Essential Wilderness Survival Skills: Building, Water, Navigation, Fire, Food, First Aid

Essential Wilderness Survival Skills: Building, Water, Navigation, Fire, Food, First Aid

Essential Wilderness Survival Skills


The wilderness can be a beautiful, yet unpredictable place. Whether you’re an avid hiker, camper, or just someone who enjoys spending time in nature, it’s important to have some essential survival skills under your belt. These skills can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. In this article, we’ll explore some essential wilderness survival skills that everyone should know.

1. Building a Shelter

One of the most important skills to learn in the wilderness is building a shelter. If you find yourself lost or stranded, having a shelter can protect you from the elements and provide a sense of security. Here are some tips for building a shelter:

– Look for natural features that can provide some protection, such as caves, overhangs, or fallen trees.
– If a natural shelter is not available, use materials from your surroundings to build a makeshift shelter. This can be as simple as using branches, leaves, and debris to create a lean-to or debris hut.
– Make sure your shelter is insulated from the ground to avoid losing body heat. Use materials such as pine needles, leaves, or dry grass as a bedding.

2. Finding and Purifying Water

Water is essential for survival, and finding a safe source of drinking water should be a top priority in a wilderness situation. Here are some tips for finding and purifying water:

– Look for natural sources of water, such as streams, rivers, or lakes. If you can’t find any, keep an eye out for signs of animal activity, which can indicate the presence of water.
– When collecting water, avoid stagnant sources as they may contain harmful bacteria and parasites. Instead, look for flowing water, which is generally safer.
– To purify water, there are several methods you can use, including boiling, using water purification tablets, or using a portable water filter. Boiling water for at least 5 minutes is the most effective method, as it kills all pathogens.

3. Navigation

Getting lost in the wilderness can be a scary experience, but knowing how to navigate can greatly increase your chances of finding your way back to civilization. Here are some navigation tips:

– Carry a map and compass with you at all times. Learn how to use them beforehand, as they can be lifesaving tools.
– Pay attention to landmarks and use them as reference points to orient yourself.
– If you have access to a GPS device or smartphone with a GPS app, use it to track your location and find your way back to safety.

4. Starting a Fire

Fire is not only essential for warmth but also for cooking food, purifying water, and signaling for help. Here are some tips for starting a fire:

– Gather dry tinder, such as dry leaves, pine needles, or birch bark, to use as kindling.
– Collect different sizes of fuel wood, from small twigs to larger logs, to keep the fire going.
– Use a fire starter, such as a lighter or waterproof matches, to ignite the tinder.
– Learn different fire starting techniques, such as the bow and drill method or using a flint and steel, as backup methods in case you don’t have a fire starter.

5. Finding Food

While finding food should not be your top priority in a short-term survival situation, knowing how to find edible plants and animals can be a valuable skill. Here are some tips for finding food in the wilderness:

– Learn to identify edible plants and berries in your area. Be cautious, as some plants can be poisonous. If in doubt, it’s best to avoid eating them.
– Look for signs of animal activity, such as tracks, droppings, or feathers, which can indicate the presence of potential food sources.
– Learn different hunting and trapping techniques, but make sure you comply with local hunting laws and regulations.

6. First Aid

Accidents can happen in the wilderness, so having some basic first aid knowledge is crucial. Here are some essential first aid skills to learn:

– Learn how to clean and dress wounds to prevent infection.
– Know how to treat common outdoor injuries, such as burns, sprains, and insect bites.
– Carry a basic first aid kit with essentials like bandages, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers.


Having essential wilderness survival skills can give you confidence and peace of mind when venturing into the great outdoors. While we hope you never find yourself in a survival situation, it’s important to be prepared. By learning these skills and practicing them regularly, you’ll be better equipped to handle unexpected situations and increase your chances of survival.

My 2 Cents

Remember, preparation is key when it comes to wilderness survival. Before heading out into the wilderness, always make sure to inform someone about your plans and expected return time. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the area you’ll be exploring and the potential dangers it may present. Pack a well-stocked survival kit that includes essentials like a first aid kit, a knife, and a signaling device. Lastly, stay calm and think clearly if you find yourself lost or in a survival situation. Panic only clouds your judgment and hinders your ability to make rational decisions. Stay safe and happy exploring!