Survival skills from ‘Adventure Merchants’

Doug Williams
 

‘Adventure Merchants’ is the brainchild of Paul Evans, an Englishman now living in Melbourne. His company offers caving, kayaking, and climbing trips. He also takes customers out on survival courses where they can learn how to stay alive in many life-threatening situations.

Australia is very different from his work in Switzerland, where he was teaching climbing and abseiling. It is also very different from England and Europe, where he has also worked. He started off in Australia working with teenagers: two-week trips where they worked off-track out in the wilderness with only a map, compass, and whatever their backpack could hold. Eventually, he learned that working for others was not what he wanted to do and so he decided to strike out on his own.

Survival

Paul has always had an interest in survival work. When he worked in the UK, he learned a lot from his boss at the time, who had an interest in and skills for surviving in the wilderness. His business started about the time Bear Grylls became popular, which became a great advertisement for Adventure Merchants. More people became interested in skills like building fires and shelters and were looking for companies that provide the courses. However, the things you see on television and the things learned on courses are quite different. For one, they are practical and not overly dramatized, as learning the skills in a face-to-face situation doesn’t need the extra pizzazz compared to seeing it on television.

Paul Evans’ advice on the one skill to have above all others is knowing how to start a fire. And there is quite a bit of skill involved. Often you have limited resources, such as one lighter or half a box of matches, so you want to be able to start the fire and maintain it on the first try. Once achieved, you then have something to keep you warm, ward off animals, and boil your water. Fire boosts morale and is able to be used to signal for help.

Starting a fire

If you get lost, Evans says you need three things – a striker or flint, a clear plastic bag, and a knife.  Using just these three items you can significantly increase your ability to survive. To know why follow one of his courses

At the end of spring, Adventure Merchants is running a seven-day desert survival course. It will be a combination of desert survival and learning how to drive off-road. There is also a shorter weekend course that is similar but doesn’t go into as much depth. In the longer course, you are actually put into a 24-hour survival situation where you have to use the skills you have learned over the week.  Australia can be a very harsh environment in terms of survival, so anything you can do to help yourself before you find yourself lost in the desert or wilderness will help you make it back out alive.

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