Have you ever watched television shows like “Naked and Afraid” or “Man vs. Wild” and wondered if it would be possible to survive if you were trapped in the wild? Well, it is possible if you know how. But if you are in an emergency situation you aren’t likely to have a guidebook to show you what to do. You need to know ahead of time how to take care of yourself and your loved ones if you are trapped in the wild. Here are just a few of the wilderness survival skills you should know.
5 Wilderness Survival Skills You Need to Know
How to Find Clean Water
You have a maximum of three days to survive without water, so this is your first of your wilderness survival skills you need to learn. How you find your water will depend on where you are and what supplies you have.
Desert or Arid Region
- If you have plastic bags or tarps: collect water by building a solar still. There are many optional pieces of equipment needed, but all you really need are a few rocks and a large amount of clear plastic.
- If you have no tools: Look for wildlife. Wildlife congregates near pools of water. Swarms of mosquitoes, animal tracks and circling birds can all lead you to sources of open water.
- Extract water from a cactus.
Forest, Jungle or Mountains
- If you have plastic bags: collect dew and condensation by tying plastic bags around tree branches. This technique is called using transpiration bags.
- If you have open containers or large tarps: collect rainwater.
- If you have no tools: dig a seep. You can collect and drink water from streams but there is no way to know if it is safe. You can improve safety by filtering it a bit with a seep to remove some bacteria and pollutants.
Of course, the best tool you can carry in any survival situation is a water filter or purifying equipment that is rated to remove dangerous bacteria and chemicals. All of the wilderness survival skills in the world won’t matter if you are suffering from dehydration due to bacterial poisoning.
How to Find Safe Food
Learning how to forage for food when you run out of supplies is among the most important wilderness survival skills. In most places – even the desert – we are surrounded by edible plants and food sources. Just because we usually turn our noses up at them for not being the tastiest doesn’t mean they aren’t nutritious.
You can find nutrition in everything from mushrooms, wild greens, berries, nuts, fruit, fish, game, and even bugs. But you must be very careful when learning how to forage for food though because some things that look good and even taste good are quite poisonous. This is especially true for mushrooms, berries, and certain greens.
In addition, certain game needs to be carefully prepared to prevent contamination. Some game can harbor dangerous pathogens as well. Rabbits can carry tularemia for instance. There are many online resources that can help you learn more about how to forage for wild edibles.
How to Make a Fire
A fire can help you to purify water, cook food, help you stay warm, keep wild animals away and even signal that you need help. Learning how to build a fire no matter what is available is one of the must useful wilderness survival skills available. It can and will save your life and even make you comfortable in the worst situation.
There are many creative ways to start fires without using traditional tools. You can even do it using a bar of chocolate and the bottom of a soda can. Basically, you just polish the bottom of the can until it’s nice and shiny, point the concave surface toward the sun and hold dry tinder in the focal point. Voila! Nonetheless, there are plenty of other methods to try.
How to Stay Warm
This is literally one of the most vital wilderness survival skills. Hypothermia is a leading cause of death for those who are caught in the wild. Staying warm is staying alive, but sometimes it isn’t possible to make a fire even with the skills you learned above. So, it’s important to learn other ways to stay warm.
To start, don’t get cold in the first place! It is much harder to return your body temperature to normal if you let it fall. This means starting out with the right clothing. You should always have these things with you, either in your car or a backpack or stored where you can easily access them:
- Warm, waterproof, well-fitting boots.
- Long underwear.
- A very warm, preferably long coat.
- Warm, waterproof gloves.
Make sure all of these supplies are loose fitting. Loose fitting clothes help to trap air between layers, which will keep you warmer.
But what if you don’t have any of these supplies? Make a debris bed. This can help you to stay warm with nothing more than the clothes on your back even if you don’t have a shelter. If you are caught in the snow, building a snow cave can provide warmth. However, snow caves can save or kill. Using a structure like this is dangerous without the proper know-how, so you need to learn what is the safest way to use this survival tool.
How to Find Your Way Home (or Anywhere You Need to Go)
Navigating the wilderness has become one of the lost wilderness survival skills. People no longer learn placement of the constellations during the seasons or how to use a compass because they have phones equipped with GPS.
If you can’t see the sun during the day or the stars at night, which is the simplest way to find north (or northish), there are other methods you can use. One of the niftiest is to make an improvised compass. Basically, you stroke a needle of ferrous metal against silk, or even your hair, in one direction only until it’s magnetized. Then, when hung (horizontally of course) from a piece of string or floated on water on a thin piece of wood to insulate it, it will align itself with the north and south poles. Then just use what little light is coming through the clouds and the time of day to judge which of the directions is north. You can now be sure you will not be wandering in circles and can navigate in a basic direction, if not precisely where you need to go.
Now you know what you need to learn, but gaining all of the wilderness survival skills you need is a work in progress. It’s best to know how to do these things before you need to do them because it’s too late to learn when you are in an emergency situation. Start with this guide, but continue learning as you go. This short article is just a beginning towards a journey to learn the ultimate skills in self-sufficiency and survival. Remember, knowledge is the most important survival skill of all.