burn you down.” –by Cus D’Amato, quoted in the book
  • Most decisions are not made using logic, and we all recognize that fact at least at an unconscious level. Further quoting LeDoux, “Unconscious operations of the brain is…the rule rather than the exception…”
  • Psychologists who study survival say that people who are rule followers don’t do as well as those who are of independent mind and spirit
  • Nature doesn’t adjust to our level of skill
  • Richard Read, who would be dead within the hour, had been lead to believe that Mt Hood was a beginner’s mountain…
  • The survivor does not impose pre-existing patterns on new information

Section Two – Survival

  • The story of Ken Killip winds its way through this section and illustrates how someone competent and experienced can easily get caught in a terrible situation, and make it worse.
  • Another of my favorite stories used in this section is Steve Callahan who spent 76 days at sea in a raft. I got his book and read it after reading about it in this book.
  • Tip on group treks: “People routinely fail to realize that they have to travel at the speed of the slowest member, not the fastest.”
  • Definition of being lost: “30 minutes of not knowing where you are.”
  • “Although he needed a fire, wanted its warmth and light, he knew that open fires weren’t permitted in this part of the park…(If he had made a fire, he might have been seen and rescued sooner)”
  • “Sometimes the one who survives is an inexperienced female hiker, while the experienced hunter gives up and dies in one night, even when it’s not that cold.”
  • Amazingly the highest survival rate category is children six and under, “the very people we are most concerned about.”
  • “You should operate at about 60% of your normal level of activity.”

And finally if you are part of a group in a survival situation some of the best advice discovered-

“Helping someone else is the best way to ensure your own survival. It takes you out of yourself. It helps you to rise above your fears. Now you’re a rescuer, not a victim.”

I could easily go on and on about this book, but you are just going to have to read it for yourself. If you are serious in learning about survival this book is a must read. No, it does not talk about starting a fire with a piston, or how to set a promontory peg to catch a meal, nor how to build a proper shelter, but without the information in this book, all those other skills and any gear you have may be of little value. As shown in the book many with all the skills, experience and gear have perished while those with nothing have survived the very same ordeal. Understanding how the brain and body function can prepare yourself to appropriately deal with difficulties as they arise, and understand why you feel and think the way you do. Who lives who dies is very different than you might imagine, the reasons why are profound.1-IMG_0029

Until next time, this is Perry Peacock, “Simplifying Survival”

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