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Thank you for joining our monthly e-newletter. Every month one of our mailing list participants will be picked to win an $25 Nugget Alaskan Outfitter Gift Certificate. The winner will be notified through email, so please look for the monthly winner emails. The winner for August was Anne Smith.


10 Survival Essentials

We live in an endless playground and you should get out there and explore. Here are 10 key survival essentials to take with you every time you go out, whether you plan to spend half an hour or many days in the outdoors. These are not in an order of importance, since they are all equally important to have.


1 & 2 Shelter and Cordage

Building a shelter will help protect you from getting too cold and wet. The easiest and most light weight shelter consists of a space blanket secured with parachute cord. A space blanket only weighs 3-12 oz depending on the type you buy. They can also be used as a picnic blanket, sun shade, water collector, rain poncho, ground cloth, signal, slings, tourniquet, heat and light reflectors, cordage and for keeping you warm and dry especially if you place them right next to the skin.

Parachute cord is also light weight and very strong. The material inside the kernmantle (casing) can be pulled out and used as sewing thread or used as cordage as well. You can use parachute cord for tying things up - or down, as dental floss, shoe laces, hanging food, making a loop ladder, replacing a broken zipper pull or hanging up your wet clothes so they can dry.

Shelter should include protection from rain and sun, so make sure that you throw a hat and sunscreen in your pack. NAO carries the Seattle Sombrero hats, which are great for rain or sun. A head covering of any type can help prevent hypothermia, and the sombrero is a great choice because it will also keep your head dry.

3 Water

Even though SE Alaska is a temperate rainforest with lots of good tasting water, we still need to be mindful of harmful bacteria and Protozoa. NAO carries a variety of water filters including: Katadyn's Vario, Hiker Pro, and Mybottles (the Mybottles are awesome BTW). We also have the Camelbak All Clear water purification bottle which uses UV light to neutralize viruses, bacteria and protozoa and can be used for international travel. If you prefer to carry a water bottle you could use a purifying tablet such as iodine, MSR Aquatabs or Micropur MPI tablets. These take a bit longer (.5 hr - 4 hours) to effectively treat the water and they eliminate viruses. You will want to add Nuun or Koolaid to help with the awful flavor of the iodine tablets.



Multi-tools such as the Leatherman Skeletool, have so many uses in every day camp activities and life in general. If you find yourself in a survival situation, your chances of survival are infinitely increased with a knife. My husband takes this advice to heart, one day at dinner I asked him to place everything in his pockets on the table - he had ten knives of varying size and usefulness on him. He grew up on an island homesteaded by his grandparents, and to this day he still carries twine, knives, and waterproof matches with him every day.

Multi-tools can be used for removing hot cans from a fire, cutting cordage, removing splinters, opening cans, gutting a fish, removing fish hooks, cutting wood, creating a staff or roasting stick with a sharp end, scraping bark and sap off a tree for fire starter, cutting up food, etc.



I mentioned using sap to help start a fire. Sap burns like crazy even when everything is wet. It is easy to find around the base of pine trees, but it is very sticky so to save yourself some trouble try carrying Tinder on a Rope. To get your fire going try arranging three rocks in a triangle and placing small sticks, pine needles and fire starter in the center. You can use waterproof matches or strikers like Blastmatch or an Adventure 16 magnesium striker and to get it going. NAO carries all of these plus the Optimus Burny lighter which is kind of like having your own mini blow torch.


Many survival kits include a can of some type which can be used to boil water. Soup cans work great for this, just remember to take the label off (BTW, the label can be used as a fire starter) and keep your knife handy to pull it off the flame - it will get very hot.



Other than that one can of soup (or you can be civilized and buy a cook set), you will want to carry dehydrated foods to keep your pack as light as possible. NAO carries AlpineAire meals that are nutritious, light weight, taste great and are cooked by adding boiling water. No extra pans or even utensils are needed as you can mix by shaking and eat directly from the bag - caveman style, so make sure your mom isn't watching. NAO also has a variety of energy foods like Gu, Honey Stinger, and Shotblocks that can give you a boost of energy.


7-First Aid Kit

First-aid kits will greatly simplify the healing of injuries. You don't want to make things complicated with dangling skin, infections, and gushing blood. First-aid kits include gauze, bandages, alcohol cleaning wipes, gloves, and other supplies that will help you heal. A Sams Splint is also a great thing to carry. They are used to create splints and neck braces, but they can also be used as a wind shield for your cook stove, a pillow, a bowl, a signal device, padding if your pack rubs, etc.



A compass will help you find your way to civilization, if you know how to use it. NAO carries a variety of compasses, we also carry Garmin Forerunner watches that have GPS and the Delorme inREACH SE and Explorer. Both of the inREACH products have 100% global coverage, allowing you to text 160 character messages. They also have GPS tracking and you can download Topo maps of the area you will be exploring. The Explorer has the added benefit of navigation, waypoints, track logging and a digital compass. Both require a subscription plan, so plan ahead.



Even in the summer a source of light can be a source of comfort. We have also used flashlights as a signal to alert helicopters that you are there. They prefer that to having a flare shot at them - go figure. To signal a plane point the light into the limbs of a pine tree and move it back and forth, basically making the tree light up and "flash" like a big mirror. NAO carries Petzl, Princeton Tec, Fenix, Pelican and Surefire headlamps and flashlights of varying strength, size and weights. I like the Pelican flashlights because they come in bright easy to find colors and they are waterproof. I also carry a Princeton Tec headlamp, one backs the other up, but I also always carry extra batteries.



Clothing keeps you warm by trapping warm air near your skin. When your clothing gets wet the moisture pulls heat away from your body, making your body expend more energy on creating extra heat to compensate. This will make you fatigued and lose brain functionality and can lead to hypothermia.

If your shoes and socks get wet, it is likely that you will get blisters because your feet will slide around in your shoes. You will lose your ability to get out of the bush if this happens. So, make sure you have extra socks!


Cotton vs Synthetic

When cotton gets wet, it ceases to insulate you because all of the air pockets in the fabric fill up with water. When you hike, you perspire, and any cotton clothing touching your skin will absorb your sweat like a sponge. In addition, wet cotton does not wick water away from your skin. Wicking fabrics move water from wet areas to dry ones using a process called capillary action. For example, a wicking base layer shirt such as Under Armor or Helly Hansen Dry, will move moisture from the surface of your skin to the outer layers of your shirt leaving the part of the fabric touching your skin dry. This is why layering is such an effective clothing strategy for hiking, because wicking fabrics move water away from your skin and up through your layers one after another, enabling the fabric next to your skin to trap insulating air and retain your body's warmth.

Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. When your body temperature drops, your heart, nervous system and other organs can't work normally. Left untreated, hypothermia can eventually lead to complete failure of your heart and respiratory system and to death. Hypothermia can occur in temperatures well above freezing and become serious if you get wet and chilled.



Rain Coat Comparison Charts

Deciding on rain gear can be confusing, especially since NAO carries such a wide variety of rain gear. The rain gear we carry can be broken down into 2 categories. We have the 100% waterproof, but largely non-breathable PVC coated work wear and the waterproof, but breathable light weight back country rain gear. I have put together the following two charts which show comparisons of waterproofness, breathability, weight, pricing and activity level, to help you make a decision, followed by some frequently asked questions.


Heavy Duty Work Wear                       Light Weight Sport Wear


How Waterproof is this Jacket?
Manufacturers use pressure to determine how much water will pass through a fabric.  If you look on the comparison chart you will notice water resistance listed in millimeters (mm). This number comes from placing a square tube with inner dimensions of 1" x 1" over a piece of test fabric. Water is then added to the tube and the height (in mm) that the water reaches before it begins to leak through is measured. The higher the number, the more waterproof the fabric.

Is there 100% Waterproof material?Yes, and we carry a large selection of heavy and light weight rain gear made of PVC coated fabrics. Outerwear designed for active sports has various degrees of water resistance, but will eventually leak given enough water, time and pressure. A coated raincoat is completely waterproof, and may be the ideal garment for standing in a downpour waiting for the bus, but if you tried to hike or cross country ski in it, you'd be wet in no time from your own perspiration. The trick is to balance protection from rain and snow on the outside with the ability to let water vapor (warm perspiration) escape from the inside.

What is Breathabilty?

Breathability is normally expressed in terms of how many grams (g) of water vapor can pass through a square meter (m2) of the fabric from the inside to the outside in a 24 hour period. In the case of a 20k (20,000 g) fabric, this would be 20,000 grams. The larger the number, the more breathable the fabric.  Many Rain coats also offer pit and side zips to help increase the breathability of a jacket. When using a coated rain jacket, aim for a larger size which would allow for some air movement around the torso and up the sleeves.


How breathable a garment do I need?
How breathable of a garment you need depends on your level of activity. A layer of warm, moist air between your body and your shell can mean warmth as long as your base layers don't become saturated with moisture. If your activity keeps you moderately active, but you don't break a sweat and you get plenty of rests, than a breathability rating of 5,000 to 8,000 grams will probably be fine. For high energy activities where you know you will break a sweat, you will want a breathability rating between 10,000 and 20,000 grams.


How do I keep my breathable coat waterproof?

 Almost all outerwear exterior fabrics are treated with some sort of Durable Water Repellent (DWR). A DWR will keep the fabric from becoming saturated with water by causing water to bead-up and roll off the fabric. Waterproof/Breathable fabrics are affected by abrasion, dirt and repeated washings. This is why after some use, a garment will appear to no longer be waterproof. This isn't the case, though - it just means the DWR has worn off and the face fabric is getting saturated. NAO carries a selection of Nikwax products to help clean and re-condition your waterproof/breathable garment. 




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Stacey Poulson
Nugget Alaskan Outfitter

Nugget Alaskan Outfitter | 907-789-0956 | |
9107 Mendenhall Mall Rd Ste 301
Juneau, AK 99801

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