Thursday, September 18, 2014

Micro 10 C's Kit Testing: Space Blanket Shelter

Micro 10 C's Kit Testing: Space Blanket Shelter 

As I continue with my testing of the pocket 10 C’s kit I come to the shelter element. For this I have an aluminum space blanket, cordage and two clear plastic garbage bags (so I can make a super shelter in the winter). So it was my intention to build a super shelter test it using these materials; however, with temperatures in the mid 30’s to lower 40’s, only four hours till daylight (when I would begin my squirrel hunt) and an ample supply of fire wood I really had no need for that much shelter so for this post I will just show how well the space blanket performs as a standard tarp like shelter. My expectations were low to begin with due to previous experiences with survival blankets; however, this blanket surpassed my expectations in every facet. I was able to stay warm and dry all night (remember it was mid 30’s and we had a light rain around day break). While this light-duty space blanket would not hold up to long-term use I was able to fold it back up and salvage it without any rips at the conclusion of the trip without issue (for those wondering I didn’t fold it like the Chinese origami  expert who got it into that little package).
1) So this was my selected shelter location, not the greatest but the best option in the area  and I wanted to stay away from my main squirrel and deer hunting grounds to avoid scaring the game away from the area. The large tree to the left made a good place to store all of the gear I brought and decided not to use since I got a wild hair to test this survival blanket.

          2) For shelter elements in my Micro 10 C’s Kit I have limited options (two clear garbage bags, gorilla tape, cordage and a space blanket). Given these options I decided to build a super shelter initially; however, once I got my survival blanket up and a survival fire lit I was so warm I had to lose my long sleeve shirt I had been wearing. As you can see this is not a grabber tarp and is one of the most compact folding survival blankets I have been able to find (it was in a medical kit I acquired as a safety award).
3) Pictured is the initial setup of my 5 minute shelter a simple lean to with fire in front of it. To secure the blanket to the trees I simply used a 3’ section of cordage to tie each in at the top. To secure the cordage to the survival blanket you can place a rock into the blanket and tire the cordage around the rock and blanket. I opted for a faster method that would prevent a possible rip and took a 4” section of the top two corners and tied the cord to that small section of blanket then in turn tied the blanket to the cord. This method of securing the top worked well and left me with no issues. To secure the bottom I simply pounded two thumb size sticks into the ground angled away from the back of the blanket and then took 3’ of cordage to secure the blanket to the ground.
4) After securing the blanket I then stacked several forked limbs against the open side to help prevent wind from entering the shelter from the side and then stacked leaves against those sticks creating a debris wall. I also did the same for the rear just to ensure that no wind would blow under the tarp coming up through the valley.

5) A quick view of the interior of the shelter with wood pile for the remaining 4 hours of the night I had upon my arrival at the hunting grounds that night. Notice the amount of firewood I have on hand (and that is only half of it there is another pile to the left side of the picture a little out of frame. That is a major pet peeve of mine about “survival” TV every fire I see is not only small but the amount of firewood they have on hand would honestly last an hour or less in an actual scenario. Unless I have a wood pile to my waist height and a fire that is at least as long as my torso. I digress though as I will be covering the topic of fire types in an upcoming post. Also for those who will say a Thermarest will not fit in an Altoids tin I agree, but didn’t want to mess with building a debris bed as I only had a couple hours left to grab a nap before a two mile or so hike at daylight and a full day of hunting squirrels.
6) Notice the shelter is just long enough for my 6’1” frame and the side wall provides coverage up to where my body will be . I have made much better shelters, but for thirty minutes from arrival to bed this one isn’t too bad, especially considering all of the firewood I had to gather. 
7) The view from inside: notice the glow of the fire and all of that heat reflecting straight down on me. Not the most efficient shelter but with a big survival fire this thing was so warm I had to lose my long sleeve shirt.
8) Side Logistics note: Once you get a good coal base and have your piles of firewood laying around the fire to dry place a pile somewhere you can reach it while sleeping as this will allow you to say in any sleep system you may have and still feed the fire keeping your core temperature regulated.

While a space blanket is not the ideal shelter element to carry it is one of the few that can be incorporated into a pocket survival kit. The main issue you will encounter is durability issues so if you are going to incorporate one into a survival kit please go with a quality brand like SOL. If used properly this blanket will without a doubt make a good survival shelter as it was able to easily keep me warm in early fall temperatures. If you are planning a winter outing I highly recommend adding a few clear plastic bags to you kit so you can make a super shelter which will reduce the amount of fire wood needed and also keep you warm using a greenhouse like effect (when it gets a little colder I will do an overnight trip to try that shelter setup for you). So compact + cheap + out performs expectations + keeps you warm and dry without a sleep system= good enough to get by with in my book!

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1 comment:

  1. Great to see you Doing the Stuff... trading theory for action, Joshua! The stuff in kits won't effect survival until you actually test it. Nicely done!

    Hope you found success on the squirrels :)