The idea of survival in any situation is to survive but, you might get caught unprepared if you don’t have gear that is meant to last. Everyone needs a secret weapon (not literally) that gets them out alive. Even as you gain more experience you want to have certain tools and supplies as your default loadout. In this article, I will go over the survival skills, and gear as well as edible plants that may be collectible depending on the area you may be in.
Why do you need to know survival skills?
The most important rule for survival is to work smarter and not harder whether it’s a long term or a short term situation where you may not know if and when you will be safe. The absolute need for survival skills is what helps you make the decisions. The investment of time through learning from others is also helpful. This post is a great resource called Best Survival Books For Wilderness and Disasters.
The Four W’s
This list of the four w’s; wood, water, wind and widowmakers as it is a great process to add to your playbook as taken from this article from the website Survival Sherpa. All of which must be secured very soon after finding and setting up camp.
- Wood, an important staple of camping and cooking and climate control is something to be maintained as fuel for fire and materials for other possible needs.
- Water is also another resource that you must always assess how best to use it in terms of if its a standing body or moving body of water? Is it within a short distance of camp? Is the water full enough so that you can fish out of it? And, is the water attractive to other animals such as frogs or certain games? If the water is completely stagnant it would have to be filtered and boiled when possible.
- The wind is yet another element that can easily become an issue especially if you are in an area that may be too high like a ridge or low into a valley where wind can stir up smoke from a fire in both cases. It can also make setting up shelter harder even if it is as simple as a tarp hung between two trees. It is best to have a middle ground that isn’t high or low in altitude.
- A widowmaker is a tree that is dead and liable to fall if it were exposed to strong winds and must be avoided or identified due to it being a safety concern.
Ways To Make Fire
In survival books, there are whole chapters devoted to explaining the different ways a fire can be made. The easiest way to set a fire ablaze is with lighter or lighter fluid. The alternatives are using a Ferro rod of flint or using materials around you.
The simplest most effective of fire-starting devices. When you get a lighter make sure its specifically a good brand that has safety features and you should have at least three, one to carry in your pocket, one to carry in your pack and one extra to carry on your person, and that has high visibility colors.
A Ferro rod is an extra resource that is used to make fire by friction. It may come as a stick that can be scraped against a knife or any metal surface. The best type of rod to buy is a blank rod whereas a Ferro rod with a handle on it will eventually get ruined. A blank rod is much better so that you can fashion your own handle out of whatever materials you want.
Other Alternatives for Fire
One of the options that you could use is a magnifying glass or a sun lens. All you need is sunlight and tinder that can easily light and you could use a one and a half-inch diameter magnifying glass. Another useful method is by friction, using a bow and drill for fire starting is best done in a flat area, using a spindle with straight hardwood and a bow made out of a bent branch 3 feet long and use a string line tied to the ends as suspension and loop it around the spindle so that it can be spun with the bowline.
Why Edible Plants are important for survival?
The skill of finding edible plant sources, also known as foraging is probably the most valuable ability to have since in some cases there may not be a meat source that is reliable enough. You may also get nutrients from plants that aren’t available in meat. There is a test you could use which can be used to test multiple parts of a plant.
The Universal Edibility Test
- Test only one part at a time.
- Separate the plant into its basic components -leaves, stems, roots, buds, and flowers.
- Smell the food for strong or acid odors. Remember, smell alone does not indicate a plant is edible or inedible.
- Do not eat for 8 hours before starting the test.
- During the 8 hours you abstain from eating, test for contact poisoning by placing a piece of the plant part you are testing on the inside of your elbow or wrist. Usually, 15 minutes is enough time to allow for a reaction.
- During the test period, take nothing by mouth except purified water and the plant part you are testing.
- Select a small piece of the component.
- Before placing the prepared plant part in your mouth, touch a small portion (a pinch) to the outer surface of your lip to test for burning or itching.
- If after 3 minutes there is no reaction on your lip, place the plant part on your tongue, holding it there for 15 minutes.
- If there is no reaction, thoroughly chew a pinch and hold it in your mouth for 15 minutes. Do not swallow.
- If no burning, itching, numbing, stinging, or other irritation occurs during the 15 minutes. swallow the food.
- Wait 8 hours. If any ill effects occur during this period. induce vomiting and drink a lot of water.
- If no ill effects occur, eat 0.25 cup of the same plant part prepared the same way. Wait another 8 hours. If no ill effects occur, the plant part as prepared is safe for eating.
Each region has a different climate and soils, which support different groups of plant species. If you want to learn more about edible plants specific to regions, there are lots of books about it on Amazon.
The absolute necessity of certain tools is the cornerstone of survival. Where else should you start than your pack? You can use our post as a guide to backpacks. The general rules for how you should pack are just as important as the survival skills that will ensure your best outcome. The further you go into a hiking trip the more you will need to be prepared for the unexpected.
Essential Gear List supporting your Survival Skills
- First Aid Kits; Modern kits can come in different sizes and configurations. It is important to have something that fits into your pack and still has the necessary supplies. Most importantly, even if you have a full trauma set and don’t know how to use it.
- Flashlights are indispensable tools that work well when you have different kinds of uses and designs. The common styles are headlamp lights and certain heavy-duty lights that may or may not have tactical uses.
- Water filters and portable water purifiers are essential as well. To avoid drinking pathogens at the very least you’ll a life straw or a similar device. At the very most preparation, you should have water filter both of which that can fit into a hydro flask or plastic Nalgene water bottle.
- GPS(Ground Positioning Satellite) is another tool that has its limits but is fantastic when it works well. A handheld GPS that is designed only as a GPS is usually better in terms of battery life and provides a detailed map and terrain of the area. Some really good ones have a backup battery built-in once the AA’s run out.
- A compass can even be useful and doesn’t run out of batteries but, of course, it works best with a physical map and can be an alternative to GPS when the battery is completely depleted. It is best used as a last resort.
- Rope or Paracord is something that you need to have to get you out of situations. Whether it is used to make tools or as a form of the harness to get down a hill, you will have to improvise at some point and a rope is going to be needed.
Importance of Climbing and Hiking Practices
All of the tools and skills for survival that were discussed in this article on hiking and climbing. It sets a foundation for survival in any wilderness situation. When traversing any terrain you will eventually have to experience things that you are not used to now. Before you go on a hike or climb check any kind you may want to check the weather. When starting out on shorter hikes and climbs look for landmarks that will help you get your bearings. Of course, always telling someone where you are going when you are on your own is a necessary precaution.
When you are climbing and traversing any kind of trails and landscapes that take a lot of thought and planning. One of the most important things is staying hydrated as discussed in this article. Getting to the point of thirst is a beginning sign of dehydration. Other signs are dry mouth, headaches, and dark yellow urine. In terms of rock climbing, you would also need to have strong hands and there are various ways to do that. Dead hangs are a good way to build arm strength along with doing your normal workout.
Learning and practicing survival skills is important. You never know what happens next, so you have to keep your survival skills sharp and ready.