Basic survival skills everyone should know

A misconception about survival is that it only happens to people in the wilds like hikers and skiers or if it is surviving a bear attack, falling off a cliff, or getting stuck in an avalanche.

Reality is, survival can happen anywhere, from the top of Mount Everest to three blocks away from your house, at your favorite coffee shop. Each of these situations is unique and requires its own tools and skills.

Let’s learn some basic survival skills

Let’s learn some basic survival skills

Knowing your location is important. It prevents panic and provides reassurance. When you can locate yourself on a map, others can also find you. So, keep with you a locating device such as a map of your area, a national highway map, or a simple magnetic compass.

Magnetic Compass

Do not go quietly into the night

Starting a fire is crucial to any survival scenario for several reasons.

  1. It is a psychological boost.
  2. allows you to boil water for drinking.
  3. It allows you to cook.
  4. Provides warmth and light.
  5. helps send SOSs.

Starting a fire

There are a few ways to start a fire. Some of them are:

  • Bow-drill method.
  • Waterproof matches.
  • Cigarette lighters.
  • Magnesium blocks.
  • Flint and steel.

Is there a doctor in the house?

After a map, compass, and fire-starting tools, the next thing is a first-aid kit, to help you in case of cuts and bruises or ailments like flu and fever. First-aid kits range from basic to advance.

A basic kit includes band-aids, cotton swabs, rubbing alcohol, cotton bandages, antiseptic creams, and a pair of scissors.


Bleeding is the main issue

Bleeding from cuts and bruises should be stopped immediately. An anticoagulant like QuickClot is an instant remedy, followed by cotton swabs and bandages.

Do some research before buying a medical kit that suits your needs. Natural remedies are also available such as aloe vera, which doubles up as an antiseptic.

A handyman in your pocket

A multi-tool like a Leatherman or a Swiss Army knife can go a long way to serve you in various situations, whether you are lost in the wilderness or in a city.


A standard model is equipped with basics such as a blade, a can opener, a file, scissors, and screwdrivers. A multi-tool is indispensable, and your closest friend in such situations.


The stuff which binds the universe together

Duct tape is a strong cloth-backed waterproof adhesive tape. It is used to repair rips in upholstery, tents, and tarps. Can also be used to fix leaky boats and even hold a bandage with gauze inserted over the wound. It is an important piece in your survival kit.


Make Sure Your Stomach is Full

With basic materials sorted out, it is time to think about food. Many put food as their primary objective in a survival scenario. But, they forget the body can do several days, or even weeks, without food if necessary. So, the priority is to have the resources to find food, such as a map and compass, and that you are healthy enough to move around, which is why we worry about the first-aid kit before food and water.

Freeze-dried foraging

The newbie is not going to be able to grab a fish out of the water with their bare hands. There are techniques to catch fish and small animals in the wild, but that requires rigorous training.

A newbie’s best bet is a wonderful world of freeze-dried food. They consist of packaged food, ranging from vegetarian stew to beef stroganoff and spaghetti. An army variant of this is known as Meals, Ready-to-Eat, or MRE.


More on Meals, Ready-to-Eat

MREs can be purchased from any army surplus store. These food packs are equipped with a heating element and only takes 10 to 12 minutes to make it edible.

These packs have a long shelf life, anywhere from 15 to 20 years. They are light and easy to store in a bug-out bag.


Water everywhere, how can I drink it?

Everyone knows that your body can only go for a few days without water, three to be precise. It is suggested that the average person should drink a minimum of 3 liters of water a day.

Storing water is easy at home, but it is difficult to carry that much during survival. Knowing the different methods of filtering and getting water is essential.

Getting water from unusual sources

There are some unusual ways to get water during survival. In an urban environment, there is the emergency valve of a water-heating system or storage tank. You can also drain water from a swimming pool or collect rainwater using a plastic sheet.

But, these need to be sanitized by boiling or filtration. In the wilds, there are a number of resources for water.

For example, damp soil, where digging it might give you some water. Collect it and filter it through a manual filtration pump. Another option and a must in survival kits are water purification tablets to disinfect water. You could also use a few drops of iodine.

Silverware for survival

Lightweight silverware can be used in survival situations. Chopsticks are an alternative. These are economical and replaceable.

There are also various plates, pans, and pots which are designed for the outdoors. They fold snugly to occupy less space.

Maintain Your Identity

Do not neglect your identity. Usually, people think of shelter, food, water, and clothing when it comes to surviving. But, identity is important as well. If you are lost in a foreign country or caught in a natural disaster, properly identifying yourself to the authorities plays a crucial role in survival.

Keep copies of your birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, visa or green card in your survival kit. Laminate them and keep them secure. Tuck them into a money belt or a hidden pocket, should you lose your wallet or bag.


Becoming a Silk Road trader

Currency is valuable. With it, you can become a trader. You could use it to barter: experts recommend you have about $1000 in gold or silver coins, tucked away safely either in a money belt or in a secret pocket in your bug-out bag.


Goods to barter

When gold or silver coins fail, other goods can be used to barter as well. These include, among others, ammunition, cigarettes, alcohol, and fire-starting systems. You can even barter your skills such as fishing or hunting for items you may need.

Let’s get physical

You have your food. Have your survival kit. You have your valuables and things to trade. Have beaten the odds and survived to this point. But, how do you handle someone who wants to rob you?

This is something to consider, regardless if you are in the wilds or in the city. You could still come across someone that is willing to harm you to survive.

Storing survival gear until it is time to rock ‘n’ roll

You have all you need to survive. But, how the hell are you going to store them until they are needed? Such a situation may not occur for months, or even years, and it is important to keep your things updated and ready.

You have prepared your bug-out bag with a great deal of effort and research, collecting all the goods, from a compass to MREs to cash. The problem is where do you store them?

Obviously, it has to be somewhere accessible, preferably in the trunk of your vehicle, so it is available when an unwanted situation happens.

Inspecting your bug-out bag

A bug-out bag is a backpack carrying all your survival gear and can be bought from your local army surplus store. This bag is designed to get you through 72 hours or even longer.

The contents of your survival bag should be checked every three to six months. Even if you do not use it, just make sure its contents are updated and usable. It is pointless to have unusable or expired items.


The civilization box

Use a civilization box if you need more than your average backpack. These boxes, available in different sizes, are usually made of plastic or metal, and easily fit the trunk of your vehicle.

But, they are bulky and difficult to carry on foot. So, many still prefer the usual backpack as it allows them to be mobile.

The cowboy bedroll

This is a minimalist approach to packing survival gear, typically used by seasoned aficionados. A cowboy bedroll consists of a rolled-up blanket, usually a twin-sized sheet made from wool or flannel. The blanket is rolled like a cigarette with necessities neatly tucked inside.

Two straps at both ends keep everything secure. They also work as a shoulder strap. The shoulder strap allows for accessories, such as cooking utensils, frying pans, or even a fishing line.


Choosing the appropriate clothing

The survivalist’s gear

Typically, a survivalist is depicted as a boot-camp reject sporting a military haircut and battle fatigues with a gun slung over their shoulder. While this may look cool on the screen, it is not practical.

Blending in with the environment

Surviving means going unnoticed: the trick is to blend in. Study your environment, and choose your clothing accordingly.

Consider the weather and waterproof gear. If it is cold, the right clothes and sleeping bags are necessary, as survival is next to impossible without warmth.

When I grow up, I want to be G. I. Joe

As for camouflage, there are many manufacturers that make clothing similar to that worn by the US and other Western armies.

These clothes allow you to store the right amount of gear, such as maps, pens and pencils, compasses and other small items. They are also economical.

But, it is unwise to wear them in an urban area, as it delivers the opposite effect.

Battledress uniforms

The battle dress uniform (BDU) is nonflammable fatigue that has cargo-style pants with pockets on each leg, as well as front and rear pockets. An alternative to the BDU pants would be those used by electricians.

The tactical waistcoat

A tactical waistcoat, also known as a combat vest, is exactly what it sounds like. It is not bulletproof, but more like a fishing vest, with lots of pockets designed to hold everything a soldier might need, from extra ammunition to an extra pair of socks. The vest is typically worn as a backup to the soldier’s backpack.


Walk a mile in my shoes

Boots are soldiers best friends. They keep them mobile and agile and protect their feet from sharp rocks and other hazardous materials. Keep their feet dry. They also keep their feet warm during winter. So, your boots are indispensable.

Conclusion of basic survival skills

These pages by no means cover every aspect of basic survival skills. There is an endless list of equipment, from medical clothing to inflatable boats and crank flashlights, all of which would be impossible to list down.

They are designed to give you an overview of the basic equipment any budding survivalist should have access to, in case they find themselves in such a scenario.

Also, proper training must be sought for self-defense, weapons usage, and foraging for food in the wild. These skills must be practiced thoroughly before putting into use.

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