34 Best Survival Hacks You Should Learn Right Now

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Nowadays, people who take an interest in surviving techniques can learn a lot about survival hacks from tons of resources. It can be challenging to get to scan all the pages to find out the most relevant info there is. We did that for you in this article: we compiled the most exciting hacks that will help you stay alive in any survival situation. Read on, and you will learn about how to use paracord, duct tape, tin, and foil to survive. You will find out about must-have items of survival gear, the use of antibiotics and alcohol for survival, and discover how to make anything DIY, from a battery and knife to a stove, hunting and fishing appliances that will increase your chances of survival. Read on.

Are you the person who does everything by the book or someone who is up to no good and always looking for a shortcut? Sure, no single person is a 100% one type of the aforementioned, especially a survivalist. The best preppers know that you should not rely on a single resource. That is why they know the book’s rules, get acquainted with the thumb rules, and never stop improvising. Sharp mind, fast-thinking, openness, and fearlessness are the qualities that are badly needed when it comes to survival.

By accumulating these 34 survival hacks, which I have collected from other preppers or learned from my own experience, your mind will be as fast and creative as McGyver’s. But remember that there is no single solution to a problem. So, explore the improvisation and come up with your own survival hacks for any goal with as random stuff at hand as possible.

Indeed, the list of survival bypasses is infinite. Either way, they will come in handy in any survival scenario, and I hope they will inspire you to get your survival thinking into creative mode. And awhile later, you will be a Creek Stewart yourself.

Simple Hacks

We will start with fire starters, continue with light sources, and end with a few more complicated hacks…

1. Battery

One more way to start a fire is to get a tin foil and a battery, and any battery will do. You can buy a pack of standard AA-batteries in a store. All you have to do is place the tin foil so that one end of it touches the battery’s negative and the other one – the positive. When done, the foil heats up, giving you a two-second flame, which is enough to set some other thing on fire like paper, dry tree bark, or the aforementioned alcohol swabs.

2. Pencil

Another survival hack to get a fire is to use a simple object we used to have in our hands every day during school days – a pencil – plus a few other things such as a jumper cable and a battery.

First, you have to skin your pencil from the wood from one side, so you can see the graphite core, the thing that conducts electricity. Second, clip one ends of the jumper cables to your car battery and the other ends to a pencil. Then the flow of electricity will make the graphite heat up and burst into flames.

3. Crisco Candles

Fire is often the essential thing and electricity to run light sources, such as LED-light flashes. In this case, old technologies come to the scene – candles may shine a light on your future life. The problem is in modern times, we have already forgotten what a wax candle is. Crisco is a safe substitute for a wax candle. All you need is a Crisco can, a wick, or a string with a paper clip. Make sure that you set the wick way down to the bottom of the can, put it on fire, and a fresh candle is at your disposal.

4. Alcohol Swabs

Another thing that I like to keep in my survival kit is flammable alcohol swabs. The alcohol helps the cotton ball to catch fire quickly, but the fire lasts much longer. That is what makes them a great addition to your fire starter kit.

5. Crayon Candles

I’m sure you have never thought of this children’s art supply as a thing that may help in times of an emergency. A box of 96 crayons can help you get by through the entire day and night since the estimated life-time of a lit crayon is around 15 minutes. Crayons are the best material for an emergency candle: they are quite stable and do not fall if you place them standing as well as they can be easily lit on fire.

6. Coke Can

Soda or Coke can jet stoves are perfect portable cooking devices. You just cut the top of the can and place it upside down, drill a few holes for the airflow and light the fuel under the can.

7. Wild Plants For Insect Repellant

Flame and smoke are good ways to keep your away from insect bites. But wild plants can also play a vital role in preventing you get skin rashes. Just check the video below to get solid proof of that.

8. Super Glue Stitches

Super glue is a good substitute for a suture kit when you need to close an open wound not to get infections. But you have to be fast and tie the ends of the wound together before the glue dries.

9. Improvised Slings

Mothers usually carry young kids in slings. You can actually use it to carry any other items as a substitute or addition to your backpack. Any piece of clothing can serve as a sling. One of the hardest survival skills, in this case, is getting used to tieing it around your body.

10. Terra Cotta Heaters

Feeling cold, but there is no fireplace and no electric heat in the room? Do not worry. A few terra cotta pots bought in any garden store can heat the space with wax candles’ help. All you have to do is turn the pots upside down and place a few lit candles underneath. Usually, the heat from candles goes up and vanishes into thin air, while in the case when candles are covered, the heat is getting absorbed by the clay walls and then emitted. Two big pots with thick walls are enough to warm up the living facility for a few hours in no time.

11. Key Arrow

You can shape your key to be a crude broadhead. Good if you have one in your pocket.

12. Can as a Fishing Hook

Any items would come in handy in the wilderness, even the tags on top of the cans. You have to make it sharper by getting rid of the top part and pushing the side parts together. Some people have these can tops be clipped to the zips on the backpack.

Even guitar picks can serve as a fishing hook. You make a hole in the guitar pick and sharpen it a bit.

13. Fishing Hook

This is one of the oldest tips that have been used for a long time to catch fish. All you need is a small stick with two sharp ends and a hole for the string in the middle of it. You put the bait onto either sharp end and throw the hook into the lake or river. When the time comes, pull the string, and the other stick will lodge in the fish’s throat.

14. Bottle Fish Trap

The basic idea for any fishing trip is for fish to swim inside and get stuck. For this, you will need to cut the bottle into two uneven pieces and put the smaller part with the cap into the bottle, which you tie with a string to open up later.

15. Duct Tape Fletching

Fletching is the feathery tail of your arrow that gives it accuracy and keeps it steady during flight.

Duct tape is a perfect material when you are making your own arrows. When there is no time to balance the arrows the other way, duct tape comes in handy. Just cut a half leaf formed pieces of duct tape and glued each piece to the side of a wooden part. Duct tape is stable enough to last long.

16. Sewing Kit

This option is not valid for all the United States parts, but it is good to add to your tips collection.

Sometimes, you get your clothes ripped in the woods, and not all the people have a needle and a thread in their survival kits. For this purpose Yucca plant comes in handy, it belongs to a family of plants with thinks leaves with needles.

The hack is the following you take a leaf of the plant and skin it from the needles until all you have is the barb and a single strip, which you cut in two, and your sewing kit is ready.

17. Bottle Ceiling Lights

Get a full transparent water bottle and place it in the hole of your improvised shelter’s roof. Physics will make its work allowing the incident light to disperse within the bottle and adding light to the darkest corners of your shelter.

18. Custom Compass

This is an ancient hack that saved a lot of humans over the centuries. All you have to do is to find a still body of water and lay a leaf with a sewing needle on top in the center of it. While it floats, the Earth’s magnetic fields will orient the needle to point North/South.

19. Water Jug Lamp

Glass containers easily magnify light when filled with water, even for a half, thanks to the difference in refractive indexes. If you wrap it up with a headlamp, then you will have more light.

20. Tarp for Rain Collection

This hack helps to collect drinkable water with ease and fast. You need a tarp and something bigger than just a bottle or your hands to collect a lot of water when the weather starts to get worse.

21. Bullet casing as a whistle

A survival whistle is a perfect item to send signals or scare wild animals. If you make a few cuts on a bullet casing, then your whistle is going to be as loud as thunder and heard anywhere in the woods.

22. Toilet Paper Warrior

I am sure that soaking wet toilet paper is worse than having no paper at all. For keeping it dry, my favorites are ziplock bags and a coffee can.

23. Condom Canteen

Condoms are good not only for getting you out of parenthood but also for preventing your death from thirst. They serve as perfect water containers if there is no water bottle at hand. Make sure, though, that the condom is new and comes with no flavors or lube. It is for sure a good idea to always keep a condom in your pocket or a backpack just in case of an emergency.

24. Reflective Signals

Need to send a distress signal but left with no LED-flashlight? Then anything from reflective materials such as CD’s, jewelry can serve this purpose. The bigger the surface, the easier it is for you to catch a light and send it into the air or a specific dot on the location.

25. Tarp Shelter

The hardest thing to come by is a shelter that saves you from any harsh weather and animals in the wilderness.

With a survival tarp, you can make sure your shelter will be dry and protected, but you will not stay warm for long since tarps are not good at insulation. Cover your improvised survival shelter with the tarp and pile dirt, snow, and vegetation against the sides of the tarp. This way, the heat will not get away too quickly.

Do you want to get an Aqua Defender King Camo Tarp? Then watch this video to learn where you can do so.

Complex Survival Hacks

26. Raft

If you happen to have a big empty plastic container, you are in luck – your raft is ready. Empty plastic floats amazingly well, and it does not matter what size it is. Just a few water bottles together with a duck tape or a wire and your own single-person boat is ready to get you across the watershed.

This trick I picked up from the movie Jaws, no jokes!

27. Bike Tire Bow

I recommend watching the video below to get an overview of methods used to get the bow from a bike tire. Though, all of them use the same idea: you cut the bike wheel frame in half, get the spokes out and sand down the sharp edges, and then you put a string between the eyelets along the cut rim of the wheel.

28. Seat With Comfort

Even in difficult situations, you need some comfort to keep your mind sharp and your body well-rested. A chair made from a branch tripod and a blanket can serve as a nice resting point and keep you warm in the cold weather.

29. Custom Penicillin

Alexander Flemming was a discoverer of the first drug that was useful against bacterial infections, or as we call it today – an antibiotic. That one had a special name – penicillin.

Before antibiotics were put into use, a small infected cut could cost a life for its careless owner. And in survival situations, especially in the woods, such cuts are quite common due to a lack of fresh, clean water to rinse it right away or a simple band-aid.

Luckily, you can grow your own penicillin, but it requires time and carefulness to the procedure’s details. So better plan ahead of the process of growing your own survival antibiotics.

30. Coffee Can Stove

Coffee can ignite you, and coffee cans can work as portable rocket stoves for cooking outdoors. You will have to put the metal coffee can on the ground with the neck down and cut a few holes for ventilation. Cut a window in the can wall. It is the place where you will put the wood in.

It is as simple as it is. Just keep the fire cracking, the flame rising, get your cooking going, and keep warm near these small heat generators.

31. Smoke Bomb

Ping-Pong balls are easily set on fire and burn for a long period of time. That means that they can make a quite dynamic smoke bomb with just a tin foil wrap and a hole for air.

You have to set the plastic ball on fire and wait till the smoke starts going off the air hole. Your bomb is ready to go. You can use a bra cup as a ling to throw the bomb away.

32. Periphery Alarms

Survival is all about setting your borders and securing them from intruders, be it human violators or wild animals. The simplest periphery alarm is a triggering device fixed with a string ready to fire when the trespassers trig the wire. You have to hear it even if you are snoring in the middle of the sleep deep phase, so air horns or firecrackers will do just fine.

We recommend Sentry Alarm Mines as a periphery system that blasts off the .22 round that can be heard in a few miles radius if someone is violating your borders.

33. Tire Out of the Grass

Anything can happen on the road, and you have to be ready for it. But one of the most common road mishaps is a flat tire, just when you do not have a spare one or a patching kit. Especially if you are stuck in the middle of nowhere, chances are no pit stop or car service is nearby. Then grass comes for help.

All you have to do is to stuff the tire with vegetation through some more holes. This way, you will get the tire going faster, and the grass will be evenly distributed inside it. Sure, you will need to get a new one as soon as you reach the nearest stop pit. Use this hack only if there are no options left.

The Bottom Line

As you might have guessed, when it comes to survival, there are no rights and wrongs. Every one of us chooses a different path to be safe and sound with a unique set of hacks and a certain style. In my opinion, it is vital to develop your own style and come up with a few unique survival tricks. This way, in a survival situation, you would act naturally and with no hesitation, trying to remember the teacher’s words or steps described in a survivalist book.

Any good survivalist tries out new knacks when he is willing to stay alive, even if he has a small number of materials at hand.

Are you ready to become a teacher? Then share your own hacks and survival skills in the comments below.


Why is survival gear important?

Survival gear is meant to keep you alive in an emergency. It usually includes everything any survivalist should have when they are left alone in a survival situation. When you have some essential things to prolong your stay anywhere, your chances of survival greatly enhance.

How to practice survival?

Survival is a skill that can be mastered via simulating dangerous situations while you are on a camping trip if you like the adrenaline rushing through your veins or just by practicing any survival tricks you can find on the internet.

Why are survival hacks important?

A survival hack is a skill that may save your life when a decision has to be made in a split second. These hacks help you to achieve a certain survival goal faster and with such a random variety of things at hand as possible. You never know what might get you through the survival situation.

What are the top 5 wilderness survival hacks?

Common sense tells me that the top 5 should include hacks on keeping you warm, getting the food faster, mending torn clothes and open wounds, as well as building a shelter.

What are the top 5 urban survival hacks?

A good and number 1 life-hack for any urbanist is to get from the city once in a while to get your mind refreshed. Be ready for muggers, so knowing basic fighting moves and how to hold your key can give you an advantage. But to be honest, we do not face much danger in the cities.


A former USA Army sergeant and a highly educated survivalist and prepper with a degree and interest in Engineering and Electronics, Mike Millerson applies his extensive expertise in survivalism, homesteading, backpacking, hiking and hunting, spreading his deep knowledge about handling emergencies and prepping for them reasonably and effectively.




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