The Wilderness Enlightenment School

Clothing with the wind in mind



 The wind blows constantly and in some areas is more of a concern than rain or cold. It should be noted that the wind is always a factor and that even when you can not feel it on your skin, it is still moving. Because wind removes our heat, we must dress in a manner that allows us to retain as much of our generated heat as possible. To accomplish this we must direct our efforts to the shell layer of our clothing which is the layer that resist the wind and allows the insulation layer to maintain our body heat within its fibers. A basic understanding of layers is described below.


  • Base Layer - made of a thin, breathable layer that wicks moisture away from the body. Can be synthetic or natural material like wool that has traditionally been used.
  • Insulation Layer - made of cloth with fibers that traps air and thereby traps heat. Traditionally natural materials like wool or alpaca have been used, but many people prefer synthetic.
  • Insulation Layer - depending on the environment, there will be a need for more than one insulation layer
  • Shell Layer - made of wind and/or water resistant material. Traditionally this includes animal hide, fur, seal skin, etc...

Note: Some environments have little concern for water resistant clothing, as there is little to no rain, or the snow is of a dry powdery nature that does not melt while the wearer is outdoors.

The shell design that I prefer as a wind breaker is a parka or anorak made from heavy, tight woven cotton. This traditional design is long, covers the buttocks, has a hood and has a drawstring at the waist. The drawstring is a very important design feature because it stops cold air from moving up the lower back. I have noticed that once a woodsman's lower back gets cold it becomes stiff, painful and his moral drops. This is why very few of the jackets sold at big box stores are useful, as they stop at the waist line in an effort to reduce material and maintain a fashionable look. Some woodsmen like to spray a water resistant coating onto their cotton/canvas shells, but it should be noted that if washed the parka will lose its water resistant property. The parka/anorak should fit loose like a small tent, with the sleeves being spacious enough to repeatedly bend your arms. The idea is to have on a shell that slows us to perform work outdoors that involves bending, lifting, turning and carrying. If our wind proof shell does not allow us to do all of these thing, then we have on a poorly designed parka. The shell design for the lower body does not receive as much attention, as the concept of wind resistance is based on keeping the "Core" warm. In colder climates however, the layering system is implemented, and wind resistance/water resistant pants are utilized.

It is vital to maintaining optimum health that we obey the natural laws and follow the ancient wisdom concerning cold & wind! We must drink warm healthy fluids that are organic based in an effort to maintain core temperature and prevent the thick, stick substance that develops in such environments. These warm teas promote the useful and wanted thin, slippery substances that our body needs. Sipping hot organic tea that we or the local farmers grew in the spring and summer is the preferred beverage of Fall and Winter. We should make every attempt to consume foods and herbs that were grown locally, as they contain the natural elements needed to boost our immune system. If we can not sip a hot organic tea with honey, then our second choice is to sip hot water with honey and our third choice is to sip water. We do not concern ourselves with designer bottles of water with pretty labels, as our water of choice in a perfect world would be spring water. Not the kind that we are sold, but they kind that comes from an actual spring on our property. Since most of the worlds spring water has been polluted in some way, shape or form, our second best choice is distilled water!

In summery, we must remember that nature is affecting us just as we have an affect on nature. With this in mind, we must strive to maintain a balance within ourselves and this must be done in accordance with the seasons and environment. Just as we adjust our balance to match walking up hill or downhill, we must adjust our balance to be in synchronization with the natural around us.


Our motto "Get Out and Stay Out"!

Wilderness Enlightenment School





      Navigation is a fundamental skill that must be mastered to the point where it is second nature, if we plane to enjoy nature to the fullest. When "we" refer to navigation as it pertains to Wilderness Enlightenment, we are referring to the ability to reproduce a self established route. While this does include the ability to following someone else’s map, it is not the primary meaning or purpose of Wilderness Enlightenment, because we rarely have the opportunity to follow someone else’s map. In fact following someone else’s path is contrary to what we seek to achieve while we are in nature. Since we are not in the military, competing in map reading challenges, geocache, or other such activity, the distances covered will be (relatively) short. The closest comparison to what The Wilderness Enlightenment School does would be a "Walk a Bout" similar to what is performed in Australia. We must also remember that the Earth is not a piece of paper and the person viewing the map is not a compass. Each person seeking enlightenment must blaze their own path throughout the wilderness, just as they must blaze their own path in life. One seeking to find a place to meditate, practice yoga, the martial arts, or bird watch can not do so by following a map. One must explorer and continue to find new and exciting places on his or her own and then endeavor to return from various locations.



    On your initial solo Wilderness Enlightenment outing, I suggest that you simply walk into the woods in the direction that feels best to you. Once you are a few yards in, look down at your compass and make a mental note of the direction. After you have noted the direction that you are going (heading), the next step is to make a mental note of the opposite direction that you should head back. Proceed a hundred yards or what ever is comfortable, place a bright bandanna on the ground, take a look around an then head back to your starting point. This simple exercise will get you used to the area and your mind will unconsciously make mental notes of key features. You can do this in all four directions if you choose, but you will need to do this for at least two (2) adjacent directions. ex. North and East, North and West, South and East or South and West. Throughout the week while you are at home, practice with your compass, by looking through the window at structures outside. Remember the heading and write it down and later that day or the next see if it matches  what you recorded.

    Another option that does not involve the compass, but is a traditional part of navigation is the following exercise. Once you have a heading, make a mental or written note of the location of the sun and the time of day. Every hour make a mental and/or written note of the location of the sun in the sky and the time of day. As your visits to nature increase, you will began to see a pattern for your area of the world and time of the year.

Once you are comfortable with the basics of reading a compass, you can proceed to a location that feels right to you and perform your meditation and/or activity.

Gear Needed

  • Compass
  • Note pad
  • Pencil
  • Watch

Note: A compass is affected by iron and magnetic fields, therefore you should keep them twelve inches or more away from your compass. The larger the iron/steel object the greater the effect it will have on your compass and therefore your ability to navigate accurately.



In an effort to maintain unspoiled wilderness of Western Maryland, one of the mandatory request from “The Wilderness Enlightenment School” is to NOT bring plastic bottles. We have noticed that as we walk along trails and the areas frequented by day hikers, one can follow a trail of plastic bottles, plastic lids, Styrofoam cups, trail bar wrappers and other disposable containers. If we truly seek to enjoy nature, maintain its balance and preserve it for future generations, then we must all do our part. With this in mind, I ask that all Nature Lovers that travel with “The Wilderness Enlightenment School” to leave your disposable plastic bottles at home. I suggest that you purchase a stainless steel water bottle instead, but if you do not have one we will loaners that can be used for the duration of the trip. If a young Nature Lover does not have a stainless steel water bottle, we will do everything in our power to donate one to that person.

Our Motto is “Get Out, and Stay Out!

Wilderness Enlightenment School

Backpack and their Uses




This page contains a general outline of the kit levels the The Wilderness Enlightenment School. These kits are intended to transition a person from a beginner that spends a few hours in nature into an outdoors-man capable of sustaining himself for a week or more. While we often hear of day packs, three day packs and other concepts, it should be noted that "we" do not believe in day packs in the literal sense. Our days packs should be able to sustain the wearer for three days with ease in all but winter.

Level I
Consist of a water pouch bottle with side pouch

  • Water & Container
  • Fire kit
  • First Aid kit



Level II
Consist of a small backpack with the following items!

  • Water & Container
  • Fire kit
  • First Aid kit
  • Cordage assortment
  • Compass & Signal kit
  • Knife



Level III
Consist of a medium backpack with the following kits!

  • Water & Container
  • Fire kit
  • First Aid kit
  • Cordage assortment
  • Compass & Signal kit
  • Cutting Kit – hatchet & knife
  • Shelter Kit

The Mountainsmith Circuit is an long term backpack

An example of a large backpack is the "Mountainsmith Circuit" which is a very large 6000 cubic inches. This pack is capable of sustaining a an educated woodsman indefinitely. If one places emphasis on necessity and understands that he is bringing comfort gear and tools so that everything else will be crafted from nature.


 The More you know, the Less you carry!

Our Motto is "Get Out & Stay Out"