Survive It: Part 2- From Friction, to Flame


In Part 1 I described a basic survival scenario.  Plan for a casual walk in the woods, get lost... now what?

Night is quickly approaching but there is still probably 2 and a half hours of daylight left.  At this point, it's not a bad idea to attempt to retrace your steps.  At this point though, it's very difficult to find the original trail due to thick trees and brush. Eventually, the inevitable must be acknowledged.  It's time to hunker down.

The struggle is now to keep your core temperature up.  In the mountains the temperature can drop below freezing, and it's easy to freeze to death, even in the summer.

Keep in mind that the story I'm presenting here is what I would do in this situation.  From my experiences of spending many cold nights in the mountains, if I was stuck with no sleeping bag, I would build a fire.  I'd also make an attempt to insulate myself.  This will be pursued in detail in part 3.

Back in the days when trappers weren't on snow machines they would (at least in some areas of the USA/Canada) leave their sleeping bags at home to save weight.  To make up for this they would keep a fire going all night long in a wood stove in order to stay warm.  This is basically what I would do, but unlike the trappers who are prepared to build a fire, I was only planning to be out for an afternoon...

In this situation, I don't have anything other than a knife to build a fire with.  Though I'm no fire expert, I do have a good working knowledge of friction fires, and I've made over 70 fires with a bow and drill in the past year. This method isn't incredibly complicated, but it's not something to attempt if you don't have very much experience.  It hasn't rained in this situation, I still have a couple hours of sunlight, and I know what materials perform well for friction fires in a mountain environment, therefore, I'd at least give it a shot!


Here are a couple of good videos to check out for examples of fire starting when you've got nothing but a knife.  I have yet to make a video fully explaining the bow and drill process, but will likely make one in the future.  There two videos were made in April 2012 in the Huachuca Mountains in Arizona.

There is a small string required for a bow and drill to work, so one can simply use either a shoe lace, or for the more advanced, a spruce root.