The other day I was asked the question "what are the 3 most important skills to have in a survival situation." As many of you awesome readers know, I filmed a wilderness survival show for TV last fall and this question was asked as part of the post-production for the show (shameless plug!)
I don't really like talking about "survival." I believe that if you poses a good set of wilderness living skills you'll really never be in a "survival situation." Nonetheless, I think this is a question worthy of addressing.
Here are the three things that I think people should keep in mind/know if they ever find themselves in a pinch. Although my answers may not address the first 3 priorities for every environment or every situation, I believe that they should all be kept in mind while you venture into remote wilderness areas.
Know How To Shelter Yourself
I'm not referring specifically to shelter building here, but to the skill of sheltering your body. You need to know how to dress properly, as well as how to find a good shelter location and how to construct a functional shelter with minimal gear. You need to know when to rest on cold days when you're sweating from difficult labor. You need to learn that wool will keep you warm, even when damp.
There's a reason that Cody Lundin titled his book 98.6 Degrees. Maintaining your core body temperature is absolutely vital to survival, and having the proper knowledge of how to keep yourself sheltered is how you do just that.
By the way, Cody's books are definitely worth checking out. They're "must-reads" for anyone studying survival skills.
Know How To Start A Fire In Any Condition
I can't stress how important this is. If you want to learn how to start fires, practice during and after a rain storm, the wetter the better. This is the only way to truly prepare yourself for fire starting in extremely wet conditions. A good fire gives off more than just lifesaving heat. It provides a sense of security, and a way to signal for help.
For this reason, I like to always carry a fire kit anytime I venture into the woods, even if only for a day hike. I carry tinder in a waterproof container and some means of lighting it, which is usually a match or a "metal match." I used to go without these things, thinking that if I needed a fire I would just whip up a bow drill, easy as that. Now that I've come to some senses (albeit, maybe not all of my senses) I know that carrying a way to start fires quickly and easily would be far more likely to save my life, or more importantly, the life of anyone I happen to be trekking or paddling with.
Primitive fire skills are a great skill to have, but in my personal opinion it's best to be equipped with a good fire kit for emergencies.
Don't Believe In Fairytales
There are many misconceptions and myths about survival. From "just cut an X and suck out the venom" to the oversimplified "rule of 3s" it seems like the general public knows more misconceptions than facts. Another myth that comes to mind is the fear of being attacked by large carnivores. Although these critters do pose a threat, the likelihood of being attacked by any large carnivore in North America is extremely rare. You are far more likely to succumb to a fall, hypothermia, hyperthermia, and a multitude of other dangers.
Furthermore, it is often the little things that will sabotage your time in the woods, like the insects, or the rodents. Insect bites can drive you insane, or at least hinder your critical thinking abilities, and rodents are known for ruining food and supplies.
It's not the mountains that trip you up. It's the twigs and the pebbles.
This post is quite simplified, and each of these 3 points can and should be elaborated on. For this reason, I'll be doing a full post on each of them. Subscribe to my email list, or follow me on facebook to be notified when I post!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sam is a writer, adventurer, and founder of Woodsong who is best known for his involvement in HISTORY's hit show ALONE. In 2011 his practical experiences over many nights in remote wilderness areas inspired him to start this blog! Sam’s adventures have lead him throughout North America where he has had the opportunity to learn from world-class outdoorsmen, and perhaps the greatest teacher of all, the natural world.
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Thanks for reading, and have an awesome day!