The “Rule of Threes” is often introduced as a means of mental preparation in training for wilderness survival: 3 seconds, 3 minutes, 3 hours, 3 days, 3 months. In this video and article, we’re looking at the first 3 seconds and the next 3 minutes.
Outdoor recreation demands the mitigation of risk through training and good judgement. Lapses in skill, lack of judgement, or simply the unpredictability of nature, can leave adventurers in situations that require definitive, immediate action.
In the wilderness, your environment can change in moments. In 3 seconds, a monitored, controlled situation can become dangerous and out of control. When that happens, you don’t have the time to prepare for an emergency; you should have already done that. Here are a few examples of what poor judgment, lack of competence, or simply “the whims of nature” can create:
- In April of 2016, a 72 year old woman got lost crossing the Nevada desert. She, and her dog, survived nine days stranded and survived off of pond water and desert plants. She was rescued and, other than minor injury due to exposure, was in good health.
- In May of 2015, a 25 year old man was paralyzed on the side of a 14,000 foot peak in Colorado. Fortunately, his friends had made the right decisions and came prepared for an emergency. He survived and is able to walk again due to their actions.
- In July of 2017, a 71 year old woman spent 6 days lost in the Olympic peninsula. Her knowledge and experience allowed her to find water, create shelter, become visible and remain positive. Because of her good judgement and skills she survived this experience.
Preparation covers several key elements to your survival: your equipment, your skills, and your training. For the purpose of this series, the first point is easy, I’ve chosen the TrailBlade and the Forest Axe as the equipment I’m going to rely on. However, regardless the piece of equipment you choose, it’s critical that you are comfortable with its use and aware of its limitations.
For this series, my idea is to pay tribute to the independent, self-reliance of cultures that prepare themselves to walk into the jungle with a machete, or the woods with an axe, and survive with that one basic tool. I mentioned in my last article that I’d be using a Wetterlings axe and a machete made by Palawan Blade. Here’s a little more in-depth introduction.
The TrailBlade Machete
This blade’s design is taken from a traditional machete perfected in the mountain jungles of the Philippine island of Palawan. The materials used in construction are the among the best that modern technology can produce, with a Micarta handle and a blade made from S35VN steel, I can be confident that the TrailBlade is tough enough to take any challenge I can throw its way. The TrailBlade Machete works great for chopping, with a blade geometry that ensures it won’t get stuck in a log or tree. This tool also has a razor sharp blade, balanced in a manner that allows it to be used for detail carving and finer bushcraft tasks. The back of the blade is built wide and works well as a hammer, while the tip can be used for digging for edible roots. I love the balance and versatility of this tool.
Wetterling’s Forest Axe
This axe is hand forged in Sweden by one of twelve master smiths and has a reputation among survival students and experts as a reliable and elegant survival tool. It’s constructed from Swedish Carbon Steel with special alloys. The handle is made from American hickory and the tool comes with a 20 year warranty. The blade comes sharp enough to shave with and in the right hands, serves for chopping, hammering, and carving. I value the history and tradition that surrounds this tool.
In my opinion, these two tools are closely matched in versatility and functionality.
Skills and Training
The second and third elements of preparation are really what we’re going to be exploring in this series. For example, if the skill is the knowledge and ability to build a friction fire or an Ojibwa bird snare, then the training is performing that skill in a variety of environments, with sufficient repetition, so when you’re freezing cold you can still create a friction fire, and when you haven’t eaten in 2 or 3 days you can still build and bait a snare.
This point brings us to the first three minutes of a survival situation: in these three minutes in a hostile environment you will be relying completely on your training. This reliance upon your training has an abundance of examples in lifestyles or industries that I would call high-consequence. For example, in whitewater kayaking it’s grabbing eddies and avoiding keepers when you take a swim in a bad spot; in mountaineering, it’s self-arresting on a glacier after making a bad crampon placement.
Your training will give you exactly what you put into it. Training’s role in your survival is the same component that firefighters rely on when entering a burning building. If you’ve never built a friction fire in less than ideal conditions, with less than ideal components, don’t be surprised when you can’t knock one out in a damp forest – especially if you’re attempting it in January when your fingers feel like they’re frozen solid.
In today’s society, there are few times when necessity requires us to apply wilderness survival training in our day-to-day lives. If you want the training, you have to be intentional about getting it.
Taking it to the Jungle
Fortunately, I’ve been given a really amazing opportunity to visit a culture where necessity still drives competence in wilderness bushcraft. Over the next two weeks, I’ll be visiting the Palawano people group of the Philippines. I will be exploring the use of the TrailBlade in its native environment and learning skills involving the use of the TrailBlade.
Be watching for our next video and article. Our team, here at Palawan Blade, are excited to share some of the history and culture that surrounds the effectiveness of the TrailBlade.