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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 8:51 pm 
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I know every region has its own unique challenges and those in other areas are encouraged to start a regional thread of their own. :) Being a desert dweller myself I'm interested to see how others have planned to deal with the particular challenges (and benefits) of desert climate and conditions. I tried searching though the past posts of other ZSers but was only able to find Grifter's BOB (link below).

So I invite you AZ, CA, NM, NV, UT, TX and international desert folks to share your links and pics here.
BOBs, GHBs, EDCs, FAKs, woo! acronyms! :) Also feel free to share or link to your bugin plans, bugout plans, BOVs, BOLs, etc.
I thought it would be a nice way to learn from each other, as well as help newbies like myself modify their BOB needs appropriately. If we get enough links I can edit the original post to keep a full running list.



edits to title and post to include the various kinds of bags and locations. more acronyms. forgot to include Texas.

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Last edited by Y.T. on Tue Sep 29, 2009 11:41 pm, edited 9 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 8:53 pm 
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RUNNING LIST OF KITS:
(Periodically updated from posts below. See rest of thread for various tips as well.)

ARIZONA
Sckitzo (Tucson, AZ)
BOB: viewtopic.php?f=14&t=41586
FAK (old): viewtopic.php?f=43&t=37039

goibhniu (Tucson, AZ)
BOB/FAK/EDC: viewtopic.php?f=14&t=36080

Duffman (Tempe, AZ)
BOB/I.N.C.H.: viewtopic.php?f=14&t=34005

Molon Labe (Glendale, AZ):
BOB: viewtopic.php?f=14&t=32168

zXzGrifterzXz (Tempe, AZ):
BOB: viewtopic.php?t=5424
FAK: viewtopic.php?t=24932
EDC/Manpurse: viewtopic.php?f=14&t=33669

Y.T. (Tucson, AZ):
my own very beginner budget BOB (now outdated, BOB has changed): viewtopic.php?f=14&t=31686

CALIFORNIA
TafkanX (Mojave Desert, California):
EDC: viewtopic.php?f=14&t=33411&p=690469#p690469

NEVADA
MJS8725 (Tonopah, NV):
FAK: viewtopic.php?f=43&t=25671&p=677960#p677960

UTAH
HossDelgado (southeast UT)
BOB: viewtopic.php?f=14&t=49922

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Last edited by Y.T. on Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:43 pm, edited 15 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 9:17 pm 
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I'll make one for my GHB this weekend. Since I now have a digital camera. :D Forgot about doing that.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:00 am 
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thanks Molon Labe! looking forward to it. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 1:44 pm 
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From what I understand of Arizona during the day it is blisteringly hot and during the night freezing cold, how do you cope with this? I would imagine light clothing for the day + 4-5 season sleeping bag & Thermal clothes for night would be a requirement no?

Edit: I am an idiot who should actually read the links provided- :roll:

Well explained YT, what sort of threats do you prepare for outside of climate which are based on your enviroment?

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:49 pm 
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Ecko wrote:
From what I understand of Arizona during the day it is blisteringly hot and during the night freezing cold,
I've not traveled AZ or NV extensively yet, and unfortunately gas prices are further squelching that, but my experience has been that the temperature extremes depend on the location and the time of year. Open desert and playa (dry lake bed) have nothing around to help hold the heat so yes, the nighttime temps can drop dramatically relative to most places. Higher elevations also are subject to more dramatic daytime/nighttime changes. This may not be apparent to those who tend to stay in the cities or stay in one location, but I personally feel it's an important consideration when making bugging plans.

For example, one place I go camping is at higher elevation (I think 6500) and has Springtime day temps of 70 or 80 degrees, with night temps at 30 or 40. We've had snow as well as icing rain there in May, and we've woken in the morning to find water frozen solid. At Black Rock (NV open playa) the Summer day temps can be around 90 or 100, with evening temps in the 20-40s. However, the same time of year in Reno (large city) the evening temperature drop might be to 80 or 85.

The city areas have more mass, for lack of a better word, to trap heat so the day to night changes in temperature aren't as dramatic. Some of the higher elevation cities can experience colder temps, but I've noticed the range isn't as extreme.

The summer tends to be universally warm, with little drop in temps at night from my experience. If you're at higher elevation the drop may be more extreme, but it might be dropping from 105-120 degree heat so even a 30-40 degree change is still comfortable and doesn't require a change in clothing. Though some high elev areas might mean lower day temps to begin with, so the nighttime drop might be more significant in terms of change. Again, I think this is important to consider when packing and planning.

During the monsoons (summertime here in lower AZ) I don't notice the temperature to change much, it just offers a welcome cooling for a brief period. But the monsoons create their own risks, which I'll discuss later. The Spring and Fall can be kinda schizophrenic, but drops aren't so outrageous in the lower and city areas. A longsleeve shirt or jacket is usually needed at night there. If you're going to higher elevation or open desert that time of year it can definitely get cold at night. I've found Winter to be pretty crazy. I mean I've worn tshirts during the day in December, then had to pile on the blankets and huddle around a space heater at night. So again, a wider range of clothing and items are needed for desert BOBs than necessary in other kinds of climates.

Having spent most of my life in the northeast and southeast, I do find the desert to be uniquely challenging. But perhaps others feel differently.

edits for clarity.


Ecko wrote:
how do you cope with this? I would imagine light clothing for the day + 4-5 season sleeping bag & Thermal clothes for night would be a requirement no?
In my experience the intense sunlight coupled with extreme changes in temperature mean more gear needs to be packed as well as a greater variety of gear, pretty much year round. I do keep longjohns/thermals/silk underwear in my BOB for that reason even for Summer use. As well as lots of layering items. Particularly because I don't know what kind of shit the fan is going to hit me with. I may have mentioned elsewhere that in 20-40 minutes of driving the temperature can drop so much that we're changing into long pants and fleece sweaters. Add in some monsoon rain to that and you've gone from too hot or comfortable to cold and freezing quickly.

I have a cold weather sleeping bag (I think 30 degrees) and a 3 season tent. When I camp in open desert or high elevation, even in the summer, I need to also bring a ground pad or air mattress along with several additional blankets for warmth. The ground pad or air mattress is crucial to keep the ground from sucking out all your body heat, preventing you from warming efficiently. It's not about comfort, it's about temperature. If having to go bare bones I'll forgo a ground pad for my bugging, but if I have the option (such as with a car) I think it's important to have something under the sleeping bag. Layers of blankets help a bit if you have nothing else, but I have found they're nowhere near as efficient as a proper pad or mattress. Oddly, I've found that despite the dryness during the day, there's a fair amount of moisture in the air at night in cold areas. This makes the air feel even more cold, hence the extra blankets. If I had an expensive, kickass arctic sleeping bag the blankets probably wouldn't be necessary.

The thing about desert camping (such as if you were bugging out) is that you need ventilation and shade during the day or the sun will boil you (I've gone to bed hydrated and woken up early morning so severely DEhydrated from the sun over the tent that I was very ill), but insulation at night. It makes for a lot of compromise when choosing gear IMO. Anything too heavy, sealed, or waterproof won't allow for enough breeze. Anything with too much mesh won't allow for enough warmth.

Open desert camping often requires an additional shade structure over the tent itself (even with the fly), or at the least a separate shade structure for the day time. If you plan to use the tent at all during the day, such as for sleeping or as shelter from dust storms (another crazy desert challenge I'll discuss later), it's going to be uninhabitable without shade of some kind. Lack of tent shade also creates the potential to make you dehydrate or become ill as previously mentioned. If you're using a tarp tent for main shelter you may also need another tarp or shade device over it, or a reflective tarp as the main shelter. This might be something to consider when selecting bugout gear. I can go into more details on various ways to shade your tent or sleeping structure this if needed, from improvised to full construction.

edits: additions and changes for clarity and better relevance.

Ecko wrote:
what sort of threats do you prepare for outside of climate which are based on your enviroment?
EDIT: I've continued this discussion below, where I've addressed this particular question separately. :)

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Last edited by Y.T. on Wed Jul 23, 2008 8:11 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:52 pm 
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did that answer your question, or was that just stating the obvious?

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 6:18 pm 
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...answered :shock: .

I can't really relate based on my own environment but it really is interesting how one views environment from a native perspective to a non native!

Of course in my mind being from an area which is "green" I don't really think twice about a potential lack of natural resources to construct something I need (shelter ect.) however being in an environment where you have to depend on what you bring along is something I have never really thought about (must be heavy ;) )!

Being from the south my biggest enemy is the wind, salt (destroys and dries up your skin which can cause angry raw patches and irritation if you don't wash in clear water which is something you may not be able to do in a stressful situation so you have to plan for suncream with a high oil content like coconut based ones) and to an extent heatstroke/exhaustion, aside from that the temperature changes from day to night (obviously) but never dramatically enough for me to be forced into over thinking the situation.

Can't wait for the benefits of living in the desert, I can't really see what you can use to your own benefit in such unforgiving terrain but then again you live there not me! ;)

Great stuff.

Y.T. wrote:
did that answer your question, or was that just stating the obvious?

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 10:29 pm 
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Okay Y.T. I will post mine this weekend (Monday for me) along with some neat info about the terrain and weather of the high desert.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:31 pm 
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>>And here's mine.<< <--Right over there. Click the gorram link!

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:56 pm 
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Once i build mine i will post it. It's a work in progress right not i have the bag, fire starting and knives covered. Too many knives probally and i have a PSK in the mean time until i build my real one. I am in the Nevada desert btw.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:59 pm 
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Ecko wrote:
From what I understand of Arizona during the day it is blisteringly hot and during the night freezing cold, how do you cope with this? I would imagine light clothing for the day + 4-5 season sleeping bag & Thermal clothes for night would be a requirement no?

Edit: I am an idiot who should actually read the links provided- :roll:

Well explained YT, what sort of threats do you prepare for outside of climate which are based on your enviroment?



Well i don't know about all of Nevada but i do know in Vegas in the summer it is still in the mid to high 90's at 4am when i go to work.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 1:05 am 
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It largely depend on the elevation in the desert. Here in the southern Arizona desert, in the summer you cannot realistically carry enough water to survive more than a couple of days if you are walking. That is why so many immigrants die along the border. In the winter, the climate is fine all winter. However, at elevation, like in the Utah desert, the situation is reversed, and the summer is more easily survived than the winter. (By the way, in Phoenix, it is 95 degrees at dawn in the summer, so cold is not a factor).

My BOB is not too much different than most of the others I see, but I have a lot of collapseable water containers, so if I discover a water source, I can tank up and hunker down somewhere. Also, I have sunscreen and a big sun hat. I have a reflective tarp to set up shade, because shade can make the difference between really getting punished by the solar radiation, and just being hot. However, like I said before, in Southern Arizona, you are not walking too far in the summer unless you are following a canal or flowing river, so forget about a walking bugout.

I have a very compact 3-season sleeping bag, which is plenty for most every winter night. A bivy sack is sufficient for the surprisingly powerful rainstorms (do not camp in a ravine or low spot).

Down here, we are unfortunately very dependent on our cars, so I recommend having a reliable vehicle that can get you somewhere safe. The distances are enormous out here in the west - even walking to the outskirts of Phoenix would take a couple of days from downtown if you were carrying weight.

If you plan to be a desert bugger-out (?) the main thing is to acquire desert travel and survival skills, which is a whole 'nuther thread.


Last edited by roscoe on Tue Jul 22, 2008 1:15 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 1:11 am 
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Exactly roscoe! We are around 50-60 at night and up to around 95 by 2pm. That drops a lot as the sun goes down. The summers really aren't so bad here but the winter is freakin' cold. I remember one morning looking at my thermometer and it said 5 degrees there was no wind at the time. I grew up in the central valley of California. What a wake up call.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 1:38 am 
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Another thing to add is that the "air temp" of 95 degrees is not that bad at all. It's when you have the added heat of direct sunlight, that it truly becomes deadly. That's why I would suggest that if you have to move out on foot, then move during hours of low light.

[Edit for] retarded fingers.

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I live in Lake Havasu AZ - my greatest fear during the summer months would be a loss of electricity. Unless you are in the water, you are not going to last long with no electricity and 125 degrees of heat. My preps are in support of getting out of the desert and to higher ground should a situation occur.

In that strategy my BOV becomes critical. More on that later. Sounds


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 8:09 pm 
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Ecko hooked me up with a bunch of info, so I'm returning the favor by getting back to his (her?) question... ;)

I figured maybe this might help some new desert dwellers, or perhaps veteran desert dwellers can expand on or correct the info. :) It might help with discussion on how to plan our various bugging bags.

For easier readability, I've moved my response to Ecko's other question into a new post. The prior post addresses temperature changes, this post addresses various environmental issues. I mentioned in my original post that I'd add more info. The comments from my previous post are in italic, new comments are in regular text.

Ecko wrote:
what sort of threats do you prepare for outside of climate which are based on your enviroment?

Essentially, all your basic needs are challenging: food, water, shelter. But we also have some strange benefits by living in the desert that I'll get to later. [now addressed throughout the comments below.]

LIGHT

The sun itself presents a challenge because the intensity means in some places you can badly burn in as little as 30min, even as early as 10am. You also burn more easily at higher elevation. Since there isn't much cloud cover here and trees are sparse at best, there's no natural protection from the sun. Which makes a hat and sunscreen essential for me when outside. I need a robe or long shirt for the mornings when camping (when I'm groggy and not paying attention to sun exposure).

It's not so much the heat here as an intensity of light.

As Molon Labe mentioned it's really a matter of direct sunlight. 95 degrees in the Northeast or Southeast feels worse than 105 in the desert due to the frequent breezes and lack of humidity in the desert. However the sunlight just seems significantly harsher, brighter and more direct here which is whole different kind of "hot".

The intensity of light and UV exposure has some downsides. As I mentioned you can burn more easily. It's also hell on anything rubber, drying it out and breaking it down much more quickly. Ditto for tarps and plastics. PVC pipe (such as used for shade structures or outdoor showers) usually doesn't last long before becoming brittle or cracking. It can weaken some fibers, such as cloth shade coverings or hammocks. These are all things to consider when choosing bugout gear or considering making longer term disaster structures.

However the intensity of light/UV exposure also offers some nifty benefits that other environments don't have.

We can easily do solar cooking most of the year via reflective material or dashboards. We can even bury cans in the sand during the day to heat up something like soup. We can use solar pasteurization to purify water (though additional purification may be needed depending on the water source). We can heat water for washing dishes and clothes or bathing just by leaving the water container in the sun in a dark container. Wet laundry dries in about 1 hour, even in the shade, Spring through Fall. Which is great if you need to pack up and go while bugging out, or even need frequent washings due to disaster conditions when bugging in. We can use also prime sun hours to kill bacteria on clothing or gear through UV exposure.

Those are all low-cost, low-effort, fuel-saving ways to provide food, water, and hygiene basics in a PAW environment that I consider unique to the desert.

And of course, we have official solar power through the use of solar panels. Few places allow the opportunity for year-round solar power. This can be used to recharge batteries when bugging out or actually power important items in the home when bugging in. Some backpacks even offer flexible solar panels attached so you can recharge your gear while hiking. That would be an excellent option for bugging out by foot or bike in the desert. I've been trying to figure out how to rig solar panels to a car roof for that same purpose.

The intensity of light and heat can also have an impact on how you choose to bugout and the timing of your plans.

While in other climates it's most advisable to travel by day and stay in at night for safety, the desert means it's sometimes safest to do the opposite.
The heat, heat-related exertion, increased risk of sunburn and minimal water resources can mean that it's best to lay low during most of the daylight hours and do most camp work or foot/bike traveling near sunrise/sundown, or even overnight. However, night travel by foot on open desert can mean you're more susceptible to biting/stinging creatures because there are many nocturnal creatures in the desert due to those same reasons.

As roscoe mentioned, a bugout by foot in the desert really isn't the best option. It requires thorough knowledge and experience with desert travel and survival, such as obtaining water, treating snakebites, making shelter. By car seems the best option, with the consideration that you may need to do some distances by bike or foot in an emergency. That's going to affect what kinds of items are stored in a BOB or car kit.


WATER

My observation has been that water takes on a Dune-like importance and magic in the desert. It's universally understood that you can die here from lack of water, even doing everyday things. It definitely amplifies your bugging danger when you're in an environment where not only do you require more water than average and burn through it more quickly, but it's in scarce natural supply. You can also go from drought-like conditions to dangerous flash floods in a matter of days or hours.

The most obvious challenge here is that natural water sources are rare outside of the mountains, particularly during the dry seasons. Some of the larger lake areas are also on Reservations, which makes the area off limits to any non-residents in many places. There are tricks to getting water such as dew collection and digging near plant life and in washes. But these are more a get-you-through water source, nothing abundant enough that you could consistently live off of.

This poses a special challenge for desert dwellers when planning their bugouts and BOB/GHB.

In addition to finding a water source, there's the challenge of water weight. Water is very heavy (I think it's 2.25lbs per 1L, 8lbs per 1gal) and being able to carry enough for even 2-3 days is just unrealistic for most people by foot. Many of us struggle with planning where to refill on water for a bugout, whether by car or by foot because you can be sure that everyone else will be hitting those same resources.

Another challenge is that the intense heat and sunlight mean you require more water than average.

Even storing an adequate amount at home can be difficult if you don't have a large house. For example, I need to store 14 gallons of water bare minimum for 2 people for 1 week of bugging in. That gives us only 1 gallon each for drinking, washing and cooking, which would require strict emergency rationing. Realistically, I'd need at least twice that amount for any level of activity, particularly if cooling the residence without electricity were required. So now we're at 28 gallons (224lbs) for 2 people for 1 week. Storing a month's worth of water is very difficult in terms of both space and weight. And then all that water needs to be dumped and replenished on a 6 month cycle. And all of that is for a home bugin. Even if you had the room in your vehicle for that much water the increase in weight is going to negatively affect gas mileage, breaking and maneuverability.

One of the other dangers is that sweat evaporates very quickly, to the point that usually you're not aware you've been sweating. You shower at the beginning of the day and then wonder why you're clammy and stinky at the end of the day. ;) This means that you can very easily dehydrate without realizing it. So not only is water hard to find, not only do you require more of it than in most locations, but also you lose it more quickly and without knowing it.

The lack of humidity and rainfall can also be a major bonus.

For example, mildew and rust are almost non-issues here. Which means things like sleeping bags and tents can be stored outside without getting ruined and metal items last longer. (Though I've noticed that if any gear does get damp from dew or water it has to be thoroughly and promptly dried before it's put away or the heat will quickly cause mildew.) Also, the rapid evaporation of water means your gear can be ready to go shortly after washing or being caught in the rain.


CRITTERS

Most of the poisonous things that sting or bite you seem to live in the desert. ;) And many of them like to crawl into dark cool places during the day, then dark warm places at night -- like your shoes, or your gear, or places you'd naturally want to put your hands. There are a relatively large number of poisonous spiders and snakes, plus scorpions and a few poisonous lizards. While the likelihood of encountering these critters is low in the city areas, once you get to open desert the chances increase. For example

This means that desert folk need to keep specialty items like a snake bite kit in their FAK, know where local hospitals are that carry anti-venom for things such as rattlesnake bites, and/or have knowledge of how to treat various venomous bites and stings.

On the upside, the number of other bugs and critters is really low compared to most areas. Because really, not much can live here and there isn't much vegetation for them to survive on. This means even during monsoon season the mosquitos aren't too bad and we don't have to deal with things like ticks.


LANDSCAPE

The lack of real trees makes it hard to provide shade for yourself.

You can't string up a tarp or hammock to a cactus. ;) Generally the trees are not only too low to be helpful, but also way too far apart. Not to mention many of the trees are prickly and more bush-like. This means that most of the tarp tent constructions won't work in the desert, which in turn affects the shelter you pack in your BOB. The easiest one I've seen that works for deserts is this simple tarp construction which requires just a hiking pole and some stakes.

The sparseness of vegetation also means there's very little in the way of edible plants compared to some areas.

However, there are some kinds of cactus that can be eaten and many cactus yield edible fruit around monsoon season. There also isn't much in the way of game. Near the foot hills and low mountain areas there are rabbit, coyotes, javelinas and pheasant. But these don't exist in abundance relative to a PAW situation.

In general though there isn't much in the natural landscape to be used as a reliable and consistent food source, which means you either need to bring your own food when bugging out or you better have expert desert survival skills.

The dirt here is loose and sandy, particularly in open desert. This means it's easily kicked airborne with wind.

I consider googles and a dustmask essential as part of a desert bag. Even along the highways you get anything from small dust devils (mini twisters that rip across the ground and quickly die out) to full dust wall fronts that sweep across the area and engulf the roads in a complete whiteout. Even in lower winds the dust in open desert kicks around enough to sting your eyes and irritate your throat.

Depending on the area, the dust can also do a number on your sinuses ("dust boogers"). A friend refers to the constant desert dust as "natural exfoliator". ;) It can irritate and dry out your exposed skin, which makes some kind of hearty moisturizer important for a BOB (I prefer shea butter because it heals as well as moisturizes). In heavier winds or storms it can act like sandpaper turning a sunburn into a painful sunburn + windburn + dustburn combo (ask me how I know this ;) ).

Again, I think these are issues unique to the desert environment when making your PAW plans and gear.


WEATHER BENEFITS

As an upside to all the extreme weather issues, we are lucky enough to be able to plan on good clear weather for the majority of the year, nearly every day. That makes a big difference when you need to travel by foot, plan for shelter, or utilize natural power such as solar or wind. It also means that the climate is easier to deal with year round than other areas which may have very harsh winters and very humid summers.

We can also use simpler cooling methods such as evaporative coolers ("swamp coolers"). Sometimes simply shading openings or using reflective materials can greatly reduce the temperature of a structure. These are handy options should power be an issue or you find you have to bugin for an extended time.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 3:52 am 
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I was reading a thing about making a still in the desert to get water. I guess having a 6X6 sheet of something like a clear plastic drop cloth would be advisable to add to a BOB for the desert.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 2:48 pm 
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I have see plenty of pictures of a solar still, but Colin Fletcher pointed out that you might lose plenty of water chopping up cactus and building a still.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 4:09 pm 
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Here is a link to my FAK that I take EVERYWHERE with me. This doesn't have medications Those go in my pack. I hope you enjoy or have some constructive feedback. I like that sort of thing. :D

viewtopic.php?f=43&t=25671&p=677960#p677960

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I am severely disturbed by your lack of West Texas as a desert.... The chihuahua desert is far from cute and small... :evil:


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LakotaJones wrote:
I am severely disturbed by your lack of West Texas as a desert.... The chihuahua desert is far from cute and small... :evil:


LoL it's ok you can post here also.


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LakotaJones wrote:
I am severely disturbed by your lack of West Texas as a desert.... The chihuahua desert is far from cute and small... :evil:



The is a reason they call it Fort Blister.

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Some pretty good stuff here so far, but I still feel the need to add my .02.

I grew up in 29 Palms, CA, and still spend a fair amount of time there and figured I could share some experiences out there:

Hot Weather Concerns:

The number one thing to have when you spend time in the desert is appropriate clothing. If you are putting together your kit, be sure it includes a long sleeve shirt, either a dickie's work type shirt (cotton twill, light in color) or a BDU blouse (also light in color), a pair of long pants (again, dickies cotton twill) or BDU trousers, and a large wide-brimmed hat. I don't know how many times I've recieved a serious sunburn just driving in the car. A severe sunburn is a fight-ending injury, I have seen a few and treated a few, they eventually require a visit to a hospital.

I also recommend a shemegh, or a large hankerchief (I make my own from 1sq yd of light linen), this can be used as a towel, a dust mask, wrapped around the neck to make more shade, dipped in water to provide evaporative cooling etc. If it's cold outside, the shemegh can be tied around your head, and keep you warm too.

Sunglasses are very very important, the desert is fairly light colored, reflecting much of the sunlight around, this can result in eye damage, and perhaps eventual cataracts, wrap around sunglasses, or sunglass/goggles (wiley-x, bobster, etc) are necessary, more comfortable than most goggles, and are lighter than other protective eyewear.

While not much good for keeping the sun off, I still advise carrying a military waterproof poncho, it can be used to make a sun-shelter, keep rain off, carry something, waterproof your backpack, etc.

Cold weather concerns:

The most accurate way to describe the desert is a place of extremes, you can get the worst of all four seasons in an afternoon. I have seen it hot in the morning, and snowing in the evening, so having flexibility in gear is very important.

If you travel in the desert between september and may you should be prepared for the potential for cold weather. (I have seen exceptions to this rule too) At the very least a knit-cap (or ski-mask/balaclava), wool gloves, and thermal underwear. These may not make you 100% comfortable, but they will keep you alive should you get stuck in the cold. I also carry those little chemical pocket-handwarmer things.

Given a choice between hot desert, and cold desert I think I would choose the hot. Cold desert is bone-chillingly unpleasant, and even if you are drinking hot coco while wearing all black in direct sunlight you could still be shiveringly cold, that hot wind you may not like in summer is a cold wind in winter.

Water:

Yea, it's really important, most desert animals have some advantage in this area in that they can extract moisture from the food they eat. You can't, so either be prepared to carry enough water, have maps that have water marked on them, or prepare to die. A solar still with a bunch of urine and cactus may seem like a good idea, but will take a while to pay dividends, this time is likely better spent sleeping in the shade, and moving to somewhere that has reliable water at night. One thing to bear in mind, desert water is often brackish at best, loaded with toxic levels of selenium at worst, just because your map says "... lake" doesn't mean you're saved. Sometimes mines will have water in them, or flowing out of them, this should be nothing more than fodder for your solar still, this water is likely loaded with toxics from mining.

The only way to carry water is with a camelbak type system (I like platypus) as it allows you to carry more water than several canteens, and since it carries along the axis of the body is much easier to carry extra water.

Navigation:

Depending on what desert you are in, navigation can be nearly impossible, especially at night with no moon, and no visible landmarks. On the upside, even a sliver of moonlight is enough to read by since there is no tree cover to blot it out. A lensatic compass and a decent map are essentials, a LED penlight (Inova, others) and a tritium lensatic compass make orienteering in the desert very simple (shooting bearings is accomplished better with a lensatic compass).

Hygene:

While hygene is somewhat less difficult (since every fluid rapidly dries up) it can still be trying to keep comfortable. Taking your boots off, and either changing into a dry pair of socks (and letting the other pair dry out) as well as letting your boots dry out is important. Another important region is your crotch, lack of ventilation and excess heat can lead to heat rashes, bacterial and fungal growth. Finding an appropriate time and place, you should allow your body to dry out, medicated powders can help with this, however some people are allergic to these (myself included), but cornstarch is a capable replacement. While it may sound somewhat unpleasant, you can take a dust bath, simply find some suitable fine dust or sand, take off your clothes, and rub yourself down (make sure this sand is not salty, as that can cause alkalai burns).

Tools:

In the jungle the machete is the do-everything tool, in the desert, it's the shovel. You can dig a hole and hide from the wind, the sun, or the cold, you can dig your car out of the soft-sand you got stuck in. A folding shovel is a must! If you can, carry a bigger shovel and use it as a walking stick.

Food:

There is plenty of stuff to eat in the desert, provided you like eating cactus and bugs. If you are in an area near an oasis, there are likely to be jackrabbits and cotton tails, which you can take with a throwing stick, slingshot, or even that trusty shovel. Prickly-pear cactus requires a fair amount of preparation to really be considered "edible". Depending on the season there may be cactus fruits, which is something of a misnomer, as they taste slightly better than just cactus, but still stretch the definition.

There are really only two plants I consider a good food source, the mesquite "bean" (more like peas really), and the imported date palm, which is occasionally found growing outside cultivation. In most cases the mesquite beans are availible almost year round, as with date palms (the palms also sometimes have young palm trees growing nearby, which if young enough you can get the "hearts of palm"). In spring there is also a plethora of wildflowers, most of which are edible (got your edible plant identification guide?).

Then there's that subject of bugs... the desert is full of big juicy tasty bugs, cicada, grasshopper, scorpion, and penty of ants. The only downside is they often carry tapeworm eggs and should be roasted before being eaten. There are also wild bees in the desert which can provide a source of honey, but this is a rather dangerous proposition as africanized bees are moving into the southwest.

While there are a number of small mammals that are common in the desert, some care must be taken when handling dead animals, ground squirrels are known to harbor bubonic plague, and the associated fleas, rabbits in most of the southwest can harbor tularemia, and wild rats and mice carry hantavirus. In addition they may carry any number of other parasitic worms, or infections. Extreme care should be taken when handling animal carcasses, and all products should be cooked thoroughly!!!!

In closing:

As I said, the desert is a place of extremes, one day's total lack of water can be changed by a flash-flood tomorrow. A blisteringly hot day can be followed by a frosty night. As difficult as it may seem to get used to this climate, it is very similar to the climate humanity started in, it also has one huge advantage, any potential enemies are likely to die before your paths cross, if not, you will see them coming from very far away.

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