Basic Survival Skills – Every Camper Or Hiker Should Know These

Camping, Hiking, and Hunting requires basic common sense, add to that some basic survival skills and a few small survival items in your backpack and this will always pay dividends if you get into difficulty while exploring the great outdoors. Whether you’re with a friend, or if you are solo and find yourself totally stranded or lost and worse maybe injured, the decisions you make at this point and the items you have with you could prove the difference between life and death, particularly if you are in a remote and sparsely populated part of the country.

Before You Go

If you are new to camping or a seasoned outdoors person, anything can happen while in the outdoors, it would be wise to familiarize yourself in basic first-aid, not only useful if you get lost in the woods but in life generally. Having some skills no matter what the level of proficiency, is far better than none at all, and it would also help if you had some basic survival skills if you intend to be a regular.

There’s a long list of information and stuff! that people state that can help you make your way out of the jungle, wood or other harsh areas of wilderness. This is true, these range from something as simple as having supplies to making a crucial decision on which direction to go and to how making a still to produce water will work.

Dealing with a survival situation is usually a mixed bag type of scenario, as in the concerning instance that you have become lost or stranded, whether with injury or not, you will have to decide whether to stay put and wait for rescue, or try to hike it out and get back to civilization.  Your skills and preparation will play a key role in getting you home safely.

compass and knife

Be Well Prepared

But no matter whether your camping, hiking, or hunting you should always have some simple tools and equipment in your backpack. Being prepared for an emergency can and will save your life if you find yourself in a dire situation.

People die after becoming lost in the wilderness and most of them are unprepared for the situation that they, unfortunately, find themselves in. Being well prepared and using common sense will prevail over most difficult predicaments. Firstly if you are walking away from a populated area, at the very least be dressed properly for the environment your going into, and be sure to have a full water bottle with you.

I always have a small backpack in my truck when I am touring the countryside, and when I go day hiking any distance it is on my back and it contains a few small items. You should have a similar pack, it doesn’t have to be much, just a pocketknife, a small first aid kit, a compass, a flint, a super lightweight groundsheet, a lightweight headlamp, and a small water filter.

It won’t be a real burden but could prove to be the lifesaving equipment that keeps you alive if the worst case scenario becomes real. It would be best to have it and never need it, always stay on top of your game by being ready for anything. Part of your Best camping Accessories you carry must have a few survival items in it

Finding Yourself Lost

Getting lost simply means you don’t know where you are at any given time. And becoming a bit disoriented can be a serious challenge when you are in the middle of nowhere. However, in most instances, you should be able to retrace your steps and find yourself back to familiar surroundings. Most people who become lost in the wilderness are hiking.

If you are hiking and become hopelessly lost it is at this point when you need to stop walking immediately, stay calm, and try to determine your position. Relax, sit down, and try to think with a clean head, panicking is not going to help you. All sorts of thoughts will start to run through your head but you must remain calm, and continuing to walk will only get you further into unknown and unfamiliar terrain.

Basic Navigation

You will need simple yet very basic skills to know which direction to go. Do you have a map of the area and a compass? you should have if you are hiking. One such skill would be to identify the compass direction to know which way to head. However, things can get even worse if you have no way of knowing which way you are facing and which way to go.

It’s thus always important to have a small compass with you. A lot of the survival gear such as some camping knives have a compass embedded somewhere on the handle. But if you don’t have any equipment that can help you with the direction, don’t panic. You need to be able to determine your position if you are going to extract yourself.

You can identify which direction is North by simply making a mark on a shade of a tree or pole. Wait for about 20-30 minutes, maybe longer depending on the time of day and make a second mark. Your first mark should be to the West and the second one to the East. Now, stand between the marks with the second on to your right-hand side. The direction you are facing is north. This is a very simple explanation but it can prove remarkably accurate.

Unable to Find A Way Out, Find Shelter.

At some point in time, you will have to make a decision on three of the most crucial elements of survival outdoors, shelter, fire, and water. This is where it becomes serious and if you have come prepared with appropriate clothing and some basic survival items in your backpack your ability to overcome your situation increases greatly.

Find or build a simple shelter, an overhanging rock is ideal or a shelter made with some branches and a groundsheet for a roof is far more conducive to survival than sitting out in the open. You need a shelter for the night. This must-know skill will increase your survival chances in many ways.

A shelter helps shield you from the elements such as extreme heat, freezing cold temperatures and snow as well as rain among others. Some of the best and easiest shelters to build include a tipi or teepee shelter, a lean-to shelter, and an A-frame shelter. This depends on whether you have any equipment or you have to use the available bushes and branches

Fire Is Many Thingscamp fire

Fire is the second most important element of survival on the first night, make a fire to keep warm and to keep unwanted visitors out of your space. Keeping your body’s core temperatures from dropping too low is crucial if you are to survive the unforgiving outdoors.

Among the best ways to ensure you stay warm is by dressing well to cope with the environment, once again this comes with pre-planning which could be a lifesaver in extreme situations. Also, look for some warm areas if you can find any, and check if you have any way of insulating yourself from the snow or frost.

First, find firewood, which should be the dry tree branches or barks. You can always look for dead lower branches from large trees. Small branches are great for starting the fire; and if you can get a birch bark, then it will be easier to light it even if it’s been raining over the past few days.

Learning to build a fire is every bit as essential too. You can go the simple way if you have a lighter or match. But without this vital equipment, things could get a bit complicated. Flint is one of the most reliable ways of starting a fire in the wild. If you spend quite a bit of time outdoors learning some primitive fire lighting methods, just in case your match sticks get wet, you run out of fuel, or lose the equipment altogether may come in handy.

One way is rubbing two sticks together but this can be extremely difficult, However, if you watch the video below you will see how simple it can be to get a fire started using nothing but what the environment supplies. Another option is using a magnifying glass or polished aluminum, which could be easier, but only works on sunny days.

Remember, a fire offers significant benefits. These include heat, which can keep you from becoming hypothermic or developing severe conditions like frostbite. Also, it helps a whole lot when it comes to boiling drinking water and cooking and also it can help scare away wild animals, illuminate your surroundings, and signal for help at night.

Then there’s smoke, which could be of much help when signaling for rescue and keeping mosquitoes at bay.

Finding and Purifying Drinking Water

Most lost persons are found the following day as friends and family usually raise the alarm and the authorities are on to your plight quickly. The risk of dying of dehydration is very real while in the wild. And if you are camping or hiking in a desert area, the stakes could go sky high if anything goes wrong. So having water is critical within a relatively short time.

Dehydration has a long list of symptoms, some are mild, and others could get a bit serious if things go to the extreme. These include tingling on the skin, lethargy, nausea, heat exhaustion, increased heart rate, hallucinations, extreme body temperatures, and fatalities in the worst-case scenario.

Yet, even with the ability to find water, sometimes things don’t get any better unless you are prepared. Most often, those water ponds and streams you find in the woods could be contaminated and thus unsafe for drinking. So finding a water source is one thing, making sure it’s safe for use is quite another story, and in most cases, you have to do both of them.

Once you’ve found a water source, the next step is about purifying it. Unclean water could harbor bacteria and waterborne pathogens that could cause diseases or be life-threatening. Some of the options you could turn to include boiling, use of purifying drops or tablets, or my favorite a portable water filter, in particular, the Lifestraw Personal Water Filter this is a wonderful invention and one of these should be in your backpack.

Finding food

Food is not usually the first priority in most cases of lost persons

Most people lost while hiking or outdoors are found in a short period of time so finding food in most cases will not be a priority in the early stages of being lost, but at some point in time you have to eat or you will starve, and thankfully, nature has its way of providing some edible stuff if you know where to look. Animals, usually small ones, are a great source of food as meat can offer much-needed calories. 

You can also find a wide range of edible plants in the wild, but this one comes with a catch too. For almost every edible plant out there, you will find an almost indistinguishable look-alike that isn’t safe for eating.

And making the wrong choice isn’t an option. Otherwise, you could end up in even more trouble, with such conditions as dehydration, diarrhea, or poisoning along with your long list of concerns. So always, check to make sure you have the right plant.

Thus, having a pocket knife, a fishing line, and perhaps knowing how to make some traps and snares for small animals could make a world of difference out there.

first aid kit

A little first aid knowledge goes a long way

Being stranded in the woods can be a tough situation, but just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, consider a case where you have an injury. This could spell disaster since you might not be certain that a rescue will come in time. A little knowledge is great. 

As such, having some knowledge on how to deal with first aid cases could be of great importance in the worst situations possible. Make sure you learn how you can build a splint, a little CPR, or setting a bone. This not only proves essential when you are out there alone, but you could also save someone’s life if you are in a group.

No matter how simple or severe an injury is, having it at such an inappropriate time is the worst news possible. It will not only risk slowing you down, but some injuries can be fatal if not attended in time.

So yes, knowing a bit about first aid could help in emergencies. And while at it, always remember to have a first aid kit before hitting the road. You never know if or when you might need it.

Signaling for rescue

It’s the only other option that can get you out of the woods beside walking out by yourself. If you are stuck, you don’t know which way to go, don’t panic. It’s better to stay put if you have any means of calling for help, a whistle is a good addition to your pack.

And if you have been camping in an area that is less frequented by adventurers, but somebody knows where you are and when you should be coming back, then you can stay within that area. This way, you will have reduced the search area, which makes it easier and faster for rescuers to find you.

Now, when it comes to signaling for rescue, you need to do something that truly stands out. Make sure you put out a sign that is clearly a result of human action. For instance, having something reflective could be of help, but fire and smoke will help searchers detect your location easier.

My Final Thoughts

Ending up in a survival situation while out in the wild is the last thing anyone wants to go through and if you can take the time to plan your trip well, get all the supplies and equipment you need, and stay on the beaten path, the chances of ending up lost and stranded are very low.

However, the outdoors can be quite rough, and Mother Nature is unpredictable some times. And while you should do everything to stay safe in the outdoors, there’s always the need to be prepared for the unexpected. If anything happens out there, you have the best chance at surviving if you had prepared for the worst beforehand. 

Every outdoors person hopes he or she is never caught in a survival situation, but if this ever happens to you, following some simple rules and being prepared will help in getting you home safely. If you want to make a habit of going outdoors then do yourself a favor and learn some survival techniques, there are many teachers with many procedures but just a couple of simple shelter building tips, fire starting techniques, and collecting water are good skills to know and fun to learn, Go have fun with confidence!

If you have any more questions about the basic survival skills, I’ll be more than happy to answer them in the comments section below.

Remember! Leave it cleaner than you found it, only footprints not rubbish.

Thanks, Shane.

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