Nobody knows survival better than military forces, which is why it’s always a good idea to turn to them for advice on this matter. However, we don’t all need to be professionals when it comes to life in the wilderness, but essential skillset is important if you want to survive on the long run. There are many aspects to finding your way back to safety when you get lost, and I will cover basic ones you really should know at all times, you never know when they could come in handy. I’ve chosen five basic military survival skills that are a must, and when you master them, you can move on to some more complex ones that will bring you closer to being a survival expert. For now, let’s cover the 101 section.
5 Basic Military Survival Skills
1. Navigate Your Way
This is probably the most important skill to have, though it’s just as hard to survive without other ones I will mention. One of the first survival tips I like to give to everyone is – Find a way out of the prickly situation as soon as possible. Thankfully, our lives have been made much easier by the wide use of GPS and the fact we take our phones to bed with us, so sometimes your smartphone will be your best friend to finding a way back to where you started. Unfortunately, this only works while you’re in range and after that, you’re on your own. For that reason, it would be wise to always carry a map and a compass with you at all times, and naturally, you need to know how to read different kinds of maps and find your way with using a compass. Also, it’s important to know how to identify terrain features correctly, so that you don’t run in circles.
2. Finding a Place to Build a Shelter
If you realize that you’ll have to stay in the wild for the night, it is essential to find the right spot for building a shelter. The very first rule when it comes to finding a “campsite” is that it should be positioned on high ground and it should be as dry as possible. In some circumstances, this will be easy to handle, in others, not so much. When you stay in lower areas, you risk being found by wildlife easier, not to mention the possibility of flash floods, which are a scary experience that could cost you your life. If you can find an unoccupied cave, then that is your best option, as you’re protected from the elements and from sight, not to mention that you’ll get warm more easily. If you have to build a shelter, a simple lean-on will do the trick and if you’re deep in snow, then snow caves could save your life. Another important tip – make sure to insulate yourself from the ground, unless you want to risk hypothermia.
3. Finding Food
When someone mentions getting lost in the wilderness, most people think of starving to death, which is a valid fear, especially if you don’t know what you can and can’t do. There are many ways to secure your survival when it comes to nourishment – bring some non-perishable food supplies wherever you go and an emergency food kit is also a good idea. If however, you’re not lucky enough to have your backpack with you when you get lost, then work on memorizing plants that you can eat in the wild because that can save your life. Don’t go around running after animals and wasting your energy, plants will give you strength as long as you know which ones to eat and you can also go for smaller animals that aren’t that hard to catch.
4. Finding Water
Water is one of your utmost priorities, no questions asked. Always bear in mind that you can survive without food much longer than you can survive without water, which is why it’s a good idea to build your shelter close to a water source. Carrying a canteen with you should become a habit when you’re in nature. You should pay attention to where you’re finding water because some of the spots can be badly polluted. When it comes to water, dew, rain, and snow are your safest resources, seeing they’re purified and ready to drink, but for any other type of water you come across, boiling it is a must to get rid of potentially harmful bacteria, though not even boiling does the trick always. Running water is a better option to still water in puddles, but even if it looks clean, you should still purify it, just to be sure.
5. Keep Your Head On
You might be thinking this is not a skill, but once you’re all alone on unfamiliar ground with no one around for miles, not panicking will be a feat. Keeping it together will require a lot of strength and calm nerves on your behalf, but it’s vital that you do it if you want to get out of the situation alive. You need your thoughts in order to come up with a plan of action and when that adrenaline rush kicks in (which it will), put it to good use and decide what is most important to do in this moment – find shelter, find food and water, build a fire, try not to freak out during the night, sounds simple enough, right? To survive in the wild, it is paramount to be aware of your surroundings as much as possible and how you affect them, so that you’re able to react well when something unexpected happens. – Howard Scalia
Guest Writer – Howard Scalia is 37-year-old former scout leader from Austin, Texas, and one of the best and most trusted blog writers at Pro Survivalist. When he’s not working on some new interesting article, he enjoys taking long walks in the woods with his dogs.