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Minimalist camping without a fixed blade

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by kalan850, Oct 26, 2016.

  1. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    Had me worried there for a minute. I thought it might be a sexual thing. ;) That said, if you drink from springs or streams, you need to use some common sense. Sometimes common sense isn't enough.
  2. shinyedges

    shinyedges Unfaltering Love & Undeviating Will

    Jun 5, 2012
    Yes they are, I was stationed at Fort bliss TX for awhile and regularly went to white sands and other various places for field training exercises.
  3. jackknife


    Oct 2, 2004
    LOL, though I'd bet the mountain men going a whole winter without seeing another human being, let alone a woman, got a form of the beaver fever!:D

    But what I was talking abut was, it was pretty early on that some people got the idea that not all water was good, and boiled it. In a history of the building of the transcontinental railroad, there was an interesting passage about how the Chinese workers on the Western Pacific would not drink the water. They would make large kettles of tea, and put the tea in the water bags and drinking water barrels. The white railroad workers drank water from the barrels that came from whatever local streams or rivers, and they had a lot of intestinal diseases, while the Chinese had very little disease.

    Some west point officers had a similar idea, and one George Custer had his canteen filled each boring with coffee, and recommended this to all his company commanders. Maybe if he'd drank tea instead, he would not have rushed headlong into a certain valley!:eek:

    I can only wonder how may of those old cowpokes bothered to make a fire to boil water for a pot of coffee because on some gut level they didn't trust the local water?

    To not derail the thread, I guess it's possible to go camping today with modern water filters and tiny alcohol stoves, but I just can't bring myself to leave the fixed blade behind. I'm a 'what if" kind of guy, and worry about fuel canister leaking, stove breaking if fell on in a fall while wearing the pack, Or just someone slipping a breaking a leg. The last has happened to me once, and I was caught short and had to make do with a pocket knife. Never again. To me, a fixed blade in the pack is like a spare tire. You hope you don't need it, but if you do, you'll need it very badly. But carry what yopu like, it's a free country. Most people carry a Bic lighter, but I still like the old barn burner large wooden matches in a water proof container to back up the lighter. There's a fire steel in the little emergency pouch in the pack. I consider the ability to make a fire quick a mandatory skill to have. If it's been wet, you'll need something more than a pocket knife.


    Feb 23, 2000
    Most workers drank light beer, less than 1% alcohol; even children. Its was safer than local water in any town or city.
    Locals adapt to their local water and become immune to their local bugs. Some bugs are too much but most can be overcome. If you were genetically unable to adjust you died and died they did. Most armies have lost more troops to bugs than any war. Brits going to India during early Empire days would die in the first three months or thrive. American Indians died in droves from the bugs Europeans brought over. Pretty much carnage.

    We know a lot more now, but have brought new threats.

    Anyhow I tend to take a modern water filter system or drink bottled, or tea, or beer. Change of water from area to area and the way its treated can give you the runs without it being bugs. Just takes a bit for your stomach system to adjust.
    Son traveled the world, ate local food and had it bad just once in 8 months. He ate where it was popular with the locals as his thought was if its good enough for them its good enough for me. He had less problems than those who stayed with hotel food. He stayed away from junk or street junk food. He did take a filter system too but only needed it when it was obviously required.

    I carry a bit more than most. A lot of people take nothing, or not really enough. Some have no idea at all.
  5. SwiftDream


    Nov 22, 2009
    Good to see this thread is getting on a more moderate track. LOL

    There are many forms of camping discussed here but everyone who travels with a rucksack by foot probably aspires to become somewhat minimalist. I'm not in the ultra-light minimalist crowd but I try to be as light as practical. I have proven to myself that I can make fire in short order in severe, wet and cold conditions at altitude with a small folder but I remember wishing I had a small fixed blade at the time. That was decades ago and I've built upon that knowledge and though you should be able to keep yourself warm and dry without a fire, an easy thing with what we have available in these time, I still prefer to have a small fixed blade that is about the size of a SAK Spartan with the blade deployed. I personally do not see any need for a large fixed blade or chopper but will listen to those who do feel the need. But the vast majority of those on the first season of Alone could not get a fire on day one or even after several days in some cases with their axes and big knives and they thought they were real operators. I use my small knife for food prep but it is a tool that can do whatever I need, mostly traveling in the southwest, canyons, mountains and deserts. And yes, I have seen the weather go from warm sunny conditions to a blizzard in mere minutes.

    I would never disparage anyone from using fires where legal. I've cooked over thousands of them, warmed myself with a cheery little fire. But I have to say that the invention of hiking/backing stoves is wonderful for those who don't spend a lot of time in camp mode and like to be on the move. They let you get a warming drink or cup of soup very fast with no fuss. My favorite has become the Whitebox Alcohol stove, no moving parts, weighs one ounce and is almost indestructible. It is completely silent and smoke free. If I run out of fuel, three rocks and a handful of sticks about thumb size will get the job done too and I rarely need any kind of knife to make a fire in normal conditions.

    I do like to read a lot and found the book mentioned way earlier on this thread by Chris Townsend. I have already read two of this books years ago, Walking the Yukon and his book on walking the Arizona Trail. He is not an ultra-light hiker and in this recommended book which I found at a library a couple nights ago, he said he tried ultra-light and personally would not want to do it with such minimal gear for long but if you are interested in high mileage and stoic enough in camp in bad weather, this could be for you. But he is also pragmatic, though I did not agree with some things in his book, some are good. He states; “When, where and for how long determines what you carry for any walk. You need to know the weather, the terrain and the environment and you should prepare for the most extreme conditions you may encounter... And good gear is not a substitute for skill.” Sounds reasonable advice and something some of us practice anyway. He is not a great writer and his book on backpacking is elementary for the most part, a little boring in places and very focused on him to a large extent but there were a few gems within.

    I did like this one quote he used; “Pushing on through rain and mud and sludgy snow, crossing many brown, boulder-choked torrents, wading, jumping and wallowing in snow up to my shoulders was mountaineering of the most trying kind. -Travels in Alaska, John Muir “
  6. neeman

    neeman Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    The mountains and hills in the British Isles don't have a tree line
    there is the occasional Forestry Commission woods
    But for the most part you are in open countryside

    Look at pictures and you will not see woods and forests


    Feb 23, 2000
    There are woods everywhere. A good few forests too.
    In certain parts of Wales and Scotland it is high enough for a tree line.
    Quite true though the whole Isles are a fully managed land and have been for some considerable time.

    My view from my house, probably what Hobbit country was based on:

    Huge variety of weather conditions too. In Scotland I've had rain , driving rain, absolutely still with sun almost hot, back to sleet and two foot of snow to finish off with; all within in 12 hours. I know because I was standing in it. But thats stalking in the Highlands for you.

    We do not have the violent extremes that can be found in the USA.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2016
  8. XamaX


    Dec 28, 2012

    Look at pictures?

    Sorry if I sound a tad pedantic old bean- but if there are no woods or Forests here in good old Blighty then how do I find myself working here?


    OK. so it is just 3500 acres of managed woodland but does that not count?

  9. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    It counts. Trees are pretty small. The eastern US has the National Forests which are managed.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2016


    Feb 23, 2000
    The USA is vast, and every environment and habitat found somewhere within its boundaries. Very lucky you are too.
    USA huge, population 320 million. GB tiny, population 64 million. Think you have some space to breath. I've always been immensely impressed when visiting the USA. I love GB too as it has some variety too.
    Still doesn't change my views on whats practical knife wise for any given scenario. Human needs don't change much where ever you are. There is a base list of tools, just take your pick depending on what you think is right for you.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2016
  11. B34NS


    Dec 30, 2013
    Reminds me a bit of the South Downs, are you near there? Lovely country.
  12. Quiet

    Quiet "That guy" Platinum Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    ...wow, really? Dude, go to any of the locations I've ever dug a cathole at and try to find it. Same logic. Whoooooossshhhhh right over your head. :thumbup:
  13. Quiet

    Quiet "That guy" Platinum Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    So, wild boar, deer, bears, big cats, how many hours have you spent cleaning that mess up? None of that scat belongs on the trail or in the woods, right?

    Right? :)


    Feb 23, 2000
    Not far, South Coast, Hastings over the hill.
    Not the best picture but I had it handy. Looks different by the seasons. Valley fills with mist and sometimes floods. Very picturesque, normally cows and sheep in the fields.
    Scotland in summer (where I'll be going for Christmas):
  15. Quiet

    Quiet "That guy" Platinum Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    As I said, some serious cognitive dissonance going on here. Animals have been crapping in the woods since there were animals, and since woods came to be.

    Apparently, Leghog and some other folks only spend time in super high traffic areas of the outdoors. Most of the places I've been, no one goes there, and we didn't see any signs whatsoever of any human habitation. Of course, that can't be possible, since according to some, there are no truly isolated areas anymore. Ah well. Guess I'll just get in line with these guys and walk those same old trails all the other hikers do.

    LOL just kidding, I'll keep camping way out in the woods away from other folks.
  16. Quiet

    Quiet "That guy" Platinum Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    You're most welcome! Also, no sir, Adamsville Tennessee! Tiny little armpit of a town:


    Home of the Beaufort Pusser Museum of "Walking Tall" fame. It's pretty ridiculous, but entertaining at the same time.

    I will also say that we have never seen that cougar or any others again. He's the reason that whenever we are there, we carry firearms with us now.


    Feb 23, 2000
    Quiet, its not all about you. We are talking about the accumulative effect. Put enough catholes in a small area and it makes a difference. So long as people think what they are doing then thats fine. Lots of people just don't, and don't care.
    I'm sure you do think what you are doing. You are fortunate to get off the well beaten track, not every one can.
  18. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    Adjust your methods for the environment you're in within reason. I personally see no problem with the cat hole approach. Toilet paper degrades pretty quickly, just bury it.

    Lots of deer in West Tennessee.
  19. Quiet

    Quiet "That guy" Platinum Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    Green, I wanted to say that I have appreciated and enjoyed all of your posts in this thread. I haven't been able to reply to many of them, because I think you and I are on the same page more or less, so I didn't want to have fifteen responses of "What this guy said!"

    Like you, I carry a water filtration device, as well as pills as backup. I actually carry multiples, and why not, they're so light these days, ya know? What's probably more amusing is that I generally only bring my little rocket stove and its required fuel cannisters when I am car camping, because I enjoy how fast it brings water to a boil for coffee in the mornings while I'm getting breakfast going on the Coleman propane double-burner stove.

    When I am making an effort to get by with a minimal amount of gear, it's just a ferro rod and a BIC lighter. I'll make a fire and cook over that.
  20. Quiet

    Quiet "That guy" Platinum Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    I am coming to this understanding pretty clearly by this point in the thread. I am fortunate that I can just park at a trailhead somewhere and just hike off into the woods whenever I care to, and can work my way through to some thicket where no one has ever camped, turf out a small fire ring, and BOOM, instant camp. I have to say that I would probably not spend much time hiking or camping if my main recourse was having to do it where a lot of other people are coming through or staying. It'd be like getting into a bed that's already warm from someone else's body, like on a submarine. Thanks, but no thanks!

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