What is Your Life Worth?

Items to keep you alive in the event you must evacuate: discussions of basic Survival Kits commonly called "Bug Out Bags" or "Go Bags"

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Peregrinator
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What is Your Life Worth?

Post by Peregrinator » Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:47 pm

I purchased a Maxpedition (ouch, pricey!)bag for myself, for my hiking trips and used it, hard, for several years before Wifey expressed a desire for a similar bag, so I purchased her a (what appeared to be) nearly identical UTG bag for 1/4 the cost. Two years later the UTG bag blew a seam and had ripped in other areas as well. Now, for the price that UTG bag did a great job, but my Maxpedition bag is still like new, and Wifey now has a new hot-pink Maxpedition bag of her own. It was expensive, but she's worth it. I'm pretty sure I will die with this bag at my side...quality counts. My son can use my bag, after I am gone, and our daughter can have the pink one.

Knives are a dime a dozen, you can get fistful of china-made blades for the cost of one top tier American or European knife. There are also less expensive (ie Morakniv) Western options that are OK up to a point, but severe use will destroy them. My son and good friends go through 1-2 knives a year. I invested in a Benchmade 162, it is stainless and damn near bullet proof, I will likely die with this knife on my belt, and it will pass on to my children. Expensive, yeah, at $140 it was painful, but I've abuse the hell out of it and it's still perfect...tough as nails and a bit hard to sharpen, but it will last a couple of lifetimes, maybe more than a couple.

I hate spending a premium on gear, I'm a miser at heart. I will search and search for the best deal, and occasionally fall victim to the cheap knockoff. After, over half a century of living, I've realized that it really does pay to buy the best quality you can afford.

My CCW is a Kahr PM45, before that is was a Glock 36 (a fantastic and reliable firearm), but the Kahr is just as reliable, slimmer, more accurate, and faster to target, for me. So I bought the Kahr, because, it's a better CCW pistol, for me. It's quite a bit more expensive, but it's a better firearm. My life, Wifey's life, and my children's lives are worth the extra cost. Wifey carries a Kahr PM9, her choice, not mine. (I prefer the Glock 26 in 9mm) But, she is deadly with that hard-kicking, little Kahr. God help the poor bastard that attacks that woman...four to the balls and three to the head, in 9mm +P, isn't something I'd wish to experience, and I've watched her practice, she's not going to miss. Now a PM9 with tritium sights isn't cheap, but losing my wife or children is not something I am willing to risk. Word to the wise, don't get between a mother and her children, be it a bear or an armed woman, you won't like the result...just sayin'.

We can't really afford the best, and we've made sacrifices to purchase better equipment. Sometimes we decide to settle for less than we want. But when it counts, we think long and hard about how long it will last, how much better it will perform, and the value to posterity. In the end, it comes down to "How much are our lives worth?"

We're not rich, far from it. We have to make sacrifices to afford what we think is best. Most of the time, we decide it's worth the sacrifice.

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Re: What is Your Life Worth?

Post by Mister Dark » Wed Feb 17, 2016 10:27 pm

Buy once, cry once. And when it is really important, heck, even the tears dry up quick.

I too HATE wasting money, and can guarantee I have wasted a lot of it trying to just "get by" with a cheap (not the same as less expensive) option. I am not a gear snob by any stretch of the imagination, and will still buy on sale/out of season/in bulk anywhere I can. But I have found over the years that I always wind up coming back to the "expensive" item after breaking or wearing out a couple of the cheap alternatives, and today, the better made, (sometimes) more expensive item is still in my kit.

Knives, axes, hammocks, sleeping bags, jackets, gloves, flashlights, did I mention knives, backpacks, firearms... it is almost always worth it to save for a few weeks or months and get the good stuff.

ESPECIALLY if your life may depend on it.

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Re: What is Your Life Worth?

Post by Peregrinator » Wed Feb 17, 2016 10:51 pm

Mister Dark wrote:Buy once, cry once. And when it is really important, heck, even the tears dry up quick.

I too HATE wasting money, and can guarantee I have wasted a lot of it trying to just "get by" with a cheap (not the same as less expensive) option. I am not a gear snob by any stretch of the imagination, and will still buy on sale/out of season/in bulk anywhere I can. But I have found over the years that I always wind up coming back to the "expensive" item after breaking or wearing out a couple of the cheap alternatives, and today, the better made, (sometimes) more expensive item is still in my kit.

Knives, axes, hammocks, sleeping bags, jackets, gloves, flashlights, did I mention knives, backpacks, firearms... it is almost always worth it to save for a few weeks or months and get the good stuff.

ESPECIALLY if your life may depend on it.
Damn good advice and so true, Dark...I've been through the same, and can't agree more. Buy the good stuff when your life depends on it.

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Re: What is Your Life Worth?

Post by Asymetryczna » Thu Feb 18, 2016 7:25 am

Peregrinator wrote: My son can use my bag
I like the way you think. Sometimes I think even farther out. Of the "stuff' accumulated, which will have any value (or use) to your grandchild? The Mac + I purchased in 1987 had an entire 1 MB of memory. Already, young people see it as an abacus.
It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
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Re: What is Your Life Worth?

Post by Peregrinator » Thu Feb 18, 2016 8:22 pm

Asymetryczna wrote:
Peregrinator wrote: My son can use my bag
I like the way you think. Sometimes I think even farther out. Of the "stuff' accumulated, which will have any value (or use) to your grandchild? The Mac + I purchased in 1987 had an entire 1 MB of memory. Already, young people see it as an abacus.
Thanks, "purchasing for posterity" seems to be a dying tradition. I agree that the current speed of technological evolution leads to a "disposable" mindset that shouldn't be applied to most other areas of life.

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Re: What is Your Life Worth?

Post by Woods Walker » Fri Feb 19, 2016 12:03 am

I was thinking about this topic today as it's a good one. I own a pile-o-gear but price is not my primary focus. Reliability, durability and proven within context of the kit's intended purpose matters to me. Very often more money means better gear but not always. I have purchased total crap for top dollar and gotten gems for a song. Took this photo today:

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1. Mora knife. I have many that one is a generic representative.

2. Pre lockout G2 with Malkoff M60LL.

3. Ruger .357

5. Bic lighter. Don't smoke but this one was in my pocket.

6. Firesteel with dead hard carbon 1095 striker.

So why these items? Well they all have two things in common.

1. Not my most expensive kit.

2. They're reliable, durable and proven within their individual and intended context.

Let's start with the knife.

My Mora knives have seen lots of field use. For example this one is about to cut bacon. I like bacon!!!

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The same Mora is about to do a fire by percussion without the use of charred materials.

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This one started a coal with the help of a spork. Extra points for the person who first says what the Ti spork was used for. Extra extra credit if someone can guess the woods.

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Sure, why not?

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Heck I could buy 15 or more "cheap" Mora knives for this.....

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But then again dang BHK (and LT) make some nice knives. In anycase despite owning some much more expensive knives I have flooded my kit, cars, home and vehicles with Moras. The gear I actually have on hand will always trump the gear someplace else plus they're good. So yea buy a Mora if yea can't afford a more expensive knife IMHO but odds are you will get something better later on. They're reliable, durable and proven within their proper context.

That .357 has seen thousands of rounds some of which were my hot loads. Built like a tank and yes not my most capable or expensive handgun. But it's reliable and durable plus I can shoot it.

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The firesteel and carbon striker is a representative however also one of my favorites. Nothing to go wrong.

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Inexpensive and I can buy enough to make sure one is nearby.

The G2 isn't my most expensive or fancy light. It is a pre lockout tailcap as I got it a long time ago.

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Look at the twisty tailcap. Nearly nothing to go wrong.

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Tossed the P60 adding a M60LL drop-in years ago. Fully potted and enclosed, the engine itself is waterproof even if the Lexan should somehow break. So little to go wrong. G2 tail cap on the right.

Bic Lighter. These are more reliable and dependable than internet wisdom would have us think IMHO. Also cheap so they're all over the place like the Moras.

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I think the part which tends to be overlooked on gear forums could be the most important aspect. You! It's you who are empowered to save your own life. The kit is just an extension of yourself. It's your skill, training and knowledge that matters. A solid hit with a cheaper gun trumps piss poor shooting of the most expensive. A cheaper knife in skilled hands trumps the most expensive custom in a keyboard jockey's safe. By cheap I am not referring to total crap either. Ya'll know what I mean.

You, everyone of you matters the most in this equation and you can do anything. :D
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Re: What is Your Life Worth?

Post by Peregrinator » Fri Feb 19, 2016 11:40 am

Much wisdom in that post Wind Walker.
I am in complete agreement with your gear comments.

Mora's are cheap and they're good knives. I own several, which I keep in my various gear bags. Not my primary knives anymore, but they'll do the job.
Bic lighters, ultralight and hard to beat. Like you've said in other posts, I will usually use a ferrocerium rod, or even make a friction fire (not too often these days), but the Bic is fast, easy and reliable backup.
.357, I carry an S&W model 60 when in the field, I think the .357 is the best choice for the type of shooting I may have to do, here in the mid West. In town I usually carry the slimmer and more easily concealed Kahr PM45.
Bacon rocks...
I assume the spoon was your bearing block?


I usually don't bother with a dedicated striker for my ferro rod, as I have several steel items, with other purposes, that can also be used as a striker. But that one you use does look like a nice piece of kit.

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Re: What is Your Life Worth?

Post by Woods Walker » Fri Feb 19, 2016 10:22 pm

Peregrinator wrote:Much wisdom in that post Wind Walker.
I am in complete agreement with your gear comments.

Mora's are cheap and they're good knives. I own several, which I keep in my various gear bags. Not my primary knives anymore, but they'll do the job.
Bic lighters, ultralight and hard to beat. Like you've said in other posts, I will usually use a ferrocerium rod, or even make a friction fire (not too often these days), but the Bic is fast, easy and reliable backup.
.357, I carry an S&W model 60 when in the field, I think the .357 is the best choice for the type of shooting I may have to do, here in the mid West. In town I usually carry the slimmer and more easily concealed Kahr PM45.
Bacon rocks...
I assume the spoon was your bearing block?


I usually don't bother with a dedicated striker for my ferro rod, as I have several steel items, with other purposes, that can also be used as a striker. But that one you use does look like a nice piece of kit.
Yup as a bearing block. Good job on the extra credit. It seems wood on Ti has less friction than wood on wood. Who would have thought. :lol: As for dedicated strikers you're right. Many things harder than ferrocenium and having an edge of sorts will toss a spark from a ferro rod. Heck we don't even need anything steel in our packs. I apologize for the crappy camera as was on a budget at the time. Heck still am but got slightly less crappy camera these days. Fire using just a ferro rod, no striker and nothing else packed. Also no fatwood or birchbark cuz that would be too easy. :roll:



So why do I have that striker? As stated it's "dead hard" hard 1/4 inch thick slab of 1095. I Keep it in one of my PSKs attached to that ferro rod.

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I think it was 10 bucks shipped from a custom maker who IMHO is a master of true firesteel which as we know is different than ferro aka ferrocerium. Dead hard tool steel probably wouldn't make a good knife for several reasons but it's exactly what I want for this multi purpose tool. It came with the sides ground flat to produce a sharp angle on the edge of the sides. This makes it great for shaving material off a ferro rod producing wicked sparks. Also would probably make for a good scraper as there are few things in the environment harder (rocks not withstanding) than dead hard 1095 tool steel. That fact and being carbon steel means it can do something else very very very well. Rocks in this case foraged quartz which I found an hour and few miles before. Right about here.

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Let's break them up.

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I think most have worked out the direction of this trail.

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The sparks produced by quartz and this striker are phenomenal even if much lower temperature than the wicked ones from the ferro rod and striker. I have two other things in that PSK, charcloth and a tin. The charred cloth is really like many other charred organic materials (but not all work as well) so there is no need for me to worry about running out. For example. Tulip poplar bark works just as good charred as cloth, maybe better in some ways.

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Essentially forever fire that's not really difficult. That little PSK does have a small Personal Survival Knife and paracord as well. Freshly bent Kydex and cord lanyard.

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Knife and paracord sounds like a third method to start a fire or just a little knife and paracord depending on the perspective.

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We have a PSK sticky thread but that's really just a gear list type thing not actual use. In some ways this relates to "What is your life worth". Physical ownership of a gear item regardless of cost or quality to me implies just that, physical ownership and nothing more. True ownership comes for experience. Then again I am a master of nothing, just a student with a low attention span so that statement is IMHO. What isn't debatable is the fact that cheaply made crap sucks.
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Re: What is Your Life Worth?

Post by Wraith6761 » Sat Feb 20, 2016 7:12 pm

Woods Walker wrote:This one started a coal with the help of a spork. Extra points for the person who first says what the Ti spork was used for. Extra extra credit if someone can guess the woods.

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Spork was the bearing block, and I'm guessing the wood was white pine, or maybe birch...

I'd agree with the general gist of the thread...."buy once cry once" is a pretty good way to look at it, but keep in mind that price doesn't always dictate quality. I'll use a pricier item as my primary, but I'll usually have a cheaper backup stashed somewhere else in my gear. For example, I like using a zippo lighter most of the time, but there are several bics stashed away throughout my kit...they're cheap, no-maintenance, and they work. Same thing goes with knives; I've been carrying the same Buck pathfinder for close to a decade now, and it's still going strong...I doubt it's ever going to fail me (especially considering that my dad's been carrying his since the 70's and it hasn't failed yet), but I keep a Mora stashed away as well.

I think a lot of it just boils down to doing your research on a product before purchasing it, and checking the reputation of both the product and the company...generally, that'll lead to making good purchases that you won't regret later on.
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Re: What is Your Life Worth?

Post by Robbie in ME » Sat Feb 20, 2016 7:18 pm

I believe the snow peak spork is one of the most expensive pieces of "silverware" just saying!

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Re: What is Your Life Worth?

Post by C-5 » Sun Feb 21, 2016 1:38 am

People are weird. The most valuable item mentioned above....is the Bic. I live off grid...in the very dark middle of nowhere. No item gets more day to day use than the bic.

PS. I save my empty ones for future generations. - Spark...A mason jar of OLD gas I would never think of putting though an engine...100 years of fire.

When I get up in the morning...I tap my pants...to make sure that there is not one...but TWO Bics in my pocket. Starting the wood stove...fire starting. Duh. (I guess tough guys have never heard of Bics). Cutting string. Finishing the edges of nylon...and most important....instant light in the dark...far more reliable than a flash light. Batteries die. I navigate in the dark with a quick flash of a bic. I cup my hand over the flame so I dont blind myself. One flash to see what is ahead. One more when I am lost again. One flash to find My car. One flash to find the right key on my ring to get into the house. One flash to blind an attacker in the dark before I hit them. Electricity goes off?.. I reach into my pocket and find my way to a candle...and light it.

Every single night of my life...I shut off the light...and use the bic to get to my bed...really
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Re: What is Your Life Worth?

Post by Peregrinator » Sun Feb 21, 2016 12:45 pm

C-5 wrote:People are weird. The most valuable item mentioned above....is the Bic. I live off grid...in the very dark middle of nowhere. No item gets more day to day use than the bic.

PS. I save my empty ones for future generations. - Spark...A mason jar of OLD gas I would never think of putting though an engine...100 years of fire.

When I get up in the morning...I tap my pants...to make sure that there is not one...but TWO Bics in my pocket. Starting the wood stove...fire starting. Duh. (I guess tough guys have never heard of Bics). Cutting string. Finishing the edges of nylon...and most important....instant light in the dark...far more reliable than a flash light. Batteries die. I navigate in the dark with a quick flash of a bic. I cup my hand over the flame so I dont blind myself. One flash to see what is ahead. One more when I am lost again. One flash to find My car. One flash to find the right key on my ring to get into the house. One flash to blind an attacker in the dark before I hit them. Electricity goes off?.. I reach into my pocket and find my way to a candle...and light it.

Every single night of my life...I shut off the light...and use the bic to get to my bed...really
Yup, people are weird.
Bic's die, constantly, just like batteries. They have a tiny little flint that wears out, and even less butane...not to mention the body and base plastic (Delrin) degrading and the whole damn thing flying apart. Which happens far more quickly than future generations come along, because oxygen slowly degrades Delrin (polyacetal homopolymer). It get's brittle and shatters, a fact of chemistry and the polymer used. So all of those empties are not going to help future generations.

I'm not addicted to Bic's, and can get along just fine without them, "every single night of my life". In my world, they are a luxury, not at all necessary, and certainly not a "most valuable item". I guess that makes me a "tough guy" in your world. :roll:

I am sure Bic's are useful to you, but I'm very sorry to hear that you can't get along without them. Although I can understand the lure of technological addiction.
Hopefully, you are never in a situation where you can't acquire more of them, as it seems that would be a tragedy. :wink:
But somehow, I think you'd get along just fine.

Best Regards

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Re: What is Your Life Worth?

Post by Woods Walker » Sun Feb 21, 2016 11:24 pm

Robbie in ME wrote:I believe the snow peak spork is one of the most expensive pieces of "silverware" just saying!
Fair enough brother. How about a 2 dollar SS oriental soup spoon? :rofl: Say more why does this shit always have to happen in windy subzero dark?

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I will say one thing. If anyone's life should ever come down to making fire from sticks, cord and a spoon the numbers of failures in planning and circumstance preceding that would be epic. Best to carry multiple modern methods and if possible ready made tinder.
Last edited by Woods Walker on Sun Feb 21, 2016 11:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is Your Life Worth?

Post by Woods Walker » Sun Feb 21, 2016 11:43 pm

As for Bic lighters I think the following.

1. They are more durable and reliable than one might expect.

2. The ferro rod part of the Bic lasts a long time however it's not a full sized ferro rod by a loooooooooooooooooooooooong shot.

3. A Bic need not require fuel to ignite a fire. Just takes little practice and skill.

4. Water won't kill a Bic. A short term (as in minutes) delay for anyone who isn't overly compromised or lazy. All yea gotta do is think about how it works then act appropriately.

It's great kit for the money. All of that said would I only pack a Bic for firecraft...... No.
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Re: What is Your Life Worth?

Post by Robbie in ME » Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:47 am

Woods Walker wrote:
Robbie in ME wrote:I believe the snow peak spork is one of the most expensive pieces of "silverware" just saying!
Fair enough brother. How about a 2 dollar SS oriental soup spoon? :rofl: Say more why does this shit always have to happen in windy subzero dark?





I will say one thing. If anyone's life should ever come down to making fire from sticks, cord and a spoon the numbers of failures in planning and circumstance preceding that would be epic. Best to carry multiple modern methods and if possible ready made tinder.
Well played! Funny a couple days before you posted the spoon I was talking to somebody about bow drills and we both thought that was the hardest part to source. All the Best!

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Re: What is Your Life Worth?

Post by Asymetryczna » Mon Feb 22, 2016 4:02 pm

Wolf Creek Forge. Saw a Whale striker I like on their site. Thanks
It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
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Re: What is Your Life Worth?

Post by Woods Walker » Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:38 pm

Robbie in ME wrote:
Woods Walker wrote:
Robbie in ME wrote:I believe the snow peak spork is one of the most expensive pieces of "silverware" just saying!
Fair enough brother. How about a 2 dollar SS oriental soup spoon? :rofl: Say more why does this shit always have to happen in windy subzero dark?





I will say one thing. If anyone's life should ever come down to making fire from sticks, cord and a spoon the numbers of failures in planning and circumstance preceding that would be epic. Best to carry multiple modern methods and if possible ready made tinder.
Well played! Funny a couple days before you posted the spoon I was talking to somebody about bow drills and we both thought that was the hardest part to source. All the Best!
The bearing block can either be easy or a PITA, well for me anyways. Just depends. My prefered method is a firesteel. Remember how easily we got that fire going a few weeks ago? Hardly anything to go wrong so it's my pick but then again why does the internet revolve around just picking one of anything? These are light weight gear items so I take a Bic, firesteel, matches and ready made tinder.

Lighter, matches, firesteel and tinder.

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The same in here.

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Same here though the firesteel is small however container is waterproof.

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Re: What is Your Life Worth?

Post by Woods Walker » Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:46 pm

Asymetryczna wrote:Wolf Creek Forge. Saw a Whale striker I like on their site. Thanks
You can be it will toss fine sparks. I highly recommend WCF.
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Re: What is Your Life Worth?

Post by Maeklos » Tue Mar 01, 2016 8:57 pm

As an adjunct to the main topic, I would add something that I always tell any folks that I'm teaching: never depend on something that you haven't used and worked with extensively.

This is one thing I've run up against a lot in the survival field, whether it's bushcrafting or disaster/bug out preparation. People will do their research, put together a sensible kit...and then not know how to effectively use any of it when the time comes. Or, worse, be so clueless about some items that they damage or break them. And I'll admit - I was guilty of this, too, when I first started out.

But dropping some money on a Mora and tossing it in your pack, then never bothering to see how it holds up while batoning, or learning how to sharpen it in the field, and generally putting it through its paces... Is the knife actually comfortable for you to use? Did you get the one in a million ringer that's actually defective and the blade ends up breaking the first time you try to split a branch with it? Have you used it over the course of a day or even a week of easy hiking/camping where you depended on it the same way that you'd have to depend on it in a true SHTF scenario?

This is something I always try to stress to students. Do your research. Buy good tools. Then USE them.
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Re: What is Your Life Worth?

Post by Woods Walker » Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:10 pm

Maeklos wrote:As an adjunct to the main topic, I would add something that I always tell any folks that I'm teaching: never depend on something that you haven't used and worked with extensively.

This is one thing I've run up against a lot in the survival field, whether it's bushcrafting or disaster/bug out preparation. People will do their research, put together a sensible kit...and then not know how to effectively use any of it when the time comes. Or, worse, be so clueless about some items that they damage or break them. And I'll admit - I was guilty of this, too, when I first started out.

But dropping some money on a Mora and tossing it in your pack, then never bothering to see how it holds up while batoning, or learning how to sharpen it in the field, and generally putting it through its paces... Is the knife actually comfortable for you to use? Did you get the one in a million ringer that's actually defective and the blade ends up breaking the first time you try to split a branch with it? Have you used it over the course of a day or even a week of easy hiking/camping where you depended on it the same way that you'd have to depend on it in a true SHTF scenario?

This is something I always try to stress to students. Do your research. Buy good tools. Then USE them.
+1 I agree.

Physical possession of a gear item is just that. It does not imply true ownership as that comes from experience.
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"There's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing"
"Do not mess with the forces of Nature, for thou art small and biodegradable!"

Best of Woods Walker's posts.

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