Are you starting to venture out into the wilderness? You may have plans for hiking, backpacking, or camping with your friends. While you are prepping for these adventures, you might only be thinking of the fun things; however, it is crucial to think about what happens when things go wrong. Emergency preparedness starts before you ever hit the trail and is a critical component of survivalism. If you don’t know where to start, you have come to the right place! Here are our top 8 tips for wilderness survival.
#1 Prepping Before You Go
Before going out, think about what can go wrong and what you will do to overcome those challenges. Do you have the skills necessary to survive? What gear should you be carrying to make things easier in an emergency? Knowing you are prepared for a crisis before it happens will help you face challenges head-on.
It is vitally important to know the area where you will be going before you go. You should study a trail map before leaving. If you use a GPS, at least have basic navigation skills should your GPS fail. Look up the weather for the area you plan on adventuring in, and dress accordingly. Most importantly, tell someone where you will be and when you plan to be back.
Picture going out on a trail and getting lost. Panic starts, and you get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. You might feel the urge to run around trying to find your way back, but don’t! If you find yourself in this situation, one of the best things to do is “hug a tree.” This will allow you to take a deep breath and calm yourself down to focus on what’s important now.
Finding and maintaining a stable water supply is vitally important if you are lost. As a general rule, we can only survive three days without water. While you can bring a lot of water into the backcountry, it is heavy and may limit what else you take. Thanks to parasites, bacteria, and other viruses, drinking water straight from a stream, lake, or reservoir could make you sick. Drinking your own urine should only be reserved for T.V. Luckily, there are many options to filter water, so it’s safe to drink.
Two of my favorite ways to obtain clean drinking water are through either a Water Filter Bottle or Water Purification Tablets. The water filter bottle can purify 396 gallons of water before the filter needs to be replaced. It is easy to use and provides quick, clean, and crisp drinking water. The water purification tablets can purify 0.5 gallons of water up to 4 gallons in just 30-minutes. I always keep these products with me when I am in the wilderness.
There are many choices when it comes to shelters. You can purchase a commercial-style shelter that is lightweight and easy to set up, or you can build your own using the resources around you. The most common types of shelter construction include the lean-to, A-frame, and teepee. All three can be created using commercial-style shelters/tarps or natural resources.
No matter what type of shelter construction you choose, it is essential to keep some basics in mind, such as…
- Is my shelter easy to build?
- Is my shelter on a floodplain or water runoff?
- Will my shelter protect me from the elements, i.e., sun, rain, wind, etc.?
It’s easy to overlook food when we can order something straight to our door with an app; however, that won’t be an option in a survival situation. That is why I carry emergency food rations with me. When selecting my emergency food, I consider several things, such as…
- What is the nutritional value? Emergency food should have essential vitamins and other nutrients to keep my body functioning while being calorically dense to satisfy hunger.
- What is the shelf life? I do not want to replace my emergency rations every year because of the cost. I also want my food to be ready when I need it, so it is vital to find something with a long shelf life.
- Does it taste good? In an emergency scenario, the taste might not be that important to some people; however, there are great options that satisfy the top two criteria while still tasting great.
When it comes to emergency food, my go-to option is Prep-Right Emergency Food. Their food has a 10-year shelf life, is full of nutrients, and tastes fantastic. I keep the 24-piece option in my bag because it meets the criteria listed above and is easily stored.
Now that all the basic needs are satisfied, it’s time to start a fire. There are many uses for fire, including cooking, warmth, drying wet clothes, signaling, and companionship. You should have multiple ways to start a fire in an emergency scenario. You can use matches, a lighter, a battery with steel wool, flint and steel, or friction (fire bow). Whatever method you choose, it is crucial to practice starting a fire in a controlled environment before you need to create a fire in a chaotic one.
#7 First Aid kit
A first aid kit is another critical thing to have in a survival/emergency situation. There are many options available, but you should always have some basics. Those basics include…
- Ways to control bleeding (gauze, 4x4s, tourniquet, etc.)
- Small wound care (band-aids, antiseptic wipes, moleskin, etc.)
- Ways to splint extremities (sling and swath, tape, Coban, etc.)
If you are looking for more guidance on building a first aid kit or how to use the items in a prebuilt option, find a local first aid or wilderness first aid class in your area. The instructors will be able to provide more recommendations and examples to get you started.
When thinking about emergency preparedness in the wilderness, there are many tools to always carry with you. Tools I always have with me are…
- A knife. Knives are helpful in building a shelter, making a weapon for hunting, starting a fire, etc.
- At least 50 feet of rope. I carry at least 50 feet of rope/paracord when I go into the backcountry. I can use it to help build a shelter, set a snare trap for hunting, or hanging my gear in a tree away from camp while in bear country.
- Signaling devices. I carry a mirror to signal aircraft, and I also take a flashlight/whistle combination to signal any nearby people that I need help.
Emergency preparedness is essential when you are prepping for your next wilderness adventure. Having the right mindset, gear, and skills before hitting the trail could mean the difference between a fun, carefree trip and a potential disaster.