You suddenly found yourself lost in the midst of wilderness, and you are left with no choice but to fend for yourself.
Do you have what it takes to keep yourself protected from harm and danger?
This wilderness survival guide will help ensure that you can make it out safe and sound.
The Mind of Survival
The art of outdoor survival doesn’t only start with lighting a fire or building a shelter. Before any of these two, you need to develop first the mindset of a true survivor. Try to look for a real life survival story, and you will discover that these survivors have the same mental traits which let them endure the difficult situations they were in.
Developing a survivor’s mindset is extremely essential, and below are the top 5 characteristics that you will need:
Just because almost all survival resources are preaching about the importance of having a positive mental attitude doesn’t mean that you have to think of it as another cliché. A positive mental attitude is a real necessity. In fact, this is a crucial survival priority when you find yourself in the midst of adversity, and is among the most vital skills you should master. This is also among the most difficult skills to master yet it will be worth the trouble. Practice this attitude daily and you will be ready if you ever find yourself lost in the wilderness.
What is the one thing that motivates someone to stay alive even when things have gone wrong? A lot of survival stories discuss the devotion of the survivor to their religious belief or the higher power for providing hope and motivation. Other survivors have also discussed their intense desire of returning to their loved ones, friends, and family. What do you think will motivate you for staying alive during a survival emergency? This is for you to decide as it differs for everyone.
This is not about physical prowess, stamina, pain tolerance, or the number of calluses you’ve got. Mental toughness is about your will’s strength as well as your mind’s toughness. For you to be mentally tough, you need to suffer through the insufferable, tolerate the intolerable, and overpower your desire to give up and all your weaknesses.
Survival and adaptability always go hand in hand. Consider the survival of animals and plants. The ones which fail to adapt to the changing environment didn’t survive. The ones that changed and evolved managed to survive. You need to be able to adapt to all the changing environments, situations, and event. You should recognize things that you should continue and those that should be abandoned.
Your work ethic is also a major factor in your survival mindset. Being in a difficult experience usually teaches people to work harder and better the next time, assuming that there is indeed a next time. A true survivor is one who has a strong work ethic, someone who sticks with the job until this is completed and finished. Your strong work ethic could surely go a long way to make up for things that you weren’t able to entrust to luck alone.
Steps for Survival in the Wilderness
If you ever find yourself trapped in the wild, it is a must that you know your top priorities to ensure that you won’t be facing the worst case scenario:
Build your shelter on the first morning and make its warmth comfortable enough depending on the climate on the area you are in. Your shelter should be warm, dry, and has enough space for storing things. Ensure that your shelter is also reasonably near a water supply. While searching for shelter materials, use the chance to gather firewood to make fire at night. You can make fire with the use of a primitive bow drill or even a hand drill that has thumb hole strings to lessen consumption of energy and make it easier to get coal. Before day one ends, focus on making several traps near high traffic spots for small game and pack rate dents.
Start the morning by re-stoking the previous’ nights fire and check your traps if they were able to catch something you can have for breakfast. Go back to camp and start either improving the shelter while the weather is still cool or processing the trapped game. Building your shelter is among the most labor intensive aspects of survival and you have to do this when you will be using the least calorie amount. Proceed to making several simple traps and some complex ones for bigger game. If you are near a water source like a stream or river, make some fish traps since these preys are the easiest to catch. Your second day must focus on food gathering and shelter improvement. Make sure you stay hydrated as well.
On the third day, you must have several traps set out that produce food. It is your primary focus until you have enough sources of food generation to give you adequate fresh meat you can eat on hand, as well as enough extra to start storing extra edibles, dried meats, and others. You can start putting these back for your following move. When you are out, see to it you gather materials once they get available. Never wait and return as this will just waste more calories.
Once the fourth day comes, you will be more used to the situation and you must already provide yourself with some calories without losing a lot of weight. Continue improving your situation through adding new sources of food generation and using the resources in the area to be ready for anything that might come. You can also start making things such as tools and drying racks to make your tasks easier.
Being lost in the wild doesn’t have to mean that you will simply give up. By being wise and alert, you can definitely make it out successfully and safely.
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Essential Skills and Techniques to Master
There are lots of survival techniques out there, but no matter what specific one is being discussed, there are five basic outdoor survival skills that a person venturing into the great outdoors need to understand and must be well aware of their potential use and need. Remember that this is only a brief outline and not a complete explanation of all the items (Check out our article on 10 Important Items to Survival in Wilderness) and requirements needed in every category. Among the most crucial elements to survival is found right between your ears, and that is your brain. But out of all survival techniques, not panicking is the most important one. Make sure you use your wits then practice every element of the following basic survival skills before the need to rely on these comes.
Fire is no doubt the king of all survival methods. Fire could cook food, purify water, offer warmth, comfort, and light, signal rescuers, help keep the predators away, and is also the most welcomed companion and friend you could ever have. Being a survival technique, this is the one that is most essential. Anyone venturing into the outdoors must have at least two ways of starting fire, one of which is with the person all the time, and the second one with the gear. Several small fires offer more heat compared to a single big fire. You can collect firewood you can use at night and collect the similar amount again. Conserve fuel through producing a star fire wherein the ends of big logs meet only the fire push inward since more fuel is required. Create a reflector from the space blanket on the shelter’s back wall to reflect the heat of the survival fire to your back. You should site between the back shelter wall and the fire (Read How to start fire without lighter).
Shelter is another survival technique that can keep your body protected from excess exposure from the cold, sun, rain, wind, or snow. Something which adds or takes away to the overall temperature of your body could be your potential enemy. Your initial line of shelter protection is your clothing, Make sure you are wearing the right clothes that fit the environment you are in. See to it that you have a hat with you all the time. Try to keep the layers nearest your body as dry as possible. The layers can trap air and these will be warmer compared to a single thick garment. Never use up your energy for building a shelter if nature already offers one. You could practice forming a quick lean to shelter in the event that you fail to locate your campsite. Never wait until you have to make one. You can use your space blanket for preventing dampness, insulating your shelter, or wrapping around yourself in a squat or sitting position to focus the core heat of your body.
It’s unique among other survival techniques in that signaling provides you the ability and means to alert any potential rescuers that you’re in need of help. Flashing light, fire, flags, bright color markers, and whistles all will help you be found. Fires in triangular form are a known distress signal. Bank your signal fires carefully to prevent igniting the surrounding areas. Use regular signal mirrors when you can see people or a plane in the distance. Use the emergency strobe light during night time to help attract the attention from people that might be in the area. Create smoky fire with the organic materials over the fire during day time to attract some attention. Lay out ground and air signal in the open field, SOS from logs, rocks or colored clothing, whatever you see in the background. Majority of the search and rescue teams use aircraft as a sighting method.
It is a survival technique isn’t just the basic medical needs, but also it’s a primary way to survive. Remain calm, never panic, and do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Keep STOP in mind. It means Sit, Think, Observe, and Plan. It’s considered as the most intelligent thing you may do once you realize you’re stranded or lost. The most crucial element is keeping your brain functioning rationally, which is the basic survival first aid. Analyze your requirements before each trip, carry small personal kit, and make a medical checklist. Almost all survival situations need only dressing for bruises, small cuts, and personal medication requirements, see to it that you know how to use it and what you have with you. Prevent hypothermia through insulating yourself in the space blanket.
Food or Water
These are crucial towards your survival. Try drinking only in the cool of evening. You could live up to 3 days without water. Never eat plants you don’t know and don’t drink urine. Assume that you’ll need extra water and food once you plan your trip. Pack candy and energy bars in your pockets always. If necessary, boil water for ten minutes plus a minute for each 1000ft above sea level. Strain the water through the handkerchief to get rid of the big particles. Don’t wait until you’re without water to collect that. Have poly zip bags to store and collect water. Don’t eat wild berries that you’re not sure of what they are. You may catch rain water in your own space blanket through laying it out in the trench.
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Outdoor Survival Gear
Having the right survival gear is crucial for anybody wanting to live a life of outdoor adventure. Whether you are a regular in wilderness, first-time explorer or weekend warrior, if you do not have the right outdoor survival gear, you are actually asking for trouble. So, make sure to have these survival gear essentials:
- Survival Knife
It has a lot of uses that it’s an absolute essential for any outdoor adventure. It is your important piece of survival gear to open packages, cut rope, build shelters, and may come in handy when using first aid kits and starting fires.
- Survival Backpack
It is crucial that you get a great survival backpack for when you are out on your adventure. Yet, what exactly do you mean by this kind of backpack? It should carry enough content, must be waterproof, and should give you comfort throughout your journey.
- First Aid Kit
Having a first aid kit may turn an potential survival emergency into minor setbacks. If you don’t have a first aid kit with you, you aren’t giving enough respect to your surroundings. First aid kit is an important thing to turn survival situations into an inconvenience and it could be difference that will help you save your life.
- Rope or Cord
Rope might not be a crucial gear for camping, yet it’s definitely useful and once you find yourself in a place where you have to construct any survival shelter, it might be the survival gear that would end up saving your life. Carrying cord also provides you the means for repairs should have some shelter problems, find yourself in climbing situation, need to repair tents or even if the things might get bad and you have to lay the trap and hunt for dinner. Interesting read: Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Paracord Bracelet
- Survival Blanket or Bag
If you are stranded in an isolation or waiting to pick up after the conditions and injuries are against you, it’s the piece of survival kit that will give you the shelter from elements and help you keep your heat and energy once it matters the most.
- Whistles and Some Signaling Devices
Do you think whistles are only for children to annoy their friends or parents? Well, many outdoor survivalists have used whistles before and helped them survive after a tragic situation. Like the one that was used by Rose in Titanic after Jack died. The best thing about whistles is that they are very lightweight and they are easy to pack and very small. Therefore, it is essential for a survival situation. If you cannot walk and have a bone break, if you’re in need of any type of immediate help or have a bad wound and your phone does not have signal, a sharp blow on your whistle could be the easiest and simplest way to save your life and attract the attention of other people around you. Aside from whistles, you might find a survival mirror a useful signaling device. It is easy to use, which come with some features like flash SOS that’s useful when you are in an isolated place without some explorers likely come to your trail. If you don’t have those signaling devices, you might want to make a fire instead. It is also a good signal to draw attention from other explorers.
Most wanderlust-driven people have tattooed compass on their necks and yes, you need to bring a compass during your outdoor adventure. It may be a useful piece of your survival gear if you are knowledgeable on how to use this properly and effectively. Take note that you need an actual compass instead of just getting a tattoo of this to save you. There are different brands of compass and maps you can find in the market today. Just choose the one that is cheap and made with quality in mind to ensure that it’s working and would give you the right information you need once you head through your journey outdoors. If you have a compass as one of your survival outdoor gear, you can be assured that you will be able to navigate your way and you won’t get lost, especially if you know how to use it properly.
Wilderness Survival vs. Primitive Living
Even if the two terms –primitive living and wilderness survival- might be difficult to separate at times, they have various meanings. According to American Heritage Dictionary, to “survive” is to remain in existence or alive, to persist or live through.
This definition is clear and the scenario might be that you’ve become lost on week-long backpack in Southern Utah’s Escalante wilderness. The scenario might be crossing the river, your maps and pack were swept away, and you’re deposited at the mouth of a o name canyon far downstream with 2 sprained ankles. It’s an unlikely scenario, yet in this case, the goal could be to be stay alive until you’re rescued. Assuming you’ve planned ahead, have left an itinerary with somebody, and have a permit, you’d sit tight in the shade, ensuring that you’ve located a source of water, expanding energy until searchers rescue you. It’s a good survival example. On contrary, if you’re on your own without permit or itinerary, you’d have to live through the situation and get yourself out. It’s where your primitive living skills could come into play.
The main definition of primitive is about an earliest state or stage, characterized by simplicity. Thus, you can define primitive living as supporting yourself through using early age and simple technology. This could include making fire with the use spark or friction, hunting using some traps, foraging for foods, sheltering using the caves, throwing sticks or snares, and so on. All of these things might be needed to help you stay alive and be comfortable as you get rid of yourself from the situation. It must be clear that these two terms have different meanings yet that they could absolutely merge into one.
It must be made clear that surviving as presented in scenario above takes less experience and energy than venturing into the desert for several days with nothing more than the clothes on your back and maybe a canteen and knife. The latter is basically an example of primitive living exercise and the necessary skills to do this can’t be learned through reading about them. They should be practiced once you’re proficient enough to use skills to stay alive.