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Scott Huntington

How to Get Ready for a Major Snowstorm

By | Survival | No Comments

Winter is coming on, and many areas of the U.S. are already hunkering down through their first major snowstorms. Many of us are new at snowstorm prepping — having just moved from a city, down south, or into independent living for the first time — and snowstorms can pose a daunting challenge to the unprepared. However, prepping for a foot or two of snow is actually much easier than you might expect. Here are a few ideas.

1. Snow Removal

Snow is an obstacle: it clogs up your driveway, covers your steps and otherwise prevents you from going about your day. Having a plan — and the proper tools — for getting rid of the snow should sit near the top of your prep list. Check your weather channels and have an understanding of how much snow is expected, both for the specific storm incoming and for the region throughout the year.

Many areas experience only light snows and won’t require much more than a shovel and some rock salt. However, even light snow can be a huge nuisance if you aren’t able to remove it: it can ice your windshield, soak your shoes and make your normal path treacherous and slippery. So make sure you load up on the rock salt, shovels — or even a snow blower, depending on your geography — and car brushes well ahead of the storm.

2. Tires

It’s hard to overstate the importance of snow tires. The thing is, snow tires are not really location-dependent. Assuming you are in an area that receives any snow, tires are a good — and often necessary — option. Even an inch or two of snow can have cars sliding around the roads, spinning out into ditches, and otherwise causing mayhem.

Furthermore, areas that don’t experience much snowfall are usually the areas least prepared when the snow comes. Having a good pair of snow tires can be the difference between getting to work on time and spending your day waiting for a tow.

3. Emergency Prep

Those of us not living in metropolitan areas should spend some time preparing for the worst. While snowstorms are usually not life-threatening in and of themselves, the chance that you’ll be snowed in and unable to safely get to the store remains a looming possibility throughout the winter season. Again, this is highly location-dependent: those living in rural areas should implicitly understand the importance of stockpiling food when the flakes start to fall.

A few other things to keep in mind: power lines are susceptible to going down during large snowstorms, especially in rural areas. Investing in a generator is often an excellent idea. Rentals, also available for the days the storm is at its worst, may save you some money if you don’t expect regular snowstorms. Beyond this, it is also imperative to make sure your heating is in order and to go through the proper steps to make sure it is winterized and ready for the storm.

Road conditions are also something to keep in mind: even if your house is not buried in snow, poorly-plowed roads can stop you from getting to the store. Stock up on food before the storm.

Putting some cash and a few hours towards these three areas can really make the difference once the snow starts to build up. Personal snow removal helps you dig out from under the drifts and get about your day, while tires help you traverse the worst roads. Finally, when the time comes to hunker down, you want to make sure you are warm and safe and that you have plenty of food and water.

How to Survive a Winter Storm

By | Survival | No Comments

To quote a top-rated show and book series, winter is coming and with it comes winter storms. Depending on their severity, these storms can damage or destroy houses, knock out power grids, freeze water pipes and generally make life difficult. If you’re worried about getting through a storm, here are some tips and tricks to help you weather the winter.

Restock Your Storm Supplies

Getting to the grocery store in the middle of a blizzard might be possible if you’ve got the right accessories for your car, but even if you get there, chances are it will be closed. Take the time to restock your storm supplies before the temperatures drop. Ideally, you want to try to get to the store well before the panic sets in and the shelves are emptied of essentials like milk, bread and nonperishables.

A good storm supply kit should include:

  • Food: Nonperishables and things that can be prepared without the use of a microwave or oven are always good choices.
  • Water: If your pipes freeze or municipal water supplies fail, you will need to have water for each person in your house. Plan on having a gallon per person per day stored, or a way to purify water collected in the form of rain, sleet or melted snow.
  • Communication: Cellphones are only useful until the cell towers go out. Keep a battery-powered radio tuned to the local NOAA station for weather alerts.
  • First aid: Keep a fully stocked first-aid kit with your winter supplies.
  • Lighting: Flashlights, candles, and oil or kerosene lanterns are all useful tools to keep your home lit even if the power goes out.

Anything you won’t be able to access during the storm easily should be kept in your winter storm kit. This includes things like pet or infant supplies, and any prescription medication you will need for the duration.

Keep the Lights On

If you’ve got an electrical heating system in your home, it can be hard to stay warm during a storm that knocks out the power. Consider purchasing a generator or two for your home to keep power to your lights, heat and other appliances like your refrigerator running during the storm.

Make sure you don’t wire your generators into your home’s electrical system. It might seem like a good idea instead of running extension cords from the generator, but it can create dangerous feedback in the local electrical grid that could harm or kill linemen trying to restore power after the storm has passed.

Stay Warm

Brutally cold temperatures are one of the most dangerous things that accompany winter storms, so your primary focus should be staying warm. If you have a generator powering your home’s heater, keep it fueled. Also, keep your doors closed as much as possible. Every time you open the door to go outside, some heat leaks out — meaning your heater needs to work harder to keep the interior warm.

If you don’t have a generator and the power goes out, starting a fire in your fireplace can be a good alternative. Be careful and make sure your chimney isn’t obstructed by snow before you light a fire, or smoke and carbon monoxide could build up inside your home.

Be prepared to layer up with appropriate clothing if you don’t have heat. Again, keep the doors and windows closed. Your body heat will warm the room slowly, but only if you don’t open the door and let in cold air.

You can’t do much about winter storms other than being prepared for them. Restock your supplies before the storm hits and ride it out. Being ready is the best thing you can do survive a winter storm.

How to Stay Safe From Stinging Insects in the Woods

By | Hiking | No Comments

There’s nothing worse than heading out into the woods to enjoy a hike or a camping trip, only to end up stung by bees or wasps — especially if you’re allergic to the stings. How can you stay safe from stinging insects when you’re out in the woods?

Look for Signs

While bee and wasp nests might not be as obvious as other insect nests, you can look for some signs to indicate that there might be a nest in the area. Look for:

  • Large numbers of buzzing insects: Bees and wasps will frequently congregate around their nests, so if you see large numbers of either insect, avoiding the area is your best bet. You can often find the nest by watching the return flight of the insects.
  • Visible hives or nests: Some species of bees and wasps will build nests out in the open that you can easily spot. Look for piled mud with holes in it or papery constructions that could indicate the presence of stinging insects.
  • Wax or honey: Beehives often have a waxy appearance, and you may see honey as well.

It can take a keen eye to spot some of these signs — some bees and wasps make their nests in tree hollows, under the ground or in other less obvious spots, so if you’re not careful, you can stumble into one of their nests.

Listen for Buzzing

Take out the headphones and listen to the world around you when you’re out in the woods. When you’re getting too close to a nest, regardless of the type of stinging insect that calls it home, you’ll likely hear an increased buzzing sound. This noise is the insects’ way of warning you away before they come out in force to chase you away from their home — but it can only work if you’re able to hear the buzzing before it’s too late.

Identify the Insects

Some stinging insects are more aggressive and dangerous than others, so your next step is to identify the insect that you’re dealing with. Here are some of the possibilities:

  • Honey bees: Honey bees are small, often fuzzy, and may look yellowish from the pollen that they carry on their body. They aren’t very aggressive unless you’re dealing with Africanized honey bees, and they won’t sting unless threatened. Honey bees will actually die after they sting you, so they don’t like to sting unless it’s absolutely necessary.
  • Bumblebees: These bees are bigger than honey bees but just as furry. They may bump into you when you’re walking, especially if you’re wearing bright colors or perfumes that make them think you’re a flower. They’re not aggressive and won’t bother you unless you bother them.
  • Wasps: These insects are larger than bees and tend to have much slimmer bodies. They can be aggressive if they feel that their nest is threatened and can sting multiple times without stopping.
  • Yellowjackets: Yellowjackets are small — about half an inch long — and won’t become aggressive unless they feel like you’re threatening their nest. They tend to build their nests underground, though, and it can be easy to stumble into one if you’re not careful.
  • Hornets: Hornets are much more aggressive than yellowjackets, and they’re also very territorial — if they feel like you’re invading their territory, they will attack.

If you’re dealing with bees or bumblebees — or even some wasps and yellowjackets — all you need to do is avoid the nest. If you encounter hornets, your only option is to get out of their territory.

Run

If you inadvertently disturb a nest of stinging insects, you’ve only got one option — run! If they sting you, the stinging insect will release an alarm pheromone that will entice other bees or wasps to sting you as well.

Run, but don’t flail, and don’t swat at the bees, even if they’re stinging you. Dead bees release more pheromones that will call more insects to you. Instead, pull up your shirt to protect your face, then run and seek shelter. If you’re out in the woods, just keep moving until the bees stop stinging — this distance can be as little as a quarter mile or as much as multiple miles, depending on the species.

Whatever you do, don’t jump in the water — the bees or wasps will simply wait for you to come up for air, then continue stinging you.

Be Prepared

If you’re allergic to bee or wasp stings, even if you’re careful to avoid any nests, it’s always important to be prepared. Carry an EpiPen with you to counteract the allergic reaction to the stings, and call emergency services for advice as soon as you’re safe.

Being prepared can quite literally mean the difference between life and death. You may still require medical attention after using the EpiPen, so make sure you’ve got emergency services on speed dial.

When you’re out in the woods, you’re entering the territory of bees, wasps and other stinging insects. Keep that in mind, and make sure that you’re aware of your surroundings. Avoiding nests and hives is the best way to avoid stinging insects on your next hike or camping trip.

Seven Tips for Camping by Yourself

By | Camping | No Comments

Camping with friends and family is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and connect with others. Sometimes, though, a camping trip by yourself is just what the doctor ordered. You can take more time to relax, experience nature, reflect on life and do the things you want to do — all without the stress of group disagreements and worrying about others.

Solo camping is a different beast than group camping, though. You have to do everything yourself, and you need to be more careful because if something happens, no one will be around to bail you out.

With proper preparation, a solo camping trip can be an ideal way to get away. Here are seven tips for going it alone on your next excursion.

1. Work Your Way Up

Going by yourself for your first camping trip is not a good idea. You should have some experience with others under your belt before you try to go solo. Reading camping books and other educational materials can’t prepare you in the same way that experiencing things firsthand can. Make sure you’ve logged some solid camping hours, have learned from someone with experience and are confident in your abilities before striking out on your own.

2. Brush up on Your Skills

In group camping situations, whoever has the most experience in something tends to take charge whenever that task comes up. If you need to navigate while hiking, for example, the person who knows their way around a map or compass best usually leads the group. Unless you make a conscious effort to learn the skill of navigation, you may have never really had to do it.

When camping by yourself, you’re going to need to take charge of everything. Brush up on your outdoors skills before you head out for your trip so you know you can do everything. Even if it’s something you’ve been around before, practice to make sure you can complete the task yourself with no direction or help from others.

3. Let Someone Know

You should never leave for a camping trip without letting someone at home know about the details of your trip. Tell a trusted friend or family member when you’re leaving, when you’re coming back and when you’ll be able to check in throughout your trip. You should also tell them your location, and if you’re hiking, give them a route plan. If you don’t check in when you said you would, that person can try to contact you and alert emergency services if necessary. Because they know your location, they’ll also know where to look for you.

4. Pack Light

When you’re out in the woods by yourself, there’s no one to help you carry your pack if it gets too heavy. Because of this, it’s especially important to pack light when going on a solo trip. Consider bringing a hammock rather than a tent, water purification tablets instead of a filter and other lightweight options.

5. Plan for Emergencies

It’s important to be prepared for emergencies whether you’re camping in a group or on your own. The difference when you’re solo is that you need to carry everything yourself. Don’t skimp when packing first aid materials and other emergency supplies — you don’t want to be caught without them. You should also bring a signal whistle and an emergency communication device such as a satellite phone or personal locator, so you can call for help if you need to.

6. Bring a Book — or Write One

When camping on your own, although you might strike up some conversations with fellow campers, you won’t reliably have someone to chat and share stories with. You might also end up with spare time, especially when the weather is bad. While one of the joys of camping solo is the time you can spend quietly enjoying nature and reflecting on life, sometimes you might want a break from that, especially when the sounds of nature get a bit creepy as you’re trying to fall asleep.

A good, uplifting book is the perfect remedy for all of that. You might even want to bring a journal to jot down your thoughts and some notes about your experiences.

7. Prepare Yourself Mentally

When camping solo, you’ll be spending a lot of time alone with your thoughts. And when you don’t have someone else to help calm you down, difficult situations can be even more stressful. Before you head out on your trip, it’s important to take some time to prepare yourself mentally for these challenges. Find something that helps keep you calm, whether it’s deep breathing, thinking about fond memories or whistling your favorite song, and keep that antidote in your back pocket so you can pull it out whenever you need it.

Camping by yourself is an experience that comes with different challenges than camping with others. With a bit of preparation though, you’ll be ready to clear those hurdles and experience the many joys that are unique to solo camping.

How to make it through the 5 most common survival situations

By | Survival | No Comments

No one wants to think about being stuck in a survival situation but when it comes down to it, being prepared could mean the difference between life and death — and we mean that literally. Here are some tips and tricks to help you learn how to be prepared in the five most common survival situations.

No Water

During an emergency, it’s entirely possible that the water services to your home will fail. The human body can only function for about three days without water, so it’s important to have backup supplies available. For this, you’ve got two different options:

  • Keep Bottled Water in Your Home: Keep in mind that you will need a minimum of one gallon per person per day — half for drinking and half for hygiene needs and washing. Now, this is potable or drinkable water. If you want to use your flushing toilet during this survival situation, you will need a bucket and some water — it doesn’t necessarily need to be clean or drinkable. Use the bucket to fill your toilet tank, and you’ll be able to flush.
  • Keep Water Filters or Purifying Materials on Hand: These take up less space but require that you have a nearby source of water to treat. Iodine tablets, bleach or portable filters like the Life Straw can all help remove contaminants like bacteria even from natural water sources, making them safe to drink.

Ideally, you’ll want to have both of these options covered in case of an emergency. Make sure you rotate your bottled water once or twice a year to ensure it’s clean and safe to drink. Individual water bottles might be more convenient, but for long-term storage, you’ll want to store your water in opaque green or blue containers.

Fire

Fires can spring up without warning within your home, or rage throughout your neighborhood, giving you very little time to prepare.

For house fires, you want to get out of the house as quickly and safely as possible. If there are any necessities or valuables within arms reach, grab them before you leave — but don’t put yourself at risk for anything. Think back to your elementary school fire safety classes. Stay low to keep your head out of the smoke and check each door for heat before you open it. House fires can move fast and unpredictably, so the goal should be to get out of the house as quickly as possible.

Wildfires are an external threat, but they can move just as fast and unpredictably as house fires. If you’re told to evacuate, do so. Unlike house fires, you’ll usually have enough time to collect a few important belongings — such as important paperwork like car titles, photos and birth certificates — as well as some supplies. If you live in a fire-prone area, you should have a bug-out bag — prepared emergency supplies you can quickly grab if you need to evacuate.

Winter Storm Power Outage

Most powerful storms cause power outages, whether you’re in the path of a hurricane or a blizzard. Winter storm power outages are more dangerous, though — in addition to the wind and snow, the storm also brings freezing temperatures that can get dangerous or deadly quickly.

If you’re in the path of a winter storm and you’re not evacuating, make sure you’ve got a good emergency supplies kit ready before the storm arrives. This should include a first aid kit, bottled water, nonperishable foods and any prescription medication you might need during the storm. In some states, when the governor declares a State of Emergency, you can get an emergency 30-day supply of your medications, regardless of how recent your last refill was.

You might also want to consider investing in a generator to power things like your home heating and water pump. This could help prevent dangerous low temperatures in your home, as well as prevent your pipes from freezing inside your house.

Stranded

Getting stranded in the middle of nowhere is more than an inconvenience — it can be downright dangerous depending on your location and the weather conditions.

One good rule of thumb is that if you don’t know where you are, stay near your car. It will be easier for tow or rescue crews to find you if you’re near your brightly colored vehicle. Turn on your hazard lights, too.

If it’s cold out, stay in the car as much as possible, but don’t run the engine unless you’re sure the tailpipe isn’t blocked by snow — running the car with a blocked tailpipe will cause dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide to build up inside your vehicle.

Consider keeping a pack of emergency supplies in your car, as well. Include food, water, a first aid kit, a toolbox with some basic tools and some extra clothes or blankets in case you get stranded in cold weather.

Driving into Water

Vehicle submersion accidents aren’t as common as you might think, but if by some twist of fate you end up in the water in your car, knowing what to do could save your life.

As soon as you hit the water, roll down your windows. Yes, it will let more water into your car, but even with the windows closed, your cabin will fill up in about 90 seconds, and having open windows will give you a way to escape the car. Once the windows are down, take off your seat belt and get out of your vehicle.

If you can’t get the windows down, try to kick them out. You probably won’t be able to open the doors until the water pressure equalizes, but that means the car is full of water. If you can’t break a window, this can save your life, but you’ll have to hold your breath.

Keeping a seat belt cutter and window breaker in the car where you can easily access it from the driver’s seat can be a useful tool, too, if you don’t have enough leg strength — even boosted with adrenaline — to kick out the windows.

Knowing what to do in these common survival situations can save your life. Always be prepared for everything that life might throw at you, and you’ll never be surprised.

How to Avoid Getting Stung While Hiking and Camping

By | Hiking | No Comments

Hiking and camping are great ways to spend some time outdoors, but when you’re in the great outdoors, you do have a few things to worry about — like bees, wasps and other things that sting.

If you’re heading out into the wild, what can you do to avoid getting stung or letting insects put a damper on your trip? Here are four tips.

Dress Appropriately

Bees and wasps aren’t looking for you — they’re looking for flowers to collect nectar from and pollinate. So, don’t look like a flower. When you’re dressing for your trip, avoid things that attract bees and other pollinators, like dark colors or shiny jewelry.

If you need to use lotion or sunscreen, choose unscented options. Even artificial floral scents can be enough to attract bees and wasps, increasing your chances of getting stung.

Know Your Bees and Wasps

There is more than one type of bees and wasps, and some are more dangerous than others. Here are the main ones you should be familiar with:

  • Honeybees: Honeybees are the ones you see flitting around in your flowers. They live in large colonies, and their honey might sweeten your morning tea. They don’t sting unless threatened — if they do, their stingers rip from their bodies, and they die soon afterward.
  • Bumblebees and Carpenter Bees: Bumblebees and carpenter bees are big and fluffy and might bump into you while you’re hiking, but they’re not dangerous unless they feel threatened. They can sting, but they won’t unless you mess with them.
  • Wasps: Wasps are a bit trickier. They’re more aggressive than bees, so encountering them on your trip has a higher chance of resulting in a sting. You’ve probably seen paper wasps and mud dauber wasps around your house. The former builds an umbrella-shaped nest of a paper-like material, while the latter will build nests from mud.
  • Hornets and Yellow Jackets: Hornets and yellow jackets are more aggressive and can be very dangerous if you stumble into their nests. Avoid these at all costs. If you see a hornet or yellow jacket, pick a different path.

This is a basic definition of these insects — you may also encounter some unique bees or wasps that are native to your area depending on where you’re hiking, so make sure to do your research before you head out.

Skip the Music

If you’re hiking alone, you’re probably used to listening to music while you hike, but this could be dangerous. If you have headphones in, you won’t be able to hear the buzzing of bees or wasps if you get too close to their nests. Bees, especially, will try to warn you away from their nests rather than stinging you by buzzing loudly or bumping into you as you get too close to their home.

Run Away!

If you run into a beehive or a wasp’s nest, the best thing you can do is run.  If you stay put, they will continue to sting you. Even if you’re not allergic to bee stings, an attack from enough of them can be fatal.

Most bees will give up the chase after a quarter-mile to a half-mile. While you might get a few stings, you won’t get enough to be seriously harmful.

Don’t jump into the pool or another water source, though. You might get rid of the ones on your skin, but the rest of them will wait until you surface and start stinging you again.

Keep in mind that when you’re hiking, you’re in the bee’s neighborhood. You wouldn’t like it if someone stumbled into your home, so make an effort to avoid stumbling into their house while you’re hiking.  They won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.

Why You Should Go Exploring on the Water

By | Boating | No Comments

Summer may be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of these last few weeks of warm weather before it gets too cold to spend time out on the water. If you haven’t gotten out on the water this summer or your boat has been languishing in dry dock, why should you spend some time exploring out on the water before the weather gets cold?

Victorian Prescriptions

If you went to the doctor in Victorian England for anything from a common cold to mental health issues, you’d probably get the same prescription: sea air and regular dunkings in cold sea water.

In theory, nearly drowning in the cold water triggered your body to release adrenaline — revitalizing you and healing a variety of different maladies.

While there are plenty of conditions that really wouldn’t benefit from repeated near-drownings, that doesn’t mean being on the water doesn’t have its benefits.

Benefits of Exploration

A number of studies have found that people who live near the coasts, regardless of their country of origin, are generally happier and healthier than those who live farther away. We’re even willing to pay more for waterfront property. According to real estate data, just being able to see the water from a house or apartment increases the property’s value by 116 percent.

Why does being near or on the water make us happier?

If you ask 10 different people that question, you’ll get 10 different answers. For some, it’s because large bodies of water like the ocean are endless and powerful and it helps to put things into perspective. You’re small compared to something like the ocean, and that makes your problems small. Small problems are easier to manage.

Others state that the water helps to calm them down, or helps them separate themselves from the crazed hustle and bustle that makes up most of our lives. It can even help some people fall asleep, which is why white noise machines with rain or river sounds are so popular.

How to Get Started

If you’ve never piloted a boat before in your life, heading out on the water might seem a bit intimidating. But you don’t need to be a pirate or a ship’s captain to explore the waterways near your home or even farther away. Start small. You’re not going to pilot a yacht with no experience, no matter how good the yacht’s insurance is.

Get a hang of piloting a boat by starting with something small, like a dinghy with a little outboard motor or even a rigid inflatable boat if you’re using it to hop between islands.

Whether you’re heading out on the lake or trying to circumnavigate the world, getting out on the water can be a great way to feel happier, get your head together, or just shed the stress of a rough day at work. Just go to the beach and spend some time listening to the waves — you might be surprised by how much better you feel afterward!

Tips for Buying Your First Boat

By | Fishing | No Comments

Summer is almost over, which means it’s the perfect time to consider buying the boat you’ve had your eyes on all season. Whether you’re tired of borrowing your buddy’s boat or just want to stop spending money every weekend on a rental, here are a few tips and tricks to help you through the process of buying your first boat.

First, Establish Your Budget

Before you start looking for a new boat, you need to establish a budget. Good boats aren’t cheap and cheap boats aren’t good, so figure out how much you’re willing to spend and how flexible your budget is. This will make it easier to keep yourself from spending too much money or mortgaging your house just to pay for your boat.

Figure out your budget first. Everything else will fall into place.

Next, Figure Out the Details

The next step is to figure out what kind of boat you actually want. Ask yourself a few questions, like:

What am I using the boat for? Are you planning on using it to go fishing on the weekends or to explore local waterways? Do you need something that can handle longer voyages out to sea? Do you need something with speed that can tow tubers or water-skiers, or are you content with something a little bit slower? Or are you looking for something with all-around performance?

Will I be spending long amounts of time on your boat? If you’re heading out for a day trip, you might not need somewhere to sleep. If you’re going to be on your boat for days or weeks at a time, you’ll need areas to sleep, shower and store your food.

Am I going fishing? If you plan to eat your catch, you’ll need a boat that is equipped to keep your fish cold or even frozen until you can get back to shore and put them in your freezer.

How big of a boat do I actually need? It’s tempting to go with the biggest option, but larger or more powerful boats may require additional licensing and insurance.

Do I want an inboard or an outboard engine? If you’re going to leave your boat at the dock, an outboard motor is a good option, because it can be lifted out of the water. If you’re planning to store your boat at dry dock or only use it in fresh water, inboard motors are fine.

Each of these questions holds a piece of the puzzle that will help you figure out which make and model of boat will be right for you.

Talk to an Expert

Once you’ve got a general idea of the type of boat you’re looking for and the budget you have available, your next step is to talk to an expert. They’ll be able to take the puzzle pieces you’ve pulled together and help you find the perfect boat to suit all your needs. They may even be able to help you figure out the answers to questions you haven’t even thought to ask yet.

Once you have a plan in place, searching for your ideal boat should be an enjoyable experience. Now you can start looking forward to those sunny days on the water next summer.

How to Sharpen Just About Anything

By | Survival | No Comments

There’s nothing worse than pulling out your knife only to find that the blade is dull — or even chipped. While this is a minor inconvenience, in a survival situation, it can be dangerous or even deadly. If you’re stuck with a dull blade, here are some tips and tricks to help you sharpen just about anything, no matter where you are.

What Do You Need to Sharpen?

What sort of things do you need to sharpen? That will depend on what tools you use regularly, but it could include:

  • Knives: Knives can run the gamut, from short to long to straight to curved. It doesn’t matter what your knife looks like or how long it is — it will eventually need to be sharpened.
  • Axes/Hatchets: These tools are useful for chopping wood, clearing brush or digging, in a pinch.
  • Machetes/Falchions/Kukri: Longer than standard knives, these can be used as weapons or for clearing brush.
  • Spears: If you’re in a survival situation, spears can be useful tools.
  • Saw Blades: It might be easier to replace the blades on a hacksaw or a sawmill, but if you can’t make it to the store, sharpening the blades could draw some more life out of those tools.

How to Sharpen at Home

Let’s start with how to sharpen your blades at home. Blades dull from everyday use — you don’t necessarily have to be in a survival situation to sharpen your knives.

You’ll need a whetstone or another sharpening stone and either a good grasp of geometry or a protractor. The angle you hold the blade will vary depending on what you are sharpening. Kitchen knives usually need to be held at around 20 degrees to be sharpened properly. Survival knives need a thicker edge — about 25 degrees — and machetes and other blades used for hacking need a 30-degree angle. Axes should also be filed at roughly 30 degrees.

Once you have your stone and your angle, you simply have to move the blade along the stone until you get a nice clean edge.

How to Sharpen in a Survival Situation

So how are you supposed to sharpen your blades if you’re stranded out in the wilderness and your whetstone is at home?

There are plenty of things that you can use as a DIY whetstone that you can find just about anywhere. Any rock with a flat surface can be used as a whetstone. Just pour a little bit of water on it and go to town.

If you’re wearing a leather belt, it can be used as a makeshift strop — similar to how a barber sharpens his razor. It won’t hone your blade to a razor’s edge, but it can make it a bit of sharper if you don’t have anything else.

If you find a discarded ceramic coffee mug with a rough bottom, you can use that to sharpen your knife, too.

There are plenty of things that you can use to sharpen your knife, even if you don’t have a whetstone with you. There are also wearable whetstones you can keep on your belt if you would prefer to carry a stone with you.

Sharpening your knife is a good way to make sure it will be usable no matter what you need it for. Learning how to sharpen your knife means you will be able to stay safe no matter what happens.

What to Look for in a Survival Knife

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If you haven’t bought a survival knife in a while, it can be hard to know where to start looking. With all the options available on the market today, it’s not as simple as just heading to your local Army/Navy surplus store for a KBar. If you’re in the market for a new survival knife, what should you be looking for?

Material

There are literally hundreds of different survival knives on the market right now, but they aren’t all created equal. You’ll want to find a blade that’s made of a high-quality material such as stainless or carbon steel. Other materials won’t hold an edge as long and might be prone to chipping or even cracking during use.

Stainless steel is the most popular, but many people believe that it doesn’t hold an edge. Carbon steel is a great option, and while it can keep an edge longer than stainless steel, it is also susceptible to rust.

Blade

The next thing you need to think about is the blade shape – do you want a straight or a serrated one? Serrated knives are useful for things like sawing through rope, but they require a specialized tool to sharpen them once they lose their edge. To sharpen a straight blade, all you need is a whetstone and some elbow grease.

Make sure you keep the length and thickness of the blade in mind. Most survival knives are between six and 12 inches long and between 3/16 and ¼ inch thick. Too long or too thick and it becomes unwieldy. Too thin and it could break under pressure.

Tang

The tang of the blade is how much of the steel continues into the handle. Tangs that only connect to the top of the handle can break off, especially in a survival situation. These knives are cheaper but not terribly useful. Opt for a blade with a full tang – the steel of the blade continues all the way to the base of the handle. This makes the knife stronger and enables it to serve you well for years to come, whether you’re using it to cut rope or fight off a bear (though we wouldn’t recommend the latter if you can avoid it.)

Handle

There are nearly as many different handle types as there are blades, so it’s good to pick the handle that works best for you. Wood, polymer, rubber and even paracord are some of the most popular handle options. Avoid hollow handles at all costs though. If the handle is hollow, it means that your blade isn’t full-tang – even if the seller claims that it is.

There is no way that we can definitively pick out a ‘best’ survival knife. What works best for us might not work for you at all. Just look for a full tang blade in either carbon or stainless steel, and you’re halfway there. Everyone you ask will have their own favorite hunting knife, so start asking, and maybe you’ll find the perfect knife for you.