Just what does it take to survive a night, days, or weeks out on your own? Many of these answers vary greatly depending on the season, geographical area and what the circumstances are. I think all the answers come down to learning then adapting skill sets. Anyone can learn the rules, but learning when to break those rules is a skill worth its weight in gold and I think the art of survival falls into this category. Knowing a skill in the comfort of your back yard is one thing, but having the rational to put it into use in the wild under stress is quite another. Here are the five I think people should know if they want to venture into the woods, or be prepared for an event which may cause them to need to protect themselves or others in a survival situation.
Navigation – Know how to use a compass and learn at least one back up skill to navigate competently. There are many ways to navigate – whether that be by the stars, using your wrist watch as a compass, or creating a sun dial in the ground. You can read about using your watch in one of my past blog entries HERE.
Fire Building – Having at least three ways to make fire is of utmost importance in your 72 Hour Bag, but those can be easy methods utilizing modern conveniences such as a lighter. You should also have in your bag of tricks the KNOWLEDGE on how to rub two sticks together and be able to APPLY them under stress. These skills are not easy and even the fire master Cody Lundin can sometimes take over an hour to actually get a fire going. You can read about techniques HERE.
Shelter – Keeping your body at 98.6 degrees is the top of the list of threes. 30 seconds of arterial bleed, 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days with out water, 3 weeks without food. As you can see if you’re not bleeding and aren’t under water, shelter is your immediate concern. Hypothermia and hyperthermia can set in quickly and will result in death, so knowing how to build a shelter in a variety of geographic regions is a skill which tops the list. Being able to improvise and blend shelters to adapt to an environment is invaluable.
Edged Tool – Whether you carry a knife, axe or machete, knowing how not to kill yourself while using an edged tool is gonna be important. I was watching a web video series on Overlanding and a guy was running ahead of the vehicle cutting fallen trees with a machete. As he was using the tool I said to myself he’s about to cut his leg off because he was using the machete incorrectly. Not one minute later they were irrigating the wound and evaluating what their course of action would be. Knowing proper technique on how and why to cut correctly is a great skill. It seems most people will inevitably cut themselves given enough time with a blade because these skills are not intuitive.
Water Purification – Have at least three ways to purify water. Figure out which three ways suite your geographical region and understand how to use them. Adapt them to work in different ways so if all else fails you can make something work. You can read about water purification HERE and HERE.