Contents of page
While Vaseline-impregnated cotton balls
have been used as firestarters for years, a new way of carrying
them was reported in the March/April issue of the Backwoodsman.
John Platt wrote about his success using short lengths of
plastic fast-food-type straws to protect cotton-and-Vaseline
fire starters. He says they're durable and easy to carry,
and that by punching a small hole in one end, they can be
threaded on a lanyard to prevent loss. Platt claims that his
three-inch-long straw firestarters will burn for two minutes.
After thoroughly saturating a pulled-apart
cotton ball with Vaseline, cut a straw to length, maybe three
inches. Carefully seal one end with a lighter. Next, tightly
pack the straw with the Vaseline-impregnated cotton using
the end of a swab. Before sealing the open end, Platt cautions
readers to use a clean swab to remove any Vaseline and cotton
from the last half inch of the straw's open end before sealing
it to prevent accidental ignition. I would recommend you leave
any completed straws outside for a few days to prevent an
accidental fire, just in case the flame-sealing process conceals
To light a straw firestarter, Platt recommends
that you cut the straw down one side and carefully fluff-out
the cotton before igniting it. He claims they're easy to light,
even with a traditional flint and steel tool, or metal match,
like the magnesium fire starter, which every seasoned woodsperson
Source: "The Firestraw,"
by John Platt, in the March/April 2002 issue of the Backwoodsman
magazine, pp. 57-58.
If you're in the market for a high-quality
foolproof, lightweight stove, check out the simple, alcohol
burning Mini-28 and Westwind model stoves from the fine Swedish
Titan Mountain Sports
(select "titanium cooksets" and scroll down)
REI also sells the Mini-28 on its Web
For more information about lightweight
alcohol stoves, visit the rations
and stoves page .
To learn more about fundamental wilderness
skills, read the following journals.
Wilderness Way--Primitive Skills
and Earth Wisdom
P.O. Box 621
Bellaire, Texas 77402-0128
Woodslore, Survival, Homesteading, History, Indian Lore
P.O. Box 627
Westcliffde, Colorado 81252
A great way to peruse a wealth of information
contained in the U.S. Army's Field Manuals (FM) is to log
on to General Dennis Reimer's Training and Doctrine Digital
Library at http://www.adtdl.army.mil.
Interesting titles include:
Map Reading and Land Navigation
(Army FM 3-25.26)
Topographic Symbols (Army FM 21-31)
Topographic map symbols
Tracking and Countertracking, Evasion,
and Escape, and Survival (Appendix F) in Long-Range Surveillance
Unit Operations (Army FM 7-93),
Basic Cold Weather Manual (Army
Long-Range Surveillance Unit Operations
(Army FM 7-93)
First Aid for Soldiers (Army FM
Physical Fitness Training (Army
Survival (Army FM 21-76)
Night Ops (Appendix K) in Long-Range
Surveillance Unit Operations (Army FM 7-93)
Good info on how to move in the wilderness after dark
If you're in the market for a new GPS unit,
you may want to make sure you get one with the latest technology,
one that's WAAS-enabled. Developed for the FAA, the Wide Area
Augmentation System (WAAS) uses a system of ground stations
to correct "for GPS signal errors caused by ionospheric
disturbances, timing and satellite orbit errors," according
to Garmin. What does this mean to you? It means readings that
are up to five times more accurate than non-WAAS-enhanced
Michigan users may experience intermittent
availability--50 percent functionality according to one local
GIS expert--until the system is fully implemented in the northern
reaches of the United States. As currently implemented, the
WAAS network relies on low altitude satellites positioned
near the equator. Trees, buildings, hills, foilage, etc.,
can easily block signals from these low altitude satellites.
If a GPS unit can't lock on to a WAAS signal, it simply reverts
to the uncorrected GPS signal.
To learn more about WAAS, as well as what
GPS models are WAAS-capable, point your Internet browser to:
Wide Area Augemtation System
Federal Aviation Administration
Magelan Systems Corp.
OTHER GPS MANUFACTURERS
Lowrance Electronics, Inc.
in late '00, the Guardian Plus, Guardian Plus Combo pack,
and Global Water Express filters failed EPA tests for virus
removal. 1-800-531-9531. http://www.sweetwaterfilters.com
in late '00, the Stop Top Carbon Cartridge for the Explorer,
Scout, and Voyageur filters was found to limit virus removal.
Source: Backpacker Mag. 10-'00
Now is the time to inventory the
contents of your wilderness first-aid kits and restock or
replace items that have been used or damaged, or are expired.
For supplies, check:
Chinook Medical Gear
Giardia lamblia--a protozoan commonly
known as beaver fever--caught up with one of our own a couple
weeks after the Oct '01 Fox River Trip. For another two
weeks, the tripper suffered, loosing 25 pounds before a
doctor diagnosed it. Let this be a reminder to all of us.
Treat all surface water in '02, and watch your technique.
Many trippers get beaver fever from using purifiers and
iodine tablets improperly. I have had it twice over the
years too. For more info
about iodine tablets, visit the camping
skills page on the Rucksack and contact:
ultralight discussion groups, gear reviews, packing tips,
equip lists, check out Backpacker magazine's new ultralight
Check your "waterproof"
them to prevent movement: either add additional
matches, staggering the heads, or add packing material so
the matches cannot move about in the box. If you fail to
do this, you may find nothing but several match sticks and
some fine powder (ground up matchheads) in the box when
you need them most.
match heads dry out: these matches are more water-repellent
than water-proof: If you get them wet and fail to dry them
out, the matchheads will turn to mush. If the box and striker
stay wet, they too may become useless. This is one more
reason to carry a magnesium fire starter--a standard item
in military survival kits. Order one today from Campmor
(item no. 23131, $6) so you're prepared when we ford our
at discount gear vendors