#AskPaulKirtley Episode 31 – Electrical Storms, Trekking Poles, Vapor Barriers, Firesteel Lanyards and How Do You Know When To Stop Bow-Drilling?

by Paul Kirtley

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Paul Kirtley in AskPaulKirtley 31

In this episode of #AskPaulKirtley I answer questions on vapour barriers, keeping firesteels on lanyards, what to do in electrical storms, using trekking poles for both trekking and pitching tarps, dehydrating your own meals, especially favourite recipes. Plus there is a question on how to know when to stop bow drilling which leads into an interesting case study based on the submitted photo.

AND there is a nice sneak preview in the middle of the video as well as a fun little blooper reel at the end.

It’s good to be back with #AskPaulKirtley. There are a lot of questions to be answered over the coming weeks…

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Links For This Episode of #AskPaulKirtley

PK Podcast 008: Chris Townsend, Backpacking Legend
Bow-Drill – The Keys to Success
Bow Drill Island Challenge – Preview

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Leave me a comment below. Let me know what you think of this episode. I read every one.

But remember if you want to ask a question for a future episode, don’t do this in the comments below, do it in one of the ways explained HERE.

What Is #AskPaulKirtley?

#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).

Click here to find out the different ways you can ask me a question.

Related Material On Paul Kirtley’s Blog:

A Trail Of Destruction: Canoeing The River Greta After The Floods…

PK Podcast 017: Al Humphreys On Adventures Great And Small

The Value Of Using Wilderness Skills Closer To Home: Bushcraft Show 2016 Presentation


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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.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }


Hi Paul
Excellent chapter of “AsK Paul Kirtley”, and the thunderstorm preview on target! Everything you state about lightning is fairly complete. The question about walking staff: they can absolutely save a hiker
or mountaineer from a potentially dangerous stumble and injury. I always used a simple cured yet
lightweight length of lodgepole pine common to the high mountain wilderness. Lightning storms are very
common in the Pacific Northwest.
Kind Regards
Jim Watkins


Dave Howard

Hi Paul
Great show as always. The tip on the size of the groove in the baseboard of the bow-drill set was very useful I tried it out and hey presto managed to get my first ever success. Love your shows and articles
and thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience.
All the best Dave.


Kevin Reiter

Hi Paul,

As usual, great episode.

I would offer the following information on lightning injuries from my Wilderness First Aid course to help educate your listeners about lightning while outdoors.

Types of Lighting Injuries
1. Direct Strike
– The lightning hits the victim directly
– The most lethal mechanism

2. Side Splash
– Lightning strikes another object first and then jumps to the victim
– Can jump from victim to victim

3. Direct Contact
– Touching an object that is struck by lightning

Types of Lighting Injuries
1. Ground current
– Lightning strikes the ground or a nearby object and then spreads through the ground
– Current from the ground goes up the legs
– A major cause of the mass casualty situations

2. Weak upward streamer
– Electrical streamer heads toward the sky but does not contact sky lightning
– Less energy than sky lightning

3. Blunt trauma / Blast effect
– Injury that occurs due to the impact of the concussive force of the strike itself
– Also due to being thrown and striking the ground or other objects

Other Injuries
– Heart problems (wide range)
– Neurologic impairment
– Amnesia
– Seizures
– Burns
– Ears (hearing loss)
– Eyes – blindness (temporary)

– Know weather patterns
– “When thunder roars, go indoors”
– The distances that sound travel are well within the distance of a lightning strike
– The most common times for lightning are before the storm appears overhead and after it has passed

If in a group:
– Spread out so that one strike does not take out the whole group
– Stay within eye contact of the others
– This allows rescue if a person is struck

Avoid obvious targets
– Open fields
– Lakes, reservoirs
– Ridges
– Isolated tall objects

Where to be:
– Inside an all metal vehicle
– Dense forest with trees of uniform height
– Deep, dry cave

The Position:
– “Fetal position”
– Legs together to prevent ground current from going up one leg
– Squatting preferably or sitting
– Distanced from group members




Hey Paul,

you make some great points regarding the walking poles. When backpakcing out here in the Sierra Nevadas they are invaluable when negotiating steep terrain. They act like shock absorbers for my knees! They also serve as quite
an unexpected purpose too. They make a great deterrent against Ratllesnakes out here in California. Walking with the
poles sends vibrations through the ground alerting the snakes of your presence. The foot of the poles will likely be the
first thing they will strike too!

Love this #AskPaulKirtley feature and the rest of your content. Keep up the good work as ever!

Irvine, CA



Great as usual Paul. I’ve never experienced it, but was always made aware during mountain training etc. The ‘spark gap’ whereby, if you shelter in a cave entrance (you could do it in the Alps or in Deepdale just off the footpath in the Peak) the lightning will ‘jump the gap’ if it strikes down a rock face, and if you are in that gap, zap.


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