Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wind It Up, Baby

Essentials for Wilderness Survival, Part 2: Cordage for all occasions.

Need to keep your pants up but the alligators got your belt? Well, there's one handy solution to finding your way out of this typical backcountry dilemma.

First, take off your man jewelry and lay it all out in a neat, straight line.

Now, searching carefully from left to right, identify and examine each piece. What you are looking for is your survivalist bracelet woven out of 550 para cord.

That's right — you wear a bracelet. Normally you can identify a survivalist bracelet by finding one on your wrist, next to your "Bush Or Die!" tattoo, but in this case you've just had a close brush with nine feet of anger whose teeth are as big as your fingers, something that apparently didn't quite like what kind of leather your belt was made of, and you could be a tiny bit shaky as a result.


Therefore the need for a close and systematic inspection of your gear.

Keep looking.

You definitely need something to keep your pants up while waiting for the rescue helicopters and TV crews to arrive. And more especially, to keep your pants up after the rescue helicopters and TV crews arrive. "Clothes make the man," remember? "Naked people have very little influence on society."

Mark Twain said that, and he was smarter than you, so think about it while you search through all that guy stuff you were wearing.

Now your survival bracelet, as survival items go, is likely to be one of the more bright and cheery things you have along.

Keep your eyes peeled for that telltale flash of yellow, or red, or blue, or green, or, if you think you remember being one of the more extreme survivalist fashionistas, something in Fish Slime Pink, Pastel Yellow-Brown Pus, Almond Roca Abscess, Bavarian Cream Puke, Ultra Vile Violet Vomit, Putrid Seeping Sepia, Zipper Mangle Mango, or Beaver Mania Brown.

Found it yet? Good. Now for the next step. Unravel it.

Yes. Unravel it.

Yes, we know you paid $32.99 for it at Survival Strappage for Men, but now is the time. Unravel it. Pronto!

Finally, once you have found that the 550 para cord bracelet that you've been wearing around your wrist and showing off at survival parties is actually 12 feet long when unraveled, just stop and try to get your emotions back under control. Think about it.

This is a good reason never to go hiking alone in alligator country, because if you simply had three normal-sized friends along, and each of you had his (or her) belt eaten by alligators, then one super manly man-bracelet would be just about what you'd need to hold up everyone's pants with no unsightly dangling ends left over.

Not to worry though. If you are actually all alone but have determined that the alligators have retreated to a safe distance for the moment, simply keep winding the 550 para cord around your waist until it is all used up, then tighten it to a comfortable level (Don't get too aggressive!) and finish off with a tasteful knot.

Now wait for the TV cameras and your 37 ½ seconds of fame. Don't forget to smile bravely while continuing to watch for giant lizards with teeth. (They generally like to lurk, like somewhere in the shrubbery. Let the TV guys go stand there and get their pants eaten — you've already done your part.)

Some other uses for cordage:

  • Hanging your half-smoked cigar from a tree to keep it away from weevils.
  • Lashing poles and/or polecats. Some experience is recommended before trying the latter operation. Start with five lashes and work up. Bring soap for afterward.
  • Dragging along the ground to distract mountain lions while you make a getaway. You know about cats and string, right? Go long.
  • Attaching to your pack to see if dangling cord repels bugs. Hey, who knows? Something has to work.
  • Making snare traps for hunting. Surprise your friends when they go out at night to take a whiz. See what other fun stuff you can catch by a leg.
  • Building an emergency shelter. Bring lots and lots of cordage for this. Don't forget your knitting needles. You will need them. Warning: Shelter may pucker and buckle when wet, leaving you bent, creased, crimped, or squeezed.
  • Line fishing. Throw one end into the lake and see what you can drag back to shore. Some caution is recommended while in alligator country.