Red Dragon Bushcraft

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Spiral Survival March 17, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — rdbushcraft @ 4:12 pm

Spiral Survival

A self developed system for enduring the hardships of plans that go off on a tangent!

Part 1, An Introduction

24 Steps To Survival

Comprising 8 Stages In 3 Cycles

The requirements that we are about to study are omnipresent, they are the fundamental requirements that we need to exist as modern educated Homo Sapiens.

From our birth we are being monitored by our parents to see if there is anything we need to remain comfortable. As infants we have only one recourse to gain attention, we cry – when we do so, our parents ask – “…are we OK?”, “… are we warm enough?” , “… do we want a drink?” and so on….. they take care of our needs until we stop crying and are deemed to be comfortable once again. We rely upon other people to remain happy.

As toddlers we begin to learn the communication skills that enable us to ask for the things we want. We begin to rely upon ourselves for some things.

Eventually we learn that if we are not OK, we do something about it for ourselves – if we are too cold, we put a jumper on, if we’re thirsty; we get a drink – we follow this until we see it as a reliant form of being self sufficient – We think that we rely on ourselves for our well-being – however we still have to rely upon others to provide water to our taps, make the clothing that we wear and provide the food that we buy to eat.

We do this as functioning members of today’s society – we earn the money to remain in the “OK” bracket – buying our own things to maintain that “OK-ness” and we become used to existing within that loop of working for the means to buy that “OK” feeling – it seems to work; or at least has worked well enough up until now:

… but what if the cycle becomes broken and we no longer have the means to service that “OK” requirement – even temporarily.

What do we do then?

As human animals, we didn’t always have to go to work to earn the money to buy the things that we “need” to be “OK”. Before we came up with the concept of paid work, man perfected a system of survival that was good for hundreds of thousands of years!

Even in this age of technology we find that those ancient skills and necessities form the basis of our lives and we can revert to them whenever we want, re-learning the skills necessary to create the “OK” directly for ourselves – we can blend that technology and skill with new knowledge & resources to live quite comfortably far from our modern society.

However, we must realise that things can go amiss! We are, in modern society, so far removed from being able to “create for ourselves” that it becomes a major upheaval to have to learn this “new” set of skills. Learning these skills takes time and dedication, it requires a different way of thinking in order to once again manufacture that bubble of “OK” from a new situation. We often find that we have to work hard to build this “new normality”!

We find that we have to learn new/old ways of making fire, of building shelters, of creating “things” and of finding food & water! We also find that we have the option, even within our modern society, to rely less and less upon the things that other people try to tell us are necessary. We may find that certain items are common, or that others are useful in different ways – no one can tell you how to live your life, so they certainly cannot tell you what items you should be carrying to effect your own personal survival.

Along the learning journey, we find that being efficient, cautious and ecologically friendly are simply the right things to do, preserving what we have for our children and theirs – just our ancestors did.

Three Cycles Of Eight Stages

We can break down the important stages of any “Survival situation” into eight stages. These stages can be repeated, going from simple precautions or short journeys to a deeper study of progressively more primitive principles with each cycle of repetition and with each expansion of wider ranging travel.


      A – Our first cycle represents a short term daily occurrence, up to a simple 24 hour scenario – maybe a day hike that takes a wrong turn, getting stuck at work or a vehicle breakdown. We should plan to maintain an Advantage in our favor. This perhaps is best addressed with our “Every Day Carry” kit.


      B – Our second cycle goes somewhat deeper and enables us to cope with a few days (up to a 3 day) scenario – this is important because statistics tells us that this is the average time to rescue for people lost in the outdoor environment. We plan to carry things and develop skills that will be of Benefit. This level of information is best addressed with our Scouting or weekend kit.


      C – The third cycle becomes a study of primitive processes and full blown survival skills working towards long term sustainability. Primitive skills allow Continuity. This level of kit and provision is the full expedition kit.

Each cycle works gradually outwards from a central “Society Dependent” position, towards “Self Reliance” so it becomes a spiral. As the spiral widens, the same titles are repeated to cover longer periods without assistance, giving the reader an indication of what is necessary to survive for a day, a weekend or longer.

       Stages                                  1st Cycle    2nd Cycle     3rd Cycle

Self Aid                    –        Ability         Back-up       Continuity

Shelter                     –        Anorak         Base            Cave

Water                       –        Aqua            Brew            Condensation

Fire                            –        Alight          Blaze           Conflagration

Communication     –     Announce     Beacon         Correspondence

Food                           –        Aliment        Bread          Comestibles

Operation                 –        Action         Business      Campaign

Revision                     –        Audit            Breakdown   Check


       Self Aid – Helping yourself – the preparations you can make and put in place to cover as many eventualities as you can envisage. Encompassing knowledge, skills and experience. Self aid includes research, practice, experimentation and conditioning that will prove advantageous in the future.


       Shelter – A description of any of the barriers that you can place between your own body and the natural elements in order to maintain your core temperature.


       Water – The harvesting, sterilisation, storage & carrying of water to address our immediate and ongoing hydration requirements.


       Fire – The use of fire as a resource in itself; source of heat and light to maintain core temperature, to cook food, boil water, illuminate your shelter and raise morale.


       Communication – The means by which you can summon help and transfer knowledge.


       Food – The equipping of your body with energy in edible form.


       Operation – The considered, planned actions and work effort of a person or group, to maintain their effectiveness or improve their situation.


       Audit/Assessment – the conscious revision of your performance to improve your skills for the next trip. Skills, Equipment, Tools, Attitude, Approach.

First Cycle

For our first cycle rotation, we’ll look at the requirements in the simplest way we can. This first cycle represents a 24 hours scenario. This level assumes that our recent past has been one of being reasonably well fed, hydrated and rested.

This first cycle is also the beginnings of our familiarization with the tools and techniques that we are going to learn as the basis of our outdoor skills.









     Ability – to carry on doing what we were doing just recently. Moving about, camping, working or journeying – whatever you want to call it; if we cannot continue, or achieve the aim that we had in mind, what are we going to do about it?

We must maintain any advantage in our favour, or be able to turn any situation into one that we have the ability to prosper from. If we have this ability, then we can skip straight onto the next step, however, any-time that our situation changes or we suffer an injury, this step immediately jumps to being our highest priority.

This means if you were to suffer a slip, trip or fall and sustain an injury, you will want to treat that injury immediately to retain mobility or ability to address our primary tasks. This will mean that you should have knowledge of the first aid techniques needed to address the types of injury that have the potential to stop you doing the thing that you need to keep doing.


       10 B’s of First Aid

Basic Life Support



Bumps, bruises, bends & breaks

Bites & Stings

Burns & Blisters




Brave’s Medicine

Presented in a crude order of importance that has the ability to prevent you from effecting a “self-rescue” or from continuing to be active within your adventure – if you are not affected, move on in sequence through the list.



       1, Basic Life Support – Basic Life Support is not something we can perform on ourselves – however it is vitally important to know what steps you should take if a member of your group becomes injured or anyone else suffers a serious injury.

If you happen to encounter someone with a serious injury, you should do all that you can to get them into professional medical help as soon as possible – this begins with you informing the Emergency Services of the nature of that scenario. Therefore, before you set out on any adventure, it would be wise to consider how you are going to be able to seek help in an emergency. The mobile phone is a sensible choice, but be sure of the following;

  • Is there a signal?
  • Do I need to carry a spare battery or power-pack?

… and if you do need to use it to summon help, also consider the following;

  • Where are you?
  • Location of the nearest road or track.
  • The age, sex and nature of the casualties injuries.

Knowing your location may seem obvious but when calling for an ambulance it is vital to know your location to get help as quickly as possible. Remember that an ambulance may have to approach your location from a different access point if you are in  a remote location. If there is no suitable road access, an emergency helicopter may be the only viable option.

          However, mobile phones may not always have a signal and modern smart phones often need regular recharging. If you are relying on a mobile phone as your primary emergency contact mechanism – ensure that all other “Apps” and unnecessary power drains are turned off.
          You may also need to rely on land-line telephones, two way radios, whistles to get help in an emergency.

       Worst Case Scenario – An Unconscious Non Breathing Casualty

The worst possible case that you are ever likely to encounter will be that of a person who is unconscious and not breathing, though you will not know for certain until you have performed a few basic checks. Your primary concern must be to assess for any danger that might affect you before you approach the casualty – better for you to see the danger and elect to do something about it rather than there being two casualties!

As you approach the casualty, call out to them to try to elicit a response, they may have just fallen asleep! Check if the casualty is breathing and responsive by gently shaking their shoulder and speaking loudly – you are looking for a reaction to the movement and your voice. If they react, they have a level of conscious and you can assess their ability to breathe. If they do not react, tilt the head, so that the chin is pointing upwards. Do this by placing the fingertips under the jaw, then lift gently while pressing down softly on their forehead. This is done to make sure the tongue is not blocking the airway. Listen closely with your ear close to their mouth & looking at the chest. If they are not breathing normally call an ambulance to get some assistance on its way to you. Once you know help is coming, you can start CPR.

       Basic Life Support – CPR – Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation

Keep it simple and try not to panic. Place your hands on the centre of the casualty’s chest one hand over the other and press down with your arms straight 3-5cm or a third of their body. At a rate of 100 -120 chest compressions a minute. Continue until help arrives or you are no longer able to continue. If you have some further training then consider rescue breaths at a ratio of 30:2. As an indication of “beat”, the song of the nursery rhyme, “Nelly the Elephant” where the first verse is repeated twice will be 30 compressions!


       Rescue Breaths

Rescue breathing is the act of breathing for a casualty who is incapable of doing so for themselves. On smaller casualties it is often easier to fully cover the mouth and nose. On adults you can try mouth to mouth or mouth to nose. Tilt the head back as before to ensure you have a clear airway and breathe normally for the casualty. Watch for their chest rising as you are breathing. You are not trying to blow up a balloon, just topping up their oxygen levels to keep their vital organs alive. After 2 breaths return to 30 chest compressions. This can be physically very demanding.

       Further Treatment

  • Keep the casualty warm. Insulate them from the cold/wet ground.
  • Cover with a spare jacket or blanket etc.
  • Raise their legs by placing them on a rucksack for example.



       Transferring The Patient To Professional Help

An unconscious patient that you have been keeping alive with CPR, is unlikely to recover consciousness while in your care – they will need further specialist medical intervention before that becomes a reality. When professional help arrives they may take over the duties of CPR or, if you are doing a good enough job, ask you to continue whilst they conduct other medical tests. They will want to know as much information as you have about the casualty and their treatment before they arrived. When the casualty is removed from the location, you may be left with a job of cleaning up and dealing with the physical and emotional aftermath which can be traumatic. You may need counselling when you return to your normal everyday work to deal with the effects.

      2, Breathing – We need to breathe to live, if we loose the ability to breathe, it does not take long for a panic to set in that will give us a few short minutes of activity. Breathing may be compromised by an injury, restriction or a medical condition or reaction. With a fall or impact injury, having the “wind knocked out of you” often feels worse than it is, by resting while you recover, no onward treatment should be required.

A restriction in the airway can cause choking, the casualty will be in obvious distress, grasping at their throat. Encourage them to “cough” and administer back-slaps in an effort to dislodge the obstruction. Next step would be to administer “abdominal thrusts” (the old “Heimlich Manouvre”) to use any remaining air in their lungs to force the obstruction out. If they cannot dislodge it, they may become unresponsive and unconscious – you may need to remove the obstruction yourself before performing CPR!

If the breathing is compromised by a medical condition or reaction, you may need to help the patient to administer any allergy or asthma treatment if the patient is carrying it.

       3, Bleeding – If the casualty is loosing blood – treat it! Clean the wound and apply a dry dressing around it to control blood loss.

Assess the amount of blood being lost, if it is more than can be controlled with absorbent pads and dressings, the patient will require professional care. Major puncture wounds will not allow you the time to unpack your first aid kit – they need fast reactions and whatever can be reached with one hand – femoral arteries can leave a person dead from blood loss in about a minute!

For major trauma, a tourniquet or the application of force to a “pressure point” may help to reduce bleeding while you deal with the actual injury.

       Treatment of Bleeding Injuries

  • Wear Gloves – protect the casualty and yourself.
  • Sit the casualty down and raise the limb – reduce blood pressure.
  • Apply direct pressure to the wound with whatever is available.
  • Apply indirect pressure above the wound to reduce blood flow until the wound itself is treated.
  • Use additional equipment if necessary.
  • Apply a hypoallergenic plaster if the wound is small.
  • Consider steri strips to close the wound and bandage.
  • If in doubt seek medical attention.


Many casualties that have experienced an injury will also be suffering from shock. Medically, shock is defined as the inability of the body to transport oxygenated blood around the body and has many causes from blood loss through traumatic injury to stroke or heart attack etc.

Signs and Symptoms.
The causality may be pale with sweaty cold and clammy skin. They are likely to feel faint and dizzy with a rapid weak pulse with weak breathing. Eventually, they may become unconscious.

       Treatment For Shock

Treat the primary injury

If practical, lie the casualty down and raise the legs – injury permitting

Loosen tight clothing and keep casualty warm & comfortable

Seek professional help and reassure casualty

Monitor vital signs for change

Do not give anything to eat or drink, though sips of water may be taken

      4, Bumps, Bruises, Bends & Breaks. – This is the type of injury that can hamper locomotion, being to the bones, joints or soft tissue, potentially making it difficult to walk or perform tasks about your camp. If you need to address any of these types of injury, you may need to immobilise or support a limb until professional help can take over treatment. If you break a major bone that affects your ability to walk, or use your hands, you will need a helicopter not a first aid kit – a method of summoning that assistance is vitally important. For all but the most minor condition, professional medical care is recommended.

       5, Bites and Stings from plants, insects or other animals can become incapacitating, so you’ll need to be able to remove thorns, splinters, stingers etc. with your available tooling – knife, needle, possibly a pair of tweezers, but be careful not to inject more toxins as you remove any stinger etc. You may also need to help someone with a severe allergy to take their own anti-histamine medication. For animal bites, cleanliness will be very important as will being vigilant for developing infection.

      6, Burns & Blisters Small burns and scalds are sometimes accepted as “par for the course” in outdoor living – considering one’s  fondness of open fires; couple these with those uneven surfaces upon which to place hot cooking vessels, – and the intimate nature of actually creating that fire – and the regular addition of fuels and we have the conditions in which burns can become commonplace.

Care should be exercised when making or maintaining your fire, to be aware of the local wind direction, using long handled tools and gloves wherever possible. Good camp etiquette dictates that you should never step over a fire or food – and if cooked food is on the ground, it cannot spill onto any part of your body. Your clothing should be selected with a view to its fire resistant material and ability to closely follow the contours of your body, limbs especially. Long hair should be restrained and dangling clothes should be avoided when working near a fire.

For superficial burns, try to cool the affected area as soon as possible under cool running water for a period of up to ten minutes. Remove any jewellery or tight fitting clothing as soon as possible.

Cover the wound with a sterile, non-adhesive dressing (cling film is recommended but any clean plastic will do). Do not wrap the wound as it is likely to swell – do not use adhesive dressing, cream or lotion and do not burst any blisters.

If the wound is painful, painkillers can be used if they are available.

Burns larger than a coin require professional medical attention.

       Blisters – The appearance of a blister is normally, either through poor preparation or by attempting too much of an unfamiliar task. Blisters are normally most likely on the hands or feet – and either can make walking or using tools uncomfortable to near impossible. Blister treatment away from civilisation is going to be particularly difficult as the primary tasks that are likely to have caused the condition will still need to be addressed. Cover the injury with a dry dressing and try to pad around the area to reduce pressure on the wound site.

       7, Blinkers, a slang term for the eyes – any injury to which, could compromise your ability to move around freely in the wilderness, just as much as any mechanical injury. It will impede your ability to navigate and limit your binocular vision such that range estimation and depth perception become negated. Indeed the very freedom of wilderness movement elevates the risk of suffering an eye injury to entirely possible – especially if moving through woodland, tall grassland or dusty areas.

If debris becomes embedded in the surface of the eye, exercises such as exaggerated blinking, eye-baths or the use of a clean, soft-tipped cotton bud can help to remove it. If the debris remains stuck, bandage both eyes to minimise movement in the injured eye.

Eyes are also very sensitive to radiation of sunlight especially when it is reflected from snow, water and sand surfaces – suitable quality sunglasses and / or a peaked cap will help. A cap will also help in diverting hanging branches, cords, leaves and tall grasses from contacting the eyes.

Protective eye glasses will also help when you are doing tasks that involve flying chippings – chopping or sawing wood, knapping flint etc.


       8, Biological – It may be that all you require to ease some body discomfort is to go to the toilet, therefore the ability and opportunity to urinate /defecate become important – as would the ability to maintain hygiene standards immediately afterwards. In dry conditions, hydration will be important to maintain the digestive action that results in normal bowel movements. Being dehydrated will result in retained urine – making it more difficult to pass and smelly when you do. Going without water will also interfere with the digestion of solid foods, resulting in dry stools and constipation. If water is not available to drink, you should stop eating. For some people, privacy is a prime factor in going to the toilet and all reasonable attempts to provide it should be taken. Separate research into urinating & defecating out-of-doors should be undertaken.

       9, Baseline Medical Conditions – This is the level at which we normally operate – if we require regular medications in order to function normally. Without a deep knowledge of a persons medical history and a solid understanding of how medicines work, we can only make crass generalisations in any medical emergency situations. If you have a diagnosed medical condition that requires regular medication, you will need a supply of that medication with which to keep your condition under control and you should inform your colleagues so that they are aware of your medical requirements.

Examples of baseline conditions can vary from Diabetes to Angina or courses of antibiotics or vitamin deficiencies.

Maintaining this ability in your favour will require diligent planning ahead to minimise the impact of any period away from support.

Part of this forward planning has already begun with your decision to read this document and accept that “Something” can be done to prepare yourself for “Something” that might happen in the future.

The protection of yourself and your kit will be of utmost importance, however, if a decision has to be made between “self” and “kit” always maintain the advantage in favour of yourself – kit can be replaced at a later date and your skills should be capable of keeping you alive for the time it takes to acquire that replacement, albeit in a more primitive manner than we had hoped.


       10, Brave’s MedicineThe First Nation American Indians carried and put great stock into the personal items that became a person’s “medicine”, the items that an individual found to be comforting and lucky. To some western values, these items were merely trinkets and lucky charms, but I believe them to have been the things that reinforced the feelings & emotions of connection with the environment and ancestors that reassured the carrier that their challenges were achievable.   Therefore if you want to carry of an item or two that “you” feel to be a lucky talisman or a comfort that can be the personal lift that keeps you in a positive frame of mind for the duration of your trip, who am I to disagree?

The equipment that we carry within a First Aid Kit are discussed in a later chapter.

To mirror this “Ability” in your equipment, you should have the ability to repair your kit. Simple repairs such as sewing a button back on, repairing a rucksack strap, or taping over a torn hole in waterproofs – for this first cycle – should cover most eventualities.



For this step of the first cycle, a weather-proof outer shell will enable you to remain out of doors during wet, cold or otherwise inclement weather. We all know the value of a good thick coat, warm, waterproof and big enough to keep you cosy and dry if you were to get delayed at any point in your journey and are unable to find any shelter. If we are seriously injured, it becomes somewhere warm & dry while we wait for the emergency services. Our anorak should be thick, roomy and have a large hood – capable of keeping us warm while we take restful sleep if it is necessary – this act refreshes our mind and body as well as whiling away the hours. This is not the thin, flimsy, nylon coated “Bomber” style jacket that can allow wind to blow up inside and be tight-fitting so as not to allow bulk to be worn underneath.


A simple drink may not be absolutely necessary according to the rule of 3’s, but will sure keep you feeling better if it is available. Cool drinks are nicer on warm days and hot drinks better on cold days. We would take a cool drink to the beach just as we would take a flask of tea on a cold winters day. The effect of hydration on our state of health is huge, as our body loses water in the form of sweat or uses that water for digestion of food, we become dehydrated, limiting our physical strength and stamina as well as becoming less mentally acute and more prone to making poor decisions – all, long before we “feel” thirsty.


This step has a deliberate double meaning;

1, Alight as in “Aflame” – a means of creating fire – A “Fire Kit” containing – Matches, a Lighter, Tinder and Accelerants to ensure that a viable fire can be conjured and maintained – along with the knowledge & experience to make that small fire. For the most simple approach to this step, simply keeping warm will be sufficient, but if you cannot maintain your core temperature by virtue of preventing loss, you may need to create a local heat source to prevent a slide into hypothermia.

2, Alight as in “A light” – a means of illumination to allow tasks to be undertaken during darkness hours and a means of navigation and signalling – a LED head-torch, long lasting and bright, but carry a spare set of batteries.


A means of contacting assistance – the most common of which will be simply shouting, but you can call further afield using a mobile phone, a whistle or your torch. Knowledge of signal codes and persistence will eventually bring someone to your aid. If you can communicate your exact location by standardised means, you will be better able to guide searchers to your location in shorter time periods. If your method of summoning assistance can also be used to contact your family, you can appease their anxiety so that they know where you are, as well as informing them what kit you have and the progress you have made.



Aliment is an old fashioned word for the reciprocal support from one partner to another – In this case the partnership is from your previous self to your future self. A day ration of food, or a few snacks, on which you can chew to keep your energy levels high enough to respond to any emergency that befalls you.

The human brain takes rather a lot of energy to perform at its best – this energy comes from the food that we eat and so we should plan to carry a reasonable supply of nourishment to keep our brain supplied with energy – so that it can keep us capable of making sensible decisions.

It is also the beginning of the investment we make in learning about how to survive on our own wits.


A decision will need to be made as to what activities are necessary to ensure your survival – and many things are possible;

Some things that you may need to do to in a 24 hour scenario;

Sit & wait for rescue – expending as little energy as possible,

Walk out of your predicament, carrying your kit with you,

Administer First Aid to yourself or someone in your group,

Make a shelter and a fire to keep yourself comfortable.

Each activity should be judged individually for its perceived benefit, versus the investment of energy – for that task, at that point in  time, and for that particular scenario.


Something to be done after each practise session.

Make a conscious and critical effort to assess your performance in terms of skills, equipment, tools, attitude & approach. If anything can be improved upon, then make those changes before you go out to repeat your venture, whereupon you should re-audit the changes that you did make, as well as others that may be necessary before heading out on another trip.

You should assess each step to make your revision task easier;

Self Aid – were you prepared in terms of skills, equipment, ability and expectation?

Shelter – were your shelter elements adequate?

Water – Did you have enough water to satisfy your needs?

Fire – Were you able to preserve your inner warmth and to conjure fire readily? Did your night time illumination prove to be satisfactory?

Signalling – Were you able to affect communication easily?

Navigation – Did you know your location at all times during your trip, could you transfer that information to another person?

Anything else – What other things could have improved the experience of your last trip?

Second cycle


The second cycle represents a typical 72 hours scenario – largely based upon a typical time to rescue after becoming “lost” to being found alive – that averages 3 days. To cope with this level of approach the earlier cycle will need to be taken into account and possibly combined to realise the maximum potential of the kit that you carry.












The Back-up to Self Aid will be the kit that you will need to become comfortable carrying – that will address the requirements of the 3 day scenario.


       Nine Maladies, their causes, remedies and natural alternative treatments.

1, Headache/pain

2, Upset stomach

3, Minor abrasions & Cuts

4, Cold / Flu

5, Rashes

6, Fungus’s

7, Diarrhoea

8, Constipation


In order to remain fit and healthy in the outdoors, it is necessary for us to realise the implications of what we do to our bodies and how a bodies reaction manifests itself as continued health or illnesses & ailments. We should be able to diagnose and treat these illnesses and learn how to avoid them in the future. Furthermore, in order to remain effective as an individual, we must consider those minor ailments that may limit, hamper or prevent our ability to affect our own survival. We should endeavour to treat these maladies with natural resources that are easy to identify and relatively common.


1, Headache/pain

1, Dehydration – most common cause of headache in the bush.

2, Hunger – a major cause of sugar deficiency, eat carbohydrates.

3, Smoke – for those not used to breathing smoke from a camp fire, smoke can cause a headache – certainly if you are sleeping next to a fire – treat with painkillers.

4, Addiction headaches –

a, Coffee

b, Nicotine

c, Junk foods

Painkillers may take away the pain temporarily, but will not treat the addiction itself – that’s a cold turkey event.

5, Localised topical pain from burns, stings wounds etc.


Carry Asprin, Ibuprofen or other propriety medication. Natural treatments include inner willow bark, chewed straight off a finger sized twig after removing the outer bark.


       2, Upset stomach

If you need to vomit, get it over and done with – you can get things moving by using your fingers or a feather to touch the back of your throat (make sure you clean them first) then re-hydrate afterwards.


Carry suitable medication if you know you are prone to becoming ill. Natural treatments include drinking a slurry of crushed charcoal in water,  then vomited will absorb and remove many toxins from the stomach.



       3, Minor Abrasions & Cuts

Irrigate the wound and clean with clean water, treat with an antiseptic / anti-inflammatory.


Carry an antiseptic cream in your SAK/FAK. Natural treatments include sphagnum moss and the clear gel between submerged cat-tail leaves.


       4, Cold / Flu

Life in the woods leave a person hungry, tired and exposed to numerous influences not normally encountered – kind of run down feeling. Catching a cold or flu is a regular thing for many people who choose to live outdoors even temporarily. If possible, drink pine needle tea and lots of it – steep chopped pine needles in hot water, as you would with regular tea, it boosts vitamin “C” levels.

Similar to the symptoms of a cold is hay-fever and other allergies – when the body produces an overreaction to the presence of some common compounds. While some natural remedies exist, there is little that can be as effective as prescribed medication – it is recommended that you pack plenty to last the period that you intend to be away from professional medical care.

To make a nasal wash to deal with the blocked nose of hay-fever, make a saline solution (or herbal astringent tea with added salt or bicarbonate of soda) and use it to irrigate the nasal passages, pouring through the nostrils to flush out pollen grains, moulds and associated bacteria.

Carry tablet form medication. Natural remedies include a traditional blend of hot honey, lemon & ginger.


       5, Rashes

Plant stings or toxicity – treat with Jewelweed – it works better as a proactive application but will work as a reactive measure.

Carry steroidal creams if you are prone to rashes. Natural remedies include Yarrow & Plantain.


       6, Fungus’s

Human fungal infections are often a result of poor hygiene or contact transfer from an infected carrier. Fungus tends to affect the warm & moist regions of the body, namely the hair, feet and genital areas as well as the hand which connect all three. The main types are things like “Athlete’s Foot” and “Crotch-rot”. Association is made between getting out of bed, pulling on your socks and going to the toilet – spreading infection from feet to groin and vice-versa. Treatments can include elevated hygiene but may also require an application of anti-fungal medication.

Carry anti fungal talcum powder if you are prone to fungal infections. Natural treatments include garlic and clean spiders webs.


       7, Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is often caused by a dip in personal hygiene resulting in a cross-contamination in the faecal/oral cycle. There is an added danger with serious diarrhoea in that the body can quickly become dehydrated further complicating any incapacity to sterilise sufficient clean water to replace the lost fluids. Also of note is the tendency to let hygiene standards slip in clearing up after a bout of diarrhoea which reinforces and faecal oral contamination.

Carry suitable “clean up supplies”, propriety medication and maintain hygiene. Natural treatments include teas of; Willow herb, Nettle and powdered bark of oak.



       8, Constipation

Constipation can often be caused by a change of diet associated with living in the woods. Lack of dietary fibre can lead to a slowing of nutrients through the gut which can lead to problems in ejecting the waste from the bowel. Taking any foodstuffs with plenty of water will help to move things along and the consumption of fibre in the diet will never be a bad thing.

Carry suitable treatments if you think it necessary. Natural Treatments include – teas of Red Clover, Horsetail, Couchgrass and Bramble leaf.



       Natural Treatments

Whenever the opportunity arises, try to treat maladies with natural resources:

General pain-killers include – Willow bark, Sweet Flag.

Stomach disorders – Dandelion & Sweet Flag.

Burns – Cat-tail slime for burns which is anti-bacterial, mildly anaesthetic and reduces pain, Black Walnut bark tea (contains iodine).

Festering wounds/pus – Yarrow or Plantain – anti septic & anti-inflammatory

For deep cuts use Yarrow as a wound packing or Goldenrod which stops bleeding quicker than Yarrow.

In general tannins treat leakage & dry things up – internally & externally. Natural treatments for diarrhoea include any of the astringent compounds in an effort to slow the ejection sequence and taking in plenty of water.

For coughs, congestion and sinus problems, take White Oak tea which treats many ailments of the head! To treat the fever of a cold      Yarrow tea – which induces a deeper fever leading to the original one being broken earlier. Mullein leaf tea treats sore throat symptoms and coughs. Mullein flower oil ( boiled with another light oil [eg olive oil] to release its active ingredients) dripped into the effected ear.

For ailments like prickly heat or an unknown skin irritation, Black Walnut.



Another deliberate double meaning, a base from which to operate or clothing layers.

The operational base or bivouac, will become a centre from which you mount your survival exercise. It may be a tarp shelter, a tent or a lash-up of man-made & natural items that will keep you out of wind & rain, allowing you to maintain your body core temperature.

The base layer concept is a reminder about the layer concept of applying clothing to maintain your core temperature.


       Shelter Concepts

Like Previously, we’ll look at those influences that affect shelter and what can be put into place to combat those effects


Low Temperatures








       Low Temperatures – While we can have little influence over the weather that occurs every day, we can take steps to separate our bodies from its effects. By using appropriate insulation layers, we can slow any transfer of heat from our body to the environment.

       Convection – Convection is a physical phenomenon caused by the localised warming of the surrounding air which causes it to rise upwards – further to that warmed air rising, it will be replaced by cold air from below – if this affect can be managed sufficiently to effectively hold air in static pockets, increasing its heat retaining properties. Caution should be taken in extreme cold climates of the “bellowing effect” of clothing that moves around the body as you move – draw-cords should be secured to protect against the pumping action that can push warmed air to the outside of a garment.


       Conduction – Conduction is the passage of energy in the form of heat from one warmer body to a colder one by contact. This transfer of heat can be interrupted by placing barriers between the two bodies such as rubber material or propriety barrier systems. Conduction can become an issue in otherwise insulative clothing if it becomes damp through sweat or poor sheltering techniques.


       Radiation – This is the transfer of heat energy where no physical connection exists, merely by the two bodies being in close proximity. The effect can be thwarted by the use of reflective barriers to “bounce” any escaping heat back to the warm body. The effect can be put to use in heating large rock during the day which can then radiate heat into your shelter at night.


       Respiration – Breathing – especially taking in cold or dry air into your lungs means that your body has to warm and moisten it to make it acceptable to your lungs – otherwise you begin to cough which causes more cold air to be drawn in….. etc. By breathing in through your nose you allow your body to operate as it has developed to do, in placing a mask over your face you can further ease any cold / dry conditions however you must be aware of condensation that could be wetting nearby insulation.


       Perspiration – Sweat – In performing hard physical work, sweating is a natural body reaction to keep temperatures within a working band, moisture is secreted onto the surface of the body where a combination of inner heat and movement cause its evaporation – cooling the body. If however this effect is allowed to go unchecked when temperatures are low or when energy reserves are getting low, you may not have the required energy to reheat and re-dry your body after the period of work has finished. Limit the rate at which you work so that sweating does not become an issue and use your bodies residual heat after a period of exercise to drive off any accumulated moisture.


       Elimination – In urinating or defecating, we find that we need to expose normally warm areas of our bodies to the elements in order to perform the function. Steps should be taken to minimise any heat lost while performing the act if temperatures are low or wind / rain prevalent. If you feel the need to urinate during the night, energy will be saved by emptying the bladder contents rather than trying to keep it warm through the night.

Vomiting, in voiding the stomach contents, not only have you lost a volume of warm nourishment but it is very likely to be an indication that all is not well with a person and that they might need to be nursed through to good health for a period.


       A Holistic Approach

Layers of clothing, shelter sheets and location – combine to address a number of heat loss mechanisms so that collectively they become warm, airy and inviting places to live (survive). Therefore we can only truly evaluate a shelter system against how it feels compared to other systems – with barely a measurable difference being taken into consideration. Whether we opt for ultra-modern materials with high technical specifications or go for a low tech, primitive system is up to the individual and how it makes them feel!


       Repairs & Maintenance

A kit of repair items will eventually prove to be invaluable for long term sustainability. Items such as cargo tape, sticky patches, sewing kits and glues can all be used to maintain equipment that can suffer through normal wear & tear.



Our earlier requirement of water to slake our thirst still holds true, but over a 3 day time period, you are likely to want hot drinks – not only to maintain core temperature, but if you have a means to heat water, you can boil it to purify it. Furthermore, consuming a hot drink as opposed to cold will maintain core temperature.


       Water from Nature – If we carry water with us (2 litres is a good volume), we are likely to be capable of slaking our thirst for 24 hours or so, depending upon our work rate.

Beyond this period, we become reliant upon what we can find in nature to replenish that supply. In the UK, rain is rarely more than a few days away neither are we ever going to be more than a few miles from a reasonable source of water. A problem does arise in times of flood when all normal sources of water become contaminated by all manner of nasties!

We can collect the rain or dew that runs off our tarp – though this may not be sufficient quantity and it may be contaminated with proofing chemicals or animal deposits on the tarp surface.

We can find a mountain stream and refill our bottles – having checked upstream for any gross contaminants.

In remote areas, farmers are used to having wanderers pass by and are likely to refill as many bottles you have in exchange for a few minutes polite conversation.

We would benefit from knowing a few methods of sterilising our wild water, making it safe to drink;-

Chemical treatments cost, require forethought to consider & purchase, must be carried and are a finite resource – best saved for those times when other methods are not viable. Research what chemicals are effective against the contaminants you are likely to encounter and ensure your puritabs are “in date” and accessible.

Filtering & boiling are the accepted best practise method of sterilising wild water.

For boiling methods, fire is a must – as is a vessel in which to heat the water. Stainless steel water bottles mean that you can boil your wild water directly in the transportation vessel but you will only be able to use it in a single sequence. If a plastic vessel with a nesting metal cup is used – one charge of boiled water can be cooling within the vessel while another is boiling on your fire. You can of course use a totally separate cooking pot but you will need to evaluate it against your cooking/water purification system.




During our 3 day scenario, we should consider having a fire burning constantly (or at least have the ability to collect and process enough fuel to make that a possibility) – we are unlikely to be used to being outdoors at the beginning of the ordeal and being suddenly without a means to warm ourselves will be of the utmost importance. We will also need the necessary cutting or chopping tools to process that amount of fuel.


       Fire-craft – As we have mentioned already, you will need to carry at least two approaches to creating fire. For the time when you have fallen into an icy stream and need to conjure fire at short notice with cold & wet hands – You will need to carry a means of ignition that can be operated with wet, possibly numb, hands; waterproof, ready to light tinder that can burn for a few minutes (long enough to dry and ignite whatever doubtful fuel sources you can forage after a plunge through the ice.


And for the times when you have fuels, tinder’s and time on your side, you can resort to a more relaxed and longer term method of igniting your fire. The more actual methods of fire-lighting you know and carry, the better prepared you will be.

Immediate uses will have to be evaluated for your exact requirements and for the situations that you can foresee. It will need to be accessible and operable under the conditions that you might befall (hypothermic, wet, injured etc.), contain accelerants and fuels that themselves are capable of drying damp, hastily foraged, un-ideal fuels.

Sustained methods – these will include the traditional methods such as Percussion and Solar methods. Friction methods tend to be very energy hungry, and so reserved for times when you know you can replace the energy used in their creation – however their successful achievement (especially the first time) can be a landmark event. Chemical, Electrical and Compression methods of fire lighting are worth knowing about, but are in themselves not sufficiently reliable to be fully worthy of inclusion.


The rescue beacon should be ready to ignite at a moment’s notice to call in your rescuers. Giving flame at night and smoke during the day, it is a signal that rescuers can observe from a distance to locate you. A beacon can also be a brightly coloured flag that stands out from the background. It might also be a landmark, recognisable from a distance should you need to venture abroad to forage for resources, or an audible signal repeated until rescuers arrive.


      Signalling – for rescue, and communication – Without doubt the easiest method of summoning help these days is the mobile phone – but it will have limitations of battery life and signal strength. If you are using your normal daily use phone to be a signalling device, invest in a new, battery (or two) and keep them fully charged and unconnected so that if ever you need to use them, they can be relied upon. Satellite phones can be purchased and kept charged for use if you intend to travel to truly remote areas, suitably equipped mobile phones, while expensive to buy and operate can be used as GPS or locating devices if you become disorientated.


For the Low tech Approach of mirrors, torches and whistles.

In these days of common alarm sounds, one has the added difficulty of convincing the passive listener that they are a vital link between yourself and the emergency services, that you really do require assistance rather than being ignored as someone making a noise!

If using a whistle, vary the speed and tone of your signal to indicate urgency, with occasional shouts of “Help!” to authenticate your whistle blasts. Noise is an attention getter that does not rely on the listener facing towards your direction in order to hear it. Therefore carrying a mirror/torch and a whistle will often prove more effective than a single signalling device.


For “Communication” within a group – there have been many instances throughout history when a hastily arranged signals between two or more parties can convey critical information; eg, the clickers used by the allied troops in the Normandy Landings or a traffic policeman’s guiding hand signals.



     Bread (& Bacon!)

In carrying the means to make and bake simple bread; the ingredients and the utensils to mix and bake it, we begin to take on board the means to supply ourselves with carbohydrate, which supplies us with easy energy. If we carry along some key items of supply, we can have the ability to create a basic bannock recipe and if the opportunity arises to enhance the mixture or prepare it in different ways, we can produce (for example) pancakes, biscuits, dumplings, scones etc.

Bacon, being meat preserved by salting, can be expected to last for several days without refrigeration, and hence worthy of inclusion on a 3 day menu. The smell of it cooking over an open fire can raise the spirits of anyone it reaches. Thereafter, a hearty meal for your camp to enjoy – set up for the day.


Knowledge of how foods affects our bodies, how to gather, process and prepare sufficient foods is important.

Carbohydrates are the foods from which we gain energy. These “carbs” are largely drawn from two food types – sugars and starches.


Sugar from fruit (fructose) plants (maltose) dairy foods (lactose) honey (sucrose) and meats (glucose) are readily converted into energy or heat to keep warm or to enable activity.


Protein from meats, eggs, dairy foods, nuts etc. are the foods that enable a body to repair itself and grow stronger.


Fats are the foods that lubricate the digestive system and can create more than twice the energy of other foods.


Vitamins, Minerals and Trace Elements

These are the compounds which the body requires in small amounts to maintain nerve function, electrolytic balance etc.


Carrying “vitals” – Water and foods can ease our un-intended periods away from home and high energy drinks, protein bars etc. may supply the energy required to get us into that rescue window.

We may also wish to carry a kit of herbs, spices, condiments and sauces to compliment what may be quite bland tasting fare.


       Foraging – While plants cannot run away, they sometimes protect themselves with thorns, stingers or toxic substances. Also be aware that even a varied vegetarian diet will require supplements to obtain a complete diet that is wholly healthy. If we try to rely on plants to fulfil all of our dietary needs, we will need to gather, process and consume a large volume and range of plants to fulfil our requirements.

We also need to learn the seasonality of the plants which we intend to use, learning when they are likely to be ripe for harvesting. Even the most nutritious plant crops would still require the consumption of several kilos each day to provide the 2500 calories for an active survivor.




This part of the cycle, like the previous one, Action, will be decided upon by yourself at the time of the scenario. You may wish to busy yourself collecting fuel, resources, searching out wild edibles, scouting for animal tracks and likely trapping areas, laying traps and rescue trails of hi-viz tape.


       Map & Compass – learn to read a map and use a compass. Ordnance Survey have some good lessons online and any local Scout Troop, Mountain Rescue, Coast Guard unit will be able to offer advice on where to learn the skill of navigation.


For the time-scale of this cycle, it is also likely that you will need to construct (or at least consider the likelihood of) defecating while you are out. Digging a cat-hole or a latrine trench depending upon the number in your group.


As we did with the first cycle, we should carry out a comprehensive review of our performance. What did we do well and what can we improve upon – and our requirements might be very different from our First Cycle 24 hour scenario requirements. I would hope that in making the changes that we deemed necessary in the first phase, our second cycle becomes much more appealing, comfortable etc.

Just as before, we should assess each step of the process to make it easier for us to see what changes are required. It then is up to us to judge which part of the change is more important to us at the time.


Third Cycle

This extension of our survival ability takes us beyond the rescue period and into a period of “Sustenance”. It will entail much research & knowledge of natural resources.












Continuity describes the approach you will need to perpetuate yourself into a sustainable existence using natural medication and first aid treatments as well as using foraged and hunted resources to make future equipment and clothing.



In the meaning of “Man-cave”, cave relates to a constructed shelter that will enable prolonged habitation through seasons and extended weathering. Somewhere to store your delicate equipment, preserved foodstuffs, hunting tools etc.



This part of the cycle is dedicated to the harvesting of water from the atmosphere; rain being largely pure until it lands on a contaminated surface! There are a number of methods by which you can harvest water, each of which will require a purification method (or combination of methods) to make it safe to consume.



A conflagration is a fire – repeating the earlier capabilities of signal and cooking fires. The creation of fires in perpetuity will mean the employments of methods that do not involve any chemical or industrial process, eg. friction or primitive percussion methods.


Communication take the place of signalling in that if you have made it this far, you are probably doing at least some things correctly – therefore you are quite likely to be in a position to pass on your knowledge to others.



Comestibles represents a perpetual food source – both vegetable and meat or fish. In an extended survival scenario, you will need to replicate a balanced diet that we know from modern research – meat, fish & dairy, roots & grains & green veg.



If you are beyond the rescue window and well down the path of self sustenance, you will have achieved a new normality within which you will be thriving – any navigating that you do will be a true campaign, following migrating herds of meat-source animals, or moving to a location rich in certain resources which you foresee a need.



Our third cycle revision is expected to be a constant, ongoing process. Making adjustments and improvements as we go on a continuous cycle of testing & checking.


The Kit That Makes Survival Possible


      First Cycle










      Ability – First Aid Kit, capable of treating the listed maladies. The size and contents of your FAK will depend upon whether you are out on your own, with friends, or if you are “leading or guiding” in any capacity – which carries a legal requirement to carry a suitably stocked FAK with a minimum of contents and a thorough “Risk Assessment” to have been undertaken.

       Breathing Small & large bandages (commercial or improvised) that can help relieve the pain of a broken rib. Other treatments that affect breathing – Asthma medication, hay-fever, allergy treatments.

       BleedingWound dressings (commercial or improvised) to cope with cuts, or puncture wounds.

       Bumps, bruises, bends & breakspads, compresses and bandages (commercial or improvised) that can be used in conjunction with a field expedient splint to support a limb to allow you to escape from the area.

       Bites & stingscreams and antihistamines to reduce the swelling associated with anaphylaxis.

       Blistersmoleskin dressings to treat foot/hand blisters that will enable you to move or handle tasks.

       Burns – depending on the size and area of the injury, either a dry (non adhesive) dressing, or clean & apply a commercial cream treatment & cover with a suitable bandage.

       Blinkers mirror, cotton buds, an improvised “eye bath”, ophthalmic polysporin cream, eye pad dressings.

       Hygiene/Elimination kit – something on which you can clean your body & hands especially after urinating / defecating – toilet paper, alcohol hand wipes, soap etc.


       Repair Kitcargo tape, string, sewing kit, glue etc.


       Self Aid Accessories – the items you require as an individual to maintain your ability to function reading glasses, hearing aid, mobile phone, walking stick, field guides, notebooks etc.


      Anorak – A good quality coat that will cope with the expected weather conditions of the next few days. Warm and/or waterproof as conditions dictate.


      Aqua – A water bottle of suitable volume for the activity you intend to undertake.


      Alight – Fire kit of matches or a lighter and a head torch.


      Announce – mobile phone, torch & a whistle.


      Aliment – a few simple snacks, chosen for their carbohydrate loading.


      Action – to enable reasonable action to be taken, one must first know where you are and which way to go – this may vary between local knowledge to a map & compass or a GPS device.


      Audit – A system of performance review to assess the pro’s and con’s of how your kit performed, the skills you had and your level of proficiency.


This level of equipment should be easily transportable in a small bag that should accompany you everywhere – whether it be a shoulder bag, small knap-sack or in a couple of pouches attached to your belt. Indeed, the type of journey your intend to undertake might well dictate the system of carry that you employ;

In a trip to a local town or populated area, a back-pack would appear to be less obtrusive than a belt kit, whereas in journeying through woodland, a belt kit would be considerably more fitting.


This level of equipment would be a full EDC, your “Every Day Carry” kit of tools, equipment and resources to deal with almost any 24 hour emergency.


      Second Cycle










      Back-up – the medication that will treat the listed maladies;-


1, Headache/pain – Painkillers

2, Upset stomach – Stomach settlers, indigestion pills

3, Minor abrasions & Cuts – Small wound dressings, plasters

4, Cold / Flu – Commercial Remedies

5, Rashes – Creams & antihistamines

6, Fungus’s – ditto

7, Diarrhoea – Dioralite, hygiene kit

8, Constipation – Commercial remedies, hygiene kit.

9, Minor Burns – Burns kit, cream, cling film

10, Blisters – Blister treatments, moleskin


      Base – poncho, lightweight tent, tarp, blanket, sleep system.

Tools to build or assemble, cut, secure (cord, fasteners etc.) & pounding tools.


      Brew – Further water carrying ability and/or treatment options

Ingredients – Tea / coffee, oxo, bovril, boiled sweets, fruit – type flavourings.

Crockery & Cutlery – Mug, spoon, strainer, pot etc.


      Blaze – Fire kit for immediate and prolonged fire lighting – fire-steel, flint ~& steel, char-cloth, wet-fire, jute cord, fire lighter’s. Fuel processing tools.


      Beacon – Strobe light, surveyors tape, signal panel, spare torch batteries.


      Bread – Ingredients, rations, cookware, utensils.


      Business – Map, compass, route cards

More serious elimination kit – shovel, toilet paper, matches, hand wipes, flannel & towel with soap, shampoo etc.


      Breakdown – an enhanced system of performance review just as in the first cycle.


This level of equipment should also be transportable in a small to medium sized rucksack, something that offers a flexibility in carry options should you wish to make camp for one night but go out on a short scouting foray – also taking your First cycle kit with you. The rucksack should offer a number of carrying options with the ability to transport some equipment on the outside surface so that it can be accessed quickly as your situation changes or develops.


It might be that you carry your first cycle kit on your belt as previously discussed and the second cycle in a back-pack – offering the option of leaving the second cycle equipment at a chosen camp-site, yet keeping the first cycle equipment on your body if you go out scouting around the immediate vicinity.



      Third Cycle


The kit that enables sustained survival, would be the hand tools that were in use before electricity, or automobiles became popular – saws, axes, mauls & chisels, for building wooden structures, buckets for hauling water, cast iron cooking vessels, iron stoves etc.


     Continuity – To take the “next step” on from Ability & Back-up, one would have to become (or at least have access to the knowledge) knowledgeable enough to make medications from natural resources. This would be likely to include boiling vessels, strainers, all manner of storage jars, base ingredients of oils, fats, wax, honey, chemicals, application & surgical tools. Much research is necessary.


     Cave – To build a more permanent “home” one is going to need a considerable amount of materials, which will require the necessary processing tools – axes, saws, chisels, hammers & nails, screwdrivers & screws, digging tools etc.


     Condensation – The only way of wringing water out of the air around us. In reality, we need to ensure a perpetual fresh water supply, and the means of getting it to a usable condition. Well digging tools (mentioned above possibly) pipework & pumps, filters & taps to control its flow.


     Conflagration – A means of heating a shelter or a cooking range. We have discussed the tools necessary to process fire wood, this level requires a means of making efficient use of that fuel; ovens, tripods, hanging pots, kettles, frying pans, griddle stones & grilles.


     Communication – Having made the decision to become sustainable rather than in a survival situation, you will have got over the need to be rescued – and therefore be comfortable in your new normality. There are going to be people who wish to follow your example – wanting to learn from your lead and people from whom you will want to learn new skills. Therefore the accoutrements of study will be necessary – paper, pens, pencils, drawing craft items, demonstration pieces, teaching aids.


     Comestibles – the long term supply of foodstuffs. Trapping & hunting equipment – traps, priests, butchery kit, weapons & ammunition.

Also necessary will be the equipment necessary to raise crops – shovels, spades, digging forks, hoe’s – gardening tools. It will necessitate the acquisition of the skills to preserve the foodstuffs beyond their growing seasons and into times when no crops will grow.


     Campaign – Any attempt at changing your location by the time you are living a sustainable life – will be an upheaval on a par with moving house in modern society – where everything will have to be transported over considerable distances – or you may well opt to leave the majority of it behind and begin again at your new location – a major undertaking that you will already have been through in getting to the point where you move from.


     Check – a review process of continual improvement to remain at the top of your game.



This level of kit will require a large rucksack at the very least, though a snow-sled, wheeled barrow, pack animal or a vehicle are all equally worth consideration. Keep in mind that you will be carrying three levels of survival equipment and therefore not all of it is ever likely to be required at any one time. Thorough planning will ensure that you have the necessary equipment at the right time and place. This level of equipment will take an extended time period to acquire and will probably represent a considerable investment of time and money, more so if you want it all now. This type of provision is more reminiscent of the pioneers of the American West than of any modern survival, yet it represents a transition from a state of emergency to sustainable living separate from any emergency state.



The Skills That Make Survival A Reality


      First Cycle


      Ability – First Aid skills, diagnosis of ailments, selection of treatments.

Domestic skills – sewing, kit maintenance & repair.

Planning skills to decide what is possible to achieve.

Awareness skills – knowing where you are and where you are going – simple direction finding, resource recognition, and awareness of what is both possible & probable.


      Anorak – COLD, Colder, Coldest. Heat loss mechanisms & how to address them with what resources you have available.


      Aqua – The importance of hydration and its effects on the body.


      Alight – Fire-craft – how to light fires, including use of a cutting tools to process fuel.



      Announce – Reporting of emergencies to regular Emergency Services,

Navigation & Knowledge of map grid references – to guide rescuers to your location,

Language skills – To get clear concise messages to your rescuers.


      Aliments – Nourishment and its effects on the body.


      Action – Knowing whether to carry on or to stay put for the duration of the current emergency (storm, night-time, power-failure etc.)


      Audit – A system of pro-active, short-term performance review, looking at your skills, knowledge and experience as abilities to cope with another similar situation or with differing levels of resources, weather, terrain etc.





      Second Cycle


      Back-up – Deeper bodily & medical understanding – knowing the effects of your medication [or lack of it] on your body.


      Base – Shelter types of man-made & natural constructions. How to improvise shelter and how to recognise the symptoms of hypo/hyper-thermia


      Brew – The making of hot drinks – to include stove or fire use – a vessel to heat water, and carried ingredients. Knowledge of when a hot drink will be preferable to cold. Monitoring your bodies state of hydration. Harvesting & sterilising wild water.


      Blaze – Fire-craft – ignition methods, fuel preparation methods, fire lays, fuel economy tactics. The ability to identify, harvest & process sufficient quantities of fuel.


      Beacon – Fire-craft – knowledge of fuels for each type of beacon.

Rescue signalling, trail-blazing, Ground to air signalling.


      Bread & Bacon – Cooking skills – fire-craft, field hygiene, cooking methods. Medium term nourishment requirements.


      Business – Navigation, trail blazing, signalling methods, natural navigation. Coping with inactivity, the need for rest and sleep


      Breakdown – A medium term system of review of performance covering knowledge, skills and experience to cope with similar situations.



      Third Cycle


The third cycle of the spiral takes account of all the preparations made for 24 hour and 3 day scenario’s and works these towards a period of sustainability rather than survival.


      Continuity – Your continued well-being may depend upon the recognition, harvesting, preparation and use of natural medicines. Plant identity (as well as the important differences in the toxic look-a-likes), tree identity – as construction resources, burning properties for fire-craft, as secondary resource indicators (water loving trees & plants).


      Cave – The creation of permanent or semi-permanent dwelling place, big enough to store your kit within, yet small enough to be economic with heating resources. This type of shelter might take several days and considerable amounts of resources & energy to build.


      Condensation – The harvesting of water from natural resources – cloud-burst is largely considered to be safe to drink; however, once it touches a surface – leaf, tarp, ground etc. it must be treated as contaminated to some degree and therefore will require purification. Your tarp may well drain precipitation into a water bottle but as soon as a bird defecates on it, the resulting water will be a time bomb in your digestive system. Field-expedient filtering methods and the continued ability to boil your water will become increasingly important.


       Conflagration – The maintenance of a perpetual fire source – or at least the ability to conjure fire. Working beyond the possibility of damp matches or no fuel in a lighter, the true capacity to make fire in a number of ways suitable to each scenario.


       Communication – By the time you have exceeded your rescue window, it must be assumed that rescue efforts will be being reduced – therefore your means of signalling must be bigger and bolder than they were before – as you must convince the population that you remain in a rescue-able condition. You may also be called upon to communicate your ideas and experiences to others wanting to learn from you.


      Comestibles – The perpetual supply of food items, foraged, hunted, trapped, grown or domesticated. The ability to harvest, prepare and cook them in a variety of ways, using herbs and spices to provide interesting and nutritious meals.


      Campaign – Your long term decision to remain or move to pastures new – depending upon the remaining resources. It will depend upon your former efficiency with the existing resources and your economy of your impact on the area you have chosen.


      Check – a continuous system of revision, research and development of “Best Practise” methods for all of your skills.


The acquisition of new skills takes up the majority of our lives, learning new ways of approaching old problems and new ways of dealing with new situations and technology. A day when you don’t learn something new is likely to be a very dull day. However, in order to learn, there must be a teacher – and at some point, you will find yourself being asked to pass on your skills to someone else – therefore I prefer to learn a number of different ways of achieving each task so that I have a number of methods that I can teach to someone who wants to learn – it might be that they prefer a different method of achieving a similar outcome.


Part 2

Knowledge, Skills and Experience


The processes that we need for short term emergencies are different to those that we need for longer periods. While it is good to plan for long term, “end of the world” scenarios, we should not lose sight of the simpler emergencies that we are much more likely to encounter.


Self Aid, the things that you can begin to do now, to offset the severity of any potential survival situation


      Self Aid is a wide ranging list of linked processes that can be put into place before you even think about setting foot outside. It is the planning, research and investment of experience and knowledge about the resources that you are likely to encounter, the challenges that you may be faced with and the skills you can learn and put into play to overcome any situation that befalls you. The skills themselves can change according to many influences including; terrain, climate, weather, season, geographical area, boundaries, numbers of people affected, environmental health of resources.

In order to select what these skills, knowledge and experiences might be, we revert to our most basic “survival” requirements as popularised by any number of authors on the subject.


      Self Aid encompasses the following and more;

       Field Hygiene – keeping yourself and your equipment clean and germ free. Washing your body/hair/teeth etc. to prevent the build up of skin bacteria and body odour, and your equipment so that it performs as it was designed and cannot harbour bacteria that could lead to food poisoning in your cooking & eating kit. By cleaning yourself and your kit, you can also examine it for damage, wear & tear, problems and carry out remedial actions.

       Equipment Maintenance – Keeping your equipment in a functional state, sharp, corrosion free, water and wind proofed, etc. It will encompass clothing, tools, shelter and fire kit; covering textiles, wood, metal, plastics, ceramics and more.

       Location Identification & Prediction, we should learn how to read maps and get to know the local names of places that would describe to another person where we have been or where we intend to go.

       Planning, akin to being a child, we let other people know of our intentions, so that someone else knows where we intend to go, what we intend to do, the equipment we will be taking with us and when we expect to return – if we do not return, a rescue can be initiated by someone that knows where to begin.


       First Aid techniques and standard treatments for common injuries that have the ability to stop us in our tracks. These simple but effective actions can save ours and others lives. If we intend to stay outdoors for longer periods, we take along the medications for our underlying conditions and common-sense supplies to deal with common outdoor injuries and ailments. We can study the medicinal uses of common plants, herbs and trees in our locality so that we are less reliant upon purchased medication.

We might practice a form of martial art or self defense, along with formal and dynamic risk assessment processes – such that if we risk doing ourselves harm, we can take an alternative course of action or call for help.

We should also aim to keep fit, healthy and mobile.


       Shelter – We equip ourselves with the shelter elements that will protect our bodies during inclement weather and possibly the means to create a wider shelter for our equipment and provisions. We find through experience the type of clothing that remains effective after prolonged wind/rain/snow etc. and these become our favorites. We might take to camping with friends or youth organisations where we learn more about the outdoors and being prepared to live on our own wits. Our clothing will have to be purchased or made and repairs & replacements will need to be carried out periodically.


       Water is of great importance to the human body and we should learn where to harvest it and how to sterilize it to make it safe to drink. We should learn the contaminants, how they might affect our health and what treatments can be used to combat them.


       Fire has been a useful resource for nearly two million years. We should practice the creation of fire, with and without modern ignition techniques so we retain the ability to warm ourselves and dry any kit that gets wet. At camp you will find that fire will lift the spirits as well as cook your food and warm your cockles.


       Signalling as a means of summoning assistance, calling others to your aid when you have befallen an injury or got lost is an important skill. We should research the emergency signals that could lead to us being rescued if we become totally lost and disorientated.


       Food for sustenance can be carried, foraged or hunted. We should research what foods are most beneficial and how to find and prepare them. We should learn how to cook on open fires so that we can sustain ourselves for long periods away from a modern kitchen.


       Navigation and the associated skills of location prediction & identification are important so that we can plan routes, predict journey and arrival times. We should also know how to transmit that information to potential rescuers and inform others of our intentions.


       Revision of Performance to assess the functionality of your kit, your skills, knowledge and experience to cope with similar events in the future. There may be a limit that you mentally accept when you can no longer perform in times of particular conditions – in those times we learn to accept the assistance of others within our group.



Miscellaneous Extras


       The bush is neutral. It is neither for me nor against me.

       My comfort depends on what I can do for myself and how much I know about using the bush materials around me.
Becoming angry, depressed, or unhappy does little to help me in my situation. I will try to think positive thoughts and find ways to be thankful for what I have. When I am not sure of what to do I will stop, relax, and think out situation before I act.
I realise moving about when I do not know where I am or where I am going will make it more difficult for others to find me.
My concern at this moment is to make myself comfortable for tonight. I shall shelter myself from the wind, rain, or snow and build a fire to warm up.
I will not let fear or panic rule my mind as this only works against me. The bush is inert. It is incapable of doing me harm. the situation before I act.

       I realize that moving about when I do not know where I am or where I am going will only make it more difficult for others to find me.

       My concern at this moment is to make myself comfortable for tonight. I shall shelter myself from the wind, the rain and the snow and build a fire to warm me up.

       I will not let fear nor panic rule my mind as this can only work against me.

       The bush is inert it is incapable of doing me harm!



       Revision Criteria


       A robust and easy to remember system that allows constant yet effective improvement of the tools, skills and equipment that affects your survivability


Farmed / Framed





       Environmentally Sustainable



       Functionality – can the item function well? Does it have simple mechanical operation that works right out of the box, does it need to be adjusted to suit your MO? Can it be used with cold or wet hands equally effectively? Does its functionality suffer if it becomes wet, frozen or exposed to high heat, sunlight etc.


       Affordability – Is the thing available widely and on a budget? A cheap common item is likely to be rugged and proven with replacement parts (or whole replacement) available equally as cheaply. It should be affordable to the point of you being happy to actually use it, if it is too precious to use, you will not use it correctly.


       Repeat ability – is it capable of achieving its designed outcome “first time – every time” without compromise? Is there a point at which its performance begins to fade and therefore indicate that it should be replaced?


       Maintainability – Is it easily maintained? Simple oiling & waxing of mechanical parts, cleaning, sharpening etc. easily accomplished under field conditions.


       Environmentally Sustainable – if your use of natural resources consumes more than can be replaced at a pace set by growing seasons; you will eventually run out! If however your consumption can be replaced by the natural sequence, you will always have ample resources.


       Durability – is it capable of taking the occasional knock or being dropped without suffering damage? Is it susceptible to corrosion, is it adversely effected by moisture, damp or humidity. Does it have delicate parts or parts that could be lost or damaged which will adversely affect its performance?





Moved to post above! March 14, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — rdbushcraft @ 12:46 pm

Spiral Survival

Filed under: Uncategorized — rdbushcraft @ 12:35 pm

Spiral Survival is the title of something that I have been working on for a while. It details the necessary steps that a person would have to take to ensure their continued well-being. It works from a central position of “helpless” through three phases of increasing “self-reliance” towards “self-sustainability”.


Something new

Filed under: Uncategorized — rdbushcraft @ 12:31 pm

Thinking of publishing some elements of a bushcraft / survival book I have been working on. Let me know your thoughts.


Moving On July 20, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — rdbushcraft @ 8:21 am

A good portion of luck has been placed before me recently. A good friend, who himself has moved on from when I last knew – recommended me to his place of work. Interviews ensued and visits back & forth – with the upshot being that I have a new job. It means that we now have some financial security for working shifts away from home.
It is a double edged sword, as I have to stay away from home and family for a number of days each week, but there seems to be a reasonable break between shifts, the wage is good and the distance is acceptable – especially as I have now traded the trusty old Land Rover for a camper van. This in itself allows me to keep my outgoings to a minimum and retain some flexibility and independence.
So, what does this mean for Red Dragon Bushcraft – while I fully intend to keep the business going, there will be an obvious impact on the times that I will be able to concentrate on Bushcraft matters. I will continue to work regularly with Aberystwyth University for their Freshers event and a number of private clients and with BushcraftUK. If you would like me to set up a Bushcraft course, workshop or demonstration for you, please get in touch early to allow me to make the necessary arrangements (and please don’t be disheartened if I can’t change things) to free myself up for your event.

My continued thanks for your time in reading this.

Pete Williams


What to do next? December 22, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rdbushcraft @ 10:24 pm

I mentioned a few posts ago that I was in the process of formalising my Bushcraft knowledge – well, it has now passed the 500 page mark and is becoming a little unwieldy as you might imagine. I am also becoming aware that, as it is written in my words, it will only make sense to someone who speaks and reads in the same manner as me!
I have thought about some restructuring – creating a “Pick-&-mix” of bushcraft – so that once the core basics are covered, a reader might select a topic which interests them and reads up on the subject as an individual project.
I have also created “Spiral Survival” a method of approaching a stepped survival outlook, comprising a variety of skills and equipment that would be required for different length survival scenarios.
Both documents are close to being complete, though I need to add some artwork to them to finish them off.

Before I publish them, I would like to have them proof read by a few people who might offer some pointers to improve them.


Not convinced that it’s a good idea! April 13, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rdbushcraft @ 7:30 pm

I have been having a long running argument with myself about fire lighting.

I enjoy learning about different methods of conjuring a flame and there can be little that is more satisfying than mastering a new technique, but they are information to be carried rather than techniques to be relied upon.

There are methods that I can see great value in carrying as daily possibilities for igniting that “Emergency Fire” that we convince ourselves is necessary; similarly there are those methods which are just too finicky to warrant inclusion in my fire making arsenal. Lets look at the two opposing ends of the spectrum.

Worthwhile methods; For me the methods worth carrying are – modern, percussion & solar.

Modern methods – matches, lighters, fire-steels are just too convenient to omit, they have been developed to work and, while they need to be looked after and conserved, are the measure be which we compare all other fire lighting means.

Percussion methods – the carrying of a high carbon steel striker and a sharp edged flint, quartz or obsidian nodule can be one of the most ecologically gentle methods of ignition that I know – with a practised technique, you are unlikely to damage the flint edge and the pieces can last for years.

Solar methods – With the advent of flat plastic Fresnel lenses, there is no longer a need to allocate pack space, weight and care of a glass magnifying glass. An A5 or A6 sized Fresnel lens will fit almost anywhere in a shoulder pack or rucksack and with the right weather conditions, be merely held at the right distance from a tinder bundle to bring about a fire.

These methods rely upon learning a simple technique and the preparation of suitable tinder nests, but once mastered, can be relied upon for all but the most dire circumstances.


Un-Worthy Methods; electrical, chemical, compression & friction methods.

Electrical methods – the carrying of equipment dedicated to electrical methods of fire lighting are in my mind, little more than a waste of luggage space. Knowledge of the method is worth having but the number of times that the technique is of use is surely in the minority. It is likely that a gas lighter will contain a piezo-electric crystal to ignite a gas flame, and if the associated kit of fine wire wool or thin metal foil is carried, it can be ignited from other electrical sources – however the recent advocacy of LED powered lighting means that torch (flashlight) batteries are able to be smaller and of lower voltage than with incandescent lamps.

Chemical methods –  these are stored in my “last chance” knowledge bank. The combination and use of common carried chemicals to conjure fire will, by definition, negate the use of these chemicals for their primary purpose.

Compression methods – the employment of a fire piston in the British climate does not lead to a rugged system of fire creation. They require constant maintenance to ensure success and even then only supply a tiny ember that itself requires an ember extender in order to ignite a tinder bundle.

Friction methods – by doing down the friction methods of fire lighting, I am placing myself in danger of being outcast from any Bushcraft supporting community. However, after learning both bow and hand drill techniques, it became evident that it needs both regular practise and suitable materials to be successful to any percentage degree. The expression of energy required to achieve viable embers on a regular and predictable basis, becomes this methods limiting factor – while I occasionally do practise the technique, I find that I cannot treat it anywhere near as rugged a method as the worthy methods mentioned above.

These methods rely upon delicate balances of skill, experience and resources – which do not lend themselves well to being rugged and reliable.


The creation of fire in the outdoors will fall into one of two categories; “emergency” or “playful practise”. If I am involved in an emergency and need to conjure fire, it will be by any method that I find to be convenient at the time as the creation of that fire will be the most important thing at that time and place. If I am merely practising however, then I am at leisure to use any method I desire and, within reason, can afford to fail a few times before the need for a cup of tea becomes more important than the practise of fire lighting – at which time I will again resort to any method that I am sure will achieve the required result.




Website thoughts February 10, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rdbushcraft @ 5:07 pm

My abilities in editing the website are poor at best, but here’s what I’d like to do.
I’ve been writing a piece to centralise my bushcraft knowledge, to begin with it was a few pages, then I had to separate it into chapters and then into more chapters. It is now around 400 pages and in a constant state of flux as I edit and word-smith it and flesh out more and more points.
What I’d like to do is put parts of that work onto the website in an area only accessible to those whom I give a password.
All I need to do is learn how to add the necessary pages, edit in the correct links and make it happen…..

If anyone can offer any technical tips to a ludite like me, I’d really appreciate it!


Busy, busy. October 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — rdbushcraft @ 10:11 am

It has been a frantic few weekends lately – Duke of Edinburgh expeditions with Air Cadets and Youth Club, a winter nature walk which didn’t make it, and a Freshers weekend with Aberystwyth University.
All have been great experiences for me and I hope for those involved – the culmination was the Freshers weekend which I look forward to every year. It is partly the meeting of friends with catching up on news and stories – it is partly the chance to work with groups that would rarely venture into our world of Backwoods living and also the opportunity to work in the grounds and halls of such a fine building as Gregynog Hall. I would like to thank everyone that was involved, the students and lecturers, the organisers and the Hall staff – you make it a very pleasant place to be.
This weekend sees another two Duke of Edinburgh expeditions on the last weekend of their season before closing for the winter – though from the forecast, the weather will beat us to the deadline – it should not have too much of an ill-effect on those going as their preparation has been very good and all are keen to complete the challenge.
Things will calm down throughout the winter period, but I hope to be able to build on a few recent queries, maybe run a course or two before the next turn of the seasons draws folk back out-of-doors again.
For those that might not know, a few years ago I began writing some notes on the way I approach Bushcraft, I separated it into a few chapters and have been adding information and clearing up things with better explanations as I go – well it has now passed over 400 pages and more than 150,000 words – who knows what it might become next year.

Cheers all, see you in the woods.



Ray Mears and some common sense talking. February 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — rdbushcraft @ 10:13 pm

My attention was drawn to a recent interview that Ray Mears did with CNN. He explains how survival is not macho and ultra secretive – it is basic common sense mixed with a little detailed observation and reasoning.