Wilderness Survival Info

Daniel and the other Paladins in The Sword of Fire series are masters of Wilderness Survival. Here are some of my favorite YouTube videos on the subject.

From the Colhane Channel:

Neck Knife Kit

Survival Kit & Possibles Pouch

Jungle Survival Kit Trip Intro

Jungle Survival Kit Philosophy

Jungle Survival Kit Conclusion

Machete Modifications for the Bush

Bushcraft Machete

Machete Safety

Chlor Floc Review

From IAWoodsman

Neck Knives, how and why

From JungleCrafty


Machete modifications – survival kit

PSK: knife & saw

From Mors Kochanski

Survival Kit

From my own channel TuhonBillMcG:

3 Blade Survival System

Machetes for Eastern U.S. Bushcraft

What makes a good (large) survival knife




Rule of 3s. (you can survival without these for this amount of time)
3 hours without shelter in extreme weather.
3 days without water
3 weeks without food


3 Survival priorities. (which comes first depends on conditions)

5. Survival tools (the most important and most difficult or time consuming items to make in the wild)
2.Fire kit (fire maker and tinder)
3.Metal pot, (or better yet, a wide mouthed stainless steel water bottle for both boiling and carrying water)
4.Rope (fishing line, paracord, climbing rope, etc)
5.Roof (tarp, poncho or plastic sheet)


Dave Canterbury’s 10 “C’s” of Survival.

The most important pieces in your kit are your knife and ferro rod.

the 10 C’s in order of importance

*1 Cutting tool: knife, quality, 4-6″ blade used for all cutting tasks

*2 Combustion device: ferro rod

*3 cover: tarp, wool blanket or poncho

*4 container: metal container(32Oz preferred)used for carrying, boiling, purifying water

*5 cordage: 100′ paracord or bank line

*6 cargo: day pack or haversack

*7 compass: self explanatory, learn how to use it properly.

*8 candle: meaning lighting, a small LED head light and spare batteries

*9 combo tool: multi tool, SAK or folding saw

*10 cloth: 3’x3′ 100% cotton bandanna.

Extra items

11. sail needle

12. duct tape


SURVIVAL INSTRUCTORS (who have influenced modern survival knife design or made old designs popular)

Mors Kochanski:
Knife: Skookum Bush Tool. http://www.skookumbushtool.com/
Mors’ Knives: http://youtu.be/-BXKHRzn_yE

Ray Mears:
Knife: Woodlore. http://www.raymears.com/Bushcraft_Product/743-The-Ray-Mears-Bushcraft-Knife/
Condor Knife & Tool has a version of the Woodlore that costs about 10% of the price of the “official” Ray Mears model. http://www.condortk.com/

Doug Ritter:
CRKT RSK-MK5 knife:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xotDT9tCKPQ

Tom Brown:
Knife: Tops Tracker http://www.topsknives.com/product_info.php?products_id=155

Dave Canterbury: formerly on the Discovery Channel show “Dual Survival.” His YouTube channel has a large following as well. Website: http://www.thepathfinderstore.com/
10 “C’s” of Survival: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttRFIvsuf4A
Machete mods and sheath additions: http://youtu.be/pQhwbR2a2X4

Dave “Mac” MacintireColhane channel on YouTube: Baptist minister and survival instructor living in Brazil. He has a well regarded YouTube channel and is a frequent contributor on outdoor forums.
Machete mods for bushcraft video.
Jungle kit philosophy.

JUNGLE CRAFTY YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/junglecrafty
Survival skills in Malaysian jungle
Jungle survival machete

IAWOODSMAN Terry Barney’s YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/iawoodsman

Lead instructor at BushcraftUSA Forum, former USAF survival instructor and outdoor guide.
Neck Knives- How and Why http://youtu.be/vJD8y9mpFLc

Bushcraft Mods for the Mora Clipper http://youtu.be/qTsXKfEohrI

Cold Steel Trail Hawk http://youtu.be/6pvv97vPLHk


Survival tools

FIRE (after a knife, the number two recommended survival tool is a fire starter)

Ferrocerium rods are the most popular and are often mounted on a knife sheath. Square up the back of your knife blade at a right (90 degree) angle for a scraper (some manufacturers are now advertising a square back as a feature of their knives for this reason). To use a Ferro rod you scrape down the rod with any hard, sharp object, it doesn’t have to be steel and you don’t strike it, like in the old “flint and steel” method. (Speaking of which, one survival expert recently recommended choosing high carbon tool steels like 1095 or o1 for a survival knife, since you need that level of carbon content (close to 1%) to strike a good spark with natural flint rock).

Light My Fire Firesteel Scout model $13.75 on Amazon
Light My Fire Firesteel Army model $16 on Amazon

Or make your own for a lot less. http://firesteel.com/  for blank rods.

The handle on commercial Ferro rods have a reputation of coming off, since many are just pressed on. So I use blank rods and wrap the larger ones with duck tape (which is also flammable. The smaller ones I wrap in brightly colored electrical tape, which is not flammable, but fits better).

Ferrocerium is a man-made metallic material that gives off a large number of hot sparks at temperatures at 3,000 °F (1,650 °C) when scraped against a hard, sharp surface (pyrophoricity). Because of this property it is used in many applications, such as clockwork toys, strikers for welding torches, fire-starters in emergency survival kits, and cigarette lighters, as the initial ignition source for the primary fuel. It is also commonly called ferro rod and most commonly used of all flints (particularly in cigarette lighters), although it is a successor to the true flint historically used rather than a variety of it. As tinder-igniting campfire starter rods it is sold under such trade names as Blastmatch, Fire Steel, and Metal-Match for survivalists and bushcraft hobbyists. Some retailers incorrectly call them “magnesium” rods.
Composition: Most  contemporary ferrocerium flints are hardened with 20% iron oxide and 2% magnesium oxide. In the original alloy, 30% iron (ferrum) was added to purified cerium, hence the name “ferro-cerium”.
Magnesium bars and rods: unlike Ferro rods (which all seem to work well no matter where you buy them), there is a big difference in quality in magnesium fire starting products.
Many cheap no-name or Chinese made magnesium bars don’t seem to be made of magnesium at all and produce shavings that won’t light even if you hit them with a blow torch. Stick with Doan brand Mag/Ferro bar rod combo or buy from firesteel.com.

Doan’s Machinery and Equipment Company, Made in the U.S.A.

Matches: Here are the best. UCO Stormproof matches.

Fresnel lens. For starting fire with sunlight. These are made of plastic, so keep them in a protective envelope to prevent scratches. 10 for $7.50 for 3x models on Amazon with free shipping. Survival Resources carries 4x models for $1 each.

A mini Bic lighter fits nicely in a kit. Keep dry in plastic bag or thin bike tube.

Tinder: things that will ignite from a spark. Used to ignite kindling which will light larger fuel.

Cotton balls soaked in Vaseline. Cheap but messy. Keep in small plastic bag. You can also dip in melted wax to seal, or seal in sections of plastic straw and heat seal the ends.

Tinder-Quick fuel tabs. One inch sections of waterproof, flammable cotton rope.
Retail: 10 pieces for $2.25 on Amazon with free shipping.

Fat wood / pitch wood (highly flammable resin soaked pine) $5 to $10 per gallon bag of 20-25, 6″ to 8″pieces from Home Depot, Lowes or Walmart. Whole pieces make excellent kindling. When scraped into dust, fat wood will take a spark. The dust is sold as Maya dust fire starter

Ranger bands ( AKA rubber inner tube from bicycle or motorcycle tire). Cut these up fine and they will ignite with a Firesteel.

Jute cord is also sometimes included in kits as a good tinder. Pennies a foot at most hardware stores

Wetfire is a commercial tinder packaged in a foil bag. It works extremely well if the package is not punctured, but the flammable elements are volatile and will evaporate quickly if the foil bag is punctured. 8 pieces retail for $8.00

Compare these knife/ferro rod models: Swedish Fireknife. Mora Bushcraft Survival Ultimate Knife w Fire Steel and diamond sharpener. Cold Steel Bushman with fire starter.


SHELTER. roof, bed, and clothing.

Mylar blanket. (Amazon currently has a ten pack of 54”x84” blankets for $6.50). Thin, but will pack really small. Uses: Waterproof roof. Blanket. Put on the back wall of a Lean-to will reflect heat from your fire down on your bed. “Super shelter” which is an A frame tent with one side reflective Mylar, one side clear plastic; with the clear side facing your fire. This traps infrared heat inside the tent with you. Solar reflector oven.

Adventure Medical Heat Sheets and Bivvys, These are tougher than a mylar blanket, but more expensive. One side is bright orange in color. The blankets are printed with survival instructions.
One Person Blanket. 56″ x 84″
Two Person Blanket. 60″ x 96″
One person Bivvy bag.36″ x 84″ (there is a new version out called the SOL Escape Bivvy that packs larger, but is made from a breathable but still waterproof  material)
Two person Bivvy bag. 84″ x 60″.

Original Space Blanket.  5′ x 7′ Heavy duty, but packs much larger than the mylar models. $8 on Amazon.

55 gallon drum liner, at least 3 mil.
$16.99 for 30 on Amazon ( Tuffsak 15 Count 55 Gallon Contractor Drum Liners 618940. Cut 3 holes in this and make a poncho. Open it up and make a roof. Stuff it with dry grass and leaves and make a bed.

Poncho. A cheap emergency model runs $2 or $3. A good nylon one runs  about $20+. Get one with grommets or tie downs on corners to ease use as shelter. Tie hood shut when making roof. I like the cheap ones for kids’ kits along with a whistle and small LED light.

Since your first shelter is your clothing, a needle and thread is often included in survival kits. Needle needs to be strong with large eye to take heavy thread, fishing line or the inner strands of paracord. Also used in equipment repair. The recommended needles are:

Chenille Needle. #18 size. $2 for 6 from your local sewing store.

Sail Needle. This has a 3 sided point, like a leather needle, except the edges are rounded off. They slip between the fibers of canvas or heavy sail cloth without tearing the fibers. Experts recommend Wm Smith and sons brand from England from size 12 – 14 for general use. That’s about a 3 to 3 1/2 inch needle that will take the inner strands of 550 paracord. 10 for $18 (plus shipping) from http://www.sailrite.com/

I pre-thread the ones in my kits with 3 or 4 feet of braided fishing line so I don’t have to fiddle with threading a needle under less than ideal conditions.



Cooking bags. People do use zip lock freezer bags to boil food in, but they are not rated as chemically safe for this. I prefer bags made for this purpose.

Plastic cooking bags from http://www.packitgourmet.com/CookIn-Bags.html
.60 to .90 cents each depending on size (pint to quart)

Boiling bags from http://www.packitgourmet.com/BoilableBags.html
.75 each

1 liter  Whirl-Pak specimen bags. Only rated for 180 F, but they pack really small, so they are good for mini kits and used with water purification tabs. $3.25 for three at:


Water Purification Treatments. Good article on the subject here.

Chlorine dioxide tablets or powder (this stuff kills the big three, Bacteria, Viruses and Protozoa. Most others kill 2 out of 3.





Based on Sodium Dichloroisocyanurate



Stainless steel water containers: (boiling is still the most reliable way to kill pathogens in water)

8 oz Sierra cup. $2.66 on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Texsport-Stainless-Steel-Sierra-Cup/dp/B002LC6AJ0/

1 qt Nalgene / Guyot designs stainless bottle. $17.98 on Amazon

Small Stainless lunch boxes. Good for holding survival kit: $5.50 oval or $5.99 round at Pearl River Store.





Paracord. Here’s Amazon’s page of paracord choices. My advice is to buy much more than you think you will need.

Bank line. Also sold as decoy anchor line in hunting section. Various prices depending on thickness. #36 has a breaking strength of 320 pounds while #18 breaks at 250. Check outdoor section of your Walmart, then try Amazon. Local Walmart stores often have a better price than their website, so check your own store first when comparing prices.

Braided fishing line. Spiderwire.  $10 for 110 yards of 20 pound line from Amazon. Local Walmart may have better price.

“100 MPH” military duct tape. $10 on Amazon for a 2 x 180′ roll

Gorilla Tape 1.88-Inch by 35-Yard Tape Roll $9.95 at Amazon, sometimes less at Lowes or Home Depot.



N-dur button compass: Made in Taiwan. A good button model for the price (stay away from the cheap ones sold by the dozen on Amazon or ebay. They are made in China with poor quality control)
N-dur watch band compass  (ditto for the info above)
Brunton models are generally good quality for the price. The 9020G is a good starter base plate compass.
Suunto brand from Sweden is the top of the line sold in the US (here’s the model on my wish list). Silva brand used to be of equal quality, but now only when sold outside of North America due to trademark issues. Read more on this here.




The question of which signal mirrors to buy is much like knife steel and comparisons between cheap carbon steel vs. cheap stainless vs high quality stainless. A cheap glass mirror still reflects better than a cheap plastic or steel mirror and is only equaled by a good laminated military mirror. Also, cheap plastic mirrors can delaminate in extreme heat (such as inside a car on a sunny day). The advantages of the plastic or metal mirrors of course is that they are less likely to break. If you are going to go with an all plastic signal mirror, Adventure Medical Kits makes a good one.

The grid in the center of military style mirrors is an important feature as it makes for better accuracy at long distances and allows you to aim the mirror one handed if the other is injured.  However, this is dependent on the mesh grid in the center being made of the right type of reflective material to work properly (This is what you are paying for in the better quality mirrors. For more on this see the two articles linked to below). In signal mirrors, as in many things in life, size does matter. The larger the mirror (all else being equal), the larger the flash it will produce and the farther away it can be seen. High quality military signal mirrors are usually made of a piece of glass sandwiched between two layers of acrylic or lexan to get the best of both worlds (flash range and toughness).

Here are a good set of instructions on how to use the grid sighting system on a military signal mirror. http://www.equipped.org/psp/psp_rescueflash.htm

And here is an excellent article on how to identify real vs fake military signal mirrors.

Adventure Medical Kits Rescue Signal Mirror.  This is the best of the small, plastic signal mirrors.

Coghlan’s Signal Mirror. (Models 9900/9902 or 0905, depending on lamination used. Military type laminated glass mirror, but quality control on their lamination is not as good as the Howard Glass model.)

There are some old style military signal mirrors with just a hole in them with no retro-reflective mesh. These must be double sided to aim well (you aline the pin point of sunlight on your face with the center hole while aiming through this hole at your target) and even then they won’t be as accurate as the retro-reflective mesh mirror. The US Air Force Survival manual has a section on how to use these.

Tops dog tag size signal mirrors (these just have a center hole. I put these tiny mirrors in the “better than nothing” category).

Best military grade signal mirrors are made by Howard Glass of Worcester Mass.

Buy from here at a good price with $25 minimum order.

Mors Kochanski on signal mirrors




Survival whistle review

Tops Survival Whistle:
Ndur/Pro Force survival whistle
Storm Brand: All Weather Safety Whistle (loudest whistle I know of)



Most survival experts place a low priority on food during an emergency, since you can live for 3 weeks without food and most lost people are found within *3 days.  Yet, most survival kits designed by these same experts will contain a small fishing kit. I think this is as much for moral and to have something to do as for getting some calories in you. Remember, survival fishing is more about trapping than in sport fishing. Enter Trot Line Fishing into YouTube and you will see ways to set this up. In my small kits I keep my hardware such as hooks, sinkers and swivels in a mini Altoids tin. I like to pre-tie short loops of line (snells) on my hooks in my larger kits so I won’t have to fiddle with threading the eye of a small hook in a survival situation. Keep these snelled hooks nicely organized by setting them down on a piece of tape, then covering this with a piece of wax paper. When you need a hook, just push it through the wax paper. You can buy your hooks snelled, or tie your own with heavier braided line. Fish don’t seem to notice heavy line when you are still fishing-which is what you will be doing in a survival situation. I use two types of hooks in my kits,  small bait holder hooks and Gamakatsu Circle Offset Point Octopus hooks. The circle hooks tend not to get foul hooked and make it easier to take the fish off the hook, rebait it and put the hook back to work. I am told that the bait holder hooks also work well if you use your fishing kit above the water to trap birds (The bird swallows the bait and gets gut hooked. Trapping birds this way is illegal almost everywhere, so use it only in a true emergency).
*Read this article for an example of someone in modern America lost for an extended time.



Wire saws: How to use a wire saw video (watch this first, before choosing or using saw)
GI Wire SawPro-Force Wire Saw
CRKT Paracord bracelet with wiresaw
Ndur wiresaw

Razors and hacksaws:
Tops pocket survival saw
Ultimate Survival Sabercut hacksaw, razor combo
Durma-Safe folding survival razor $66 for 100 from Durma-Safe or
$10.55 for 5 with free shipping from Amazon.
Durma-safe SERE pocket survival saw $60 for 40 (two models, one for metal one for wood)

SHARPENERS (small, for survival kits)

Super three piece diamond sharpener kit.
Rough Rider pocket diamond sharpener
DMT Flexi-sharp mini.  2″x3″ flexible diamond coated brass sheet. (Can be glued onto sheath. Check out the Mora Bushcraft Survival knife with the imbedded diamond sharpener that looks about half this size).

Make your own knife sharpening kit from an Altoids tin.

My own series of How to Sharpen a Knife starts here.


Photon Micro LED lights
Headlamps. Keep both hands free while working. Petzl are rated the best, but I have used Energizer without experiencing any problems.










Recommended books and websites:

US Air Force Survival Guide. Free download from net:

Woodcraft and Camping by George “Nessmuck” Sears
Bushcraft by Mors Kochanski
Camping and Woodcraft by Harace Kepthart
98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive by Cody Lundin
SAS Survival Handbook, by John “Lofty” Wiseman
Build the Perfect Survival Kit by John McCann
Wildwood Wisdom by Ellsworth Jaeger

Forums: check these forums for product trends.
BushcraftUSA. http://bushcraftusa.com/forum/forum.php
Survivalist Boards. http://www.survivalistboards.com/
Both bladeforums.com and knifeforums.com have good survival knife/kit discussions.

If you want to spend an afternoon looking at knife sheaths with survival doodads attached (and who doesn’t) try putting these terms into Google image: “Kabar Becker BK2 sheath mods”. Also try Becker knife mods or Cold Steel Trail Hawk mods. You can gauge a survival tool’s popularity by how much time and effort people  spend buying the stock item and then modifying the heck out of it.

I also have an article on bug out kits on my martial arts website www.pekiti.com click News, the scroll down to Survival Gear List.



Bill McGrath