Campfire Cooking – The Basics

One of the first images that comes to mind when people talk about camping is a campfire. For many people, campfires and camping are practically synonymous. Campfires can serve many functions on a camping trip: as a quick source of heat on a cold night, and an efficient way to dry off layers after a rainy day. Some people even refer to campfires as “caveman television,” because of their addictive nature. One of the best uses for a campfire is to cook food. Although cooking on a campfire takes longer than using a backpacking stove, campfires are incredibly versatile. The smoke imparts a unique flavor to the food and, with the right equipment, you can cook everything from s’mores to fresh bread using a campfire. Campfire cooking is perfect for car camping or canoe trips, where heavier items like a Dutch oven and fresh ingredients are easy to pack.

Making a Fire

Many official or established campsites have nicely built fire pits or fire rings. In regions without established camping sites, fire rings are usually easy to find in well-traveled areas, but many are built in locations that don’t adhere to land use regulations. Fire regulations vary greatly from state to state and between land agencies, so double-check any requirements before leaving home. If you’re on public lands, don’t build a new fire ring if you can’t find one where you are camped. Instead, build a Leave No Trace fire – one that won’t have a lasting impact on the area. The most important part of having a campfire is to ensure that your fire doesn’t impact the surrounding environment. Every summer, improperly extinguished campfires create massive wildfires. It takes very little time for a smoldering fire to flare into a multi-acre wildfire, so be sure your fire is completely dead when you go to bed or leave the campsite. The most effective way to achieve this is by pouring water on the embers and ashes. Another preventive measure is to keep the size of your pile manageable. A huge bonfire in the woods can get out of hand quickly, so aim for nothing larger than a three-foot diameter and a foot high and don’t use branches that are thicker than your wrist. Never burn trash, especially toilet paper because tiny pieces can catch the wind and blow out of sight, moving embers to areas beyond your vision. If you’re on public lands, check for fire bans in your area before starting any fires.

Source: eReplacementParts.com

Campfires can be used to create several types of cooking conditions, from an open flame to seasoned coals. The stage of fire you want to cook with depends entirely on what you are cooking. For fast-cooking items like hot dogs and marshmallows, full flames are fast and easy. While these items can be cooked on the end of a sharpened stick, it’s simpler to bring a set of roasting sticks. For easy packing, invest in a set of extendable sticks with wooden handles. People who are new to campfire cooking usually stick their marshmallow or hot dog right into the flames, which certainly will work. However, this usually results in a crispy exterior and chilly interior. For a perfectly golden-brown marshmallow or an evenly crispy hot dog, look for a patch of wood that’s glowing, but not shooting flames. The glowing signals coal, which emits a more even heat than flames. It does require more time to cook this way, but the effort pays off for those with patience. Kids will usually opt for the full flame effect, which is half the fun of having a campfire with children. To dress up s’mores, try using peanut butter cups in place of chocolate or bring filled chocolate bars instead of flat ones. If you like the chocolate slightly melted, set your graham cracker and chocolate on a stone by the side of the fire while you cook the marshmallow. The same technique will toast a hot dog bun.

 

For more delicate items like fish, vegetables, and anything baked in a Dutch oven, you need to wait until the fire has created a nice heap of coals. A Dutch oven is a large, heavy cooking pot with a sturdy lid. When buried in or surrounded by hot coals, the pot acts like an oven, evenly cooking the ingredients inside. Though heavy, they’re incredibly versatile and can be used for everything from stews and roasts to cobbler and fresh bread. They’re easy to clean and incredibly durable; there are countless recipes for home cooking in a traditional oven that utilize a Dutch oven, so it’s not a specialty camping item. If you’re cooking something with coals, pack heavy-duty leather gloves or a small shovel to help you move coals to where you need them. For cooking with a Dutch oven, make a flat space in the coals where you can set the pot without worrying about it tipping. Once it’s in place, scoop coals onto the top of the lid so the oven is completely surrounded by even heat. You can also cook food packets wrapped in heavy-duty tinfoil (be sure to use heavy-duty rather than regular). These can be cooked on a grill grate over the fire, or directly in the coals.

 

These are just a few recipes and cooking ideas to get you started! Campfires are excellent for cooking any number of dishes, including bacon and eggs, fresh corn, roasted vegetables, fresh bread, macaroni and cheese, and even hot drinks like cocoa and coffee. Experiment with different equipment, like a kettle for water or a tripod for hanging a Dutch oven over coals.


How To Set Up Your Campsite

Camping with the family is supposed to be relaxing, but it can feel stressful if you don’t know how to pack, set up, and organize your campsite efficiently. After all, no one wants to spend all their time unpacking gear, looking for things, and hauling stuff around their campsite! Read on to learn how to efficiently pack and set up all your gear!

How to Pack Your Camping Gear for Easy Set Up at the Campground

Start your packing process with stackable rubber storage totes. You’ll need at least three (one for each camping “section” of your campsite, including the kitchen, sleeping, and living areas). Larger families or those with extensive gear will probably need more than one tote for each section. Once you arrive at your campsite, simply set each tote in the designated area you’ll need it in, such as the area around your picnic table for the kitchen tote, your tent area for your sleeping tote, and near your campfire pit for your living area tote. Color code your totes to remember where each one belongs.

Try this kitchen packing hack: Store your kitchen tools and utensils in a toiletry bag or other small bag to keep them organized and clean between uses at a dusty campground. You can hang them from a tree branch for easy access when you’re at your site.

In addition to your three “main section” totes, assign a smaller tote to each family member. This tote will hold that person’s clothing and personal items. Using totes for this purpose, instead of duffel bags or suitcases, saves space in your car or trailer since you can stack them.

Place items you’ll need at the ready in a mesh laundry sack (which can be re-purposed later for dirty clothes). These items may include swimsuits and towels you’ll want as soon as you arrive at the campground or jackets and boots if you’re camping in damp areas or in the off-season.

How to Find a Good Campsite and Set Up Efficiently

If you can reserve your campsite ahead of time, do so online as early as possible. Look at the campground map and note campsites that back up to the wilderness instead of other sites. In addition, look at the bathroom and shower locations (you may want to be close to one or you may want to be farther away from foot traffic). If you are camping at a campground that does not take reservations, arrive at the campground as early in the day as possible. When you arrive, look for a campsite that backs up to the forest or scenery to minimize noise from any neighbors.

Find a campsite with equal parts shade and sun to maximize your exposure and enjoy warmth in the mornings and cooler temperatures in the afternoon. Once you’ve selected a site, set up your sleeping area in the shade (so your tents don’t heat up during the day) on flat ground away from the fire ring and kitchen area.

Set up your kitchen adjacent to the fire ring and picnic table. You may want to consider setting up a screen dome or shade shelter over the table to reduce unwanted quality time with insects and mosquitos. Make sure you place your cooler in the shade.

How to Have a Safe Campfire

First, always make sure the campground permits campfires. Campfire policies can change seasonally, and they may be prohibited during peak forest fire danger periods. If campfires are permitted, make sure to gather sticks and wood from the ground around your site, taking care not to break branches off living trees. Dead wood is drier and better for burning.

If you need to buy firewood, buy it at your campground or at a local store. This practice saves space in your vehicle for your other gear, and it is far better for the environment. When you bring wood from home, you can unknowingly bring unwanted, non-native insects or parasites along with it.

Start your campfire with kindling or small sticks from around the campsite, combined with some newspaper or store-bought fire starter.

Always let your campfire start to die out one hour before bedtime. This is a great time to light a camping lantern and play a few rounds of cards or a board game. Of course, you should always put your fire completely out before leaving your campsite (for the day or at the end of the trip). To extinguish your fire quickly, separate the burned coals with a stick. Once they’re not touching, they will become cool to the touch within 15-20 minutes on average. After spreading the coals, ensure that the fire is fully out by throwing buckets of water or sand or them.

 


Source: eReplacementParts.com


7 Items You Must Have in Your Emergency Survival Kit [infographic]

There are several people who don’t think of bad situations that might happen to them in future. It is good to live in the present but you can’t overlook such times when your life and survival are in trouble. And, that comes with an emergency. Whether you are at home, in office or travelling, emergency situations can strike anytime. But, when you have the required equipment and supplies with you, there are better chances of survival and you can easily deal with the unfavorable situations. There are only 7 essential items that you need to have in your emergency survival kit. And, they are:

  1. Water –  Water is an important and unmissable element of your emergency kit. Survival experts have been emphasizing on carrying at least 3 gallons of water per person for a 3-day supply. Because you will need it for multiple purposes that include- drinking, cooking and sanitation. Keep checking the expiry and accordingly replace your bottled water once in a year. There is a specially packaged water which has a longer shelf life ranging from 5 to 50 years.
  2. Food – Like water, food is also important for the body and should be a part of your survival kit. So, include non-perishable food items in your kit with a minimum of 3-day supply per person. Along with this you can also keep some candies, mints and nutritional bars. Freeze dried food is also a good option since it has a shelf life of 5 to 25 years. In case, you are with kids and pet, carry baby food and formulas and pet food. Keep replacing these items annually.
  3. First-Aid- If someone in your family or you yourself suffer an injury or a health issue, you should be prepared with the basic first-aid supplies in your emergency kit. These include a thermometer, some general medicines, eye wash solution, eye drops, aspirin, antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide to wash and disinfect wounds, glucose for diabetes patients, cotton roll, sting relief pads, bandage strips, scissors, tweezers, adhesive-tape, and burn gel.
  4. Lighting and Communication– In times of disaster or an emergency, the problem of power outage maximizes tension. To tackle such a situation, carry with you, a solar powered or hand cranked radio, lantern, battery-operated torch, candles, lighter, waterproof match sticks, whistle for signaling, some spare batteries and cell phone chargers. These will act as the source of lighting and communication in any kind of emergency.
  5. Shelter and Warmth– Weather can have disastrous effects, especially when you are already dealing with an emergency situation. But if you ensure to have these essential supplies in your kit- a tent, vinyl tarps, body and hand warmers, raincoats and ponchos, sleeping bags and thermal blankets, you can make the chances of your survival, better.
  6. Sanitation and Hygiene- Keep a pail to use as toilet, a seat for pail, tissue rolls, toothbrush and toothpaste, garbage bags and plastic ties, baby diapers, wet wipes, sanitizer and soaps to maintain hygiene in and around yourself.
  7. Survival Gear– Other tools that help you in emergency situations include shovel, axe, can opener, duct tape, multi-function knife, dust masks, heavy duty gloves, a sturdy rope for towing, plastic sheeting and a portable stove and fuel. All these are also equally essential.

Other important items that you should not miss to include in your survival kit are fire extinguisher, garden hose for siphoning and firefighting, sturdy shoes, cash and some change, paper, pencil, spare clothes, eye glasses, and baby diapers.

Want to know about emergency survival kit in detail? Look at this infographic designed by More Prepared, an emergency survival expert.

7 Items You Must Have in Your Emergency Survival Kit

Mina Arnao  is the Founder/CEO of More Prepared, the emergency preparedness experts for over 10 years. More Prepared’s mission is to help families, schools and businesses prepare for earthquakes and other emergencies.  Mina is CERT trained (community emergency response team) and Red Cross certified.

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25 Uses for Duct Tape

Read on for more genius ways to tap into duct tape’s potential.

Duct Tape to the Rescue

If it’s good enough for wars and space travel, it’s good enough for all sorts of hacks for your next camping trip. When times are rough, here are some ways duct tape may help get you out of the woods.

Shelter

After a long day outside, there is nothing worse than getting to a campsite and realizing something is wrong with the night’s cover. Here are some ways duct tape may be able to step in to help you get a good night’s sleep.

  • Mend a fabric tear: Tear off a piece of duct tape long enough to cover the rip in the tent. Adhere the tape on both the outside and inside of the tent. This should help keep water, dirt, and bugs out of your shelter.
  • Fix a broken zipper: Rather than let the tent door flap in the wind and let in the chill, apply a strip of duct tape along the break in the zipper.
  • Remedy a broken pole: If a pole snaps in half, put it back together by wrapping duct tape around the two parts. For a sturdier fix, tape a stick alongside the broken pole for reinforcement.
  • Fashion guylines: Guylines protect tents from rough winds by increasing stability. If the air is howling and your tent isn’t equipped with guylines (or they’re too tangled to use), fashion some out of duct tape. Make the cord by twisting several lengths of duct tape together. Tie and/or stick the cord to the sides of the tent, and then tie the other ends to rocks or trees, keeping the guylines taught.
  • Whip up an unplanned bivvy: No tent? No problem! With some duct tape and a couple of trash bags (which can also serve plenty of survival/camping purposes) you’ll be able to build a tent in no time. First, run a cord (a duct tape one, if needed – see guyline instructions) between two trees, allowing enough space for you to fit in between. Tape two trash bags together and drape them over the cord. To hold the shelter in place, place rocks where the trash bag meets the ground to hold it in place.

Duct Tape Guide - Using Duct Tape for Shelter

Footwear

Solid footwear is one of the most important pieces of equipment for a quality camping trip. But if treads fail or your feet are in need when out in the elements, here are several ways duct tape can step in.

  • Make a basic repair: You aren’t going to be able to hike very far if the soles of your boots are literally falling off, but keeping them strapped on with duct tape will allow you to regain basic function for at least a few more miles.
  • Waterproof: Soaking wet socks are no fun. When the rain’s coming down, wrap duct tape around shoes to help keep the water out.
  • Construct gaiters: Even if boots do a fine job keeping out moisture, a day of winter tromping can mean wet feet when the snow creeps in around your ankles. Stay dry with makeshift gaiters by wrapping the tops of the boots in duct tape, and continue wrapping the tape about halfway up your calves.
  • Fashion snowshoes: This one is going to take a little longer – something you’ll likely want to do at home, rather than when you’re actually in the snow. You’ll need two rolls of duct tape, hot glue, a sharp knife, several sturdy sticks, string, scissors, and a large bowl. Find more detailed instructions here.

Duct Tape Guide - Using Duct Tape for Shelter

First Aid

Just as the WWII soldiers discovered, duct tape is a great addition to a medical kit.

Note: The following is not a substitute for basic wilderness first aid. Please brush up on your skills with a class before a big trip, and be sure to bring more than just duct tape in your first aid kit.

  • Make or enforce a bandage: Place sterile gauze over a cut and hold it in place with duct tape. This is also a good quick fix for blisters (just be sure the duct tape itself is not touching the wound). Alternatively, wrap an existing bandage with duct tape to hold it in place more securely and protect against dirt.
  • Wrap a sprain: In lieu of an Ace bandage, wrap your ankle or wrist in duct tape to provide support.
  • Stabilize with a splint: Stabilize a possibly broken limb with sticks and duct tape. First, lay sticks on either side of the injured bone. Then hold it all together by wrapping duct tape around the sticks.
  • Create a serviceable sling: Fold a length of duct tape down the middle so there’s no longer a sticky side. Tie the tape around your body as a strap to hold an injured arm in place.
  • Make a tourniquet: In the event of unstoppable blood, tightly wrap the affected area above the wound in order to stop blood flow.
  • Ward off bugs: For walks through grassy fields that may be home to ticks or chiggers, wrap some duct tape around the hem of your pants to keep the bugs from sticking onto you.
  • Protect your eyes: You may not always think to bring sunglasses on a winter camping trip. If the sun is beaming—especially at high altitudes—it can intensely reflect against the snow and cause painful and possibly permanent damage to your eyes, called snow blindness. Prevent eye damage with some super makeshift sunglasses. Tape two pieces of duct tape together, then cut horizontal slights over each eye to let in just enough light to see, but not enough to seriously impair corneas.
  • Prevent frostbite: Alaskan dogsledders swear by this frigid practice: If it is really cold out, stick duct tape directly to your face (especially around the eyes) to keep sensitive skin from freezing over. Just be careful when removing the tape so as not to take some skin with it.

Duct Tape Guide - Using Duct Tape for First Aid

Forgotten Goods

Did you leave an oh-so-important item at home? Duct tape can be molded into all sorts of basic necessities.

  • Craft a cup or bowl: Don’t let a forgotten bowl keep you from enjoying dinner. With several strips of duct tape, you can quickly craft a nifty alternative. Thanks to duct tape’s waterproof attributes, it should be able to hold liquids as well.
  • Use as a fire starter: Duct tape is surprisingly flammable. In a pinch, it could be the secret tool to get a campfire going. For an even more reliable fire starter, wrap duct tape around a bundle of dryer lint, and then cover the outside with char cloth.
  • Build a makeshift torch: Don’t have a flashlight? Light up a wad of duct tape to provide a bit more illumination – even if short-lived.
  • Create a handy hat: When the sun beats down, stick several pieces of duct tape together to form a visor, then use another strip to strap it on. (Be sure to take some selfies showcasing the fashionable new headpiece.)

Duct Tape Guide - Using Duct Tape For Forgotten Goods

The Rest of the Roll

  • Make an all-purpose cord or rope: A duct tape cord can have a lot of uses beyond just guylines, such as a clothesline, a gear sling, or a way to tie food in the trees to keep it safe from hungry critters. You can also make a heavier duty rope by braiding three pieces of duct tape cord together.
  • Repair clothing: If you have a tear or hole in a down jacket or even sleeping bag, place a strip of duct tape over it to help keep the feathers where they are.
  • Mend leaky bottles: If your water vessel – be it a plastic water bottle or a flexible water bladder – has sprung a leak, stop it (or at least slow it down) with a piece of duct tape over the puncture.
  • Soften sharp edges: There is nothing more annoying than the constant jabbing of a pointy object in your pack. Apply a layer of duct tape to buffer sharp edges.

Duct Tape Guide - Using Up the Rest of the Roll
This list should give you plenty of ideas for duct tape survival, but there are many more ways to salvage your outdoor adventure with this wonder tool. Throw a roll or two into your pack, or wrap several layers around a water bottle or trekking poles for later use, and you’ll be equipped with the tools you need to unstick yourself from all sorts of binds.
Source: Fix.com Blog


Wilderness First Aid

Be Prepared Before Venturing to the Backcountry

One of the scariest things that can happen when you’re in the backcountry is an injury. Even a small blister can upend a backpacking trip, but imagine facing something more serious, like a broken leg, an allergic reaction, or a burn from the campfire, and not knowing where to start. Suddenly it’s abundantly obvious that getting to a hospital isn’t as simple as calling 911, and you wonder where you packed the first-aid kit – you did pack a first-aid kit, right? Having a first-aid kit and knowing how to use it are important parts of making any trip to the backcountry. Here are some tips to get you started.

Take a Course

If you plan on spending time in the backcountry, it’s important to take a course in wilderness medicine. You have three options when choosing a course.

Wilderness First Aid (2–3 days)

This course provides an overview of wilderness medicine, and it is designed for people who plan on taking mostly weekend trips. You’ll learn how to check for threats to life, how to care for wounds and fractures, and how to deal with an emergency in a deliberate way.

Wilderness First Responder (~10 days)

This course is usually required for people who want to work in the outdoors. The material is presented more thoroughly than the material in the short course, and the course covers a wider range of common wilderness injuries.

Wilderness EMT (one month)

If you want to be a ski instructor or expect to bounce between EMT work and time in the backcountry, this is a great option. In addition to the national EMT curriculum, the Wilderness EMT includes a component designed for providing remote care.

Don’t be intimidated by the fact that these are all classes; most wilderness medicine courses involve a lot of hands-on learning and scenarios, which provide plenty of chances to practice your skills. Be sure to take a class from a reputable program and keep your certification up to date. Most certifications have to be renewed every two to three years, and most of them include a CPR component. Renewing your certification may seem like a hassle, but it’s a great way to brush up on rusty skills and learn changes to the curriculum or protocols.

First-aid Kit

  • Gloves (2–3 pairs Latex or nitrile gloves are essential for anyone treating a patient; pack a few pairs so you won’t run out.
  • Band-Aids (10–20): These are great for small cuts and scrapes.
  • Ibuprofen and acetaminophen: Sometimes referred to as “Vitamin I,” ibuprofen is great for treating everything from headaches to aching feet.
  • Antihistamine and an EpiPen: Allergic reactions happen fast, so make sure you know where the EpiPen and Benadryl are located so you can retrieve them quickly.
  • Tweezers: Tweezers are great for removing splinters and ticks.
  • Moleskin (2 sheets): These are great for preventing and treating blisters.
  • Molefoam (1 sheet): Molefoam provides a fast way to pad a blister.
  • Athletic tape (1 roll): Athletic tape can be used for a number of injuries, including twisted ankles and blisters, and it can be used to tape gauze over larger wounds.
  • Duct tape: Instead of packing a roll, unwind some tape and wrap it around itself so you can remove pieces.
  • Gauze pads (2–3): These are perfect for burns and big cuts.
  • Gauze roll: Having two types of gauze may seem redundant, but the roll can be handy for wrapping any number of injuries.
  • Antibiotic ointment (3–5 packets): These come in small packets, which are a nice, lightweight option.
  • Ace bandage: These are bulky, but they are great for wrapping around splints if you’re dealing with a fracture or simply supporting a rolled ankle.
  • Trauma shears or a pocket knife: Scissors aren’t lightweight, but they are indispensible if you need to cut molefoam or remove clothing around an injury. If you opt to leave them behind, be sure to carry a pocket knife.
  • CPR face shield: This is a lightweight version of a CPR mask.
  • Paper and pencil: These are vital for recording information and taking notes on your patient.
  • Plastic bag: These are always useful, but if you’re disposing of biohazardous material, it’s especially important to have one in your kit.

One of the first things you learn in first-aid training is how to assess a situation to ensure your own safety and that of potential victims. When someone gets injured, your instinct will be to rush to help, but it’s important to take a minute to size up the situation first. These five steps will help you quickly gather important information about the situation before you approach the injured party.

1. Make sure the area around the patient is safe for you, the rescuer. This may be a quick decision if the patient simply fell, but consider the scene after an avalanche, a lightning strike, or a bear attack. If the thing that caused the injury is still a danger to others, keep yourself safe by waiting to approach the patient. There’s no sense in creating more patients.

2. Make a quick determination about what happened to the patient. This isn’t a diagnosis but an observation based on what the scene looks like.

3. Put on gloves! It’s crucial to ensure that none of the patient’s fluids (like blood) get on your skin. Gloves are the easiest solution for protecting your hands, and you should wear them at all times while treating a patient.

4. Make a quick scan of the area to count how many patients you’ll be treating. Maybe you’ve stumbled upon a boating accident with a raft full of people, or maybe you’re hiking with a friend who stumbled and fell to the ground.

5. Is the person alive or dead? This may seem basic, but it will give you a lot of information about what your next steps will be and how fast to make them. Sometimes you have to get closer to the patient to see if they are alive, which is why this step is last.

First-aid 101: Blister Prevention

Blisters are a much more likely to occur on a hiking or camping trip than are some of the other incidental injuries a person may incur. Learning how to treat them is a valuable skill that will pay off in dividends. Blisters are essentially burns caused by friction, and they are incredibly common on backpacking trips, especially if you’re wearing brand-new boots. The pre-cursor to a blister is known as a “hot spot.” It’s best to catch blisters at this stage, when they’re easily treated.

If you or your hiking partner discovers a hot spot, stop and take a look at the foot. Hot spots are usually red, and they will be slightly painful to the touch. They’re caused by the foot rubbing against either the boot or the sock, so to treat them, you need to relieve the friction. This is easy to do with moleskin. Simply cut out a circular piece about the size of the hot spot and tape it in place (athletic tape works well for this).

Have the person remove their boot and sock. Take out a square of Molefoam and cut a circle that covers the entire blister, plus a little extra. Round pieces are best because they don’t have any corners, which will peel.

Once you have a circular piece cut, fold the piece in half and cut out the middle, creating a foam donut. The inside hole should be large enough that it covers the entire blister.

Place the foam donut over the blister. If the extends out further than the foam, make a second donut and place it on top of the first. The goal is to create a ring around the blister that will protect it from rubbing against the boot.

If the blister has popped, apply some antibiotic cream inside the donut. If it hasn’t popped, leave it intact. A popped blister is no longer protected by the cushion of the fluid, and it’s an easy access point for infection-causing bacteria. Once the blister is surrounded by the donut of foam, wrap the area with athletic tape to keep the bandage in place.

Now that you know some of the basics, sign up for a wilderness medicine class in your area. Start by checking these three schools that offer nationally recognized certifications: SOLO, WMA, and NOLS WMI.
Source: Fix.com Blog


How To Build Your Own Solar Thermal Panel From Recycled Trash

The guys at the Sietch have a great little idea here, making their own solar thermal collector with spare parts and trash readily available in any scrap yard  worldwide. This would be good if the SHTF and we had to live off the grid. Enjoy. Let us know if you build your own.

Materials needed:

Water
2 buckets
Drill (with both drill bits and screw bits)
Some scissors
A saw (a simple hand saw will do)
Some wood
A pane of glass.
The back of a small refrigerator.
12 feet of air pump hose used in fish tanks
Backing material (we used an old door mat)
A box of wood screws
Aluminum Foil
Role of duct tape
Angle Cutter (or hack saw)
Time:This project took about 3 hours of constructions time. It took a couple weeks to find all the parts.

Now onto the project. The first thing we did was collect all of the parts.

Our local dump has a coolant removal program that has refrigerators and dehumidifiers that they remove old freon from. With this in mind I found the perfect heat collector. The back of a fridge is basically a heat dispersal system, with a slight modification is can be used to collect large amounts of heat.

Make sure that the freon, or other coolant has been removed, and cut the grill off at the base, near the large coolant holder.

There was an old couch that had been run over by one of the large dump plows, the inside wood was the perfect size for the frame.

I found a pane of glass and an old rubber door mat that made the perfect backing and front.

The glass was a real find, and may be the only part of the panel that may need to be purchased. Make sure your glass is big enough to fit over your collector and have enough room to attach it to the frame.

The door mat was HUGE, so I had to cut it in half. Funny thing seems there was a lot of nasty black goo, and a metal sheet in the middle. Who knew. Remove the metal plate (or cut it in half as well) and leave the goo.

Once The backing was cut to size, it was time to start building the frame.

As you can see I sort of built the frame around the collector, leaving enough backing to hold it all together.

The frame is held on by building a similar frame on the back and driving large wood screws through the front frame, the backing and into the back frame.

I added some foil to the backing. The reason for this is that counter to what you would think, you do not want the backing to warm up. You only want the collector to absorb heat (it was so nice of the fridge company to paint it black for us). The foil will take any sun that was not absorbed by the collector on the first pass and bounce it back over the collector for another try at absorption. The glass cover will keep all the heat inside the panel for further absorption.

Light can pass through glass, but heat can not.

Notice how duct tape was used on the inside to seal all cracks, you could use caulk but I didn’t have any so I used the cheapest option. It worked well, and held the foil in place.

Next we cut some notches for the entry and return ports to the collector.

Note again the use of duct tape to seal cracks.

I got some air pump hose from the local fish store and attached them to the end of the entry and return ports.

The duct tape was applied to make sure it was a tight fit, it was later removed as it was not needed.

Next we attached the collector to the backing, using the mounting brackets that came on the fridge and some duct tape. If you wanted you could use some screws and wood, but I found the tape and the natural tension of the construction to be enough to hold it in place.

Lastly we attach the glass to the top. This serves to trap all the infrared radiation from the sun inside our panel where our collector will absorb it. Again light can pass through glass, but heat can not.

As you can see simple duct tape is enough to hold it on. I would recommend using some sort of mounting bracket however as after a couple days in the sun the tape started to droop allowing the glass to slide off. A few screws would solve this, but I am cheap so I just put new tape on.

Set your panel up at an angle so that it catches the most sun.

Here is the gross part, put one end of the hose into your bucket of cold water, and make sure it is at the bottom of the bucket, next grab the return hose and start sucking. That’s right, unfortunately you have to prime the panel by getting some water into it. This can be done without getting water in your mouth, but inevitably I sucked just a little too hard and ended up with a mouth full of nasty water. I would recommend having a friend do this part. 🙂

Set your cold water bucket (source) up higher than your warm water bucket (return) and the whole thing will gravity siphon. Due to the design of this collector (both ports return to the same location on the panel) it will not thermo siphon. For that to happen I would need to cut the long return pipe and have it exit at the top of the panel.

A word of warning, this panel works VERY WELL. We tested it on a very sunny day and within seconds the water coming out of the panel was hot enough TO SCALD. I burned my fingers. This very hot water is only formed when the water inside the panel is allowed to sit for about a minute without moving. If the water is moving (do to the gravity siphon) the water exiting the return pipe is about 110 degrees, and while hot, will not burn you.

The water does not flow through the panel very fast (as the pipes are very small) but that is sort of a good thing as it allows the water to heat up a lot on its journey through the collector. It does take a while to heat up a 5 gallon bucket of water, I ended up building an insulated return bucket that was all black and sealed on the top except for the port where the water tube enters. This kept the returned hot water hot long enough to be of use.

I let this guy run for a couple of hours one hot sunny day and heated up a five gallon bucket of cold water (measured at 70 degrees F) to over 110 degrees F. The temp that day was about 76 degrees F. If the water is allowed to sit in the panel for several minutes and then forced out (by blowing in one of the hoses) the water was measure at 170 degrees F. All in all we are much happier with the performance (and cost) of this panel. It performs much better than the previous one.

Our next modifications to this design will be to alter the return port so that it will thermo siphon, in this way the return hose can be fed into the source bucket and the water will continually circulate in the panel getting hotter and hotter. We have also talked about adding mirrors to the panel to concentrate more heat. Our goal is to boil water. This entire project cost less than five dollars, as I already had the screws, and the duct tape. The only thing I purchased was the air hose, which cost $3.76.

Enjoy the hot water.

 

[source]

Learn How to Tie 12 Useful Knots with This Visual Guide

If the only knot you know involves tying your shoes, then this infographic provides clear, step-by-step instructions on tying some of the most useful knots out there. This is a great little chart to keep around for reference and it explains the best uses for each knot.

Do you know of some great uses for these knots that aren’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments!

how to tie knots for survival

[source]


Essentials For Any Adventure

 

year-zero-survival-road-map

NAVIGATION
The first category for these essentials is going to be navigation. You may not think you will need this if you are going some place that you think you know. This thinking could be very dangerous should you get disoriented or lost. With modern technology many people use handheld GPS to navigate. These are excellent tools to use for general navigation and being able to backtrack or get back to a specific location. I generally use a basic GPS when I am out or even use the app Trimble Outdoors Navigator for short local trips. I really like GPS but if you are going to use it I strongly recommend carrying extra batteries. Even if you are using electronic navigation you should always carry a map and compass as a backup. This is important because batteries can die and electronics can fail. When you do carry a map and compass you will want to keep it in a waterproof container or bag to keep it dry.

FIRST AID
The next item you will want to carry on you is first aid supplies. In this kit you will want to keep all the basics for minor injuries and for more serious injuries or activity specific items. In this kit you will also want to keep extra medication if you are on any life sustaining medications. If you would get lost you do not want to be without things such as insulin for a diabetic or an inhaler if you have asthma. You will want to keep these items in their original containers. If you have to use anything in this kit you will want to replace it before your next trip.

PROPER CLOTHING
The next thing you need is protection from the elements. Typically you want to be prepared for the extremes for the season you are going out in. Dressing in layers will help you to be prepared for highs and lows in temperatures. You will also want to be prepared for things such as rain, snow, or keeping the sun off of you. Sunscreen is very important in the summer to keep yourself from getting too much sun light and possibly getting sun poisoning.

ILLUMINATION
Having some kind of light for illumination will be another major concern. I always carry at least a flash light and extra batteries on me when I go out. Even if you plan on being home before dark the situation could be out of your control and change that. Being left in the dark is a major problem for trying to remain safe. A flashlight can also give you a little bit of piece of mind if you were to get stuck out in the dark. This can be used to watch where you are walking, checking out a small cave to use for shelter, or even just for being able to read your map.

FIRE
Keeping several items on you that you can use to start a fire is also very important. I normally like to keep 2-3 options with me for starting a fire. This can be as simple as keeping a lighter, some waterproof matches, and a flint and steel with you. If you were to get lost or stuck in the woods fire is very important for several reasons. It can keep you warm, help you to purify water, and also to keep animals away. Fire is very important and is one thing you definitely don’t want to be without. You will also want to practice starting a fire with these items every once in a while. A flint and steel is worthless if you don’t know how to use it efficiently.

TOOLS
The main tool you should carry at a bare minimum is a sharp and reliable knife. There are ways to make tools even a knife in the outdoors but you would be amazed at the importance of having a knife. Other tools such as a multi-tool, duct tape, and activity specific tools are always good to have on you. For example if you are out on a mountain bike having the tools to do minor repairs can save you if you get a flat tire or broken part on the trail. These tools can change based on what you are doing but at a minimum I would keep a knife on me at all times.

WATER AND FOOD
Having some water and some extra food is also very important. Water is something you can only live for about two days without. Having water with you and also a way to procure more if needed is very important. It is normally recommended that you have two liters of water per person per day. Food is slightly less important since you can live longer without it, but you do need calories to fuel your body when you are active. I usually keep at least a small snack with me even on short trips.

SHELTER
Shelter is another very important item to have on you or being able to make. The shelter you take with you will depend on the activity you are doing. If you are planning on staying overnight you will probably already have some kind of shelter. In all other situations carrying a small emergency sleeping sac or emergency blanket would be a good idea. In an emergency a space blanket will give you something to try to keep body heat in or to stay dry.

SIGNALING
Some sort of signaling device is important since it can help you be rescued sooner. This could simply consist of a signalling mirror or emergency whistle. The mirrors will allow you to signal to someone at a distance but could be less effective if there is a lack of sun or light sources. An emergency whistle is going to allow you to make noise and the sound will typically carry a distance to allow rescuers to know where you are at. SPOT Personal Trackers can also lead rescuers to your location if something were to happen and it works like a GPS.

PLAN
The last thing I would add to this list is a plan. Letting someone know where you are going, what area you will be in, and what your plans are is always a great idea. If someone knows when to expect you and you don’t return they will know something is wrong. This will allow people to start looking for you sooner in an emergency, and let them know where to start looking for you.

This list is not set in stone and will need to be tweaked for the specific situation and activity you are going to partake in. I also have not listed these items in the order of importance, but this is because I want you to remember that all of these items are very important when venturing into the outdoors. Later we will go into each category in more detail. I hope you enjoyed the post and will remember these essentials on your next adventure.

[source] Essentials for any Adventure – OffHiking.Com. (more…)

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