While most people see camping as a time to get away from the everyday routine and to relax, it should also be the time when you hone and practice your survival skills. Camping is the perfect time to test that new fire starting skill that you read about, try building that survival shelter you saw on a television show, or try that new recipe to cook in the cast iron dutch oven over hot coals.
Get some new gear that sounded and looked good on the internet? Try it out and actually put it to the test now instead of finding out in an emergency that it's just junk. Sometimes we see gear that seems like the perfect prep or survival tool or seems like a great idea for carrying gear in the field. Through testing it out we find that the tool or gear is really more of a hassle than help or that idea for carrying the gear doesn't work for you or your body type. Are you glad you realized that now or would you rather have found out when your life or the lives of your loved ones depend on it? Sure you could put on that pack, load it down and walk around your back yard for a few minutes, you could go camping or also go for a hike in the woods. Anything to get away from the hustle and bustle and test that pack the correct way.
On Labor day weekend, the wife and I went to Red River Gorge here in Kentucky and I tried some gear, tried making a type of shelter and found a different technique for the campfire. I broke a hatchet, an axe and the shelter...well, let's just say it didn't work. Do I have a good hatchet? Yes. A good axe? Yes. Can I build a good survival shelter? Yes, but the ones I tried were crap. Good thing I found out at a time when it wasn't a matter of life or death.
When the time comes that an emergency hits my family, I want to know that our gear will hold up, that we know how to use that gear correctly and know that the gear is correct for our needs. Put that new gear through some rigorous testing. Don't just buy it, throw in the closet and wait until you really need it. Go camping and test that skill or gear when you can relax, have fun and try again if you don't get it right the first time.
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