The art of surviving in the wilderness without equipment is called Survival. It is not so much about the struggle for survival as it is about becoming at home in nature and using its offers. Here I tried to collect ten tips from two experienced survival experts for you on how to survive in the wild.
Survival is the art of surviving in the wilderness with virtually no equipment. Actually, that should not be a problem for us, because this wilderness, which we see today with a mixture of fear and fascination, has been our home for many millennia. Today, however, nature has become so strange to us that we can hardly imagine that we can even survive without technical help. To be able to live in nature requires two things that one could call the father and the mother of the survival: the necessary skills and the right attitude.
The art of survival
The abilities are, in short, to be able to cope in the respective environment, to procure food and water and to protect oneself from the weather and dangers. In addition to the belief in oneself and the richness of nature, the right attitude includes first and foremost trust in life and gratitude and humility of nature. It is this attitude that turns the survival into an art. Those who consider survival as a struggle will find it unnecessarily difficult.
If you want to set out on your own wilderness survival adventure, the following ten tips can help make this experience a very special one.
1. Preparation for the survival adventure
Although Survival is the art of “survival with nothing,” you should be well prepared for your first attempts. For starters, choose a woodland area that is not too big and has many forest roads and ruts. Even a forest area with a size of four square kilometers is enough to get lost so much that you can not find out more. Wear your clothes in an onion-layer system so you are prepared for any temperature. Avoid synthetic fibers as they begin to melt on contact with small sparks. Also, your equipment should include a water bottle, some nut and dried fruit snack food, and a sturdy knife with a fixed blade. If it’s your first nature experience, you should also have a sleeping bag, a tarp (sun sail) and a iso-mattress.
Do not try your first survival attempts alone, but look for at least one partner. So, on the one hand, you have someone with whom you can share your experience and, on the other hand, you can help one another in emergencies. In no case should you leave without a third person knowing about your tour and your whereabouts.
2. Know dangers
To be safe in nature, you should be aware of the possible dangers that you may encounter. Most people are afraid of wild animals when thinking of nature and wildlife. However, in German forests you do not need to worry about it. The most dangerous thing you can do here is ticks, and even those are not nearly as dangerous as their reputation suggests. Boars, which are often considered aggressive, are shy, peaceful and avoid any contact with humans. In general, when encountering wild animals: Behave calmly and respectfully, do not attack and do not run away in panic.
The bigger dangers are hunger, thirst, cold, heat and injuries. Try to protect yourself as best you can from these situations. Above all, make sure that you do not take unnecessary risks. Survival does not mean struggling as hard as possible against nature and exposing yourself to any dangerous situation you can find. Rather, it means becoming native to nature and learning to recognize and use the offerings it offers you. In the following tips we will take a closer look at the individual dangers.
3. Find food
In many Survival books is described that food is not a problem initially, because you can survive up to four weeks without food. Theoretically, this is possible, but only if you stay away from any physical exertion in those four weeks. On a survival tour, however, you need a lot of energy to find a suitable storage location, build your warehouse, procure firewood and water, and do some other tasks and challenges. In addition, your entire organism is constantly running at 100 percent because it is exposed to the weather and must be constantly vigilant. That’s why food can be one of the biggest topics on the very first day.
The best protection against hunger is to know as much as possible about nature. In Central Europe alone, there are around 1,800 different edible wild plants. If you start your tour in the fall, the chances of a wilderness dinner are especially good as the forest provides you with a variety of fruits and roots. Therefore, take on your first survival tours with you a simple determination book, or visit beforehand a basic course on edible wild plants. Never eat a plant that you do not know and that you are not 100 percent sure you can eat. Learn to know only a few plants, but you can certainly determine, as many, where you feel insecure. In animal food, insects are an easy prey for starters. Many of them are very pleasant in taste (ants, for example) and some are even considered a delicacy in some cultures.
4. Sterilize water
In addition to food, water is the second basic need that you need to satisfy in your adventure. Originally, our intestinal flora contained the same bacteria that are found in wild water, so we could safely drink it. However, we have killed most of them through our sterile lifestyle. If your intestine is confronted with these bacteria in one go, it is so overwhelmed that it reacts with diarrhea and vomiting. Never drink water from streams, rivers or lakes without first sterilizing them. Only fresh spring water is free of germs and bacteria and can be drunk without hesitation. Everything else should be boiled or otherwise sterilized. Caution: Chemical contaminants, heavy metals, toxins and hormones can not be removed from the water. So take good care that the water of your choice has not previously flowed through cities, industrial areas or agricultural land, and that no wastewater is channeled into it.
5. Choose sleeping place
So that your first night in the wilderness does not become a nightmare, you should consider a few things when choosing a place to sleep. Avoid places with high humidity. In winter, the wetness ensures that you cool down faster and in summer it attracts mosquitoes. If you do not want to build emergency shelters from leaves, coniferous forests offer themselves as storage places, since the dense needle roof ensures wind and rain protection. Make sure that there are no dead branches in the trees above you that could fall down in a storm.
6. Protection from the weather
When you have found a suitable place to sleep, you must decide how you want to protect yourself from the weather over the night. Look out for natural protection opportunities such as rocky outcrops, caves, fallen trees and the like. On dry nights, when there are no freezing temperatures, a fire is usually enough to keep warm. Alternatively, you can build a simple shelter. The simplest form is the leaf sleeping bag. To do this, put together a pile of leaves about half a meter high and twice as wide as yourself. It should be about half a meter longer than your height. In the middle of the heap, lengthwise form a hollow into which you lay down and cover yourself with the foliage to the left and right of you.
For high rainfall nights, you can build a foliage hut by roofing the pile of foliage. To do this, first build a roof structure made of a solid ridge and many branches. Then cover it with foliage as well. To make it really waterproof, the top layer of leaves must be around one and a half meters thick. To sleep, you crawl in this case with your feet first through the opening in the tabernacle. Start building the cabin soon enough, as you will need some time.
7. Make a fire
Nothing creates more cosines and comfort in the wild than a fire. It helps you prepare your food and cook your water, giving you warmth, light and security. To start a fire there are a lot of possibilities.
The most original form is the fire drill. It takes a lot of practice, but it allows you to light a fire even when you have nothing but a knife and a string (such as a shoelace). However, matches, lighters or sparks are the easier choice for starters. Always build your fire so that the first glow of very fine material can work towards more and more massive combustible material. Cilantro seeds, thistle seeds, dry ferns, dry grasses and birch bark have proven to be especially helpful tinder and cheek materials. As easily combustible wood is especially dry spruce. If it burns, you can add finger-thick branches and then turn to ever thicker wood. Be sure to clear the fire well before leaving your campsite.
8. Find orientation
Orientation is the art of always knowing where you are, where you want to go and how to get there. It is an art that can be learned as well as piano playing, math or painting. First of all, it is important to know and train some basics and techniques. Later, it becomes an intuitive skill that you do not have to think about much anymore.
First of all, there is one important fact that you should keep in mind. Everyone has a dominant leg. This means that you always move forward more with one leg than with the other. So, if you have no clue in an area and just go straight straight ahead, you’re actually going to make a circle that will eventually lead you back to your starting point. This is the reason why you can already be lost in a forest of just a few square kilometers. So always make sure to find a remote landmark to walk on, so you can really stay in the right direction. In dense forests, where there is no such landmark, you have to look for three trees in a row, where you can walk along. Whenever you reach the first of the three trees, look for a new third in extension of the other two. Also, always pay attention to landmarks such as rivers, streams, forest borders, hills, mountains, roads, lakes and gorges. All this can give you clues to your position and help you to find your way back.
9. Forecast weather
The level of difficulty of your survival adventure is directly related to the weather. Your first survival experiences should therefore be done best in late summer or early autumn. At this time you have a good chance of moderate weather conditions and can use the variety of ripe fruits at the same time. In order not to be surprised by a sudden change in the weather, you should pay attention to the signs of nature. Especially the birds can tell you much about the weather. Keep repeating the mood they sing with. If your chirping sounds no longer happy on sunny days, but rather depressed, this is a sure sign that the weather is getting worse soon. If you suddenly stop singing and if there is a strong wind, you can be sure that a heavy rain shower or a thunderstorm is imminent. However, if it starts to rain easily without changing the song of the birds, the rain will be neither strong nor long-lasting.
10. Do not let it go down
The biggest challenge you will face in survival is your own psyche. You move from the comfort of your everyday life into a completely unknown situation. As a result, you are confronted with many psychological challenges, with your own fears and weaknesses that are well displaced in civilization. At the latest when the first feeling of hunger arises, when you wake up bitten by mosquitoes, when you freeze because your fire has gone out, or when you are surprised by a rain shower in the forest, you will ask yourself the following questions: “Why the hell am I doing this ? Would not it be better to lie on my sofa with a good meal and a warm blanket at home?”
Do not be discouraged by these doubts! They are a clear sign that you are learning a lot about yourself right now. The most important miracle cure for mental depression is humor! When traveling with two or more, it is especially important that you do not pull each other down, but cheer them up and make you laugh. Our body is incredibly robust and resilient. What can really kill us in a survival situation is our own mind, which tells us we will not make it. Therefore, it is crucial not to lose the humor and a positive attitude even in difficult moments. In hindsight, it will be exactly these situations that you often think back to because they have enriched your life.
What additional survival tips do you have for me in order to survive my trekking adventure around the world. Share your experience in the comment box below.