Top 7 Survival Essentials

Someone recently asked me what my top 10 survival essentials were and it caused me to think. You see, I talk a lot about the top 5 survival essentials. Here at Sigma 3 we teach our classes based on the top 5 essentials. Everything after that is not so essential for life. However there are some things to add to the list, not because they are essential to life, but because they are essential to quality of life. So I wracked my brain to come up with 10 for this list. People like lists with nice round numbers. Well I couldn’t come up with ten, but here a broad overview of my top 7 essentials to help you survive and thrive.

1.   Shelter

I talk about shelter building a lot. That’s because it is a survival essential. In some cases it is the most important survival essential. Like in the north in winter, for instance. Your soft human body can only regulate its heat few hours in the subzero conditions of a northern winter so you need a shelter immediately. The same is true in the scorching desert. You only have a couple hours until the sun zaps all the moisture from your body.  A shelter lets you control the atmosphere around you. It traps warm air in frigid conditions or blocks the harsh sun in arid ones. It also keeps our rain and pests. It’s important and that is why its number 1 on this list.

  1. Water

We need water. It lubricates all of our moving parts and it transports vital minerals and nutrients around our bodies. Without it we die in 3 to 5 days. All other living things need water too. Some of them live in water and some of them can really harm us. They are usually too small to see but they could be in there. So, we have to get them out. Also, water is a solvent, meaning things can dissolve into it. Some of these things, like lead or mercury, are very harmful to us. We have to get them out too. A good way to do that is with a water filter. Whether we make our own or we buy one a water filter is essential. I carry a Sawyer and it works great. You can pick one up here at our store pretty cheap.

  1. Fire

In this modern age we have heated homes with stove tops and ovens but in the wilderness our heat source is almost always fire. Fire does more than just warm us up. It also cooks our food and kills pathogens in our water. It can even be used as a tool but more on tools later. Any outdoorsman that is worth their salt can create fire in any weather, anywhere, at any time. Any instructor, who tells you different, be wary of. There are a million and one instructors in this business and 999,999 of them aint worth a shit.

There are also tons of different fire starting methods, but, in my opinion, the bowdrill is the most universal. It works in the desert as well as in the tropics. It’s pretty simple to use but it does take practice to master it. So make a kit and practice it until you are a master. Then you will be in the top 1% and more importantly you will be able to stay alive while others die.

  1. Food

If you have watched any of the survival TV shows out there nowadays you know that a human can live a long time without food. But is that really living? I prefer to say that a human dies very slowly when not eating food. If you are burning more calories than you are taking into your body then you are either dying or dieting. Food is our fuel and if we don’t have it our body eats itself for fuel. So food is an essential.

We are constantly surrounded by food when we in the wilderness. The problem is can we recognize it and/or catch it. When it comes to plants it’s about knowing what you can and can’t eat. Plants can give us important vitamins and minerals so they are worth knowing. Some plants even contain high amounts of protein but it is rare. So learn them.

As a general rule we get our protein and fat from animals. That means we have to catch them, somehow, so we can eat them. For this we use traps. We can use traps to catch bugs, fish, birds, even bears. Once you know some of the basic mechanics for trap triggers you can create traps that fit your specific needs for your specific situation. So knowing how to set traps is an essential skill.

  1. Tools

We humans are a pretty weak species. We have dull teeth and nails. We are not very strong or fast. We are not covered with protective scales or shells or hair yet our species has managed to dominate the entire natural world. That’s because our large frontal lobes give us the ability to reason and problem solve. We don’t have sharp teeth but we can sharpen sticks bones and rocks. We can then attach them to a shaft that gives us reach. We can even reason how to propel these sharp points by adding bending sticks and cordage. The bow and arrow is just one example out of millions of tools we can use. A sharpened stone flake is a tool by itself and it can be used to make other tools for whatever specific need arises. Personally I think the most important tool we can own is a knife. Yes we can make them ourselves but for quality sake it’s a good idea to invest in a good one.  You can find my top picks here. A good knife can be used to make a million other tools.

 

  1. Medical

Knowing how to heal from damage is a skill that everyone should know. It’s a skill often overlooked because it isn’t generally needed, but when it is needed it is REALLY needed. If you have ever been trapped in the wild with a severe injury you know exactly what I mean.

Knowing what plants can heal specific ailments can make your life better or even save it. Knocking out a cold before it gets bad or getting rid of a bad headache is important but stopping an asthma attack before it kills you is even more important. Learn your medicinal plants.

But don’t rely solely on native plants. Carry a good first aid kit. You will have a hard time finding anything sterile in the wild. Sterile wraps and gauze pads are super useful and they may save your life. You can get a professional first aid kit here.

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  1. Navigation

Navigation is a skill most people don’t think about. Basically navigation is just being able to get from one place to another without getting lost. You can use a map and a compass or landmarks and blazes. Native Americans used rivers and creeks and road maps. Imagine you are traveling along setting some traps. The sun is going down so you head back to your camp and gear. When you start walking back, nothing looks familiar. You are lost. This happens way too often and way too often its ends in death. Don’t let this be you. Learn to find way around.

Navigation

So that’s my list of top 7 survival essentials. If you master these subjects you will be a wilderness ninja. All it takes is guidance and practice. If you want some guidance I would love to train with you. Check out our classes and join us as we master the wilderness.

 

 

 

How to Make Moccasins

Learn How to Make Moccasins.  Anyone who knows me knows I hate wearing shoes. I always have. They are restrictive and they make me feel disconnected and claustrophobic. I have happily traveled this whole country barefoot but something changed about 15 years ago, when I got to Missouri. Missouri is made out of chert. If you don’t know what chert is, well, it’s the rock our ancestors made arrowheads out of and it is sharp. Now my feet are super tough. I can walk on broken glass without even noticing but chert has a way of sticking straight up out of the ground and wedging itself between callouses. So I decided I had to make moccasins. The mocs I chose were the ghillies and I have been making them for so many years now I can’t even remember how I first learned the technique. Maybe in 15 years you won’t remember reading this blog but I bet you remember how to make moccasins. They are super simple to make

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Ghillie moccasins are credited to the Scottish and Irish and they are still used today in Gaelic dance. The Romans had a very similar shoe called a Carbatina which was probably the precursor to the ghillie moccasins.  While the history is not all that interesting, its use for thousands of years does prove the design is sound.

The reason I love to make moccasins is because they are so simple to make. Also they can be made with thick leather or rawhide unlike most moccasin styles which use buckskin. There is little or no sewing involved and each moccasin is a single piece of leather.

More importantly, though, they are incredibly comfortable. They are so light you can barely tell your wearing shoes at all. You can feel the earth beneath your feet without getting shredded. They also will not interfere with grounding because they are a natural skin material. If you don’t know what grounding is, look it up. It’s pretty cool

These Ghillie Moccasins are also very durable. They will last a long time with a little care and repair occasionally. They do tend to wear through rather quickly on concrete so if you plan on wearing them around the city I recommend adding a sole when you make moccasins. Old tires make pretty good soles as long as you get pre-steel radials. As you can see from the pic of the Roman Carbatinas, they needed repairs even back then. The right foot carbatina has a sewn up cut in it and the left carbatina is wore through at the heel.

Another reason I love to make moccasins is because they just look nice. I mean, check out my feet in this pic. I proudly wear these whenever I have to go into a store or restaurant and people ask about them often. They are a conversation starter and the ladies love em.  You, too, can be a bushcraft superstar. Just follow the simple instructions in this video and you’ll be impressing the masses and protecting your kickers in no time flat. Try it out, make moccasins, and share your results with us. Your feet will thank you.  Also, please Share, Like, and Subscribe. Thanks

Learn More Advance Primitive Skills in our Advanced Standard Survival Course.

Best Natural Fire Tinder

With all the growing interest in the survival industry there are dozens of different fire starters on the market. Everything from fancy ferro rods, fire pistons, blast matches, and even electronic igniters.   However; without a proper understanding of how to select and prepare natural tinders these fancy gadgets become nothing more than expensive sparklers.

Don’t get me wrong, survival gear is vital, and could very well save your life.  The problem is we develop a false sense of security when we purchase these items without putting in the adequate dirt time to hone the skills necessary to operate them.  For example anyone can take a ferro rod and light a cotton ball on fire, but what if they were told to go out into the forest and try to use a ferro rod in the rain with only natural materials?

Knowing what natural tinder to use, and having the ability to go out collect and harvest it is vital to being able to survive in harsh conditions.  Below is a list of my favorite natural materials to use for fire starting.

Cedar Bark

Cedar bark is amazing due to it’s ability to be lit when damp.  It is extremely fibrous, and because of it’s resinous nature it produces a hot flame aiding in lighting damp kindling.  Simply scrape the outer bark from the tree, and create a softball size birds nest tinder bundle.  Cedar/Juniper trees grow in abundance across the nation, and can be found in several different climates and elevations.  It truly is the go to for fire starting.

Fatwood

Fatwood is bushcraft gold when it comes to fire starting, and is the king of wet fire.  It burns super hot and last a long time.  Fatwood is a resinous enriched dense pine wood that can be found in the roots and base of limbs.  It can be a challenge to harvest, but once you do you wont regret it.  I prefer to gather fatwood from the base of limbs of dead standing pine trees.  Once this material is processed down to a 4-6″ pile of fine scrappings it will light very easily with a spark.  Another option is to make a feather stick from a section of the fatwood.

Birch Bark

Birch bark is an amazing fire starter.  It is rich in resins and comes off the tree like sheets of paper.  I have used paper (white) birch and river birch.  Both work extremely well.  I find the river birch tree most often in areas that collect water – river beds, valley bottoms, marshes, and other moist areas. Peel off the bark in sheets, and scrape it to reveal tiny fibers that will light with ease.

Cattail Fluff

Cattail would be considered a flash tinder.  It takes a spark easier than any of the previously mentioned tinders, but it burns extremely fast.  Cattail is best mixed with cedar bark, pine needles or grass.  You will find this amazing plant in still standing water such as swamps, ponds, or lakes. Process out the cattail heads by crushing or wringing it which will expose all the tiny fibers.  Hit is with a spark and watch it go up in flame.

Tinder Fungus

Polypore mushrooms make excellent tinder fungus.  Look for dried mushrooms that look like shells, fans, horse hooves, or shelves.  On the underside of the mushroom it should not have any gills.  It should look like tiny pores, similar to pores in the skin.  I have found these mushrooms on dead and alive trees, but they are usually found on trees with a dense overhead canopy.  The tinder fungus is not the best for lighting, however; it is one of the best materials for transferring a coal or extending a fire.

Additional Natural Tinders

Pine Needles, leaves, and grasses are also descent options for tinder.   The pine needles and leaves can be a challenge because they do not make a good bundle, but they are better used to extend a fire once you have flame. Grasses often times contain moisture, and can be challenging to light, but they work good when mixed with other fibers.  Old Man’s Beard (Usnea) is another type of tinder that people sometimes use.  For me it has extraordinary medicinal uses.  I would rather save this amazing lichen, and find something else.

To learn more about natural tinders and different fire starting methods register for one of our UPCOMING SURVIVAL STANDARD COURSES.

I hope you found this Natural Tinder blog to be educational and informative.  Be sure to watch the companion video below, and show your support by liking, sharing, and subscribing.   Thanks Justin “Sage” Williams

Top 5 Medicinal Plants

Here at Sigma 3 Survival we are about to launch a video series on home apothecaries. To start it off, we are sharing with you a brief description of our top 5 medicinal plants and what they are used for. Then, later in the series, we will go into much greater detail about these and other medicinal plants. Also we will talk about how to make specific medicines for many different illnesses. When choosing the top 5 medicinal plants for this list i of course chose the plants that were most effective for some of the most common general ailments. These plants were also chosen because of their availability. These plants can be found across the continental United States and most of the known world, so let’s jump right in with our top 5 medicinal plants in no specific order.

Willow (Salix sp.)

Willow is an analgesic. What this means in layman’s terms is pain reliever. Willows active ingredient is salicylic acid which is synthesized into acetylsalicylic acid better known as aspirin.  Salicylic acid peaks in the human body about two hours after ingestion but relief from pain can sometimes be noticeable in as fast as ten minutes. Willow is also effective at reducing inflammation and fevers but I mainly use if for headaches and joint pain.

 

Slippery Elm  (Ulmus rubra)

Slippery elm is a medicine for the digestive tract. It contains a mucilage in the inner bark that, when consumed, coats and lubricates the entire tract from mouth to spout. It also activates our own mucus glands to help out. Its helps relieve sore throats, upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, ulcers, even heartburn.

A small piece of bark chewed is usually enough to provide instant relief, but the bark can be powdered and put into tablets for persistent problems like ulcers. A tea of Slippery Elm is also useful internally and externally. Externally it is an emollient which in layman’s terms simply means skin softener.

Yarrow  (Achillea millefolium)

Yarrow is an amazing medicine. Like its close cousin chamomile it is a great anti-anxiety medicine. It’s also analgesic and anti-inflammatory. These two properties along with its blood thinning properties make this a great tonic for women who suffer from mentation issues. This plant is sometimes called natures Midol. However that’s not why it made the top 5 medicinal plants list. It made this list because of its amazing ability to stop external bleeding. A small amount of powdered, or even fresh, Yarrow applied to a wound, will almost always stop the blood flow immediately. It was often carried into war, throughout human history, for this very reason. Not only does it stop bleeding but it also disinfects wounds and promotes healing.

 

Mullein  (Verbascum thapsus)

Mullein has a long history as an additive in native smoking mixtures. It was used to fluff up plant materials that would lay flat in a pipe and not burn well. Believe it or not it also is medicinal to the lungs and that’s why it’s on the list. Mullein is for lung health. Now I’m not recommending that people smoke mullein or any other plant medicines on a regular basis. All smoke contains tar and that is not good for the lungs. However mullein is an expectorant, which means it causes the lungs to expel phlegm. This helps clean the tar and mucus out of the lungs. The plant does not need to be smoked for this effect and in fact smoking destroys a large percentage of the medicine in the plant. The only time I would recommend smoking mullein is if you are suffering from an asthma attack. Mullein is a bronchial dilator, which means it opens constricting airways. If you are unable to breathe you probably don’t have time to wait for the medicinal action of this plant to pass through your digestive system. However, if you are suffering from a cold or a dry cough, a simple tea made from mullein leaves will help your cough become effective, removing the offending phlegm from your body.

 

Plantain  (Plantago major)

Plantain made the top 5 medicinal plants list because of its amazing ability to heal the skin. We use this plant constantly at Sigma 3 Survival School and I’m still constantly amazed at how quickly it heals minor wounds and rashes. It’s almost miraculous. I’ve seen Poison Ivy rashes healed seemingly overnight. I use this medicine on my children whenever they get scrapes or burns. Not only does Plantain cause incredible skin regeneration, but it also disinfects wounds. In combination with Yarrow it is the perfect medicine for most minor cuts, rashes and burns.

Plantain can also be taken internally for many of the same uses list for slippery elm. It is mucilaginous so it coats the digestive tract almost as well as slippery elm. It also is a great food source that’s rich in calcium and vitamins A, C, and K.

These top 5 medicinal plants cover most common ailments generally encountertedand soon we will detail for you exactly how to use these and other great medicinal plants. Follow us for our upcoming apothecary series and you will be able to help the general health of your family and friends as well as yourself. Thanks for joining us and we will talk again soon.

To Kill or Not to Kill – Live Trap

To kill or not to kill. That is a good question. Preserving meat, as you know, is normally no big deal. Just build a smoker and make jerky. Boom, problem solved. Or, to get by for a few days, you can cook and recook meat, or even store it raw in an earthen fridge. While surviving Alone on Vancouver Island for the History Channel my Gill Net regularly caught more fish than I was able to eat in a single day. So, to avoid spoilage, I cooked and buried them in an earthen fridge. They kept for three days (and probably would have lasted for three more if I hadn’t eaten them). But sometimes, depending on the climate, conditions, and circumstances, preserving large quantities of meat can be problematic. Making jerky is time consuming, and time is a commodity in short supply when surviving alone.

Water, firewood, shelter, and food take up the majority of daylight not leaving enough time to make jerky. Catching animals alive, therefore, is the solution. It is very difficult to trap large game alive so, more often than not, it is best to live catch smaller game – birds, minks, weasels, squirrels, etc. Foot and leg snares are excellent but also require close monitoring so as not to lose the critter. Pit traps are effective but can be next to impossible to dig in rocky or root ridden soil.

The box trap, however, is versatile and fairly universal (just need strong, straight sticks to make the box and trigger). The live animal trap in the video was fashioned out of Shin Dagger Yucca stalks and Seep Willow sticks. It’s usually a good idea to stake down the back of the trap to minimize the risk of escape.

Over the years people have successfully trapped birds and animals alive in box traps. While surviving on Alone I set out several box traps and repeatedly caught mink and squirrel. Sometimes they would dig themselves out and get  away, but most of the time I had to set them free (we were not allowed to kill animals with fur or feathers). I so desperately wanted to tame a mink but, unfortunately, the rules forbad it. So I survived alone.

While training to become a Survival Instructor for the U.S. Air Force we learned how to catch and process all kinds of creatures – fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and fur bearing mammals. One time, during a Solo Survival Exercise, I made the mistake of making friends with a Cottontail I had live trapped. Killing “Hoppy” to eat was heartbreaking.

Have fun making the live animal trap featured in the video below.

If you run into any problems please do not hesitate to ask for help. Or, better yet, come and join one of our classes and we can work on it together. Take care and God bless.  Show your support like, share and subscribe.

 

45 Days from Life Change!!

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Life has a way of tearing you down. It can be extremely difficult to carry the weight of it all. Many are aware that I took the 45 Day Instructor Course in the Spring of 2016, but what most don’t know is “WHY” I took the program. I will get into that shortly, but I wan’t you to first understand there are many reasons people take this course.  For some it is the thought of one day teaching survival for a living, for others they want to join the Sigma team, but for most it is the opportunity to reconnect with nature.  Each of those are amazing reasons to attend this course.

 

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For me, I was going through a very dark time.  I had lost my career (my calling), my best friend just went to jail for 40 years, and some people I thought had my back abandoned me.  The crappy thing about it all, is none of this was my doing. It was the direct actions of another.  I had lost all hope.  $4,000 for a survival course seems like a far stretch, but at that time I would have paid a million dollars for a sense of relief and purpose again.

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When I first arrived at Sigma 3 I was so excited.  For 45 days I didn’t have to worry about anything except what I was going to eat, and where I was going to sleep. The heavy load completely lifted off my shoulders.  From there, the rest was history.  I am happy to say I was able to let go, and learn to forgive.  Healing took place on that mountain.

Here are many of the life changing benefits that can come from immersing yourself into the wild:

  • Fresh Perspective
  • New Beginning
  • Sense of Accomplishment
  • Independence from Artificial Establishments
  • Friendships that Last
  • Confidence in Your Abilities
  • Self-Realization like Never before
  • Oneness with Nature
  • Appreciation for the little things.
  • Stronger Relationships with Family
  • Freedom to Rediscover Who YOU ARE.
  • & PEACE!

Not to even mention the skills you will learn, and the doors of opportunity that will open. As soon as I graduated I was invited to be a guest instructor at several survival schools, and even got a couple full-time teaching opportunities.  I decided to take a job as the full-time survival instructor for a school based in South Carolina.  I was super excited, but my heart was always in the Ozarks.   My family and I moved to the Carolinas in the Summer of 2016, and within 6 months I had created an established survival program there.   At the end of 2016 Rob (Sigma 3 Owner) decided it was time for me to come home, and he offered me the Director of Operations and Lead Instructor position at Sigma 3.  Since then I have been leading the Sigma program, and together with Rob’s guidance we continue to run one of the largest and most comprehensive survival schools in the World.

So if you are like me, and need a fresh start then consider the 45 Days Instructor Program.  I know you won’t regret it. REGISTER HERE!

See my journey here:

Edible Bugs – Ultimate Survival Food

In Western Cultures we have created a stigma about eating insects; however over 80% of the world eats bugs as a part of their daily diet.  They in fact are super foods.  We have labeled them as disgusting, yuck, and gross, but in reality they can be quite delicious.  They are packed with nutrients, and when it comes to protein, many insects have more grams of protein than beef.

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Most people see insects as pest or even dangerous.  It is true that numerous bugs have parasites, bacteria, and in some cases they can carry disease, but if cooked properly there is almost 0% chance of those dangers transferring to humans. In this post I want to share some things to consider when eating bugs.

Bugs to Avoid: 

Bright Colored Bugs – “Red and Yellow kill a Fellow, Green and Brown eat em’ down.”
Known Venomous Insects
Insects that carry disease: Ticks, Mosquitoes, Leaches, etc.
Fuzzy/Hairy Bugs
Centipedes and Millipedes
Bugs that look sickly or ill. (Example: parasite coming out of side)
Abnormal bugs. When in doubt, don’t eat it.

Common Edible Bugs:

  • Flies / Butterflies / Moths

The main concern with flies is they tend to feed off of dead carcasses and can carry hundreds of pathogens. It is best to look for their larva, and thoroughly cook those once you have washed them.  Butterflies and Moths on the other hand are much cleaner and make a great roasted snack.  Butterfly and Moth larva are a delicacy in many countries.

  • Worms / Grubs

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Many worms and grubs can be eaten raw, but I rarely ever recommend you eat a bug raw.  I prefer to squeeze out any waste in their system, and then roast on a stick, fry, or even boil them.  Earthworms and mealworms have a real earthy dirt flavor, where as big grubs can actually have a delicious nutty flavor.  Don’t hesitate to eat these creepy crawlies.

  • Ants / Termites

Your average ants and termites are the one bug that I am not concerned about eating raw; however bullet ants, fire ants, and other stinging ants should be roasted or fried.  This keeps them from stinging you in your mouth or throat.  In rare cases anaphylaxis can cause swelling in the throat if stung, causing breathing issues.  For the most part I regularly let them climb on a stick, and then eat them off.  You can lick your finger which will cause them to stick to it, and eat them that way.  These little insencts are packed with tons of nutrients.

  • Grass Hoppers / Crickets

When I was a kid I loved catching grasshoppers.  Not so much fun when you haven’t eaten in a couple days, and are trying to get your hands on one.  The best way to procure jumping or flying insects is to create a swatter.  Usually I just get a stick with some branches on the end.  You have to find a good balance, because if there are too many branches it will slow down your swatter.

Once you catch them, the best thing to do is remove the head and pull out the entrails.  From there remove the any sharp wings or lower legs that might stab you or get stuck in your throat.  My favorite way to cook these delicious hoppers is to skewer them on a long thin stick (spice bush works great), and then roast over a camp fire.  This is a fun insect to get your kids started with.

  • Beetles / Water Bugs / Cockroaches

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I think out of all the bugs I have ever eaten, beetles and cockroaches have always been the hardest for me.  They taste pretty good, but they have strong skeletal structure making them crunchy, and just the thought of eating a roach is a little mind blowing.  They are one of the few creatures to survive and thrive after being exposed to nuclear matter.  Never the less cook thoroughly, and you are good to go.  Another fun fact: Cockroaches are the fastest insect on foot.  Because of this it is better to try and trap instead of catch.

Fun Bug Collection Items to Use with Your Kids:

Bug Net with 14″ Ring

Grasshopper / Cricket Cage, 6-Inch

Exploration Critter Case

Insects: An Edible Field Guide

Dark Chocolate Covered Crickets

There are numerous other edible bugs, over 1500 recorded species to be more exact, which include spiders, scorpions, slugs, bees, wasp, and dragonflies.  I personally choose to only eat bugs that aren’t as likely to cause me harm.  Remember to use safe food handling practices and wash your hands regularly while handling these injects.

*Caution: Never Eat any insects that you are not able to properly identify as edible.  Also, if you have any food allergies, do not any insect.

Show your support, share, and shop the provided links.  Looking for more interesting edible bugs read the article from Primal Survival – Guide to Eating Bugs.   If you are really interested in learning more, research entomophagy or entomology.

Thanks for Reading!

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Justin “Sage” Williams
Director / Lead Instructor
Sigma 3 Survival School

Survival Gadgets that Work!

During my 10+ years in survival I have seen hundreds of survival gadgets come and go.  Many of which I thought were clever, but would never make it, and others I thought would be great to have.  It is kind of like the fidget spinners.  They were extremely popular, and even bushcrafters were using them to make friction fire, but I knew the craze would die off.  Many survival gadgets are like that, but I wanted to share a few that I think are extremely useful:

Some of favorite survival gadgets that I use on a regular basis:

 

The Spool Tool
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There is nothing worse than tangled paracord (cordage).  If you have ever done any shelter building with cordage then you know what I am talking about.  The Spool Tool is amazing because it holds up to 100 ft of paracord, and it has a cutting blade and spot to hold a mini Bic lighter.    I absolutely love this thing.

Exotac FireSleeve
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This nifty gadget is great for keeping your Bic lighter dry.  I love kayaking, and in the winter time it is essential that you have good fire starters that will work even if they get wet.  The FireSleeve is a waterproof case for your Bic lighter.  It also has a rubber flap to slide over the gas button so it stays lit.  I did have to remove the child safety to get the flap to stay.  Overall great gadget for the price.

SpeedyJig Pro Paracord Bracelet Jig Kit
SpeedyJig Pro Paracord Bracelet Jig Kit  

I love survival bracelets, and they make excellent gift for kids and kids at heart.  Unfortunately a lot of them are overpriced, or the bracelet doesn’t fit right.  The great thing about the SpeedyJig is it is easy to use, and you can get the perfect fit every time.  Once you get the basics down then you can begin adding things to make it the ultimate survival bracelet.  I have one with some fishing line, hooks, jute twine, and even a small ferro rod attached to it.

Worksharp Guided Field Sharpener

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This amazing knife sharpener will get your blade extremely sharp.  Even if you have no experience sharpening knives the guides help you get the perfect angle for bushcraft.  I used to always struggle getting a consistent edge on my knives until I started using this handy gadget.  You can also sharpen serrations and fish hooks.  I love it’s versatility, and not only does it have diamond plates it also has a ceramic rod and leather strop on the sides.  I won’t go into the field without it.

MPOWERD Outdoor 2.0 – Inflatable Solar Light
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These amazing lanterns are great for backpacking because of their portability and weight.  They are extremely light, and they pack up nice and compact.  The inflatable design turns the light from and ordinary lamp into a bright lantern.  The best part is it is solar powered.  I had the opportunity to use one of these first hand recently during a search and rescue training I was doing.   It wasn’t no spotlight, but it lit up the area really well.  I plan on taking two with me when I go to the Jungle in June.

There are several gadgets out on the market right now, and there are sure to be hundreds more, but these 5 are winners in my book, and if you are looking at picking up any of these items be sure to support Sigma 3 and purchase from the links provided.

Thanks for Reading!
Justin “Sage” Williams
Director Sigma 3

 

Top 10 Scandi Grind Bushcraft Knives of 2018

Being a full time survival instructor I have the opportunity to truly test knives in the field and see how the hold up in not only professionals hands but amateurs as well. This list is my favorite blades of the last few years and have all proven to hold up extremely well in the field under harsh conditions. We run the longest outdoor wilderness survival programs in the country, and during these courses we see a lot of knives fail. Our philosophy at SIGMA 3 Survival School is to buy once, cry once. Meaning you should buy the highest quality gear you can afford because buying cheap gear now will just mean buying higher quality gear again later. Spend good money once and it will last you for years!

Since we believe the Scandi grind blade to be the best grind we are only going to cover knives with that grind. Now our bushcraft knives philosophy is to always carry two knives, one scandi and one sabre grind blade. That way you not only have a backup blade, but also have a larger more durable knife for heavier work. But this article will only cover Scandi grinds with a blade length of 4-6″, since we believe that you will use those type blades for 90% of your chores in the field . These choices will cover varying price ranges from mass production blades, to custom or semi custom bushcraft knives.

Top 10 Bushcraft Knives

  1. Morakniv Bushcraft Carbon Steel Survival Knife with Fire Starter and Sheath, Black ($60)- Best in budget blade for the money. This can be purchased for around $60 on Amazon and has great performance in general. This is a great choice for students looking for an entry level blade.
  2. SIGMORA Ultimate Bushcraft Blade ($250)- This is SIGMA 3’s custom designed blade that is suppose to be similar to a Mora style blade, but in full tang CPM3v crucible steel. It has a neutral grip and a very unique tinder scraper on the pommel, great for making very fine tinder for catching sparks.
  3. Bark River Bushcrafter 2 ($220)- This is a very sturdy blade designed for heavy duty bushcraft use. It has a well sculpted handle and has a scandivex grind versus the traditional scandi. Meaning it has a small secondary bevel on the edge to add durability to the blade. This type of grind doesn’t cut as aggressively, but is more controllable for things like feather sticking.
  4. Tops BOB Field Craft ($140)- This has been one of my favorite bushcraft knife for years and I have never seen it fail in the field. Typically I’m not a fan of TOPS knives at all, because of soft spines and edges. But this specific blade cuts well and is durable enough to hold up during our 45 day survival instructor course.
  5. Mora Companion HD ($20)- This is the cheapest of all the options listed and should be considered a secondary or backup blade. Our own instructor Josh Hamlin used one for around 5 years without seriously damaging it, but should not be considered a super durable blade. But for the money, it is one the best wood whittling blades you can get. For people on an extreme budget, this is the best option.
  6. Mora Garberg ($85)- This is Mora’s newest knife and is the first full tang blade they’ve made to date. While it is a good blade, we still prefer the Mora Bushcraft. We are not typically a fan of stainless steel blades but this one performs very well in the field.
  7. LT Wright Genesis ($210) – This knife has a very low scandi grind, and a very neutral handle. It has a good finish and great cutting ability. But still doesn’t outperform the SIGMORA blade, IMO.
  8. PKS Scorpion ($90)- This is Dave Canterbury’s knife shop design and we have seen it used in our courses numerous times. It holds up well and above all is very reasonably priced. The steel is somewhat softer than some of the other blades, but the design is rock solid and should be a consideration for budget minded bushcrafters.
  9. ESEE Knives Camp Lore RB3 Knife With Leather Sheath ($90)- This is ESEE’s bushcraft model and designed for light to medium duty bushcrafting jobs. It has a softer steel and is a factory production knife, so the quality isn’t as high as some of the other blades mentioned. We prefer the Mora, SIGMORA, and Bark River knives better.
  10. Condor Tool & Knife 60005 Blasted Satin Blade with Micarta Handle Bushlore Camp Knife and Leather Sheath, 4-5/16-Inch– This blade is one of the cheapest options and shouldn’t be considered high quality by any means. But the design is solid and it holds up well in the field for light bushcraft tasks. Since its so cheap you can buy 2-3 for the same price as some other knives. It’s great choice for the budget minded bushcrafter.

 

Most Important Aspects of any Bushcraft Knife:

  • Handle- The handle must be contoured for a neutral grip and you must be able to hold it in a variety of grips. Any bushcraft knife handle shouldn’t have any places that will create hotspots on the hands. Its essential that your blade be comfortable to use for many hours at a time. Stay away from contoured or rough grip handles or any tactical style grips.
  • Steel- Our favorite steels is CPM3v. All other knives listed in other steel types will not be nearly as durable or high performance as the CPM3v. There are so many steels to list that we could write an essay on just that subject. But stick with a good carbon steel and you’ll be fine.
  • Sheath- Sheath type is a personal choice. Kydex has better mounting options, but tends to break easier and is harder on the edge of the blade. It also doesn’t protect from rust like leather does. Leather is preferable for most situations because the leather can be treated with oil to help prevent rust from moisture in the air.
  • Grind- There are tons of grinds available, but the two top choices are Scandi and Scandivex grinds. A close second would be a flat grind or asymetrical grind such as the Bark River Bravos offer.
  • Handle material- We prefer micarta for our bushcraft knife handles. They are durable and have a good grip when wet. Its best if the micarta is sanded and left rough on the outside.

Conclusion:

Of all the items a survivalist or bushcrafter can spend their money on, the single most important they make will be their knife. With a knife and the right skills, that is literally all you need to survive in most areas. It should be your most well considered survival purchase and we recommend buying two good blades. One scandi and one heavy duty sabre grind style blades. Just remember buy once, cry once is our philosophy! Its far better to spend more money the first time than to buy a cheap knife and then just turn around later and buy a higher quality knife.

Quick Bugout Bag Checklist

The term bugging out is a term survivalist preppers and some military use when talking about getting out of a certain situation.  A bugout bag is a handy set of ready to go items that you can just grab and go.  Some people prefer the term “B.O.B.”(Bug Out Bag) or “Go Bag.”  The general rule of thumb is to have enough supplies in your bug out bag to survive at least 3 days, although sometimes bug out bags are made to last 7 – 21 days, and even indefinitely.
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Depending on your skillset and how much survival training or knowledge your posses it is possible to survive with a knife alone. Even the most skilled survivalists would rather have more tools with them than just a knife. I mean why would you want to make surviving harder on yourself.

We have compiled a list of must-have items that our Instructor’s recommend, as well as a list of items to put inside your bug out bags.  These items could vary depending on the climate you live in but for the most part, they will stay the same.


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3 Day Bugout Bag Checklist
– 3 Days is the bare minimum amount you will want to have enough supplies for.  Having enough water and food can easily be packed into a small bag. The 3 day kit is designed to meet your initial needs.  It provides for the key components to any short-term survival situation.  Shelter, Fire, Water, Food, and Security.  It is designed to get you by for the first 72 hours until you can resupply or relocate to a safer, more plentiful location.  Other than food and water your 3 Day B.O.B. should contain :

21 Day Bugout Bag Checklist – Beyond those primary needs you will need to extend your kit.  When building out your bug out bag consider keeping it modular.  You should be able to simply attach your 3 Day Bag right on to your 21 Day Bag.  This prevents you from having to pack all the same items into two separate bags.  In addition to your 3 Day Bag, your 21 Day Bug Out Bag should include:

INCH Bag “I’m Never Coming Home”Checklist  – You can’t possibly carry enough supplies to last forever, but with some training, you could survive for a very long time and possibly indefinitely.  The INCH Bag contains all the items in your 3 and 21 Day Bug Out Bags, but also includes everything you feel like you can’t live without.  In the event your home becomes uninhabitable due to disaster or hostile environments you will want to secure invaluable items.  This could include everything from photos, family heirlooms, and items that bring you joy and fulfillment. The list of INCH Bag items is only limited by your ability to transport those items.

This list is provided to give you some options. You may not need to carry every item on it. Just things to consider.

Preparedness is key, and having a quick bugout bag ready to go at a moments notice could be the difference between survival and worst case scenario.  In closing, the items recommended in this list have been tested in the field by experienced survival instructors.  Show your support, share and shop the links provided in this blog post.

Thanks for Reading!
Justin “Sage” Williams
Director Sigma 3