Re: When Mother Nature Conspires Against You! By Darrell Holland
It's all well and good to have this or that in your pack but, have you tried actually using the stuff before you need it?
I was in the guiding business for over a decade and found out that some things might work as advertised, for a while, but then fail rather badly at just the wrong moment. Some stuff just never actually worked as well as one would hope or expect. Problems rarely, if ever, showed up on the first try.
Fire starting stuff is something you need to practice with, try it out before you actually have a critical situation. I've noted that over the years more hikers and hunters use some type of gas stove to heat up their meals, mostly just boil water to pour into a freeze dry meal. They don't build fires because of some "ethic" that fires are somehow "bad" or it's just quicker and more convienent to use a stove. Result, poor fire building skills. Leave the stove at home and learn to build a fire on those summer camping trips. Try starting a fire during a summer rain event, instead of a late fall ice and snow storm, if you fail, you get a bit wet, and you can keep trying until you get it right, instead of until you're dead...
I once bought a heavy weight sleeping bag for high country elk hunting, after the season was over. I pitched a tent in my yard on a winter night when the temperature was supposed to hit -25. The bag, supposedly rated to -30 was cold as hell at about -10. I went inside for hot coco and a warm bed, I returned the bag the next day. After a couple of trials I actually found a bag that was really a -30 bag. One of the manufacturers I delt with admitted that no one ever actually tested the bag at the temperature it was "rated" at. Another admitted that they had "numerous" returns on the bag from outdoor professionals because it wasn't as warm as advertised. Test drive everything before you need it.