Surviving in the Wilderness
When I was a teenager, I clearly remember going to the library and getting a book all about surviving in the outdoors. It was only a short book but I renewed it at least three times, awestruck at the information contained within that book. I read it front-to-back an uncountable number of times. Funnily, I can’t remember what that book is called now. But some of the lessons from that book about surviving in the wilderness stuck with me.
These days, I love spending as much time outdoors as possible. Sometimes house renovation and other life-things get in the way but my love for the outdoors never waivers and I’ll always try to get outside as often as I can. There has been one of two situations which have left me wondering, “How would I cope in a survival situation?” and honestly, I think I would do okay. Feeling inspired by the “Could you survive a night in the wild?” quiz by ROL Cruise, I thought I would put together my top 5 outdoor survival tips and advice. If you fancy trying your chances at the night in the wilderness, try the quiz for yourself:
When I spoke with ROL Cruise, I opened up to them all about one of the reasons that I feel so strongly about getting outdoors and why I believe everyone should try to spend more time outdoors. The thing is, we live in a growingly digital world and we’re beginning to lose touch with our sense of adventure and exploration. Switching off your phone, cutting ties with the digital world and spending time exploring the great outdoors is amazing for your mental wellbeing. If I ever need a break from everyday life, a weekend outdoors always leaves me feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever the week ahead may bring. Few things are as good and getting back to basics, releasing your inner-child and exploring nature.
So, could you survive a night in the wild? Here are my top tips for wilderness survival:
Fire is Essential for Survival
Learning how to start a fire in the wild is an essential skill for survival. If you ever wind up stranded in the wilderness, you’ll be thankful you learnt how to make a fire. Of all the practical skills, being able to make a fire is probably the most useful. Fire can be used as a basic form of shelter by providing warmth, it can be used to sterilise water for drinking purposes and can even help fend off any unwanted predators or creepy crawlies.
There are many ways you can make a fire, without the help of matches or a lighter such as friction-based methods, flint and steel or using a lens to create a fire from sun glare. Be sure to brush up on your fire-starting skills so you can make sure you’re prepared if you ever wind up caught in the wilderness!
Keep your Attitude in Check
As I told ROL Cruises, my most important tip for surviving in the wild, outside of practical skills like starting a fire or building a shelter, is to keep your attitude in check.
When you’re outdoors, it can be easy to get yourself in a tricky situation especially if you’ve headed outdoors without a plan or any preparation. But those tricky, and sometimes fatal, situations can also be easily avoided if you just keep your ego in check. Despire the fear of sounding like my Mother, when you’re heading outdoors make sure you’re always careful and vigilant… and never allow yourself to become overconfident! The outdoors can be wild so it’s good to remember that and keep your senses about you as you’re exploring. If you respect that you’re in nature’s territory and don’t act cocky, you’ll probably be okay.
If you do happen find yourself in a less than ideal situation, then similarly keep your attitude in check by remaining calm instead of panicking. Although it can seem like the natural response to a dangerous situation, blind panic isn’t going to help you. So, take a deep breath, find clarity and approach things with a sense of calmness. You’ll be far more likely to find a solution to your problem with a calm mind instead of panicking and rushing to try to find the quickest way out.
Find or Build Shelter
Another practial skill you’ll be grateful for in the outdoors is knowing how to find or build a shelter. Being able to build a shelter will help you stave off wind and rain whilst helping offer protection against the cold.
When decided to build a shelter, remember to scout out the right spot… rather than just pitching up your shelter wherever you might be. Pitching your shelter on higher ground might be ideal for ensuring potential passersby can spot you whilst keeping you protected from any rain, running water or cold, damp spots on lower ground. However, if it’s windy thenyou’ll want to avoid high, exposed ground. Instead, you may want to choose a location that’s sheltered by trees so you aren’t at risk of your shelter being damaged by the wind. When choosing your location also be sure to choose the driest spot possible. Being wet is the quickest way to lose temperature so you want to make sure your shelter protects you from any rain, water or dampness.
There’s a huge variety of shelters that you can build to help you survive a night in the wilderness. The quickest, but likely the least effective, shelter you can build is a cocoon from fallen leaves and forest debris. This acts as a kind of natural sleeping bag to help you maintain body heat whilst you sleep on the ground. If you’re in somewhere that has built up rocks oran overhang, you can build a lean-to shelter by creating a wall from branches, twigs, leaves and debris to create a small space for you to lie between the wall and the overhang. Alternatively, you could build an A-frame shelter from brances and debris or if you’re caught in a snowstorm, you could dig out to create a snow cave to help keep you warm overnight.
Whatever shelter you choose to create, make sure it’s small and dry to try to prevent heat loss as much as possible.
Finding your Sense of Direction
If you’re a keen outdoorsman (or woman, of course!) then it’s likely that you’ll pre-plan your hikes and use things such as GPS, a compass and a map to help you stay on the right path. However, if for whatever reason you don’t have these items, you can still find your way without them…if you just know where to look!
The sun and stars the best navigational aid that you can use but they aren’t the only way to tell if you’re heading in the right direction or not.
One of my absolute favourite festivals to attend is the Good Life Experience festival – it’s a celebration of all things adventure and the great outdoors. One thing that I distinctly recall from my first ever trip to The Good Life Experience is from a talk given by Ben Fogle. In his talk, Ben spoke about how you can use trees to find your way. When looking at trees you might find that they are heavier or more full looking on one side than the other, this gives you a good indication of which direction the sun moves in. In the nothern hemisphere, such as here in the UK, trees will be fuller on the southern side allowing you to easily tell which way is north or south. If the tree is naked of leaves, then the direction the branches grow will also tell you this information. On the southern side, the tree branches go horizontally whereas on the northern side of the tree, the branches are more likely to grow up towards the sky in search for more light.
Of course, there are many other survival skills that are useful to know if you’re planning to spend more time outdoors, but these are my top four survival skills for the outdoors. For more skills and to read the original article by ROL Cruises, view their How to Survive in the Wilderness post.