Bug Repellants

Bug Repellants

Any of my friends will tell you that I loath black flies and mosquitoes. They turn the perfect part of the spring into an obnoxious swat-fest. I remember the first time I went canoeing with my wife and father-in-law. He was gung-ho to find the best route and followed the directions of “seasoned” canoeists on an internet database. I should have inspected the route, but I assumed they knew where to go and how long it would take. It was not my first time canoeing, but being the better man, I let my father-in-law run the show. He will never live it down. It was toward the end of day one, when we ended up in a small lake. Actually, a large island, ringed by a small “lake”. Ok, it was a swamp. An island in the middle of a swamp. The map indicated a single swamp symbol, and that was more than enough apparently. When we got there it was about 3pm and as the day turned to night, the hordes of insects descended. First it was the black flies… because why not canoe during black fly season. And as soon as it dipped in temperature, the black flies would disappear and then for five minutes, everything was great. And then the mosquitoes. And they never left us alone until well after 8pm. Flying, Biting Insects Mosquitoes, black flies, deer flies and company, are the bane of every woodsman. I am not talking about the single mosquito that lands on your arm, I am talking about the cloud of mosquitoes that have nothing better to do than drain you...
Memory Mastery – Journaling

Memory Mastery – Journaling

In this article, I promise I will jumpstart your memory, allow you to recall details faster, and with more precision and to become your own survival mentor. And I won’t make you sign up for anything, pay for anything, or take elaborate steps to deceive you in any way. Step 1: Make A Journal A bit of a let down isn’t it? Did you think I would tell you about some new smart pill, or a 12 step mnemonic pattern? Nope, just start writing stuff down. Here is the caveat. You have to do it all the time, it must be hand written / drawn, and it needs to be only for you. Who Journals? I have been “journaling” for my entire life. Not a diary or one of those artsy watercolour scrap books you find on Google. I just wrote or drew anything that I found interesting in note books. It started with Mead spiral bound books of varying sizes and colours, then I tried 3-ring binders, mini notebooks and finally settled on The Large Ruled Notebook by Moleskin – they never change and I can always buy another of the exact same type. Also, hardback Moleskins are quite robust and can take a moderate amount of beatings which is going to happen when you carry around a journal all the time. At first I didn’t know that I was writing to my brain, I was just putting things down that  were cool. Cool words that I wanted to remember like lucid, or images that I wanted to come back to, but slowly the stuff that I was interested in stuck....
Cold Weather Work Gloves

Cold Weather Work Gloves

Out with the old, in with the new. What if instead: out with the new, in with the old? For the last couple of months, I have been testing a pair of Terra Nitrile Dipped Nylon Cold Weather work gloves. I have worn them around the house, out about the city (black gloves can basically go anywhere and no one notices), and as driving gloves (at the moment replacing my Hatch Street Guard gloves which are looking a little worse for wear). The Terra work gloves are a part of the new trend of using nitrile-dipped technology to “waterproof” your hands against the nasty wet stuff you deal with on a regular basis. And they do keep water and most muck out, provided that it doesn’t go much farther than your knuckles. Their rough grippy outer shell is great for dealing with recycling and garbage, and as with this pair of cold weather gloves, they are snow proof. But they are far from perfect. Basically, due to the waterproofing latex-esque layer of paint that keeps stuff out, they also keep moisture in. Even while driving, once the heater in the car kicks in at -30, they start to get… moist. Any real activity that involves any physical labour, the gloves actually get colder. This is because as you start to sweat (which is your body’s way of maintaining a consistent internal temperature of 37°C / 98.5°F when faced with a rising internal temperature), the water collects right against your skin and it conducts heat 25 times faster than when your hands are dry (see Survival Course, Shelter). So unless you...
Knotwork Containers

Knotwork Containers

For years, I have struggled with the problem of carrying objects using rope. Every time I take an object – say a cooler without handles – and strap it down , the weave starts to come loose from jostling as soon as I’m on the trail and the “package” begins its escape. This happens regardless of the shape – Jerry cans, 20 lb. propane cylinders, an oversized sleeping bag that doesn’t fit in my pack – they all free themselves eventually. But no more. While thumbing through an old craft book from 1975, I came across an article called Macramé Made Easy, alongside articles on pottery, stain glass work and chamois clothing. You probably remember Macramé from those old owls that people hung in their basements dangerously close to the wood stove. Or that collection of hanging plant baskets with the really fibrous brown jute. Macramé is a form of textile crafting using knotwork rather than weaving or knitting. And it is really simple. You just learned macramé. It was that easy. Oh, there are lots of techniques using different types of knots, but in essence, it’s just a series of knots. With this technique alone, you could easily fashion gill nets (by tying a series of reverse larkshead knots to a length of line), fish traps (using sapling hoops instead of a solid container),  and even a whole woven haversack- using 550 paracord and #36 bankline. In essence, you could make a whole fish net with this technique alone. Applications In the outdoors, macramé is perfect for creating woven containers for carrying large jugs of water, a 5-gallon bucket or any bulky awkward objects – add handles for a two-person carry. Attach your...
Every Day Carry

Every Day Carry

EDC Check. For those who are veterans of survival and preparedness, if you think you are prepared and this article is old hat consider this: Where is your EDC bag / stuff? Is it on you right now? What is in it right this second? What does it cover? Have you ever used any of the stuff in it? I mean really used it? Does it have all the components needed to cover off your basic needs? Time to walk the walk. Buckle down, test your stuff. Make a real fire, check the expiration dates, etc.    Every time my mother-in-law picks up my backpack, she constantly exclaims “what’s in this” and “why is this bag so heavy”. While I wouldn’t say the bag is heavy, it does have some heft to it. I have gotten used to the weight of being prepared and I feel almost naked without my backpack – like when I have to go through airport security. What makes up the majority of the bulk of my daily backpack is my EDC or Every Day Carry kit. If I took all the contents out and laid them on the table, the few items that I really need on a daily basis are my wallet, keys and maybe a pack of gum. But I don’t want to carry what I just need, I want to carry what I may use. Whether it is an emergency or just daily life, my EDC helps me cover almost everything that comes my way. Every Day Carry What is Every Day Carry? EDC is the price of admission into preparedness. It is the most...
Baby Bug Out Bags

Baby Bug Out Bags

I am a stay-at-home father. Is that considered a respectable career choice yet. What came with this career choice has been a bit of a surprise. I don’t really have the free time I was expecting, even though for all intents and purpose I am home a lot. When she is awake, we are off to the park, grocery shopping, reading together or visiting a drop-in centre. And every time she goes to bed, it is either a whirlwind of cleaning after her or I am too wiped to do anything constructive. And it is hard to venture outside when she is sleeping since I have to listen out for her – assuming she graces me with a nap. When I am out and about, I have to juggle getting things accomplished with entertaining her, making sure she doesn’t get into trouble and “accidents”. For all these life events, I rely on the diaper bag. Which sounds like it is only filled with diapers and wipes. A diaper bag is so much more. It is a baby bug out bag (Baby BOB), a child survival kit and it is designed around the child in question. No two are alike. When my daughter spends time with my in-laws, the bag goes with her. When we go to the park, it hangs off the handles of the stroller. And only when we are a minute from it, will I leave the bag in the car. Function The diaper bag fulfils all the priorities of a survival kit – only for someone who can’t handle knives, play with fire and is not...