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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Wilderness & Urban Survival Hacks That Would Make MacGyver Proud

Poor Man Survival

Self Reliance tools for independent minded people…

ISSN 2161-5543

A Digest of Urban Survival Techniques

The great majority of men are bundles of beginnings.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


We've previously featured MacGyver style hacks which were well received and thought with the advent of summer we'd feature a few more for your prepper education plus free resources!
Editor’s note: The following tips are excerpted from Survival Hacks: Over 200 Ways to Use Everyday Items for Wilderness Survival by Creek Stewart.
Having taught survival skills to thousands of individuals from all over the world for nearly two decades, I’ve come to one conclusion: the most important survival skill is innovation. Using what you have, to get what you need, is what will ultimately make the difference between life and death in a sudden and unexpected survival scenario. I often call this “survival hacking.”
Over the years, I’ve learned (and sometimes invented) some very interesting survival hacks that I think everyone should know. Why? Well, it’s like I always say: “it’s not IF but WHEN.” Below are a few survival nuggets for the when.


Finding a good place to sit in an improvised survival camp can be very frustrating — especially when the ground is wet or snow covered. This hack improvises a very comfortable seat in just a few minutes. The only parts you need are four sturdy poles and a blanket or scrap piece of durable fabric. Cut three poles that are 6′-8′ long by 1″-2″ thick, and then cut a fourth that is the same thickness and 4′ long.
Connect two of the long poles together at one end using a bipod lashing. Fold the blanket or fabric in half, bunch the end together, and suspend this end with rope from the cross at the bipod lashing. Insert the 4′ pole in the unsecured fold of the blanket so that it sticks out at both ends, and rest it against the longer poles. Finally, kick lash the last long pole in the center as a support, and lean back to relax.


The ability to collect rainwater, especially if stranded on an ocean island, is critical. Luckily, that task can be easily done with just a plastic bottle (be sure it has a cap; the mouth must be sealed). Start by cutting off the bottom of the bottle. Next, cut vertical slices 1″-2″ apart up the side of the bottle, starting at the bottom and going a little more than halfway. Fold the sections out, giving the bottle a flower-like appearance. (Using heat during this step makes the bottle more pliable and speeds up the process; it also helps keep the petals in place once finished.) Finally, plant the top of the bottle a couple inches into the ground and wait for rain.
This water collector is modeled after nature itself — the leaves on many plants and trees help funnel rainwater toward the main stem or trunk. These plastic “petals” help to funnel water into the central reservoir. The water can then be drunk with a straw or piece of hollow reed grass, or poured into a canteen.



If you’ve studied survival or bushcraft very long, chances are you’ve heard of “feather sticks.” With a sharp knife, you shave long wood slivers down the side of a stick. Just before a sliver is completely shaved off, you stop and begin another sliver from the top. After several minutes’ work, you’ll have a stick covered in feather-like wood shavings. These shavings catch fire much quicker and easier than the larger solid stick. Consequently, feather sticks are an excellent and easy fire starter that’s found in nature.
Let’s take that concept a step further and apply it to wooden matches. In extremely difficult conditions, when you might need additional help starting a fire, use your knife to shave small wooden slivers just above the match head, creating a mini feather stick. When the match ignites it will very quickly catch these shavings on fire, which will create a stronger and bigger flame.


One of my students showed me this hack several years ago, and I’ve tested it time and time again in the fishing pond at Willow Haven. Slide a 1″ section of paracord over a bare fishing hook to make a very appealing fishing fly lure. Fluff up the end over the hook for disguise and then heat the other end with an open flame to melt and weld it just below the eye where the line attaches. Live bait is always best, but when live bait isn’t available you’ll never miss an inch of paracord from your shoelaces or bracelet. This improvised fly lure also floats very well for top-water bluegill and bream fishing.

Many survivalists, including myself, suggest packing non-lubricated condoms in survival kits. They are small, compact, and inexpensive, and have a plethora of survival uses. One noteworthy function is as a compact emergency water container. Here are a couple tips I’ve learned from experience for using a condom as a canteen:

  • Fill the condom in a sock to protect it during travel.
  • Use any rigid hollow tube such as an ink pen, elderberry branch, or bamboo section as a spout and secure the base of the condom around it using duct tape or paracord.
  • Carve a spout stopper from any dry branch.
  • Add a sling, and you’re ready to make tracks with more than a liter of drinking water. 

Toxic ash and debris can be a serious problem during natural or manmade disasters. Breathing in ash, pulverized concrete, and debris particles can slow you down as well as result in severe long-term conditions such as asthma and lung cancer.
Most women carry two emergency debris masks on their person at all times — a bra! The padded cups of most bras fit perfectly over the mouth and nose and can act as a crude debris filter in an emergency. The combination of foam, padding, and two layers of fabric is much better than most store-bought masks. You can even rework bra straps and ties to hold the mask securely on your face for hands-free travel.


For more jerry-rigged and improvised devices that would make MacGyver proud, check out Survival Hacks: Over 200 Ways to Use Everyday Items for Wilderness Survival by Creek Stewart. Stewart is the Senior Instructor at the Willow Haven Outdoor School for Survival, Preparedness & Bushcraft and his passion is teaching, sharing, and preserving outdoor living and survival skills. 


Free Resources

10 Ways to Keep Making Income While Idle (Popsugar): "If you're interested in making money but don't want to take a second job, you should consider making passive income. It's basically money you earn consistently without doing much or even anything at all."

Summertime Saving Tips ( "Summertime is almost here. Temperatures are rising, and so is the cost of living. So whether you’re planning to hit the road for your summer vacation or take advantage of recreational opportunities closer to home, it pays to plan carefully."

6 Rules for Living Frugally (Time Money): "We humans have a knack for complicating the simplest of ideas. Our lives are filled with shortcuts that aren’t short, tips and tricks that trip us up, and helpful hints that are anything but. The same is true when it comes to frugality

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Yours for better living,

Bruce, The Poor Man'

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DAR said...

Mighty nifty-I got a kick from the condom idea!

Ruth said...

The nation is in trouble, and this is causing those who are willing to acknowledge the
trouble to have more than a little bit of fear.