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Outdoor Survival Tips


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 starter.

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 traction.

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 the water.

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


The Ultralight Backpacking Site | More Outdoor Survival Tips