AOM – How to Choose the Perfect Survival Knife

26 11 2013

Guest contributor from Creek Stewart of Willow Haven Outdoor provides 6 good pieces of advice in choosing the perfect survival knife.

6 Important Survival Knife Features

1: Size

2: Fixed Blade

3: Full Tang

4: Sharp Pointed Tip

5: Single-Edged Blade with Flat Ground Spine

6: Solid Pommel

Read the whole article with alot of great pictures at the Art of Manliness


Battle Humidity to Avoid Cold Feet

23 10 2012

By Major Per Kristian Dahl, Centre of Excellence for Cold Weather Operations (Norway)

Throughout the centuries battles and wars have been lost because of bad weather conditions. One of the most famous ones is Napoleon’s campaign against Russia in 1812. You have most certainly heard stories from World War I and the problem the soldiers faced in the trenches getting immersion foot (trench foot). This is for many a distant problem ignorant to the fact that this also was a problem for soldiers during the Falklands War and still is especially for units operating in littoral waters. This short introduction in history points out some lessons to be learned. First of all; cold weather is more than low temperatures and includes humidity as well.Secondly; the weather conditions will recur and affect future operations as well.

Cold feet feels devastating for many soldiers since it creates more concern, reduces the motivation and combat readiness more than anything else. I have taught some lessons throughout the years, which I will share with you in this article. I will bring you through a short introduction to the multilayer system. Then the article will focus on three faces; preparations before operations, routines during activity and routines in bivouac.

Read the rest of this entry »

Outward Bound Canada Veteran’s Programs

10 10 2012

All current and former serving members of the Canadian Forces should take a serious look at Outward Bound Canada’s Veterans program.

Offering week-long adventure-based resiliency training for veterans in the Canadian Rockies, Outward Bound Canada’s Veterans Program is open to all current and former members of the Canadian Forces and is an opportunity to build upon outdoor and cold weather operations skills while connecting with other veterans in a supportive environment.

Outward Bound Canada has received generous financial support from a number of partners and sponsors, which pays 100% of the course tuition and travel and there is no cost to participate on this program. 

For more information contact Outward Bound Canada.

Phone 1.888.OUTWARD (688.9273), Ext 205,

ALSO: Check out their well produced YouTube vid:

Bushcraft: Racking Out When its Cold

14 03 2011

So you’ve been out on patrol and its time to hit the “fartsack” for a good nights (or couple of hours) sleep. Here are some tips to prepare yourself for the best possible rest in a cold weather environment.

Hydrate, Hydrate and Hydrate. Not unlike operations in hot weather, operating in cold weather conditions takes a lot out of your body and the body’s demand for water in the winter is essential. As your lungs lose more moisture humidifying and warming the dry, cold winter air on average a soldier requires anywhere between 2.5 to 5 liters per day. In order to burn fuel efficiently you must keep your body hydrated.

Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Caffeine is a diuretic causing accelerated water loss and dehydration. Alcohol creates peripheral vessel dilation resulting in the rapid loss of body heat. Nicotine, a vasoconstrictor, decreases circulation to your extremities and promotes frostbite.

Eat a hot, hearty meal for dinner. Your body will use this fuel to keep you warm throughout the night. Don’t eat your ration cold, take the time and heat it up. Chuck the instant coffee and opt for some hot chocolate or whey powder!

Eating a a high calorie, high fat content snack before bedtime will give your body more fuel to help keep you warm. If you bring snacks remember that proteins, such as cheese, nuts, or grains, are better than simple sugars. Maybe even put some chocolate whey powder in your pack!

Go to the bathroom before bed and save yourself a middle of the night trip in the cold. If you do have to get up in the night remember to save your ration pack wrapper for some midnight slippers over your socks!

Bushcraft: Arctic Shelter Tip from Russian Spetsnaz

15 02 2011

Russia’s deadly arctic warriors are experts at fighting and surviving in the world’s coldest regions.

These are their tips for when sheltering:

  • Do not sleep on bare ground. Use insulating materials such as spruce or pine boughs, dry grass, dried moss or leaves.
  • Do not cut wood that is over-sized for your shelter: it uses valuable energy and requires more cord for lashings.
  • The superstructure poles must be the largest and strongest: everything else rests on them.
  • Do not scatter your kit on the ground: keep it in one place to avoid loosing it.
  • Have a fire going before you build your shelter: it can be used as a heat source, a morale booster and can provide boiling water to drink later.
  • Use clove hitches (How to Video) and finish with square knots (How to Video) for securing boughs together.

Bushcraft: How to Select a Winter Tent Site

14 02 2011

Gimili MB 8, 2011.Winnipeg - Soldiers from The Arctic Response Company Group set up their 10-person tent and get the Coleman stove started so they can cook their lunch.

Originally posted at

Picking the right site will definitely increase your level of comfort, but can also protect you from serious injury. Here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind.

Avoid Avalanche Zones

Before you pitch your tent make sure that you are not in an avalanche zone. Most avalanche zones have a slope of 40 degrees or higher, so avoid camping on them or in forest area below them. If you hear cracking sounds in the snow beneath you or see evidence of a prior slide, clear the area carefully.

Do Not Camp Under Snow Covered Branches

Snow covered branches can snap at night and fall on your tent. Avoid sleeping under them to prevent injury.

Avoid Valley Floors or Deep Canyons

Cold air flows downhill and pools at the bottom of valleys or canyons. To avoid this, don’t camp in a low spot.

Try to find Natural Wind Breaks

Moving air and wind will strip heat from you through a process known as convection. If possible, try to pitch your tent and dig your kitchen area behind a natural wind break such as a large boulder or small hill, or build one using snow blocks.

Camp Near Running Water

Melting snow takes a long time and burns through a lot of stove fuel. If you can find a tent site near running water, you can save yourself a lot of fuel and time by purifying existing sources. This can be done by boiling the water or warming it and treating it with chlorine dioxide tablets. Either way, you’ll save a lot of fuel.

Morning Sun

Sites that get morning sun will warm up faster in winter. They’re also useful if you need to dry out your sleeping bag due to internal condensation. In such cases, you should open the sleeping bag and drape it inside out over your tent. Many cold weather bags have black or darkly colored interiors to absorb more heat and accelerate the drying process.

Flatten the Snow under your Tent

Before you pitch your tent, flatten the snow under it by walking over it wearing snowshoes or boot. This will begin a process known as scintering, where the snow will harden into a firm platform. If the tent site you have selected is not level, you can shovel snow onto it and to adjust it’s pitch

Point Your Door Downhill

Point the front of your tent downhill when you pitch it. This will prevent cold air from flowing into your tent when you need to go outside.

Bushcraft: How to Prevent Tent Condensation in Winter

8 02 2011

Canadian Rangers pitch their tent in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, for Operation Nanook 10 on 14 Aug 2010. - Combat Camera

Re-posted from:

Tent condensation manifests itself either as frost on the inside surface of your tent or moisture droplets that are transferred from the inner tent to your clothing and gear. It is undesirable, particularly in winter, because it can make your gear wet and degrade its insulating properties

Here are a few camping tips to limit the amount of condensation buildup in a single or double-walled tent.

Vent Your Tent

The best way to prevent moisture from building up you tent is to help it escape by venting your tent. If your tent has a front door and an inner bug screen, you can unzip the outer door fully and still prevent snow from coming inside by keeping the screen closed.

Alternatively, if you side porches, like on the Tarptent Scarp 1 shown above, it’s best to open both of them up wide to prevent frost build-up inside. In my experience, venting though a smaller hole is far less effective at reducing condensation or frost build-up.

Don’t Cook in your Tent

If you can avoid it, don’t cook or melt water in your tent. This only turns it into a Turkish Steam bath. If the weather is just too crappy to avoid this, try digging a hole under your tent’s front porch, if you have one, and cook inside it with the door to the tent closed behind you.

Don’t bring snow into your tent

If you bring snow into the tent, you are significantly upping the chance that it will melt and increase the internal humidity in your tent. Brush all snow off your boots, back, ropes, and gloves before you get in the tent. If you have a porch outside the main door, leave all gear that doesn’t need to be dried there. If you bring snow into your tent despite these precautions, carefully sweep it out.

Don’t exhale into your sleeping bag

It’s tempting to put your head inside your sleeping bags on those long winter nights. Don’t do it. Keep your face clear of the bag and avoid exhaling moisture into your insulation. You can exhale a liter’s worth of water at night: not only will it degrade your insulation, but you’ll have to carry it all the next day as extra backpacking weight if it remains trapped in your bag.

Dry out your sleeping bag in the morning sun

If it’s sunny in the morning, open up your sleeping bag and dry it out in the sunlight on top of your tent. Many down sleeping bags have darkly colored interiors for just this purpose, to absorb as much of the sun’s radiation as possible and accelerate drying. Bringing a wet or damp sleeping bag back into your tent on a subsequent night is not desirable because it will create condensation and retain less of your body’s warmth. .

Put Wet Gear into a Stuff Sack

Don’t try to dry large items such as pants or a sweater in your sleeping bag at night. Instead, put them into a stuff sack, close it, and stuff it in your sleeping bag to keep the contents from freezing. If necessary, you can dry these garments using your body heat by wearing them the next day.

Those are some basic tips to stay dry in a winter tent. If you can recommend any others, please leave a comment.

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