Surviving the Wilderness: Best Essentials

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When it comes to survival situations, what you have on your person can mean the difference between life and death. Whenever you’re heading out into the wilderness, whether you’re going for a hike in the mountains, or fishing along the river, you need to be prepared.

You might not be heading into the wilderness for a survival activity but you could nonetheless end up in a survival situation. Carrying the right kit will give you the best chance of, well, survival.

So what should you take with you?

Water

Your first and most pressing survival need will always be water. You need to make sure that you carry water with you and that you carry a means of getting water out of the environment.

When it comes to carrying water the general rule is to carry about a pint of water for every hour of walking you plan to do. This ratio only works for day activities. After all, there is a limit to the amount of water you can carry without getting weighed down.

This is why it’s important to carry methods of water collection.

Ideally, you want to have at least two methods of collection or purification. That way you have options depending on your location.

Purification tablets are a great choice if you’re near a source of water. However, if you’re not near a source of fresh water, you’ll need to think about getting water another way.

Shelter

The next thing to think about is shelter. Whether you’re in the hot south or the cold north, you need somewhere to bed down at night. Your shelter should not only protect you from the weather but should offer you a level of protection from bugs and predators. By predators, we don’t mean big cats or bears so much. These guys will rip their way through most survival shelters. You want to protect yourself from the smaller predators like snakes, rodents, and bugs.

Carrying a tent can weigh you down. If you can get a lightweight one-man tent, good for you. If not, carry a tarp or bivy bag. These will help keep you dry and will stop most small animal bites. For more tips on shelter building, check out this page. It gives you an idea of how to create shelters from scratch using the environment around you.

Fire

Fire has many uses in a survival situation. It keeps you warm, helps you cook food, and can be used to ward off predators. Fire is what sets humans apart from other animals and is the reason humans have stayed at the top of the food chain.

You always want to carry means of creating a fire. Sure, you could spend hours rubbing sticks together or striking stones, but what’s the point when you’ve got matches? Weatherproof matches are one option. The problem is they tend to run out. The same goes for lighters. Unless you carry lighter fluid too, you’ll eventually run out of fuel. Lighters do last a lot longer than matches and can be very handy. We recommend carrying a lighter and another method of creating fire.

Your best option is to carry a flint and steel. You’ll always have a reliable method of creating a spark that way. Combine it with a tinder box and you’ll be fine.

Calories

You might be surprised to see food so low on the list but the truth is, you can find calories in the wild easier than the rest of the things. It’s always a good idea to bring some emergency rations with you when you head out into the wilds. These rations should be enough to sustain you for a few days until help arrives or you find your way to safety.

Ideally, your rations should be safe to eat hot or cold. That way you’re not dependent on fire. You want to include high-calorie foods that won’t weigh you down. Almonds, peanuts, and walnuts are a great choice.

Certain high-calorie survival bars are also good but you’ll want to avoid bars that contain lots of sugar. You’ll end up with a sugar crash after a few hours. Oats, dried fruits, dried meat, sesame seeds, and dark chocolate are also great choices for your emergency rations.

Once your rations run out, you’ll need a way of getting food. You could forage for edible plants and fungus but this requires a decent amount of knowledge to avoid poisoning. The best way to get calories without expending too many calories in the process is fishing. Of course, this is only really feasible if you’re near a water source. Even so, it’s worth looking into collapsible fishing rods and kits that you can carry with you.

If fishing isn’t an option, you’ll want to consider going after small game or birds. You could set traps or you could carry a firearm that would allow you to hunt.

Navigation

The aim of survival is to keep yourself alive until you can get to safety. In order to get to safety, you’ll need a way of navigating. First and foremost you should always carry a map of the area you’re in. You might claim to know the area well, but things look different in the dark! A compass is also a must. This will help you orientate yourself and your surroundings.

Ideally, you’ll know how to use a compass and map together. But even if you lack navigational skills, they can help you get a rough idea.

Final Thoughts

This list isn’t exhaustive. There are other items which are a good idea to carry with you in case of a survival situation. Things like torches, spare clothes, first aid kits, and signaling devices are also recommended.

However, at the very bare minimum, you should make an effort to include the above in your survival kit.