Anvil Survival Tips

We’re lucky that Empire 1 this year is a bit later than previous years, but it’s still good to be prepared for inclement weather and make the appropriate sacrifices to the weather gods :wink:.

So everyone what tips would you give people about camping in cold/rain/windy/muddy conditions or even just camping for the first time What are some good things to keep on you and what are some good self-care tips that people swear by?

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Bring more pegs than you think you need. Bring more socks than you think you need. Bin bags are big and clever, both for rubbish and for wet/muddy kit (but don’t get the bags mixed up!). Make sure you have an easy handheld light source (with backup batteries) for late night trips to the loo. Don’t worry too much about it being OC, not tripping over guy ropes is more important than other people’s immersion at 3am in the morning.

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Dry feet. Be it waterproof boots, Sealskinz socks, do whatever it takes to keep your feet dry.

Dry everything else. I personally layer in this order: thermals, waterproof trousers, kit trousers (and similar for tops). Whatever the state of my outer gear, at my core I am warm. Have spares in case the worst happens.

It gets cold, especially at night. Wear thermals, pack extra blankets and duvets. Have kit that you can layer up with as the sun goes down (even if you have to head back to your tent to get a couple of OC t-shirts and leggings hidden underneath your kit). Hats and hoods are helpful.

When sleeping the ground will absorb heat so get layers between you and the ground as much as on top of you. More, sometimes. Wear a hat if you need to.

Know how to pitch your tent, and use your guy ropes. You never know when the wind will get high so takes the time to pitch properly.

If you get really cold, go to First Aid and get warmed up. Your OC health comes first!

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I stand by the advice - pack more socks than you think you will need and plan for the cold. There’s no vanity in warmth and we’d all rather you wrapped a blanket around yourself and didn’t look perfect than look awesome and get hypothermia!

Also if you’re cold and miserable please tell someone! Again we’d all rather you are warm and having fun than cold and miserable. If your group, friends or nation can’t help remember you can ask PD too, go to your egregore, go to God, go to anyone wearing a radio and ask for help!

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Don’t forget to eat and drink and by drink I mean water (juice, tea coffee etc).

Just being outside should make you thirstier because you are losing more water to wind or sun depending, and factor in the walking around even just in Anvil you need to be drinking more than you would usually.

Carrying some sort of water container is very big and clever, fill it up every time you go past a tap.

The eating is also important, it is very easy to get caught up in all the meetings, events and talking to people and then wonder why you’re feeling wobbly at 5pm when you forgot to have anything for lunch.

If you’re one of those who might not remember ask someone in your group to check in with you during the weekend, and if you can carry some sort of snack.

If you’re the slightly less busy member of your group checking with those who have been run off their feet is a really nice friendly thing to do too.

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Sealskinz are your friend - keeps feet dry and comfortable.
Layers are a must - that way you can regulate your temperature.
Have a waterproof layer - getting socked to the skin really destroys your fun.
Food - bring lots of snack food that you can munch on for breakfast and for when you crawl into bed in the evening - a full belly with keep you warm and give you energy to play.
Water - have a container that you can keep with you at all times - dehydration will make you ill.
Medi kit - have a small med kit with you containing not just bandages / plasters / antiseptic - but also painkillers / antihistamine / sterile wipes / bug repellent.
Hand sanitizer - there are no paper towls in the loo blocks and often no water to wash your hands with - so hand sanitizer is your best friend.
Head cover - both in the rain and sun.
Finally talk to people - they can help you with most anything.

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If you or a member of your group is hiring a van, make sure you get them to include the towerbar hook. A lot of us learned last year that most rental places remove them to stop them being nicked.

Read the instructions on how to peg out your IC and OC tent, if the weathers getting bad don’t be afraid to go an make sure the lines are fixed, more pegs is more. If its an IC tent, hacing a bag of pegs and a mallet descretely in a corner is both big and clever.

A tip that I use frequently: if you have a large IC top-layer (like a long sleeved shirt with a high collar. Nobody can tell if you are wearing that over a small windbreaker jacket. this has the advantage that your thermal layers stay dry and your torso is windwproofed.

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Here’s a few articles from one of my favourite LARP blogs on this very subject:

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As a first aider it is amazingly helpful if everyone knew the signs of exposure, early hypothermia and sun stroke. You will struggle to see this in your self, but if you see this in other people will help them more.

The most visible ones for cold weather are:
1, Quiet and Withdrawn and possibly Belligerent or Confused.
2, Cold and Clammy skin to touch.
3, Shivering is a good sign, but can stop if advanced enough
4, Clumsy and lack of hand eye co-ordination.
5, Confirm when they last ate.

Hot food and drink, taken slowly is a great a start, wrap a blanket to get them started then a full change of clothes at first chance, then keep an eye on them. If they wont eat or are “shutting down” get them to a first aider, they will need more care. As always if in doubt get a first aider.

Suns Stroke/dehydration is very similar,
1, Quiet and Withdrawn and possibly Belligerent or Confused.
2, Very warm to touch
3, Headaches and light sensitivity
4, Nausea
5, Confirm when they last ate.

Very similar symptoms and boils down to the same thing. Remove from the hazard and treat.
Get them in shade, give water slowly, and something to eat slowly. Avoid painkillers. Again if its a problem get a first aider.
And a common theme is people get wrapped up in the game and forget to eat or drink.

Thanks for putting up with my serious.

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I LRPed twenty years ago and just made a return to the hobby with family in tow in 2015.

I made the newbie mistake of not realising costume is nothing like as waterproof or practical as regular clothes. If you can afford a water and wind proof IC outer coat or cloak make that your priority over fancy bits and pieces.

Don’t wait until you get to the site and expect to buy something to keep you warm and dry. Prices are expensive, you will have to comprise on your ‘look’ and many other people will have the same idea = low stock and limited sizes

Try and be part of a group that has a group tent, or go to one of the IC large spaces when bad weather hits - otherwise it’s just you camping on your own in wet fancy dress… and that is No Fun At All!

Take your own water onto the battlefield. Irrespective of rain / snow / sunshine. I can’t believe how many regular larpers don’t bother and end up dehydrated and collapsing.

Remember to eat and take medication if you require it. It’s weird how time gets away from you and suddenly you realise you’ve been on your feet for 11 hours since you last ate!

Carry a sneaky watch in a pouch along with a small torch and other ooc necessities. It’s a much longer hike than you think back to your tent from wherever you are when you realise you need it!

Go to the loos in the daylight and before you ‘need to’ as queues range from short to ridiculous. Only a limited few have reliable running water, most have sanitary gel cleanser = wet wipes😆

Wet wipes are your friend. No such thing as too many. Same goes for carrier bags and bin bags.

Have a going home outfit of normal clothes stashed in a carrier bag. If driving, leave on the seat or in the foot well of your car. Include a packet of wet wipes, as you are about to encounter a mirror for the first time in days!

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Those little disposable heat packs are awesome, and if you have the money to buy a box, you might be able to turn someone else’s event around. If you are coming by car / have access to a kit van, squeeze in as much bedding as you can physically fit. Even if you don’t need it, you might be able to rescue a friend. (Conversely, if you get there and realise you are suffering, ask, because many people will have a spare blanket they’re using for set dressing and will happily lend you). Have a bottle of water in your tent, and set aside an area which is where the wet kit goes, which is as far as possible from your bed.
If your boots aren’t waterproof, you will have a very bad time! Check first!
Seconding the above comments about socks, layers (including a few spare layers because there’s nothing more unpleasant than putting on soaked, mud-caked trousers in the morning, trust me I’ve done it) and binbags.
Bring a pair of cheap rubber flipflops for when you’re in your sleeping bag and need to pee and cba faffing with bootlaces.

Put some cereal bars, babybells, dried fruit or other portable food in your IC bag.

If you are wet and cold and miserable, you will not have fun, it is ok to take time out to go sit in feast with something hot until you feel more human. Or the first aiders, if need be.

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Please note I am not an expert In anything but will do my best to guide people like I was when I started re-enacting so will give the best tips I can,

  1. For every layer underneath you will be twice as warm, get your body off of the cold ground and keep water nearby through the night drink plenty before bed fluid to help you sleep.
  2. Decent weatherproof tent is a must. If you cant bring a big tent that’s fine you can make an a frame using blankets two branches and a few pegs and rope. it’ll look ic as well known as half shelters in re-enactment we tend to use straw to get us off the ground and a decent sleeping bag
  3. eat properly, don’t be a fool otherwise you never become a hero. your body needs to make up what it loses in calories, so snack and proper cooked food through the weekend.
  4. A good pair of water proof boots and as many socks as possible. A good cloak is also a must to keep warm.
  5. if you are not feeling well go to first aiders don’t be a martyr it aint called for.
    don’t have lots of kit that makes it hard to go to a toilet you will appreciate it.
  6. Have spare shirts for the battles. When you come off that battle you will want to change to a fresh shirt trust me.
  7. get as much clothing off as possible in bed, it will help your body to breathe especially your feet get them socks off and it will help you warm up in bed.
  8. Don’t forget to do your tent up, trust me it may seem silly but plenty do it in life.
  9. Don’t forget a good chair cause it can help with having a comfortable life or an irritating one
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Don’t go to bed cold. Sitting round a fire is great but the bits not near the fire can get chilled, your back, feet etc.

If you can make the last walk to the loo a brisk one, or even do a few star jumps before you crawl into your sleeping bag, get your blood circulating the heat around and your sleeping bag will warm up much more quickly.

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Warning! Hand sanitiser doesn’t kill norovirus and other stomach bugs. Your hands are cleaner after using it but they are not clean. If you don’t want to take a nasty surprise home with you, don’t touch your food unless you’ve used soap!

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If you are someone who gets really cold, ‘Cuddle fleece’ is the warmest thing ever.
After E1 last year when a bunch of my friends got hypothermia, I made a pile of cuddle fleece lined wool hoods. Put one on and you will be warm within a few minutes. None of your body heat is going anywhere.
It’s a pain to sew, and will leave your sewing space covered in fluff, but it is soooo warm.

I’m personally more bothered by the heat.

  • Spray on sun lotion works fairly well with makeup. Factor 30+.
  • Hat or hood. Remember back of neck and nose need covering. Consider soaking hat under standpipe to stay cool.
  • Long sleeves to avoid sunburn, linen or cotton to stay cool.
  • Under the trees in the Navarr or Orc camp is always considerably cooler and less dusty than the rest of the field. Navarr woods have an excellent tea-shop with cold teas.
  • Stay in the shade 1-3pm.
  • Drink lots, and get enough salt, especially if being physically active in hot weather. Aim to drink at least a litre per hour if fighting.
  • Oral Rehydration Salts: six teaspoons sugar, half teaspoon salt, litre water, shake well. Also useful for the hungover. I use Nuun tablets as convenient to carry with me.
  • Damp cloths on back of neck and wrists.
  • Stick a mug on a tankard loop on your belt. Drink every time you pass a water standpipe. Bonus: use your own mug at drinking establishments, drastically reduce your odds of catching larp plague. It is difficult to get water hot enough to properly wash up communal tankards in IC bars.
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I swear by a tub of Palmer’s cocoa butter (the hard, yellow stuff). I find that my hands get really chapped and that sorts them right out. Also makes a good barrier cream.

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Leather can be good for a windproof and almost waterproof outer layer: trousers, maybe a jerkin or upper-body armour, maybe a cape.

Alternatively, waxed cotton (or linen). I know some people with waxed-cotton cloaks with warm linings.
(Linseed oil used to be the norm for waterproofing linen smocks, I seem to remember.)

At one muddy event when I’d forgotten my boots and was traipsing around in shoes, a clot of mud went down inside my shoe and convinced me to go and buy some woollen puttees (long strips of cloth about 3-4" wide) to wind around my ankles doing the job of gaiters, covering the top edges/rims/openings of the shoes. Great things… and I reckon wool is better there than cotton canvas.

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Although it’s been pretty rough sometimes - cold, windy, and wet, and I’ve had a tent blow down and all my kit soaked, and had to sleep in my car under a blanket with a couple of soggy bits - I like to keep in mind that we’re camping in England, in a fairly mild part of the country, close to civilisation, and surrounded by others. It’s not a wilderness survival trip in the mountains of Norway. So, don’t stress about it too much, be sensible, and just leave if it becomes unpleasant.

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Best tips I’ve got from my own experience.

  • Get some base layers/longjohns, they’re worth it and will keep you warm
  • Decent boots are a must, my go to recommendation is army surplus German army para boots but if you’ve got more money you can upgrade.
  • Remember to eat and drink water, it’s an easy mistake to make as Empire is exciting and there are ALL THE THINGS to do and see, but make sure you take some time to grab some food/drink and have a sit down.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol of an evening, it’s easy to get dehyrated and then be drunk before you realise. This makes everything else worse, specially in the morning or in the night when you need to get up to go the loo.
  • If you’re cold and need a sit down somewhere warm, just ask people if you can share their fire or tent. Most nation camps will have a bunch of places where you’ll be welcome.
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Bring a roll of toilet paper. You may never need it, but if you do, you’ll be glad you have it with you.

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