Men, we are facing a crisis. As we have moved more and more to a service-based society, some of the greatest skills a man could possess are being lost. We don’t do things for ourselves anymore. We stay in hotels instead of camping, take our car to a quick oil change place instead of doing it ourselves, and hire someone to do things we are more than capable of. Will these things make you more of a “manly man”? Perhaps, but more importantly, there is a sense of satisfaction in acquiring these skills and doing things for yourself.
Drive a Stick Shift
I learned to drive in a 1974 Chevy Vega with a stick shift and still prefer a manual transmission to this day. There is some powerful about being in complete control of your ride. Pro Tip: Be patient. Everyone stalls the first few times. You’ll get it.
Sharpen a Knife
The knife is one of the most elemental of all human tools. Keeping its edge honed not only makes it perform better but might save your life one day. Pro Tip: Invest in a quality whetstone. Kitchen knife sharpeners can actually damage the edge of your blade.
Yes, you can run down to the local gas station and pick up a bundle of crappy unseasoned wood and pay an exorbitant price. Splitting your own wood not only provides for a better-quality fire but is a heck of a good workout as well. Pro Tip: Make sure you use a maul, not an axe.
Change the Oil in Your Car
One of the simplest and yet most essential maintenance items for your car. There is no better way to commune with your ride. Pro Tip: Always use jack stands when performing any maintenance under your car. Also, use quality oil. We only use Mobil1.
Frame a Wall
A hammer, nails and a pile of 2×4’s. Master the art of framing the studs 16″ on center and you’ll be prepared to carve out your own man space. Pro Tip: A well-balanced, quality hammer will not only drive the nails truer but reduce the amount of fatigue. Stay away from the bargain bin.
Cook Meat Over an Open Fire
Okay, you’re the absolute master on your perfectly temperature-controlled Weber or Big Green Egg. But, cooking meat perfectly over an open fire is truly an art. Pro Tip: Cook over hot coals, not roaring flames.
Change a Flat Tire
Put your cell phone away, you’re not calling AAA. Pull out the jack and change that sucker yourself. Just make sure the jack is level and secure and you’ll soon be feeling like a member of an Indy pit crew. Pro Tip: Loosen and tighten the lug nut while the tires are still in contact with the ground so the wheels don’t spin.
Iron a Shirt
If you have ever served in the military, you probably have this skill down. With prices soaring and concerns about the toxic chemicals used the dry-cleaning process, you’ll be doing both yourself and the environment a favor. Pro Tip: Start rough / end gently.
Build a Campfire
Put away the gasoline and lighter. Grab flint and steel and build it the right way. Men love fire and there is something primal about building it yourself. Pro Tip: Preparation is the key. Make sure you have plenty of tinder and small wood pieces to build the perfect roaring fire.
Navigate With a Map and Compass
This might sound hopelessly outdated in this world of smartphones and GPS, but as I learned not long after moving to California, there are vast expanses of this country that don’t have cell service. And if you didn’t have the foresight to pre-download your Google Maps, you could get hopelessly lost. Pro Tip: As with most things, quality matters. But a quality compass. Don’t rely on the keyring version you got for Father’s Day.
Grow Your Own Food
Today’s foods are loaded with unpronounceable chemicals and preservatives. And nothing can compare to the taste of freshly picked fruits and vegetables. Pro Tip: Start small. Grow tomatoes, peppers, onions and cilantro and make the most unbelievable salsa you have ever tasted.
Home poker games are exploding and are a perfect way to spend some time with the guys. Don’t be that guy that sprays cards all over the table when itts your turn to shuffle. Pro Tip: Practice, practice, practice. There is no substitute.