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Not every problem you encounter in the field or woods is a matter of life and death. Some issues are simply annoying and bothersome.

Take, for instance, the broken shoe or boot lace. A broken lace in your boot is not going to kill you, but if you are hiking and relying on your feet for transportation this can hinder your ability to move about as required.

There are many other equipment and gear issues that can hamper your journey and make life more difficult than it needs to be. Some classic examples are; broken or missing zipper pulls, broken zippers, broken straps and buckles on bags and packs, lost buttons on clothing, lost screws in the arms of eyeglasses, and snags or tears in rain gear or tent walls just to name a few.

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Field Craft and Repairs

I learned a bit about field craft from the campouts I went on when I was in the Young Marines during my Junior High days. However, my primary practical experience came from being an Infantryman with the United States Marine Corps and spending time in the jungle, desert, woods, and mountains.

One of the first things I learned as a grunt was that no one cares about your comfort but you. In the field, a broken boot lace is your problem. Ditto for pack straps, snaps, and buckles. You learn to fix problems yourself and move on. The entire unit is not going to press pause on the mission because you have an equipment issue.

Wilderness Survival Pt. 6: Field Craft and Repairs

Wilderness Survival Pt. 6: Field Craft and Repairs

During my time in the USMC I learned the value of parachute cord. Back then we did not have access to 100 different colors of paracord. Ours was simply light green with black flecks in it. Experienced field grunts all replaced the standard laces in our jungle boots with lengths of paracord.  We also left several extra feet of cord on our boots and wrapped it around our legs. That was where we stored our extra cord; around our boot tops.  In addition to obvious chores, Paracord or 550 cord can be field-stripped so you can use the center core of thinner material as you would string or twine.

Also, before the era of pink, purple, and zebra-striped duct tape, we had something called “100 mile an hour” tape. Essentially, these were 50 foot rolls of olive drab green fiber-lined adhesive. The supply and transport guys had the big rolls and we grunts would cut off three to five feet, roll it up as a mini-roll, and stash it in our packs for field repairs.


The last items that I found indispensable were the black or dark green, heavy duty safety pins. They came on every bandolier of 5.56mm ammo. I would stash these pin in my sewing kit and pin one to the inside of my cover (Marine for hat).

In addition to being great for simple repairs (replacing lost screw in eyeglasses) a safety pin is invaluable for removing splinters. No one wants to be in the field with a wood splinter in their hand or fingers. A safety pin can also be used to replace the missing zipper pull we mentioned earlier.

When it comes to field craft and making impromptu repairs, there are three very simple but endlessly valuable items that should be in everyone’s kit.  These would be 550/Paracord, a Mini-Roll of duct tape, and the ubiquitous Safety Pin. Don’t step off the blacktop without them.

Recommended Wilderness Survival Items:

  1. 3 Ft Roll Orange Duct Tape, 5 Ft length of Orange 550 Cord
  2. Wilderness Survival PLS Kit



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Paul G. Markel has worn many hats during his lifetime. He has been a U.S. Marine, Police Officer, Professional Bodyguard, and Small Arms and Tactics Instructor. Mr. Markel has been writing professionally for law enforcement and firearms periodicals for nearly twenty years with hundreds and hundreds of articles in print. Paul is a regular guest on nationally syndicated radio talk shows and subject matter expert in firearms training and use of force. Mr. Markel has been teaching safe and effective firearms handling to students young and old for decades and has worked actively with the 4-H Shooting Sports program. Paul holds numerous instructor certifications in multiple disciplines and a Bachelor’s degree in conflict resolution; nonetheless, he is and will remain a dedicated Student of the Gun.

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