Wilderness Survival Explained
What is Wilderness Survival?
Throughout its existence mankind has journeyed through numerous environments and lived in a variety of habitats, all of which required a fundamental set of skills in order to flourish. Primitive wilderness survival or bushcraft (different from urban survival), is the ability to utilize raw natural materials using traditional methods to stay alive, whether it be in a short term crisis or a long term situation.
The knowledge, capability, and efficiency in carrying out these activities determines whether an individual or group can survive. Learning these skills is useful in other outdoor endeavors and also builds confidence, self-esteem, and provides enjoyment and a sense of tranquility while re-connecting us to nature and our human past.
Why is it Important?
Wilderness survival is a set of skills that all are ancestors knew well because day to day lives depended on it. In our modern world, we are largely immune from needing expertise in carrying out these ancient tasks. However, there can still be instances where we need to call upon them including natural disasters, getting lost in the woods, extreme shifts in weather, accidents causing some form of incapacitation, and many other unforeseen circumstances.
Hence, it is advisable that every human have at least a rudimentary capability in the basic skills of survival to ensure their continued existence. These include the ability to:
- Build primitive shelter in different environments
- Make friction fire using various techniques
- Collect and purify water
- Create and set animal traps
- Construct survival bow and arrows
- Design fishing spears and other fish catching techniques
- Prepare food that is harvested
- Utilize primitive cooking techniques
- Make cordage from local plant species
- Craft basic wood and stone tools and implements
What the expeditions will teach you...
Initially, you will learn the key aspects of survival and how to size up a given survival scenario and what tasks to prioritize in order to make it out alive. You will also be taught strategies for handling adversity and keeping up a positive attitude if you are alone no matter what the circumstances, as well as how to work effectively in a group situation.
During the first few days of an expedition, instructors will demonstrate to you the particular activities that need to be accomplished and then assist you in developing the competence in being able to carry them out on your own. During the second part, you will be sent out either alone or in a group setting and required to survive for a number of days in the the "bush", putting into practice what you have learned from the earlier instruction (guides will be nearby in case of any emergencies or other serious contingencies).
When the expedition has finished, you will come away with a new found confidence in your abiities to handle life threatening situations that arise in wilderness settings.
Fortunately, there are many great resources available on wilderness survival, both online and in print. While a number of these are dated, because the same fundamentals apply as they did thouesands of years ago the information in them is still as relevant today as it was then. Here are some good places to start:
Survival books come in many flavors and there are so many to choose from that it is hard to know where to start. The one's below are good references that give a broad overview on all the major aspects of survival:
- Outdoor Survival Skills, a detailed and precise work that covers the necessities of survival, particularly in harsh desert environments.
- Bushcraft: Outdoor Skills and Wilderness Survival, an excellent and practical guide that focuses on survival in colder climates and in temperate forests.
- Man vs. Wild: Survival Techniques from the Most Dangerous Places on Earth, a basic but good introduction into wilderness survival with an excellent preface section on it's importance in a modern world.
- Maine Primitive Skills School, has an excellent YouTube channel showcasing a vareity of survival techniques and primitive living skills.
- Ancient Pathways, features video tutorials, articles related to all primitive survival topics, and regular blog posts with practical tips.
- Survival Mastery, is an excellent resource for wilderness survival articles as well as online courses in a variety of subjects.
- Practical Survivor, shows practical examples of how to make fire, secure food and water, and build shelters all with written explanations and photos.
The Internet is full of primitive survival blogs, video channels on YouTube, and other content. Here are a few that cover the essentials by reputable teachers: