Introduction: Survive in Style (3) - Sun Goggles

About: Failure is not the opposite of success, it's part of success.

In this third episode of SIS I wanted to make something ambitious.

Imagine. For some reason you're in a sunsaturated environment and for another reason you don't have sunglasses to protect these sensitive balls in your skull.

You really want to get out of there, of course, but too bad just waking up isn't an option.

Yes you can walk by night, and rest during the day.

But no, in fact. You're in a hurry, and so you're going to walk all day AND all night.

To make this story short: you're going to make that eyewear by yourself or stay there forever.

Your choice.

You know, thanx to one great invention men survived in the arctic for thousands of years, and so I really didn't see any reason why this invention shouldn't work today.

So I decided to make my own snow/sun goggles, with nothing but a hatchet & a knife.

Something ambitious, I said.

Step 1: Soft Wood, Again

I wanted to make this device sturdy & handy. No bark, no leather, no leaves, but real solid wood.

Willow is, as always, an excellent choice: soft, flexible & abundant.

Cut a larger piece of willow and make sure there are very, very, few knots. No knots is even better.

Cut it in half with your hatchet or knife. If you see those black spots: no good, they're known as knots.

One good advice: choose another piece. Thrust me.

Step 2: Thin, Thinner, Thinst

This is the most painful step.

You need a plank, in fact. A plank just thin enough to bend it in a circle.

This doesn't work with a 10mm plank. Not with a 5mm, either. And not with a 3mm plank.

I discovered that to make this project work the plank hasn't to be thicker than 2mm.


Hatchet & knife. You're gonna hate me.

To be completely honest: I removed the very last mm with a plane. I'm pretty sure that it could have been possible without, but I just didn't want to ruin those 2 hours of carving. One pass with the plane. Same thickness everywhere.

Step 3: Water Is Good for You

Somehow I felt that without water this project was doomed, and since I really wanted all chances on my side - I spent 2 hours carving that 2mm plank - I just didn't want to take any risk.

So put that plank in the water. A few hours is good.

A day is better.

Step 4: Breaking Bad

Yes, I thought in the first try that 3mm and a few hours were more than good enough.

It wasn't.

I made a cruel mess out of my first plank, using some cord from my survival kit.

It bended like a brick, broke into pieces and gave me just excellent firewood.

Step 5: Bending It Better

The second plank - 2mm - went almost the same way.

It broke on a knot - NO KNOTS, I said - and I gave up trying to bend it with my hands.

I needed help. And so I used a tree to 'mold' what was left from the plank - a piece only 10 inch long - around the trunk with the help of my (soaking wet) belt.

You know, that's just a really good way to do it. Increase the tension bit by bit, slowly but steady, and tight the plank close to the trunk.

Important: the diameter of the trunk has to be smaller than the diameter of your head - you want those goggles nice & tight on your nose, no?

Let it dry and give it the time it needs.

Step 6: Jump Around

Also this is a painful moment.

Unwind your belt, and reveal the result.

Honestly: I really jumped around when I discovered that the plank had dried perfectly and that it just held its form like I hoped.

It worked!

Step 7: OAKley, Almost

I wanted it to be sober & functional, so I designed a sunglass-ish design on that wooden loop and started carving.

Knife & sanding paper - every survival kit needs it - and you're done.

Carve carefully - think you're doing surgery on a person you love.

It helps, really.

Step 8: Carvin' Carefully

This whole concept is based on one thing: letting just a minimum of light enter your eyes, and blocking the maximum off - also called 'filtering'.

When there's plenty of light, just one tiny slot is enough. Draw carefully the slots on the loop - just in front of your eyes - and go on with the surgery.

Measure twice, cut once. This step can ruin your project completely.

After two days of cutting, soaking, waiting, bending, drying, waiting & carving you finally can put this hyper-lightweight device on your nose and face the snowy scenery with no fear.

Step 9: Comfortable, Really

I'm sure there are easier ways to make this device and I'm not sure that someone really is going to build it in a real survival situation, since there are just too much critical parameters: good wood, water, time etc.

Whatever, in fact. When I finally held this tiny piece of paleo-technology in my hands I just felt simply satisfied. Things can go wrong many times, but when they go right the result can just be amazing.

Holding them in your hands is one thing, though, carrying them on your nose another.

Honestly, I was quite sceptic about their effectiveness. But I had them a while on my nose, working in our pasture, and the biggest surprise of all was that not only they're quite comfortable to wear, but also quite pleasant.

My eyes felt less tired than without them and once you're used to the smaller viewsight it's like the most normal thing on earth.

Respect, for those Inuit people. If it wasn't for the fact that I have to wear correction glasses I'd wear them all day.

I can't wait to test them in the mountains...

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