Even the most prepared outdoor adventurists can find themselves in a pickle – life-threatening situations from accidentally wandering off a trail, running into bad weather, or suffering an injury.
In situations like this, it’s what you know how to do and what you have with you that will make all the difference.
A study by SmokyMountains.com reviewed 25 years’ worth of news stories about survivors who became lost in the wilderness or national parks. National Geographic reports, “In the study, survivors most frequently mentioned source of warmth was clothes (12 percent). Their prevailing form of shelter was camping gear (11 percent). Most survivors had a water source—either their own (13 percent), or one they found (42 percent) […]
All these data points suggest that the best way to survive getting lost in a national park is to already have the clothing and gear needed for warmth and shelter during the night, as well as some food and water.”
Here are the most important outdoor survival skills and items you need in your backpack to avoid becoming a statistic.
Outdoor Survival Items You Shouldn’t Leave Home Without
- Flashlight – In addition to providing much-needed light in the darkness, you can use a flashlight to signal for help.
- Clean water tool – Water is essential to survival, but drinking unsafe water is dangerous. That’s why it is important to keep a clean water tool such as water purification tablets or a water filtration straw in your survival kit. Stock up on Purification Tablets and Filtration Straws; They Purify Nearly All Biological Contaminants.
- First aid kit – Having a first aid kit for unexpected injuries is a must. Your first aid kit should have the basics – bandages, tweezers, antiseptic wipes, gauze, and pain relievers.
- Whistle – If you get lost or injured, a whistle helps you signal first responders and helps them find you more easily.
- Paracord bracelet – A paracord bracelet, also known as a survival bracelet, is made of 8 to 20 feet of woven 550-cord. 550-cord is the same cord used for parachutes in WWII and is made to hold 550 lbs. For survival, this bracelet can be unwoven and become a lengthy, sturdy rope.
- Pocketknife – There are many uses for a pocketknife, such as using it to cut rope, prepare food, or start a fire. Additionally, you can use a pocketknife to carve survival gear, such as a spear made from a tree branch. Don’t forget – a pocketknife is also an excellent self-defense tool.
- Firestarter – Always carry some sort of fire starter in your survival kit, such as waterproof matches, fire sticks, or an emergency flint fire starter and striker. Fire can keep you warm, help you cook, send a signal to rescuers, and keep animals away. These Waterproof Matches...Fire Sticks...& Flint Striker Light Right Upin Harsh Conditions. They’re a Must for Your Supply!
- Survival blanket – An emergency survival blanket is designed to take up as little space in your survival kit as possible while providing plenty of warmth and protection from the elements in a time of need. For example, the Ready Hour Emergency Blanket is a wind and waterproof blanket made of lightweight and durable aluminized non-stretch polyester, a unique fabric that reflects heat to the body, stays snug even in freezing temperatures, and stows away easily. Check Out Our Thermal Insulated Emergency Blanket. It’s the Wind and Water Stopper.
- Duct tape – Duct tape is a multipurpose item that comes in handy in a variety of situations – including emergencies. You can use duct tape to do everything from building shelters to closing wounds.
- Protective clothing – Clothing is essential to your survival when stranded in the wilderness. This is because your clothing can protect against the elements – if you wear the right clothes. Generally, you should dress in layers and wear clothing that protects from water, sun, and extreme temperatures. You should also always hike wearing sturdy shoes.
Outdoor Survival Skills That May Be the Difference between Life and Death
Unfortunately, a study shared by Fox News found that today’s young people “lack basic outdoor skills possessed by older generations.” Many young people don’t know how to start a fire, tie a knot, or catch a fish.
That will be a problem if they go off course during a day hike – especially if they don’t have the survival items we listed above.
Survival “know-how” such as these below may be the difference between life and death. Make a point to learn the following outdoor survival skills before you trek into the wilderness.
- How to navigate naturally – You may not always have GPS on your phone or a compass, which is why it is important to know how to navigate naturally, such as finding the North Star. Outdoor Life explains, “Most folks can find the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) in the night sky. And if that was all you could find, it would give you a general idea of north. But for more precise way finding, follow the two stars on the side edge of the dipper's cup until you hit the dim star "next door.’ This is Polaris, the North Star.”
- How to start and kindle a fire – If you don’t have a fire starter with you, you will have to know how to start a fire and keep it going without matches. If you don’t know how to start a fire using your eyeglasses, dry twigs, and the sun’s ray, it’s time to learn.
- How to make a signal – For a true SOS signal, flash a light or blow a whistle using a three short bursts, three long bursts pattern. You can also use fire to send a smoke signal using a wet blanket. Simply place the wet blanket over the smoke and release it to send a white puff cloud. Three puffs signal an emergency.
- How to build a shelter – There are many ways to make a shelter, but you want to focus on building a shelter using what you have that can protect you from the elements. For instance, tarp and rope can be used to create a quick shelter. Without these supplies, use available resources, such as trees, branches, and leaves.
- How to find or make clean water – If you can’t collect rainwater, then pay attention to the animals. Animals tend to head to water sources first thing in the morning. You should also look for dark green flora and start digging. Once you find a water source, then you need to make sure you clean it before drinking. The best way to purify water is to boil it, but there are other ways to make clean water.
- How to tie knots – Knowing how to tie a bowline knot is a lifesaver. The National Wild Turkey Federation explains, “This knot is extremely useful when you need to attach something to a rope via a loop, because the tighter you pull, the tighter the knot gets. After you make a loop, remember this: the rabbit comes out of the hole, in front of the tree, goes behind the tree, and back down its original hole.”
- How to perform first aid – Understanding the basics of first aid, such as how to stop bleeding, elevate a sprain, and make a splint, are skills everyone should know.
- How to maintain your body temperature – If you are worried about heat, then stay hydrated, find shade, and limit physical exertion. If you are concerned about freezing temperatures, drink water, build a fire, make an insulated shelter, and keep moving.
- How to identify edible plants – If you run out of food rations, you will need to find something to eat so you don’t starve. Unfortunately, you can’t just eat anything you see. That’s why it is crucial to learn how to identify edible plants (or invest in edible wild foods playing cards). Forgeable Food Is Everywhere. These Wild Foods Playing Cards Show You How to Find It.
- How to protect yourself from wild animals – If you encounter wild animals, the best thing to do is walk away quietly and slowly. Do NOT play dead or run. If slowly backing away doesn’t work, then try to frighten the animal away.
As the old survival saying goes, STOP (Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan).
Stay safe out there and alert, friends.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply