Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wilderness Survival Part 2

 “For lack of knowledge, people perish.”

What is the single most important wilderness survival skill?  There is a hint in the somewhat misleading title.  Wilderness Survival.  Wrong attitude!  Right from the start there is a conflict.  Wilderness survival implies that the wilderness is out to kill people.  It is declared an enemy to overcome.  Again, this is a wrong attitude which, at best, will cause one to misunderstand nature.  At worst, it could kill you.

In our first blog, we discussed flowing with nature rather than hiding from her or battling against her.  Now is a great time to review that post (see October 20, 2012).  If flowing with nature is important when there is no threat, it is twice as important when conditions create potentially dangerous situations.

Nature is neutral.  Sure, nature can dish out some amazing experiences and people do die when they do foolish things.  But nature is no more out to kill than to nurture.  All one needs to live and even thrive is found in the wild:  food, shelter, clothing, clean air, fresh water, and spiritual nourishment.  Humans lived in and from nature for hundreds and thousands, of years.  Our modern world has removed us from the ancient knowledge and sheltered us from nature’s lessons.  Nature seems foreign.  But nature should be most familiar.  Nature is family.  Nature is our true home.  Nature connects us with our source.

The single most important aspect of thriving in the wilderness is attitude.  Attitude, attitude, attitude.  If a person is scared senseless thinking that he or she is lost or about to die, then odds are good that person will suffer some real hardship.  If one instead finds an inner strength of rest and a practice of observation in nature—a real attitude of working with nature rather than against her—then survival is almost assured.  One can even enjoy and learn from the challenges presented.

What are some dangerous attitudes?

Lost.  Lost is not a condition.  Lost is an attitude.  Lost is only a perspective.  One is only lost if he or she has a deadline for getting somewhere and does not understand how to rest in nature’s arms.  There is little harm in people not knowing their exact location as long as they can be comfortable right there, where they are.

And fear….  Wow!  Fear is an emotion generated by what has not yet happened and will not happen as long as one keeps his or her scruples.  Fear is the fruit of imagination and not reality. 

What are some safe attitudes?

Restfulness.  Rest in nature’s arms.  Observe.  Think.  But don’t over think.  Once relaxed, briefly ponder what next to do and listen to your intuition.  If you feel tension or uneasiness about a course of action, then that option is not right.  Take time and realize that we are not apart from nature.  We are not foreigners there.  Remember, nature is our true home.  It belongs to us, and in a way, we belong to it.

Confidence.  (But not prideful ego.)  Rather, assert an attitude of confidence that all will be fine in time.  Enjoy confidence that you have what it takes to thrive in the wild; confidence that good will come from your current challenges.

Attitude.  Attitude, attitude, attitude.  The correct attitude will save your life when you are in dire straits.  But more than that, attitude will enrich your life and your communion with the natural flow.

In my next post, I will share how to work with nature to secure protection and safety.  But for now, I leave you with a hierarchy of priorities that help not just to survive, but to thrive.

Getting found

     And remember, one is only lost if he or she believes it to be so.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wilderness Survival Part 1

The next several posts will be on wilderness survival skills.  No matter how you enjoy the wild places, from simple afternoon hikes, to car camping, to extreme treks at altitude in winter, you may find yourself benefiting from knowing wilderness survival skills.

What do we mean by survival, though?  Survivalist?  Who is a survivalist?  One who does not die is the one who survives.  Aren't all healthy people survivalists?  Isn't the desire to survive implicit in our nature?  Don’t let the fringe cause confusion.  We are all survivalists.  But what about wilderness survival?  Wilderness survival simply means being self-reliant and capable in the woods.  A wilderness survivor is one who is prepared to withstand—even enjoy—nature’s fury.  A person doesn't have to be an extremophile to need wilderness survival skills or to be a wilderness survivalist.

So what is wilderness survival about?  On the surface, wilderness survival is about getting out of a tough situation in nature, alive.  But it is so much more than that.  Wilderness survival in its truest form is about working with nature in all seasons and in all conditions not to only survive, but to thrive.  People don’t die in the woods from the attacks of the wilderness.  People die in the woods out of ignorance and by taking unnecessary risks.  The wilderness is not the enemy that is trying to kill us.  The wilderness is just a wild place subject to weather and other uncontrolled conditions.  Our skills determine the danger of the wild places.  The fact is that most people are quite ignorant of nature today.  Ignorance is the threat rather than nature.  So wilderness survival is about knowledge, practical sense, and skill.  Nature kills the reckless and unprepared and that is our fault.

And this is great news!  This means that we can eliminate the dangers of ignorance and then we are not subject to the threats of nature!  This changes our perspective.  We can learn natural skills that will allow us to work with nature rather than hiding from her.  With such skills, we need not fear the worst that the wilderness throws at us.  Rather, we can laugh at the storm and learn from our experiences.

These skills start with proper attitude, observation, and simple, self-protecting techniques. 

Attitude matters SO much in nature.  Understanding that we are a part of nature and not an alien in nature is the first step.  Then knowing that nature has much to teach us is the second.  We can learn amazing, critical life skills from nature.  Knowing that we humans are an integral part of nature rather than separate from nature or a threat to nature is another major attitudinal break through.  But the correct natural attitude also eliminates fear by replacing it with knowledge and wonder. 

Observation then follows as a key to gleaning what information nature offers us.  From learning to see—really see, naturally—we can begin to benefit from nature’s instructions.  And sensing what nature is getting ready to throw our way gives us the “heads up” we need to respond in advance of the coming threats.  Knowing how to respond to these threats changes the threat to an experience.  And experiences make one experienced.  But more than that, when we are tested by nature and found sufficient, we learn something even more important about ourselves. 

Simple, self-protecting skills follow allowing us to respond to nature appropriately to enjoy the changing conditions, weather, environments, and seasons.  Once we know how to use nature to live in nature, then we can relax and flow with the natural rhythms.  Being “one” with nature—knowing our place as a part of nature—is the beginning of amazing experiences and a fascinating education.

Learning basic survival skills is very beneficial not only for safety but for gaining the ability to really benefit from the lessons that nature offers us.  In the following blogs, we will discuss specific wilderness survival skills.

So, what are some surprising lessons you may have learned from nature?  Have you discovered a part of yourself that you did not previously know?  What do you think being a part of nature rather than living apart from nature really means?  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

180 Tack Products

Hello from 180 Tack!

Alright, so this blog is about all things outdoors, but we are 180 Tack.  It is time for a quick rundown of our line of natural fuel, compact, light-weight backpacking and emergency stoves.


Above is the 180 Stove.  Note that it stows away into a self-forming case that keeps any smoky parts on the inside.  Customers have given this stove raving reviews.  They report boiling 16 or more ounces of water in under 5 minutes.  Field tests have resulted in going from ice in the water to boiling in under 7 minutes.  Just a handful of twigs and soups on!  Uses minuscule amounts of natural fuel and leaves behind very, very little ash.  Push a little dirt to the side, then cook, douse, and cover.  Leaves no scars.  Accessory ash pan also available (see below).
  • Weighs 10.1 ounces – lighter than micro-stoves and one small fuel canister.
  • Cooking surface as large as range at home.
  •  No hinges, rivets, welds, bolts, nuts or screws.
  • Environmentally friendly.  No toxic fuels to spill.  No canisters for the landfill.
  •  Lighter than the competition.
  • Very compact.
  •  Much more stable than other backpacking stoves.  Can securely hold even the largest cooking hardware and supports dozens of pounds.
  •  Generous, easy to load firebox to maximize performance and safety.
  • Make fantastic emergency stoves!


Above is the 180-VL.  VL is for “very light”—and it is at less than six ounces.  This stove offers customers a lower price point and is the stove of choice for customers who are concerned with pack weight as a priority.

  •  Weighs 5.9 ounces – lighter than micro-stoves and one small fuel canister.
  •  Cooking surface is generous.
  •  No hinges, rivets, welds, bolts, nuts or screws. 
  • Environmentally friendly.  No toxic fuels to spill.  No canisters for the landfill.
  • Very, very light. 
  • Very compact.
  • Much more stable than other backpacking stoves.  Can securely hold even the largest cooking hardware and supports dozens of pounds.
  • Easy to load firebox.
  • Make wonderful emergency stoves.

Above is the Two Piece Snow and Ash Pan.  Fits both the 180 Stove and the 180-VL.
  • Weighs 6 ounces
  • Allows for cooking on snow.
  • Environmentally friendly.  Protects sensitive soils.
  • Very light. 
  • Very compact, fitting around the self-forming cases of either stove.
  • Accessory item for both stoves.

We utilize re-usable stand-up pouches for our packaging so nothing is wasted.

Since our products are made in the USA, we have very high quality.  We proudly warranty our products against any manufacturing defects.


~ "I just received your 180 stove, man is this thing awesome!!! Rolling boil in my kettle in just under five minutes! I also wanted to say that being made in America was a huge part of my decision making process. There were a few different stoves I was looking at. Most of which seemed over complicated or too much of a "whiz bang" kind of mentality. I like your stove for the simplicity, the use of stainless steel, incorporation of packaging, and the overall mindfulness of the total product. Well done." - Ben

~ "Your 180 stove has arrived and I am more than pleased with your product. It is exactly what I have been looking for.  I have tried other lightweight wood stoves and found them to be too small and unstable.  I have been cooking with twigs for 35 years and enjoy doing so; with your 180 stove all of my problems with the other stoves have been resolved. The lightweight, sturdiness, and ease of assembly makes this the ideal cook stove I have been looking for for many years." - Rodney


~ "I have been concerned about the "what if" question. No power, no electricity and I need something portable that doesn't require limited fuels. This is the answer! Small, portable, easy to setup, and can use fuel that is around me! I would recommend this to anyone wanting a simple solution to a difficult problem. There are cheaper solutions however I like how it's easy to feed the fire and has plenty of room for cooking. - D. Morgan (Wisconsin)

~ I took the 180 STOVE camping two weeks ago, it worked great! We were very impressed with its performance. I like that I can use it in a variety of ways. I actually used it as a wind screen and pot support for one of my canister stove and it worked great. - Clayton

~ "Its a very innovative design and well made" – Malcom  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Some Quick Camping Tips

The goal for this post is to be a short and packed with wilderness tips.  Some may be fairly common, but hopefully you will pick up a few tools that you will find useful.

Simple tricks to use in the woods:

1)  To wash a pan, use mud and sand to scour the pan, then rinse (NOT dumping the water into the stream), and reheat the pan until it is hot to kill any germs.  Additionally, a sprig from a pine tree makes a fantastic scouring pad.

2)  Pine sap is non-polar.  That means that water will not dissolve it.  Rubbing alcohol will take it off in a jiffy.  If you are in the woods without alcohol, then rub dirt into the sap.  It will not take it off, but it will take away the sticky.  Also, you can use sand and mud to remove it with a little scrubbing.

3)  Pine sap and ashes will make a nice epoxy.

4)  For fire starting, the inner bark of a cedar or cottonwood rubbed between your hands will make a nice ball of tender.  So will milkweed fuzz.

5)  If you know what time the sun rises or sets, you can tell the time by measuring "hands" held at arms length from the sun to the horizon.  Each finger is 15 minutes.  Each hand (excluding the thumb) is an hour.  This is quite accurate.

6)  Flashlights cause night blindness.  On all but the darkest nights, leaving the lights off will extend one's vision considerably.

7)  A bit of smoke from a fire will help to keep mosquitoes at bay.  Mud rubbed on exposed skin will also provide significant protection.  But try not to scare the tourists!

8)  Polaris, the north star, is easy to find and always indicates north.  Simply find the Big Dipper (Ursa Major).  Many confuse this with Orion, so it is worthwhile to distinguish the two.  The two stars in the pan that are opposite the handle point out of the top of the pan straight to Polaris which will be the brightest star in that part of the sky.  If the big dipper is under the horizon then it helps to know that Cassiopeia is on the opposite side of Polaris from the dipper, and the "W" opens generally toward Polaris.

9)  If you get caught without a coat and the temperature is falling, tuck your pants into your socks, and your shirt into your pants.  Stuff your clothes full of the lightest and driest material around (grass, cattail fuzz, leaves, etc).  This will provide amazing insulation and might save your life.

10)  A "can do" attitude is the number one survival skill when faced with challenges.  Consider threatening circumstances to be an adventure that you know you will learn from.

11)  To get more sleep, wear a stocking cap that is long enough to pull over your eyes.  Not only will it keep you warm, but it will keep the five AM light out of your face.

12)  A bandanna has many uses in the woods:  sun shade for your neck, hankie for your nose, wash cloth for cleaning up, signal flag for getting noticed, hot pad for cooking, bandage for first aid, a pouch for collecting, etc.  It only weighs a ounce or so.  Always have one on hand.

13)  When making a fire, know that a stick needs a buddy to burn.  Stack sticks "log cabin" or "tepee" style with about an inch between them, and the heat from each stick will help it's neighbor to burn.  Stack them closer and you will choke the fire of needed air.  Stack them farther apart, and the fire may not maintain enough heat to easily burn.  I find "log cabin" stacks to be better for starting fires and "tepee" stacks good for adding to fires.

14)  Insulation is much better for staying warm than a camp fire.  If you are using a fire, then make sure you are between the fire and a back drop that will help reflect the heat.  Better yet, use a small fire for cooking (with a 180 Stove of course), a medium fire for fun, and a sleeping bag for warmth.

15)  Stay hydrated.  Drink before you are thirsty, especially in winter.  Dehydration not only causes heat stroke but also makes it difficult to stay warm.  Drink, drink, drink.

And last and MOST important.  Make love-based decisions when alone or with a group.  Leave the earth better than you found it.  Encourage others.  Be forgiving and lead by example.  Don't mistake ignorance for intent and seek to share rather than to criticize.  We go to nature to recharge our batteries.  Don't be a drag.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Pile of Rocks

A pile of rocks.  It catches the eye.  The stones, almost timeless, here pushed up thousands of feet above the sea.  The foundations of the Earth thrust higher and higher.   Breaking.  Splitting.  Bending.  Then resting.

Follows wind and rain; ice and snow.  Baked by sun.  Day and night.  Heaped.  Thaw and freeze.  Blow and wash.  Floods.  Sand storms.  Polished and split.   

Finally, stacked.  Carefully.  Precarious balance.   A pile of rocks.

Piles of rocks.  They have been used to mark boundaries.  Properties.  Nations, even.  Piles of rocks.  Precarious piles.

They have formed alters for ancient worship.  Precarious piles.

In the wilderness, we call them cairns.  Way-finders.  They show us how to go where others have set the course before.  We stack them higher until only pebbles fit on top; homage to the way-finders.

Wilderness art.  Art with meaning and history primordial.  We stack the rocks and we think we have done something.  It takes effort, planning, carrying, collecting, and skill.  A pile of rocks.  We did not know these rocks until we came and picked them.  They became chosen.  Suddenly, they exist—to us.

If they could observe, remember, and think…, would they laugh?  These stones billions of years old?  How long will they stay stacked until the wind, rain, freeze, and thaw scatter them again?  Mere seconds in time immemorial, when they were a memorial.

A pile of rocks.  I like it.

P.S.  If you try to cook on a pile of rocks, you will spill your dinner.  Get a 180 Stove!  Ha!