Even if your hikes/rucks are in safe areas and/or short (like day hikes), it’s still a good idea to make sure you have supplies to keep you safe and free from worrying about survival if something should happen.
Always be prepared for scenarios like having heavy weather set in, or you getting lost.
Follow these tips and you’ll be prepared.
TIP #1: FIND (OR CREATE) SHELTER
Be prepared to either find yourself a shelter and hunker down if needed.
Too many times people wander for days in the woods but could have been rescued days earlier if they would have stayed put. A small tarp is easy to load into your pack (or Survival Bugout Bag Bug Out Bag) and will pay dividends if it rains or snows.
Video – Build a One Man Shelter with a Tarp
Check out the Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Series Fire Starter
TIP #2: CLOTHING
Make sure you’re wearing the appropriate clothing for the day.
Check the weather report. Pack extra socks and a polypro top if needed. If sunny and hot, pack a hat and sunscreen. I always keep an extra wool cap in the bottom of my backpack. Don’t become a victim—prepare and be ready with a few pieces of extra gear.
Layering is always a good idea in areas where the weather can go from warm to cool or vice versa. Waterproofed jackets will keep you and your clothes dry in wet/damp weather, but can also work as emergency shelters.
TIP #3: FIRE
Always keep a fire starting device in your backpack.
It can be a lighter or book of matches you keep in a Ziploc bag. You can also pour candle wax on the match heads as another level of weatherproofing. Or you can get more beefy and add a firestick and fuel.
Either way—always have a fire starting device on any trip. If you’re in the woods and need a fuel source look to the outer edge of bark on dead trees or dried grasses. A magnesium stick and multi-tool takes up little room but is a lifesaver in the field.
Video – Firestarter with magnesium strip
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TIP #4: PACK LIGHT
The old saying goes “pack light, freeze at night”.
Not sure if you want to go to that extreme, but the point is to not weigh your pack down with useless stuff. An excessively large knife may be overkill as well as a large sleeping bag if you’re in a cold area.
Don’t just buy your pack and stuff it with gear.
Wear it on long ruck marches and make sure it not only works but it fits well.
TIP #5: WATER
Always be aware of where water is in case you may need it.
You can strain water through a bandanna and add iodine tablets to purify if needed. You may want to invest in a small Katadyn water filter if your trips are longer or you want to be ready for anything at anytime. If you’re lost in the woods always remember that water runs downhill.
Walk downhill and find a creek. Follow that creek till it intersects with a river. Eventually you will find people on that river who help you back to safety.
Video – Make a Survival Water Filter
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TIP #6: FOOD
Packing a few extra food items is never a bad choice.
I like to load up beef jerky strips and a small jar of peanut butter (high in fat). This fuel takes up a small space. If your stocking up your cabin (or longer trips) for a survival situation you may want to check out freeze dried survival foods.
TIP #7: FOOT CARE AND FIRST AID KIT
Always take care of your feet when out in the woods.
Take off your socks and wash them out in the creek or at least hang them out to dry. I like to use a wool blend sock that dries quickly.
If your boots get wet then dry them out near the fire. Carry a small kit with Bodyglide anti-chafe balm, band-aids and Neosporin ointment. If you needed you can expand into a larger medical kit. This takes up very little room but pays off in spades if your feet begin to get blistered.
Falls happen. So do scrapes and cuts. The last think you want is for infection to set in. Keep a small, but well-stocked first aid kit in your pack to make sure you have a way to clean/keep a wound protected.
This could be something as simple as a Ziploc bag with some alcohol wipes, a roll of athletic tape, a few sterile gauze pads, a small bottle of hand sanitizer and some Band-Aids. An Ace bandage can also be helpful.
TIP #8: KNOW HOW TO NAVIGATE
If you’re going out on a long hike—make sure to tell others where you’re going and time you will be back (remember Aron Ralston?)
If you’re in survival mode and trying to reach a destination then use a compass to keep you on track. Know how to use the small streams to get you back to civilization.
If you must navigate at night (too hot during day) then use the north star and your compass for a bearing.
TIP #9: WEAPONS
Carry a small firearm if you can as you don’t know what you may come up against.
You may be hiking in the high mountains with a danger or Grizzly bears or deep in the swamps and may get carted off by locals.
Video – Survival Bug out bag
If you’re unable to carry a gun, then at least have a small survival knife or mult-tool to use in your campsite area to prepare meals and general use.
TIP #10: FITNESS
Keep yourself fit and in good shape.
If you do find yourself in a survival situation you will be much more apt to make it out if you are in good shape and can hike and not get fatigued.
BONUS TIP #1: CARRY A FEW EXTRAS
I always like to have some items like duct tape (wrapped around a pencil).
A great one is to add a small survival book in the bottom of your pack as you may never know when you need it. A few fish hooks and line are a back up that take up small space but can be of value if needed.
Remember to practice with your backpack and be ready for potential situations. Load up your pack and hike. Don’t be the one that gets stuck without the small extras you will need.
QUESTIONS FROM OUR READERS
QUESTION: What would a Navy SEAL suggest on 10 survival items to have?
#1. A tarp to create shelter
#2. source of fire (magnesium fire starter).
#3. Proper clothing and extra socks.
#4. Signaling devices (mirror, flashlight, flare)
#5. Water filter and water bottles.
#6. Knife (or Leatherman multi-tool).
#7. A good backpack
#8. Weapons (a lightweight .22 rifle and small pistol).
#9. First aid kit
#10. Navigation device.
QUESTION: Do you carry gold and silver coins in your bug out bag?
ANSWER: Yes; I carry a few $20 bills and some gold and silver coins in small denominations.
I purchased these coins 2014 1 oz American Silver Eagles Coin Brilliant Uncirculated Bullion .999 Fine Silver Dollar.
QUESTION: What about small solar panels for charging up your cell phone or a small radio?
ANSWER: Yes; check out these New Generations solar panels that are much smaller and mobile. If you can’t fit these into a bug out bag at least have them at your safe house destination.
QUESTION: Do all Navy SEALs go to survival school?
ANSWER: All Navy SEALs are given some type of survival training in the area they are operating in (jungle, desert, mountain, etc.).
Special Forces Land Navigation Tips