Friday, January 20, 2023
In this guest post from one of our students, Eric Johnson, Eric reflects on lessons learned from the Essential Primitive Wilderness Survival course, and puts the skills to the test!
During the Basic Course at Primitive Wilderness Survival, Phillip explained all about BlanketPacks, their use, and their limitations. After a brief discussion, we jumped right in and started building our own BlanketPacks. There were blankets and cordage everywhere and Phillip wove himself through the class, helping each student with their packs. With each tuck, twist and tie we were getting feedback about how to build a better pack. When I was done, my pack looked pretty good, but deep-down, I really didn’t know if it would hold-up on a long hike.
And it wouldn’t take long to find out...
The BlanketPack was a completely new experience. Sure, I understood the principle and I’ve even seen other people use them, but honestly, I just dismissed the idea. I mean, if I have enough forethought to bring a blanket and lashing to make a backpack…wouldn’t I have just brought a backpack?
But that’s not the point. It’s not just about having a way to transport equipment; it’s about having an experience. It’s about learning new methods, techniques, and principles. It’s about trying alternative things and embracing the process. It’s about being self-sufficient. It’s about learning ways to improvise and being confident that you can make-do in less-than-ideal circumstances. Sure, anyone can carry a backpack, but in a pinch, can you create one? I wasn’t sure and this experience was enlightening, and the process was satisfying.
A few weeks after the Basic Class, I found myself out in the canyons of West Texas and I decided I was going to ditch the store-bought backpack and use the blanket method. I had a six-mile hike planned and this seemed like a great time for a real-world test. Sure, six miles isn’t that far, but this wasn’t going to be a simple walk on flat terrain. Hiking through the canyons on a trail isn’t the hardest, but there would be plenty of twisting, jumping and uneven surfaces which would give the BlanketPack a good test.
I knew that if this thing fell apart while I was trekking through the canyon, miles away from camp, that there was no one to blame except for the student! My pack was relatively light; it held some basic necessities.
Here are a few tips from my six-mile canyon trip with a BlanketPack:
Overall, the BlanketPack trek went well and was a good experience. It was a great reminder to take your time to build the pack right the first time. Over the course of six miles, I experienced a pack that wasn’t packed right (too much weight was on one side) and I realized the importance of double checking the balance of the load before hitting the trails. This is the reason it’s so important to go out and practice. Sure, anyone can learn about BlanketPacks, but you don’t really get the experience until you use a BlanketPack.
- Eric Johnson