10 Outdoor Survival Skills Everyone Should Master

Man crawling in nature

You don’t have to be the next Grizzly Adams or the next Les Stroud from Survivorman to be able to survive out in the great unknown, as long as you know how to survive.

As you read, you’ll learn what we feel are essential survival skills that everyone should master, regardless if you plan on going into the wild or not—it’s always better to be prepared than not.

Woman Drinking Through Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System

1. Locating And Filtering Water

As someone who lives in an area where there is running water, you may not be prepared with the idea of having to drink something that doesn’t come from a faucet or a bottle, unlike survivalists who are okay with searching for their own water sources.

When you’re stranded out in the wilderness, you may not have enough water to last the entire time you’re out there. You can use items like a mini water filtration system or a water bottle with a LifeStraw filter so that when you do find a water source, you can safely drink the water.

2. Find a Location Suitable to Set up Camp

At some point during your experience, Lifehacker reminds us that you’re going to need to rest and set up some kind of camp. Before you even start to unroll your tent or set up your tarp shelter, you need to find an area that is free of any kind of debris, insect nests, or other things that could either pose a threat to your safety or make your night very uncomfortable.

Also, you want to make sure the spot you choose is on level ground, lest your shelter (and you!) go sliding down a hill in the middle of the night.

3. How to Start a Fire

Along with finding water and setting up camp, you have to know how to start a fire out of anything you may have on hand. Most survival kits will have ever-strike matches or other items that can help make a fire.

Man kneeling by fire in snow in wilderness

However, if you do not have a survival kit, you need to know what you can start a fire with, and how. Survival Life has a great list of ways to start a fire. Here are just a few to give you an idea:

  1. Use a water bottle
  2. Use reading glasses
  3. Use a Soda can and chocolate
  4. Use your own urine

4. Learn First Aid And How to Use a First Aid Kit

In survival situations, there are plenty of things that could go wrong and cause someone or yourself to get hurt. Because of that, SASI Online reminds us that it is important that you always travel with a First Aid Kit of some kind.

You will want to know how to treat open wounds (regardless of the size), treat frostbite, how to put a dislocated joint into the socket, or set a bone in the case of a fracture. Also, it should be in the best interest to know what kind of plants you can use to act as gauze or a bandage if you don’t have enough in your kit.

5. Know How to Identify Safe Vegetation to Eat

You can never go wrong in knowing what poisonous plants look like in your area, but you would also do well to familiarize what plants are safe to eat, too. You don’t want to find a bush of succulent berries, eat them, only to find out they are poisonous. If you take medications, you should also look up what type of things will react to said medication.

Forest Fruits Vegetation Eat Food

6. Know How to Hunt/Fish/Trap For Food

You may have a few MREs and snacks in your backpack, but that may not last the entire time you’re stuck in the wilderness. It’s always a good idea to know how to find your own source of protein, either through fish and other seafood or by hunting or trapping wildlife.

Granted, if you are stuck in the wilderness, you may not have a gun or a fishing pole. Fortunately, Survivalist Prepper has a few examples of how you can find use by using an Atlatl (a slingshot), using a snare trap, or a sharpened stick to fish.

7. Make Tools And Weaponry

Not only are you going to need tools to hunt, but you are also going to need something for self-defense if you are trying to survive for a long period of time. You might have an assault knife or some other kind of blade knife in your survival kit, which can work for skinning animals and even self-defense.

BlizeTec Survival Fixed Blade Knife Sharpening a Tree Branch

If you don’t have a knife (or even a folding knife), you can create items like an axe, bow and arrow, or a club with a little bit of resourcefulness.

8. How to Navigate During The Day Time

No one wants to stay lost forever, right? Of course not! Men’s Fitness points out that if you don’t have a GPS tool or even a compass and map, you still have a chance to find your way back to civilization (or at least something more recognizable so you can find your way back to civilization) by using the sky.

It’s common knowledge that the sun always rises in the East and sets in the West, but you can also find the North and South lines by using an analog watch by holding the watch horizontally and have the hour hand pointing to the sun. Imagine that there is a line that runs exactly midway between 12 o’clock and the hour hand.

This is the North-South line. If it’s daylight savings, draw the line between the hour hand and 1 o’clock.

Backpack on a piece of wood in nature

9. How to Navigate at Night

To be able to navigate at night, you need to find the North Star. If you’re able to see the Big Dipper, you’ll want to draw a line between the two stars found on the outside edge of the dipper. Extend the line toward the Little Dipper and it should line up to the North Star. Face the North Star, and you are facing true North.

If the Crescent Moon is in the sky, you’ll want to connect the tips of the crescent with an imaginary line. Bring the line to the horizon to indicate a south bearing. Check out the video made by Tinkernut that explains how exactly to navigate by the stars.

10. Learn How to be Ready For The Unexpected

Nothing is certain in a survival situation so it would be wise to expect the unexpected. Just when you think you’ve got this survival thing down, something could happen, and you could be thrown for a loop. True survivalists understand that nothing is guaranteed and always be prepared to roll with the punches.

Lost Survivalist Having a Calm Expression

Before you go off on an excursion, we hope you seriously consider reviewing and brushing up on survival techniques. Knowing how to do the things discussed in this article can save yours or someone else’s life.

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