Surviving with the Ranger 7

Surviving with the Ranger 7

Sean McWilliams - Tuesday, October 29, 2013
                                                         By Sean McWilliams
     Survival. What does it mean? A desperate struggle to maintain life until rescue arrives. Struggle? Against what? The elements: hot-dry; cold-wet; a struggle against dehydration or hypothermia; energy and moisture expended; and the need of food, water and shelter from the elements. If an injury has occurred, the struggle becomes more complicated, more critical. Life threatening is a good term.
     As survivors, our worst enemy is an element we cannot see or touch. Time. As time passes, the chance of being found increases, the chance of being found alive decreases. Your rescue depends on someone else.  Survival is your responsibility until someone else does his part. Hopefully you: told someone where you were going and when you expect to get back; filed a flight plan and stuck with it; signed in at the trailhead; took a cell phone with you?
     In most cases, 72 hours is the longest amount of time before one will be found. That's here in the United States, of course. Week long searches are not unusual, but to survive for this amount of time, you must have prepared yourself, including equipment.
     What goes into a survival kit? Certainly a signal mirror, whistle, and fire starter of some kind. Maybe bright material to make a ground to air signal. How about quarters for the pay phone you stumble upon? By far, however,  it is the survivor himself that counts the most. His or her skills, confidence, judgement, attitude and sheer will to come out alive will tell the difference. Physical preparation is important. How good of a shape are you in? How much fatigue and discomfort can you function with? If you're convinced you're too tired, cold, and hungry to start a fire, what use is that high-speed Gerber Fire Kit?
    The first and most important tool which is necessary in a survival situation is a good, sturdy knife. Okay the cell phone runs a close second, if it works. Serious situations demand a serious knife-one which can be relied upon to chop, cut, pry, and pound for as long as it takes for rescue to arrive or find your way back to civilization. If your knife breaks, your ability to build shelter, procure and prepare food, make fire and defend yourself is seriously compromised. If it gets dull quickly and is impossible to resharpen, then it becomes a liability, and an energy drainer. If it is uncomfortable to use, (hard to handle under extreme circumstances) then it may be subject to sudden loss. Survival is serious business and it requires a serious knife.
     The Ranger 7 is more than just a big sturdy survival knife. Its meant-to-live-in-the-woods goodies are designed to be carried in and on the the cargo sheath, making the R7 a survival SYSTEM. You can carry with you the tools and items necessary to build shelter, make a fire, procure food and water, signal for help, navigate to safety, and treat injuries. All of this rides on your hip in a package two inches thick, four inches wide, thirteen inches tall, and at just under two pounds!
     Ranger blades are forged from 5/16'' CPM 440V steel for maximum toughness and performance. The 7 1/2'' tapered, flat ground, spear point blade excels at dressing game, chopping wood, digging roots and building a solar still. A heavy duty 3/8'' stainless guard and butt cap balance the seven inch blade and are useful in driving shelter stakes and pounding. Thong holes in the guard and butt cap provide multiple lashing options and secure point for a wrist thong.
     Kydex-Cordura cargo sheaths are made of heavy waterproof Cordura nylon with a Kydex liner, the knife fits right or left-handed. 'D' loops on the sides provide lashing points for 50 feet of paracord, there's room behind the kydex liner for slim items like 12'' of bandsaw blade. The top flap holds butterfly bandages, gauze squares, a 44''square thin plastic sheet a folded dixie cup to make a solar still, sewing kit, signal mirror, fishing kit, and anything else you might fit into a zip-loc type bag. Don't forget a packet of potassium-sodium vitamin-C drink mix, packet of salt and pain tablets. The bellows front pouch holds bulkier items you might like to have along. These include a thin mylar space blanket, magnesium fire starter, Kerosene soaked cotton wads, compass and whistle. I short, all you need along with your fieldcraft skills. Try to fit all that into a hollow handle ''survival'' knife. The accessory Barbed Kozuka knife is a handy knife for the small jobs. It is designed to be a small game getter, the tapered tang slips neatly into a split willow shaft, cord wrap removes for lashing into a spear for frogs, fish, the barbed choil keeps your meal from slipping off as it's retrieved.
    The ranger knives have been designed to provide the necessary tools for the best possible outcome in a serious survival situation, i.e. survival. As I've said, it will be your skills and will to survive which push up the odds in your favor, something no knife by itself can hope to do. As a SAR pilot, I often fly single engine aircraft long distances over desert and mountain wilderness. The R7 offers the outdoorsman -who has little space available and may need to live on his own for a while- real world input. That's why I call it the Ranger.
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