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Depending on where you live, it is possible that you will have a good bit of bamboo at your disposal. Bamboo is a fast growing plant that is adaptable to many climates. It is also invasive and can spread quickly, making the planting of some varieties actually illegal in places due to their potential for takeover. In recent years, bamboo has been discovered to be useful in even more ways than previously thought, such as in flooring, which has led to overharvesting. If bamboo is still plentiful and accessible in your area or you come across it in your bug out travels, it very well may be something you can use.

Bamboo is a good source of support when building a shelter. Since bamboo is easy to harvest yet still light enough to carry and move quickly, it is the ideal material when it comes to something you have to move about. Whether your goal is relocating, maneuvering, or manipulating it, bamboo is up to any of these tasks due to its flexibility. The smaller the pole, the more flexible it will be, but large poles will still bend to a point. In the case of poles that are bigger than 1.5\" in diameter, they do become more rigid after being dried, but that can be advantageous to you as well. In some cases you may need flexible pieces to make a shelter while in other areas rigid poles might be necessary. In this case, bamboo can provide the best of both worlds based on your stalk selection.

Since bamboo is hollow, it is a potential source of water. To access water within stalks of bamboo, bore a hole into the stalk itself for emptying. Keep in mind that the rungs around a stalk of bamboo indicate sections and each section has the capability of containing water. Tap each section before you bore into it and listen to the sound it makes to determine whether water is present; hollow sounds indicate the absence of water. In addition to getting water from bamboo, you can use bamboo as a drinking cup or to carry water. Simply cut off the top of a section and cut again right below the rung marking the end of that section. Fill the stalk with water and seal it closed with plastic or foil and a piece of cord. If necessary, you can even heat this section of bamboo to treat the water inside. Also possible is using a split bamboo stalk to collect water. Once the stalk is split, remove the inner portions that create sections to allow for a free flow and hang at the edge of a shelter to act as a gutter. Posting your bamboo at a downward angle with the end in or above a bucket will allow for water collection.

Bamboo can also be whittled into weaponry and tools if you have the skills to do so. A spear or knife of bamboo can be created, but it will require the use of another sharp object to create these things so they may not be terribly worthwhile. Thinner, flexible bamboo stalks can be used as makeshift fishing poles as well as long bows that utilize bamboo arrows. Also possible is making a raft out of bamboo. Those very same chambers that hold water are also frequently full of only air. By tapping and locating stalks that are mostly hollow, a raft can be created using them as those that contain air will be buoyant.

As great as bamboo is, it is not without its drawbacks. Of the nearly 1,600 species of bamboo in existence, just over 100 are edible. Eating bamboo comes with risk, however, as it can contain high levels of cyanide. Being able to identify bamboo that is toxic amongst so many species is not easy work. Cyanide may possibly be removed from bamboo by boiling, but even then the caloric values are not significant enough to keep you going very far or for very long, so the risk is not actually worth the effort involved when you factor these things into a potentially disastrous bamboo meal. Another failure point of bamboo is that it can be unsafe for use in fires if not properly prepared beforehand. While dried bamboo is great for fires, using fresh stalks can lead to problems if they are not split before use. Not splitting each individual section open can result in a buildup of steam within that may result in it bursting open and sending sharp fragments flying in unsafe directions.

Should you come across bamboo in your travels, take the time to experiment with it. Decide if you feel it will benefit you in a survival situation down the road. Knowing ahead of time how workable bamboo is in your capable hands will aid you in deciding if it is, or is not, something you want to use down the road should you find yourself in a pinch.
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