Friday, December 20, 2013

A Great Emergency Bush Stove

We here at BTF love the opportunity to test out products that either claim to be geared for survival or products that could be used for survival. We like to test them to their breaking point to determine whether those products are truly capable of saving your life in a winter survival emergency. There is a major difference between camping gear and survival gear. Make no mistake - Survival is the difference between life and death. Therefor the right gear is very important. 

The other day while wandering through the local Canadian Tire I spotted a product that peeked my interest. I had seen them before however had never thought of testing them. I took a moment and picked the product up and was immediately engaged with the packaging claims. So for $8.99 I thought it was well worth the risk. 

The product is the Magic Heat Stove. A product that considers itself great for everything from Tailgate Cooking to Natural Disasters.  It claims it will provide 6 hours of heat and is safe to hold,  safe to use with no evaporating fuel. It also claims to be better than gel fuels. The pictures show the Magic Heat Stove cooking a stir fry and heating a Haybox. 

What intrigue me about this product was its lightweight, portability and obvious simplicity. The system runs with a small fuel canister with a screw top covering a soaked wick. Together with a small tin wind shield and steel cross members as the burner top. These 3 items put together make a simple looking bush stove. 

However, products are not often tested to their breaking point by folks like us. So yesterday I had the opportunity to be on the Bat Lake Trail in Algonquin Park for a training day.  With a few minutes to kill I prepped a small area off the trail to test. I lit the Magic Stove and constructed the burner setup. I then took out my survival tin from my pack and packed it full with the fresh snow. 

As most of you are aware, hydration is so vital to your survival. Therefor the ability to turn snow into water and bring it to a boil could be the difference between living or dying. 

Within 15 minutes I was pleasantly surprised to see the melted snow boiling as clean water.  It was a strong rolling boiling capable of sustaining the snow melting process to produce a great amount of drinking water. 

For the 2nd portion of the test I dismantled the 3 parts and buried them in the snow and carried on with the snowshoeing we were there to do. Approx. 1 hour later I returned and constructed the stove again. I then lit the wick with no issues at all. This was a great test to determine how the product would work when frozen and wet. 

Another great reason to have this product is amount of heat it produces quickly. If you've been submerged in ice cold water you have very little time to screw around before you'll find your fine motor skills disappear. This stove allows for quick easy lighting and can rewarm your hands to allow you to function 

This is another product that I will now carry with me. The simplicity and reliability is worth well more than $8.99. Go out and get one. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Winter Wonderland or Winter Emergency

Although its only the first day of December a quick glance outside here in Eastern Ontario reveals mid January type conditions. The roads are snow covered, the bush is deep with snow and the trees are heavy with the white stuff. 

For those who love this time of year and all of its outdoor activities this early arrival of winter is an exciting time. With that excitement comes a danger that is often overlooked. Unfortunately most winter enthusiasts are heading outside ill prepared for a winter emergency. 

Whether you are heading out on the snowmobile for the first time or strapping on the snowshoes to enjoy the powder you must be prepared. Here at Beyond the Fire School of Survival we always say "Prepare Today... Survive Tomorrow" and we live by this mindset.  If you escape to the great outdoors prepared for anything rarely will you find yourself in an emergency. If you venture out ill prepared for the dangers of winter adventure than you run a very real risk of suffering a scary fate. 

Regardless of your choice of adventure here is a list of kit you should have with you whether your intent is a quick trip on the sled or a half day hike in the back country. 

  • First Aid supplies
  • Matches, lighter, candle
  • Headlamp with new batteries
  • Spare socks, hat, gloves
  • Folding draw saw
  • Granola bar
  • Water
This list could go on and on however the larger the list the less likely people would carry it. This list is realistic and could save your life. Remember our Circle of Survival poster. Each of these items fulfills a need on that Circle. This list is light weight and easy to carry. 

As we enjoy the beauty of the Canadian winter we must respect its ruggedness and ability to test or knowledge, skills and abilities.  Never explore without the necessary tools to survive in the event that Mother Nature decides to unload her furry.