Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The 10 C’s of Survivability

The 10 C’s of Survivability-

The 10 C’s is a concept for building what I consider the perfect kit for an Emergency Scenario in the Wilderness, it is based on several factors that are all inter-related so that your kit has a symbiotic relationship with all pieces performing a main specific task but also complimenting the other pieces by becoming multi-functional and useful when combined with one or more of the others. One thing we have to realize when building a Survival or Emergency Kit is that there are Core items that must cover our basic need to Control our bodies core temperature. This factor alone is the reason for most fatalities in an emergency scenario. Keeping your body warm enough or cool enough is the main issue we have to concern ourselves with. Understanding that there are several input factors to this will enable us to better build our Kit. The other concern we must understand is how difficult some items can be to re-create from natural materials as well as the skill level needed to recreate said items should the need arise. There have been many lists from the early 1900's of ten items considered essential, but they are not the same nor do they utilize the same logical concepts behind their individual creation.
The First 5 Items within our List are the Key items that are both directly responsible for Core Temperature Control (CTC) and are also the items that require the most time, energy, and skill, as well as specialized materials to re-create in Nature.
Cutting Tool
Combustion Device
Looking at these items one by one we can begin to assess their importance to the above criteria but also look at what type items will truly give us the multi-functionality we need in a given situation. Let’s begin with the first one and work our way through this list.
Cutting Tool, For the purpose of this list let’s assume that you only have one of each of the first 5 items. This being the case we must assume this tool will be directly attached to your person to keep it from becoming lost. With this item we can recreate all the other 4 items on the above list if we have available materials and the skill level needed. It is the most important of all items we carry and it must be capable of several other tasks. So then the ultimate question would be what is the perfect survival knife? Well honestly speaking it is usually the one you have on you when the emergency arises if you have not planned ahead. But for this discussion let’s look at qualities of the knife instead of specific brands. We should first begin by looking at the length of the knife blade.  A blade that is too small will make it difficult to process fire wood if needed and a blade too big will make finer carving tasks more difficult. The happy medium here is about 4 ½ - 6” in blade length. Historically speaking most knives found along the American Frontier were within this length and have the profile of a large kitchen or butcher type knife. Blades made from High Carbon Steels like 1095 and 01 Tool Steel are preferred in my opinion due to their ability to throw a shower of sparks much like a flint and steel if a hard rock like quartz or flint can be obtained for igniting charred cloth or material if you preferred fire method fails or has been used up. Another criteria that is truly a must is that the blade spine have a nice sharp 90 degree edge not being rolled or beveled, again this will allow its use as a striking device for the metal match or Ferrocerium Rod. Many knives today are coated with something to keep blades from rusting this should be avoided as well due to the fact that the last 2 tasks are very difficult unless this coating has been removed from at least the spine of the knife. Better to just maintain your blade to prevent rust.  One of the main criteria I teach my students in every class I teach is that any knife you carry should be of full tang design; this means the entire knife is one piece of steel with handles attached to the outside by pin or screw of some sort. This needs to be understood due to the fact it may take much abuse when processing fire wood if it is the only tool you have and must withstand being struck on the spine while batoning wood without breakage. Beyond these criteria you should realize that this being such an integral part of any kit it should consume a considerable portion of the budget set aside for you kit.
Combustion Device, This is a tricky subject indeed on many levels because not only does this device need to be able to effect fire but it must have that ability in any weather condition! For this reason it will take a combination of a water proof sparking device as well as a waterproof tinder. Let’s first exam a concept that is greatly misunderstood among many folks and that is the difference between accelerants and fuels. Fuels require an open flame to combust like gasoline. Accelerants will combust by ignition of fumes like gasoline. We want any fire starting device we will be staking our life on to be combined with accelerants not fuels. A Ferrocerium Rod will give us a very hot spark approximately 2000 degrees F even if the rod is wet, it also is long lasting which makes it an ideal device to use for ignition. Source of tinder must be a highly combustible material that is soaked in an accelerant and then waterproofed. This sounds a bit complicated but it truly is not. There are good products meeting this criteria on the market and some can even be stored with the Rod to make a 1 piece kit for carrying an emergency fire starting element within you pack. Your ability to create fire in foul weather conditions can many times be the difference in you survival, not only is it a CTC function in cold weather, but it will disinfect water for drinking, help you cook, and signal for rescue, not to mention that fire is very comforting psychologically on a dark night.
Cover, Your cover always begins with having the proper clothing for the conditions, with that portion taken care of any cover element carried for emergencies should include a re-usable emergency space blanket of some sort. Not the small reflective blankets you see nowadays but something that can be folded back up and used in harsh conditions without fear of easy destruction. There are several good brands on the market that combine the reflective Mylar with a sturdy backing, even having grommets for ease of use to make shelters like leans or tube tents when needed. Another consideration is to ensure this Blanket/tarp has an Orange side that will aid in signaling for rescue. There are also emergency bivy sacks out there that are small and light enough to easily be added to your cover element with taking up much room at the bottom of your day pack. No cover element would be complete without at least 1 if not 2, 55 gal drum liners. The drum liners need to be at least 3 mil thickness and can be used for emergency floatation or containers to collect water, as well as impromptu rain gear when needed. By setting up a Wedge or Open Lean type Shelter using the Space Blanket you can take advantage of Convection to warm you in front of a small fire.
Container, This single piece of gear is the one that most beginners and many more experienced people fail to understand. Any container that cannot be placed into a fire is not robust enough to be placed within your kit. The container must seal so that water can be carried over distance but must also be used to disinfect suspect water sources by boiling or cook food and medicines. If you combine this item with a simple nesting cup you also have the ease of making charred materials to help affect the next fire once emergency fire starters have been exhausted. Stainless steel is the best material for this but is must be a single walled container and of a one piece design. The container should also have a wide mouth to enable easy collection of water and make getting contents like food or char out as easy as possible also.
Cordage, Although cordage by itself will not directly affect Core Temperature there are many things you will want to build and use that will and cordage will make the task much easier. Everything from repairing, gear, bindings for shelters or the unfortunate Bow for a bow drill fire should that need arise. Cordage is on the top of the list mainly due to the mass amount of proper materials that would need to be collected from nature and the time spent to create it that can be easily avoided by carrying about 100’ of good readymade cordage material. Your cordage should be of a multiply design enabling it to be broken down to finer fibers if needed as well as increasing its overall length. In the world of Survival today we have been lead to believe that Parachute Cord is the Choice cordage for survival and emergency tasks. Well I am here to change the mind set of this thinking and let you know that there are much better forms of cordage out there that can be much more functional for the purposes we need. Tarred Mariners Line is used to make fishing nets and is 3 ply type cordage coming in many different tensile strengths. I prefer the #36 Line as this gives 360# of tensile strength for bigger jobs as well as single fibers of almost 100# strength that can be used for gear repair as well as fishing if needed. This line makes a very superior Snare when compared to parachute cord and due its tarred quality binds well to itself when making strong lashings.
With the First 5 of Our Survival Items covered and these being the most Important in directly affecting our Body Core Temperature, we need to add some further items that will aid in other common needs but also be multifunctional as well as light weight so that we are not overloaded by our emergency gear.
Cotton Bandannas
Cargo Tape
Cloth Sail Needle
Candling Device
These 5 items are not in a particular order although I have listed them in an order of the most useful in normal situations when compared to each other.
Cotton Bandannas, These should be at least 3’ square if possible and can be any 100% Cotton materials, this quality being the most important because cotton will char well in an emergency to create embering material for the next fire. The size is important when using this item for a sling or cravat. In strips it can be used for bandaging. Bandannas become Hygiene devices for washing up and toiletries, they can also be used to carry or bind things like fire wood. The make good head covering to protect from hot sun and are great for just dipping in a cool creek to take a break on the trail. Carrying 2 of these is my recommendation. If one of them is Orange it will make a great signaling device.
Cargo Tape-When speaking of Tape I am talking about good old fashioned Duct or what was called 100MPH tape. Don’t fool around with minor amounts or cheap brands of this wonder product carry an entire 2” Roll of Gorilla Brand tape. This can be used for everything from first aid to creating needed items. The adhesives in this tape are also highly flammable and a golf ball sized wad will burn of several minutes to help ignite and burn marginal tinder sources. It can actually be stripped into minute fibers and used to make an impromptu birds nest to be ignited by your Ferrocerium rod. Cargo tape can be one of the most useful items you carry in an emergency so again carry an entire roll.
Compass-The compass must be capable of performing more functions than just walking a straight line on an Azimuth or Bearing. Choosing the correct compass is a task within itself but I can give you several things to keep in mind before buying and a recommendation of the compass I trust my life to. You compass should have a mirror so that it can be used for a signal mirror as well as something to see a cut on the face or inspect for ticks in areas that cannot be seen with the aid of a mirror. This makes it functional for not only signaling bus also first aid. If you can find a compass with a magnifying lens of at least 5 powers it will be useful as a backup to fire starting as well. I have been carrying the Sunto MC-2 for a good while and it is the best compass I feel to meet all the prerequisites I set forth.
Cloth Sail Needle-A sail needle is a fairly large needle that is used for both Tent Canvas Repair and sewing/repairing sails. It has a wedge at the front and a very sharp point, this is not a needle that can be bought from Jo Ann Fabrics, and it is a specific needle for the canvas Industry. The beauty of this needle is Size, Strength, and again Multi-functionality.  I place mine on the back of my Knife Sheath with Gorilla Tape and forget about till I need it. Magnetizing this needle ahead of time will allow its use as an improvised compass device. It can be used to repair any torn gear, punch holes as an awl, and also is great for picking at thorn, splinters or stingers. In an extreme case it could be used to suture as well.

Candling Device-This should be a Headlamp not a flashlight, you will want to ensure that both hands are free if needing to use a light to complete any task. This too has to be used for things other than providing light. Having multiple brightness settings as well as flash will make it a signaling device, it can also be utilized at night for attracting Fish or freezing frogs in their tracks. Make sure it is waterproof for those rainy times or if dropped ion the creek as well-


  1. Awesome post Dave. Always like checking these for reference. Keep on keeping on brother.

  2. I just now found this post by Dave. I love this guy. His videos have been a big help to me over the years.

  3. How to Make Pemmican The Ultimate Survival Food

    People really should avert their gaze from the modern survival thinking for just a bit and also look at how folks 150 years ago did it. These guys were the last generation to practice basic things-for a living-that we call survival skills now.

    Click on the link bellow to find out how the early pioneers - who had a long hard journey ahead - built the Self-Feeding Fire in order to take a much needed refreshing nap (no need to add logs).

    How to Start a Self-Feeding Fire That Lasts All Night Long

    People really should avert their gaze from the modern survival thinking for just a bit and also look at

    How folks 150 years ago did it.

    These guys were the last generation to practice basic things-for a living-that we call survival skills now.

    Survival Things Our Great Grandfathers Did Or Built Around The House.

    Remember... back in those days, there was no electricity... no refrigerators... no law enforcement... and certainly no grocery store or supermarkets...

    So I really can't think of anyone more qualified in sharing real-life survival lessons than people who lived through times like these.

    Survival Things Our Great Grandfathers Did Or Built Around The House.