Here are the essential survival skills.
Survive In The Woods: 25 Must-Know Skills and Tips
1. Creating A Compass
A compass would give you a better navigation plan than just about anything else. If you don’t have a compass, you can make one. Watch this video from DIY Survival on how to make a compass.
2. Clothing Repair Basics
Getting your clothes damaged will likely occur at some point if you’re a camper or hiker. Having to take damaged clothes somewhere to get patched up every time get’s inconvenient and ultimately annoying. Learning some quick basic repair skills will make a huge difference between spending money taking it somewhere to get fixed and being able to quickly fix it yourself.
3. Identify Safe Campsite
It’s not the best idea to just lay down anywhere in the wilderness and take a nap. Practicing a little safety precaution will do you good such an environment.
4. Food Preservation Basics
Food will be one of your more valuable resources. When you find it. You’ll want to either eat it right then and there. Or take it with you. If you take it with you, we need to make sure it’s going to remain food for the foreseeable future. So we need to make sure it’s properly preserved so it lasts a while until we’re ready to eat it.
Imagine being on the verge of drooling from hunger and thoughts of sugar as you reach for some berries you found two days ago only to find them rotten and spoiled. Let’s prevent that as best we can.
5. Build A Campfire
No matter where you are in the wild, having access to fire is crucial. The ability to make fire is one of the few, if not, most essential survival skill there is to learn and develop. This video from Trailgain shows you how step by step.
6. Sending Survival Signal
In a survival situation, there may come a time where you will need help from others. How are you going to send for help when you need it the most? Learn how to send a survival signal here.
7. Finding and Purifying, and Collecting Water
Water is the essence of life, you’ve heard hundreds of times. And it’s true. And the rule of threes tells us that water is one of the top priorities we need to take seriously out in the wild.
8. Building Shelter
Out in the wilderness, we need shelter. Temporary or permanent, we need it. Especially if we’re out in the wild in the frigid winter months, we would need to build a winter survival shelter. There are many different kinds of DIY shelters we can build. It depends of course on what we have for materials and our needs. What location we are in and how long we’re going to be staying in the campsite we chose to build it on all factor into what we should build. Get some ideas here.
9. Essential Knot Tying
Speaking of making your own shelter outdoors, being able to tie specific knots will help you build a more rugged and durable structure. There are hundreds of knots we could learn for different situations. From fishing knots mountain climbing knots, these knots are the essential ones to learn to tie and master.
10. Basic Swimming Ability
God forbid we fall into a stream or fall of a fishing boat, having basic swimming skills would be put to good use.
11. Basic Sign Language
English and sign language are the two most important languages to develop. Every person on an instinctual level can get a handle on what you’re trying to communicate with hand gestures. Learning just a few keywords would be a great asset to have with you when traveling.
12. Find Your Way Home
There’s no place like home. Navigating your way home may seem basic or elementary, but taking too long to find your way home could result in even more disaster than what caused the bug-out scenario in the first place.
13. Identify Edible Plants
You’re starving and need to eat. You spot some plants, race over and grab a couple ready for some chow time.
“Is this safe to eat?” floods your thoughts as you get too nervous to eat them now because you’re not fully positive they are safe. After all, they’re just plants. How harmful could they be even if they are bad to eat? I’ve had that experience and let me tell you. It’s not fun. Do we have to be able to identify every single type of plant so we know if we can eat it? No. But learning the few plants that we’re likely to run into for the majority of the time could mean the difference between getting deathly ill and eating some plants to survive another day.
14. Weather Forecasting
Being able to predict somewhat accurately, what the weather will morph into in the near future is a highly useful ability to have. Preparation is about knowing what will happen and preparing for it the best we can. Being able to forecast the weather is exactly that.
15. Mental Attitude
Out of all the survival and preparedness skills we learn and develop. All of it is essentially useless if we don’t have the right survival mindset
16. Basic Hunting Skills
Hunting will be essential to your survival if you’re out in the wild. Meat is good for us and will do us good to eat it on a regular basis outdoors. It has has a ton of calories and is dense in nutrients. But if we can’t kill anything, we won’t get it. So developing a few core hunting and gathering skills and abilities will be some of the most important you learn.
17. Conquering The Cold In Winter
The cold Winters can be a struggle. But we know a thing or two about what to do in this type of condition to thrive. If you’re a pro player, you want to play on a muddy field.
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Navigation is one of the core essential skills for surviving in the wild. Or at least for getting out of the wild alive.
19. Crafting Basic hunting Tools and Weapons
If you don’t have any tools or weapons in the wild, you’ll need to make one or two. Not being able to could put you in a bad scenario, limiting you from being able to hunt and eat certain wild game. Being able to craft your own spear or basic hand tool will make a huge difference in that environment.
20. Ability to stay calm
There was a movie called “the edge” with Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin. It was a fantastic example of what it would be like to actually be stranded and have to survive in the wild. Anthony Hopkins character had a line that was brilliant and true. “They die of shame”.
He was saying that people that are in the middle of Mother Nature with no help coming don’t usually die from grizzly bears or the inability to find food. They die of shame. They quit. They give up. The point is, the mindset is more important than anything for survival, especially in the wild.
21. Basic Hiking Skills
Chances are there mountains, trails, and cliffs in your environment.
22. First Aid Basics
If you injure yourself, god forbid, injure yourself badly. You’ll need to treat it. And how well you treat it could make a big difference. Learning some basic medical first aid is a good idea.
Being aware of what’s around you in the wild is even more important than in an urban setting. If a bear is within any eye distance from you, you would want to know that information and act accordingly. Practice situational awareness and hone your ability to assess what’s around you quickly.
24. Finding Food
How are you going to find food? Are you going to hunt? Find plants to eat? Foraging skills are what we need to develop. This video from Survival Texas shows us foraging tips.
25. Bring The Right Items
Knowing what to bring and what not to bring is a separate skill by itself. It takes time to learn how to be efficient and learn exactly what you need to bring so you don’t pack too much or carry something you won’t really need. Also, this is why multi-tools like paracord bracelets are great. We can pack the one item and use it for many different purposes.
For the basic wilderness survival skills, this list will help cover most of everything. There are advanced bushcraft skills for more hardcore skill sets we’ll cover. And the essential skills everyone should know. I would start with the essentials and this basic list, then move on to bushcraft skill development.
Did we leave something out you think should be on this list? Let us know below.