Hardtack: What it is and How to Make It

When Columbus set sail in 1492 hoping to find a short cut to the Orient by going west his vessels were stocked with, among other things, cheese, honey, raisins, rice, garlic, beans, salt-pork, anchovies, sardines and an early version of what became known as hardtack. Without this “sea biscuit” as it was called at the time, chances are many in Columbus’ crew would have died of starvation before they stumbled ashore in what is today the Bahama’s.

In the centuries since Columbus hardtack only increased in popularity, especially among the world’s armed forces. In fact, a version of hardtack was being issued to Japanese and Korean soldiers late in the 20th century, and word has it the Russian army still includes it in some ration kits.

If you plan on heading into the wild on a hunting or hiking adventure you might want to bring some hardtack with you. If you get lost, snowed in or otherwise stranded for a prolonged period of time hardtack could be the difference between life and death. And, of course, should the apocalypse descend upon us and civil order break down, having a generous supply of hardtack and vitamins on hand could ensure your survival, while others are scouring through trash cans to find scraps. (more…)

How to Use a Compass

With so many digital miracles at our fingertips a lot of people have lost track of time-tested analog skills that could save their life if the power ever went out or the battery on their smartphone died. GPS, for example, is a great thing but it relies entirely on electricity, and access to electricity is not guaranteed.

Hikers, hunters and frankly just about anyone else who enjoys getting away from it all from time to time would do well to develop their compass and map reading skills. Because, no matter how much you paid for your smartphone it’s nothing more than an expensive paperweight when the battery dies.

Below we’re going to go over the fine points of how to use a compass, beginning with an introductory overview of the compass and its component parts. (more…)

Pemmican Recipe

Pemmican is a traditional food that, for centuries, played an important role in the diet of various Native American tribes. In time it was discovered and adopted by Western explorers, trappers, scouts and others who roamed the vast North American wilderness during frontier days.

The word is derived from the Cree (1) word pimîhkân, which denotes “grease” or “animal fat”. Below we’re going to take a close look at pemmican and provide a recipe for making this early type of emergency ration the way Lewis and Clarke might have. (more…)