Outdoor Survival Tips
By Steve Gillman
Here are some of the less-common outdoor survival tips. There
should be at least a few here that you haven't heard elsewhere.
Fire Making Tips
Finding dry tinder when it is raining is a challenge. But
a fire is especially important if you are lost in the wilderness
and wet. The solution? Start by looking under large logs, and
under leaves, for any dry grass or leaves. If there are ledges
or small caves, you can also look for pack rat nests. These will
usually have dry material ranging from grass to feathers to "fuzz"
from plants. Just pull away a part of the nest to use as a fire
A polished pop can bottom can be used to start a fire, by
concentrating the sun's rays. Any aluminum pop or beer can bottom
can be polished using a bit of chocolate, or you can experiment
with various natural substances. Once it is shiny enough, hold
the bottom of the can facing the sun and focus the rays. Move
the can to get a small point of light focused on a small pinch
of tinder (perhaps birch bark). If you don't see smoke within
ten seconds or so, the focus is probably wrong. This is not easy,
and may not be possible if the sun is too low, or the can not
polished enough, but it can work.
Old milkweed pods often have flammable fibers in them throughout
the winter. Even during rain you can find some that are dry inside.
A spark or match will easily ignite milkweed fuzz.
Eyeglasses can be used as magnifying glass to focus the sun's
rays an start a fire. Whether they will work or not depends on
the prescription (the thicker ones seem to work best), but it
is worth a try.
Other Survival Tips
If you are out in cold weather, keep batteries against your
body, or at least in you clothing. This keeps them from losing
power as quickly.
If you have to cross a stream on a slippery log, throw some
sand, grainy dirt or gravel on it first. This will provide some
If you are trying to survive in a desert, water is usually
the biggest problem. You can use your tent to help collect water.
Close up all flaps at night, and let the rain fly drape over
the tent, directly against it. This may result in some condensation
inside. If it collects in small puddles on the tent floor, you
can scoop it up or drink it directly. Otherwise, you may have
to mop up moisture with a small piece of cloth and wring out
Trout are one of the more abundant fish in the wilderness.
They often hang out where faster water dumps into pools. If you
have no gear to catch them, you can sometimes chase them into
shallows and catch them by hand (I caught at least 50 fish of
several types by hand as a child).
What if you lose or damage your shoes? Look for pine trees
that are oozing sap. Use a flat piece of wood or bark to scrape
it off, and apply it thickly to your feet. You can then glue
strips of a soft bark, like cedar, to your soles. This will provide
some protection while you walk.
Click here for the
Wilderness Survival Guide