Tough Tuesdays

Misty Mountain By Julian Hills

Staying Alive While Camping

Most of my posts have been – and will continue to be – about the techniques and items that will best help you enjoy your long trip (or short) into the wilderness with a tent.

This post, while still under that large umbrella, is a little more on-the-nose. I’m going to cover a type of little tool that could help keep you alive if you get separated from your group. This kind of tool is also something every solo camper and hiker should carry with them.

Small enough to fit in a pocket, and very multifunctional:

This example of these little gadgets can help you find where you are to get where you’re going, can help start a fire, can let you know if the elements are starting to get dangerous, and can light your way.


*** A note about flint strikers: they are never great. They just aren’t. Even the best ones are only somewhat actually good. Use your pocket knife. If you’re a flintknapper, use your chert.***

The list of accessories:

  • compass
  • whistle (I prefer my boatswain, but it doesn’t fit easily in a small pocket much less in a kit)
  • flint (and striker, see above in blue)
  • flashlight (LED) 
  • magnifier (with a ruler edge)
  • mirror (the slit is a signal site, and to keep it from warping in the case)
  • level (I’ve never used one for camping, but maybe if you’re first starting to create fire pits in the middle of nowhere and don’t want everything slowly sliding downhill?)
  • thermometer
  • hygrometer 

It’s all in a little (3″ x 1-1/2″ x 1″) plastic case, with a wrist strap lanyard. It comes with batteries, but you’ll want an extra set on you during your trip.



It’s like a barometer or thermometer. It measures the humidity in the air.

Now, you may be asking yourself: “Mar, I get the thermometer part; but I’m outside, why do I care what the humidity is?”

“Well”, memory me tells you as you read this to yourself, “When you’re outside a lot, you get used to the conditions you’re in. If it’s hot for a long time, you acclimate to the heat but maybe don’t drink enough to compensate. As it starts to get cold, you feel like the air is freezing sooner than when you feel when you’re used to the cold. A hygrometer lets you know the humidity, so you can tell if the temperature and humidity are getting dangerous. This is especially important for those with breathing issues, as well as elders and the very young.” [and don’t go trying to tell me babies don’t camp, my first volunteer outing was a camping trip with Camp Fire when I was 3 days old]

Just as you would use the thermometer to check if it’s really hot or you need to worry about the symptoms of overheating, you can use the hygrometer to check what the conditions really are, and adjust your activity level accordingly.


Compass, Whistle & Flashlight

I’m assuming you know how these are important to keep with you, but just in case:

Compass: While everyone tends to have a GPS-enabled something with them, an actual compass (and knowing how to use it) can become vital in drastic situations.

Whistle: Much like college campuses, whistles can be used to draw immediate attention to your location. If you end up separated from the group, or need to contact safety personnel, a whistle can be easy to use even when you’re physically unwell.

Flashlight: You really can’t have too many small flashlights when camping. Carry one with you, and leave others at your regular locations.



Emergency Blankets

One thing no multipurpose tool has built in is an emergency blanket. They’re cheap and tiny. Carrying one while camping or hiking for any “expected” length of time is worth it.

Emergency blankets help keep you warm by conserving your own heat near your body. If you find yourself in a situation where you run the risk of becoming too cold, through temperature OR precipitation, use your emergency blanket. Don’t wait until it might be too hard to unfold it.

Some first aid kits come with one, and some don’t. Buy an extra, either way. I’ve found myself in situations where my brother slept in his emergency blanket, inside his sleeping bag, burrito’d into a tarp {that health issue I mentioned}. They can save your life, but they’re also good during severe cold snaps when you’re expecting mild weather.

If you are camping with kids, buy enough for each one. Even when kids are small, pairing them together means it’s likely they’ll cause open gaps as they fidget. If you end up using them, make sure the kids don’t completely cover their faces when they wrap up in them. Slow suffocation still causes death, or at least brain damage (there’s really no ‘least’ here, it’s all just awful). Not a risk worth taking.


One thing I didn’t cover here is food and drink. I’ve mentioned it before, but the varieties of both make a quick summary difficult. Basically, you want a lot of calories fast, with a protein backer to sustain it all. Powerade with fruit leather and peanut butter crackers is always an easy fix, allergies aside.



So, what do you tink of my fast coverage of a multipurpose tool to help you stay alive? Do you have anything you keep with you at all times? Leave a comment below and share with us!!

Leave a comment below and share with us!!

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I'm (now) an Affiliate, who blogs about the materials, gear and supplies needed for living in a tent and long term camping: http://longtermcamping.siterubix.com I also enjoy reading and sci-fi in all its many forms.

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