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Wilderness Survival Guide


Why have a section about wilderness survival on a backpacking site? I would argue that it's somewhat of a related topic, but it's especially relevant to ultralight backpacking. When you know a few basic survival skills you can safely go with a tarp instead of a tent, use a lighter sleeping bag, and bring less food. In other words, you can substitute skills for weight, and still be as safe in the wild.

The U.S. Army Survival Manual uses the word survival as a memory device to get the important principles firmly in your thinking:

S - Size Up The Situation (Your condition, tools, surroundings)
U - Use All Your Senses, Undue Haste Makes Waste
R -Remember Where You Are
V - Vanquish Fear and Panic
I - Improvise
V - Value Living
A - Act Like the Natives
L - Live by your Wits, But for Now, Learn Basic Skills

You may not be able to "vanquish fear," but that's okay. Panic, on the other hand, is not okay, so vanquish that at least.

To "value living" seems a given, but many people in survival situations get discouraged and lose the will to live. There are ways to regain it. They include talking about the future, if you are with others, and imagining the people you love that are waiting for you.

"Act like the natives" in a wilderness context can mean watching what animals do. They're not a safe guide to what to eat, by the way. However, you can follow their lead when you see birds settle down before a storm and small mammals burrow under leaves to stay warm.

"Living by your wits" certainly works better when you know some basic survival skills. You can start learning using the links below. I borrow heavily from the U.S. Army Survival Manual for many of the pages. Note: Although the principles are the same wherever you are in the world, this wilderness survival guide is meant for survival in North America.

 Steve's Notes: All the pages that are adapted from the U.S. Amy Survival Manual will have these little yellow boxes, with my own experiences, tips and comments.

How to Make a Fire from Urine - I saw this one on the show Dual Survival.
Two Basic Survival Strategies - Tp stay put or start moving?

Wilderness Survival - Psychology
Wilderness Survival - Planning
Wilderness Survival - Medicine
Medical Emergencies
Medical Emergencies - Part Two
Medical Emergencies - Part Three
Survival Shelters
Wilderness Survival - Water
Building Fires
Survival Food
Survival Food - Part Two: Traps and Snares
Survival Food - Part Three: Squirrel Poles and Deadfalls
Survival Food - Part Four: Rabbit Sticks Spears and Slings
Survival Food - Part Five: Fishing Devices
Survival Food - Part Six: Snakes, Birds, Butchering Game
Survival Use of Plants
Survival Use of Plants - Part Two
Edible Wild Plants for Backpackers
Edible Wild Berries
Medicine Plants
Miscellaneous Plant Uses
Desert Survival
Desert Survival - Part Two
Dangerous Animals
Poisonous Plants
Cold Weather Survival
Basic Principles of Cold Weather Survival
Cold Weather Survival Hygiene
Cold Weather Medical Problems
High Altitude Brain Damage
Cold Weather Survival Shelters
Arctic Survival Foods
Fire Starting In Cold Weather
Other Cold Weather Survival Concerns
Cold Weather Survival - Water
Survival Tools
Survival Cordage and Lashings
Survival Utensils for Eating And Cooking
Survival Clothing
Making a Backpack
Survival Weapons
Survival Knives
Throwing Sticks
Making a Bow and Arrow
Survival Spears
Wilderness Survival Hunting
Wilderness Direction-Finding
Wilderness Survival - Signaling Techniques
Signaling Techniques - Part Two
Ten Wilderness Survival Backpacking Tips
Staying Warm - Some Tips
Wilderness Survival Kits
50 pages on Edible and Useful Plants
Making a Fire Without Matches
Survival Shelter - Think!
More Outdoor Survival Tips
Three-Day Wilderness Survival Techniques
Wilderness Survival Shelters - Ten Tips
Survival Techniques and Tips


The Ultralight Backpacking Site | Wilderness Survival Guide