Interview with Cody Lundin on Survival, Gear & Knives and self-sufficiency

Cody Lundin was the main character of Dual Survival for many years. During this TV show, partners like Dave Canterbury (as displayed in the photos from 2011) came and passed. Or rather were fired. Now the same happened to Cody. Nevertheless, the content of this interview we did in 2011 and which was published in German GEAR magazine is still as significant as it was then - and as it will be in several years. Cody talks about his gear, his knife, his spirit and what it needs to stay alive.

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BE PREPARED ... not scared. Cody Lundin is not only part of "Dual Survival", but also the author of two bestselling books on outdoor and urban survival. We talked to him about his philosophy.

Interview: Oliver Lang-Geffroy (for GEAR Magazin)

Anyone who recently watched German Men's Channel DMAX knows Cody Lundin. In the Discovery Channel-produced documentary "Dual Survival“ Cody gives the relaxed counterpart of hard-liner and ex-military Dave Canterbury. The Survival Guide plays in various Regions of the world, may it be the Brazilian rain forest or the desert of Arizona. And if Cody and Dave are once again not complete consensus about the best approach, the documentary kind of resembles a screwball comedy. Most of the times it runs out that Dave with full-force effort chases something, while Cody wisely prepares a cozy night's lodging which is efficient and definitely keeps warm. 100 kilo man Cody Lundin is well known in the USA as a Survival trainer. With "98.6 Degrees" and "When all hell breaks loose" he has written two bestsellers of the modern survival literature. More information to Cody Lundin can be found on his up-to-date, well-kept home page

Oliver Lang-Geffroy: Hi Cody, your father was in the Military, and you travelled quite a lot as a kid. Has this changed your view on nature? Cody Lundin: I’m an only kid, so a lot of my time was spent outdoors. Nature was my only constant companion due to moving so much. Two years I spent outside of a US military base at Zweibrücken, Germany - so your country with its forests offered me companionship as well.
OLG: What experiences made you to train with BOSS end of the 80's? CL: They were the only company that I knew about at the time. I spent a lot of time in highschool making ”indian“ stuff, being outdoors, picking up road kill to make things from, etc, so my interest in the outdoors and self-relaince was there.
OLG: After working some time for BOSS you founded you own Aboriginal Living Skills School. You surely know all about primitive skills, but your concept seems to be more modern. Could you describe your concept of modern survival? CL: People confuse how varied skills training can be. There are many forms of outdoor training that revolve around self-reliance. Modern outdoor survival skills, primitive living skills, wilderness living skills, (bushcrafting) urban preparedness skills, homesteading, etc. People confuse them. They are all related as each seeks to keep oneself alive at a core level, but the intention of each is radically different. As an example, getting rescued is the main goal of anyone stuck in a modern wilderness survival scenario. Signaling for rescue is not even thought about in a primitive living skills experience. To be well rounded, an instrcutor should have background in all of the above. Ideally, the instrcutor would live what they teach. Since this is a major life commitment, 99% of them don’t.

OLG: 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive!“ is mainly about the effects of hypo- and hyperthermia. Why is that? CL: Because lack of thermoregulation is the most common way to die in the outdoors by far. The media calls it dying of exposure. No one at the time I had written the book, (2001, and published in 2003) had spent that much time, or devoted a book to this fact. Why?

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OLG: WAHBL, as we think, one of the best books dealing with an urban survival scenario, is about what happens, if the power grid gets down and there you sit in a home with no working climate control, no gas for cooking, no electricity for light, no water out of the tap for drinking, cleaning or washing away the poop, fear coming up... What can anybody do to prepare for such a situation? CL: People can prepare for an emergency by knowing what makes them hurt. Like I say in the book, go without power for a weekend as a training excercise, and see what has you by the balls. It will be the same pysiologically for the most part as to what the human body needs to live, but the psychological aspects of staying alive will differ from family to family. Human needs are never costly, human wants are always expensive.
OLG: Which items could help to deal with an urban survival scenario when leaving is not an option? CL: Canned food which all family members like and which is easy to prepare always comes well, plus rice, beans and water supplies for at least two to four weeks, batteries for flashlights, rugged trash bags (also the necessities must be discarded!), nisinfectant and storage facilities for water and Firewood. There are some more things which I explain in WAHBL.
OLG: What are the similarities between a nature survival and an urban survival scenario? CL: In both humans seek to stay alive. The psychology of fear in an emergency would be the same. What the human body requires to live short and long term are the same. The intention is the same, the look of the resource might differ, making fire with sticks in the woods, or making fire with batteries and steel wool in the city. Both make fire.

OLG: What OLG do you have with you, whenever you leave home? CL: When heading into the woods, although I live in the woods, I always like a knife and a way to create fire. Cutting edges and fire are universal, and helped build every civilization on earth.

OLG: Is there something you carry even at home? CL: My experience, the more you know, the less you need.

OLG: Which things do you consider to be essential for a bug out bag for one person, let's say for an 72 hour disaster? CL: It depends upon the person, thier knowledge base, the time of year, (climate and season) and the bioregion they live in or are bugging out to just for starters. Here is the deal, if you want to know about how to keep the body alive, learn about the body. By taking advanced first aid classes, Emergency Medical Technician, Wilderness First Responder, etc, you learn what the body needs to survive. Know about your psychology, about how you handle emergencies. How do you operate when the chips are down? To distill down a bunch of bullshit that others will tell you to sell thier OLG, simply look at what a modern backpacker uses when they go on a pack trip. Pack what they pack and you are essentially independent in a wilderness or urban environment.

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OLG: You seem to prefer a simple Scandinavian MORA-type knife. Why is that? CL: I like simple knives, and I’ve explained what I like in my book 98.6 degrees. To each their own on knives, its a very personal choice.

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Cody Lundin oh knives and a good attitude

OLG: You seem to quite fond of Duct Tape: What for and how do you store it? CL: Duct tape and bailing wire built America. I store it on my flashlight, and wrapped around water bottles. I’ve used it for patching up people, (splinting broken bones) to blister prevention, to repairing OLG, to making sunglasses. Multi use stuff that is worth its weight in gold.

OLG: Your jewelry looks ethnic, what is it specifically (necklace, belt) and what does it mean to you? CL: My braclets are Navajo indian. My mom gave me my main one. I’ve worn it for more than 20 years. The necklace is made from mountain lion claws given to me by a friend and a Thors hammer, the Viking god of controlling the weather. It would be hard to explain the meaning of them in words.

OLG: What's the most important invention of mankind, the most important tool? CL: The cutting edge and the ability to create fire.

OLG: What car do you drive and why? CL: I drive a Jeep as I live 60 miles from town, and more than half of those miles are dirt roads winding thrugh high desert wilderness. Two wheel drive cars do not work where I live when the weather is bad and the roads are compromised.

OLG: What gives you power? CL: My higher power.

OLG: What can anybody do to train his mytochondria? I remember from Dual Survival: „My mitochondria can kick Dave's mitochondria any day of the week.“ This was quite a funny one. CL: Acclimitize to your environment. Native peoples adapted to weather extremes much more so than the modern person, who goes from temperature controlled house, to a temperature controlled car, to a temperature controlled work environment. Its like training in the gym. If you want stronger muscles, you must train with resistance and the muscles will adapt.

OLG: You told me about a long stretch. What's the perfect holiday for you? CL: Taking a road trip with no agendas or hanging out at my homestead tweaking with sustainable design.

OLG: You look a little like a Henry Rollins kind of guy or ist there also some Gil Scott Heron playing on your stereo. What's your favourite sound right now? CL: I like most types of music but especially heavy metal.

OLG: Is there something you want to tell our readers? Cody Lundin: Self-sufficiency is not a dirty word. Strive to be as independent as your heart tells you to be and simplify your life. There’s no feeling quite like it.

Interview: Oliver Lang-Geffroy (Underwood Publishing) Photos: (Gibbs Smith Publishing; D-Max/Discovery Channel)