1. Proximity to water: Select a location close to a water source, as it provides access to cooking, drinking, and washing water. However, be cautious of wildlife when camping near water sources, especially in dense forests.
2. Sheltered from the wind: It is preferable to camp in a sheltered area such as the lee side of a small hill, clearings in the forest or at the forest's edge, under rock formations, etc.
3. Avoid hazardous areas: Do not camp above areas prone to rockslides or falling debris, avoid setting up camp in areas susceptible to mudslides, and refrain from camping on hilltops or open areas during thunderstorms to avoid lightning strikes.
4. Wildlife prevention: When setting up a campsite, carefully observe the surroundings for animal tracks, droppings, and nests. Avoid camping in areas with high snake or rodent activity to prevent harm or damage to equipment. Use mosquito and insect repellents and take necessary precautions. Sprinkling wood ash around the campsite can effectively deter snakes, scorpions, and other venomous creatures.
5. Sun exposure: Choose a campsite that receives ample sunlight, as it provides warmth, dryness, and cleanliness. This facilitates drying clothes, items, and equipment.
6. Level ground: Ensure the campsite is on level ground without tree roots, grass, sharp stones, uneven surfaces, or slopes, as these can damage equipment or cause injuries, affecting rest quality.
Lastly, it is important to protect the natural environment while camping in the wilderness. When leaving the campsite, ensure all fires are completely extinguished, carry out garbage and waste as much as possible, and, in special circumstances where waste cannot be carried out, dig a hole and bury it.
Fire Starting and Practical Applications
Firstly, it is important to find easily combustible materials such as dry grass, dry leaves, birch bark, pine needles, pine resin, small tree branches, paper, cotton, etc.
Secondly, gather dry firewood, opt for dry and non-decayed tree trunks or branches. Choose hardwoods like pine, oak, beech, birch, locust, wild cherry, apricot, etc., as they burn longer, produce more heat, and generate more charcoal. Avoid collecting wood close to the ground, as it tends to be moist and difficult to ignite, producing excessive smoke.
Next, clear a space that is sheltered from wind, flat, and away from dry grass and firewood. Place the tinder material in the center, lightly layer it with small pine branches and dry firewood, then construct a larger and longer pile of firewood on top. Finally, ignite the tinder material. The design of the fire pit can vary according to the surroundings, such as cone-shaped, star-shaped, "n" shape, side by side, roof-shaped, pasture-shaped, etc. Additionally, one can use stones to support the firewood or lean dry branches against a rock wall, igniting the tinder material beneath. In general, dig a hole with a diameter of approximately 1 meter and a depth of about 30 centimeters in a sheltered area. If the ground is too hard to dig, one can create a circle using stones, with the size of the circle depending on the size of the fire pit. Place the tinder material in the center of the circle, layer it with dry firewood, and ignite the tinder to start the bonfire. If the tinder material is about to burn out but the firewood has not ignited, continue adding tinder through the gaps until the firewood catches fire, rather than restarting the process.
It is advisable to start a fire near a water source or have materials like soil, rocks, moss, etc., prepared for extinguishing the fire when needed.
Orientation and Navigation
Getting disoriented and losing one's path are two different situations.
Disorientation: Not knowing how to determine the direction of travel or being unable to identify the cardinal directions (i.e., not having a sense of north, south, east, and west).
Getting lost: Not knowing which path to take or being unable to find the original route.
Getting lost can lead to disorientation, but disorientation does not necessarily mean getting lost.
To determine directions correctly, the following basic methods can be used:
1. Compass: A high-quality compass is an essential tool for outdoor travel. However, it's important to note that the compass needle points to magnetic north, which has a deviation angle from true north. Calculating the magnetic declination is necessary for accurate compass direction.
2. Watch with a pointing hand: Place the watch flat with the dial facing up, rotate the watch until the hour hand points towards the sun. The direction of the angle bisector formed between the hour hand and 12 o'clock on the dial is south.
3. North Star: The North Star, also known as Polaris, is the most reliable indicator of true north.
4. Big Dipper: The constellation Ursa Major, resembling a big spoon, can be easily found in clear night skies. Looking along the extension of the line connecting the two stars on the edge of the spoon, approximately five times that distance, there is a brighter star, which is the North Star, indicating true north.
5. Shadow stick method: On a clear day, insert a straight stick vertically into the ground and observe the shadow it casts. Place a stone at the shadow's endpoint after about 15 minutes. When the shadow moves to another location, place another stone. Connect the two stones to form a straight line. The direction facing the sun is south, and the opposite direction is north. The taller, thinner, and more vertical the stick is, the longer the distance the shadow will move, resulting in more accurate direction measurement.
6. Trees and moss: The denser side of a tree crown indicates south, while the sparser side indicates north. The same principle applies to moss. Additionally, examining the tree's growth rings can also determine direction. The side with sparse growth rings faces south, while the side with dense growth rings faces north.
7. Melting snow: Areas where snow has melted indicate south.
8. Finding one's way back: When deep in the forest, if disoriented, recall the landmarks such as springs, rocks, large trees, waterflow, caves, mountain peaks, or intersections that were passed. Then, rely on memory to retrace the footsteps and return to the original route.
In dense forests or unfamiliar areas, it is essential to remain calm and think logically when disoriented. Panic or aimlessly running can worsen the situation. Analyzing the terrain and geographical features, identifying animal trails, or following the path created by wild animals can help find a way out. However, caution must be exercised to avoid being attacked by wildlife or falling into traps set by hunters. Typically, animal trails can be found on mountain saddles or ridges.
Whether in dense forests or grassy slopes, it is difficult to identify tracks up close, but by observing from a distance, faint signs of slightly bent grass blades, leaning grass leaves, or flipped leaves can be discerned. With closer observation and comparison, the path can be distinguished.
When locating water sources in the wilderness
1. Listening: Use sensitive hearing to listen for the sound of flowing water near areas such as the foot of a mountain, valleys, cliffs, basins, etc. Pay attention to the sounds of flowing water, frogs, or water birds. These indicate the proximity of water sources and suggest flowing fresh water. However, be cautious of mistaking wind blowing through leaves for the sound of flowing water.
2. Smelling: Try to detect any damp or moist odors, as well as the scent of soil brought by the wind or the smell of water plants. Follow the direction of the scent to find the water source. This method requires experience and accumulated knowledge.
3. Observing: Observe the behavior of animals, plants, weather conditions, climate, and geographical environment to locate water sources.
4. Based on topography and terrain, determine the water table level: Usually, the water table is higher at the foot of mountains, low-lying areas, where rainwater accumulates, and downstream of reservoirs. Additionally, water can be found by digging a few meters below dry riverbeds or on the outer side of bends in the river. However, water in these areas may contain mud and require purification before consumption.
5. Based on plant growth: Locations where plants such as cattails, sand willows, water lilies, goldenrod (also known as yellow flowers), and wooden cabbage grow indicate higher water levels and good water quality. Areas with reed mace, ragweed, and salt cedar have underground water, but the water quality may not be good, often tasting bitter or astringent, or containing rust. During early spring, if all other branches are still dormant, finding a tree branch that has started to bud indicates the presence of underground water. In autumn, if all other trees have turned yellow, but one tree's leaves remain green, that tree indicates the presence of underground water. Additionally, observing trees like willows, poplars, and locust trees that grow only in water-rich areas can help locate water sources.
6. Based on animal and insect activity: Mosquitoes gathering in cylindrical formations or places with water indicate the presence of water. Locations where frogs, large ants, and snails reside also suggest the presence of water. Additionally, the flight paths of swallows or the places where they build nests can indicate nearby water sources and higher water tables. Similarly, the flight patterns of doves or their congregations in the morning and evening can also indicate the presence of water sources.
7. Based on weather conditions: Rainbows in the sky indicate the presence of rainwater. Dark clouds with thunder and lightning suggest rain or hail. Foggy valleys often indicate water sources, and dew formation or heavy dew on the ground indicates the presence of moisture. Collecting dew can also provide temporary relief in water-scarce situations.
8. Directly obtain water from plants: In southern jungles, wild banana plants, also known as traveler's palms or traveler's trees, are abundant. These plants have a large amount of water in their stems. By quickly chopping off the bottom of the stem with a knife, clean liquid will drip out. The tender inner core of the wild banana plant can also be consumed for temporary sustenance in the absence of other food sources. Wild vines such as wild kudzu, grapevines, kiwi vines, and gumi vines can also provide drinking water. Additionally, in spring when trees begin to bud, water can be obtained from the trunks and branches of certain trees like willow, mountain elm, etc. Note: Do not drink the milky liquid from certain vines or trees as they may be toxic. Water can also be obtained from marsh moss, cacti, and their fruits.
It is important to note that water obtained from plants may spoil quickly and is best consumed immediately rather than storing for extended periods.
The above-mentioned methods are effective in addressing water scarcity in the wilderness. However, relying solely on these methods may not be sustainable or practical for large groups or extended periods. It is advisable not to venture too far from water sources or embark on solo expeditions without proper preparation and caution.
When finding a water source after extreme exhaustion and thirst, it is best not to drink excessively. Instead, assess the conditions of the water source and perform necessary purification and disinfection processes to avoid poisoning or contracting diseases from drinking contaminated water.
In addition, adequate lighting is crucial for survival outdoors, and that is where Croc Lights come in handy.