Archive for November, 2010

Things to do in the Back Country. Be safe

November 24, 2010

Snow is here. We already have people lost in the back country. View this clip to have fun and prepare yourself so we won’t be needed. We have already been called out on missing back country hikers . Check weather, know the area, tell someone. Even if it is just a short trip. Things happen!

Be safe.

STOP for Survival: TIP

November 20, 2010

I teach a lot of survival classes. I have been running a web site for over 10 years and have had over 12 million visitors to

I get asked all the time, what is the most important survival tip I could give? I answer,”STOP.”

Whether you are lost, confused, dealing with children or dealing with work. When you need to take action, “Stop.”

I learned this from the time I was 5 in military schools all the way through West Point. It works.

STOP stands for, STOP, THINK, OBSERVE, PLAN and then ACT.

When I was diagnosed with Lymphatic Cancer last year and I was told I only had a couple of months to live, I did not react. I STOP. The doctor aske if I was alright? I said I was just calming myself and listning to what he had to say. I asked if I became upset, would that help my situation?

The answer was ,”No.”

I listened and formulated a plan. It was aggressive.

The result was and is I am still alive and kicking. I am in full remission.

In a survival situation, you need to do the same thing.

Calm yourself. Think and access the situation. What do you have? Do people know you are missing? Have you told anyone your were gone and where you were going.

Inventory your resources. Do you have shelter? Do you have water? Can you make fire? What do you need to survive? What do you need to do to be found. Stay where you are!! It is easier to find a stationary target then a moving one.

Observe your surroindings? Are you protected from exposure? Do you have water? Can you signal for help? Can you leave clues for searchers to find you?

Now Plan and act. Build that fire. Make that shelter. Make your site large to be found by searchers.

Stop: or settle. Calm yourself. Worry never solved anything.

You mental attitude is the most importnt survival tool you have. It has helped me get through West Point, Mountain Survival School, own two casinos and survive terminal cancer.

When you are in a stressful situation, remember to STOP! It will save your iife.

Cotton Kills in Winter

November 15, 2010

Cotton Kills!

I am a member of a search and rescue team. In addition, I have had over 45 years with back country experience. Teach winter survival and make sure my team members  are prepared for all conditions before a misson.

Winter is upon us again. If you are not prepared, the clothing you are wearing will kill you.

Whether you are going to the store, skiing, traveling to Grand Ma house or going into the back country, do not wear cotton clothing in the winter.

Cotton Kills!


When cotton becomes wet, it draws heat from your body. Your body can not produce enough heat to dry it out. Cotton clothing  absorbs, holds and wicks water through out it entire area.Wet cotton robs your body of heat.

In search and rescue operation, before our team memebers our sent out in winter, they go through a clothing check to insure they are not wearing cotton. This includes undergarments. If found, they will not be allowed to venture out into the cold.

Instead of cotton wear wool or fleece clothing.

Fleece and wool insulates while wet where cotton does not insulate.

Fleece and wool when wet still  retain heat and insulation abilities. They will move moisture away from your skin. Cotton holds the moisture next to your skin and wicks the heat from your body.

In thermodynamics, you learn that moisture holds more heat than air. When cotton becomes wet it is the equivalent of sitting in a sub freezing lake without any protection. The heat of your body is quickly moved away from the core and hypothermia is accelerated.

Next time you are going out in winter, remember not to wear cotton. Wear wool, fleece or other synthetic materials that will keep you warm when you are wet.

Remember “Cotton Kills.”

To learn more about survival, go to

Wearing cotton could be the death of you. Please do not do it.


Selecting a personal folding knife.

November 8, 2010

(This is a reprint from another blog. I agree with this article)

The folder you choose for personal protection needs to possess a few basic attributes:

1) Strong Lock/Hold Open Mechanism- It is imperative that whatever folder you choose, that it stay open during interpersonal defensive use. You may be thrusting the blade into hard surfaces such as bone which could cause a weak lock to collapse. Various locking mechanisms are available to include traditional lock backs, liner locks, rolling locks, lock-pins, mono-lock and the axis lock. Most commercial grade “Tactical Folding Knives” feature one of these type locks and they are all suitable on a personal protection folder. One caution; carefully test out any lock-back knife if considering it for ElocksDC for personal defense. Depending upon where the lock mechanism is placed along the spine of the folder, one of your fingers could depress the lock causing it to close when gripping the knife tightly such as during a critical life or death situation under extreme stress.

2) Fit in Hand when Closed- Preferably with some impact surface available at the top and bottom. You may have to access the folder while under attack when accessing of the folder is possible but not deployment of the blade. The exposed portion of the folding knife (out the top and bottom of the hand when gripped) can provide an effective impact tool until the blade can be deployed.

3) Tip Up Carry- Look for a folder that allows tip UP carry when in the pocket. This carry method eliminates having to rotate the folder into the hand when drawing from your carry position. Tip down carry requires rotation of the knife in the hand prior to deploying the blade. Under the stresses of a close range confrontation this adds another fine motor skill to the accessing process. This is largely user preference. Dedicated, consistent practice will allow some to access the knife from tip down carry rapidly. Just be aware that possession does not equal proficiency.

4) Robust Opening Mechanism- Research the different opening mechanisms such as the stud, hole, disc, auto opening, wave, assisted opening etc… Some guys (who can own them) love the auto opening knives but remember that under stress you may hit that button and open that knife when you may not want it opened. Waved knives like everything have pros and cons and do require proper training in indexing and deploying the blade.

I recommend the stud mechanism or hole like on a Spyderco or Benchmade TFK. These mechanisms are simple to deploy and will not open without me. Assisted opening knives often compromise the grip on the knife in order to actuate the assist mechanism which could lead to major problems during standing grapple and in-fight weapon access.

5) One Hand Opening- The folder you choose must allow you to open it one handed. During a critical incident your primary or support hand may be tied up fending or striking your opponent. You need to be able to access and deploy your TFK with one hand (either hand) and under the pressure and stress of an attack.

6) Non-Slip Surface -The grip or handle scales should be a non-slip texture such as a checked or stippled surface made of G10, zytel osurfacer ABS plastic. Hands may become covered in sweat or blood making anything you grasp slippery and difficult to retain. No stainless steel or polished wood scales for a personal protection knife if you intend to possibly defend your life with it.

7) Blade Design- Different blade designs offer different advantages. For me, it is more “methodology” driven. If you have trained or follow a school of thought that teaches slashing as a primary defense then a curved or drop point blade may be for you. If you follow a more point driven methodology then a needle-point or tanto type blade design known for penetration is more applicable.

8) Blade Length- Laws can vary greatly depending upon what state, city or county you reside in depending upon who you speak with. For example, NYS law says nothing about blade length. However I have spoken to numerous Law Enforcement Officers and district attorneys from different counties that say four inches is the legal limit. It has also been stated to me that blade length is measured from where the sharpened blade starts or what is referred to as the choil or on a fixed blade where the ricasso ends; essentially the edge or sharpened surface of the blade. Another individual told me blade length is measured from where the “metal starts coming out of the handle” to include the choil and ricasso. What this means is that you could have a 4″ length sharpened edge according to knife manufacturer specifications (which is what manufacturers go by) but when you add the unsharpened choil and ricasso you have 4.25-4.50″ of blade. This may or may not make that knife illegal in your jurisdiction. Because of this obvious lack of clarity or uniformity I recommend folders that are spec’d out at 2.0-3.5 inches for every day carry.

9) Pocket Clip- Finally, when selecting a tactical folding knife careful attention should be paid to the method in which you intend to carry. The most common method found on TFK’s today is the pocket clip. With this clip the TFK can be clipped inside a pant pocket, waistband, shirt lapel or a myriad of other locations. Look for a strong metal clip which can be attached to either side of the knife for left or right hand carry. Some folding knives such as older Cold Steel models first came with plastic clips which were prone to breakage. Choose a knife with a clip that is dark in color, the idea is to remain low profile when carrying any personal protection tool. Some TFK’s come with a bright silver clip which draws attention and/or reflects light. A dark clip will blend in with clothing and not stand out.

Selecting a folding knife for personal protection is a highly individual process. Go to a good cutlery store and handle several knives prior to purchasing. Similar to handguns, a knife that fits my hand and is comfortable for me to carry may not suit your personal likes and needs.

Survival Kit thoughts

November 7, 2010

Typically wilderness survival kits have first aid items, ways to make fire, a blade of some sort, and some water purification tablets. That’s the minimum in any case, and there are certainly other items in almost any kit that you buy. But of course not everyone is going into the same kind of terrain during the same seasons and engaging in the same activities. In other words, you might not find a kit that has just what you need in it. The solution? Build your own.To start with, you need a good nylon pouch or zippered bag to hold everything. You can start stocking it with the usual items. These should include matches, some other form of fire starter (lighter or magnesium stick), a signal reflector, whistle (also for signaling), water purification tablets, a compass, a knife, some cord, duct tape, paper, a pencil, needle and thread, safety pins, bandages, aspirin, gauze pads, sun block, antibiotic ointment, medical tape, tweezers, and moleskin.

Next, consider the types of environment you are normally going to be in. If you often hike in the desert, for example, a large garbage bag or piece of plastic might be a good idea. It can be used to make a solar still if you need water.

If you canoe to isolated locations far from civilization, fishing gear might be a good addition. A few rolls of line and a half-dozen hooks and split-shot sinkers will add only an ounce or so to the weight of the kit. This better prepares you to feed yourself should your other supplies get washed away.

If you do a lot of cold-weather backpacking you might include an emergency “survival blanket.” One of the metallic-plastic ones might weigh only a few ounces, yet work to warm you as well as keep the rain off of you.

If you hike in the mountains and are prone to twisted ankles or knee problems, add an ace bandage. If the metal hooks snag on things in your kit, you can leave them behind and just tuck the wrap into itself. I also sometimes carry an elastic knee-brace that weighs just a few ounces.

If you travel very far from roads or civilization in general, food can be a great addition as well. Find some granola bars or something else that has an expiration date a year away or more. That way you can leave the emergency food in your survival kit between trips, so you don’t forget it.

If you travel in cold wet places, add a good fire tinder that will light when wet. This could be cotton balls soaked with petroleum jelly, cardboard soaked in wax, or something similar. Alcohol-based gel hand sanitizer can help wet things burn as well (and can be used as a disinfectant).

Finally, consider making small survival kits for your pocket. Losing gear is not that uncommon, but you rarely lose the clothes you are wearing. This kind of kit should have aspirin, waterproof matches, a bandage, and a small amount of duct tape. You can add other items, but keep the whole thing small enough and light enough to comfortably carry in a pocket.