Blog

Bushcraft and Survival Pro Tips #8 – Ticks

When moving through tick country (basically anywhere that there are Deer, tuck your trouser bottoms into your boots like a soldier, tuck you shirt in, roll the sleeves down and generally leave less skin exposed to them than there might be if you did nothing.

Ticks are resilient, you can’t wash them off your skin, they hold on really well and even washing clothing is not enough to get rid of them (although putting your clothing into a hot tumble dryer seems to kills them)

The only effective chemical measure that I know of is Permethrin.  As I understand it (I might be wrong) It was developed by the US Military to reduce non combat casualties in Jungle conditions.  Too many soldiers were being taken out of action by tick borne illnesses and infections caused by bites that something needed to be done and so they developed Permethrin.

Unlike Deet, Permethrin kill´s insects, it does not just deter them, it kills them.

While in the Jungle on expeditions, I spray my hammock with it and if anything that flies gets inside the netting like a mosquito, they sort of spin round a few times and then drop out of the air.

The same goes for ticks, as they crawl onto your clothing that you have sprayed, they will just die.

There are no natural deterrents that actually work, not that I have encountered anyway and I have tried a lot of them, the only thing that is effective is Permethrin.

Permethrin in it´s concentrated form is toxic, it is not a pleasant chemical but Lymes Disease is no fun either, as long as it is watered down it has been deemed safe for contact with skin.

For this reason, it is better to buy it pre-prepared for this use but in some countries it is not available for use on people so you may have to source it from a farmers supply shop (they use it on livestock) and mix it with water yourself.  How much water you use depends on the concentration that you have so I will leave it to you to determine this and not give the amounts here, it will do you good to read up on it anyway.

Shawn James over on MySelfReliance.com does a decent guide on how to mix it and treat clothing, check it out.

The tick on the left is a fresh one, she has not fed yet, the one of the right has been there for quite a while and is inflated with blood.

If you find a tick attached to you, remove it with tweezers by gently grabbing the head and giving it a twist and pull, making sure that you get it all out in one piece.  Monitor the area for signs of a bullseye style rash, if you discover one or more of these go to a doctor straight away and make certain that they understand that you were bitten by a tick.  Lymes disease is no joke.

Most (every) GP that I have ever spoken to about ticks in my extensive experience of being bitten all over the world, has been blissfully unaware of the risk as most GP´s have no experience of being outside and getting bitten by ticks.  They deal with coughs and colds, stress and flu most of the time so their natural reaction when you mention ticks is that it is very rare and unlikely that you have encountered one that carries Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lymes Disease.

Press the GP into doing the test, the test is not 100% reliable but it is the best we have at the moment.  A stout dose of Doxycycline is usually enough to handle Lymes before it become a problem but if left untreated it can be very difficult to cure.

Get the ticks off within 24 hours and you should be OK.  After about 24 hours, the two way flow of bacteria and pathogens from the tick begins and it´s hypodermic needle for a mouth will start injecting it´s body fluids into your bloodstream.

It is therefore vital that you make time to check yourself for ticks every day.  It is always easier to have somebody else check you as they tend to attach themselves to hard to reach places, armpits, groin and scalp are all popular places but they can be anywhere.

As with most things in life, Prevention is Better than the Cure, cover yourself up when walking through tall grass areas and inspect the ground before sitting down, use some common sense and stick to your routine of daily checks and you should be fine.  If you do find any ticks, extract them and throw them in the fire.

Pssst….While you are here, check out some of the other tips in the Bushcraft and Survival Pro Tips Series, it wont hurt, i promise!

I cover this and hundreds of other titbits of information like this on my larger, more comprehensive training programs.

If you want to learn, take a course to learn some new skills and then go out and practise those new skills.

[button link=”https://bushcraftandsurvival.eu/shop/”]Book Training Now[/button]

If you don´t see something that you like then contact me here and we will see what we can do for you.

Stay in touch with me over on minds.com, facebook, twitter and youtube

Pro tip #5 – How to Keep your Drink Cool When it´s Hot

When you are in a really hot place it cam be hard to keep your drinks cool.  Naturally keeping your drinks out of direct sunlight helps a lot but eventually it will heat up to whatever the air temperature is.

I remember being in India one time and it was about 40 degree´s centigrade, my water bottle was in my bag and my bag had been inside a car with no air conditioning for several hours.  When i got the water bottle out and took a gulp it actually burnt my lips and throat it was so hot.

A quick, easy and simple way to keep things cool is by harnessing the cooling power of evaporation.

Get a thick hiking sock and soak it in water, put your bottle inside the sock and as the water in the sock evaporates, it will help to move the heat from your drink.

It really works, British soldiers in Afghanistan did this all the time due the ¨rustic¨ conditions and extreme heat (50+ degrees c)

For water to evaporate, it needs to be heated.  Most of this heat comes from the sun and air.  When you sweat, your body heat is what evaporate the sweat away and you expend excess heat in doing so which is what makes sweating such an efficient and effective cooling off system.

With the wet sock and the bottle trick, the heat of the water in the bottle will be used to evaporate the water in the wet sock.  So you end up using the unwanted heat up to dry the sock and the end result is a cool drink.

It´s very simple and very effective.  You´re welcome!

How To Keep Your Body Strong And Agile Well Into Old Age

Marcus Oakey is a world renowned expert in the subtle art of conversation.  He brings a unique method of structure, passion and emotional intelligence into the personnel development world that has helped business people and regular people to have better, more rewarding and more useful conversations.

He does not stop there though and is currently investigating things that matter to him so that he can bring you practical. useful advice on how to improve yourself, namely, maintaining physical strength as you get older

Marcus strikes a chord with me because he understands that focusing on one skill or skillset alone does not make us the well rounded individuals that we strive to be, we must widen our skillset and embrace a range of ideas and skills in order to really become masters of our own reality –Matt

There is a key element that is missing from almost every strength training program that needs to be in place if you wish to be powerful and injury free well into old age.

That element is mobility.

As you get older, our joints and muscles tighten and harden from a lack of use.

This happens from the daily, monotonous toil of every day life sitting behind a desk in a chair, which prevents you from using your body to its full capacity.

In an effort to get strong, many people will head to their local gym to lift weights.

Heaving heavy barbells around indeed strengthens muscle but only the parts of the muscle that are still mobile. If the muscle is over exerted, other parts of the body will compensate for the areas that are tight and not doing their job.

The result is a body full of chronic pain and injury. There are very few long term gym goers who are also injury free. Try and find one.

However, if we can regain mobility in our body we also drastically increase our ability to unlock a lot of extra strength, too.

So here’s the deal…

I want you to be able to regain the spring in your step so that you can climb trees and mountains, build shelters in the freezing cold, trample through balmy jungle and push into new adventures well into old age.

Hence, i’m going to suggest two simple exercises that will get you mobile and strong, within three months and change your life in nine months. Here they are:
1.) Squat, barefoot, for 30 minutes per day.
2.) Hang from a bar (or branch!), for 7 minutes day.

That’s it.

Squatting strengthens the lower body.

Your feet, ankles, shins, calves, quads, hamstrings, hips and lower back get a phenomenal workout. Aim to place your feet flat on the ground throughout this exercise. This might be tough to begin and you may find yourself on tip toes due for short durations, due to muscle tightness. Stick with it!

Hanging strengthens the upper body.

Your hands, forearms, biceps, triceps, shoulders, upper back and midsection (the entire abdominal area) will get torched. Aim to hang, with both hands, for short durations, gradually increasing as you go.

Do these exercises every day. There are no rest days. However, you can spread these exercises throughout your day.

Squatting five minutes before breakfast, ten minutes at lunchtime and fifteen minutes before bed is perfect; and so is squatting for 30 minutes straight (read a book or meditate for added efficiency!)

Likewise, hanging for 30 seconds multiple times throughout your day works just as well as fitting it all in one go. Play with different grips for added variety.

-After one month you will forge the habit.
-After three months your mobility and foundation strength will be dramatically increased.
-After nine months you’ll be the strongest you ever have been. Try it and see what happens.

Remember to sign up to the news letter in which you will be the first to know about trips, expeditions and courses that you may take part in and a host of other useful information.  You can unsubscribe at anytime so why not check it out?
 

Job offer: Searching for a Doghandler

Natalie Groote is an Arctic wilderness Dog Sled guide in Sweden, she escaped from Frankfurt in Germany to live her dream and shares her story here along with an interesting job opportunity to those of you looking for your own way out of the rat race. — Matt

Natalie

I would like to tell you a little story.

6 years ago I decided to move from Germany to the arctic circle in Swedish Lapland. 2500 km away. I came here alone with 4 kids, 5 horses and a dog. I wanted to live in the nature. I wanted to decide myself.

And I wanted to live my dream to have my own husky team. I did it. Now I own a little Kennel of 13 Siberians. I love it, 8 month of snow and temperatures down to -40 degrees are ideal for doing what I do.

Living and working outside in the wilderness is always a special experience, sometimes wonderful, sometimes hard but never boring. With your dogs you are part of the team, leader of the pack.

You are out in the cold and feel very small under the enormous sky and the northern lights, but at the same time you are a part of nature.

To stay warm in this conditions I wear merino wool underwear and shoes with a wool lining. If it is very cold, I change my socks a few times a day. Over our feet we lose about 1 liter of water every day!

I decided to share my life with the dogs with some guests. It`s a lifestyle, you cannot just do a little dog-sledding. You love it and do it a lot or you leave it.

Now I found my paradise in Jämtland, a part of Sweden near the norwegian border, near the mountains. A lot of wild animals are living here, especially a lot of bears. The wilderness begins beside my house.

I will buy some more dogs this summer. This will be more fun and more work. Therefore I am looking after a person who wants to help me over the next season as a dog-handler and guide (September 18 to April 19).

Do you want to join into the adventure and work with this amazing animals?

I need help with feeding the dogs and cleaning the dog yards. We train them with an ATV and with the sled. We have to prepare the tracks with the snowskooter and organise the tours.

Do you like cat´s or dogs better?

You will be using snow machines and ATV´s and spend a lot of time with the dogs.  If you are looking for a simple, rewarding and fulfilling life then this could be the chance for you.

You should be able to work in a team and have some experience with sled dogs, be calm and friendly with animals and humans and like to work with guests.

For more details please contact Natalie by email

Pro Tip #4 How to gain Super Human Hearing

Cup your hands behind each ear, like a Deer, to help you hear thing clearer and further away.

Like this guy, Vinod, A wilderness nature guide in India.

You might do this already when somebody says something to you and you don´t hear them very well.   When you cup your hands behind your ears it gives to sound that would otherwise be passing by your head something to bounce off of and into your ears.

This is surprisingly effective and if you are listening out for something it can give you a real edge, increasing the distance that you can hear something from by quite a bit.

*I have read that it add about +/- 10 db to the perceived strength of the passing soundwave or in practical terms, give you 25-50 meters of extra range.

*that is a totally anecdotal story and I offer no evidence or warranty on it.

I have hundred´s of pro tips just like this and loads of other freebee´s in the works over on my mailing list.

In exchange for you signing up, you get a very occasional email with tips and tricks, offers and discounted training opportunities with me so that if you are interested in knowing more, you can get all the early bird deals and information.

I always send out details of specials and events to my mailing list first before advertising elsewhere.

Go on, sign up, you can unsubscribe whenever you want and I will never abuse your trust or spam you (no more than once a week, usually once a month)

Where would you rather be?

I am often asked how I got into my current life style of spending a lot of my time away in the woods or up a mountain somewhere or in a river.

The short answer is South West Trains and open plan offices.

I used to work in Central London in an open plan office.  My day began waiting on the platform at Richmond train station for a train that was always full.  I would get there over an hour before I needed to be there to try to find a place to cram myself into on any train that was passing.

90% of the time, the first train slow down at the platform at about 7am and as it moved slowly past I would see hundreds of faces pressed up against the steamed up windows and a look of hatred and disdain on the faces of those already inside as they considered that yet another person was going to try to squeeze onboard this already grossly over crowded train.

As the doors opened, people literally fell out onto the platform as the doors were the only thing holding them in.

I would let that train pass and wait for the next one only to find it in a similar condition of a train carrying two to three times the number of people that it was designed for, all of them paying the full fare too.

Some mornings this would go on for 4 or 5 trains until eventually I would be able to squeeze on.

Then I would endure, along with my fellow inmates, a 30 minute journey, breathing in the fumes of the night before from the man next to me and being overpowered by the woman wearing too much perfume behind me.  Usually there was nowhere to hold on so you would just use the passengers around you to absorb the blows as the train moved around.  Everybody was touching anyway.

A sought after and hotly contested spot was in the corner by the door.  This was you could lean on the wall and you would get a gulp of fresh air as the doors opened at a new station.  Unfortunately this made you vulnerable to being pushed and buffeted around by other passengers trying to get in or attempting to get out.  I would often see people unable to make their way off the train in time and have to go on to the next stop.

One time, I saw a women, presumably a tourist, actually give up her prime corner standing up spot to allow somebody off the train, before she could get back on somebody else pushed in front of her from the platform and stole her place.

Commuting in and out of London is a dark, dirty and awful business in which a moments kindness can see you pushed off the train and delayed for an hour.

Once at the other end I was supposed to tackle the similarly unpleasant busy underground network but preferred to power walk the two or three miles to get to work.

At work, a noisy, hot and smelly open plan office awaited in which nobody could get any peace and concentrating on work was impossible.

After 8 or 9 hours of that it was back on the train again for more of the same.  Usually I would get home at about 8 or 9pm depending on the trains.

It´s an exhausting existence and once you finally make it out to the other side in the evening, doing anything other than sitting quietly is out of the question.

I think a normal, healthy mind can only handle this kind of torture for so long before they crack.

After repeating this day for years, one day it dawned on me that the only reason that I was doing this was to earn enough money so that I could afford to live in London and I only wanted to live in London so that I could work in the high paying job that I only did so that I could live in London.

The absurdity of it all hit me and I immediately quit my job and left london.

If you are looking for a way out, nature usually has the answers and I can help you to find them.

Don´t suffer the rush hour again, check out my new website and it´s training and expedition packages here and leave that behind.

For April 2018 – reader of this blog can get 20% off a trip to *Arctic Sweden with me using this coupon code openplanofficesarenotefficent

*It is the very end of Winter and the beginning of Spring so the exact conditions will not be known until we arrive but expect below freezing temperatures at night and above freezing during the day.  Expect to be going in the 3rd of 4th week of April 2018.  Contact to be sure of the details.

Bringing a friend of two is allowed, contact or give them the coupon code to ensure that they get the same discount.

Cyber Security for Bushcraft and Survival people

  1. Always use the HTTPS version of a website
  2. Use strong passwords
  3. Never use the same password twice
  4. Use Password Managers
  5. Use firewalls
  6. About Antivirus Software
  7. Avoid Public or Free Wifi.
  8. Avoid Airport Wifi
  9. Mobile or Cell phone conversations are not secure
  10. Use different user names
  11. About VPN´s
  12. About TOR
  13. Using TOR and a VPN together 

    Two things have shocked me today

A) I am about to use the word ¨Cyber¨ in a serious way

B)My ¨other¨ career aside from Outdoor related things is about to cross over.

Before I got into working with bushcraft and expedition clients, I worked as an Engineer in the Broadcast and Telecoms sector.  I still do from time to time actually.

Here are some points on how to be secure online.  I have tried to keep this as jargon free and non-technical as possible so that it can be understood by everyone.

In that field, I have always had an interest in IT and IP security.  As we become more and more dependent on Information Technology so our vulnerability to ¨Cyber¨ attacks or Hacking increases.  It is now well known in the household that we are all at risk from people stealing our banking information and personal data.  It is less well known that companies such as Google and Facebook among many others, are prolific harvesters of our personal data which they then convert into cash by selling it on to advertisers.

Unpalatable as this may sound, it has become a largely accepted compromise and we are at a point now where you simply cannot expect any privacy at all.

There is nothing that you can do to prevent a directed attack on you from the network.

Much like physical security, which is going to be covered here later, you can make yourself a harder target in the hope that the hackers and their armies of software bots will move on to easier targets.

If we follow some best practise and basic hygiene, we can greatly improve our chances of maintaining a decent level of security and making it harder for people to A) invade your privacy too much and B) actively steal from you

What can you do in simple steps?

  1. Always use the HTTPS version of a website, that is encrypted, the standard HTTP version is not.An internet connection between you and the website you are talking to is very much like two people shouting at each other across the street.  You shout so the other person can hear you and they shout back so that you can hear them.  The problem is that everyone else can hear you too.If they know how, a person can very easily listen to that conversation between you and the website.It is possible and very easy to secure that conversation by using the equivalent of a hard cable connecting the two people on the street so that their conversation is private.We do this by encrypting the messages.  This means that the message is all jumbled up using some extremely complicated mathematics and only the intended recipients can read it.That is what HTTPS (SSL) does.  I´ll try not to use too much jargon but in this day and age, you might want to be mindful that if you are going to succeed in this, you are going to have to learn a few new things.

    So use the HTTPS version of the website.  The best way to make sure that you don´t forget is to use this simple browser plugin from the EFF.  Only this and not some other imitation.  It is free and you should never pay anyone for it or anything similar.

    2.  Use strong passwords  Never use names, birthdays, addresses, or anything else like that, they are too easy to guess.  At this stage in the technology revolution you must be using passwords that are virtually impossible to guess.

    For example: 1q%45XW@y7FkXK6SrBt8)

Impossible for a human to guess and very difficult for a computer to guess too but also impossible to remember for the average person.

Never give other sites passwords for other sites.  For example, Linkedin, the social networking site asks you to give it your email and facebook passwords so that it can log in and collect your data from there.  That is a cowboy practise and you should not do it.
You may be able to trust linkedin (I dont but a lot of people do) but what if somebody else gains access to that data at linkedin and steals the passwords?  This has happened countless times on other sites and there is no reason that It wont happen to them either.

3. Never use the same password twice

If you used the same key for everything you own, your house your car, your office and your safe, a person only needs to steal or copy one key and they can take everything that you own.
It is the same with online passwords which are just like keys that lock your accounts.  A different key is required for each account.  If an attacker steals one password, they must not be allowed to use that to get into every other locked account that you have.

4.  Password Managers – Now days, every website you go to wants you to create an account and log in before you can use it, mostly this is because of SPAM bots, software that trawls the internet looking for places to auto post fake messages and attempt to game google into promoting websites in their searches.

How do remember hundreds of passwords without using easy to remember (and therefore easy to guess) passwords?

Use a password manager.  Lastpass make a good one.  It generates good passwords and then stores them in an encrypted database on your computer or phone.  You only need to remember one password for Lastpass and then it will log you in to which ever site you want to go to.

5.  Use firewalls.  If you computer asks you if you are at home, the office or public – say public, that way it will turn everything up to max and do it´s best to protect you.  A good firewall will make is very hard for somebody to connect to your computer directly.  There are software firewalls to protect your computer and there are bigger firewalls to protect you network.  I´m talking about the one on your computer now.  We can take about network firewalls later but that is a bit more advanced.

The built in windows firewall is fine, you don´t need to buy anything else.  Linux has many but the UFW package is currently popular and is very easy to use.

6.  Antivirus is good but also bad.  Antivirus does not really protect your computer as we once thought but on thew whole, it seems better to have one than not as it does at least provide a warning about some known threats but the problem with Antivirus software is that it requires a lot of access to important parts of your system and is itself a possible way in for an attacker.  Attackers can target the antivirus software and use that as a way to get all your stuff.  If you use windows, the built in windows defender is enough.  Thankfully, still, most viruses are written for windows and will not run on Linux or MacOS.

7.  Public or Free Wifi.  These are like the wild west areas of the internet, people actively join these networks to sit and listen to what is going on and they make great places to collect peoples private data and passwords.  Never, ever trust a free wifi connection.  If you must use a free wifi, never do anything like banking or email, don´t log into a single site if you can avoid it.

8.  Airport wifi.  Not only are all the same problems here as they are in the previous public wifi section, here you have government actively and aggressively monitoring the network and you may wish to have some level of privacy from them.  Don´t use it, not if you can help it.

9.  Mobile or Cell phone.  At Airports or other protected place and near government buildings, mobile and cell phone traffic is very insecure, these locations often use decoy transmitters that are not owned by the telecoms company.  They do this so that they can monitor and track you without going through the legal system in order to to do so.  This is not a conspiracy theory, it is a proven fact.

10.  Use different user names.  While on the subject of tracking, it helps to use different usernames on different sites.  If you use the same username on every site that you visit, a simple google search will pull up a list of everything that you have ever said online.  This, many years after the internet started, is a problem if you have ever said anything online that you later came to regret.

11.  VPN.  Virtual Private Networks.  These are common and popular but why and are they safe?  A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel for your messages and traffic between your computer and some other computer somewhere on the internet.  It is very difficult for anyone else to see inside the tunnel and so you are sort of hidden in a way.

The problem with VPN´s is that you dont usually know where the other end of the tunnel is, for all you know if could be in a criminals bedroom or a CIA data centre in the US, we dont know.  What we can be sure of is if it is a ¨Free¨ VPN then they will be collecting information on you to sell on for a profit.  Nothing is truly free on the internet.  If they are doing this then they probably don´t care about your privacy so why should you trust them?  Dont

Setting up your own VPN is the safest way to do it and is not that hard to do but it is not for this post, I will explain that later in another post.

If you want to use a VPN then the paid version from Protonmail is quite good.  They are a company that specialise and have made their name in safeguarding private data and have quite good legal protection so cannot be forced to give you up to the authorities either which makes them very attractive.

12.  Tor.  Tor is a very technical and very complicated tool that allows you to be anonymous online.  I´m still trying to not to be too technical or use jargon so bear with me as I describe this.

If you go to your favourite online blog form your computer or phone, the messages that go back and forth between the blog and you pretty much take the most direct route possible and the messages contain certain information like your address to that the blog and your phone or computer can find each other.

This makes it all very easy to see who you are because your address is included in the messages.  There is no way to hide your address because then you wont be able to find each other again.

When you use Tor, instead of sending the messages directly, it sends them through a network of ¨routers¨, your messages could go through hundreds of routers before they reach the blog and when the blog replies, the messages go back through hundreds of different routers.  It makes tracing you extremely difficult.  Not impossible but it is the closest thing we have to anonymity online.
People can however still see the content of the messages.

13.  To be very secure, that is, to have anonymity and privacy, you can use a good VPN like ProtonMail and Tor at the same time.  We create our encrypted tunnel though the labyrinth of Tor routers and then nobody can see where we are or read out messages.  This is the best that we currently have in remaining hidden and private.

If you choose to use this method and are particularly concerned about government spying then keep this in mind.  If you only use VPN / TOR to send secret messages and you go back to normal connections for everything else, it creates a pattern that they will notice.  They will know that every time they see a VPN and Tor being used by you that you are sending something that you do not want them to see, this will probably arouse their interest and they may start digging to see what they can find on you.

Consequently, VPN / TOR only really works when you put all of your traffic through it, all your browsing and mundane stuff as well as your sensitive stuff.

Finally for now few key points to address common problems

Don´t say anything online that you would not want to be brought up 10 years later and used against you.  The internet does not forget, companies have found ways to monetise your information and everything that you say online is gold.  They don´t delete gold, they keep it forever.

If anyone tells you ¨You have nothing to fear if you have done nothing wrong¨ you should immediately ignore any further advice that they have to offer.  This is totally untrue and the only people that say it are people who do not know anything about how network security works and people who do not have your best interests at heart.  Neither are good sources for you to listen to.

¨I dont care if they look through all my mindless emails and amazon orders, its fine¨  You would be surprised and alarmed that  this is the exact kind of data that they use to build a profile on you.  With data like that they can predict with high probability your Political views, your movements, your cash flow, your general wealth and health, what you interests are, who you associate with, how you are feeling, what you are planning and so and so forth.

Before the technology revolution, Police and Intelligence agencies used to do the same thing with your records but it is so intrusive that there were and still are laws to prevent them from doing so unless they have permission from a court to do so.  Ie they must suspect you of a specific crime before they begin researching your private records.

However, now there is so much more data available to them and most of it visible that they just started trawling through it all without permission from the courts.  We evidence of the scale of this thanks to Ed Snowden.  Since then, not much has changed other than a few new laws have been created that allow it to continue.

The choice is up to you on how far you are willing to go to maintain your security and privacy but you should at least be presented with some unbiased information and some options to help you to make that choice.

Have you got anything to add?  Leave a message or contact me

Laugh at your friends misfortune

banter
noun
  1. 1.
    the playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks.

A friend of mine came on a trip to the north with me last year.  I told him what to bring with him and although it was the tail end of the summer, it can get quite chilly up there, especially in the mornings.

I had anticipated this so I spent a while making a list of things to bring, even including links to purchase cheap items.

Naturally, he ignored this list and arrived about 100Km north of the Arctic circle with some lightweight trouser, a couple of t-shirts and some swimming shorts.  No hat, no jumper, no jacket, no warm socks.

Within moments, while collecting water from a stream and recoiling at how cold the water was, he realised his error.

We had quite the trip ahead of us and he was not going to be able to wing it.  He was in trouble and the look on his face made me burst out laughing.

I cannot explain it really but men laugh at other men´s misfortune and the more misery that they have to endure, the funnier it is.

Men are terrible people, obviously, however there are some very useful reasons that laughing at your friends is more helpful than taking it all too seriously.

Some points about laughing at the misery and misfortune of your friends

  • It defuses a tense situation.  Laughing generate feel good chemicals, endorphins and dopamine.  Those are the natural feel good chemicals and when you laugh, others tend to laugh too and everyone gets a dose of these chemicals.
  • It also helps your friend to know that the situation is not as bad as he might think because if it was a really bad situation, people would not be laughing.
  • Laughing is a great distraction
  • It immediately causes peoples barriers to drop and creates a level playing field.
  • Laughing at misery is of course a temporary fix, it does not work if you keep it going all day, you get about 3 or 4 minutes and then it´s time to move on.
  • Remember that nobody is immune and your turn will come too and you have to take it when it comes.
  • Laugh at yourself too

There is a time and a place for this type of laughter thought and it should not be motivated by malice.  We want to help our friends and that is why it is funny, we are going to help them once we have regained our composure and stopped laughing.

In the above story, I lent him my spare clothes and everything was fine so there was no need for a big drama about it but for some reason the thought of it made me smile for the next few days and even now as I am writing this.

When you are facing hardship, long, uphill walks with a heavy pack or you have had no sleep for days and it is cold, wet and depressing, moments like this can turn your moral around and brighten up the day.

Putting a heavy rock in somebody´s backpack on a long walk is hilarious, especially when they find out, the later in the day they find it, the funnier it is.

 

 

Pro Tips #3 Volunteer for the unpopular jobs

Volunteer for the unpopular camp chores, if it’s a shit job then it might as well be you that does it.  Take one for the team and do it so that they don’t have to.

Volunteer to go and collect more firewood, Volunteer to pack up the tent in the morning, Volunteer to dig or fill in the latrine, Volunteer to do the washing up after cooking, Volunteer to stay up and keep the fire going when it is cold or to get up early and check the traps.

Let the less experienced people light the fires while you collect the wood.

Never let the same person do all of the Navigating, let the less confident to it sometimes too (whilst keeping an encouraging presence).

Be nice and do things to help others around camp.  Being nice is infectious and so is volunteering for unpopular jobs and in time, everybody will be doing their share.

Out in the open during expeditions, there are few of the usual distractions and coping mechanisms available that people would usually resort to if they feel under pressure.  Personal difficulties arise from a range of directions not usually encountered in day-to-day life in the city.

I have seen grown men spend 2 hours collecting firewood that is wet, green and unsuitable for firewood.  The others in camp took one look at it and derided him for such a basic error.  There was a lot of huffing and puffing and passive aggressiveness going on that evening at that moment.

The guy might have wasted a lot of time, energy and left the group still needing more firewood but he had gone out in the rain and the dark to help the group, he did not do it because he wanted to but because he wanted to do his part and his share of the hardship.

The man reacted himself got upset and told them to go and get fresh wood themselves then ¨if your so f´ing good at it, you do it¨.

You could almost see the division in the group dynamic forming before your eyes.

This is a fairly normal reaction, man makes mistake, man is derided for mistake, man lashes out in retaliation.  In an urban setting, people would disperse, cool off and try again later.

Out in the wilderness, you can´t do that, there is no way out of the situation other than to confront is head on.

Drawing attention to his failure and then having him feel responsible for the entire groups lack of firewood and all that this entails.  Things like that can quickly escalate to a man feeling as though his ¨manhood¨ is in doubt, at risk or non-existent.  This is less of a problem with women as they are not burdened with the expectation that they should be good at all of this stuff no matter what.

Women tend to stop and ask when they are not sure about something where men tend to engage maximum power when they are not sure.

Here is a better way to handle this common scenario (which happens to experienced people from time to time too).

<Man dumps pile of wet wood down>  – ¨OK great, we can use that for something later, I saw a great area with some top-notch seasoned Oak and dry pine, let me show you and i´ll help you get some more.¨

You have to be more careful and considerate around people´s feelings when out on expeditions but be too considerate or too careful and it can have the opposite effect.

Banter is the key to diffusing most tension.

¨Nice one knob head, come on i´ll help you get some more dry stuff¨  Could be just as useful.

Leave a comment, I am genuinely interested in what your views are on this.

Are you planning a trip away or an expedition and need some help?, I offer a range of Expedition skill´s training options, Online Consultancy, Infield Consultancy, Logistics and Planning services.

Get in touch to find to discuss what we can work together on.

 

 

Pro Tips #2 Stop your Water Bottles From Smelling Bad

You have probably noticed that when you are getting ready to go away on a trip, your water bottles smell terrible when you open them to fill them.

When we get back from a trip, most of us unpack and neatly store our waterbottles on a shelf or in a bag but we don´t wash them before we put them away.

You don´t have to wash them but remember that the small amounts of water inside perhaps combined with some bacteria that came from your mouth while drinking will become a stinking, slimy mess in the weeks or months between trips.

The simple solution to this problem is to just leave the caps unscrewed when you put the water bottles away.  This way the residual water in the bottles just evaporates and denies that bacteria the conditions to breed and thrive.  By the time you get around to use the water bottles again, the bacteria will most likely be dead, the bottles will be dry and there will be no bad smell.

It is small tips like this that when combined with other small tips or nuggets of information that make us efficient, well rounded outdoors people and you can only acquire this information through experience and training.  If you are interested in learning more and gaining experience with my guidance, get in touch and let´s see what we can work out between us.

I am having trouble with wordpress´s contact and email pages at the moment so you can email me at the address in the image below.  Unfortunately I cannot just write my email address on here due to the vast numbers of spamy email harvesting bots that trawl through the internet and add any addresses they collect to their mailing lists.

They will most likely still get me but instead of just clicking, you will have to type the email that is written below, sorry about that.