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Leon's Blog

What is SurvivalCommonSense.com? And why should you care?

What is SurvivalCommonSense.com? And why should you care?

SurvivalCommonSense.com was in the development stage long before anyone ever heard of the internet, reality TV shows or preppers.

by Leon Pantenburg

My wildest dreams never included editing a wilderness/survival website.

But I’ve been an outdoors enthusiast as long as I can remember (Here’s my bio), and for years I was a Boy Scout and Girl Scout volunteer. In those capacities, I taught survival and various wilderness skills. I took part in these activities because I enjoy them, and never thought about how the skills might be important down the road

In my current day job, I am an instructor/mentor for communications students at Central Oregon Community College, in Bend, Oregon. I don’t claim to be a survival expert. I am always learning, and always looking for new information related to wilderness/urban survival. I spent most of my career as a journalist, and for years, I was an investigative reporter.

Indirectly, that lead to this website. In 2006, I was working for The Bulletin in Bend. Within a one-month period, two people died of hypothermia after getting lost in the backcountry. Subsequently, I was assigned an investigative assignment that would result in a winter survival guide for Central Oregon.

The research opened my eyes. I couldn’t believe the mis-information and just plain BS that was promoted as fact. The winter survival guide was published in 2007, went over very well, and received several awards.

Concurrently, I continued teaching scouters and kids wilderness skills. After one session, a parent commented:

Leon's snow cave

I love winter camping and making snow shelters!

“What you teach is simple and easy. It’s just common sense survival.”

And also, I was getting increasingly concerned about the proliferation of “survival” shows on TV. While they did get people interested in the concept of survival, most of these shows sacrificed valid information for ratings. Some of the hosts’ shenanigans were dangerous, and provided a very bad role model for inexperienced viewers.

I guess my wife, Debbie, got tired of hearing me rant and rave about dangerous advice, non-realistic programming and charlatan survival instructors. She lined up the initial website, and Debbie’s comment  was essentially “Put up or shut up.”

So SurvivalCommonSense.com came on line in late 2009. Initially, I intended it as a resource for scout volunteers.  To my amazement, people from all over the world started following the site, and today, SurvivalCommonSense.com gets thousands of views daily and has reached millions of people. (Check out the YouTube page.)


I’m active outdoors year-round. My favorite season is whichever one is going on.

Here’s why it works. I never claimed to know everything. But I do know a lot of survival subject matter experts, and my interviewing skills and investigative experience means my BS alarm is finely-tuned. I question and test everything

And that’s what you’re going to get on this website – factual, proven survival techniques and equipment  that can help you survive any emergency. And thanks to our sponsors, this information is available, free of charge, to anyone who is interested.

Thanks for stopping in, and welcome!

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Please click here to check out and subscribe to the SurvivalCommonSense.com YouTube channel, and here to subscribe to our weekly email update – thanks!

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Leon's Blog

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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