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Monday, 13 May 2013

FAK - First Aid Kits.

So are you prepared for injury, accident and incident?

You could have a quick and basic test here (courtesy of St Johns Ambulance):

What medical emergencies am I really worried about and how am I going to manage these until further support arrives?
  1. Family members have serious allergies to nuts and other items.
  2. Some family members are insulin dependant diabetics
  3. Young family members may be prone to falls, causing cuts, grazes and other wounds
  4. Therefore - concussion, choking hazards, sprains or breaks may occurr.
  5. Hypothermia due to being exposed to the elements
  6. Dehydration - as above, or when on long hikes etc.
  7. Infection caused by exposure to bacteria or viruses.

What do I have to help manage these issues?

In my everyday rucksack, I have a basic first aid kit:
This includes:
  1. pic 1; Adrenaline Pen.
    Prescribed Peadiatric Adrenaline (pic 1) for the treatment of anaphylaxis caused by severe allergic reaction.
  3. I carry various glucose forms for hypogyclemic incidents (and avoidance), I also ensure others are reminded to carry adequate amounts of medication such as S/C Insulin sets.
    3.  The various items in my first aid kit include: (pic 2)
  • gloves, alcohol swabs and hand gel.
  • various waterproof plasters
  • blister care padding.
  • various sized dressings.
  • triangular bandage.
  • regular bandage.
  • surgical tape.
  • foil blanket.
  • butterfly sutures.
  • small and basic torniquet - NOT for emergency prolonged use.
pic 2; various sized dressings, plasters and basic first aid items
 4.  Basic first aid instruction free from St Johns Ambulance shows how to support someone with concussion, choking, with sprains or breaks.  I strongly recommend attending a first aid course and if this can be arranged through your work then do so.
I think this video by the British Heart Foundation is great, it shows the basics for CPR and hopefully anyone can do this until more advanced equipment and skilled technicians arrive or you arrive at A&E department.

 5.  Hypothermia is best avoided (in my opinion) by appropriate planning and proper preperation.  Its important to ensure that your core temperature remains stable and around 37'c to maintain homeostasis.  I include with my FAK; foil blankets, extra fluids, electrolyte powders, emergency 2 person shelter and clothing appropriate for the environment I am heading to. i.e. waterproofs, extra fleeces, hat and gloves, also that the equipment or clothing reflects the environment and tasks being done.  Likewise, avoiding heat exhaustion (hyperthermia) by utilising shade, and remaining hydrated in a similar way.

 6.  For maintaining hydration I make sure I have plenty of fluids with me, and ways to gather, contain and boil water where required.  I have a few sachets of electolytes for serious dehydration situations or for replacing salts after a long hard days hike.

    7.  I have gloves, alcohol swabs and hand cleansing gel.  Gloves are placed so they can be reached first prior to placing any hand on to an injury, this protects you and the injured person from possible contamination and infection.

I dont particpate in shooting or hunting so I have not included items for gun shot wounds, however I am contemplating including some 'quick clot' to help with heavy lacerations and blood loss. 

As indicated above, my kit is intended to support with a basic first aid need whilst waiting for emergency response team, so a fully charged mobile or other ways of hailing help (whistle, signal mirror, flares etc) are an essential part of a first aid kit depending on your situation.
Medications I often include in my kits are:

Paracetamol (+ childrens doses) - for pain relief and to help lower high temperature.
Ibuprofen (+ childrens doses) - for pain relief and to help reduce swelling.
Buscopan - for stomach cramps.
Ranitadine - for severe indigestion.
Calrityn (+ piriton childrens doses) - for allergic reactions.
Immodium - to help with diarrhoea.
Salbutamol Inhaler - for treatment of asthma (prescribed)
Dextrose Glucose Tablets - for energy and low sugar situations.

Other items may  include:

Hydrocortisone cream - for stings or small allergic rashes.
Antiseptic spray or Sudocrem - for an added wound cleaning ability.
Foot Powder - for hygiene and foot care after hiking, especially in damp conditions.

Sun block - with a high SPF.

Apart from where prescribed, these are readily available over the counter so I only need to carry small amounts generally.  I am also devising a table to print out, laminate and include but my printer has died on me.  I'd like to show the name, dose (adult and child), side effects, desired effects and warnings of each medicine included.  Make sure you note down what medicines you take and when.  (obviously have consent where needed if giving medicines to others....)
Its so important to know what you are doing with medicines, I often see on forums people misusing medications - this can be harmful and dangerous.  I feel information is best found here about medications.  I recommend looking up a medicine and checking its PIL (patient information leaflet) and making sure you are aware of its side effects and contraindications, as well as how to use it most effectively and with the least harm.
I have access to blood pressure monitors, blood glucose monitors, stethoscope and other assessment tools.  I have undertaken training and qualification to use these items effectively.  It is important to know what you are doing and what to do with the results shown.
I have a larger first aid kit in my car.....

this contains:

  • tweezers
  • magnifying glass (many uses, in here for use with tweezers)
  • scissors
  • steri strips and stitch cutter
  • medicine spoons
  • medicine oral syringe
  • micropore surgical tape
  • electrical tape ( you just never know when might need this)
  • vaseline - for those lubricating moments.  And many other uses again...

And a larger selection and quantity of dressings, bandages, plasters etc:

In response to a posted question, I  have added this item:
Face Mask
I have one in my car and one at home.  Latest guidelines ( these are updated more frequently than my blog) suggest breaths can be avoided if you dont feel confident administering them.  Giving CPR alone is an exhausting thing to do.

So this is my first aid kit, the smaller is on me when outdoors, the larger isnt far away in the car.
So what do you think?  What have I missed?
Please leave comments for me to continue developing this kit...
Many thanks for reading...EJS

Sunday, 5 May 2013

A night of Wild Stealth Camping by Ninjas....

Just a quick short post.

Earlier this week, I went to an area near the Welsh border, met up with Secret Squirrel, and went for a nights kit test and stealth camping.

Meeting at 20:30hrs, at a petrol station,  we then went a few miles out of town not far from some cattle grazing fields, near the river Wye.

As darkness fell, we set up camp in a secluded corner of a quiet, uninhabited field, this brilliant picture above shows how little light was around.

We tested 2 different sleeping systems - a cheap '2 man' tent and a tarp and bivvi system.

This is a cheap small tent from Tesco, it claims to be a 2 man tent, well I'm 6'3" so it was just about big enough for me to sleep at an angle.

This photo shows the tent after being set up for its maiden voyage in the dark just using a torch.  Its a little wonky but it did the job.

Inside you can see the British Army winter sleeping bag and a roll mat (also from tesco)

Its a little bright and stands out if stealth camping, but I liked it and dint get any unwanted attention as we set up 100m from the nearest path.

This was taken in the morning to show how both sleeping areas were set up.

The tarp was placed over a sleep mat with a bivvi bag and sleeping bag combination.

Dinner consisted of Military Ration Packs, my first ever experience of these wonderful goody bags, laden with calories and treats.  a little out of date is not an issue with these, in fact 2010 wasnt an issue either....

My pack contained beef and vegetable stew for dinner and followed this with a delightful brick of traecle pudding.  The biscuits were great and the remainder of items have been saved for my next outing.  I was very  impressed with these, and my kit worked very well heating them and making a brew.

As is always expected in the UK, it rained heavily all night long, and both set-ups kept us thoroughly dry and comfortable.  My sleeping bag and sleep mat kept me perfectly warm.  I think Secret Squirrel may have been a little chilly but perfectly dry.  I'll definitely be experiemnting with my tarp kit a little more.
The following morning was still damp, in fact it rained right up until 08:00hrs.  We were up at 06:30 for a brew and some army biscuits (again the fruit ones were very nice and filling)
A tree root stump makes for a good kitchen area in the morning - to add to the list though is a good shield for the stove.

Some time was allocated to a spot of target practise, this is something I havent done in a long while, and was really enjoyable...more to add to the shopping list I fear.  There were a few bunnies around, but we left them alone for now.  (ok they legged it and didnt show up again until we had gone)
The tents and sleep systems were all packed up early morning and stored well concealed by a tree.  We left no trace of our camping.
I thoroughly enjoyed this, and will be looking for more little niches and areas to test out my kit again and again.  I intend to learn the skills of using a hammock.  This looks great fun and extremely practical.
Outdoorenthusiast101 shows his kit for using a hammock in a spot of wild camping:

3) Containers

big ones...small ones...and rucksacks
Here Dave Canterbury explains the importance of containers in his survival and outdoor situations, on a smaller budget.
ALUMINIUM Dave...... But anyway, lets start with my main rucksack at present:
This is my daily use, fit-in-to society and the rat-race, multipurpose general backpack.
It has side netting for drinks etc, a bladder pouch and comfortably takes my 2ltr bladder camel pak.
The bag has the capacity to hold 25ltrs worth of equipment or items.
This bag is very comfortable and feels sturdy.
Its ideal for hiking due to its bright colour and water resistant shell (but i must get a raincover i think)
I work from home a lot and this bag takes everything I need for 3 - 4 days, I also use this for my swimming gear or just days out hiking etc.
It is a berghaus 247 pack, I have added reflective paracord zip pulls and only down point is that I cant undersling a tarp or sleeping kit below the bag.
I could use the walking stick holders for pals webbing attachments if so desired on this bag, and may well add some kit here in future.

I am in the process of upgrading this kit, and have a maxpedition kodiak gearslinger ordered which will become my primary day bag and have my EDC and camping survival kit in.
Here is my current selection of Maxpedition containers.
From bottom centre:
  1. Battery Pack, contains a plastic container that holds 4 AA and 6 AAA batteries.  This has a hard plastic container within.
  2. EDC Fatty organiser - a large pouch with various sections inside, it'll be kept in the car.
  3. Janus Extension Pouch - this is a great piece of kit, it has 2" clips which is intended to extend a maxpedtion gearslinger or versipack series shoulder strap.
  4. EDC Organiser, a smaller version of the fatty.
  5. Barnacle pouch - this will eventually house my fire making kit.

A full review of each item will be posted at later date when field tested more throughout May.

My primary fluid containers are shown below:

The tatonka mug is stainless steel and is a great piece of kit for making a brew on a small fire / stove.
This fits together very nicely with a 32oz nalgene bottle, this is a robust combination and really works well together. 
This will go into a side pocket of rucksack or hopefully in with my cooking kit to a new system im planning.

This is the Hi Gear Backpack 2 cook set from Go outdoors, I am surprised at this really good quality piece of kit. 
 The 4 containers all stack together to make a small enough system that can be easily packed away in any cook kit, in fact my gas stove is stored within this set. 
It is remarkably light weight, and on tests whilst out camping - its perfect for my needs.  The coating gives some non-stick protection and the handles feel sturdy and strong. 
I highly recommend this item for lone campers and expedition or hiking trips where you might fancy a brew and a hot snack.
As previously indicated, I am updating my current kit.  This is on my list for my next purchase and will form the basis of my kit.  The Maxpedition Vulture II backpack.  A large and rugged pack thatll hold all I need for a 72 hour trip.
I will update this post when I have the final kit system so I can compare and show how this works...

Monday, 22 April 2013

My EDC (Every Day Carry)

Do you remember back in the 1980s, when the A-Team, would get locked in a hen-coop and came out driving a caterpillar tracked, fire throwing, grenade launching beast, howd they do that then??....

What do you have on you right now? Empty your pockets and the bag you use most of all.

What do you take with you to work or when out shopping?

And most importantly, what could you do with these items? Are they helpful? Could they save you or someone else, and if TSHTF, would these items be of use.

If you are office based (as I am most the time) where do you keep your EDC and what would you like to use but cant?

I often watch and learn from youtube videos that have been uploaded by people a lot more involved in prepping and bushcraft than I am.  The people in these videos have created kits that they use everyday either in their line of work or when out hiking and spending time in the great outdoors.

There are 3 seperate videos of kits that I really like on youtube, these are worth reviewing:

Some cool kit: I highly recommend these tough, weather resistant and practical pieces of kit.  Im in the process of updating my full kit with some maxpedition pouches etc, but I thought I would show my current EDC goes....

The photo below displays the items I have on me, pretty much all the time when I'm out of the house.

Items shown:
  1. Paracord 550 bracelet - unsure of the length but the strength is great, this can hold my body weight and is feels invisible on my wrist.
  2. Gerber Curve - mini tool - this is a 3.5cm blade and screwdriver kit, it locks into place, is extremely sharp and feels strong.  Uses are obviously governed by its size but its good to have.
  3. Boyz Toyz credit card multi tool - this emergency item has come into play in many beer bottle top scenarios...
  4. UNI-COM 3 LED mini torch.  This is a bright little torch, it feels robust enough to last me, and is mainly used for short walking trips but is a great piece of equipment.
  5. Waterproof medication or cash storage. A metal container with an 'O' ring to make waterproof.  Used for cash storage now but has had some meds in when needed it, could use water purification tabs maybe when out camping.
  6. DMM climbing carabiner - this holds my keys, the torch, gerber curve, waterproof container.  It can be used for climbing when I go as a spare but is generally used to secure my keys to my bag.
  7. Blackberry Bold - the ultimate business tool in my opinion.  Excellent battery life and useful GPS abilities.  My complete diary planner on here.  (a paper back up is also used)

I also often use my BG Gerber Scout knife, this has a very sharp blade.  As it is not legal carry in the UK, it is only used as a tool when needed or for when out in the woods or sailing.

This has a reflective paracord lanyard that may be used as a safety warning or if lost etc is easier to spot.  I quite enjoy making the lanyards actually.

I usually have my rucksack with me, either stashed in the car or on my person, it usually has my swim kit in or my clothes for when away for also has a first aid kit, gerber multitool, little gem Food for Free reference book and a foil blanket. I always have some kind of fluids in there, most often a re-used 500ml water bottle or a powerade maybe, but this can easily be replaced and upgraded to a 2litre water bladder camel pak.  Theres also a gas refillable lighter kept in the bag along with a few cable ties, insulation tape and another small LED torch.

The bag itself is a berghaus 247 daysack, it is 25 ltr (I think).  I have had this for a couple of years now, its a good size and very comfortable.  I chose a red bag for being spotted if had an accident whilst hiking and also for fitting-in with society as its a normal bag isnt it.
The first aid kit isnt large, and is mainly for small cuts and minimal crisis or damage, I'll go into more depth on my FAKs in another post I'm sure.
I enjoy going for walks, across fields, along rivers or canals, over the hills and through woodland, whilst refferring to the Food For Free book, its really good to re-learn what is edible, you would be surprised.
So back to the original question then, what do you carry with you everday that is of use? 

Saturday, 20 April 2013

2) Combustion

FIRE.  Why do I need fire??

Warmth - to keep the spirits up and to keep away hypothermia .

Water - for 'cleaning' gathered river water to drink.

Cooking - to heat meals.

Social - to sit by and tell stories, tales and yarns.

....and to keep the hordes of nasties away too of course. 
What do I have to start and maintain fire??

In a waterproof pouch, kept in a small maxpedition pouch, I have the following:
  • 'Light My Fire' Ferrocerium Rod and Metal Striker.
  • Waterproof matches which I was reluctant to buy but were on offer, these have not been tested.
  • Cotton Wool balls soaked in vaseline
  • Pine Resin Chunks
  • Hazel bark strips taken from stripping sticks.
  • A small magnifying glass for using the suns heat - not tested yet due to the weather but will be used this year.

...oh and a refillable lighter.

A good video from Ashley of NBC forum, showing how to build a fire and respect the area it is used in:

As a kit tester, today I cooked some sausages in my garden on a cheap Tesco BBQ.

Using my firestrike to ignite cotton balls presoaked in vaseline, with some chunks of pine resin and twigs.  I took a few pictures here?



... and sausages, the perfect combination with a garden fire and BBQ.
I have never attempted to use a bow and drill to make an ember and start fire, this is on my to do list this year, do you have any tips/.
Here is Dave Canterbury, continuing his 5Cs of survival with Combustion:
Im hoping to gain more skills in fire lighting, which I think just means I need more attempts and practise.
I now have this for my cooking whist out and about, its small and powerful.
 The gas canister fits nicely in to the cook kit for storage when taken apart.  This has been road tested now and I like what I have a lot.  Both products from Go Outdoors.  This kit is evolving and developing nicely.
What kit do you use?  What advice do you have for a novice fire builder?

Monday, 8 April 2013

1) Cutting

So what do I NEED to cut?  And what tools shall I get for this?

I dont live in a bamboo rich environment, or have packs of hungry Wolves at my door, I dont want to break the law (which is strict on blades in the UK) and I dont actually hunt my food (yet).

So NEED...???  Hmm tricky.

I have 'light my fire' sporks to use when camping to eat food with, I've currently got the plastic ones, and havent had any issues with them, metal ones may be more beneficial for use with campfires etc, but I'm happy with these.


Im enjoying learning some new bushcraftt skills, I think they're important, along with being really good fun.

To collect wood for either carving, creating utensils or simply to burn as fuel, I use my folding saw.  The Bahco Laplander Folding Saw.


This is a neat piece of kit, I believe the likes of Ray Mears uses one of these (and im sure S1 and British Red do too :-)  Strong, sturdy and sharp, its trully effective at taking branches and cutting them up.

Fot bushcraft and general tools I have 2 blades, both Mora.

The Mora Companion


The Mora Clipper

These blades are rat tail tang I believe, although I may be wrong, immensely sharp with a great edge.  Mora blades are widely respected and trully deserve this praise in my opinion.  Brilliant blades.

I have recently purchased this blade:

Its new, hasnt been tested yet.  I have this for hunting (for when I start learning this) and as a general tool when camping.  Its full tang and nice and thick.  I'll also use this, if it stands up to it, for light duty battoning wood for fuel etc.

I have no need identified yet for a huge machete, and really dont want any of the Rambo knives out there, my knives are tools, and cherished ones.  It may seem like I have a lot of knives, but have you watched some youtube videos? crikey.  Anyway, 2 is 1, and 1 is none...right.

To sharpen I have 2 very basic tools...

A gerber ceramic sharpener, and a small stone for use in a kit.  Not too sure on either as havent needed to rely on them yet, but i'm thinking of upgrading to a quality stone.  Im new to all of this, so will be learning, developing and improving techniques where possible.  If you have any views, then share them please.  Thanks to the LSG forum for advice on sharpening techniques.

As a multi tool, I have the quite awesome Gerber Suspension Multi-tool.  It has many uses (you may have guessed) and  its well balanced, feels sharp and strong.  It has a locking feature which is very handy when in use.   This doesnt feel heavy at all and closes down neatly.  I would quite happily have half a dozen of these in various kits (EDC, car, home etc)


Have a look at the Amazon reviews for all items.  I'm sure they'll give you a broader amount of information than I can.  In future posts, I'm hoping to test and try all pieces without bias.

What's Missing??

I have been looking at small bushcraft hand axes.

There are a couple of makes from Sweden that appeal.  But I really am not outdoors enough yet to justify having one, and to be honest, haven't checked the law either yet.   But the Huntasfors looks good.

A quality system to resharpen blades as mentioned above.

Maybe a good pocket knife...I'll have a look around, but have this for now:

Which is a nice feeling knife, sharp as hell and lovely to use.  I'm not fussed about it being a BG promoted knife, it was half price, and its really good for the little things im doing with it currently.

Here  is a Dave Canterbury video that may be of use:

What items do you have?  What items do you rate above and what items would you change? And for what and why?

Thursday, 4 April 2013

So Where to Start??

Dave Canterbury (random video above, find him on youtube) has his '5Cs of survival'.  His list of what you need to consider when in a survival situation.

1)  Cutting
2)  Combustion
3)  Containers
4)  Covers
5)  Cordage

I have watched him on youtube and Dual Survivor and quite like his approach to outdoors living, being an exUS- Marine helps.

But when making a basic survival kit, its all there isnt it...

In Dual Survivors, Canterburys partner is Cody Lundin (above), he says that you wont last:

"3 minutes without hope
3 hours without shelter
3 days without water
3 weeks without food"

What a great way to show the importance of things and how to address them.  Stay positive, find or create shelter, get water collected and start to find food.

Both these guys have great knowledge and skills of bushcraft and survival.

Now changing tac a little, the pyschologist and sociologist - Abraham Maslow (, has his 'Hiearchy of Needs'.

'breathing, food, water, sleep, homeostasis' - are the bottom tier, the tier that must be satisfied and complete before a person can move further up the pyramid.  Have a look if you havent heard of him and see how it applies.


In my other life, what we call - 'the real world', I have to work on these basics to do my job.  You would be surprised how many people struggle to survive and thrive in society.

I have read on many forums, our governments suggest we have 3 days worth of food and water stored in our homes, in case of emergency.  It might also be wise to have alternative methods of cooking this and knowledge (logic, experience - whatever) on how to survive and carry on.

Having 'bug out bags' and months of stored goods may work in other countries where I can expect to head out to the wilderness of may be cut off for months on end, but do I need this in the UK?

But being able to live and have fun in the wild is somethng I want to learn.

On is a great area to chat.  This chaps videos shows the basics and is somethiing I'm really interested in being able to achieve;

Surely if I was advocating 'prepping' and being prepared, I'd have all these too wouldnt I?  Maybe thats a point for discussion...

Right, so lets start......

From the very beginning....its a very good place to start.