FAT GUYS IN THE WOODS: BLOG SKILL SERIES: Jam Knot

Remember these cool shelters that Joe, Opie, Zach and I built in the river valley?

shelter-circle

One very important part of building this shelter is the bed frame similar to what I’ve shown below. 3-4″ diameter logs are stacked log cabin style to build a frame that can contain bedding materials (leaves/boughs/branches/grass,etc) and help brace the arch-style roof.  The logs are lashed together using the JAM KNOT.  I love this knot and it’s one of the most useful outdoor knots I know and I’d like to use this opportunity to teach it to you.

bed-frame

I’ve never been a big fan of teaching knots with the written word or photos so I’ve filmed a short video where I describe how to tie it step-by-step.  Below is the embedded video and here is the link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQxPvWTT3PM

It’s such a simple knot to use and works perfect for bed frames to contain loose natural insulation.

creek-stewart-bug-out-book

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

creek-stewart-survivalist

King Kong Ain’t Got #$@% On My Horsetail Sleeping Pad: Don’t let Mother Nature suck the life out of you

 

Thank you Denzel for that perfect introduction.  If you are in a Survival Situation and someone steals your Therma-Rest –   not all hope is lost!

I’d like to start this post with the definition of CONDUCTION:

con·duc·tion : [kuhn-duhk-shuhn] : noun – the transfer of heat between substances that are in direct contact with each other

 

For the purpose of this post, those 2 substances are YOUR BODY and THE GROUND.  If the ground it colder than your body and you lay on it, it will SUCK THE LIFE right out of you like a blood-thirsty vampire.  This is certainly a recipe for hypothermia.  In cold weather survival scenarios (and any scenario for that matter), there should always be a layer of protection & insulation between your body and the cold earth.  You probably won’t have a modern closed cell foam sleeping pad in a sudden survival scenario.

Don’t Worry – Mother Nature has your back covered – literally!

 

When it comes to insulating your back-side, Mother Nature has you covered.  You can use a variety of natural materials as a sleeping ground pad.  Below is a short list:

  • Grasses
  • Leaves
  • Tree Branch Boughs – evergreen branches work great – when you stack them on top of each other alternate how you lay them

Just seeing that picture makes me want to take a nap.

I wrote this post, though, about a very specific plant that makes an incredible sleeping insulation pad.  It takes a little more effort than an leaf bed or bough bed but would be worth the time in an extended survival scenario and is the closest match I can think of to modern closed-cell foam technology.  This plant is the Horsetail.

Horsetail is a very interesting plant.  It is comprised of sections and resembles mini bamboo except it isn’t hard like bamboo.  It looks like an ancient plant you would see in a Jurasic Park movie.  I’ve only ever seen it growing at the edge of or near water.  You can’t miss it – there is no other plant like it.

Horsetail grows from 2-4 feet tall and is hollow.  I’ve used it as a blow-tube before for making coal burned containers.  You can compress it with your fingers and it pops back into shape.  It’s springy and spongy and when you gather several of them together, you can easily make a nice foam-like pad.  Below, see how I’ve used Horsetail to make a long term survival sleeping pad.

First, I gathered a huge batch of horsetail plants – cutting them off at the base.

Then, I made fist-full sized bundles.

And tied them together at both ends using natural cordage from the Rafia Palm.  You can also use dried grasses or cattail leaves.

Here are several bundles tied together.

And more…

Now if I needed to travel with this sleeping pad I could have gone the extra mile and lashed these sections together.  For my purposes, though, this wasn’t necessary.  I used these to make a full body sleeping pad on a raised bed in a primitive shelter I built here at Willow Haven.

I kid you not that this Horsetail sleeping pad is more comfortable than ANY closed-cell foam pad I have ever used.

 

CONCLUSION

This big lesson in this post is not about HORSETAIL.  It’s really about the concept of a GROUND PAD.  Regardless of what it is you decide to use in a cold weather survival scenario, make sure that you put something with some insulation value between your body and the cold Earth.  She will suck the life right out of you.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

Creek

9 Military Poncho Survival Shelter Confirguations: How To Set Up A Military Poncho Shelter

An essential item for ANY outdoor outing and certainly in every Survival Kit and Bug Out Bag is a good quality Poncho.  If you don’t have one and need one go to the NOT IF BUT WHEN STORE HERE. There is nothing more miserable (and dangerous) than getting soaked by rain. There are 100’s of different ponchos to choose from. I prefer a Military Style Poncho with grommeted corners and snap closure sides. These are typically constructed of a nice quality rip-stop nylon material that not only makes them water proof but very durable.

I like for items in my pack to be multi-use items – meaning they can be used for more than 1 purpose. My Poncho is no exception.  Besides protecting me from rain, I can also use my Poncho as a Ground Tarp to act as a moisture barrier.  I can also use it as a tarp to protect my gear or to keep a wood pile dry.  It can also be used as a make-shift shelter, which is the subject of this post.  I’ve slept in a make-shift poncho shelter many times and if set up properly it will keep you as dry and comfortable as any tent on the market.

Below I have detailed 9 Different Military Poncho Set-Ups that can be used for multiple scenarios.  I’ve listed when each one works best and when it doesn’t.  I’ve listed the supplies needed for each one and also the knots I use to set them up.  Hopefully you find this useful.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Military Poncho Shelter # 1:  Basic Lean-To (HORIZONTAL)

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 3 Stakes
  • Uses: Sleeping, Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed
  • Ideal Environment: No to Moderate Wind, No to Moderate Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 2:  Basic Lean-To (VERTICAL)

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 2 Stakes
  • Uses: Sleeping, Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed
  • Ideal Environment:  Low Wind, No Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 3: Ridge Line Lean-To

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 5 Stakes
  • Uses: Sleeping, Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed
  • Ideal Environment: No to Heavy Wind, No to Heavy Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 4:  Flat Roof Lean-To

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 3 Stakes, Center Pole (optional)
  • Uses: Sleeping, Sun-Shed
  • Ideal Environment: No to Moderate Wind, No Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 5:  Ghost Man

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 4 Stakes, Center Pole
  • Uses: Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed, Hunting Blind
  • Ideal Environment: No to Moderate Wind, No to Moderate Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES (small)
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 6:  Hood Hoist

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 4 Stakes,  2 Poles (Optional)
  • Uses: Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed, Hunting Blind, Sleeping (When set-up low and long)
  • Ideal Environment: No to Moderate Wind, No to Moderate Rain, High Wind & High Rain (Low & Long)
  • Fire Friendly: YES (small – when set-up high), NO when set up low
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 7:  Poncho Tent

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 4 Stakes
  • Uses: Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed, Sleeping
  • Ideal Environment: No to High Wind, No to High Rain, Works well in COLD temps
  • Fire Friendly: YES (small out front)
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 8 & 9: Connecting 2 Ponchos By Snapping Them Together – using 1 as a ground tarp

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, Stakes
  • Uses: Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed,Sleeping
  • Ideal Environment: No to High Wind, No to High Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Below is a Basic Lean-To Set-Up that I use quite often in fair weather.  I use a tarp to keep ground moisture at bay and a wool blanket for warmth.  The Poncho Shelter acts as an excellent heat shield to deflect heat right on the sleeping area from a fire out front .

 

POST UPDATE:  Below is a 10th Poncho Shelter Option I call the DIAGONAL.  It involved tying off one corner to a tree and staking the opposite corner to the ground.  The 2 remaining corners can either be staked or guy-lined out for added room.  This is a great shelter set as well.

If you are using any of these shelters and are expecting rain you will want to tie a knot with paracord around the hood to prevent water from leaking inside.

If you don’t have a good grommeted poncho – you can pick one up for under $25 at the NOT IF BUT WHEN STORE.

As always I would love to get your thoughts on these. Let me know if there are any questions. Or if you have any additional ideas – post them in a comment below!

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How To Tie A Shemagh

The Shemagh (pronounced “Schmog”)(also called a Keffiyeh and Ghutrah) originated in the Middle East. They are a scarf-style wrap commonly found in arid regions to provide protection from direct sun exposure, as well to protect the mouth and eyes from blown dust and sand. It’s similar to a bandanna except much larger – approximately 42″ x 42″. It has been adopted by military forces all over the world as a standard issue garment because of its sheer functionality.

For an outdoors-man, survivalist or bushcrafter, the Shemagh can be a multi-use tool with literally 100’s of uses. I have an great post in the pipeline about the all of the possible uses. However, this post is simply a quick tutorial in how to tie a Shemagh as a face mask / head wrap. This is a very functional use in all kinds of environments. As you can see, with the right pattern, the Shemagh can work as some effective camo as well. Using it as shown below is great for dusty/sandy environments. I went on a trip to the Sand Dunes in Michigan not too long ago and my Shemagh was invaluable! I’ve also used it countless times this winter for face and head protection. You’ve probably seen it in some of my videos.

I’m sure there are other ways to tie this as a face mask, but below is the way I do it. There is also a video at the bottom.

This green/black pattern makes for awesome CAMO. I also own a tan/white color scheme that makes for perfect winter CAMO as well.

If you don’t have a Shemagh and want one – order one from us here – they are $11.95.

If you like the Shemagh, definitely subscribe to the blog below because you don’t want to miss my upcoming post about the MANY SURVIVAL USES FOR THE SHEMAGH.

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Here is an interesting Military History about the Shemagh I found on Wikipedia:

For decades, keffiyeh have been issued to British soldiers who now, almost exclusively, refer to them as shemaghs. Their use by some units and formations of the military and police forces of the former British Empire and subsequent Commonwealth dates back to before the Second World War. Because of its utility it was adopted by the Palestine Police Force, the Transjordan Frontier Force, the Sudan Defence Force, the Arab Legion, the Libyan Arab Force, the Long Range Desert Group, the Special Air Service and Popski’s Private Army, amongst others, who wore them while operating in North Africa. After the war, their use by the Army continued with the shemagh being worn in both desert and temperate environments in theatres such as Dhofar. Australian Army forces have also used the shemagh since the Vietnam War, and extensively during Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly by Australian Special Forces units. Since the beginning of the War on Terror, these keffiyeh, usually cotton and in military olive drab or khaki with black stitching, have been adopted by US troops as well. Their practicality in an arid environment, as in Iraq, explains their enduring popularity with soldiers. Soldiers often wear the keffiyeh folded in half into a triangle and wrapped around the face, with the halfway point being placed over the mouth and nose, sometimes coupled with goggles, to keep sand out of the face. This is also commonly done by armoured, mechanised and other vehicle-borne troops who use it as a scarf in temperate climates to ward off wind chill caused by being in moving vehicles. British soldiers deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan are now issued with a tan-colored shemagh. Irish Army Rangers use a green shemagh to conceal their identity whilst in the “green” role.