How to Survive in the Wild

Trying to survive in the wild can be a scary
experience. Would you know what to do if you suddenly realized you had wondered off your hiking trail and didn’t know how to get back? The best thing you can
do for your self though is to be prepared both mentally and physically. The biggest thing to do in an emergency position such as this is to stay clam and
stay put. If you try to find your way back you may just end up getting even more lost. Below you will find the 8
basic wilderness survival skills needed to get you through the night or longer.

Basic Wilderness Survival Skills


The type of shelter you will build will be determined by the climate and terrain in your area. A good shelter is one that is a comfortable place to rest and that will protect you from the elements. An average person can only survive a few hours of harsh conditions outside. You will want to make sure that your shelter is in a safe place and can be easily seen by rescue workers.

When looking for a spot to setup your shelter make sure it is a flat area, free of rocks, dead trees and other hazards. If you can setup close to water that’s a
plus. But be careful of river areas. These areas could flood in heavy rain storms and could have frequent visits from wildlife such as bears and wolves.


A fire can do a lot more than produce heat. You can use it to cook, boil fresh water, sterilize first aid gear, and much more. There are several ways you can start a fire without the aid matches and lighters. I’m not a fan of the rubbing two sticks together so I make sure to always carry one of the following:

Steel wool and a 9 volt battery- when you touch the connections of the battery to the steel wool it will instantly start burn. This is a nice way to get some kindle burning right away even in windy conditions.

Cotton ball rubbed in Vaseline- With a decent magnifying glass and hot sun this heap of cotton will turn into ball of fire in no time.


Finding water should be high on your list of priorities. Even if you have water with you you shouldn’t wait until it’s gone to look for more. Your body is 75 percent water and on a normal day you will loose several pints from sweating and urination. This loss of fluids needs to be replaced as soon as possible. A good rule of thumb is that your body can only go without water for 3 days.

Start looking in the obvious places for water such as lakes and rivers. If you are out in the backcountry these water supplies are probably safe enough for the time being. When filling up your water bottle in streams pick a spot where the water is moving fast and through rocks versus a spot where it’s barely moving. Places where water isn’t moving and can build up may carry bacteria or other things you don’t want to drink.

If you can’t find any major water sources you can look for moist or damp ground. When you find some you can make a hole by pushing your fist into the ground. The
water will then soak out of the ground and pool up in the hole. Wait a few minutes for the water to settle and then take a sip.


After you have had time to work on your shelter, make a fire, and get water you can then start working on a way to signal for help. There are several options that are
universal signals of distress. These signals include:

This is the mores code is probably the most well know signal of distress. This can be communicated in many ways. If you were trying to use your flash light to
signal for help you would make 3 short flashes, 3 long flashes, 3 short flashes, and repeat. You can also do this during the day with a watch or mirror. If you
have a wide open filed you can spell this out in the field.

Another very popular signal of distress is to have 3 fires setup in a triangle about 100 feet apart. A fire is a good signal because it can be used day and night. During the night a fire is very visible and during the day the smoke can be seen for miles in every direction.

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