“Oh a storm is threat’ning,
my very life today,
if I don’t get some shelter,
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away” (Gimme Shelter,Rolling Stones)

As any survival instructor will tell you, having the right state of mind in an emergency situation is critical to your chances of survival.   But what determines someone’s state of mind in a survival situation and why do some people do better than others?

I think there are a number of factors at play – some people are simply mentally tougher than others;  someone who has lived in the outdoors most of their life is less likely to be fazed by an outdoor survival situation than someone from the city; some people crave company, others are happy with solitude.   There are also ways of encouraging positive thinking – setting realistic goals, accepting that not everything will go right (but patting yourself on the back when it does) will all help you to keep calm and positive.

However, a few years ago I read a study (and unfortunately I can’t remember the details) but the essence of it was that if soldiers where placed in a high stress situation (i.e. on the front line where they are being shot at) for over 8 months without a break they would start to mentally fall apart.  What was interesting about the results was that this applied to all soldiers – no-one could handle that sort of on going stress without a break, no matter how tough their metal attitude was or how well they’d been trained.

In a survival situation, or if you’ve got lost in the jungle, things have, by definition, already started to go wrong.  If more things start to go wrong – if your fire won’t catch, you get a soaking from the rain, the bugs bite you, you can’t find clean water, there’s no food – the accumulation of  ‘things going wrong’ is going to stress out even the calmest individual and the problem with being stressed is that you’re less likely to make good decisions at the very moment when it is most necessary to be able to do so.

psk_shelterHow does all this relate to a PSK shelter kit?  You could argue that a shelter kit in the jungle is not a survival necessity – it’s warm enough that hypothermia isn’t a problem and you could always fashion a debris shelter or palm thatch roof.

However, this argument neglects to take into account a couple of factors: 1) building a natural shelter requires time, energy and for resources to be close at hand and 2) I imagine that in most emergency situations the first night at least would be unexpected and there may not be time to set up a shelter.

But, most importantly, having a shelter system with you that will give you a good night’s sleep is going to give a massive boost to your mental state in an emergency situation.  Imagine you’ve got lost in the jungle and as the daylight fades you realise you’re going to spend an unplanned night there – instead of rushing around trying to put together a shelter you simply pull out a PSK hammock and rig up a tarp from your emergency blanket.  After a reasonable night’s sleep you wake the next day with a clearer head and a better chance of making the right choices about what to do next.

In the video I show a few emergency blankets (which at the price and weight are something very well worth carrying) and also the EDC hammock which I bought from UKHammocks.  The EDC hammock isn’t as comfortable as a full sized hammock (no big surprise there) but you can sleep in it (as long as you are under 85 kg).  It also has the benefit of complementing your main kit as it can be used as cargo net, chair, and under quilt/mozzi blocker as well.


 

For anyone interested in buying one or reading more details here is the link to UK Hammocks.

And here is the Amazon link for the SOL emergency blanket

If you can set up a camp like this then, should you get lost in the jungle, you are also more likely to stay put (rather then rushing to get out before nightfall and possibly getting even more lost) and the whole prospect of an unplanned night in the forest is far less alarming.