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Basic Survival Lessons From Naked & Afraid Star, Laura Zerra

Basic Survival Lessons From Naked & Afraid Star, Laura Zerra
October 20, 2020

Learn survival skills from a Naked and Afraid all star. Laura Zerra is one of the most successful survivalists and bushcraft experts in Naked and Afraid history. Laura has conquered two 21 day Naked and Afraid challenges along with a 40 day Naked and Afraid XL challenge. Not to mention...a life full of honing primitive skills and becoming a survival expert. She broke down some simple survival principles for us in this episode about survival basics. Laura Zerra covered how to approach a survival situation by asking and addressing "What's gonna kill me first?", she explains her strategy for setting up a bushcraft camp and a bushcraft shelter, she shared her approach to starting fires in survival situations, and she explains why she uses the bushcraft knife that she does. 

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Gear Mentioned:
Pack of lighters  
Fire Paste  
Abe Elias Bushcraft Knife  
Book: A Modern Guide To Knife Making 

Brad: How little do you need to survive I mean preppers stock up but does that make you a target maybe the key to survival is knowing how to travel light and acquiring as you go today I have an expert in survival with Laura Zerra now many of you will know Laura from her tours on the discovery channels naked and afraid but her background goes so much deeper than that she's worked on crab boats she's worked as a taxidermist she's worked with horses and she's the author of a knife making book all of those skills culminate to create this ultimate survival expert and she's just really fascinating to talk to on this episode of Gearbox Talk she's gonna be sharing how to get started with your own survival efforts we're talking about the fundamentals of being prepared how to set up your survival shelter the best fire starters and Laura reveals the single most important item for surviving if that sounds amazing make sure you subscribe hit that little bell Laura will be back in a few weeks you do not want to miss that show which is on subsistence hunting and on this show she's gonna drop all of the things in her survival bag these are her must-have items in the event of an emergency or in a survival situation also be sure to share this show with a friend who needs to up their survival game just go ahead and text it to them right now and tell them you need this all right that's enough chit chat let's talk survival with Laura Zerra.

Laura Zerra welcome to Gearbox Talk we're gonna talk about beginner level survival here today and I'm super pumped to have you on board 

Laura: I'm excited thank you so much for having me 

Brad: Awesome all right let's dive in if someone is just getting started and they're just starting to think about bushcraft and survival tactics and being prepared what are the fundamental things that they need to consider 

Laura: I think you just need to take a look at what your basic needs are and people forget that they want to learn all the fancy tricks and dive down the rabbit hole but it's like what are your basic needs food shelter fire water and what do you have around you to meet them you can break it down into something as simple as that it doesn't have to be you have to know every trick in the book 

Brad: I love that and very condensed answers I appreciate it so so when you you know you and I have done another podcast together and I know you've done you've learned a lot from trying and doing and like when you first started learning survival camps and how to set up you just went out and tried it but for someone that you know is trying to get into that mentality what are the top priorities for approaching a bushcraft and survival camp set up what do they need to keep in mind outside of maybe some of those initial fundamentals that you just mentioned 

Laura: Yeah so I always kind of look at it like what's going to kill you first and usually it's going to be either dehydration or more likely exposure so shelter building is one of those things that's not super glamorous but it's really important and I see so many people build terrible shelters and think that a primitive shelter means you're just going to be wet and miserable the whole time and it's just not the case so whatever environment you're going into just build the a perfect shelter learning how to build a perfect shelter is huge 

Brad: What is that perfect shelter I'm kind of curious now I'm going to add a question that didn't prep you for here like what's your approach to something that's doable you know without a ton of manpower or getting able bodies to help but also provides in those needs that you just framed up

Laura: Usually it's just way smaller than you're imagining because we all live in these big houses so we're thinking we need to build a smaller house that we live in but still pretty big no build the smallest thing you can get away with and normally I build a shelter that will just shelter my own body it's very small and then I even have a separate shelter for a fire so I have like a mini fire shelter kind of but if you have a smaller shelter it it not only takes less resources time and energy to make you can make it better because there's less work to do and also um usually you're keeping your body heat in better that way you know your heat's reflecting like I love debris shelters I grew up in new England building debris shelters out of leaves you literally need three feet of debris on top of this to make it waterproof at all and going in there if it's small then you're going to stay warm because your heat's reflecting off of that debris but people want to build these monstrosities and it just it's not not important 

Brad: Yeah I've seen shelters that people have built in the woods every now and then when I'm out on public land and and you're right like they are like recreating it's like the office I'm in right now and and it is kind of silly and if you're trying to stay warm too that's a terrible use of your heat too so I like the advice to stay small you mentioned starting a fire and you know people there's a lot of brands out there now you know you see videos on the the advertisements of like pulling it out of water and lighting it immediately what's your approach to being able to start a fire and being prepared because as you said that's one of the key things you need need for either warmth or or cooking your food so what's your approach to a fire starter 

Laura: I've been super close to hypothermia several times and I always carry this if I'm in the back country I take my lighter and everyone laughs because I'm a survivalist right I'm supposed to have some super fancy gadget but to be honest the lighters never failed me if it's too cold then I put it in my pocket and it heats up because um that's that's really all it takes I keep it dry I keep it in a ziploc bag really you know very technical and um I also carry with me this stuff called fire paste this isn't an ad but it works really great mine's a little crinkled up tube and you can put it on a piece of wood and it doesn't matter I mean you can light things up immediately and for me that's just easy it's something that you know you can build your own fire starter your own little kit whatever for me this works and I have a piece of p cord that if everything goes wrong I can use that I can make a bow drill kit I know I can do that but I'm not going to go and make a bow drill fire every time I need to you know warm myself up I'm going to use a lighter because it's easy it works and if I lose it I can go to the gas station and get one for a dollar

Brad: Yeah that's a great point and I again like I do feel like sometimes people over engineer that setup and you know a good portion of their bag which I'm your bag is I like your small setup we'll talk about that on another show but a lot they'll take up a lot of space carrying around stuff you know to be able to light a fire and you're right the lighter doesn't fail all right so what is the single most important item for any survival situation without knowing the location if you're dropped into any spot out of some of these basics we've talked about what's the single most important survival tool to have 

Laura: If I was going to be stuck with nothing else I'm gonna bring a knife so I i use a bushcraft knife generally speaking this one it's by Abe Elias um it's great because it's baton's wood it's hearty it it's really dual purpose it carves really fast and for me if you're carving something if I have to carve a trap or if I do have to carve a bow drill kit because I don't have a lighter because I only have this thing it just it eats wood and no knife can do everything a hundred percent if I'm going to be butchering something then you know I prefer something different but if I'm going to be on a survival situation you're pretty much dealing with cutting up firewood cutting things I can beat this thing up so much I mean I have beat this thing up so much and a knife that maintains an edge and still does its job it's it's just everything out there you can't replace the steel tool 

Brad: And the the one thing about the construction of that knife that's interesting is you know every day carry is really picked up and a lot of people are into the clip knife so the and a flip knife that you know disperses one hand but for survival I noticed you don't have it's all one single piece of material with the wooden handle on there um I'm assuming you've thoughtfully chosen that because it stands up to that task 

Laura: Yep yeah if you have a knife that even if it has a safety when it's open and it stays open I've had those in situations where you're pounding on it and even if it doesn't break it's just not it's not the way to go this thing it's just it's reliable there's less parts to break a lot of times if a knife is breaking like that you're going to end up hurting yourself which puts you into a whole different survival situation so I always like to fix blades 

Brad: Awesome that was it for this first Gearbox Talk we'll have Laura back on to talk about subsistence hunting but for today on a beginner level survival overview that was great Laura thank you for coming on

Laura: Thank you 

Brad: Thank you Laura Zerra for coming on to Gearbox Talk as always all of the gear that she mentioned will be in the show notes I'm also going to drop a link into her knife making book and be sure to pick that up it looks really cool and my other podcast with her yes there's another one coming on Gearbox Talk and then there's a yet another that's coming on restless native she's awesome I've talked to her for like an hour and a half now and I feel like I've had I gotten to have a really deep good conversations with Laura Zerra I'm a big fan so I am certain she creates good content in her book pick it up if you buy any of this gear gowild will be able to earn a commission and when we make money we donate a percentage of our profits back into an outdoor non-profit that outdoor nonprofit is raise em outdoors they teach kids archery how to hunt fish survive camp and it's a great way to give back so if you're gonna buy the gear anyways buy it through the show notes links and support the show support gowild and support the kids I mean if you need no other reasons support the kids if you really enjoyed this show go ahead and subscribe and again I also called out that I've had her on my other show restless native so restless native is primarily a podcast so go pull out your favorite podcast app and subscribe so that you can hear Laura's backstory I actually really enjoyed talking to her it's a fun conversation we'll dive into how she became such a survivalist and again I really enjoy talking to her I really like her as a person and it's a fun chat I hope you'll subscribe so you don't miss it if you have ideas on who else we should have on a Gearbox Talk drop those in the comments if you have ideas on things I should have asked Laura drop those in the comments I'm reading all the comments and we're using that very much to guide the show and where we're headed that's it for me today I really appreciate you guys showing up every single week to check out our Gearbox Talk content but for today I'm out

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