Scott B. Williams Archive
Scott B. Williams has been exploring wild places and seeking adventure on both land and sea for most of his life. He has written about his experiences in several books, including On Island Time: Kayaking the Caribbean, and is the author of the survival books Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It's Too Late, and the recently released Getting Out Alive: 13 Deadly Scenarios and How Others Survived. More of his thoughts on survival topics can be found on his blog: Bug Out Survival. Email this author.
Discussions of what gear and equipment to include in a survival kit or bug-out bag are common among survival enthusiasts and preppers, and this topic is often seen in books, articles, blog posts and discussion forums. It’s natural for those interested in this subject to become fixated on the gear that they imagine will enable them to prevail in a difficult situation, and it’s true that the right equipment can go a long way in making certain tasks easier. Today’s technology can offer many advantages our primitive ancestors could not have imagined. But what our ancestors lacked in tools, they made up for in skills that were put into practice on a day-to-day basis. Unfortunately, many people today assume they can simply buy things to make up for these skills, and in doing so create for themselves an illusion of preparedness that they have never tested in the field.
I recently returned from a trip to a mountainous part of the Pacific Northwest where I spent a good part of my time driving off the beaten path on forest service and other remote roads. A recent news story about a woman who was found alive in her van after being stranded for seven weeks on a remote road in a Nevada wilderness brought to mind the countless survivor stories I uncovered while researching my book Getting Out Alive.
Most people immediately think of filtration systems when considering water purification methods in a survival situation.
There are many excellent filter systems on the market today that will do the job and are popular in the survival and prepping community. While I own and have used various filters myself, when packing for a long wilderness excursion or preparing a compact bug-out or everyday carry bag for emergencies, I want something smaller, lighter weight and absolutely dependable for short or long-term use.
While there are some compact drinking straw filters that fit the small and light weight criteria, they are not so convenient for everyday use and, like all filters, have a limited life before they must be replaced.
Many people dismiss fire building as a no-brainer—just get some wood and light it with a match.
Nothing could be farther from the truth and real backwoods experts know that fire building is an art and a craft. In freezing cold conditions the ability to build a fire can save you from certain hypothermia if you are caught out in the wilds without adequate clothing or shelter to stay warm.
All fires depend on fuel in the form of combustible material and, in the woods, this usually means dry leaves, twigs, branches and other chunks of wood. If it’s raining out, how do you find dry wood? It’s easier than you think if you know where to look.