The 10 Commandments of Wilderness Survival


There is no excuse for not being prepared in the wilderness. Whether you’re off riding your ATV, fishing, hunting or hiking, have a plan, and the skills for survival are vital. While this might not be an official checklist by a certified outdoor survivalist (whatever that means) this is our list of 10 survival commandments. We actually thought of calling it 11 commandments, but that really doesn’t have the same ring to it, you know? But if we did, the 11th commandment would be to carry a survival kit, which if prepared correctly will encompass the 10 tips below:

1. Communicate

Don’t just go out anywhere without telling somebody where you are going and when you plan to return. And if you change your plans, make sure somebody knows you have. Also, maintain a means of communication while out in the field, with back up methods as well. So don’t just rely on a cell phone; carry a signal mirror, flares and other communication devices.

2. Remain calm

Seriously, while this is not a thing that can be put in the survival kit, your kit itself should facilitate this. There is no reason to get panicky out there because as soon as you’re done freaking out and shouting about what you’re going to do you’ll be right back where you started, which is very likely a bad situation. So keep your head and think through your steps. Understand the situation and devise ways to address it.

3. Keep an inventory

It does no good to have gear if you don’t know where it is or even what it is. Know what you have, be deliberate about what you take along and know how each item can help you. A plastic bag, for example, can not only carry water, it can keep things dry and even be used to make a solar still. So, keep a good inventory and know how to use the stuff you brought.

4. Know how to build a shelter

Carry in your kit some line, such as 550 cord, and a good knife or a small hatchet. Do not take it lightly.

5. Find water

We could also include having water in this one. Knowing where water is and how to be able to drink it is key. Low spots in ravines are good spots for wet ground, and keeping iodine tablets or the means to boil water is key. As a rule, if a pool of water has tadpoles or other little creatures in it, it can be used after some preparation for human consumption.

6. Food

Keeping fed is important for stamina and alertness in the wilderness. Bring enough food for a good couple days, and beyond that, know ways to find food. Snare traps can work, and so can fishing. Keep items in your survival kit with which you can fashion traps and fishing tools. An obvious item to include are fish hooks and some line.

7. Making fire

Storm proof matches are just like little road flares. They’ll light in a hail storm. Get some of these and keep enough fire starting material in your kit. Tea light candles work well for this. Barring having effective fire starting gear, knowing how to strike flint or use a lens are good skills to have.

8. Carrying a tool

This can be a pocket knife, a multiplier or a folding shovel. Something you can use for any number of emergency tasks is important. Tools are good.

9. Signaling for help

Three fires in a ring is a standard signal, not to mention a good way to keep warm. One large fire heats inefficiently, and could be dismissed as just another camp fire, but three fires is understood as a “Hey, I’m out here and I need help!” signal. Anything reflective is also good. A proper signal mirror, and the know how to use it is ideal.

10. Navigation

There is no reason you should not have a compass with you, and certainly no excuse not to have a map of the area. These two tools could help you avoid all the other hassles in the first place.