Survival tips to survive in the wild
Surviving in the mountains or even in the wild is a skill that all daring globe-trotting adventurers should know how to do. But sometimes we all need a reminder on how. Surviving is not just about eating your own toe nails and dodging your mother in law Check out our list of top 10 survival tips from our very own expert of insane wilderness circumstances, Captain Chaos, aka, Darren MacDonald.
Besides surviving on some hectic Himalayan peaks, rock climbing and diving in shark infested waters, Darren also has a passion for sharing his knowledge on adventure. I was lucky enough to spend 4 days on a Drakensberg hike with him and cam e back with some invaluable information on how to survive in the wild.
1. Water is the key to survival
The lack of water is the first thing that will kill you. The human body cannot survive for more than 3 days without water. And dehydration is something that sneaks upon you. Your first priority in a survival situation is to find water. And beggars cannot be choosers in this situation. If the only water available is a small muddy pool of rancid water then that is what you have to drink.
Make use of whatever materials you have available to make the water a tad more palatable (like filtering the water through a smelly sweat infested hiking sock for example) but at the end of the day a little bit of bacteria and germs is a far better option than dying of thirst. Of course if water is nowhere to be found then you can pull a Bear Grylls and try a bottle of Chateaux le Kidney. Pee will give you the hydration you need but will only buy you a few hours. Some of the best ways to find water is to head downhill or even follow converging animal tracks. Of course there are also various other methods like covering a hole with plastic but that may not give you the necessary quantity to survive.
2. Seek shelter from the elements
Surviving in the wilderness doesn’t just come in the guise of thirst and dehydration. Depending on the situation you find yourself in, seeking or making a shelter from the elements is your next priority. Rain in a bitterly cold environment can bring on hypothermia within minutes. Blazing sun can cause heatstroke and speed up the effects of dehydration.
Your mother in law howling in your ear can cause severe headaches and vomiting. You get the picture. In order to survive you are going to have to get out of these harsh elements quickly. Sometimes you can make use of natural formations like caves but in certain circumstances you may have to build your own shelter from whatever you can find.
3. Find food
So you have water and shelter. What is next on Maslow’s Survival Hierarchy of needs? Well of course, finding food. Although humans can survive for relatively long periods without food it is still crucial in a survival situation. Food serves 2 purposes. It creates energy which of course aids in producing body warmth in cold environments. It also gives us the energy to be able to walk or seek help to get you out of the pickle you found yourself in.
Now when it comes to food there are various options. Don’t just start eating everything you find. There are some seriously poisonous things out there, from berries to toads. So the rule of thumb should be that if you are not sure…do not eat. As hungry as you are, rather take the chance of waiting. Also try not to eat your own arm as you might need that to fend of wild lions. Snares are pretty effective in catching animals for food. It may be a good idea to brush up on your snare making capabilities before putting yourself in a remote area.
4. Be able to determine direction
So of course you had your trusty GPS packed but it stomped on by a rabid baboon and now you find yourself lost in the mountains. What to do? Well if you have made the decision to walk yourself out of the situation you are going to be able to determine your direction. Otherwise you are going to be walking around in circles. The best way to do that is to find north. And how do you do that you may ask? There are a couple of options in this regard depending on the situation. One of the most effective ways is the ‘stick’ method.
Place a stick in the ground and where the shadow cast by the sun ends, mark it with a stone. This is your west axis. Then wait for the sun to move across the sky. After about half an hour, mark the ground where the shadow now ends. That is the East Axis. Then its simple process of drawing a line between the two stones that determine your East/West Axis making it easy to find North. A pretty rough way finding north but alas, it is all you have. Provided there is sun of course.
5. Make a fire with your cell phone
Sometimes the need to make a fire is crucial-Either for warmth or to cook food or fend of wild animals. Obviously there will need to be wood and the right natural materials available to burn. The last time we looked, snow was a tad difficult to ignite. And let’s say you do find the wood and kindling but of course you forgot your matches. What other way can you start a fire? Well there is your precious cell phone. But only to use as a last resort which in this case is when it has gone flat and there is no chance of phoning the rescue party.
What you need to do. Stab the cell phone with a knife. It creates a huge amount of sparks. And guess what? Sparks on dry kindling=fire. Easy peasy.
6. Have a sense of humour
It may not seem like it but having a sense of humor is crucial in any survival situation. When you are cold, thirsty and hungry it is easy to fall into a web of despair. A good sense of humor uplifts your spirit and distracts you from the doom and gloom which can sometimes deter you from focusing on the solutions. Again, easier said than done.
7. Not getting lost is the best policy
One of the best pieces of advice we can give you is not get lost.