Ever wondered what survival skills you should learn?
Well you’re in luck because I’m going to go over a list of the necessary survival skills you should be looking at learning now.
Most articles only include the very basic skills you need.
I won’t be able to include all the details in this post for every skill as the post would end up being way to long.
I will include links to where you can find more information, and to places that can help you learn these skills.
Practice what you learn so you understand and can perform when stuck in a survival situation.
Now on to the good stuff!
1. Finding Water Sources
The first survival skill to work on is being able to locate and get fresh water to drink.
This is a highly valuable skill as you need water for practically anything involving your body.
According to U.S.G.S. the human body is made of about 60% water.
Water also helps you digest food, lubricates your joints, and helps regulate your body temperature.
In normal living situations a person needs to drink about 3 liters of water per day, but in a survival situation this could be much more.
So where do you get water?
Places to get water naturally:
• Surface water, including streams, lakes, springs, ice, and snow.
• Precipitation, such as rain, snow, dew, and sleet.
• Subsurface water, such as underground springs and streams.
These are easy to find as they are visible to the naked eye, some of these sources you would want to boil the water to purify it, such as surface water and lakes.
Running water is a little safer, but boiling the water is always recommended.
Some other things to keep an eye out for while looking for water include…
- Swarming insects– insect swarms can point you towards sources of water.
- Animal Paths– “Animal trails may lead to water; the “V” formed by intersecting trails
often point toward water sources. There are typically more intersections closer to the water source.” S.E.R.E. Manual
- Bees– Bees tend to have nests within a quarter mile of their hive, if you see bees its quite possible that water is nearby.
You can also get water from many different plant sources, but be careful when selecting the plant.
Vines offer a great way to gather water
You need to check the vine to make sure its not going to harm you.
Do this by taking a knife or sharp object and nick the vine so fluid comes out.
If the liquid that comes out is milky then its best to just discard the vine and find another.
If the fluid is clear you may have just found a source of water.
Cut out a larger piece of vine and check the color again, proceed to putting some in your hand if the fluid stays clear.
Only taste the water if the fluid stays clear. If you taste sour or bitter fluid the vine is not good.
If you want to learn a ton of information on water sources and other survival information check out the S.E.R.E manual here.
2. Basic Automotive Skills
You may be wondering why this is on the survival skills list.
Its extremely important to have a basic understanding of whatever vehicle you may be using.
If your car breaks down its possible you will be stuck in a survival situation if you don’t understand how to fix it.
If you break down trying to get to your bug-out location and you can’t diagnose what’s going on with your vehicle, you will be stuck on foot.
Simple things like check fluids, checking electrical connections, and having spare fuses you can replace can help you to continue moving.
I am shocked at the number of people that don’t even know how to check there own oil.
Things that are valuable to learn-
- Fuse box location and how to read the diagrams. Also how to check that fuses are good.
- Checking battery connections and checking for corrosion.
- Checking fluids, including oil, coolant, transmission and power steering.
- Changing tires, may be a good idea to store a small floor jack in your vehicle, much safer.
- Any other basic tips to help your car get moving, like tapping the starter to get it to turn over, or tapping the fuel tank to get the fuel pump working.
There is a ton of information out there to help teach you basic automotive skills.
I would also keep some basic tools with you in your vehicle.
You can get a real basic set from most automotive stores for under 50 bucks.
Amazon has a good tool set that would be great for the car that can be seen here.
You can check out this post at homesteading.com to give you some more ideas.
You want to be able to trap small animals so you have some sort of food source.
Not only will trapping give you a food source but if you are in a colder climate you have a chance of using the animal skin to help stay warm.
Making traps is pretty easy and doesn’t require a whole lot of tools.
I have found a informative post that goes over 15 different traps that you can learn.
Check out outdoorlife.com for detailed pictures and descriptions of these various traps.
4. Fire Building
You need fire for a wide range of things including:
- drying clothes
- making tools
- water purification
Three things needed for a fire… oxygen, fuel, and heat.
When building a fire make sure to keep it smaller as a smaller fire is easy to control and requires less fuel.
Oxygen and heat are necessary to ignite a fuel source, but if the fuel source is green wood it can be difficult to ignite.
When preparing to start a fire make sure you have all the necessary materials gathered before sparking the tinder.
Fire needs a heat source to get started.
This can be matches, lighter or even using friction to create heat.
A battery can also be used to start a fire by taking two wires off the positive and negative and touching them together
This will cause a short which will heat up to the point of being able to start the tinder on fire.
Another method to starting a fire is using the friction bow method.
A good description of this method is given on the art of manliness.
This leads me into the three types of fuel for your fire: tinder, kindling, and fuel.
Tinder is necessary when attempting to start any fire, and is any object that requires little heat to get burning.
Some examples of tinder include:
- Shredded bark from certain trees-including Birch bark and Cedar
- Cotton balls and lint
- Dead plants
- Bird nest, or other animal nest
- Dry leaves
The tinder should be arranged in a way that allows for oxygen to get around it so it can flame up easier.
Kindling is larger pieces of dry wood used to help get the heat from the fire to where it can burn larger pieces of fuel.
- Dead thinly sliced pieces of dry wood
- Certain plastics, like a M.R.E. spoon
- Wood that has been soaked in flammable material-bug spray, wax, oil
- Dead, dry sticks
Fuel used for a fire is placed on after the kindling is going.
As long as you have a good hot fire your fuel doesn’t need to be completely dry.
Its a good idea to know the different types of wood so you know what will happen with the flame.
Dry split hardwood will burn hot and not produce much smoke, which is great for cooking and providing heat.
Pine will smoke unless you have a good fire going, and rotting wood is usually useless because it will smoke and smolder.
You will get the most heat from your fire if you set up a deflector.
This is easy to set up and basically just involves taking logs or rocks and setting them on the other side of your shelter to deflect the heat into your shelter.
If you plan to cook with the fire you can add two more sides to be able to place whatever you need to cook on top.
If rocks are usable I suggest them for the walls as you won’t need to worry about burning them.
I could go into a ton of more detail on fire building, but there are still more survival skills that need to be talked about!
Being able to know which direction is what can help you if you get stranded somewhere or are in a survival situation.
Its not hard finding which direction is north, and you can use different methods to figure it out.
One of these methods involves the shadows cast from the sun.
- Take a stick or branch and find some level ground to stick it in the ground. Mark the first position of the shadow cast by the stick on the ground.
- Now wait a good 10 to 15 minutes or until the shadow has moved a couple inches away from the last spot it was in. Mark this new position in the dirt.
- From here all you need to do is draw a straight line connecting the two spots. This line is your east to west line. From here you can figure out north to west by looking to see where the sun is located. The sun will rise in the east and set in the west. This also means the shadow mark will move opposite the direction of the sun, so the first mark will be west and the second will be east.
You can also figure out direction at night based on the stars.
If you want to understand how to navigate at night using stars check out Natural Navigator, although I would personally recommend not moving at night.
It is harder to navigate terrain at night, especially unfamiliar terrain.
So don’t move at night unless you absolutely have to.
I understand this is a ton of information to throw at you, but stick with me, there’s still more survival skills to learn about!
6. Mushroom Hunting and Edible Plants.
A warning before going into this section.
There are many edible plants out there that can keep you alive in a survival situation.
There are also a lot of plants that will harm or even kill you if you are wrong about the type of plant or fungus it is.
Find someone who can take you out and show you what plants can be eaten safely so that you can see firsthand what the plant looks like.
If you master the skill of what plants are edible you will be able to survive anywhere.
Some very easily identifiable plants to eat include dandelions, clover, and any grasses.
When looking for edible plants, avoid ones with these attributes:
- Bitter tastes
- Milky substance or discolored fluids
- Plants with three leaf patterns, except clover
- Anything with thorns or spines
While looking for mushrooms to eat and gather I suggest getting a mushroom hunting book, like the one pictured here.
Mushrooms that are dangerous look like ones that can be eaten, so its best to find someone who can show you what is good and what isn’t.
There are a ton of resources on what plants and mushrooms are edible, and even ways to prepare them so they taste the best.
7. Building Shelter
You should have a basic understanding of how to build an effective shelter for yourself.
Shelter is anything that protects you from the elements.
It can be a cave, pile of leaves, lean-to, tent or hole in a pile of snow.
Its always best to have a shelter that requires the least amount of energy.
Shelters are easily built with leaves and sticks.
This can provide warmth and shelter you from the weather.
You can get a very good shelter building book here.
8. Firearm Skills
If you use firearms make sure you know everything about the ones you have including:
- Cleaning and maintenance
- How to fire the weapon
- Filling your magazine with ammo
Some rules to always think about with firearms:
- Treat every weapon as if it were loaded
- Never point your weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire
- Keep your weapon on safe until you are ready to fire.
Make sure you follow these rules to keep you safe as well as not wasting ammo or shooting someone who is friendly.
I see to many people that don’t follow simple rules and end up having an unintentional discharge.
Another good thing to look into with firearms, is making your own ammo.
A good guide on making your own ammo can be found at Task and Purpose.
9. First Aid
Having a basic understanding of first aid can help keep you or anyone your with alive.
Its great to get a first aid kit and have it ready for any situation but you also need to understand how to use those items.
When looking to apply first aid to yourself or someone else make sure you assess the individual.
What type of injury do they have?
Are they bleeding, is it a broken bone, or maybe some other injury?
Then apply the appropriate procedure to help them.
You want to stop the bleeding first and foremost.
Apply pressure to the wound and elevate above the heart if possible.
Its also a good idea to know how to splint a broken bone, or apply a tourniquet.
A good book to jumpstart your first aid knowledge is the Survival Medicine Guide.
It has all the knowledge to keep yourself and others alive.
If you want to figure out a good first aid kit for your survival needs check out this post here.
10. Being Mentally Prepared
This may seem a bit silly to have on a survival skills article, but it is as important as most of these others.
You could have all the tools and training you need to survive but without the will to survive you won’t last in a survival situation.
Be aware of the stresses and mental obstacles you will need to overcome in a survival situation.
Its a high possibly that you will be on your own, having to fend for yourself without the convenience of modern stores.
You will need to be always aware of what’s going on around you.
Emotions will need to be held in check so as not to interfere with your will to survive
Fear is one of the big issues when dealing with survival.
It can be crippling, force you to make moves that could get you injured or killed.
This is why your emotions need to be in check and why you should mentally be prepared for an extreme situation.
There are still more survival skills that could be added here.
If you feel I have missed a survival skill that is important feel free to let me know in the comments below.
I plan to update this every week or so with new information as I find it.
I’d like for this to be a great resource for every prepper and survivalist to use.
Be prepared, and stay safe out there,