“Survival Hacks: Over 200 ways to use everyday items for Wilderness Survival” by Creek Stewart
by Leon Pantenburg
For a do-it-yourselfer, wilderness survival is a natural. Us gearheads are always looking for the latest and most advanced equipment, but half the fun of preparedness and urban/wilderness survival is figuring out how to adapt ordinary items to extraordinary circumstances.
That’s why Creek Stewart’s latest book “Survival Hacks: Over 200 ways to use everyday items for Wilderness Survival’ such a fun read.
Stewart is a wilderness survival instructor, and the author of the bestselling Build the Perfect Bug Out series of books. He’s also the host of Fat Guys in the Woods on the Weather Channel, a show where Stewart and several overweight men take to the woods for a week of hardship, starvation, sleep deprivation and self discovery. He’s the owner and founder of Willow Haven Outdoor survival training schools in Central Indiana.
The fully-prepped and outfitted outdoorsperson will not end up in a survival situation, but rather, may experience an inconvenient night out.
But when the shinola hits the fan, and you don’t have your stuff, improvisation is the only choice.
I leafed through the book, looking for some of my favorite improvs that don’t work (for me). There was no firemaking using a soda can and Hershey bar. On the other hand, there was the Hobo Candle heater, which uses two terracotta flower pots and small candles. The heater I made, using a similar pattern, didn’t produce much heat.
But the rest of the tips seem to be valid.
I didn’t know:
Ramen noodles can be used to make a stove. (I knew they are inedible!) Just saturate the noodles with HEAT gasline antifreeze, and light, and the noodles are supposed to burn for about 20 minutes.
Cut up a bra to make a debris mask. This could be very useful when there is a lot of wind-driven sand, ash or particles in the air. Not to mention, the cup could filter out some airborne disease-carrying germs.
Make a fire with a guitar pick: I generally carry a pick in my pocket, since you never know when a jam session might break out. According to Stewart, picks are made of celluloid, which is highly flammable. Scrape shavings off the edge, and ignite them with a ferrocerium rod or other ignition source.
Get a magnifying glass from the drug store. Those credit-card-sized magnifying glass are designed to be used to enlarge print. This makes them a very practical firestarter tool. I got one after reading this.
Make a knife sheath from old CD cases: The black plastic on CD cases is kydex, a plastic that can be heat formed and molded. Heat the plastic over a fire or in an oven, and you’ll be able to mold the material around the blade, making for a sturdy, safe sheath.
Probably the best part of the book is the how-to section at the back that describes how to improvise seven different survival kits from common items. These suggestions should get you thinking about how you can make the best survival kit for your particular needs.
Survival Hacks isn’t a survival manual, and all the equipment hacks should be tried before you consider adding them to your survival gear. But the book is an entertaining read.
While I wouldn’t recommend this as a must-have survival book, it is fun. And it would be a good book to have around during a rainy afternoon in camp.