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The 3 Most Important Wilderness Survival Skills You Need

Have you ever watched the television series Alone?

If you have you’ve probably noticed that some people last several weeks while others last only a few days.

Why is that?

I mean, these are all people who obviously possess enough knowledge and wilderness survival skills. And we can all hack some level of discomfort.

But being wet, cold and hungry sucks.

And when it happens every day, it takes its toll on anyone’s attitude.

In the end, for the people in the show the real challenge is the mental side of survival.

Their daily routines become futile as they wait it out to see who wins. They begin to miss their families and their home life.

All of this begins to overshadow the lure of winning a contest. The prize money just isn’t enough to keep them going.

And most importantly – they have an easy way out.

That’s right, I said it.

Most of them give up because they have the option. All they have to do is tap out and a rescue boat or plane shows up.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying what they endured was easy.

I’m saying – if they were really stuck there and didn’t have the tap out, …well that changes everything, doesn’t it?

In a real survival situation, you won’t have the option. There is no tapping out. You have to make it until someone finds you or you get yourself out. Period.

Unlike the show, if you ever find yourself in a survival situation, you will have an advantage.

How?

You will have the biggest mental motivator there is – Necessity.

From that point on, the difference between surviving or not will be about having the right skills.

The biggest takeaway from the Alone TV show is that – if you had to survive and had no other option, and you possess a certain set of skills, you can survive a long time in the wilderness.

And that is what this report is all about.

Know These 3 Essential Wilderness Survival Skills And You’re Ahead Of 99% Of The Crowd.

How to Make Fire Like A Champ

Fire provides warmth, a sense of protection, the ability to cook meat and boil water, which are absolutely essential in the outdoors.

Making a fire is often considered by many to be simple, but what if you need to build a fire during or right after a heavy rain? The steps to building a fire under wet conditions are not as simple as grabbing sticks from the ground and lighting them up. There are some very important factors to consider when facing these conditions.

There are three essential components are: fuel, oxygen, and heat. But if you find yourself in a wet environment, finding dry fuel and generating enough heat can be a serious problem. That is, unless you know how to overcome these challenges.

The following tips can save your life if you need to get a fire going in the rain, or simply wet conditions.

Fuel

When building a fire, whether it is under wet or dry conditions, there are three basic building blocks. All of these items can be prepared in advance and carried in a survival kit, but even when you find yourself unprepared, these items can be found even in wet conditions.

The best place to find material dry enough to be effective is likely to be from trees that are still standing.

It might seem like fallen branches laying on the ground may be a better choice, but the lower branches of trees that are still standing have been protected from moisture by the branches and foliage above them.

If you have a knife or other sharp tool, you can shave away the wet outer surface and expose the dry wood just beneath the surface. In essence this is creating something called a feather stick.

A feather stick is made by shaving thin slices down a stick but leaving the shaved curls attached. By doing this over and over and creating more shaved curls, you end up with a stick that looks like a fluffy feather with lots of exposed dry wood.

Other natural fire starters include:

  • Dry grass
  • Dry leaves
  • Shaved bark (especially cedar)
  • Cattail fluff
  • Dry pine needles
  • Poplar Cotton

Homemade fire starters are easy to make and store. One of the easiest methods is to smear petroleum jelly on cotton balls, then store them in a ziplock bag.

If you are making a survival kit that includes fire starters, the best thing to do is practice with the materials beforehand.

Examples of fire starters you can load into your survival gear include:

  • Cotton balls smeared with petroleum jelly or wax (think lip balm)
  • Compressed wood encased in wax (called bush buddies – found at your local barbeque store)
  • Dryer lint
  • Esbit fuel tablets
  • Paper
  • Steel wool #0000 (Yes it burns!)

Heat

Here is one of the most important pieces of advice in survival – have multiple ways of igniting a fire.

Packing waterproof matches in your survival gear is a smart idea. Just remember, matches will store for only so long and need to be replaced. Another smart idea is to carry a Bic lighter. They are small, light and make fire faster than anything. They too need to be replaced periodically.

One of the best tools to pack would be some type of sparking device. These come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials.

The following are some of the more popular fire starting spark tools:

  • Ferrocerium rod
  • Magnesium Block with ferrocerium rod
  • Swedish Firesteel (a particular style of ferrocerium rod)

Building Your Fire

When building a fire in wet conditions, the first thing you will need to do is build a platform to separate your materials from the wet ground.

Even if the ground appears to be only a little damp, the tinder and kindling will soak up any moisture.

Find a dry piece of bark or build a base of dry sticks to place your first layer of tinder on.

After gathering the tinder, you will also want to gather up and prepare slightly larger wood. This kindling will be placed on the tinder as soon as it is ignited, so make sure it is at ready before starting your fire.

Once the kindling has ignited, you will then begin adding larger pieces of wood.

Start with pieces about as thick as a pencil and gradually add thicker pieces.

Remember to be patient when building a fire. Trying to put too much wood on a small fire will choke the needed supply of oxygen and the fire will go out.

When the fire is burning, keep finding tinder, kindling and larger wood.

Place it near the fire so that it will dry out and be ready for you the next time it is needed.

Learn How To Build a Shelter That Stands Up To Any Weather

If you are stranded in the woods, the first thing you want to do is build a shelter that will protect you from the weather. However, that shelter needs to be stable enough to withstand the weather from which it’s supposed to be protecting you!

Building a solid survival shelter combined with making fire makes the difference between living or dying of exposure.  Read on to learn tips about how to build your shelter depending on the weather outside.

Wind

Getting out of the wind allows you to retain more heat. Therefore it is essential to build a shelter that blocks the breeze.

Most shelters that have solid walls are able to do this, such as natural shelters like caves or overhangs, shelters made with a tarp and rope, or debris shelters. As long as the wall is solid, or well-insulated with leaves or brush, then you should have adequate coverage from the wind.

 

Be sure to build your shelter with the door perpendicular to the direction of the wind so it does not blow inside all night.

survival-debris-hut

A debris hut is one of the most basic and important of all survival structures. They work well in both their function and their simplicity. Not only will they keep you dry but with the right insulation they will keep you warm in the winter.

Your fire will also need protection from the wind. Build a windbreak or fire wall out of piled up logs to reflect the heat toward you.

Snow

quinzee-snow-shelterIf there is snow on the ground, it is likely very cold outside, and your shelter needs to provide you with insulation.

Luckily, you can utilize snow to build a shelter that can keep sufficiently warm even without the help of a fire. One of the more effective snow shelters is called a quinzee and is built on the principle of packing a mound of snow and then digging out the inside.

Start off by choosing a place to build your quinzee. Build on flat terrain, where there is a lot of fresh snow. Make a big pile of snow about 9 feet wide and 4 to 6 feet high, packing down the snow as you build your pile higher.

When digging out the quinzee, we’ll need to know how much snow to remove so that we don’t create unwanted windows in the wall of the shelter.

To help keep track of the wall thickness, first gather about 40 to 50 sticks, each about 1 foot in length. Insert all the sticks in the wall of the quinzee spaced out about 1 to 2 feet from one another, and all pointing towards the centre of the shelter.

When we dig out the shelter, we should see the end of the sticks from inside the quinzee. Whenever you see a stick, you should stop digging in that direction and you’ll know you have a ceiling thickness of about 1 foot.

Make a vent hole about 2 inches in diameter near the top using a long stick so you don’t get a build up of carbon dioxide inside the shelter.

Leave the long stick in the vent hole so you can move it around periodically throughout the night to make sure it doesn’t get covered over with snow.

Remember to make the doorway opposite the direction of the wind.

Be cautious of a collapsing structure so don’t make it so thick that you couldn’t dig yourself out. The snow structure itself will provide you will protection from the wind or rain.

Add an extra layer of insulation by laying a thick blanket of evergreen boughs on the ground.

Rain

Like the other elements, the way to protect yourself against the rain is to build a shelter with solid walls that do not have gaps in them. A slanted roof is best to allow the rain to drain away.

Consider creating basins to collect rainwater for drinking purposes later. Also make sure that you build your shelter on high ground so that your camp will not get washed away or become a gigantic puddle.

A debris shelter like we described previously works well as long as the leaves piled on the shelter are thick enough. With leaves piled about 2 to 3 feet thick around the shelter, it should be able to withstand the rain with no problem.

A simple lean-to shelter with a steeper roof pitch will shed the rain and keep you dry.

Building a shelter according to the weather outside will keep you safer and make your structure more likely to last in the weather conditions.

As with most things, practice makes perfect. Make a few of these before going on an expedition, because the more experience you have with constructing survival shelters, the better they will be.

How To Find Water In The Wilderness

In the bush it is great to have a permanent water source that you can return to indefinitely. When on the move this is not an option so stock up as much as you can and drink to bloated before departing.

When searching for a long term shelter location try to find one with a good clean water source nearby, preferably running fresh water.

Finding and sustaining water in the wilderness is an essential bushcraft skill. The difficulty of the task will depend on the environment, but there are several surefire methods.

Valleys

When it comes to finding water, gravity is your friend. A good rule of thumb is to keep traveling downhill. Eventually you’ll find water—and where there is water, there’s civilization. Valleys collect water.

Even if there is no flowing water in the valley, water may collect if you dig a hole where the one mountain (or hill) meets the other. Dig your holes and check back in a day. If they hills are steep enough, they could be full of sparkling fresh water!

Collecting Dew

This method may seem somewhat primitive, but it’s saved the lives of countless explorers and marooned travelers.

Dew collects on long grasses overnight before being burned up in the midday sun. Capture it by wrapping absorbent articles of clothing around your ankles and walking through the grass. If the material isn’t that absorbent, drape it over the area of grass and squeeze it into a container.

If you have a plastic bag and there are bushes or trees handy, put the bag around a branch full of leaves and tie off the bag. As a plant or tree breathes, it gives off moisture through its leaves and it will collect in the bag.

Collecting Groundwater

Groundwater is a reliable source of fresh, uncontaminated water. In some areas it lies very close to the surface. In others, you won’t be able to reach it without heavy machinery.

One area where it sits close to the surface is below sand dunes near the ocean. Dig on the far side of the dune where rainwater collects and sits on top of the heavier saltwater.

Naturally muddy, low-lying areas can be tapped for water as well. Dig a hole in a muddy area and see if it is being supplied by groundwater. Let the sediment settle and see if the hole fills up with water. If not, it’s just a puddle from rainwater.

finding-water

Sterilizing Stagnant Water

Sometimes water can cause more problems than it solves. Drinking contaminated water in the wild will most likely cause diarrhea, which will only dehydrate you further.

The best option for sterilizing water is boiling it. If you have no container to boil water in, you can heat up rocks for several hours in the fire and lower them into your water hole. If the rocks bring the water to a boil, it’s safe to drink.

If you have charcoal handy, break it up into a loose consistency similar to gravel. Wrap a shirt around it and pour your water through it like a filter.

One of the best items you can carry in your survival kit is a water filter. It is the most convenient way to get safe drinking water.

Water filters from companies like Katadyne, LifeStraw and Sawyer are popular with hikers and campers and don’t add much weight to your gear.

Maximizing Water in Creeks and Streams

If you found a creek or stream, you’re incredibly lucky. Rather than being dependant on the volume of the stream—it could be no more than a trickle—dig a hole and wait until it’s filled up.

Dry streambeds and creek beds sometimes have minute amounts of water flowing through them. The best way to find out is to dig a hole at least a foot deep and wait. It may fill with groundwater, especially if surrounding banks are highly elevated.

Take Cues From Animals

Animals are much better trained at surviving in the wild than we are.

Follow animal tracks. They often lead to water.

Become a master at making fire, building a shelter with natural available materials and learn how to find water.  These are the 3 most essential wilderness survival skills that you need.  Knowing them is a good thing.  But practicing your survival skills will make all the difference when faced with an emergency in the woods.