3 most important items if you are lost in the wilderness…

By taking part in a pastime that necessarily involves an element of danger, we should always be prepared for times when the worst can happen.

Having a set of the important tools for survival is the first most urgent point.

Let’s have a look at these 3 items.



Fire lighter

Of course,it really depends upon where you are lost….if it is a barren area, or solid frozen snow-covered wilderness or the desert, then we may require a few other items than those listed.

If we are in a dense forested area or a jungle (very rare in N America!), then these items will save your life, if used correctly.

The knife is one thing you DO NOT want to lose when you’re hiking….it is said no matter how honed your survival skills, if you don’t have a knife, you’re chances of survival are very low indeed.

What can a knife do? Well, a knife can offer you:

  1. Immediate protection and self-defense while you construct more suitable weapons.
  2. The ability to quickly sharpen a strong stick to make a spear for hunting and for protection.
  3. The ability to cut fruits or edible green matter
  4. The ability to cut vines and/or animal hides into thin strips to use as cord so you can make or build things.
  5. The ability to cut and build a variety of primitive traps and snares to capture wild game.
  6. The ability to properly skin an animal and slice the meat 

The important thing about a knife is this….you cannot make a knife from raw materials if you are lost in the wilderness, period. You may be able to use things like broken glass for cutting edges etc but nothing as useful as a proper knife.

For this reason, I always carry not one but TWO knives, one is a folding one and the other a full length sheathed type.

Types of knives

There is a plethora of knives on sale for hikers and campers…it is up to you to make the correct choice and not be taken in by fancy marketing. First and foremost, my advice is not to waste your money on those Swiss Army knives…they may be good enough for the Swiss Army, but there are cheaper and better alternatives closer to home…we” come to that in a minute.

The best knives are those made of stainless steel…these will never rust and will keep their edges far longer than a non-stainless steel knife.

Also, the construction of the knife is of paramount importance….buy one on which he blade extends all the way back to the end of the handle….that will be a very sturdy knife compared to one on which the blade ends at the start of the handle.

A belt sheath is very useful indeed and ensures your knife will always be handy for immediate use.


The next item in order of importance is a fire. No matter where we are stranded, a fire immediately raises your morale and composure, making us less likely to give up survival.

And we all know that having a fire going will keep dangerous animals away, as well as providing much-needed heat for warmth and cooking….in some cases, a fire may well signal your presence to those searching for you.

Again, as with knives, there are hundreds of suggested ways of starting fires, but from experience, let me say this much….if you are stranded in an area where it is very damp, or raining, or snowing heavily, the so-called primitive fire method is almost next to useless.

Picture the scenario…you are soaking wet, the air is damp or freezing, you are depressed at being in such a situation and any sparks you are able to create, soon disappear due to the amount of moisture in the air.

As well, in extreme weather, one is very likely to become quickly irritable and fearful, so starting a fire using friction or other primitive methods is very difficult indeed during times of emotional stress.

At present, there are 3 methods of starting a fire….butane cigarette lighters, matches and magnesium fire starters.


There are many kinds of matches available that promise the ability to light fires in any terrain or condition, but they all depend upon you having the very best, dry tinder, as well as being dry themselves.

If at all your matches get wet, then it will be almost impossible to use them…I have tried reusing dried matches that have been wet, but the material on the match head just crumbles off, so keeping matches dry is paramount.

Next we have butane cigarette lighters….these are very cheap and cost around a $1.50 each. Bear in mind that one of these little beauties, though cheap and simple, has the ability to light around a 1000 fires…that’s one fire a day for THREE years….buy a bigger sized one and you’re talking about over 4000 fires. Butane lighters are very reliable and will light up in the wettest weather…I have used them in rain, sleet, high winds and snow with excellent effect.

Finally, we have the magnesium method. This involves shaving thin strips of magnesium off a block and creating sparks from the flint by striking it with your knife. This can also be very good and reliable, as magnesium catches alight very rapidly.

From my experience, it pays to have all 3 with you, as then you have a fail-safe system. Undoubtably, the best method I can vouch for is the butane method.


And then we come to the compass.

A compass is vital if you are lost. Even though you may not know zilch about map-reading or using a compass to find your way through to civilisation, it will at least allow you to walk in a straight line, hopefully to a road where help will be available.

Without a compass, your chances of walking in a straight line consistently are next to zero.

Always go for a decent compass….you can pick some up in dollar stores, but would you place your trust one of these? Not me!

There are very useful models available that have several life-saving features included in them…..some have the compass as well as a mirror (for signalling), a whistle (for attracting attention) and a small torch.

I have selected the very best items for you here, that I have used myself and that have proven their worth countless times over.

All these items can be purchased at Backcountry.com

SOG Knives Team Leader Knife

SOG Knives Team Leader Knife

The SOG Team Leader Knife exemplifies simplicity and versatility with its plain-edge AUS-8 stainless steel blade and no moving parts to gum up and fail in the field. The comfortable, no-slip checkered Zytel handle with lanyard hole and included leather sheath round out this simple, effective tool to ensure that you have every possible option for survival.    Price: $62…reduced from $103.45

Suunto MC-2G Navigator Global Compass

The Suunto MC-2G Navigator Compass features:

patented global needle that functions flawlessly anywhere in the world

large mirror

additional sighting hole

luminous bezel ring

magnifying lens

standard issue for Military Special Forces.  Price: $75.56

Ultimate Survival Technologies Strikeforce Firestarter

Ultimate Survival Technologies Strikeforce Firestarter.

WetFire tinder wrapped and stored in the tinder compartment starts without hesitation.    Price: $19.96

Matches and butane cigarette lighters can be purchased from any general store.


Talking about journal making…..


I always have a journal or a notebook with me wherever I go, whether it’s on a month long hike in the Yukon or a days walk around BC.

It helps me relax and muse on the places I went to or the feelings I had at the time. And sometimes my notes trigger off new ideas or new places to visit as well.

Recently, I was about to buy some handmade journals which contained photographs, writing, names, logos etc taken from magazines. I make journals like these all the time (you may have seen photos of the one I made here in my previous post).

But what I was told by a friend made me stop buying the journals, He said that nobody can use material which does not belong or was not created by himself in his own work, and then go on to sell it.

If the work you create using this material is for your own private use only, then apparently it’s fine. Well, thank god for that, I thought, as I plainly make journals like that, but only for myself!

Can any reader here please confirm what I heard is true or not? Are all those 1000s of sellers on Etsy  taking part in copyright infringements by using scraps of photos etc from magazines, books, newspapers etc?


What the great outdoors can give us…

Have you ever noticed how strange your own hometown seems when you’ve just come back after spending days away on a hike in the wilderness?

Certainly, in my opinion, I need to be away for at least a week or more for that feeling to arise; otherwise going away for just a weekend or so doesn’t cut it.

Getting back to what we call civilization…sidewalks, square concrete blocks we call homes, lights, signs, weird haircuts, cars, clothes like strait jackets and cosmetics. Is this all that civilization can give us?

Comparing Nature’s wild places, forests, beaches and beasts makes us all feel so small, even if we come from cities that are full of tall, ultra modern skyscrapers. Could it be the reason why mankind is so keen to destroy, to chop down, to tame those great treasures Mother Nature has given us, because they make us feel so small? I don’t know.

Little do we realise, that if it wasn’t for the escape these wild places, these primordial wildernesses, untainted by man, the serenity of that eagle, or the freedom of the sea, we would long ago have disappeared from this planet…either that or become permanent residents in the madhouses of the world.

Like me, you may have walked amongst huge Sitka spruces, or redwoods or hemlock trees and marvelled at their ages, those massive organisms that seem to have the same essence that’s present in every human being and animal, but that we have long ago abandoned for air conditioning, electric windows or an iPhone.

I often find that once I’ve accumulated enough funds in my pocket to take care of my bills and other expenses, and am left with enough to plan another walk, another escape, that’s all the excuse I need.

I’d rather escape with those few dollars in my pocket, and go sit amongst the forests that are close to me, the rainforests or coasts of the Pacific Northwest, and sit or walk and lick my wounds that civilization gives us as a result of living within it’s confines.

I realised long ago that there is something wrong with the way we live, working like madmen to earn enough to keep the bills at bay, then drinking, partying, chasing after women like demonic possessed people, in order to try and wash away the stress caused by living.

Every morning we arise to the insult of our clocks, swallow a few mouthfuls of breakfast, and speed off to whomever we have signed up to sell our souls, in order that we may stave off the inevitable bills.

Wouldn’t it be so much better, if we could arise when our bodies were good and rested, wash leisurely, sit down to a serene peaceful breakfast, then either read quietly, or go take a silent walk among a beach or park, and only then, sit down and type a few sides of paper that will pay just enough to keep us going.

I laugh sometimes at the simple truth an old Chinese man told me. He said, “we are all locked into the 99 cycle…..a man who has 99 cents wants $99, a man who has $99 wants $999, a man who has $999 wants $9999….”! So true.

Do we have to rush to work, and then rush back home, shell-shocked, worn, tired and beaten, as if driven mad like some whipped beast from hell, shackled to an onslaught of drudgery and repetition, a yoke which all mankind has come to accept as entirely necessary.

Or why do we need to rush to our fridges when we get home, only to guzzle down as many beers as necessary that will anesthetize our souls, anesthetize the stress and anger within us, like the constant whining chant of tormented or harangued poltergeists.

Why do we arise each morning, go through the same rituals again and again, rush outside our cages we call homes, the spit at the sky and head back to the treadmills.

Wouldn’t it be better to to be able to instead listen to jazz or Beethoven, and live life at our own pace, not at the pace we are expected to live.

Yes, I do realise that these words are probably coming from an idealistic part of my head, some unknown Nirvana untouched and untamed by civilization, but I believe there is some truth in it.

I think we need to look very closely how we are living. We need to take as much as Nature has given us in those wilderness areas that are still left, for, before long, those who call themselves civilised, modernized, educated….but who seem to be mostly caged up, un-free mobs of henchmen, will inevitably come to confront us freedom lovers one day, and walk us back to our cages where they are happy to keep us always.

That’s my rant for today!

Peace, people!

Once upon a time, in the land of BC…


Once in a while, you stumble across a gem of a hike and then, you wonder if you should tell your friends all about it, where it’s situated,etc, because once you’ve let the cat out the bag, there’s no going back! That super secret trail of yours is going to be open knowledge to everyone and his aunt! And that means crowds!

That’s what I was thinking when I completed a hike in my very own stomping ground, right here in British Columbia, Canada. Shall we tell all our friends and risk losing this paradise to the crowds every year?

I’m talking about many, many years ago and at that time, the trail was not common knowledge at all. It took me and my friends around 15 days to complete it, a distance of about 100 miles in all.

We took it real easy, so’s we could soak up all that heaven-sent scenery!

Fast-forward another 20 or so years, and that trail is now so popular, everyone and their aunt DO know about it!

It’s now called the Sunshine Trail. Read all about it here or better still, come up to BC and be our guest!