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Here is an update with the results of a heavy load test and the installation of a wheel kit:
The instant refried beans win in the number of servings (6 in a pouch versus 3 in a can) and also save a lot in the weight department (7 ounces versus 2 lbs.) but are more costly (about twice the cost of the canned version). The instant refried beans have a shelf life similar to the canned product and they actually taste very similar to each other. I personally could not tell a difference between the canned version and the instant refried beans.
The second thing to check was the overall condition of the can. It appeared in good shape and had no dents, leaks, swelling or bulging areas and had no rust.
- Altitude sickness will occur if you climb too quickly, too soon, with symptoms including headache, nausea, dizziness and exhaustion.
- Make sure you give yourself a few days to adjust to the atmosphere by spending a few days in the locality of the trek.
- By ascending slowly you can give your body an extra fighting chance - once you are above 10,000 feet, avoid increasing your sleeping altitude by more than 300-500 meters a night.
- Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol.
- Training is important too, spend time building your leg muscles prior to your trip; hill walking and gym time will improve your body’s ability to carry oxygen.
- Mountains get incredibly cold at night; the highest point of Peru’s Inca Trail, ‘Dead Women’s Pass’, is 13,900 feet above sea level, with temperatures dropping below freezing at night.
- Your head, hands and feet will lose heat the quickest; make sure you wear a woolly hat, warm gloves and thick thermal socks, while protecting naked areas of your body, like the neck, with a fleecy scarf.
- Make sure you have plenty of layers (synthetic materials are better than cotton).
- Trekking is grueling on your feet; make sure you wear a good set of hiking boots which are worn in to avoid blisters.
- Insoles will provide extra comfort while helping to maintain body heat.
- For rocky or icy terrain, grips are a really good idea too.
- Rehydrating yourself is key, so make sure you always have a steady supply of water and take water purification tablets; a urine test will tell you when you need to top up, the darker the urine, the less hydrated you are.
- Trekking food needs to be high in energy and light to carry; remember, survival is your number one priority here, not culinary enjoyment.
- Make sure you eat plenty of carbohydrates for energy – pasta, rice and bread.
- Protein is also important to maintain and develop strength - eggs, tofu, lentils and nuts.
- Fruit is required to fight off infections and colds but will go off quickly, so take multivitamin and iron tablets also.
- Sugary foods will give you a quick boost of energy while you walk, so take a few packets of sweets.
- Specialized food from hiking stores is usually dried or freeze-dried to reduce its weight and surface area, making it easy to pack and carry; this guide will show you how to dry your own.
- A good closed tent and sleeping bag are a must, minimizing heat loss at night.
- Light and functional cooking equipment is also important, but don’t be afraid to cook on an open fire, it really adds to the experience and will keep you warm.
- A head torch will allow you to navigate in the dark and cook food, keeping your hands free.
- A light, durable backpack is a must, allowing you access to your most treasured items and distributing weight on your back.
- Trekking polls are important for hiking steep or rocky terrain, providing extra balance and support.
- A guide book, compass and first aid kit are imperative and could be the difference between life and death.
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