#AskPaulKirtley Episode 27 – Survival Tins, Space Blankets, Canvas vs Synthetic, Aluminium Pot Safety, Clothing Tough Enough For The Woods, Dealing With Fear When Camping Alone

by Paul Kirtley

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In this episode of #AskPaulKirtley I answer questions about canvas vs synthetic fabrics, aluminium pot safety, clothing which is tough enough for the woods, dealing with fear when camping alone, whether to use tents or tarps in blackfly season and what’s my opinion on survival tins and foil space blankets.

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#AskPaulKirtley is my Q&A video and podcast series that aims to answer your questions about bushcraft, survival skills and outdoor life.

The idea here is partly to take the strain off my email inbox and get answers out to people in a more timely fashion.

Rather than send an answer to just that one person, I’d like others to benefit from the answers too. So, just in the same way I’d previously write an email answer, here I’m going to speak the answer (which is much quicker than me typing out an answer, so I’ll get more questions answered as well as benefiting more people).

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Related Material On Paul Kirtley’s Blog:

Staying Warm Outdoors: Avoid The Four Horsemen of Heat Loss

Hypothermia And How To Avoid It

Surviving A Winter’s Night in the Northern Forest: How To Build An Arctic Lean-To

PK Podcast 006: Winter Outdoor Life Tips, Thoughts And Perspectives


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Paul Kirtley is an award-winning professional bushcraft instructor. He is passionate about nature and wilderness travel. In addition to writing this blog Paul owns and runs Frontier Bushcraft, a wilderness bushcraft school, offering bushcraft courses and wilderness expeditions.


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }


Hey there, great stuff, thank you so much for this series!

I have something to add to the topic of wolves. Living in a wolfregion myself i don’t think they are much of a problem and don’t like the emotions involved in wolfdiscussions. And as you said hearing a wolf when you sit by a campfire is an incredible moment.
However, there is at least one very well documented case of a fatal wolf attack 2010 in Chignik Lake, Alaska, that did not involve rabies . Here is the report by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game: https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/home/news/pdfs/wolfattackfatality.pdf


Paul Kirtley

Hi Manuel,

Thanks for your comments. In particular thanks for your link to the report on the Chignik Lake incident. I was not aware of this and stand corrected.

But as the report states “Jogging alone and other solo activities in remote parts of Alaska entail inherent risk, but an attack by wolves is not considered to be a risk commensurate with bear attacks, inclement weather or personal injury.”

Indeed, it is thankfully very, very rare. Wolves remain at much more risk from humans than humans do from wolves.

Thanks again for the additional info.

Warm regards,



Steve Bayley

I replaced my orange survival bag with a one made from the same material that is used for ‘space blankets’ it is still Orange on the outside and I think a good alternative if not so versatile, so I’m more likely to have it with me as it is much lighter and smaller than the traditional orange bag.

If I have a ‘wobbly’ moment when I’m on my own in the woods at night I remind myself that I’m almost certainly the scariest thing in the woods with my knife and axe to hand! Not that I’m advocating violence of any kind of course, but it can be a comforting thought.


Paul Kirtley

Hey Steve, I can vouch that you are probably the scariest thing in the woods 😉

Is the orange/silver bag you have one that is rolled into a small cylinder when new?

Cheers, Paul


Steve Bayley

Yup, 8cm x 6cm diameter and 107g inc. tiny suff-sack. I got mine from backpackinglight.co.uk Bob (at Backpacking Light) says you can pack them up again into the stuff-sack but I must admit I haven’t actually done this yet!


Steve Bayley

P.S. There is a zoo not far from one of my bivvy- sites. There is something about hearing a Tiger in the dark that pushes your primal fear button!


Paul Kirtley

I can imagine this puts an edge on the experience! 😉


Par Leijonhufvud

As an example of not being found: for three summers I slept in a tent (1 year) and hammock (2 years) in the woods outside Östersund in Sweden (I was there due to seasonal work, so it was about 70 nights each season). The area I used most with the hammock was crisscrossed with jogging paths, and I was seldom more than 20 m from a path. During all those nights only once did a late dog-walker leave the paths, and once more an very early jogger passed my camp.

I can add that the Hennesey style hammocks is a nice alternative in the boreal woods during insect season. Quick and comfortable, and you both can see the woods and are protected from the ,insects.


Andrew Hughes

I carry a tin, but I have different items in it. I carry coins for the parking meter, paper money in case I have to take a taxi, mini sewing kit, a couple plasters, etc. Most emergencies are covered and I just have to pick up the one package before hopping on the train or in the car.

I definitely feel more fear on the tube in London than in the woods, even in just a tent in the Kalahari there was less to fear than commuting to work.

I often wonder why I came back.


Andy Caldwell

Hi Paul
Fantastic stuff as always, so thanks for that 🙂
I was especially interested on the conquering fear stuff.
I am fortunate in that I have a couple of like minded friends to go wild camping with but I really want to do some solo camping and it’s the whole fear of being out in the dark on your own that’s holding me back.
Having listened to your thoughts and also other commenters and of course the original question, I’ve actually found it quite comforting to know that other people feel/have felt the same way. When I watch a lot of survival/bushcraft/camping stuff it always seems like everyone involved has no problem being out wild camping alone , as if it isn’t even an issue. Now that I know I’m not alone in feeling like this and that other people have felt this way and got over it, I reckon it’s time to just man up and become the scariest thing in my local woods.

Thanks again Paul



Gavin Henry

I think it was this episode that talked about netting for bugs?
The SnugPak sleeping bags also have netting built in to zip over the face part of the hood. Very handy, but not as much space as a full net.



Paul Kirtley

This is true Gav. I did a review of one of them here: http://paulkirtley.co.uk/2014/snugpak-travelpak-3-sleeping-bag-review/



r.e. irrational fear in the woods
this might be considered a lateral suggestion, but check what you are taking in as input. i.e the news, soaps and dramas consist mostly of Murder and Mayhem. As an experiment our family once tried to identify how many stories we had come across that did not have “Bad Guys” we just about scraped up 20. There was about 100 years of experience between us and we figured we had heard about 5000 – 1000 stories.

Conversely we had met somewhere between 5000 and 10000 real people but had trouble scraping together 20 real “bad guys”.

An unconfirmed anecdote I heard is…… that after watching Jaws there were Adults who were afraid to go into swimming pools.


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