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The Romance and Reality of Wilderness Survival

Here we give you some of the common mistakes survivalists make so you won’t have to repeat them when the time comes.


By Emily H.

Surviving the wild is not what like TV shows Survivor and Lost may seem to look like: no reward challenges, no immunity, and most of the time there’s no conspiracy involved. In real life, many bad things can happen in the wilderness as it’s a hostile environment and things can easily go out of control. What was supposed to be a breezy weekend camp can turn into a horrible one as a violent storm could chase you into a nearby cave and get you stuck for the next 48 hours. If that happens, what will you do?

The moment you step out of the door of your home, make sure that you equip yourself with a survival preparedness guide to prepare you for the worst. And not just a simple survival guide –here we also give you some of the common mistakes survivalists make so you won’t have to repeat them when the time comes.

wilderness survival - creek

A Sound Survival Plan

Before you stack up on supplies and assemble your survival kit, ask yourself: What are my chances to survive the wilderness? At this point you should gauge how dangerous the wilderness could be and how you’re physically and mentally equipped. To be physically equipped means you should be at least in good health. Some survivalists often forget to take their trip to the doctor before coming up with a good survival plan, which could be dangerous later on. If you have a recurring physical condition, you might want to ask your doctor how can you keep sickness at bay in a hostile environment. Other things you can take care of are getting vaccinations, immunity shots, and preventive medicines, among others.

Once you’re in the wild, you’d need to know how to survive. And by how, you should know and have the means to survive: the survival techniques, adequate water, food kits, and your survival kit.

Train for Survival

Self-preservation, or the instinct to keep one’s self alive, isn’t enough if you don’t know how to keep yourself alive. Thus the need to get training on some survival techniques:

  • Making a shelter
  • Making a fire
  • Finding water and purification
  • Finding food and preparation
  • Signaling for help
  • Navigation
  • Basic first aid
  • Weather prediction

Some survivalists are heavily dependent on their tools (Swiss knife, lighter, compass, and etc.), without them they’d be doomed. That’s where training comes in handy – it helps you rely more on your skills than your tools. Don’t have a lighter? Learn to make fire by rubbing two twigs together on a bed of bush. No compass? Learn to understand cardinal directions using the sun and stars.

You can sign up on schools that offer classes on survival techniques, some of them even give away a free prepper’s kit upon registration. You can also try reading books about survival, but training would be more beneficial. Or, if you’re on a tight budget, you can try looking for demonstration videos in the Internet for free.

wilderness survival - training

Water Is Life

Adequate water is in every survivalist’s preparedness guide. Our bodies can survive much longer without food than it can without water. Some survivalists tend to miscalculate how much a human body can hold water in a day, let alone themselves (i.e., “I’m not much of a water person.”), thus bringing inadequate water for the sake of a lighter baggage. Your safest bet is one gallon a day per person. But if that doesn’t prove to be enough, you might want to learn an important skill to survive the wilderness: water purification. If you’re in a place with available water but not sterile for drinking, the most practical thing you can do is to have iodine droplets in your prepper’s kit as this helps purify water. Chlorine or potassium permanganate are also said to be effective.

Practical Food

Your survival food kits should include food that is easy to prepare or has a long expiration date. You’ll never know how long you’ll last in the wild and whether there’d be a food source or not. It’s wise to purchase food kits beforehand, and they can be bought online if your local supermarket doesn’t have them. The marriage between quality and quantity can be an issue if you’re following a specific diet, so try to make adjustments for the time being by variation of food choices. A mistake survivalists make is they don’t bring variations of food with them in their survival food kits. Having the same food over and over can cause what they call a “food fatigue” or the condition where you have no appetite for food despite the hunger. Also, you need to stack up on multivitamins and food supplements in your food kits to keep sickness at bay.

Another thing: make sure that your prepper’s kit has the tools to prepare these foods. Some of them are no-cook and ready to eat, while some need pre-heating or boiling. Canned goods, on the other hand, are a no-no. Despite their practicality, canned goods are too heavy to carry around and may affect your movement. You might want to resort to serving pouches instead.

Sturdy Pack

Every survivalist has one and so should you. Whether it’s a backpack or a rucksack, make sure to invest on quality material but at the same time not too heavy to carry around. Remember that your good ‘ol pack will be your best friend in the wilderness and you don’t want it to give up on you anytime soon. Storage space is extremely crucial since this is where all your equipment and essential items go. Make sure that your pack is strong enough to keep all items intact.

Survival Kit

Keep in mind that your survival kit should include items that serve more than one purpose at once to keep your kit size from being bulky and heavy. Aside from food kits and water, your survival kit must-haves should also include the following:

  • First aid kit (band-aids, painkillers, antibiotics, and personal prescriptions)
  • Communication devices (fully charged mobile phone and battery-operated pocket radio)
  • Personal hygiene (soap, toothbrush, and shampoo)
  • Utilities like lighter and fire starters, flashlight, mini whistle, and etc.
  • A handy Swiss knife, which can double as your ultimate survival tool and weapon

Navigation tools like compass and map are just as important but don’t necessarily have to be in the survival kit – they should be carried all the time.

Essential Supplies

Some survivalists are too focused on their survival kits that they tend to overlook other essential items. Don’t make the same mistake; focus even on the smallest details. For example, you may have a nice bon fire but how will you cook your food? Thus the need for cooking materials like a small pot, a metal grill, and a spoon and fork.

Preppers are also against wearing cotton in the wilderness as this can’t keep you warm for long. Find and wear clothes that retain their warmth even after they become wet.

If you’ve never experienced danger, it means that you haven’t lived. But it doesn’t mean danger has to win. Given the right knowledge, skills, equipment, and preparation, people who survived the worst are those who understand life much better and would prepare for more things to come.

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on September 13th, 2014

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