The following article was taken from the January 2013 issue of Parachutist (p.69) to help spread
safety in skydiving.
Between 2005 and 2010, there have been reports of at
least six jumpers who experienced locked main containers after their main closing pins pierced
their pilot-chute bridles when they attempted to deploy. Thankfully, all of the jumpers were able
to successfully deploy their reserve canopies past their main pilot chutes and land uneventfully.
Since the problem first came to light, the manufacturers have addressed the issue in various ways.
Most bridles consist of two layers of type-III ribon-weave-nylon tape rated for a tensile strength
of 525 pounds. Some riggers suggested replacing this bridle material with type-IV square-weave-nylon
tape, which has a much stronger tensile strength of 1,000 pounds. Aerodyne Research started adding
Kevlar reinforcement between the two layers of tape near the pin
area of the bridle, but no other manufacturers think this would help since the pin can still
pierce the outer layer and lock the bridle. United Parachute Technologies offered an
alternate routing method
for the bridle on its sport containers. This is essentially the same method that Parachute
Laboratories Inc. (Jump Shack) has always used for routing the bridle on its Racer container.
So, where does this leave the jumper who is concerned about this type of malfunction? Like everything
else in skydiving, opinions vary depending on whom you talk to. Although some jumpers and riggers are
convinced that using different bridle materials would solve the problem, most of the manufacturers
seem to think that the standard packing method works as long as the bridle is routed and packed
properly. Others feel that using an alternate method of bridle routing, from the bottom of the flaps,
is the answer. With all the uncertainty, it is probably best to speak with the manufacturer of your
particular container. But perhaps most importantly, you need to realize that this type of malfunction
exists and, although there are several possible ways to avoid it, you need to be prepared to take
action if you are ever faced with a locked container and a trailing pilot chute. (The USPA Skydiver's
Information Manual Section 5-1 E discusses the pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction.) So far, in each
instance, the outcome has been a successful reserve deployment, but it's always best to avoid a
malfunction in the first place.
Big Titted Rich Ladies
When closing your parachute container flaps, remember the acronym "Big Titted Rich Ladies" for
the correct order to close your flaps in (Bottom, Top, Right, Left). This applies to the majority
of containers, but double check with your container manufacturer before closing your flaps in
Snow Shelf for Drinking Water
To keep drinking or cooking water from freezing overnight, fill a pot 3/4 from the top. Put the
covered pot in a cubbyhole you've carved into a snow wall and pack it in with snow. The snow
works as insulation and in the morning, the water will still be liquid. This tip will not work
in subzero temperatures, however is useful for temperatures slightly below freezing.
The "Hole In One" Solution
Golfer's towels, with their grommets and hook, make ideal backpacking towels. They are the
perfect size and can easily be hung for quick access or drying. Get different colored towels
and designate one for washing hands, feet, pits; the other should be used only for washing
Knots For Dummies
Out of the hundreds of knots there are only four must-know knots: bowline, half hitch, overhand,
and fisherman's. These four knots are not the only knots you should ever learn. They are just
the camping prerequisite. You probably already know how to tie an overhand. Now just learn the
other three by getting a knot book.
No Anchor Point? No Problem
If you need to fasten a rope to a tent or tarp that is lacking grommets or loops, place a
smooth rock, about an inch in diameter, on the underside of the fabric in the area you want
to tie off. Form a pocket around the stone by gathering the fabric into a "neck" under it.
Tie your rope around the neck, pinching the rock into the fabric to create a secure anchor point.
Use a pencil to make notes during military operations or if you are leaving notes in the
wilderness. Ink will smear when it becomes wet. You can use pen on pencil on waterproof
paper, which is a slightly more expensive solution.
Carrying Liquids in Small Doses
Eye-drop bottles are a great way to carry small amounts of Tabasco, soap, first-aid disinfectant
or any liquid used in small amounts. Remove the dropper spout and thoroughly wash the bottle and
spout with a mild bleach solution before refilling.
Improvised Bear Bagging
Hoisting your food up into a tree is nothing new but our suggestions make it more bear-proof
and easier. Begin with a bag big enough for all your food, pots, water, and toiletries. Load
em all in and look for branch just large enough to support the weight. Make sure the branch
is at least 12 feet from the ground. Before tossing the rope over, put a rock in a small bag
(like the one your tent stakes came in) and tie it to one end of the rope. Tossing the bag
with a rock in it, instead of just the rope itself, makes it easier to get the rope up and
over the branch exactly where you want it. Make sure the rope is positioned at least 4 feet
from the tree trunk. Now tie the rope to your bear bag and hoist it up. Untie the bag with the
rock, and tie that end of the rope to a nearby tree above head level.
A broken tent pole is threatening to ruin your annual family camping trip. Some tents come with
a repair sleeve, but there are other solutions. As long as you don't need to hold it up in
serious weather, you can splint a tent pole with a branch. Use medical tape, dental floss, duct
tape, or anything else you can improvise with.
Use some cord to set guy lines in windy conditions. Moderate gusts can destroy loosely rigged
tents, even expedition models.
The best solution is a little PMCS on your tent before the trip. Remove burrs from the male ends
of your tent poles with a file or sand paper. They can cause jams and torn fabric. Lightly
lubricate the male ends once a year. Also tighten the elastic cord that runs through the tent
poles by pulling the cord tighter, retying the knot, and cutting off excess elastic.
Run candle stubs along the edge of a saw blade to help it glide better. Before starting to sew
a tough material, like denim or canvas, stick the needle into a bar of soap. The coating will
help the needle slide more easily through the fabric. To help shed burrs easily, rub the laces
of your hiking boots with wax before hitting the trail. To protect your feet from blisters,
smear soap on the inside of your inner sock at the heel and underneath the toes. Carry along a
bar of soap and when you feel your feet become tender, give it a try.
Campsite Cutting Boards
A plastic coffee can lid or margarine lid makes a great camping cutting board. Its light
weight, doesnt take up any space and will last a few trips. When youve worn it out, it
can be recycled back home. Equally good cutting boards can be made from the thick plastic
used in bacon packs. They arent quite as durable as the lids, but you may as well get some
extra use of them before throwing them out.
Old oven racks can be used for fire grills. Refrigerator shelves should not be used because they
will release toxic gasses when heated.
Cayenne Pepper: Eat It or Wear It
I love that fragrance youre wearing. What is it, cayenne? Keep your hands and feet warm by
sprinkling a little cayenne pepper in your socks and glove liners. Sounds crazy but it works.
Your hands and feet may be temporarily stained red, but the warmth is worth it.
To keep mosquitoes away, rub the inside of an orange peel on your face, arms, and legs.
It might make you a little sticky but you'll smell better and keep those mosquitoes away.
To keep mosquitoes at bay, apply DEET to the brim of your hat, and spray or rub it generously
on a bandana at the back of your neck with the point hanging down on your chest. If you don't
wash the bandana, you can reduce the daily application of DEET with no reduction in protection.
To make meal clean up easier, rub bar soap or dish soap on the bottom of your cookware before
use. Residue and black soot will come right off!
A Remedy For Old Prescription Bottles
Prescription bottles or 35mm film containers can be used to hold some handy survival
gear. The push-down-and-turn-to-open cap gives it a watertight seal:
Keep batteries in an appropriate size container to ensure that they don't accidentally run down.
Keep your waterproofed matches in them.
Pack them full of tinder.
Pack it full with your favorite survival kit, such as fish hooks, fishing line, straight razor, safety pin, and needle and thread.
Store some ibuprofen, vitamins, or allergy medicine in them.
Keep your spices, sugars, and other foodstuffs in them since they're food-safe.
Pack medicated talc to sooth tired feet and comb it through your hair for a dry shampoo when it's too cold to wash or when water is scarce.
Baking Soda... Not Just For Baking
Baking soda packed in an old prescription bottle has a lot of uses on the trail. Mix it with water
to make a paste that sooths insect bites, bee stings, or poison ivy. Sprinkle it in your sleeping
bag and boots to get rid of odors. You can use it as toothpaste, deodorant, and to prevent chafing.
Use it to clean your water bladder, dishes, silverware, and cookware.
Elevation + Cold = Burning Difficulties
This tip applies to stoves and lighters. Premium or triple refined fuel is recommended for use
at higher elevations or extremely cold temperatures. Move the flame adjustment ring toward the
plus sign to improve lighter ignition at higher elevations. Your flame will burn higher this way,
but the downside is you will use more fuel.
Steel Wool Fire-Starter
Connect fine-grade steel wool to the positive and negative terminals of a 9-volt battery, or
to a pair of 6-volt AA batteries held in series. Pull the steel wool apart, but keep it bunched
into one big ball. One roll of steel wool will give less than 10 seconds of fire and a lot of
smoldering, so have your kindling ready to go. This is one our least favorite fire starting
methods for several reasons:
It doesn't burn for very long.
How often are you in a survival situation with some extra steel wool on hand?
It will not burn if it's wet.
Petroleum jelly soaked cotton balls will burn for 5 minutes, stay waterproof, and take
up less space.
Dryer Lint Tinder
This highly-flammable, otherwise useless material works great for an extra punch in fire
starting. Start by collecting the lint from several loads of laundry. 4-5 loads usually
produces enough lint to tightly pack an empty film canister. For instant gratification,
just head to your neighborhood laundromat and clean out their lint screens. Hey, throw in
some belly button lint while youre at it. If you have trouble getting your fire going on
the trail, just whip out your dryer lint and wrap some around your tinder. This stuff really
CharCloth is cloth-like charcoal that will hold an ember while you bundle tinder around it and blow. It's made by putting cotton cloth in a tin, and then putting the tin over some hot coals for 20-30 minutes. Make a CharCloth tin by punching a 1/4" hole into the lid. This will allow smoke to escape. When you remove the tin from the heat, leave the tin closed until it has cooled. This will keep you from burning your hands and dropping your CharCloth.
While this is a handy skill to have in your back-pocket for extended survival situations, we found that it is impractical for backpacking trips under ~10 days. This is mostly because after your CharCloth catches an ember, you have to nurse the ember into a full fledged fire. It is much easier to use a film canister or pill bottle packed with petroleum jelly and dryer lint. One canister can last you roughly 10days, and your fire starts instantly. For longer trips where you'll come across cotton that you'll be able to cannibalize, CharCloth would provide a weight savings that would make it a more viable option.
Nature's Fire Starter
Pitch is whats known as the ooze found on pines and other evergreens. This sticky stuff is a
headache to rinse out of your clothing, but add a teaspoon of it to your kindling and your fire
will start right up.
Pencil Sharpener Tinder
Remember these pencil sharpeners from when you were a kid? They also work great for making tinder
in damp or snowy environments. Find a stick that's about the size of a pencil, and shave it down
with a knife so that it fits into the sharpener. You should get nice dry tinder that burns well.
The best part - if you're camping with your kids, this is a child safe chore that they can help with!
The little plastic tags from bread and bun packages are great for pinning up wet bathing suits
and towels at camp, and they take up a lot less packing space than clothespins.
Coffee Filter Not Just For Coffee
If you have white gas or any other stove fuel that has been sitting around the house for a long
time, the impurities have likely settled to the bottom. Filter them out by using a standard
coffee filter to pour through next time you fill your camp stove. Your stove will burn cleaner
and the fuel line will be less likely to clog.
You can also use coffee filters to filter drinking water. First run water through the coffee
filter to get any debris out. Then use purification tablets to kill any parasite, bacteria,
Coffee filters have yet another use. When you're cleaning your rifle or handgun, use dirty
solvent again by running it through a coffee filter.
De-nastify Your Drinking System
To remove the "plastic" taste from your drinking system, we recommend occasional rinsing
in the following manner: Mix equal parts white vinegar and water and pour into the
bladder. Shake. Drain and then mix 2 cups water with 2 tablespoons baking soda. Pour
into the bladder and shake again. drain and do a final fill with regularly water then
drain. Vinegar is the cleaning agent and baking soda neutralizes odor.
When figuring out the time required to get to your destination versus how many hours are
left in the day, use this trick to get a rough estimate. Extend your arm and place a fist
beneath the sun, followed by your other fist. Continue counting fists until you reach the
horizon. Each fist represents roughly one hour.
When it's late afternoon and you're wondering whether you should pitch camp, use this trick
to figure out how much daylight is left. Hold your hand in front of you with your arm
extended and palm facing in. Align the bottom of your hand with the horizon, then count
fingers until you reach the sun. If it's early, you'll need more than five fingers. Each
finger equals roughly 10 minutes of daylight.
Put A Sock In It
Keep critters out of your boot at night by pulling your sock over your boot. Insects like
scorpions or animals like snakes may decide to climb into the damp warm shelter known as your
We've all heard of using foot powder and nylon socks if you have problems with chafing,
severe swelling, blisters, or heat rash, but here's a new one. Rub on a thin
layer of Noxzema Cream prior to powdering your feet and putting on your socks
or sock liners. The thin oily layer will help your foot slide around easier and reduce the
friction on your foot.
Skin Glide and Hydropel work great for reducing friction, but they can cost $7 per ounce.
Other options that are less expensive and work quit as well are Chamois Butt'r Creme,
Bag Balm, Queen Helene's Cocoa Butter Creme, Udderly Smooth, and Noxzema Cream. We recommend
Noxzema Cream because the majority of its ingredients are lubricants and frangrances, and, best
of all, it is less than fifty cents per ounce. Still want to buy that Hydropel or Skin Glide?
The only product I would avoid is Vaseline. If it gets on your moisture wicking performance ware,
expensive merino wool hiking socks, or your high speed bike saddle, it WILL NOT come out in the
Nylon Sock Liners
Reduce the friction against your skin buy using boot length nylon socks. They can be
found in the hosiery section of any drug store or clothing store. Many expensive hiking
socks are woven with the same material found in nylon socks. Before buying $20 hiking
socks, try wearing some nylons under your regular wool socks and you'll save yourself
some money and some blisters.
Drying Wet Socks
It sounds bizarre, but those wet socks will dry faster if you drape them over your
waistband and down into your pants as you walk. Flip the socks over and move them
around to different areas of your waistband periodically. This works because the dry
pant material will help absorb some of the moisture from the sock and your body heat
does the rest of the work. You can also secure them to the top of your ruck to let
the air circulation dry them but you increase the chance of losing them that way.
(Obviously you will need to squeeze or wring the bulk of the water out first, before
trying either of these methods, knuckle head.)
Aloe Vera Gel for Shaving
Aloe vera gel is handy to keep in your camp gear for skin irritations and sunburn, and it also
works as a great shaving gel. A small amount of aloe vera lotion will cover a large area so
you dont need a lot. If your aloe vera gel is alcohol based, it will also act as an aftershave.
Either way, if the Grizzly Adams look isnt what youre going for in the great outdoors, a
little aloe vera gel will guarantee a nice, comfortable shave.
If you run out of sunscreen or forgot to pack it, white toothpaste can be used in an emergency
to cover crucial areas and prevent burning. This only works with white toothpaste, so don't
bother using blue gel toothpaste unless you just want to smell minty fresh.
Truly All Natural Lip Balm
Did you lose the lip balm, forget to pack it, or did you run out? No problem. Just rub your
fingers on the sides of your nose. Gather up all the facial oil and rub it on your lips. Most
lip balms are petroleum based, or they use oils from various plants. The oil from your face
works just as well. The closer you are to your teenage years, the better this tip works.
There is much truth in the old sailor's adage "Red in the morning, sailors' warning. Red at night,
sailors' delight." Warning indicates rain is on the way. Delight, of course, means clear skies.
If the sun is obscured by clouds, you can still signal an aircraft by placing your strobe light
against your signal mirror. When signaling, extend your left arm and make a "V" with your left
hand. Position your hand so the aircraft is inside the "V". Aim your signal mirror so the light
first shines at the apex of the "V" and then raise the light toward the aircraft. This will
guarantee that your signal mirror is aimed directly at the aircraft.
When staking a tent or a large mast antenna in a windy environment, you should double stake
your tent pegs. This is extremely important when staking into soft ground, such as sand or
shale. Drive the stakes deep into the ground and tie them in tandem. This double staking method
can handle more stress than a single stake. It increases the holding power of the stakes.
First off, Delta Gear recommends that if you want to run barefoot that you stay on grass or dirt trails
to prevent injuries such as stress fractures or metatarsal breaks. We do not recommend running barefoot
on concrete, and if you do so, you do it at your own risk. That said, here's an interesting article from
contributing author, and running maniac, Kurt Stein.
Five-fingered shoes all induced blisters, and minimalist shoes like Nike Frees weren't bad to switch
to for race day after you eliminate heal-striking by running barefoot. But when I talk about barefoot
running, I mean barefoot running. Bare feet on concrete. My experience has been overwhelmingly
positive and has forced me to reconsider some of the ways that I have viewed running, or
fitness in general.
While training in shoes for the Little Rock Marathon last spring, I really irritated a neuroma that
I had in my right foot. I had felt this thing flare up before but always attributed it to new shoes
or having shoes laced too tightly. I was getting a bit burnt out after about 8 months of rigorously
following a marathon plan. I struggled through the marathon but finished and in a great deal
of pain. After the marathon, I had vowed to take a little break and give barefooting
a try. Well, six weeks after the marathon, I did.
Now, giving up your miles as a runner is a tough pill to swallow. I constantly defined myself by my
miles totals and my splits. Going from running 8-9 minute miles to 10-12 minutes miles was a bit
embarrassing. But I did it. After about 2-3 weeks, I couldn't stand going slow anymore! I laced my
shoes up and went out for a run. After one run, I knew it didn't feel right; I couldn't stand how
sweaty my feet felt or how cushioned the trainers felt on my feet. So...back to exclusive barefooting.
You have to start slow. I started out by running about a mile at a time, every other day - which was
probably still too much. After a couple of weeks, I bumped it to 1.5 miles, then 2 miles, and eventually
most days I was running 3 miles. Occasionally, my feet would bother me and I would run a couple of times
in some Luna sandals but most of the time I would run barefoot. After a barefoot run, I would always just
feel so good. Like I had a good workout but never felt beat up. After a good run in shoes, I always felt
a bit beat up. It could be that I was running slower.
The neuroma does not bother me in sandals or when running barefoot. It just doesn't. My toes spread out
more and the firm ground (or firm, flat sole) doesn't push on the irritated part of my foot. Every
cushioned trainer I have tried irritates it (except for the Mizuno Wave Rider, strangely). Most "minimal"
trainers irritate it - especially any shoe by Merrell. As a sort of gear whore, I always like looking at
shoes and thinking that there might be other paths to success but this is always elusive. Running on bare
soles just feels great. It is cheaper. Sure, I am slower - MUCH SLOWER - but that doesn't really matter
if I can run injury free and happier. Plus, it is cheaper. I was going through shoes once every couple of
months before. Now, I have a few pair of Luna Sandals (which aren't cheap), they don't really have as many
"moving parts" and thus don't need to be replaced as often.
Now, here are the questions folks ask me and what I generally say. These are pretty close to the FAQs you
might see on any BFR board:
Does it hurt? Yes. Your feet are sensitive and stepping on crap hurts. But they are also OVERLY sensitive
and what might feel like it really hurts - like stepping on a pebble - generally won't cause any real
Does it burn your feet? Yes. But see the first question. I have successfully run on blacktop with temps
in the 90s where I thought my feet were literally cooking. Though the running was not entirely comfortable,
after I got off of the hot surface, my feet were fine. I would imagine there is some threshold where this
is no longer the case and your feet will blister from the temperature.
What about glass, razor blades, needles? While there are all sorts of hazards potentially out there, I try
my hardest to not step on things that might hurt my feet. Keep in mind, your feet are not as delicate as
you think. I have stepped on glass and wire before, which I would expect to break skin but it has not
Don't your feet need support? The theory is that running on bare soles exercises and restores the muscles
of your foot. Now, I recently might have overdone it and stressed my posterior tibial muscle tissue, but
I think that the theory is generally correct. Your muscles do the work of cushioning your landing rather
than the foam in your shoes.
Again, I am not really an expert on any of these and I don't really like to listen to those that push
irrational nonsense. But what I do know is that I really enjoy running again and that I feel great
before and after. There's one thing you can count on when barefooting, most people will look at you like
you're crazy. If that doesn't discourage you and you give it an honest try, you may find that
it just sort of makes sense.
Before you throw your sneakers away and barefoot it down running trails, read this. Running
with shoes is actually more efficient than running barefoot, according to a CU-Boulder study
that measured how much oxygen people consumed and how much carbon dioxide they produced while running.
Researchers state that running in lightweight shoes requires 3 to 4 percent less energy than running
Here's a hygiene tip that I wish I knew while I was in the Army. Daily shaving gets expensive. So
if you store your shaving razor in mineral oil, it will prevent the blade from oxidizing and stop
water from depositing minerals. Not to mention the oil makes for a smooth shave.