Brushing up on your outdoor skills for an upcoming hike? Time to get creative. It’s all about survival of the most innovative.
We love going into the great outdoors on weekends or the kids’ school holidays. But my husband hates taking a lot of stuff along — understandably.
So, in an emergency, everyday items that may already be in my handbag make great survival tools.
Here are five hacks to remember when hiking. Take note; they just might save your life someday.
1. The Wet Towel Hack
The only man I love watching adventure in the wild more than my husband is Bear Grylls. “Survival is not just about knowledge and skills, it’s just as much about positivity, resourcefulness, courage and determination,” he posted recently.
No doubt, he can easily survive the tropical jungles of my homeland, the Philippines,
“Infection can kill you faster than most animals will,” says Grylls. He recommends staying hydrated or keeping cool with a wet towel on your head.
Heatstroke is said to be the second cause of fatalities in hot areas. If you don’t have immediate access to water for soaking your towel, the answer is simple: Urinate on it.
2. The Guitar Pick Hack
When, at 9 years old, I learned to play a nylon-stringed guitar, nobody ever told me there was another use for the guitar pick. Turns out, they’re made from celluloid, a material that’s also highly flammable.
Creek Stewart, author of survival site Willow Haven Outdoor, says he always keeps a couple of guitar picks in his wallet for an emergency. “They will ignite when exposed to an open flame such as that from a disposable lighter or match,” he explains.
Check out Stewart’s blog and YouTube Channel for more details on how to use the guitar pick and ignite it with a tiny spark.
3. The Bra Hack
You may happen to be hiking in an area that you didn’t know has toxic air: ash or particles from debris flying around. Chances are, if you’re female, you’ve already got something useful: your bra.
Yes, two padded bra cups can save two people’s lives by being used as masks. They fit snugly right over your nose and mouth and have ready-made padding and layered, comfy fabric that’s probably much better quality than a store-bought mask. Use the straps to tie the cup around your face, and avoid breathing in dangerous gas.
(Note: If, by chance, you’re not wearing a bra, try to pack a Charcoal bag air purifier, by far the best-value-for-money air freshener online. Made of natural bamboo, it’s odorless, 100 percent natural and nontoxic.)
4. The Pantyhose Hack
Here’s the thing: Growing up in tropical countries, I never liked the idea of wearing stockings or any kind of pantyhose. Thankfully, there are other more vital survival uses for pantyhose than just outdated fashion, including:
- A fastener to tie things together when you’re hiking without a bungee cord or thick string.
- Shelter construction material.
- An extra hair tie or elastic.
- A mini bag to keep things in.
- As a tie to secure a hot pack over your body.
- To filter water.
- To trap fish when fishing.
- To reduce friction when walking and prevent blisters.
- To wear in areas where there are ticks or leeches — the annoying critters find the pantyhose material hard to penetrate.
5. The Magazine Hack
If you often travel with books or a great magazine, consider their survival uses. The shredded paper of an ordinary magazine can be used as stuffing inside your clothes if you’re caught outside on a cold night and forced to sleep outdoors. Putting the shredded or folded paper in your shoes can form a sort of insulation for your feet. And, as you already know, the paper is useful for kindling and starting signal fires.
One last thing: The most important survival skill to have is staying calm under all circumstances. Easier said than done, of course, but something to remember is what Ross Boyer, survival consultant for TV show “The Island,” calls the Rule of Three:
“Always think for three seconds before taking any action. You’re gonna have to look at the environment and sensibly decide. “
If lost, try to establish a base within three hours. When hiking in a mountainous terrain or jungle, you need to locate somewhere with shelter. You’re going to need it for the night, and you’d better have packed an LED headlamp.
If separated from your kids or family members, use this three-hour slot to let each other know when one of you is going to call for emergency help. Three days is the average a human being can survive without water, and three weeks is the maximum you can survive without food.
But then, naturally, you’d have to be as epic as Mahatma Gandhi.