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Monday, September 14, 2015

Be A Shelter Guru

The word shelter conjures up different things for different folks. What we are addressing here is a quality shelter in the great American outback, where ever that is for you, be it a park or between nuthin’ and nowhere. Everyone seems to start off with the statement your clothes are your first shelter. Okay ,however, you should be dressed for where you are and be ready for heat, cold, rain, snow, wind and ice.
Many times we cannot predict what the weather will bring and you may not be dressed for a sudden turn. But, you can build your own shelter extending beyond your clothes to save your butt.
You want warm air in your shelter, if it is cold. You should know that just breathing helps to warm you up. Wind, has to be blocked to stop convective loss.
A shelter will keep you warm in about 4 ways, so it is imperative you learn to be a shelter guru. It is not hard. The time you have to build a shelter is very important. Use the finger method to see how much daylight you have left. Give yourself plenty of time to construct whatever this shelter is going to be, and that you have enough time to gather the materials you will use. It might take twice as long as you think to make a secure shelter, start early . Add to that equation, how long will you be there? What is in the area that you can use to construct shelter. How far do have to muscle the material to the location you have chosen… sometimes it is prudent to move your location.
Once you know what you will build it becomes function over form. Most of the time you wont be there no longer than a few days
Even if you have a tent, a big help would be to make a wind break. In the case of a tarp, depending on the size, it is good to build up some sides as well, even with with found material. This will help keep you warmer and dry. Make a fire reflector to help also. Now comes the comfy part. Most cannot take a cot into the field, unless you are car camping or have used pack horses or some such. You do not want to be in direct contact with the ground. Make an insulative bed from duff and browse. If you use a hammock, you can improvise a rig a to hang through the shelter. If you have not used a hammock before, they can be a bit tricky, but that subject is a whole ‘nother article.
I learned this from my dad many years ago. Get 3 grain or feed sacks, they are cheap and sometimes they will give ‘em to you. Slit open both ends, seems pull right out though. That leaves you with 3 hollow “tubes”. Cut some long poles and slip the poles into all 3 sacks. Stuff the improvised tick (mattress) with browse and duff. Now you can build your shelter over your bed and you are off the ground I always carry a stuff sack mattress that is open about half way down and the rest is sown shut for this purpose… I showed the tick in a class at a Dirttime event. Provides for a comfy rest.
Rock over hangs you read about a lot books they can be a fine place but check out first if any rock has fallen recently. You don’t want wake up under two tons.
Blow downs, trees that have fallen, can make for a quickie shelter as you already have one side built. Make sure it wont roll.
A brush lean-to is fairly easy shelter to construct. Place all boughs with the stems pointing up. Start from the ground up, overlapping layers as you build up, that way rain will follow all the way down and not drip into,your shelter. pile on the bush as thick as you can, 2 feet may not be enough, and make sure there is no visible holes. For maximum effectiveness, build side walls and a longfire in front of the shelter. If you have a small tarp it can be used to go over the top of the whole abode.. Pile leaves, pine needles, etc  on the ground if you nothing else , make them as deep as you can. best to do this before the shelter is built for easy access, they will keep you warm. I have done this in freezing weather and been acceptably comfy all night. For heat try putting some rocks in your fire and after a few hours bring them in the shelter , they will give off heat for a very long time. Lean some heavy poles against the whole outfit to help keep the brush in place from any wind.
For a debris shelter, which is what a lean to is in reality, gather 4 poles, about 4 to 5 feet long, lean them together like a tepee, conical… Most of the time, just by wedging them, they will stay in place. If not, tie them with cordage or use zip ties at the top. Keep adding more poles,big end down. From the bottom up, add any kind of materials you can, grasses, needles, whatever you can gather. You are making a very primitive form of shingles, so any rain will follow the route down. Again, these have to be very thick,two feet may not be enough. The debris shelter is great for two or more people. Smaller is better, to help build up internal heat. Heated rocks work well here also. Once you have all he brush in place, lean some heavy poles against the whole thing to keep the brush in place from any wind.
I suggest you practice building some of these shelters and sleep systems . The place to learn is not when you need them for real.
This not the end all of shelter building. There is a whole bunch more but this will give you a head start.
I have not covered desert shelters that is another article, as are shelters for deep snow country, These are the basics for all of them, depending on what materials are on hand, and what you have with you.

By Dude McLean

Please feel free to post comments on my articles, I enjoy hearing from and responding to my readers. When you're finished posting your comment please click PUBLISH to share your comment with me and my readers.


Rawhide,  is a product many read about but have no way to get it if they are not a hunter or know someone who is. Here is an easy trick to get your mitts on some rawhide for cheap. It can be used for many projects from securing wood to hold in place to patching a broken wood handle on a broom or a hammer etc. So how do you get hold of this magic piece of product. Any pet store and many markets carry those rawhide bones for your dog to chew on, but the little trick is dont give it to your dog, place the whole bone in a bucket of water , let it sit for about 48 hours and it will begin to unravel , creating with the large size bone about a 12inch by 12inch sheet of rawhide, the longer it sits in the water it will become more pliable , that is when you need to cut it to size for whatever your project may be. Use as fast as you can as it will begin to dry out very fast Be sure the whole bone is covered in water and you might have to weight it down as it will float 

 A broken handle needs about a 4 inch wide piece and as long as the piece of rawhide  is , while it is wet wrap the handle withe rawhide as tight as you can , even using pliers to pull it tighter, now tie a cord around the rawhide at the edges and the middle , set aside and let it dry out. the rawhide will shrink tight as a drum securing the handle in place. In the old days rawhide was used on broken gun stock for a repair.  
 You may want to cut several pieces of "whang " like a cord to wrap and leave in place. If the rawhide drys out you can soak it again and it will become pliable in a short time so you shape to what you need. I have used whangs on knife handles for a better non slip grip. Made sheaths for knives and rawhide containers like many Indians did . Rawhide is a remarkable tool to hold anything in place, you can varnish it so that it is water proof or wax it...Rawhide is easy to shape . The orgininal Mormon temple in Salt Lake City, Utah,  used rawhide to hold the huge beams in place , they have never been replaced , I toured the temple just to see  the beams and the rawhide . 

 While working with rawhide it gets slippery so it takes a little bit to get the hang of it. I also have used it to wrap on the place where my hand grips a hiking staff , provides a nice grip. You can keep adding a few layers if needed. but once it drys it like iron , you will not be able to unwrap it and is a bear to get off. so be sure it is what you want. I learned this the hard way .. it looks good added to any gear for a rustic look Making a container will need a form that can withstand the pressure of he rawhide shrinking. I underestimated this once and it crushed the frame .leaving me with nothing I could use, just resoak the rawhide . A container looks cool when you paint a design on the. You can make a container without a form but takes a bit of practice , rweada bunch of practice , the good hing is you can reuse the rawhide over again .

Rawhide makes for a cheap product for many applications , fun projects that are custom made by you. Rawhide once held on a bumper for me for over a year , funky looking but it held up. The guy that bought the truck said he would just leave it on. 

 Try some rawhide project it's a low tech tool that works well , would be glad to hear if anyone tries it. 

 By  Dude McLean 

The Ditty Bag

Today, the ditty bag has incarnated into tacticool pouches with zippers and elastic webbing to keep your items snug and secure. Modern materials and patches, plastered all over the pouch, have given rise to a popular breed of gear organizers. But, if you go back and read the masters, like Nessmuk, Kephart, Mason and many others, you always find a chapter with the ditty bag and the use of said bag. What does it do? It separates your gear into easy to find sections or bags, most commonly, colors or markings on each bag to give you a clue as to what it contains.
Ditty bag keep small items from working their way to the bottom of the pack where they become a chore to find.
With experience, the camper will begin to think in terms of convenience and will separate all their gear into logical order in ditty bags
The bags are a much better option than tins and other containers, as they will not rattle and bang about. Ditty bags will pretty much stay where you put them.
You can buy them at most all sporting goods stores and can be found on line, as well.
The old time way, if you didn’t have a bag, was take a handkerchief, or an appropriate size cloth, and place your items in the center, bring all the corners together and tie it off, easy and simple. Different color ribbons can be used to mark each bag individually. In some ways, the simple use of a kerchief is very convenient. By simply untying and spreading out the corners, one can spread the small items about yet keep them together within the confines of the kerchief, and some people prefer this over small zippered pouches.
The ditty bag will prove to be a valuable addition to your kit. This is part of “smoothing it”, as Nessmuk is quoted as saying, and it does help to make the campers life much easier, no frustration looking for an item and leads to far less swearing.
Some carry a small frying pan and the ditty bag keeps the soot off of your other gear. By placing your stove, if you carry one, in a ditty bag helps as well.
I have some ditty bags made from canvas. I water proof them with a handy water proof spray before each outing. I also have some ditty bags that are made of some kind of a rubber stuff. Water proof spray can be found at most places that sell back packing gear, and the paint department of the big box stores carry it as well.
The ditty bag an essential piece of gear. Try it I’m sure you like it.
Here’s an article on what some boaters carry in their ditty bag…

By Dude McLean

Please feel free to post comments on my articles, I enjoy hearing from and responding to my readers. When you're finished posting your comment please click PUBLISH to share your comment with me and my readers. 

Has The SHTF? You Betcha!

Are you one of the thousands who have lost money in your 401 K? Where did that money go? Not in your pocket .
The S*** hit the fan for you, along with your rights being lost or removed at a continuing pace… Does  the word inflation mean more today than last year?
Does the fact that drought his hit us world wide and major crops have failed all over the world, mean anything to you?  TSHTF for all of us its just delayed for a minute—Translation is higher prices for food.,  match that with the inflation factor and it gets more than scary.
Watch for adjustable rates from the fed, treasury and the crank up of so called hoarding laws. Watch for  Bernanke (Sp)to bail out of the fed with his golden parachute. In the beginning of 2014, he is leaving for a reason,  he cannot do anymore damage.
The push for a global money system is looming, as the U.S. dollar slips on its downhill slide. Our government seems unable or unwilling to stop.
As a “baby boomer”, have you lost your retirement? Many have and many cannot implement their plans because of raising costs.
Government fails us everyday—That’s their job—because no one oversees what the other hand is doing and not doing… Get your money out of government control.

Oh we don’t have food or soup lines or bread lines like we did in the 30’s depression, the lines would cross up and down America.What we have is 46 million people on food stamps, that’s one hell of a line… The SHTF for them.
I feel, what with the drought and inflation and the workings of the system failing, it is way more than prudent to stock some food away and it doesn’t have to be those pricey ready done packages either, not that those are not a way to go.
Most canned goods have at least a 5 year shelf life, with the exception of the more acid foods like tomatoes. My research shows that this list of goods—to follow—are some of the fastest things that vanish when people mob a market and they are key to your supplies. Yes you can start right now with a food savings plan. It is not magic and it is easy to do. Buy a few extra items every week and in no time you will amass a fall back of food you like. Here is what I have found people need and crave and just plain want: Honey, syrups, vege oil , olive oil etc… oh, somethings are not food. Charcoal lighter, vitamins, propane cylinders, clothes pins and line, tuna fish, sardines, rat poison roach killer, baby wipes corn meal, lard, any of the canned foods. Mix it up, but only buy what you like. Powdered milk is way better with a shot of vanilla extract mixed in. Yeast, bleach, teas, coffee and other powdered drinks, fruit juices, nuts, seasonings, jellos and puddings, booze, candy bars, peanut butter and jams, any of the cooking oils, special feminine  needs, bulk wheat, salt, baking soda, flour, white rice (brown rice spoils very fast), distilled white vinegar, soy sauce, canned meats, kerosene lamps and other common sense items. This list is not even close to being complete,  these items could help you from going to a Fema camp… or worse. No list can cover what your own needs are but at least it offers some guide lines .
If nothing ever happens, you will, in the long run, have saved money by buying ahead of the inflation. Always mark the date on every item and rotate your stock… eat what you buy. Every time you use an item. replace it on your next trip to the store. Some of the best buys are at Costco, because they only work on a 11 percent margin. Always look for the hidden specials. If shtf, even in a big bang all at once instead of this slow meltdown and it tumbles in a shambles, at least you are going to eat. Store at least on gallon of water per day, per person and that is being conservative.
The other items you already know to store, your wits…
Hope this helps a little for those of you who have done nothing and perhaps sparked a few ideas for those who think they are ready.

By Dude McLean On  October 5th, 2013 

LowTech Skills & Old School

In the survival world what we see mostly are the skills pertaining to the wilds , the skill to make fire , to make and set traps , tracking, hunting in one form or another plant ID  and so forth , all worthy goals  .. In truth most will never need those skills in their lifetime , survival is a broad term but used in a narrow perspective in the survival experts world... Just being a good driver is skill and one that most think they have .. Where is that test ? many others come to mind , what about the simple act of shopping at a grocery store and making decent buys that save one money while being aware of a rip off product. The best value for your bucks. Same for any product . Not as thrilling as the ways to make fire but a skill none the less. I believe the primitive skills are important to own but they are not the end all of skills as some would lead you to think. 

 Enter the Lowtech skills that might mean more than all the others  in a down turn of a real shtf deal. . a solar oven and how to make one if need be ,some foil and  a few cardboard boxes is about all you need and some glue, solar for power and lighting ,  how about a  simple light that can be made from fat or grease . . How to defend your home without a hero but in a common sense manner. how to keep food fresh without a freezer or a fridge , it is called a Zeer pot and it works well under the right circumstances , I have used them and they work well keeping some things, up to a few weeks , edible . You need to plan ahead , and make them now,  get them ready , the learning curve is easy and short but is not great if you wait until the minute you need them , not good as on the job training. Google,  Zeer pot and the instructions are easy , will cost you a few bucks , as in cheap. In my article  "In a  Grid Down World" , on this blog  , I give a brief sketch on how to make the Zeer pot . They work best in a dry climate like the deserts , a humid climate  works against them.. 

 Lowtech cooking . cooking in a pit using foil , you can cook most items using foil. Many folks have said they will use their BBQ , but how many have months of charcoal stored. not anyone for the most part . Using a dutch oven is a good way to go , using the embers from a fire or bury the pot and make the fire coals around it , experiment at home while you can, make it a family fun experimental day.  , you can cook anything in a dutch oven. Fire, how many will have enough firewood , in parts of the country it is not uncommon to have a lot of wood stored but other parts of the country not so much.. almost in any urban setting you have trees and shrubs that can be used if the conditions call for it.. most have furniture that may have to be broken up and used as fuel , not an uncommon deal in history , Sorry mom its that heirloom or we dont eat today. Shelving makes for a good fire. put  the stuff on the floor. Furniture and shelving can be replaced. It is your life and the family we are taking care of. Cooked food lasts longer than uncooked food. You might have to cut some meat into strips to dry it or smoke it, learning how is easy and you might even be able to learn in your own backyard before  you really need to use the skill. Cold cooked food is better than nothing in your tummy and will last several days before spoiling. 

 Water , a must have , So much has been written about water that one should know by now to have several 100 gallons stored . Most are aware that your water heater has anywhere from 50 to 100 gallons of good water for your use in an extreme situation. , even the toilet tank has about 5 gallons , use all water as sparingly as you can as the resources might dry up faster than you might think , boil the water just to be safe. save every drop you can. Any prudent family will have stored some foods for an emergency , now you have no power and need to cook old school  skills come into play here ., combined with the primitive skills.  Cooking oveover r coals  or in a dutch oven are skills that you should own 

 Tools , like most guysI have some power tools , that in a SHTF will be useless , so over the years I have collected some old school tools , no power needed except a muscle or two and some sweat and spit. , a drill that is hand powered , a saw or two , a hammer and some nails , throw in some screws as well ,one never knows what you might need to clobber together or a fix for the now. No need to spend a small fortune on the hand tools that fall into the collector value , you just need hand tools that are functional . Another tool is light , I like the kerosene lanterns by Deitz, they are cheap and work well.Check ahead of time to make sure they do not leak.  Keosene will store for a very long time , I have some that was put away over 5 years ago and it worked just fine. a safety protocol has to be in place with these lanterns , they can cause a fire if not used right. , kids ,hands off. *I am not a fan of battery lanterns , I really do not care for battery's anyway but you might,  so go with what you  feel is right. 

 Explore the low tech and pioneer skills and how you can bring them into your overall skill sets..I believe it just could pay off for you . 

 this by no means covers everything but will be adding other articles as we move along. 

 by Dude McLean 

Please feel free to post comments on my articles, I enjoy hearing from and responding to my readers. When you're finished posting your comment please click PUBLISH to share your comment with me and my readers.