Map, Compass & GPS

Map, Compass & GPS
Wild flowers along Fall Creek on the way to the Green Lakes - Oregon

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Garbage Bag Shelters

Is a garbage bag shelter part of your survival kit?

Just why would you put a garbage bag is your survival kit?

I don't.  I use something that I think is better.

I am particular about my survival kit and it's components.  I use several of the simple shelters made available from  I carry one in my hunting day pack and my hiker's pack.

I don't use a garbage bag.  I'll use two brightly colored, 4 mil bags.  They weigh next to nothing.  They are highly visible.  Most importantly they provide a  wind and water proof shelter.  Don't think that such a shelter is going to be warm and "comfy."  Think of them as an emergency shelter that will keep you out of the elements.  It's all about maintaining 98.6.
Kummerfeldt has an excellent explanation is his book, "Surviving a Wilderness Emergency."

My friend Leon has an excellent post on such a shelter here.  Take note that the shelter bag will be cut to provide an access for your head but your arms are kept inside with no opening for them.

I'll take this one step further.  I'll take a large, 2-3 mil bags that are used by my local tire ship.  These bags are folded and then compressed with a couple of heavy books.  The bags are then put in a sandwich bag for storage in my pack.  I'll use these bags to keep my pack and gear dry in a rain or snow storm.  After one use I'll toss them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Signal Mirrors

Signal Mirrors – an often under appreciated piece of your survival gear

by Peter Kummerfeldt

There may come a time when you will need to attract the attention of a rescuer. It could be because your car has broken down and left you stranded miles from help. You might be injured and unable to get back to family and friends. You might be lost and have no idea which direction to take to get back to your vehicle or perhaps your camp. In situations like these you need to be able to draw attention to yourself, to signal quickly and effectively. Not being able to do so could place your life in danger. With emergency signaling several things must be remembered. First, if you haven’t left a trip plan with a couple of reliable family members or friends indicating what your intentions are, where do those who will be looking for you, search? Second, if no one knows you are in trouble, your attempts to signal for help may be totally ignored. Third, even if search and rescue personnel are looking for you it may still be very difficult to locate you unless you do something to increase your chances of being seen or heard.

To read the complete article  go here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Alcohol Stove Fuel

The following is another great stove related post by Hikin_Jim 

A lot of people interested in going light are trying alcohol as a fuel. But if you head down to the store, you'll see all kinds of alcohol. Which alcohols are good choices for stove fuel? Which ones are poor choices?
Alcohol as a Stove Fuel (in order of best fuel to worst fuel)

The best alcohol fuel is ethanol (ethyl alcohol). It has the highest number of calories per gram* of any alcohol fuel (I really don't consider dirty-burning isopropanol to be an alcohol fuel) and burns the cleanest. If you can get lab grade "absolute" (200 proof) ethanol or 190 proof liquor, that's going to work really well, but both of those (lab grade absolute ethanol or 190 proof "drinking" alcohol) are pretty expensive -- if you can even get them. Lab grade absolute ethanol is often restricted as to whom can purchase it (i.e. not the general public), and many locations prohibit the sale of high proof drinking alcohol. Check the Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on lab grade absolute ethanol which may contain benzene which is toxic.

Another option is "denatured" alcohol which should consist primarily of ethanol. The problem in the US is that there are no standards for what constitutes denatured alcohol. In fact, some denatured alcohols in the US are less than 50% ethanol. In addition sometimes nasty stuff is used to denature the alcohol (render it undrinkable), stuff like methyl ethyl ketone, whose fumes you don't really want to breathe. "Green" denatured alcohol generally has a much higher ethanol content and a lower "nasty stuff" content. Check the MSDS. The higher the ethanol content, the better it is for use as a fuel.

To read the rest of the article go here.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rescue At Sea

Survival at sea.  Boy, were these guys lucky!!!!

Fishing six miles out at sea (off Martha's Vineyard) in a 20' boat, their boat sinks and now they are in the water.  Thank goodness their marine radio worked.

Check out the video below.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Families In The Outdoors

      Central Oregonians are fortunate to be close to some of the finest forests and trails in the nation. Our woodlands offer spectacular recreation opportunities and vistas, all at amazingly affordable rates. The forest system is an incredible place to recreate with your children. Children find the outdoors a place to learn, explore, and let their imagination run wild.

As you prepare to head for the trails safety is the first thing to consider and it’s best to make a consistent practice of a few key concepts. First, always let a responsible person know what your plans are. Let them know who is going, where you are going and when you will return. Should you not return on time it is this person that contacts 911. Pack a trail kit with you; always. The “10 essentials” is your baseline to start with (See side bar.) Always pack a snack, water and an emergency shelter (such as a heavy duty trash bag.) You will find how little room it takes in your pack. A good book to review is “Build the Perfect Survival Kit” by John McCann. Retailers REI and Cabela’s have fine check lists online too.

A map, compass or GPS always goes with you on the trail. Children are quick to learn how a GPS works and find it “cool.” Navigation can be great show and tell time. June Fleming’s book “Staying Found” is a fine resource for land navigation and has great ideas to orient your child in the campground or back country. Demonstrating your ability to navigate builds your child’s confidence in you and truly breaks you out from your friends; most adults don’t have a clue. Land navigation classes are available through COCC’s Community Learning Department (www., 541 383 7270) and Outdoor Quest (, 541 280 0573.)
Let’s leave the electronics in the car and off the trail. Each trip can be a learning experience. Have a simple goal and keep it achievable for the youngest in the group. Ask who can spot an eagle first or what fish can we find in the stream? Field guides are a big help here.

We are the stewards of our woodlands and it’s up to us to develop the respect and share the responsibility. Young people quickly recognize poor woodland behavior amongst others; you set the example. Demonstrate your own respect by picking up litter and staying on the marked trail; “leave no trace” has become the rule in outdoor travel.

Fun on the trail creates special memories for everyone in the family. It’s inexpensive and easy. With little effort it can be rewarding and safe. You will interact with your child on a new level.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

OutdoorSafe with Peter Kummerfeldt: The Fork in the Road: To Stay Put or Continue On?

OutdoorSafe with Peter Kummerfeldt: The Fork in the Road: To Stay Put or Continue On?: "If someone knows where you have gone, the search will be quicker and easier for the Search and Rescue teams! Past articles have defined t..."

Is Your Stove Burning Too Much Fuel?

Are you burning three times the fuel you should? You might be — without even realizing it. What’s the issue? Wind.

by hiking_jim

OK, so here’s the deal: If you’re not blocking the wind, the wind is robbing you. It’s robbing you of fuel and time. You’re going to be burning more fuel, yes the fuel that you carried ounce by precious ounce on your aching back, and here you are just throwing it down the drain, yes, that fuel. And time: You could be done by now but on this windy night your pot hasn’t even begun to boil. Say, you weren’t hungry were you? Oops.

How can we stop this thief? With a windscreen. Not using a windscreen could result in fuel usage up to 300% of what you might otherwise* need. And, yes, you could go through your entire fuel supply without ever bringing your pot to a boil.

What’s that you say? Your stove’s directions say “don’t use a windscreen?” Well, fair enough, we can’t use a complete and total windscreen on every stove, but you still don’t have to just sit there doing nothing and be at the mercy of the wind. Read on, dear reader, read on.

Note: If you’re using an integrated canister stove such as a Jetboil (except GCS) or an MSR Reactor, you’ve already got some pretty good wind protection. This article is far less critical for you.

OK, first let’s let’s define what we’re talking about here so we’re all on the same sheet of music. There are a couple of basic types of stoves out there: upright and remote. An upright stove has burner right on top of the fuel, for example an MSR Pocket Rocket.

To read the rest of the article go here.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Solar Flare Activity - Watch Your GPS

The following is from CNN - keep track of what your GPS is telling you!

Editor's note: Amy Gahran writes about mobile tech for She is a San Francisco Bay Area writer and media consultant whose blog,, explores how people communicate in the online age.

(CNN) -- We're the peak of the 11-year solar cycle, so double-check your GPS, and watch where you're going.

On Thursday, the sun unleashed a massive solar flare (see video of the flare and how its effects have been moving toward Earth). Solar flares can disrupt radio communications, including devices that use Global Positioning System technology, such as cell phones, airplanes and car navigation systems.

So if you're relying on your GPS for driving directions, to find your location on your phone's mapping tool or for any other purpose, have a backup navigation system handy, such as a printed map.

Even more important, pay close attention to where you are and where you're going. Don't rely solely on your GPS to give you directions.

In 2006, research from Cornell University proved that solar flares can cause GPS devices to lose signal. This can cause these devices to temporarily misrepresent your location or otherwise malfunction.

"If you're driving to the beach using your car's navigation system, you'll be OK. If you're on a commercial airplane in zero visibility weather, maybe not," said Paul Kintner Jr., head of Cornell's GPS Laboratory. In fact, the Cornell researchers warned in 2006 that 2011 would probably see lots of GPS disruption.

In addition, solar flares can disrupt power systems.

This week, National Geographic reported: "Under the right conditions, solar storms can create extra electrical currents in Earth's magnetosphere -- the region around the planet controlled by our magnetic field. The electrical power grid is particularly vulnerable to these extra currents, which can infiltrate high-voltage transmission lines, causing transformers to overheat and possibly burn out."

Across the nation, electric utilities and grid operators are preparing to respond to such problems.

John Bogdan, director of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center, told The Associated Press that a number of such blasts is expected over the next three to five years -- and the biggest flares are yet to come. On a scale of one to five, he likened this week's flare to "probably a two or three."

This week's flare (called a "coronal mass ejection") registered M9.3 on the "Richter scale of flares," about the highest level in the "medium" category. Larger flares that fall into the "X" category can cause global radio blackouts, but large M-class flares also can cause radio disruptions.

This is one of a series of recent bouts of severe space weather, as the solar cycle approaches solar maximum in 2013. Other major flares came in February and June, and more may follow. A good place to follow solar activity is