Radios

Radios For a long expedition in remote territory a radio is a necessity. They tend to be expensive but are well worth the cost; if you cannot afford the radio, you cannot afford the expedition. Choose a model with the fewest channels available to suit your particular needs. The trouble with multi-channel sets is that people get confused and tend to use the wrong ones. Have a working channel that everyone uses at established schedules. Have a priority channel that you can switch to in an emergency so no one will break into your transmissions. If working with coastguards/forest rangers etc make sure that your radio is compatible and you know the emergency channel (channel 16); knowing the frequency of the World Service is also useful. Keep your radio in a safe place, ideally on a person and not in a pack. Prearrange a signals plan with scheduled calls morning and evening, especially when working in a large party. A signals plan...
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G.P.S.

G.P.S. A G.P.S. (Global Positioning System) is an excellent piece of equipment and has taken a lot of skill away from the navigator. Basically these systems receive radio signals from satellites and can locate your current position, anywhere in the world, and are relatively easy to use. It is also useful to note that they are reported to have 95 per cent accuracy rate. However, in order to work, the satellite transmission must not have any obstructions in its way, such as a tree branch or movement, so to receive a clear signal you need to be standing still and out in the open. However, if we depend solely on technology our basic skills will suffer and we will become unstuck if it becomes unserviceable or is lost. G.P.S. is not effective unless you can identify where you are, so stick to the basics. Map read and navigate normally and use the G.P.S to confirm your navigation or correct it. When looking...
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Stowing Kits

STOWING KIT If you expect to get wet, stow everything in polythene bags. Pack so that you know where everything is and so that the first things you need are not buried at the bottom. The sleeping bag is probably the last thing you need so that goes at the bottom. Your tent should be on the top, so should heavy kit such as radios, which are more easily carried there – though try not to make the pack too high, if you have to cope with strong winds, for a very high pack will be more difficult to balance and you will expend a lot of energy just keeping upright. Pack a stove and brew-kit in a side pocket so that you have easy access when you halt. Make sure that foodstuffs that can be easily crushed or melted are in suitable containers. In a warm climate you can carry food to eat cold and make plenty of hot drinks. In a...
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Packs

PACKS You need a strong and comfortable backpack to carry all your clothing and equipment. Choose the very best you can afford. It should have tough and fully adjustable webbing, well secured to the pack’s frame or fabric. Heavy loads can quickly loosen poorly made webbing. It must have a comfortable hip belt. The secret of wearing a pack is to take the weight securely on the hips – the body’s strongest pivot – not on the shoulders and back, which quickly strain and tire. Do you want a pack with an external or an internal frame? Internal frames are lighter and make a pack more easy to stow, but external frames are stronger, ensure a more even distribution of the load and are especially useful for awkward or heavy equipment – including, in an emergency, a sick or injured person. A good external frame should carry the pack high up on your body, putting less strain on hips and shoulders, and...
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Sleeping Bags

SLEEPING BAGS Two types are generally available. One kind uses hollow fill, man-made fiber, the other (and more expensive) is filled with down. Down is very light and gives much better insulation – provided it stays dry. If it gets wet it loses all of its insulating properties and is very difficult to dry out. For conditions that are likely to be wet the man-made fiber will be the better choice. Avoid getting your sleeping bag wet, however, as sleep will be seriously affected. Excellent bivouac bags made of breathable material are also available that will keep you dry in place of a tent, but in the long term you cannot beat a tent which can also be used for cooking and communal activities. Keep your sleeping bag inside the bivy sack and stow it inside a compression sack to make it as small as possible. Keep the bag clean and use a insulated mat or poncho to lie on....
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Clothing

CLOTHING The correct choice of clothing is very important. If you start out right the chances are that you will succeed. Man is a tropical animal and can only survive naked if we are born in the tropics. The moment we leave this area we have to provide our bodies with a warm personal environment, hence the need for clothes. There is no heat in clothing, it only traps what the body produces. The wind and rain are the most dangerous elements in a temperate climate and the cold in extreme areas like the polar regions. If the heat that is trapped in the layers of clothing you are wearing is continuously being replaced by wind and rain, you are in danger of hypothermia. In cold climates layering is the answer, so pull on a sweater if it turns cold and waterproof clothing if it rains. However, if you wear an anorak while carrying a heavy pack, there is a danger of...
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Signs of Land

Signs That Land is Nearby When Lost at Sea When there is no land in sight you may find some of the following indicators of land and the direction in which it may be found: Clouds: Cumulus clouds in an otherwise clear sky are likely to have been formed over land. In tropical waters a greenish tint on the underside of clouds, known as lagoon glare, is produced by the reflection of sunlight from the shallow water over coral reefs. Birds: A lone bird is not a reliable indication of land, and after rough weather birds can be blown way off course, but few seabirds sleep on the water or fly more than 100 miles from land. Their direction of flight is usually outwards from land before noon and return in the late afternoon. The continuous sound of bird cries is usually an indication that land is not far distant. Watching the direction of flight of a sea bird can indicate where to find land. Driftwood: Driftwood,...
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Protection from the Elements

Protecting Yourself from the Elements After drowning, the highest danger comes from exposure (cold, wind, heat, sun, salt). Hypothermia Hypothermia is the main cause of death resulting from exposure to the elements. The body heat loss is 25 times greater in the water than in the air. Even in tropical water, a man immersed (without protection) for an extended period of time will die from hypothermia. (In the 80s a dive boat sunk in the warm water of the Sea of Cortez. The only people who survived were the ones who were able to grab their wetsuits. Survivors still suffered from hypothermia). In cold water, dying from hypothermia might be a matter of minutes. In the heat of the moment If you can, grab as much clothing as possible. Polypropylene will protect you even wet. Rain gear will protect you in the raft. In the water Try to get off the water as soon as possible. If you can’t, save your energy. Avoid all movements that will increase...
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