The Advantage Survival Podcast

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Advantage Survival’s Systems of Survival

November 14, 2011

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Advantage Survival's Systems of Survival

Having primitive outdoor skills is an amazing ability. The time and energy spent perfecting those skills is admirable to say the least. If you can, you should learn everything that will give you the advantage in a survival situation.

Part of what I teach at Advantage Survival are my Systems of Survival. This is not a shortcut to primitive skills but a different philosophy altogether. A philosophy that teaches you how to be prepared every chance you get. Have the means with you to construct a shelter in minutes, not hours. Craft a sustainable fire with minimal energy spent. Procure clean drinking water without boiling. Most of us know when we want to head off into the great unknown wilderness but a lot of us just don't plan for the "shit happens" scenario. Most of you (and be honest) are not proficient in primitive outdoor skills at least not enough to have the advantage. You know the story; It won't happen to me. Believe it or not in a lot of cases it doesn't. For the chosen few however it will and I'm not smart enough to know if that's me or not.

I've dedicated a great deal of my free-time life to Search and Rescue, about 25 years worth and during that time I've been involved in a lot of life and death situation. Long enough to know that sometimes, "subjects" have bad days. In most bad day situations I can't stop but think that if only the subject had some basic survival gear and the knowledge to implement it, they would be around to see another sunrise. You would be amazed....it can be as simple as putting on your rain gear before you get wet and die 3 hours later. I think people cheat death unknowingly and this phenomenon can create a false sense of security. Let me explain. Outdoor technology has put a lot of good synthetic clothing on the market. Hunters buy it because it has the camo pattern that fits the need of the hunt. By default it's not cotton thus giving them the advantage. Another example is the GPS unit, a powerful piece of technology if you learn how to operate it proficiently. Most units have a great user interface and it gets folks back to their rig safely and I get a good nights sleep not having to respond to a search and rescue mission.

In my opinion, with outdoor gear technology what it is today it seem that there should be no excuse for not having something with you that could save your ass. I hope my Systems of Survival will get you thinking about your next trip and compile the things you need to help you if the SHTF. I should also state the firm grasp of the obvious; no amount of gear will save you if you don't practice with and have the confidence in its ability to enhance your survival situation.

Below is a list of my Systems of Survival (SOS) in the order of what I think are priority. Also note that I've added another system (Security.) By no means am I an "expert" I'm just a guy who's spent a lot of time figuring this out and I want to share and learn with you.

1 Emergency Shelter

2 Clean Drinking Water

3 Fire Kit

4 Tools

5 Communications & Signaling

6 Navigation

7 Lighting

8 Outdoor Clothing

9 Security

10 First-Aid

11 Essentials

12 Cooking & Food

13 Gear Carry & Gear Repair

14 Power Management

15 Sleep Systems

16 Backcountry Winter Travel

17 Personnel Hygiene

18 Riding Gear

Before your next outdoor adventure review this list and make piles of gear on your living-room floor that correspond to each system. If you only do that you'll be a hell-of-a -lot more prepared than most; if you pack it and take it with you. This advantage will go a long way even if you only take systems 1 thru 8 with you.

Let me be clear, my Systems of Survival are not a survival kit, the 10 essentials or something you put in a coat pocket. It's a mindset, a way of thinking that looks at systems and gear as a whole and integrates them into an everyday gear carry that is useful even if your not in a survival situation. It's a way of knowing you have the skill-set to endure adverse conditions and live to tell your story. Its being self sufficient, responsible enough to initiate and implement self rescue. As my podcast disclaimer notes "When venturing into the wilderness or into cold conditions it is your responsibility to learn the latest information and be prepared." Well, do it!

Ok enough of the tuff love. I recently responded to a SAR mission at Evans Creek ORV Park just outside the westside of Mount Rainier National Park. We were looking for a guy who managed to call 911 to report he had overturned his truck on the ORV road system and was injured. He reportedly was cutting firewood when on his way down he lost control and flipped. Darkness fell and temperatures dropped so the sense of urgency on our part was heightened. We arrived on scene and immediately deployed on search assignments with ATV's. A few hours went by with no luck in finding the lost and injured subject but as time passed the SAR Coordinators were starting to question the validity of the initial report. It seems that the subject's story was falling apart and his wife was no longer willing to speak on his behalf when interviewed. Her parting words were in-effect that he may have faked the whole thing. Nice. We cleared the search area and called the search off about 4:00 AM with no sign of the future ass-clown. (The mission was a hoax.)

What does the above story have to do with my Systems of Survival? Well the mission wasn't a complete waste of time. During the search assignment teams discovered a couple of single track dirt bike riders who had lost their way. One of the bikes they were riding was disabled forcing the female rider to abandon it and walk for hours behind the other trying to find their way out. The couple were new to the area and this was their first time in the ORV Park. They had the riding gear and looked the part very well but when I queried them about the gear they had they gave me the "Oh shit, I knew I should have brought that survival kit and map of the area" look - they only had CamelBaks with water. They drank up all the water hours before with no way of procuring clean water. The couple had no shelter, no way to start and sustain a survival fire and so on. If we would not have stumbled upon them things may have been very different for them. They had a "good day" and the weather gods were on their side. The feeling I got when talking with them back a base camp is that they knew they should've had survival gear with them but they didn't think anything bad could happen to them.  They were intelligent individuals, the female was an MD. So what is the disconnect? I'm still searching for the answer. I guess just keep putting it out there and hope folks get it.