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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hiking Compass: Lensatic or Baseplate?

Hiking without a compass is like driving without a spare tire. You may not need either one for a long time. But, in the case of the spare tire or the compass, not having one when one is needed can be very problematic. Not having a compass when the need for one arises could be fatal.
Two basic types of compasses are available for hikers and backpackers: baseplate compasses or lensatic compasses. Here is a comparison.
Baseplate or  Protractor Compassbaseplate compassBaseplate or Protractor Compass
These are more popular among hikers and backpackers and are readily available at any wilderness outfitters.
Baseplate compasses are equipped with a transparent base with protractor markings that you can place directly on a topo map to enhance navigation. A rotating bezel and fluid dampening of needle swings facilitate precise readings.
These compasses generally have a convenient declination adjustment feature.
Some baseplate compasses include a mirror that allows one to sight a distant object while at the same time viewing the compass face.

Baseplate compasses are lighter and more compact than lensatic compasses.
Supplied with a sighting lens, these rugged compasses edge out the baseplate compass for precision, even though the precision afforded by the baseplate compass is adequate for nearly all navigation situations.
Lensatic CompassLensatic Compass
With this compass you can accurately sight a distant object and glance down at the magnetic disk to get areading.  No wobble-damping fluid is used in the lensatic compass.
Lensatic compasses lack the declination compensation feature of the baseplate compass. You must do declination calculations (calculating the difference between true north and magnetic north) in your head.
Either of these two types of compasses is adequate for most hiking or backpacking situations.
Make informed choices. Hike well.
by Richard Davidian, Ph.D.

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Protect Your Rights When Confronted By Police

Adapted from a post on Survival.blog.com

Police Comments and Graphics for MySpace, Tagged, Facebook
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As Preppers, we may be aware of our rights against search and seizure without just cause and/or warrants, right to an attorney, etc. Shoot, we have spent years watching Law and Order and CSI!

Today I read a post on another website about a homeowner who maced two young men (fraternity brothers) who were trespassing on his property. Apparently, this trespassing had happened before since a fraternity house was next door and the students would use his unfenced property as a shortcut. Calls to the police were not successful. This time he went into his dark yard and maced the two men. They brought charges against him, and he is being prosecuted by a zealous D.A. http://www.survivalblog.com/2010/06/you_versus_the_perps_their_law.html

I have no interest in discussing whether he had the right to do what he did, or the wisdom of his actions. What was interesting were the posts in reply to his story, particularly how he dealt with the police after the event.

He did what I suspect many of us would do--try to be cooperative and reasonable since you obviously did nothing wrong and have nothing to hide.
The cop was bright eyed but young. I was friendly, let him in. Explained it like I am now, minus the edge. My demeanor probably kept me from jail....In the meantime off to court I go.

I'm trying to stay okay with cops. The D.A. will be harder not to hate. The officer asked for a voluntary statement which I gave the next day, said pretty much the same as I had during the initial interview. No lies or distortions; Joe Friday's "just the facts." The Assistant D.A. used it against me! Later, my attorney said that giving the statement showed I "had no understanding whatsoever about how the criminal justice system works."

Many Preppers have concealed carry permits and weapons, and the liability that goes along with that. Some of us have guns and ammunition for hunting as well as protection, knives, pepper spray, training in hand-to-hand combat, etc. But what happens if you actually find yourself in a situation where you have to defend yourself. I will assume you are NOT the aggressor or law breaker who deserves to be arrested and convicted.

Imagine that you have finally had to take a violent action to protect yourself, family, or property. The adrenaline will be flowing, you will feel like the other party deserved what they got, and any reasonable person would agree that you were justified in taking the action you did. Why would you not want to talk to the police to give them your side. You really want them to understand. And besides, only guilty people ask for an attorney, right? Once they know what really happened, you won't have to get an attorney and can save all that money, right? Wrong.

Some of the responses to the above post are from an 18 year police veteran and a 20 year firearms instructor who gave some wise advice. The Police Officer acknowledged that police officers will say whatever it takes to get information from you, get access to your property with your approval (no warrant), and may talk like they are your best friend and agree that you were in a tough situation, had no choice, etc. He also emphasized that they do not care about your best interests--only their own. http://www.survivalblog.com/2010/06/seven_letters_re_you_versus_th.html

Here's what the firearms instructor advises you to do and say:

"I think I'm in shock and need to go to the hospital." Often more true than you might think.

"I want to talk to my attorney."

He who calls 911 first is the "victim". Prior to the point where you will be using force against one or more opponents, you should call 911 and keep the line open. The call is recorded and can be used in your defense. If things happen too quickly to call first, call immediately after the incident and ask for help. This way you get to tell the story first.

Be absolutely sure of the laws involving force (lethal or non-lethal) in your state. For instance, here in Ohio lethal force may not be used to protect property, but in Texas things are much different. Know your laws.

The Police veteran wrote the following:

As a police officer I can give you the following advice:

1) Don't let me in your house unless I have a warrant. If I have a warrant, don't resist my entry.

2) Do not consent, in writing or verbally, to a search of your person, vehicle or residence. No matter what I promise, no matter what I threaten. If I had probable cause for a search, I'd be doing it. If I am asking for your consent, it's because I am on a fishing expedition or because I don't have probable cause yet.

3) Don't try to explain. If the police are there, something has gone wrong or something bad has happened. If something has gone wrong or something bad has happened, then you probably need a lawyer.

4) There are hundreds of petty laws I can arrest you for, If you aren't in handcuffs, don't give me a reason to put them on you. Once I arrest you, my ability to search you and your property generally increases.

5) If you are having problems with trespassers or something similar, document it. Call the police and record the time and result. Keep calling. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Contact your elected representatives (local/municipal/county etc). Find others who are having the same problem and attend community meetings. Request an appointment with the police commander or tour chief responsible for your area. Address your concerns in a professional, calm manner.

6) Even if the police are wrong and you are being victimized by them, do not make matters worse by resisting/fighting etc etc.

7) Video and audio recording devices are cheap, small and getting cheaper and smaller all the time. They come in handy.

8) The police are not your friend. The police are doing a job. The police want to go home at night. The police will do what benefits the police, not what benefits you.

9) Know the law. Know your rights. Know your lawyer's phone number. Just remember, one thing police really, really dislike is being lectured by someone claiming to know their rights, claiming to know the law. More often than not, someone who is screaming "I know my rights!" is wrong. - Tom M.

How can you prep for this? Take Tom's advice and have a lawyer's name and number available, and learn your state laws right now. I would add, make sure you are well-trained in the use of any weapons or self-defense tools you have in your possession.
Join the APN Forum at www.AmericanPreppersNetwork.net
Visit the North Carolina Forum at www.NorthCarolinaPreppersNetwork.net

Backpacking Wood Stoves: Pros and Cons

oA simple solid fuel stove
Image via Wikipedia
You have two choices for cooking on the trail, right? A wood-burning campfire or a backpacking stove that burns some type of fossil fuel or alcohol. Aren’t those your only choices?
Nope. There’s another option: a backpacking wood stove.
These nifty little stoves have some distinctive advantages over their more popular cousins. They also have disadvantages.
So, we’ll look at both sides: the pros and the cons.
  • Weight: Even though the stove itself may weigh a bit more that other types of backpacking stove, the system weighs less than other types of backpacking stove systems. The reason for this is that you do not have to carry any fuel.
  • Economy: You can make your own backpacking wood stove and the fuel is free.
  • Drinking Water Production: You can melt all the snow you want. Just gather more fuel.
  • Water Purification: You can purify water by boiling it. You have, theoretically, an endless supply of fuel to do it with.
  • Bug Repellent: The smoke produced by the stove is an effective insect repellent.
  • Personal Warmth: You can huddle around it to get warm.
  • Green Contribution: Your carbon footprint will be reduced by comparison with the use of stoves using other types of fuel that need drilling, refining and transporting. Also, the fuel source is renewable.
  • Entertainment: A wood fire is something to love and enjoy.
  • Bulk: The stove itself is relatively heavy and bulky.
  • Grime: Your sooty pots and stove will blacken whatever they touch in your backpack.
  • Aroma: You and all your gear will smell like wood smoke. That could be an advantage depending on your point of view.
  • End-of-Day Chores: You’ll have to search for fuel at the end of a grueling day of hiking. If you camp above timberline, the difficulty of your task of finding fuel will be multiplied.
  • Dependency: With a backpacking wood stove, your ability to cook a meal is dependent on your ability to find dry wood.
  • Slowness: Cooking time will be slower compared to other types of stove systems.
  • Difficulty: You’ll need to know how to build and tend a wood fire.
  • Fire Danger: Although cooking with a backpacking wood stove is safer that cooking on an open campfire, it is still has a greater potential for starting a forest fire than non-woodburning stoves.
  • Limited Use: In some places, your backpacking wood stove may not be allowed.
So, now you’ve got a picture of both positive and negative aspects of backpacking wood stoves.
Be informed. Hike smart.
by Richard Davidian, Ph.D.

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The Survival Still

Clean drinking water...not self-evident for ev...Image via Wikipedia
Editor’s note: My friend Gerald submits the following on a vital subject for basic survival.
Lead, Cadmium, Uranium, Mercury in our drinking water?
Awful to think of the above metals in our drinking and cooking water is it not? The writer runs everything through his beloved Black Berkey filter. But it could be time to look into making a little water still?
In Missouri where I live, “Get the lead out” is more than a figure of speech. Arsenic may be a problem, too. Mercury, airborne from coal burning electric plants, is polluting streams and lakes in many localities. If there is anything positive about such substances, it is that they can be left behind through the evaporation of the water we wish to purify, through the simple means of a still.
We looked up the beginning of a simple still with an online search for a length of stainless steel tubing at Online Metals. They are a source of metals in sheet, bar, pipe and tube form, in small quantities. They have technical information on the materials they list, including various metals and plastic.
Has anyone made a still from a pressure cooker? Even a tea kettle may have possibilities. There is little pressure involved and a little steam escaping is not a problem.
Looked up rubber stoppers and Tygon tubing also. Amazon has them listed. You can buy the stoppers with or without holes. Tough, heat resistant Tygon has been around a long time, since the 50’s. If you soften the ends of it in boiling water you can slip it over the ends of metal or glass tubing. When it cools and contracts you have a tight connection.
If you are working with volatile substances in your water, such as petroleum products or oil you may discard the early distillates. It is like a water triage. The more volatile substances boil off first and my be discarded and put into a safe container. The midrange product will be your pure water, then as you approach the end of your run, pollutants with higher boiling points and, of course solids, are left behind.
Perhaps a length (say 3 feet) of stainless steel tubing could be run through a section of water pipe, supplied with running water to cool it? Even cloths supplied with cooling water from a trough could be used?
If there is any concern about mechanical carry over or substances with boiling points close to that of water coming over with your pure water, you may repeat the distillation process. Double or triple distilled water should leave the bad guys behind.
As preparers we can hope for the best and prepare for the very worst, such as nuclear or chemical fallout. Filters do a wonderful job on bacteria. A still can separate out the chemicals, even the most hazardous.

Note: for solar still kits and info, click here. For a couple of Amazon.com’s offerings for distilling water, click on either of the images below and order from the page which appears featureing that item.