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Outdoor Programs in Desert Survival and Bushcraft

Friday, December 11, 2009

Water Purification Methods with Tony Nester and Outside Magazine

This video on water purification methods was filmed by Outside Magazine editor Joe Spring who accompanied Tony on a Knife-Only Survival Course. There are 11 more videos for viewing at Outside Online which accompany Tony's monthly column on survival. You can also go to for Course listings with Tony's survival training school in Arizona.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter Survival & Safety!!

Survival Tips for Nature's Most Challenging Season
by Tony Nester

We just had a blizzard impact northern Arizona this week and drop over two feet of snow. As it was, I was driving back from Joshua Tree NP after teaching a desert survival class and then had to negotiate the icy roadways back home. Only in the Southwest can you go from the potential for heat-exhaustion to hypothermia and frostbite in one day!

With winter weather upon us, it is time to deck out our vehicles and daypacks for the unexpected emergency. If you become stranded on the road, your vehicle will become a mini-hotel providing shelter and warmth for the next few days until rescuers can get to you. With this in mind, here is some essential gear that I keep in my truck:

sleeping bag rated to zero degrees F
wool hat & mittens
spare wool socks
3-4 upper body layers (not cotton as this fails to insulate when wet)
winter coat
insulated boots or Sorel pacboots
food consisting of a jar of peanut butter, a box of crackers and a package of M & Ms
120 hour Nu-Wick candle for warmth, light, and snowmelting
coffee can for melting snow and cooking
2 gallons of water per person
vehicle cell phone charger
first-aid kit
cat litter or sand for traction if you get stuck
LED flashlight

For a longer roadtrip, I will bring a cooler with food and sandwiches and packets of instant soup and hot cocoa. High-fat food is essential in cold-weather hence the peanut butter which is stowed in the vehicle for much of the winter. Chocolate provides a quick burst of energy and should be in bite-size pieces.

For children
extra clothes and socks
mittens & hat
sleeping bags or blankets
reading materials, coloring books, or "travel" games

If you become stranded on the road, stay with your vehicle. It is a tremendous resource for weathering out a winter storm if you prepared it with the gear above. Run your vehicle every 15 minutes on the hour to warm up your body's core and to conserve fuel for the next few days. Make sure you check the exhaust pipe to remove any snow that has accumulated and crack your window when the engine is running to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Hypothermia and frostbite are your greatest dangers in the outdoors during the winter months. When dayhiking, dress properly (no cotton!), stay hydrated, and carry 3 firestarters. If you should become hypothermic, get a fire going, dry out, and get some hot fluids in you. A good hypothermia recipe is to have a cup of hot chocolate with a tablespoon of butter. I always carry this solution in a thermos when on the winter trail.

Enjoy the Wilds!

Tony Nester

Ancient Pathways Survival School

Tony Nester is an author and instructor who runs the Ancient Pathways Survival School and has taught courses for the U.S. Military, National Park Service, and served as a technical consultant for the movie Into The Wild.

About Ancient Pathways

Tony Nester is the author of numerous books and DVDs on survival. His school Ancient Pathways is the primary provider of survival training for the Military Special Operations community and he has served as a consultant for the NTSB, Travel Channel, Backpacker Magazine, and the film Into the Wild. When not on the trail, he lives in a passive-solar, strawbale home in northern Arizona. For information on Tony’s books, gear, or bushcraft courses, visit

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