Friday, April 27, 2012

Spring Has Sprung - are you ready

Spring has sprung – are you ready?

Spring is here and summer is right around the corner.  The snowline here in Colorado is retreating up the mountainsides and things are beginning to green-up.  I’m hearing rumbles about it being time to head for the outdoors to hike, fish, photograph or whatever else takes you out there.  Spring fever is upon us!

That being the case it might be time to drag out all of your gear and give it good once-over.  Don’t assume that just because it was working fine when you stashed it in a basement closet last fall that it’s ready to go today.  

Get your daypack, fanny pack or whatever it is that you carry your equipment in, and dump the contents out onto the floor.  Check the condition of the pack carefully.  Do the zippers work?  Are there any holes in the fabric that need to be repaired?  Do all of the plastic buckles still work properly? Check for any “residents” that might have converted your daypack to a winter home! 

If you need some serious sewing done or a zipper replaced find out who repairs luggage for the airlines in your town?  Compare the cost of repairs against the cost of a new daypack –maybe buying a new daypack is a better choice.

Check the condition and function of each piece of equipment you carry.   Make sure that everything is there that should be there – sometimes a piece of equipment is borrowed from your emergency kit and doesn’t get put back!  Now is a good time to repair or replace the equipment that you might depend on for protection if you had to spend the night out.  Now is also a good time to refresh your memory.  Do you remember how each piece of equipment works?  Check out your cutting tools – knives, saws and shears.   Sharpen your knives and take your saws and shears to a professional sharpener.  There’s nothing like a good edge to make a cutting tool work better – and it’s safer to!

Like most skills, survival skills are perishable.  You get rusty.  Take a day in the field to practice.  Build a fire.  Build a fire while limiting yourself to the use of one arm – your non-dominant arm.  Practice putting up a tarp shelter - quickly.   Don’t wait for good weather - practice in your backyard when the weather is really nasty.  Practice using a signal mirror to attract attention.  Do you remember how your GPS receiver works or perhaps your emergency beacon?  Have you replaced the batteries in them recently? Test yourself and your gear.  It is better to find out that something doesn’t work in your backyard than it would be in the mountains when your life’s on the line!

Practice, practice and then practice some more – then maybe you’ll be ready!