Monthly Archives: June 2013

Duct Tape Style

Duct tape has been around for a very long time, waterproofing things and sticking them together. Not surprisingly, this versatile material has many survival and outdoor applications…blister prevention, improvised snow goggles, and weapon construction, just to name a few.

But now…instead of making improvised survival gear with the tired silver stuff, it’s possible to buy duct tape in leopard print, zebra print, and in all colors of the neon rainbow.

Duct Tape Rainbow

I was in Target yesterday and stumbled upon an entire section full of new duct tape designs, which made me smile. I still have the traditional silver kind on my trekking poles, but it’s nice to know that so many possibilities exist. Now there’s no excuse for not having some with you out on the trail…

Want to know more about survival applications for duct tape?
Read my article on the Survival Skills website:
“Quick and Easy Survival Uses for Duct Tape”

Ready-Made Solar Still

AquamateIf you make a survival solar still from plastic sheeting, rocks, and a few empty containers, your total cost might be around $5.00 (for the plastic, if you have to buy it). But there are a few different kinds of pre-made solar stills that you can buy, none so cheap. These might come in handy on a boat, but since they’re not very light, they’re not practical for a seaside backpacking adventure. This one, the Aquamate Solar Still, weighs 38 ounces and costs $238.00 on

But, still…it’s a still, and it can generate up to 2 liters of fresh water a day from a seawater source.

If you’re inclined to try out the make-your-own variety, read my article on the Survival Skills website for materials and construction steps.

“Turn Seawater into Drinkable Water With a Solar Still”

Photo © Aquamate.

Edible Plant Test and Resources

If I were roving around in the mountains, lost and starving, and then somehow stumbled into an alpine meadow full of these wonderful purple flowers…

alpine flowers

…I’d probably bow down on my face and munch away at them like a cow. But how to know if a plant–any part of it–is safe to eat? If you don’t know the difference between a poisonous plant and an edible one, then you can perform a plant edibility test, like the one I just wrote about on the Survival skills website: “How to Test a Plant for Edibility.”

However, it’s great to study plants and practice identifying them as well because positive plant identification will likely be quicker than going through the edibility test, which requires about a day of preparation, gathering, testing, and monitoring. Here are a few edible plant resources to get you started:

Plants for a Future: 7,000 Edible, Medicinal & Useful Plants

Wild Edible’s Wild Food Resources Page

First Ways, Urban Plant Forager Rebecca Lerner’s Blog:

And if you still get stuck out there without any background knowledge about the plants that surround you, read this article so that you at least know how to do the edibility test:

“How to Test a Plant for Edibility”

Seaside Camping: Some Beaches are Better than Others

If you’re out there in the middle of nowhere, walking along a beach (sounds nice!), and you need to camp out unexpectedly in an emergency situation (not-so-nice!), you need to know how to choose a seaside campsite and build a basic beach shelter. All of the beaches pictured here are stunning, beautiful places…but some would be better than others for an emergency campsite.

Too rocky and crazy (but crazy beautiful!):

rocky shore

Nice choice, but camp far enough away from the shore to avoid high tide:

nice beach

Pretty rocky, but the grass looks soft, and it would make good shelter insulation:

rocky shore 2

Also a nice beach for camping…

beach camping

I took these photographs on a recent trip to Cape Town, South Africa. If you’d like to know more about survival camping and beach shelters, see my article on the Survival Skills website:

“Seaside Camping: Basic Shelter and Site Selection”
Perhaps you’ve only planned for a casual seaside day hike, but someone in your party has become injured or sick. Or maybe you’re out alone on a remote beach hike, and you’ve become lost. When you’re unable to call for assistance or get home before dark, seaside survival skills and your ability to improvise can help you endure a potentially frightening or dangerous experience…click here to continue reading

Photos © Traci J. Macnamara.

Baboon Encounters in Kruger and Cape Town, South Africa

I’m currently on a three-week trip in South Africa and have been learning a lot about the local flora and fauna, including some animals that could kill a human in an instant (lions…leopards) and about others that are just plain fascinating or oddly cute (ostrich and warthogs).

While in Kruger National Park, we encountered two troops of baboons, and now in Cape Town, I’ve heard plenty of baboon stories and seen baboon warning signs at all of the local trailheads. I wanted to share a few photos from our Kruger baboon encounters and also share a link to the article I wrote about surviving baboon encounters on the Survival Skills site (more info below).


baboon kruger 1

We encountered the above baboon troop while crossing a bridge in Kruger National Park on our drive from Berg-en-Dal to Lataba rest camp. There were a few big males leading the way across the bridge, and the whole show caused a brief traffic jam.

baboon kruger 2

The troop contained many large baboons…

baboon kruger 3

…and a few youngsters.

baboon kruger 4

We again saw our first signs of baboons further north when one scurried across the road in front of us. When we looked around, we started seeing them everywhere.

baboon kruger 5

In trees……and in the bush beside us.

baboon kruger 6

Of course, as it is when trying to view wild animals, we got a lot of butt shots as they tried to walk away.

Want to know more about hiking and baboon safety?
Read my article on the Survival Skills website:
“How to Survive a Baboon Encounter”