words Alexa Wang
The evolution of humankind has done two things with us. Tools and mechanisms enhanced our survival rate and helped us build a favorable environment around us. However, at the same time, we lost many skills, abilities, and body mechanisms that would have helped us survive in the wilderness without any gear. Therefore surviving in the wild, far from civilization, can’t be done without preparation and supplies.
We asked Gritr Outdoors, an outdoor sports store loved by many adventurers, to write an article on how to survive in the wild and what survival gear you should have. Read it regardless of whether or not you want to taste a survivalist’s lifestyle on purpose.
How to Survive in the Wilderness
Outdoor sports like hiking, hunting, fishing, mountaineering, and many others are often bundled with the risk of getting stuck in some distant location. Your car may fail on the return from your hunting trip, you can get injured, lost, or caught by severe weather events. In these cases, you can never know how much time you’ll need to reach civilization. Therefore, you should have survival gear to stay warm, hydrated, energized, and safe for several days. Serious hunters, for example, formed a habit of packing core survival equipment a long time ago.
To be prepared for any emergency that may occur in the wild and delay your return home, you need to have proper clothing (weather-specific included, e.g. raincoat and warm mid-layer), first-aid kit, fire-starting equipment, rope, flashlight, knife, water-purifying gear, and navigation/signaling device. You can also pack a fishing hook and a line. Some survival enthusiasts entitled to own a gun also have a breakdown survival rifle.
Nonetheless, your gear alone can’t guarantee 100% survival. The most valuable asset is your brain. Without knowledge of building shelter, searching for water, and procuring food, your chances of survival drop dramatically. We’ll talk about the gear further down in the context of survival skills.
Once you realize you’re going to be in the wild longer than one day, you need to take care of the water supply. As you know, our body can survive only three days without water, so you need to find it as soon as possible. Search for water bodies – rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds. When near a mountain, travel parallel to it to spot a stream going down. If you can’t find any water bodies in your area, you can collect dew and rain drops from grass and leaves with your shirt. Check trees for pockets of water following lines of ants. Finally, you can try digging for water. Just make a hole, and wait until it fills.
Then you need to purify your water since, in all likelihood, it contains bacteria and parasites. If the water you procured is muddy and has little pieces of plants, you should filter it using your shirt, moss, and stones. Then sterilize it by boiling for several minutes or simply using purification tablets.
Fire is our best friend in the wild. We need it to boil water, cook food, dry our clothes, keep ourselves warm, repel wild animals, give signals, and mend mentally. Your basic wild survival kit should include lighter, waterproof matches, or a flint & striker set. If you don’t have any of these, use your glasses’ lens or a bottle of water with a convex curvature to focus down the sun’s rays. Finally, you can always make a bow drill to use friction to your benefit.
The human body can live without food for three weeks, but still, you should find some as soon as possible until you lose too much energy and your body starts hurting. Insects are great protein-rich food. Catch crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, ants, and larvae, remove their extremities and shells, crush them with a rock, and prepare the pulp on fire. You can also eat nuts (acorns, for instance) and coniferous tree inner bark, while pine needles make a good tea material. Moving on to more substantial food, search for bird nests with eggs if the time is right. If you fashion a spear, you can hunt lizards and fish.
If you know nothing about berries, mushrooms, and plants, don’t push your luck. Also, steer away from things in bright colors as they are likely to be poisonous. If you encounter remnants of a freshly killed animal, don’t touch it because predators can be somewhere around.
The shelter is your protection from the elements. Base it close to the source of water but not right at the edge because a water body is likely visited by wild animals. Generally, your location and the season will dictate what shelter you should build. When in the woods, seek a fallen tree, lean branches against it, and fill the gaps with moss, leaves, and smaller branches. When stuck in the desert or during a snowy winter, dig a shelter in the ground. Keep your shelter small to warm it faster.
Health and Safety
It’s enough that you’re stuck in the wild, don’t do anything that may aggravate your situation. Try avoiding continuous exposure to elements and always keep yourself dry and warm using your shelter, fire, and weather-resistant clothing. Use improvised resources. For example, cover yourself with leaves and dirt to keep your body warm during the night or place fire-heated rocks inside your boots to dry them faster. Use metal litter found in the area. Cans can make excellent stoves, while metal snippets can be sharpened to obtain a spear or a blade. Don’t consume anything that might be poisonous or contaminated. As you travel, make noises to warn animals around you. If you encounter a predator, keep calm, don’t run, don’t look it in the eyes, and slowly move away while making you look bigger.
Navigation and Signaling
If you don’t have a GPS unit and the battery of your phone died, use stars and sun for navigation. Also, use shiny things for signaling and lay SOS or HELP using materials at hand.
Whatever the situation, remember, staying calm is the key. Panic prevents you from thinking clearly and applying your knowledge and skills. This guide is intended to give you a basic understanding of what to do and in what sequence. So we recommend you do your homework: look for handy survival tips, tricks, and in-depth survival guides, as well as buy all the necessary survival equipment to pack every time you go into the wild.