Outdoor Survival

People become stranded or lost in the wilderness for various reasons. A leisurely day hike can turn into days of wandering sick and exhausted, or an overnight camping trip can go horribly wrong because of an extreme weather event. You might even be on a small plane that goes down in a remote area. Your car can slide down a ravine leaving you waiting days for rescue. Anything can happen to anyone at anytime. However, you can survive virtually any situation by preparing, and being aware of what can happen. Survival experts will tell you they prepare for the expected, not the unexpected. They know things can and will happen, it is not a matter of if, but only a matter of when.

Life Essentials

You may think you cannot survive without your cell phone or laptop but in an outdoor survival situation, they become useless. To survive, you need shelter, water and food. Your chances of surviving is dramatically reduced, if you are literally dropped in the middle of nowhere with just the clothes on your back. Preparation is the key and you need a survival pack that can be easily carried that has the tools and materials that allow you to build a shelter, collect and purify water and to hunt or fish for food.

The following list is by no means comprehensive. The list can be adapted to suit individual needs. The biggest mistake people make is, believing they cannot survive without certain items and typically end packing more than is needed. Your survival kit eventually becomes a burden and you soon start leaving it behind. Your survival kit is in addition to any supplies and equipment you would typically have with you while camping, bicycling or hiking. Your survival kit can be easily packed in your vehicle, behind the seat while bike riding or easily carried when hiking.

Where an item is on the list is not an indication of its importance.

  • Multi-Purpose Knife
  • Heavy Fixed Bladed Knife
  • Magnesium Stick For Fire Starting Include Flint And Steel
  • Sheet Of Clear Plastic Small Enough To Easily Fold Into Your Pack Used For Water Collection
  • Eight To 12 Pound Monofilament Fishing Line
  • Standard Fish Hooks or More Commonly Called Worm Hooks
  • First Aid Kit Include Needles And Thread For Stitching Wounds Or Repairing Clothes
  • Light Gauge Wire
  • 550 Paracord Or Suitable Nylon Rope 50 Feet
  • Two Vials Of 2% Liquid Iodine With Dropper For Water Purification
  • Small Stainless Steel Bowl
  • Small Camp Ax With Hammer head
  • Folding Wood Saw
  • Two Rain Ponchos Can Also Be Used As An Emergency Shelter And Water Collection
  • Coffee Filters For Water Filtration
  • Two One Quart Canteens

Quick Shelters

Build a quick shelter using your ponchos by snapping or tying together. Tie off two corners, slant the back to the ground and secure for a leaning shelter. Prop a small blunt stick against the inside of the shelter, from the ground to the poncho, to keep water from sagging the middle of the shelter. Another quick shelter can be constructed by scooping out a shallow depression on the south side of a fallen log. Lean pine boughs against the log leaving room for you lay down. Place larger sticks against the boughs to hold them in place. Pine needles will shed water if it rains.

Do not rely solely on matches for fire starting. They can become damp from high humidity or from being carried in your pocket. Practice with the magnesium stick. Many sticks come with a striker plate to create a spark. Scrape some magnesium into some dry tinder and using the backside of your heavy fixed bladed knife apply pressure and scrape along the striker aiming toward the tinder and magnesium shavings. This creates a spark, which will ignite the magnesium. Never use the back of a folding knife, the blade can fold up on your fingers.

Outdoor survival is all about having the right tools and materials along with planning and using your mind. It is not survival of the fittest but survival of the smartest.


Construct a fishing pole or fishing spear if there are creeks, rivers or lakes. Collect worms, grubs, grasshoppers or even bright pieces of cloth for bait. You can also make small loop snares, for capturing small games, using the light gauge wire. Simply loop the wire and attach the end of the loop so that when pulled upon the wire closes up. Place the snare on game trails, which are usually found near a water source. Place the snare where an animal would have to change course to avoid logs and natural obstacles. The animal’s head will enter the snare and as it keeps moving, the loop will tighten. Be sure to secure the snare from overhead or along the ground. Make a spear by sharpening a slender, seasoned limb and cutting short pieces of the wire to attach to the end, this spear can be used for fishing or bringing down small game.

Water Is Vital To Outdoor Survival

Water sources include rainwater, rivers, lakes, streams, ponds and natural springs. However, the water must be filtered and purified before you can consume it. You may believe that water sources deep in the wilderness cannot be contaminated. The sources are contaminated however, by naturally occurring bacteria, animal droppings, insects and even animal carcasses. Accepted methods of purifying water in a survival situation include boiling and using 2% liquid iodine.

Purifying Water by Boiling

Dip the water using one of the canteens, keep in mind even when purified you cannot drink water from the canteen you used for dipping contaminated water. The drink line will be contaminated with bacteria. The way to sanitize the container is to place it in boiling water for at least one minute. You must filter the water from the canteen into the small stainless steel bowl for boiling. The water must rapid boil for at least one minute. Allow to cool before drinking. Use the coffee filters for filtering or you can make charcoal from hardwoods. Once the wood is well charred, remove from the fire and cover with ash or sand to smother the fire. Let cool and rinse. You can use a clean vegetable can with a hole in the bottom. Crush the charcoal into the can and pour contaminated water into the can. The water will filter out the hole in the bottom.

Purify Water using 2% Liquid Iodine

Using one of the canteens dip the contaminated water, filter and pour into the clean canteen. The ratio is five drops of iodine per quart of water. Shake well and allow 30 minutes before drinking. If the water appears cloudy after filtering, add up to two additional drop of iodine to the water.

Collect morning dew by draping the plastic or your poncho over a bush. Leave small depressions in the material for water to collect. You can collect rainwater as well, using the plastic or your poncho. However, secure the plastic or poncho when collecting rainwater to keep it from collapsing from the weight of the water.

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