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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hiking Hydration: Before, During and After

Hiking to Secret Canyon in Sedona Arizona
Image by Al_HikesAZ via Flickr
On hot days of summer it’s easy to get dehydrated while hiking. When you feel thirsty, you are already on the way to dehydration. So, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Hydrate before your hike, during your hike and after your hike.
Seventy-five percent of the make-up of our muscle tissue is water. Twenty percent of our fatty tissue is made up of water. All of our cells need water to transport nutrients and eliminate waste. When exercising, you can lose a quart of water through sweating (Source).
Two or three hours before you start hiking, drink two to three glasses of water. A half hour before you hit the trail, drink another glass.
While hiking, drink regularly – every 15 to 20 minutes take in approximately one glass of water to replenish what you are losing.
Drink a glass of water within the 30-minute period right after you arrive back at the parking lot. Then keep drinking for the next few hours to replenish the fluids that you have lost.
Hydrate, hike, hydrate. Have fun.
by Richard Davidian. Ph.D.

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10 Insanely Useful Preparedness Items

Here's ten things you should always have on hand in the event of an emergency:
  1. Duct Tape. I could elaborate but someone already has written a book about the many hundreds of uses for duct tape.
  2. A thumb drive. Many uses...carry your files with you, transfer files to someone else, carry computer programs on it as well.
  3. Zipties. Good for securing the zippers of your luggage, handcuffing someone, and many other things.
  4. A smart phone. Either a Droid or iPhone can give you a platform for hundreds of useful apps in addition to phone service and internet access.
  5. A pocket knife. I have carried one with me since my granddad gave me my first knife at about 10 years old. Dozens of uses.
  6. Access to the internet. There is literally nothing you can't learn if you have access to the internet.
  7. Floss. I carry a flat thing of Glide floss with me at all times. Aside from its original purpose this can be used for sewing, tying things up, for a snare...the list is long.
  8. Cash. I have known places that won't take checks or credit cards but have yet to run into any business/person where cash can't be used as a negotiable instrument.
  9. Bleach. Can be used for its usual purpose (when washing clothes), to purify water, for cleaning and sanitizing, and can even be used to make a bomb...
  10. Matches or a lighter. Fire is a pretty basic preparedness item.

Slingshot for TEOTWAWKI Survival

Slingshot, made (a little too fast) by spanish...Image via Wikipedia
The slingshot is a pretty common weapon the world over. Many variations exist, but you've usually got some kind of elastic material, a pouch for holding your stone, and most of the time some kind of y-shaped stick or support. Many cultures use them for hunting small game--squirrels, lizards, birds, rabbits and so on.

I was one of those unfortunate boys who never had his own slingshot (or BB gun for that matter), so I have little practice with the weapon. Dave Canterbury had a great series of videos on his slingbow concept, and those got me interested in the potential of this weapon for survival use.

I picked up an inexpensive Crossman slingshot similar to this one., but didn't get much of a chance to test it out. It sat in my pack.

Recently, we've been having some pest problems in the form of rabbits eating our struggling patch of backyard grass. I've been trying to get the little guys with the slingshot, and have found it difficult to get any hits on the little guys. I can creep up to within about 5 yards of them while they're munching away at the yard. But no hits.

Aiming the slingshot is a little difficult, and takes practice and some gut instinct. I've got so that I can hit the inside of an overturned 5 gallon bucket fairly reliably, but a rabbit-sized target has so far eluded me. I've been trying to get one 'em every evening for the past 5 or so nights, and nadda. I have gotten up to 3 shots off on 'em before they're out of the yard, but nothing.

If this were a survival situation, and I was counting on those rabbits for food, I'd be starving. They would be an easy shot with a rifle or handgun at those ranges. Heck, I'd probably have better luck throwing a brick at 'em!

My point--beyond telling you how I'm a lousy slingshooter--is that for a slingshot to be a useful survival tool, you've got to be pretty skilled with one. Aiming is difficult, range is limited, power is limited--you've got to put in a quite a bit of practice. Don't get one and expect to be taking out birds from 50 paces out of the box.

Of course, that's like most tools--you need practice, and lots of it, to be competent with it. And if your life may depend on that tool, you'd damn well better be more than just competent with it--you'd better be a pro. You can't just throw something into a survival pack and expect it to save your butt if things go bad. As it's said, skills trump gear--and without skills, any gear that you have will be of little use.

Given the choice, I'd pick many a survival weapon over the humble slingshot. But, the slingshot does have some merit. It's quiet and easy to use in an urban or otherwise non-permissive environment. You can easily stow the multi-use bands in a survival kit and improvise the rest of the weapon if need be. You have essentially unlimited ammo--stones or whatever. The slingshot can fire a variety of projectiles--including arrows, as demonstrated by Dave Canterbury--making it potentially useful for hunting large game. I also imagine the arrows would be easier to aim than a stone or ball bearing. And they can be useful in launching line or wires over tall or distant objects.

Damn bunnies are back...let's see if I can get 'em this time...