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Thread: What is the best (insert noun) for survival?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Winter's Avatar
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    Default What is the best (insert noun) for survival?

    I'll start with an apology for the length this post will need to be.

    I'm going to put out many subjective observations that relate to survival, the nature of discussion on the internet, and perhaps, some actually useful information.

    As I age and notice just how much I don't know, I have a more and more difficult time answering the simplest of questions without nitpicking the question itself. Most of you know what I mean and many of you would never admit it.

    The title of this thread is one of the reasons I left wilderness forums for a long time. The question; "What is the best?" is so extraordinarily subjective that it's almost meaningless. It simply is not exhaustive enough to give a well thought out answer, if indeed a well thought out answer is even available. The most common answer to that question is whatever the responder owns and wants to justify the purchasing of. It's sort of like this.

    "What's the best lighter?" is followed by an endless series of "what I have is the best". You can test this on yourself right now. It doesn't matter at all that there may well be a better lighter out there. The one in your pocket is the best. This is simple psychology.

    Let's take the most annoying question of all. "What is the best survival knife?"

    This is followed by the inevitable, and I'm guilty of this as well, "the one you have when a survival situation occurs to you." While true, it isn't really the answer to the question. The question should be; "What would be the best knife to have with me when I'm in a situation that can turn to crap and become a survival situation?"

    That is also not a good enough question unless it is followed by a list that includes where you live, your skill level, your expectations, and what aesthetic you like. Even then, the previous phenomena will still come in. Nobody will suggest a knife they don't own or don't want to own.

    "What is the best knife?" Well, do you carry a tent? If not you have to build shelter and that changes the knife. Do you have a fancy camp stove or do you have to build large fires? Your best knife may well not be a knife at all, but a hatchet.

    Us old guys who have been doing survival stuff for many years need to have more patience with newbs and newbs absolutely need to ask better questions. The term "best" is absurdly subjective and I'd be happy if the word was removed from any discussion of survival gear or techniques.

    What's the best tent? Well, objectively, one of those giant ones that Sultans live in filled with pillows, carpets, and belly dancers. Again, it's just a poorly asked question.

    What's the best tent for experienced ultralight backpackers doing the Appalachian trail with 2 people in the winter? <-----that is an answerable question where you may receive a useful answer.

    The quality of your answer is a result of the quality of the question.

    All that said, I do believe that I and most others really want to be helpful, but rarely at the expense of our egos. An understanding of human nature may be the best internet survival skill of them all.

    I've seen, and been in, some ridiculous arguments about survival gear. I carry large knives. That's what has always worked for me, and that's what I like at a subconscious aesthetic level. They are just cool.

    I've been told by folks that I'm an idiot for not using a hatchet instead. Well, no argument there. I'm an idiot. I'm not an idiot for using the large knife. I'm an idiot for getting into the argument. I know what I know and I've done what I've done. The tool is irrelevant. The actual difference in my situation and it's outcome had nothing to do with which tool I used. The only important thing was that I had a tool. Had I not had a chopper, I would merely have had to change my shelter plan and maybe worked a little harder. Then we are looking at caloric/labor exchanges based on carrying heavy tools and various other nonsensical minutiae that is neither here nor there.

    All the material things we carry for survival are not as important as we pretend. The most important survival tool is your brain. If you know what you're doing, the knife you have doesn't matter. If you don't know what you're doing, a $500 knife also won't matter. I say this as a knifemaker who sells expensive knives.

    This dynamic applies to all your gear. Is a $400 Osprey pack better then a $35 military surplus back? Maybe, maybe not. Most of my adventures are boat based. I have a small pack to leave camp with but most of my gear is in a duffel bag because it's carried from boat to camp and back.

    I guess the point of this tirade is this. Ask better questions, get better answers. Avoid generalities. Understand the difference between subjectivity and objectivity.

    Have a glorious day.
    I had a compass, but without a map, it's just a cool toy to show you where oceans and ice are.


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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Where did you get the belly dancers? I'm not picky at this age so the question doesn't need to be well thought out. Any will do. Oh, oh, almost forgot...how many? That's important. I may have to work out a schedule or something. I really don't want to interrupt my afternoon nap and will probably need it more than ever if I can find belly dancers. I'm trying to be as objective as possible here.
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    Senior Member Winter's Avatar
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    I don't have the belly dancers or the fancy tent, but, I feel it's the best tent.

    For your needs Rick, maybe a circus tent is best?

    Of course, that is just a subjective observation based on what you do here.
    I had a compass, but without a map, it's just a cool toy to show you where oceans and ice are.

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    Rick, if you had belly dancers it would soon turn into a survival situation regardless of the tent....

    Alan

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Sadly, I fear you both are right. Circus tent is on the list. Belly dancers are off the list. I don't think Belly dancers are covered by Medicare anyway.
    Tracks Across the High Plains...Death on the Bombay Line...A Touch of Death and Mayhem...Dead Rock...The Griswald Mine Boys...All On Amazon Books.

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    Back to the OP...... I agree. Looking back over the many years that I, and others have been here I believe that many would agree with Winter. Early on we (as a group of members) thought it would be useful to try and help guide some of those questions and formulate some of those answers. We can see the evidence of that in some of the "Stickies" that are in the sub-forums.

    Just in this sub-forum are some good ones. "What Do I Need To Survive in the Wild" where a frequently asked question was answered along with the type of question that is typical.

    Another is "Survival Scenario Check List". It addresses exactly what Winter was describing in that you have to aske a question with as much detail as possible in order to receive a meaningful answer.

    Sometime people don't understand that asking generalized questions will yield generalized answers, but it is quickly apparent when follow ups start out with something like "yeah, but what if......"

    Good post Winter.
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    Senior Member Winter's Avatar
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    Thanks Crash, I appreciate a serious response.

    Another point I was trying to make was less about the questions and more about the answers and the bias in the answers. While I may be able to survive in the swamps of Florida. I do not know them and my advice on them would not be as good as yours. So what business would I even have answering a question from someone in Florida asking any question on the gear they may need there OTHER than the gross generalities?

    The answer is attention. Look at me.
    I had a compass, but without a map, it's just a cool toy to show you where oceans and ice are.

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    I don't disagree. Something else to consider is that some (many?) have quite a bit of experience with different challenges and may be able to offer germaine information. On the other hand, some of that experience is older than the person asking the question. While I have camped in -25F, it has been a long, long time, so I would not be a great source of information. Gear has changed dramatically since those days.
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    And some folks just hang around for the social interaction, and since a lot of us have wives to point out our every flaw, it's nice to just type whatever we want without being told it's wrong....

    I'm of the belief that most folks have something to offer. Even those with no experience or skills can trigger memories in others that may bring out pertinent information.

    I always liked a lot of class participation. It kept the gears turning and greased. The subject might stray off course from time to time but nearly anything was better than me droning on about Historical facts until all but the most astute were asleep...

    Alan

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    Senior Member Winter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan R McDaniel Jr View Post
    And some folks just hang around for the social interaction, and since a lot of us have wives to point out our every flaw, it's nice to just type whatever we want without being told it's wrong....

    I'm of the belief that most folks have something to offer. Even those with no experience or skills can trigger memories in others that may bring out pertinent information.


    Alan
    There's quite a bit or arrogance in telling someone they are wrong on an an opinion. I like when I'm corrected about an objective fact. It hasn't always been that way, but it's a chance to learn.

    "If someone can prove me wrong and show me my mistake in any thought or action, I shall gladly change. I seek the truth, which never harmed anyone: the harm is to persist in one's own self-deception and ignorance." ~ Marcus Aurelius
    I had a compass, but without a map, it's just a cool toy to show you where oceans and ice are.

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    I agree, you seem to be quite arrogant...

    Alan

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    Perhaps I was a bit quick on the trigger. If your arrogance statement was not directed at my post, I will gladly withdraw mine. If it was then mine stands as well and I can move on accordingly...

    Alan

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    Senior Member Winter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan R McDaniel Jr View Post
    Perhaps I was a bit quick on the trigger. If your arrogance statement was not directed at my post, I will gladly withdraw mine. If it was then mine stands as well and I can move on accordingly...

    Alan
    Hi Alan, it was directed at your post, but not the way you took it. It was in response to this ; " it's nice to just type whatever we want without being told it's wrong...."

    No need to withdraw anything. You aren't wrong. Just off target this time,,LOL

    "Shoot first, clarify later"
    I had a compass, but without a map, it's just a cool toy to show you where oceans and ice are.

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    Fine. Good to know. Thanks for the clarification.

    Alan

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