The 5 Major Terrain Features You Should Know

The 5 Major Terrain Features You Should Know

The 5 Major Terrain Features You Should Know


When it comes to survival situations, having a good understanding of the terrain you find yourself in can make a world of difference. Knowing the major terrain features not only allows you to navigate more effectively but also helps you make informed decisions about shelter, water sources, and potential threats. In this article, we will explore the five major terrain features that every prepper should know.

1. Mountains

Mountains are one of the most easily recognizable terrain features. They typically have steep slopes and are characterized by their height. While mountains can be incredibly beautiful, they can also present significant challenges when it comes to survival. Here are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with mountains:

– Map Reading: Before heading into mountainous terrain, familiarize yourself with topographical maps. These maps will provide valuable information about elevation, slopes, and potential hazards.

– Weather Patterns: Mountains can create their own weather patterns, meaning that conditions can change rapidly. Always be prepared for sudden weather changes and equip yourself with appropriate gear, such as waterproof clothing and sturdy hiking boots.

– Navigation: When navigating mountains, make sure to pay attention to prominent landmarks and natural features. Look for recognizable peaks, valleys, or distinctive rock formations that can serve as reference points.

– Water Sources: Mountains are often home to streams and rivers, making them reliable sources of water. However, water in mountainous areas may need to be treated before consumption, as it can be contaminated by natural elements or wildlife.

2. Valleys

While mountains may present challenges, valleys offer various advantages in a survival situation. Valleys are low-lying areas between mountains or hills, often characterized by fertile soils and a higher concentration of vegetation. Here are a few tips for navigating and utilizing valleys:

– Route Planning: Valleys can serve as excellent routes for travel. When planning your route, look for valleys that offer natural protection and easy access to essential resources like water and food.

– Shelter: Valleys can provide natural shelter from harsh weather conditions, as they tend to be more protected from wind and extreme temperatures. Look for areas with ample vegetation, as they can offer added protection and resources.

– Water Sources: Valleys are often home to streams or rivers, providing reliable access to water. When moving through a valley, be aware of potential water sources and have the necessary equipment for water treatment and filtration.

– Wildlife: Valleys tend to harbor a rich diversity of plant and animal life. Familiarize yourself with the local wildlife and how to identify potential food sources. However, always practice caution and avoid confrontations with dangerous animals.

3. Deserts

Deserts are harsh and unforgiving terrain features, characterized by hot temperatures, sparse vegetation, and limited water sources. Surviving in a desert environment requires careful planning and knowledge. Here are some key tips for navigating deserts:

– Water Conservation: In desert environments, water is a precious resource. Prioritize water conservation by reducing physical exertion during the hottest parts of the day and seeking shade whenever possible. Also, consider using techniques like evaporative cooling to stay hydrated.

– Navigation: Deserts can be disorienting due to their lack of distinctive landmarks and the mirage effect. It’s crucial to have reliable navigation tools, such as a compass and maps, to avoid getting lost. Pay attention to the position of the sun and familiarize yourself with the general direction of landmarks.

– Shelter: Protecting yourself from extreme heat during the day and cold temperatures at night is essential. Carry lightweight but effective shelter options like a reflective emergency blanket or a lightweight tent to shield yourself from the elements.

– Food Sources: While deserts may seem devoid of edible plants and wildlife, there are often hidden resources if you know where to look. Research the local desert flora and fauna to identify potential food sources. Additionally, consider carrying lightweight and high-energy snacks in your survival kit.

4. Forests

Forests are characterized by a dense concentration of trees, foliage, and diverse wildlife. While forests can provide ample resources, navigating through dense vegetation can be challenging. Here are some tips for survival in forested areas:

– Trail Marking: When moving through a forest, leave clear trail markers along your path to ensure you can find your way back or make it easier for rescuers to locate you in case of emergency. Use colored tape, reflective markers, or even natural features like rocks or broken branches.

– Fire Safety: Forests can be highly susceptible to wildfires, especially in dry seasons. If you need to start a fire for warmth or cooking, always ensure you have a safe fire pit and clear the area from any flammable debris. Keep a source of water nearby to extinguish the fire completely.

– Wildlife Awareness: Forests are home to a wide variety of wildlife, including potentially dangerous predators. Learn how to identify signs of animal presence and make noise as you move through the forest to avoid surprising or attracting wildlife.

– Edible Plants: Forests offer a wealth of edible plants, including berries, nuts, and edible fungi. However, it’s important to educate yourself on proper plant identification and local regulations regarding foraging.

5. Coastal Areas

Coastal areas bring a unique set of challenges and opportunities for survival situations. As the meeting point between land and sea, coastal areas offer access to both marine and terrestrial resources. Here are a few tips for navigating coastal terrain:

– Tides and Currents: Coastal areas are heavily influenced by tides and currents, which can have a significant impact on your ability to navigate and access resources. Familiarize yourself with tide and current charts to plan your movements accordingly.

– Fishing and Foraging: Coastal areas are rich in marine life, making fishing an excellent source of food. Learn about local regulations and the best techniques for coastal fishing. Additionally, explore the shoreline for edible plants and shellfish that can supplement your diet.

– Shelter: Coastal areas can provide natural shelter in the form of caves or rock formations. Use natural features to your advantage when setting up camp, but always be mindful of potential dangers like rising tides or unpredictable weather.

– Water Desalination: In coastal areas where freshwater sources may be limited, knowing how to desalinate seawater can be a life-saving skill. Research and practice desalination methods such as solar stills or portable desalination devices.

My 2 Cents

Understanding the major terrain features and how to navigate them is crucial for any prepper. By knowing the characteristics of mountains, valleys, deserts, forests, and coastal areas, you can make informed decisions to enhance your chances of survival. Remember to always carry navigation tools, prioritize water conservation, familiarize yourself with the local wildlife and plant life, and be prepared with appropriate gear for each terrain type. Stay safe and be prepared!