Life, in general, has become increasingly more comfortable and dare I say easily over the last century or so. Well, at least in the modern world.
We as humans have developed an unsettling dependence on technology for everything. Think about it, name a thing in your house that you can actually make from scratch. I bet you can’t! We live in a culture where we just buy things that we need. We are so coddled that a simple problem like a power outage leaves us in a frenzy.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s all fine and dandy for the good times.
But what if the times turn? What if you find yourself in a challenging situation, away from all your friends, gadgets and thingamajigs? What if you can’t just buy your way out? And what if your life depends on getting out of that bind? Do you think you have the skills, the know-how, the presence of mind to handle a situation like that?
For most people, the answer to this question is a resounding NO! Do you see the irony, we know more about how the universe was created than how to make fire without any gadgets!
Table of Contents
- The Necessity of Outdoor Survival Skills:
- What Survival Skills and Techniques Saved Me?
- Tips to Surviving in the Wilderness
- 1: Stay Calm!
- 2: Set Your Priorities Right
- 3: Starting a Fire
- 4: Making a Smoke Signal
- 5: How to Start and Sustain a Fire in Wet Weather
- 6: Make a Char Cloth
- 7: How to Build a Shelter
- 8: Stay Warm in the Woods
- 9: Learn to Make a Water Filter
- 10: Collect Water
- 11: Stay Cool in a Desert or an Arid Land
- 12: Learn to Treat Animal Bites
- 13: Learn How to Tell Directions in the Wild
- 14: Find the North Star
- 15: Process Your Food as Far Away from Your Shelter as Possible
- 16: Learn to Improvise Cooking Utensils
- 17: Learn to Identify Edible Plants
- 18: How to Find Water by Reading Nature’s Cues
- 19: The Rule of Threes
- 20: Never Travel in the Dark
- 21: Sleep Above the Ground
- 22: Do Not Use Dirty Water to Clean Wounds
- 23: Learn to Use Animal Carcasses and Entrails to Your Advantage
- 24: Learn the Medicinal Properties of Wild Plants
- 25: Carry extra pair of socks
- 26: Use Hand Sanitizer to Kindle Fire
- 27: Create an Insulated Vest from Dry Leaves
- 28: Invest in Tools for Your Survival Kit
- 29: Always Wear a Utility Bracelet
- 30: Carry Glow Sticks in Your Survival Kit
- 31: Take Those Rain Ponchos Seriously
- 32: Get Boots that are Suitable for the Terrain
- 33: Invest in a Sturdy Tactical Flashlight
- 34: Carry a Duct Tape in Your Survival Gear
- 35: Invest in a Good Tactical Backpack
- 36: Reinforce Your Backpacks and Clothes with Carbon Steel
- 37: Surround Your Campfire with Rocks
- 38: Use Charcoal to Make Water Palatable
- 39: Organize Your Tactical Backpack
- 40: Take Care of the Blisters as Soon as Possible
- 41: Learn How to Make an SOS Signal
- 42: Learn the Universal Wave
- 43: Carry Two Rescue Mirrors
- 44: Learn How to Snare Small Game
- 45: Learn to Make Rope from Willow Tree Branches
- 46: Learn to Make a Torch
- 47: Collect Rain Water
- 48: Make Sure You Have Water Purifying Tablets in Your Survival Kit
- 49: Add Aluminum Foil to Your Survival Kit
- 50: Don’t Make a Shelter Downwind to Your Campfire
- 51: Learn to Predict the Incoming Rain or Storms by Looking at the Sun or the Moon
- 52: Use Duct Tape to Keep Your Shoelaces Tied
- 53: Make Your Glasses Fog-free
- 54: Make Your Tools Visible if You Drop Them on the Ground
- 55: Coconuts Can Save Your Life
- 56: Catch More Fish by Facing into the Wind
- 57: Don’t Attempt to Cross a Rapid, Fast Moving River or Stream
- 58: Never Underestimate Flash Floods
- 59: Anticipate and Be Prepared
- Bushcraft Survival Skills to Practice and Master
- General Tips for Survivalists
The Necessity of Outdoor Survival Skills:
Most people don't even think about basic survival skills as something they must acquire. Most of the people that I talk to believe that they will never end up in a ‘survival’ situation. I will tell you what I say those people; you don't ‘plan’ to get into a situation like that! It just happens. And God forbid, should such a situation arise, you must be prepared.
I am not saying that everyone must go through a military style survival training (although you totally could, if you like!), you must know some basic survival tips and tricks. These tips and tricks can be the difference between life and death. So, yeah, they are more important than knowing what happens in the next episode of your favorite show!
What Survival Skills and Techniques Saved Me?
I have been in numerous ‘tricky' situations myself, and I always found my way out. Do you know why? Because I applied some basic survival tips that I learned throughout my life. Today, I am going to share some of those skills and tips with you guys. Trust me when I say this, these tips and tricks can save your life one day.
So please, read this article in its full length, bookmark it, share it with your friends, print it out, or best, memorize the tips to learn how to not die in an unfavorable situation.
Tips to Surviving in the Wilderness
Most of us have either never been in the wild or been there with all the gadgets to help us out. What if you find yourself in the wilderness with no one and no gadgets? Well, there are ways to survive and get out to safety in this situation. In this section, I will be talking about the means to survive if you are stranded in the middle of woods. If you follow these simple tips and tricks, you can come out of this situation in one piece!
1: Stay Calm!
Finding yourself in a survival situation can be extremely unsettling. I mean it's not like you practice getting in such cases every day, right? Most people can get very nervous and panic in situations like these. This outdoor survival skill can alone save your life in many situations.
Don't get me wrong; it is entirely understandable! However, if you want to get out of the situation, you must rely on sound judgment. If you are agitated, overly anxious or panicking, your brain will not think properly.
The first thing that you must tell yourself is to take a deep breath and try to control your anxiety and panic. In all likelihood, you are in a much less dangerous situation that you may believe at the moment. If you keep a cool head, you will soon start seeing ways to get out of the bind.
Getting out of a tricky situation requires a sound and a rational approach. If you are not thinking right, you will not be able to put any of the following tips to use. So, the first thing is to get a grip on your emotions and get start devising a plan.
2: Set Your Priorities Right
The key to a successful survival is getting your priorities in order when you are stranded. You have a lot on your plate, and if you don't prioritize, you will have huge problems.
Despite what you may think at that time, food is not your priority at all. As we just saw in the rule of threes, lack of food won't kill you for three days! Your priority is staying warm if it is cold outside.
Try to stay as dry as possible. Wet skin loses three times more heat than dry skin. If your pants get wet, make sure that you get rid of them and try to dry them.
PRO TIPS: If you are in a warm, dry weather, water is your top priority. Make sure that you get access to water first before you do anything else.
Assuming that you are lost, another important priority will be signaling. We have covered how to make a smoke signal in great detail in the following sections.
3: Starting a Fire
Fire is the one thing that we almost take for granted. It is there when we need it just light a match or press a button on your lighter and poof! The fire is there. Things are not that simple in the wild. You may not have any of these gadgets, or they won't work. You should be able to improvise and start a fire.
Now, there are three things needed to start a fire: fuel, oxygen and a spark. You have two of these in abundance in the wild. There is the almost unlimited amount of fuel in the form of twigs, branches, and dry leaves and there is oxygen all around. What you are missing is the spark or heat. So, let's see what you can do to make that spark or heat happen.
Flint and Steel
Flint and steel are probably the oldest tricks to start a fire. All you need to do is strike the flint against the steel to make a spark. You can buy portable steel, and Flint sets cheap these days. You should probably invest in one of those; they cost less than your morning cup of coffee! And coffee isn't going to save your life!
Improvised magnifying glass
What if you don’t happen to carry flint and steel set with you? Well, you can use the power of the sun to start a fire. All you need to do is put some water in a clear plastic bag and tie it like a balloon, as spherical as possible. When you hold this bag against the sun, you will see the familiar converging of the sun rays on the ground.
If you keep focusing the bright light onto some dry kindle, you will soon start a fire. The focal length of your improvised device is smaller than a magnifying glass so, you will have to hold this improvised device about 1-2 inches from the kindling.
You can also use a condom to the same effect. Just remember that the more transparent the bag or condom is, the quicker it will heat the kindling.
4: Making a Smoke Signal
Assuming that you have already begun a fire successfully, the next step is to let the potential rescuers know your position. If the woods are thick, it can become impossible to see through the canopy even if the search party is looking for you from a helicopter. To let them know where you are, you need some signal.
A smoke signal was one of the oldest ways to communicate long before the age of cell phones. You can use this method to attract attention to yourself. Creating a smoke signal is easy. All you need to do is burn something that will create a thick smoke, and the smoke will do the rest for you.
Here are the steps that you can follow to make a smoke signal.
Find a good location
First things first, find a suitable place for your smoke signal. A high land with less vegetation is ideal. Look for a piece of land that rescuers can see from above.
Light a fire
Light a fire as in tip#1 and add some firewood to it. Let the fire burn completely, wait till it burns down to embers.
Gather any leafy green vegetation that you can find and throw it on the embers. Cover them completely. It will create a lot of smoke depending on the greens that you chose.
- Pine and spruce leaves make thick smoke if you can find some, throw them in as well. A synthetic material such as plastic or rubber also produces dense smoke.
5: How to Start and Sustain a Fire in Wet Weather
If the weather is wet, it can be incredibly difficult to initiate and maintain a fire. However, certain tips and tricks can help you. The most important thing to remember is that if you get the fire raging, it will probably sustain light rain.
Again, don't expect your fire to burn through a tropical thunderstorm! Here are some great tips to start and maintain a fire in wet weather.
Avoid the pit
If the weather is dry, digging a small hole to keep your firewood is a good idea. However, in wet weather, the pit can quickly fill up with rain water. Skip the pit if it is raining.
Look for dry pieces of wood
Now, before you say duh, hear me out! It can be difficult to find dry wood if it has been raining for a while. However, you can look for pieces of sticks that are under thick trees, there a good chance that you may find some dry place there.
Also, a piece of wood can look wet on the outside when in fact it can be dry inside. If you peel off the bark from a piece of wood, you can find some dry, usable wood.
Use pine and needle bearing leaves
These trees exude a sticky substance called pitch. It is a highly flammable substance that you can use to maintain a fire in the light rain and wet conditions.
Make small pieces of your firewood
Always remember that if you split the branches into small pieces, they would burn better.
Pay attention to the shape of the fire lay
The form of the pyre or the fire lay is critical especially if you are trying to light it in a wet environment. Make sure that the shape of the fire lay is as conical as possible. If your fire lay is flat and scattered, it is going to be put out by the rain quicker.
I found this video extremely useful and watch worthy if you want to make a fire in wet weather:
6: Make a Char Cloth
Once you get a fire going, it is important to make provisions for the next one. You must make sure that the next fire that you start does not require the amount of work that was needed to start the first one. There are a couple of things that you can do to achieve it.
Make a char cloth
NOTE: One of the biggest hurdles in starting a fire is finding the right kind of kindling. If you can make a kindling that can catch fire quickly, you have half of your work cut out. One of the best fuel that you can make is a char cloth.
Take a small piece of cloth and shove it in a metal box or a container. Make sure that the container is sealed and throw it in the fire. Let the container burn in the fire for a few minutes. Remove it from fire and let it cool. If you did it right, the cloth inside would be completely black but not burnt. This cloth is called a char cloth. It catches fire with the smallest of sparks!
Vaseline-soaked cotton balls
Vaseline is pure petroleum jelly. If you have some Vaseline on your hands, you can make great fire starters (at over 400 °F or 200 . Just soak some cotton balls in Vaseline and keep them in a container. The cotton balls soaked in Vaseline burn quickly and for a long time.
7: How to Build a Shelter
A shelter is an important survival tool in the wilderness. It can protect you from the weather elements as well as some wildlife. Making a tent can be quite simple. However, avoid the following mistakes while building one.
- Never build a shelter on damp ground, ever.
- Never build a shelter on highlands or top of hills. The wind can get cold at night and with no trees to resist; you run the risk of your shelter blown away by the gusts.
- Similarly, avoid making a shelter in the bottom of a narrow valley. Cold wind collects there are you will have a tough time during the night.
There are some different designs of a shelter that you can build from the materials readily available in the wild. Here are some designs you can try.
It is exactly what it sounds like! If it is dark already and you don’t have time to look for an alternative, find a bunch of leaves and twigs and make a mound of sorts. It should be about 2 feet high and as long as your height. Once the pile is assembled, you can crawl under it. It is a natural sleeping bag that will keep you warm.
How would you make a cocoon shelter?
If you can find some sticks, you can make this sturdy shelter in no time. Find two sticks about 5 feet long and one about 10 feet long. Prop the shorter sticks so that you create an ‘A’ shape. Now prop the longer stick on top of the ‘A’ shape that you made and tie the three sticks together.
You will already see a tent shape. You can reinforce this tent skeleton by propping some more sticks to support the longer stick. Now, cover the tent with branches of trees and leaves to make a comfortable shelter.
One of the most important tip to making a shelter is making a bed. Never sleep on the bare floor of the woods. You can make a bed of dry leaves by arranging them inside your shelter. The bed will prevent the heat from your body seeping into the cold forest ground.
8: Stay Warm in the Woods
Staying warm in a cold or freezing wilderness can be a tough challenge. However, there are tips that you can use to make it easier. If you find yourself in a situation where the cold is getting the better of you, remember the following tips.
- Layering always works: The best way to combat cold is not to allow it to escape from your body. Make sure that you are wearing as many layers as you can.
- Empty your bladder to stay warm:
Now, it may sound crazy, but it is true. When your body stores urine, it needs extra heat to keep that liquid warm. If you empty your bladder, that energy can be used to keep your other body parts warm.
- Get cozy with your partner: If you are with someone in the wild, cuddling up while sleeping can be helpful.
- Cover your head:
Most amount of body heat is lost through your head. Make sure that you insulate your head properly. Wear a hat or something.
9: Learn to Make a Water Filter
Although there may be water all around you in the wilderness, drinking water from a stagnant puddle or a lake is not advisable. Drinking from a flowing stream is always better than drinking from a stagnant pool of water. However, there can be a situation where you may not have any option. In that case, you can construct a portable water filter. Here is how you do it.
- Find an empty bottle or a container: Any empty container will do. If you can’t find one, you can always make one using birch barks.
- Poke small holes in the bottom of the container: Make small holes with a pencil or a stick.
- Now fill the bottle up to an inch or two with following material: Coarse gravel, coarse sand, charcoal and fine sand. You can get the charcoal from your fire that you made in step 2. Just collect the charcoal and crush it up into a fine power.
- Add water to the top layer of fine sand. As water percolates through the fine sand, then through the charcoal, the coarse sand, and the gravel, it will get filtered. Collect the water coming out through the openings you created.
Remember, this is not an ultimate filter, the charcoal can absorb some toxins, but it still is relatively crude.
10: Collect Water
There is a good possibility that you may not find any water in the wilderness, especially if you are stuck in
Trees always lose water to the atmosphere by a process called transpiration. You can trap this water efficiently. Just follow the steps below.
- Look for a thick green tree with a lot of branches.
- Early in the morning, tie a plastic bag over a branch that has a bunch of leaves. You tie it so that the leaves are completely covered with the plastic bag.
- You can also weigh down the plastic bag by adding a small rock in the bag. This creates a low point in the bag for water to collect.
As the day will progress, the water escaping from the leaves will be caught by the plastic bag and will condense to liquid form. You can collect this water after sunset. The collected water is pure, and there is no need to filter it at all.
11: Stay Cool in a Desert or an Arid Land
If you are trapped in a desert or dry wilderness, it is critical that you keep your body cool. Although finding shade can be difficult, you can create a makeshift cooling hat using just two things: a rag and your urine.
Take a piece of clothing that you can wrap around your head and soak it in your urine. Wrap this damp cloth around your head to stay cool. It may sound a bit gross, but trust me, it will be much comfortable with the pee-rag on your head!
12: Learn to Treat Animal Bites
If you are stuck in the wilderness, you are on the turf of the wild animals. There is a real possibility that an animal may bite you! In such cases, it is important to know the best way to tackle this situation.
The first step is to tie a ligature around the limb, above the bite to restrict the blood from flowing from the wound into the other parts of your body. Once this is done, the next step is to wash the wound as thoroughly as possible. If you have soap, use soap water to clean the wound.
Your job is to prevent any parasites in the animal bite from reaching the blood. Washing thoroughly can get rid of some pests reducing the parasite load. It gives your immune system a better chance to fight the infection.
If you have alcohol handy, pour some alcohol on the wound. It will further decrease the number of pathogens. Although to be effective, you must use hard drinks such as whiskey or rum. Drinks like beer have too less alcohol to be of any help in this situation.
13: Learn How to Tell Directions in the Wild
It sounds dumb, but many people can’t understand directions when lost. It is important for any survivalist to be able to tell directions even when the sun is not available for reference. There are many little clues in nature that can help you find the North. Here are some great examples.
- Look for moss on a tree trunk. Mosses usually grow as far away from sunlight and are often found on the north side of the trees and rocks. If the tree or rock is covered in moss, it will be thickest on the north side.
- Spider webs appear on the south side of the trees. If you happen to find some, it can be a good indication of direction.
- If the sun is out, put a stick in the ground and mark the end of the shadow of the stick on the ground. Wait for a few minutes; the shadow will move. Now mark the end of the new position of the shadow. The line joining those two points will run east-west.
- If you are near a body of water, remember that animals breed on the west side of the water reserves.
Although all these tips may not give you exact directions, they can help you find a general direction quickly. You can, of course, use the sun's position or a compass!
14: Find the North Star
The tips that we just saw can work fine during the day, but what if you want to locate the north during the night? Well, the best way to do it by finding the north star. Locating the north star in a bright cloudless sky is easy.
The first thing that you should look for is a constellation called The Big Dipper. It contains seven stars that form a somewhat ‘bowl with a handle' shape. Once you spot the big dipper, find the two stars that make up the edge of the bowl away from the handle. These are called the pointer stars. Now draw an imaginary line joining these two and extend it to find a bright star. This is the north star.
The north star always points to the true north no matter the season. It is always good to look up these constellations when you have time so that in case you need to use them, you know where to look!
15: Process Your Food as Far Away from Your Shelter as Possible
Say you are stranded in the wilderness, and you trap a small animal or catch a fish for food. Don't make the mistake of prepping the animal for cooking near your shelter.
Remember: The blood, entrails and other stuff can attract wild animals who can sniff these things out from a distance.
If you prepare the animal for cooking away from your shelter, you will be much safer. Also, don’t let uneaten food open in the shelter. Make sure that you clean up all the bones and other half-eaten food from your shelter.
16: Learn to Improvise Cooking Utensils
If you find yourself in a survival type situation, you most certainly won’t have the utensils to cook your food. In that case, you may have to improvise to make your own. One of the best ways to cook in the wild is to grill. You can design a make-shift grill using metal rods or picks that you can find in your tent or backpacks.
Once you have a fire going, you can create a temporary grill using these metal wires and rods to cooks anything from fish to meat. You can also boil water in a make-shift cup that you can fashion from aluminum sheets.
17: Learn to Identify Edible Plants
One of the keys to surviving the wilderness is to keep yourself fed. All your survival efforts will be useless if you don't have to energy to execute your plans. Although you can hunt or fish for food, both of them require patience and a degree of skill.
One of the best sources of food in the wilderness is plants. If you can find plants that you can eat, you won't have to look for an animal to kill frantically!
However, you must be careful if you decide to consume wild plants, fruits or flowers. Some of these plants can be very dangerous and even poisonous if consumed. There is no definite way of telling whether a plant or fruit is toxic or not just by looking at it.
However, many poisonous plants share some common characteristics. You should avoid going anywhere near such plants. The characteristics of poisonous plants are:
- They have thorns or spikes
- Bitter in taste
- They have a milky sap; most of the plants with white fluids are highly toxic. Avoid them at any cost.
Again, this is in no way meant to be an ultimate taste. Some poisonous plants may not have either of these characteristics. But, if you are in doubt, it is better if you avoid plants with these characteristics.
One great way to identify some edible plants is by studying up a little bit. You can always find books and resources on the internet that can educate you to identify these poisonous plants. So, if you have some time, read up!
18: How to Find Water by Reading Nature’s Cues
If you are stranded in the middle of thick jungle, finding fresh, drinkable water can be a challenge. However, if you are vigilant and look for small clues and signs, you stand a better chance. Just observing what is around you can tell you a lot about the ecosystem of the area. For instance, watch the bird or insect activity or listen to the sounds of the jungle.
Here are some great tips that I have used many times to locate water in the wilderness.
- If you can spot bees, it is always a great sign. It means that not only there is a hive full of honey nearby, but also a water source. Bees are usually found within about 4-5-mile radius of a water body.
- The presence of birds is also a great indicator of a water body nearby. Birds like finches and wild pigeons are grain eaters who drink lots of water. If you can find these birds, you can be assured that a water body is nearby.
Always make sure to boil water before drinking it. You can boil water using a make-shift container made from an aluminum foil.
19: The Rule of Threes
Although there is no way to precisely judge things like how long can you go without water or how long can you survive cold, there are some good estimates. One of my personal favorites is the "rule of the threes." It gives you a very broad idea of some calculations that can help you in a survival situation. The rule goes as follows.
- If it is cold outside, you can survive for about three hours before your body shows significant effects of hypothermia.
- In case, you don’t find any water, you can probably survive for three days. However, you will start feeling the effects of dehydration in a day itself, but you can survive without water for three.
- Similarly, you can survive about three weeks without food. Again, that does not mean that you will be up and about throughout the three weeks. It just means that you can ‘survive’ and not die if you don’t eat food for three weeks.
Another rule that I would suggest to all of you is that you can live without thinking for three seconds! It means it takes about three seconds to do something dumb that is horrible enough to get you killed if you are thinking right! So, stay calm and don't do anything without putting some thought into it.
20: Never Travel in the Dark
It may sound a good idea just to keep traveling even after the sunset if you are not exhausted completely. However, it is one of the most dangerous things that you can do in the wild. Make sure that all your traveling can wait until the break of the dawn. Traveling through the wilderness in the dark is an open invitation to danger.
Most of the predatory animals are nocturnal and trust me; they are built for hunting at night. They can see you better than you know even if it is pitch black. Also, the floor of the woods is covered with insects and snakes that also come out during the night. Remember, you are traveling in a land that you have never tread. You can fall off a cliff if you can't see where you are going.
21: Sleep Above the Ground
We have already covered how you can make a shelter and bedding in the earlier section. However, if you are traveling and just need a bedding to sleep on for a night, make sure that you are not sleeping on the floor of the forest.
One of the best ways to spend the night is by making a make-shift hammock. Find a couple of trees that have tall trunks for your hammock. Trees that have less foliage are best. Make a hammock as high as you can and climb into it to spend the night. It will protect you from wild animals as well as the creeping and crawling insects.
Never climb a tree and sleep there. Many people think that it is a good idea to climb a tree to sleep there for a while. There is a greater chance of you falling from the tree in your sleep that you might think.
22: Do Not Use Dirty Water to Clean Wounds
If you are injured or have a flesh wound, make sure that you are not washing the wound with dirty water that is filled with microbes.
Water from many waterbodies may seem clear, but it is filled with microscopic organisms that may cause severe infections. If you must wash the wound, make sure that you use clean water. If you can boil water, then use boiled water to clean the wounds. If you can’t use boiled water, you can use the water collected from tree transpiration. We have seen how to collect this water in the tip#10.
If you have alcohol with you, wash the wounds with high proof alcoholic spirits. Avoid beer and wine, these beverages contain a lot of sugar and not enough alcohol to help in any scenario.
23: Learn to Use Animal Carcasses and Entrails to Your Advantage
- You can find a lot of animal products in the wilderness. Animal bones and feces are scattered all over the jungle floor. You can use some of these items to your advantage. Here are some tips on how to utilize these.
- Animal bones can be used as weapons: When it comes to the bones, you can fashion small weapons that you can use to hunt or fish. After all, animal bones were one of the first weapons of our prehistoric ancestors!
- Use the pelts and skin: Animal skins and hides can provide excellent insulation. You can use them for your bedding as well.
- Use urine of females to attract prey: The urine of female animals can be used to attract males for hunting. Although finding female urine may be difficult, but if you hunt a female, you can store the urine.
24: Learn the Medicinal Properties of Wild Plants
There are a ton of plant species in the wilderness. Many of these plants have excellent medicinal properties. Crab apples, for instance, have an astringent effect that can help heal wounds. Pine resin has an excellent antiseptic property. If you can find eucalyptus leaves, you can burn them to get rid of mosquitoes and other bugs around your campsite.
Acorns and oak bark have excellent medicinal properties to heal gastrointestinal problems. If you can find some acorns and oak bark, just boil it in water for 5 minutes and drink the concoction. It will help you fight diarrhea and other gastro-intestinal issues.
If you are constipated, use rose hip leaves. You can make a decoction by boiling the green fleshy parts of the plant in water. Drink this before you go to bed for relieving constipation.
If you are having insect bite problems, dock leaves can be of great help. Just pulverize them and apply directly on the bite. The anti-histamine properties of the leaves can assist in easing the itch and pain
Willow bark contains salicylic acid, which is the active form of aspirin. You can chew on the middle willow barks if you have a fever of a headache to good effect.
However, always remember that you should not eat any plant unless you are sure you can identify them correctly.
25: Carry extra pair of socks
Socks are one of the most versatile pieces of clothing. They can not only help you stay warm and comfortable, but you can also use them for various other purposes. Socks can prevent blisters in the wilderness when you must walk for long distances in sturdy boots.
You can also use socks as filters and as hand warmers if you don’t have anything else around. Make sure that you always have dry socks on your feet. Wet feet are more prone to chafing and blisters.
26: Use Hand Sanitizer to Kindle Fire
If you have a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your survival kit or gear, you can use it to light embers. Hand sanitizers are mostly alcohol that is extremely flammable. Adding just a few drops of hand sanitizer on the embers will produce flames. You can use this flame to start a fire using your char cloth or your cotton balls soaked in Vaseline.
It is always good to keep a hand sanitizer in your survival kit, or better, in your pocket. However, make sure that a sanitizer that is alcohol-free or the one that is foam based won’t work for this purpose.
Here's how it works...
27: Create an Insulated Vest from Dry Leaves
As we discussed above, staying warm is your priority. Adding insulation to your clothing is always a welcome idea. Dry leaves on the floor of the woods make excellent insulators. All you need to do is stuff them into your jacket. They form an insulating layer between your body and the outside cold air, trapping your body heat.
However, make sure that the leaves you are using are completely dry. They should not contain any moisture. If you have newspapers or plastic bags, you can use them as well.
28: Invest in Tools for Your Survival Kit
Tools are crucial for surviving the wild. If you have the right tools, surviving in the wild can be exponentially easy. Invest in quality tools that perform in rugged weather.
I always have waterproof equipment in my survival kit. They may cost you a bit more, but they can save your life in some situation. Invest in the waterproof watch, waterproof matches, a waterproof compass to name a few.
29: Always Wear a Utility Bracelet
I am sure you must have seen some of those utility bracelets advertised everywhere. These bracelets are made from the same materials that military uses in their gear. The bracelet itself is made from paracord that you can unravel to make an adamant thread to tie stuff up.
The bracelets also have several attachments such as small tools and compass, that can be used in emergencies as well. Some of them also have a flint and steel set built right into them.
It is a good idea to wear them on a regular basis especially if you are camping or going for a road trip. They may not be ideal to wear every day on your day job, but they sure are worth the investment.
30: Carry Glow Sticks in Your Survival Kit
Glow sticks can be life savers in survival situations. These are small sticks that are filled with a chemical substance that emits light when mechanical shock triggers a chemical reaction. I am sure you must have seen them at parties and such, but they are of great value to a survivalist.
Glow sticks come in all shape, form, and colors. The ones you want are not those party things that you can wear like a necklace. You want to buy the ones that have a high light output. These glow sticks can last for years in your kit. However, it is advisable that you change them before they reach their expiration date.
31: Take Those Rain Ponchos Seriously
I am sure that you must have seen those ugly looking rain ponchos. However, if you are heading out to camp or hunt, these seemingly simple things can add significant value to your kit. These ponchos can be used in several ways if a survival situation presents itself.
- They can be used to fashion a shelter.
- You can use those to collect rainwater as well.
- You can also distil salt water using one of these as a condensing surface to collect the desalinated water.
If you can, put one of these in your survival backpack today.
32: Get Boots that are Suitable for the Terrain
If you are planning to go on hunting, trekking or a camping expedition, make sure that your shoes are suited for the terrain. Shoes are one of the most important pieces of equipment that you will carry in these expeditions.
You will be walking a lot, and if your shoes are not comfortable, you will find it tough to cover ground. Proper shoes must have the following characteristics.
- Light-weight: Heavy and clunky shoes will drain you faster. You want a shoe that is light yet durable.
- Protection: Providing protection is one of the most important jobs of a shoe. Reinforced rubber sole and high-quality leather or synthetic material are things to look for in the best shoe.
- Right size: If you are planning to walk a lot, remember that your feet are going to get a bit swollen. In that case, your shoes need to fit correctly. Anticipate the situation and choose your shoe size accordingly.
33: Invest in a Sturdy Tactical Flashlight
There are a ton of high-quality flashlights out there. A high-quality flashlight is one of the first things that goes into my survival kit. Invest in a good quality light as it can save your life in a difficult situation.
Here are some things to look for while selecting a good flashlight.
- It should be bright: Of course, a tactical flashlight should be bright. However, too much brightness can be dangerous in the wild. It may spook wildlife or can catch the attention of the predators. Make sure that your flashlight has adjustable light output.
- Waterproof: Not all tactical flashlights are waterproof. If you are buying a flashlight for your survival kit, it better be waterproof. You don't know when you will need it in the rain or underwater.
- It should have long lasting batteries: Now this one is self-explanatory, isn’t it?
34: Carry a Duct Tape in Your Survival Gear
Duct tape is one of the simplest pieces of the tool in my survival kit. It may seem a simple thing, but it has helped me in many tricky situations. I never leave for a hike or a camp without it in my backpack.
You can use this strong tape to do a ton of things including make shelters.
35: Invest in a Good Tactical Backpack
A survival bag is specially designed to help you overcome tricky situations. It is not your everyday, run of the mill bag. Firstly, it is designed with materials that are of superior quality. These bags can withstand the weather elements with ease. They are lightweight, sturdy and multipurpose. Quality bags can be a bit expensive, but trust me, they are worth the money. Here are top 10 tactical backpack for any survivalist.
36: Reinforce Your Backpacks and Clothes with Carbon Steel
Carbon steel is a lightweight alloy that is bulletproof. You can easily procure this material as most saws are made from it. The pieces of carbon steel may require a high ‘exoskeleton' for your jackets, clothes, and backpack.
Carbon steel is easily bendable and doesn't snap. You can use this to protect yourself from shrapnel, arrows, and bullets as well.
37: Surround Your Campfire with Rocks
Surrounding the campfire with rocks is a great way of prolonging the heat from the fire. The rocks will stay warm long after the flames have extinguished. Small hot stones can also be used to boil water.
All you need to do is to drop a few hot rocks in your metal water container. The heat from the rocks is enough to bring the water to a boil, making it safe to drink.
38: Use Charcoal to Make Water Palatable
So, you found some waterbody in the wild and collected some water. You even boiled the water to make it safe to drink. But when you try to drink it, it has a horrible smell or unpleasant taste. It is a common scenario faced by many survivalists.
Thankfully, it is easy to remedy this situation. Just add some charcoal while boiling the water. Charcoal is an excellent adsorbent that can get rid of many impurities including foul taste, smell and color. Always collect charcoal from your fire in a tight container.
39: Organize Your Tactical Backpack
Merely getting a survival bag and filling it with some equipment is not going to help you in your survival mission. Make sure that your bug out bag is properly organized so that you can rely on the gear to get you out of the tricky situation. Here are some tips to organize your bug out bag.
- Make sure that your bag is balanced: You are going to carry this bag on your shoulders for a long time. If the bag is well-balanced, it will be easy to carry. Distribute the load so that the heavier of stuff is on the top and the call lighter stuff is on the bottom.
- Organize the bag: Make sure that all equipment you regularly need is accessible without much digging.
- Use straps: Use the straps on the bag to secure your gear. Make sure that none of the material is hanging loose.
40: Take Care of the Blisters as Soon as Possible
When you walk for a long distance, it is common to get blisters on your feet. If you don’t take care of these blisters as soon as possible, they will prevent you from covering distance. If the blister has already been formed, just punctured to relieve the fluid buildup. If you sense that a blister may be forming, use a small piece of duct tape to prevent it.
41: Learn How to Make an SOS Signal
An SOS signal is the universal call for help. You can cause the signal using the light as well as sound. The message consists of three dots followed by three dashes followed by three dots. If you’re using light, an SOS signal would be three short bursts of light followed by three long bursts followed by three more short bursts. The same logic applies if you are using sound. Make sure that you practice the signal before you need to use it.
42: Learn the Universal Wave
One of the best ways to catch the attention of the rescuers or to pass people is using the Universal wave. It is one of the simplest gestures to learn. I am sure you must have seen it in many movies. To do the wave, stand with your legs slightly apart and wave your arms like you would do when you are doing jumping jacks.
43: Carry Two Rescue Mirrors
Rescue mirrors are an excellent way to grab the attention of rescuers. However, if you just have a single mirror, you will be severely limited.
As the sun always travels south, it is impossible to use a single mirror to signal a rescue crew flying in from the north.
If you have two mirrors, you can use the reflection from one mirror as a light source and reflect it from the second mirror. This enables you to signal north even if there is no sun present there to reflect light.
44: Learn How to Snare Small Game
Snaring can be an excellent way to trap small animals while you are away building your shelter. However, it is important to know where to set up the traps. You can set the traps in places where you can see the animals running around. You can also hear small rodents and squirrels. It is even better if you are near a water body.
How to Set up a Snare?
Setting up a snare is simple. Just make a loop out of a thin metal wire by folding the wire back onto itself. It is like tying an overhand knot. Once the animal is trapped, the weight of the animal will be enough to synch the knot.
While laying the traps, make sure that the positioning is right, you remember where you set them up, and the loop is just about the size of the animal's head. Too big a loop will be useless.
45: Learn to Make Rope from Willow Tree Branches
The rope is a critical resource in the wild. It is essential to tie things, to make shelter and even in hunting. You can make a robust and sturdy rope from the skins of willow branches. Here is how you can make willow ropes.
- Skin the willow tree branches with a knife or suitable camping axe. You are looking for that soft layer of the branch that is deeper than the bark of the wood. Strip them in the form of long ribbons.
- Take a piece of the ribbon and tie it with a knot at the bitter end. Now, twist the skin to create a powerful thread. Use the other piece and wrap it on top of the first string. Repeat with a third string. Make a few these mini strings.
- Braid three strings that you made in step 2, to make a strong rope.
46: Learn to Make a Torch
A torch is an excellent way to illuminate your path in the dark. You can also use it as a weapon to ward off attacks from wild animals. To make a torch, find a branch of a tree and split it in half. Stick a piece of bark in the fork and light the split end, that's all! Birch tree branches make great torches.
47: Collect Rain Water
Rainwater is perhaps the purest form of water available in the wild. You can collect the rain water and use it to drink with no need to filter. There are many simple ways to collect rain water.
- A lot of rainwater is collected on top of large leaves. If you can find a tree with huge leaves, you can often find some water pooled on some of them.
- Tall grass also has a lot of water droplets all over their blades. If you carefully cut the grass and ring them out, you can collect enough water to quench your thirst.
- You can also soak up the moisture on the grass with your clothes and ring them out to get some fresh, pure water.
48: Make Sure You Have Water Purifying Tablets in Your Survival Kit
Water purifying tablets are a must in your survival kit. These small tablets can help you clean water in the absence of any heat of other means of purification. Although tablets may not last forever and it is not good to survive entirely on them, they can be a good emergency backup.
For the long term, boiling or filtering water is the best option.
49: Add Aluminum Foil to Your Survival Kit
Aluminum foil is a versatile tool that is a must carry in a survival kit. You can use aluminum foil for all sorts of things including making utensils, heat reflectors and a dry surface to start a fire.
I always carry a few pieces of foil in my survival kit. You don't need to add the whole roll; just a few folded-up pieces should be good enough.
50: Don’t Make a Shelter Downwind to Your Campfire
It is quite a tempting thought to make a shelter downwind to your campfire. The logical explanation that you can think of is that as the wind blows, the heat will be carried to the shelter.
However, trust me, it is a HORRIBLE idea.
If you sleep downwind to the campfire, your whole shelter will soon start smelling like smoke and fire, and you don't want that. Also, there is a chance that if the gusts are strong, a burning piece firewood can fly right into your shelter while you are asleep.
51: Learn to Predict the Incoming Rain or Storms by Looking at the Sun or the Moon
There is no Weather Channel to tell you how the weather is going to be in the wild. You need to read the signs in nature to predict rain or snow. One of the best ways to predict weather changes is to look at the sun or the moon.
PRO TIPS: If there is a halo around the sun or the moon, it usually indicates that low pressure is approaching.
You can safely predict that there will be some precipitation, either rain or snow, in the next 24-36 hours. The halo is caused by refraction of light by ice crystals in the cirrus clouds. If the halo is broken, the broken side points to the direction of the incoming storm.
52: Use Duct Tape to Keep Your Shoelaces Tied
When you walk through bushes and thickets, your shoelaces can be quickly caught in the branches. It can cause you to lose footing or fall. Use a duct tape to tape the loose ends of your laces to your upper ankle. This way, there will be no open laces to tangle.
53: Make Your Glasses Fog-free
If you wear glasses, you know the pain of fogged up lenses in cold weather far too well. You can easily prevent this from happening with a simple little trick. Follow the steps below to create a fog-free pair of glasses.
- Clean the lenses under running water
- While the lenses are still wet, add a couple of drops of dish soap onto the lenses
- Clean the lenses with a lens cloth and polish till all the streaks are gone
This simple procedure will make your glasses fog-free!
54: Make Your Tools Visible if You Drop Them on the Ground
This tip may sound silly, but trust me, it helped me a lot on camps. I have a small knife that I always keep in my survival pack. Unfortunately, the knife is brown and black in color. If I drop it accidentally on the floor of the jungle, I waste valuable minutes finding it.
To prevent this from happening, I painted the handle of the knife bright orange. That way, even if it is somewhat dark outside, I can spot my knife easily on the ground.
55: Coconuts Can Save Your Life
Coconut water contains vital nutrients and sugar that can keep you fed and alive for long. If you can find coconut trees, make sure that you use the water as food. However, remember that if you drink too much coconut water, it can give you the runs! In that case, just eat some powdered charcoal. It can help you ease your stomach woes.
56: Catch More Fish by Facing into the Wind
If you are fishing for food in the wild, you can catch more fish if you cast your bait while facing into the wind. It is a known fact that 99% fish swim toward the wind. Fishing into the wind will allow you to cast a bait in front of the fish rather than behind.
More survival fishing techniques...
57: Don’t Attempt to Cross a Rapid, Fast Moving River or Stream
If you come across a fast-moving stream, it is better not to try crossing it. You may think that you can manage the flow of the current, but there is no accurate measure of the speed. You can be quickly swept away by a seemingly manageable current.
I would suggest crossing streams or rivers only if it is necessary.
58: Never Underestimate Flash Floods
Flash floods can be a nightmare in the wild. If you are not careful, they can wash away your shelter in no time. Keep an eye out for the warning signs of rain or thunder.
Always camp on high grounds. Make sure that you are not in the path of a current in case it starts to flood.
Never make the mistake of trying to outrun a flash flood. You will be caught and swept away before you realize. If you see a flash flood coming, immediately go to high ground and stay the heck away from it.
59: Anticipate and Be Prepared
The most important survival tip is to anticipate survival situations and prepare yourself. If you don’t expect and prepare for a situation, you will never be able to perform when the time comes.
If survival were an exam, you would have a better chance of acing it with a good study, right? Hence, it is crucial that you expand your knowledge and anticipate situations and design strategies.
Remember, when the time comes, the better prepared you are, the better chance you have!
Bushcraft Survival Skills to Practice and Master
If you are planning to go deep into the woods and be out in the wilderness for more than a day, then you will need to know the basics of survival. This means understanding how to create a shelter, build a fire, find drinkable water, and get the attention of possible rescue parties.
What follows are ten bushcraft outdoor skills and wilderness survival tips for staying alive that you need to practice and learn.
Break Rocks into Tools
One of the most ancient of bushcraft survival skills, you can turn the rocks into spear points, arrowheads, or knives that can help you hunt for food. Harder stones such as obsidian can become sharp objects that you can use to cut wood or kill small animals to survive. It takes time and patience, but you can master the basic art of breaking apart rocks to create sharp objects.
While most people bring a fire-starting kit with them, it can get wet or lost which leaves you with little to work with in starting a fire. If you still have matches or a working lighter and a knife, you can create a feather stick from tree branches.
By using the knife to remove the bark, you can peel open layers of the wood that resembles a feather. This gives you both tinder and a solid piece of wood to start your fire. It’s simple, easy to do, and can start a fire even under damp conditions.
One way to cut down on the equipment you take into the woods is learning how to create a natural pot hanging device. All you need is a knife, some branches, and paracord or natural rope along with the pot.
The hanging device brackets the fire and is high enough to allow you to hang a pot without putting the wood in danger of being burned. This allows you to put the pot directly over the flame, which is the best way to cook your meals.
A lean-to is the simplest form of shelter and can be created with natural materials lying around. First, you need to find logs large enough to create the frame.
Next, long, thin, straight branches will fill the frame and you pile dirt and grass on top. Be sure that the lean-to faces the wind, so you can stay out of the cold inside. All you need is a tree for support. It may not look pretty and will take some work, but a lean-to can save your life. Combine this with a fire on the open side and you can stay warm.
If you have lost your canteen or pot, you can make a natural container for water and food using birch bark and some natural rope. While other bark can be used, birch bark is easier to create a container and is waterproof.
Once you have found bark large enough to make a container, use your knife to peel it off and shape it around the wood. Use twine or natural rope to secure the bark and you have a place to hold food or water inside.
If you lost your paracord, you can use ordinary plants to create a rope. This requires finding long grasses and weaving them together to make them strong. The uses for natural rope are considerable, ranging from making a new bootlace to creating a shelter, or trapping animals. You can even use the rope to climb or set an injury.
There are plenty of edible plants, the trick is identifying and separating them from inedible plants. Focus on learning about the edible plants in the area where you plan to hike or camp. That is easier than trying to learn about all plants.
A good rule of thumb is when in doubt, don’t eat it. Even boiling will not remove the poison or unwanted materials, so just leave it alone.
Animals are creatures of habit. This means that they will follow the same path repeatedly, so you can use that to your advantage. Whether you intend to trap the animals for food or follow them to a source of water, you should learn basic tracking skills.
- Judge age of tracks
- Seek out paths made by animals
- Recognize tracks of small and large animals
- Learn to recognize large animal tracks to avoid encounters.
Depending on how long you are out in the wilderness, developing good tracking skills can be quite valuable.
There seems to be a lot of trash in the wilderness, especially paper. You can use it to your advantage with a trash-fueled stove. All you need is the following;
- Cup for Alcohol Fuel
- Cotton Wick
- Two Cans
- Clamp to make a Handle
- Rock to hold the Lid down
- Plate for Windscreen
The trash paper you find which needs to be flammable is placed in the cans. The alcohol provides the initial fuel to ignite the trash paper and with that, you can boil soup in under 20 minutes. You can boil meals and clean up the wilderness at the same time.
You can purify water by boiling it. But in case of bad weather, you should have chemical and charcoal purifiers as well.
A good charcoal purifier will allow you to carry less water while still getting enough to drink.
Charcoal filters which you can suck the water through a straw mean getting quick hydration from a stream or puddle.
Remember, you should boil water when you can, but having a filter or chemical purifier tablets are invaluable.
At the end...
All these skills are the tools you use to survive. The key is having a positive attitude and using the time you have to the best advantage.
Take breaks, don’t wear yourself out, and stay alert for opportunities to get help. Your bushcraft survival skills will help you stay alive, so be sure to practice and use them to your best advantage.
General Tips for Survivalists
- Make sure that you have a thorough understanding of an area you are going to camp or hunt. If possible, memorize the maps and talk to people who have already been to the area. That way, you can anticipate the potential situations that may come forth.
- Ensure that you have a backup of your backup! The rate of something failing is high in the wild. If you don’t have a backup, you will be in trouble. So, if you are carrying waterproof matches, take flint and steel set as well.
- Ensure that your survival kit is up-to-date. Many items of your survival kits have an expiration date. Glow sticks and water purifying tablets go bad after a few years. Check the expiration dates of these items before you head out for your big expedition.
- Plan, plan and plan! If you are going on proposed expedition, spend more time preparing it. Make sure that you play each possible scenario in your head before setting out. I know that a 100% prepared adventure is no adventure, but still, planning it makes it much safer. And that is what you want, right?
- Don’t forget insects! If there is a scarcity of food, bugs and insects can provide you with the much-needed protein and other micronutrients.
These are my ultimate wilderness survival tips. Some of the tricks may work in a given situation and others may not. You should be smart enough to pick the right technique and use it.