Top 7 Essential Survival skills 

 November 10, 2020

By  Mike Millerson

Whatever happens, your survival skills and preparedness to face danger and survive is a must-have. Your knowledge and your survival skills are your tools to make the way out of any danger. You should know how to give first aid, treat dehydration, be ready for fishing to survive, know how to avoid heat and cold, etc. Read about the crucial survival skills to raise your awareness about the knowledge you need to survive.

Whether you are a new preppy or a veteran in the survivalists’ community, our concise guide on 7 basic survival skills and habits could lend you a hand in the wilderness or an emergency.

Thinking of basic survival skills and survival techniques, what comes to your mind first?

We will give you a hint: we consider crucial those basic survival skills that relate to endurance, keep you safe and sound, and lead to the quickest rescue possible. Below, we will walk you through the basic survival techniques that can save your life in any survival situations: you will learn how to face the wilderness survival, what your first aid kit should have to ensure the best first aid, how long we can cope without water and ways to purify water, too. Read on to learn more!

Survival Gear Checklist


1. Starting a Fire With No Special Tools

Do not underestimate this basic element even if you are lost somewhere in the Chihuahuan Desert heat or strolling through the Australian outback on a summer day. Bear in mind that the temperatures may range drastically in the area through the day and night. Fire provides us with at least three crucial aspects of survival, which any newbie is aware of:

  1. Heat
  2. Smoke
  3. Light

Eventually, it turns out that fire is helpful in all survival scenarios and may even save your life in an emergency. A common phenomenon called hypothermia often takes place when the body temperature falls lower than 95 F (35 C), not to mention that the soaked clothing may aggravate the survival situation. Still, if the idea of dying of hypothermia does not make you tremble, think about the parasites invading under your skin. Fire is not only a major heat source, but it is also a powerful tool to kill each one of those parasites and purify the raw meat from bacteria, not only it warms our bodies and dries the moist clothes. So, mind your body heat and kill the parasites — all at once!

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Besides, do not forget about the signal light at night and how the fire may help you install a massive signal light distinguished from a long way off. While the smoke from a fire is a good helper during the day, the light from a fire enlightens the darkness so that the wild animals stay away.

Moreover, if you are caught hungry in the wilderness, craving for a piece of smoked barbecue, here you are: smoke from your fire can be a perfect tool to smoke raw meat, a way of natural food preservation applied even by our distant ancestors. Smoke can equally prevent you from mosquito invasion, which is undoubtedly one of the worst things to happen outdoors.

Starting a fire depends mostly on your actions and the right equipment, not only on the weather; so, it can be easy as pie or hard as a rock. To ensure your preparedness, you need to have at least some of the fire-starting utensils, such as survival matches, survival lighters, and so on. You may think of wearing FireLaces which are 550 paracord bootlaces that include Ferro rods, as well. Here is a life hack straightaway: simple cotton balls and vaseline could serve as a quick and reliable fire starter. Also, find out how to start a fire with a bow drill kit fire starter.

Want to learn more? Why not watch the VIDEO Survival Frog Fire Laces Review?

Now let’s imagine what happens if you find yourself in the wilderness completely unprepared, with no survival gear at all. Sh*t happens, we see, but too soon to panic if you are aware of our natural fire starting techniques, so we kindly advise you to master it in advance.

empty canteen

2. Seeking, Finding, and Purifying Water

Do you remember how long one can go without water? If not, google is at your service.

Seeking, Finding, and Purifying Water is the first and foremost point in all unpredicted scenarios and dangerous situations. A certain amount of water is absorbed gradually but lasts continuously, providing the recovery of all forces through sufficient hydration.  In case one has forgotten, the human body consists of water up to 60%, and therefore our tissue requires permanent rehydration.

  • Water is the primary component of our blood. Oxygen and useful nutrients are transferred from our lungs and digestive tract to the body cells with water.
  • Water preserves and saturates our muscle tissue, ligaments, and joints.
  • Water supplies neurons and synapses in our brain, allowing them to operate properly.
  • The diluted electrolytes solution is responsible for electric impulses, which provide the pumping actions for our heart — and water plays a key role in this electric cocktail.

The dehydration phenomenon can be explained as a critical decrease in the amount of water supply that the human body is designed to carry in its organs and tissues. One of the common symptoms of water loss or thirst is the mouth’s dryness, as this organ is connected to the water saturation. Without the proper amount of saliva, its tissues cannot function normally. So the first sign of imbalanced hydration is this dry feeling in the mouth, which is the human condition commonly called thirst. If you are too busy to pay attention to this first sign, our body warns us with the second symptom: a mild and continuous headache. Over time it may get worse and be matched by further symptoms, such as: higher than average body temperatures, the violation of perspiration and tearing, nausea, increased heart rate, heat exhaustion, urinary output problems, the sense of prickling in the skin — up to lethargy and even death.

As in stressful conditions, dehydration occurs faster than in daily life. It is one of your primary steps to find, purifying filter, and drink water regularly when in survival situations. It’s a matter of time to master this essential survival know-how and get yourself the proper survival water filtration tools.

Sawyer Mini Water Filter

Sawyer Mini Water Filter Our team recommends the Sawyer Mini Filter small in size, and it can provide up to 100,000 GALLONS of water through a 0.1-micron filter. Its compact design and advanced filtration system support a huge variety of retrieving water methods: plus, TheSawyer Mini has hose adapters on either side. Thus, you can easily purify water, convert Sawyer to a gravity filter, or screw onto a tiny bladder or an ordinary bottle to let you filter and drink on the move. Add its small weight of only 2oz, the length of 4″ g, and keep calm each time you go off the beaten track. For this filter’s price, it’s both your little travel companion and survival kit — an optimal solution for a survival situation.

Sawyer Mini Water Filters bears Sawyer’s registered trademark, all rights reserved.

survival shelter

3. Building A Survival Shelter From Scratch

Let’s pretend we have saved enough water and managed to start a fire, but the backup won’t be soon, and the night is going to be rough. In cold weather, you probably will not pull through without a survival shelter. A simple survival shelter is not much, but a good survival shelter is totally different, with its protective capacities applicable in any disaster. No one is designed to be exposed to such hostile conditions, as freezing temperatures, heavy showers, torrid heat, high winds, massive snow, and so on, for a long while. We have already explained the warning signals and the consequences of hypothermia and dehydration. Now let us consider the key features of an optimal survival shelter.

We even have humidity level controllers in our apartments equally contributes to the importance of living conditions for such a subtle essence as a human being.

Basic Types Of Shelters

It goes without saying that when choosing a type of shelter to build, take into account the following conditions:

  • type of terrain, types of soil
  • climate
  • temperature and weather conditions (including humidity, the temperature difference, wind, and much more)
  • closeness to drinking water and other water sources
  • risk of natural disasters in the area
  • the number of people to “accommodate.”
  • estimated length of stay
  • and this is not it.

Among the most common and widespread types of shelter, there are a debris hut, a group shelter, a spider-type shelter, a sleeping-bag type of shelter, a lean-to shelter, a snow shelter, and so on.

When in an extreme environment, remember that your wilderness survival clock is ticking; that means our organism’s resistance to dehydration expires later than it does in severe weather conditions— in this case, it is a matter of hours or even less. First of all, try to learn more about the areas where you travel and check the materials’ availability in advance.

Whether it is a debris hut, a group shelter, a spider-type shelter, a lean-to shelter, or a snow shelter, it is strongly recommended to start building it before you are exhausted. A few hours are generally enough to make yourself a snow trench or a soil hut. Moreover, most of the basic items and material for your shelter can be easily found right in your backyard, so you do not have to spend half of your savings.

Needless to say, though, this shelter-building skill is recommended to practice in advance.

The TACT Bivvy Emergency Shelter

Take the knowledge of building survival shelters seriously, and in plus, consider purchasing  TACT Bivvy. The Tact Bivvy is more than a sleeping bag; it may look like at first glance; it is a quality portable personal survival shelter. Being made out of mylar and weighing almost nothing, it is based on a proven heat-trapping technology so that you always feel warm, whatever the conditions. The TACT Bivvy Emergency Shelter

Among the many sorts of survival shelters, this little emergency sleeping bagcould play a big role in your survivalist’s experience. This is just the case when two is better than one, so make sure you at least got one item in your bug out bag and one in your get home bag.




4. Mastering Survival Signaling To Help Rescue Team Find You

Generally, the rescue is highly desirable when in the wilderness unless you have willingly preferred Robinson’s way of life till the end.  Signaling is the best way of drawing attention and getting rescued as soon as possible. However, its effectiveness is doubted unless you get acquainted with the fundamental principles for effective signaling: 1) Visual contrast with the environment and 2) Intelligence of a method. While the first seems obvious, the second means that your signal should drastically differ from a natural one so that a potential rescuer should not mistake it for any natural anomaly. A trace of human intelligence should be clearly read in it. Though it may sound puzzling, in fact, there are a lot of means to achieve this. Instead of yelling and waving your hands helplessly, consider a huge bonfire, an emergency signal flare, and other simple but efficient methods.

survival medical

5. Mastering the Basic Survival Medical Skills

Sometimes in the wilderness, trouble comes double, and the survival situation aggravates when you are injured. No matter what part of your body, be it a sprained ankle or a severe wound, the cost may be too high if you don’t know how to deal with such emergencies.

Do you still have no idea how to turn a piece of paracord into a stretcher or use a belt as a makeshift bandage?

It is no exaggeration to say this knowledge is vital, so we offer you to start with.

The Survival MD Training Guidebook

It’s the only complete medical survival guide for untrained ones; its foremost advantageous side is a step-by-step program approach that does not require preparatory training. You won’t need to spend a bucket load of cash or most of your leisure time to master the terms and instructions, as it is an absolutely comprehensive and accessible handbook — your personal first aid kit in the wilderness.

survival md

You will be surprised at what a difference it makes to finally master the art of gathering, honing, and applying your medical skills and further protect your family from even the worst medical emergencies with our concise field guide.

6. Food Acquisition To Prevent Starvation 


Most of the wild area’s survival scenarios imply immediate rescue, finding water, and making a shelter – the most important benchmarks that are worth the efforts. Since we logically concluded that they are of more importance than food acquisition, we left it for the second half of our guide. However, providing a consistent amount of food supplies enough to endure as much as possible is a long-term goal equally important in the outlook. Though not being at the very top of a basic survival skills hierarchy, it is essential for future scenarios, especially the one when a pandemic has forced you away from your fellow humans and their contaminated cities, and you are planning to spend a long time in the deserted outdoors.

Purely and, how would you cope with building a shelter, seeking water, making a bonfire, and so on, when your organism has totally run out of vital forces? Once again, the need for foodstuff and nourishment is not to be overlooked.

To have a consistent notion of the food supply needed, you must first understand what sorts of nutrients your organism craves. Let us remind you that these primary nutrients are presented by carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and all of them are downright necessary to pull through and outlast. Carbs and fats are responsible for necessary energy, while protein is accountable for building and repairing muscle tissue. A particular level of fiber is also necessary to maintain your digestive system and even live longer. Vitamins and minerals are crucial elements for our organism to function properly, not to mention their impact on the immune system.

Our immune system is commonly compared to a bulletproof jacket: while the layer is sufficient, it simply pushes away diseases and infections as if they were bullets. Obviously, getting a sufficient amount of nutrients in nature is a totally different thing than buying them in a supermarket, and it will take time to find and cook them right. However, does a survivalist have many choices?

Among the products accessible in the wild site, many may serve as food sources, to name just a few: fish, edible plants (there are a lot of them among wild plants), berries, mushrooms, fungi, and even pine tree. The average man needs 2500 calories a day to maintain his weight, whereas the typical female around 2000 calories. Nevertheless, these statistics are based on a nominal level of activity and therefore are very prearranged and dependent on the individual parameters.

Usually, when in survival mode, you are:

  • building shelters
  • moving long distances over roadless terrain
  • carrying heavy gear and other basic items
  • gathering edible plants and other food
  • going small-game hunting (pro tip: learn how to make a slingshot beforehand)
  • seeking drinking water, additional resources, or outer help.

After you went through this information, it must be evident that your organism will be burning on average a thousand more calories (!).

Daily calories needs

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If the above-mentioned statistics seems not convincing enough, here are some additional data:

  • The wild game contains about 500 calories per pound.
  • Fish and seafood comprise 600-800 calories per pound.
  • Green plants fall behind, containing about 100 calories or less per pound.

If the rescue is not the actual goal, but surviving in the wilderness is, this intensive calorie burn process will make food acquisition and preparation a ceaseless struggle, equal to the permanent urge to find, purify, and store water.

You will have to come to terms with the fact that now you are a “calorie addict.” Constantly seeking calories may be compared with seeking pokemon by some teenage game addict – in other words, it will be your new full-time job. The only difference is that you are now the boss of your own life, as well as the employee, and the only one you depend on is your body and its strengths and resources.

measuring instrument

7. Planning And Navigating Your Way Back To Safety

Almost everything in any survival scenario starts with the scene of a person losing their bearings in hostile surroundings. It could be named a four-letter-word LOST. The same-named TV series instantly comes to mind (do you remember the ending, by the way?)

Is there any place left for the good news? Surprisingly, yes. Whether you are lost in the desert, dense forest, tropical island, snow-covered mountains, the condition of being lost is… correctable and improvable, though not immediately. This is what the motivation couches call “take the courage and find your way.” The only difference is that you learn these “ways” and train them outdoors, in the wilderness, and not in the office or a gym.

The critical thing a disappointed one should bear in mind is: Lost is not the best thing to happen, but it’s not hopeless. Not at all. There are usually multiple means to find the right course out of the wilderness. These ways and means are only hidden and yet to be discovered.

Now it’s just the time to remember all your role models, heroes, adventurers, supermen, and wonder women from the movies and figure out the possible ways to get you back on the beaten track as soon as possible.

Navigation is quite an underrated and insufficiently practiced skill, though.

action plan

How To Master These Basic Survival Skills

Apart from two Basic Survival Techniques, there are two things you need to do to accomplish any skill.

  1. Learn (theory)
  2. Practice

If you manage to master both of them consequently and steadily, then you will eventually master them. People usually say, “It’s not a matter of if, but when,” though this “when” is constantly postponed.

We may safely say that theory and practice are fundamentally inseparable, and one should not run counter to another. In case you learn but don’t have time or wish to practice, you may call yourself bookish though skills dumb. You might be able to teach others how to survive, but you have most of the chances to fail disastrously when put to the real test.

Pretend the opposite thing happens: you practice enough but don’t learn the theory beforehand, then you’re only fooling around. You may be a lucky beggar all your life. Still, unless you start practicing the right basic survival skills and survival techniques or become proficient in any of the seven crucial survival factors we listed today, you will not be able to trust yourself. And if you can not trust yourself, how can you expect others to trust you and lean on you?

So, your basic survival vocabulary should include at least these three essential verbs: Prepare, Adapt, and Overcome.

Remember: readiness almost equals survival. However, people tend to forget that they are still part of this natural selection process, most of them relying on the ready consumers’ philosophy and having a soft-cushions-feather-pillows way of life. Your basic survival skills are somewhat close to the animal instinct, which was so well-developed among our distant ancestors.

Vital Questions to Pose Oneself When in a

  • Another advice for the potential survivalists: whenever you find yourself too deep in the woods / arctic snow wilderness / in the heat of a desert / in the heavy showers of tropical thickets, and so on – pose yourself these yes/no questions (normally, most of the answers should coincide with those in brackets):
  • Is this a casual LOST? (No, it is not a regular non-survival situation. Yes, it might happen to anyone).
  • Am I prepared enough? (Obviously, everyone should ask it beforehand and regularly). (Yes, I can easily handle the seven basic survival skills and some techniques. No, I am not that confident. BUT: I will manage to work it out.
  • Is this a total catastrophe? (Yes — it is a crisis. No, it is not the ultimate one).
  • Am I the first human ever in such a situation? (Yes, each experience is individual. No, it has happened before, and the survivors have already shot a dozen videos on it on Youtube).
  • Among them the final one: Have you read this article attentively? (Yes, and twice at least. No, there is nothing new for me).
  • And the last pro tip: if not the whole article, browse through the above-mentioned links once again —some of them may contribute to your survival preparedness more than you actually expect.

Survival Situation


What are the 5 most important survival skills?

If to choose five out of seven, there are seeking food and purifying water, building a shelter, starting a fire, first medical aid skills, signaling.

What are good basic survival skills?

Under the notion of good survival skills, there are well-trained ones. It means those skills where theory is equally combined with practice, be it a water-purifying skill or shelter-building technique.

What are 10 things you need to survive?

Basically, one needs to know: water-seeking and purifying techniques, food-seeking and acquisition, shelter-building, signaling, survival medical skills, fire-starting skills, the basics of navigation, small -game and hunting, fishing, wild plants, and mushrooms knowledge.

How to survive in the wilderness?

Do not panic, gather your strength, start a fire, build a shelter, seek drinking water, go hunting if you do not have a consistent food supply, and apply the above-mentioned basic survival skills.

Why is survival important?

Survival is as important as much you want to proceed with your life. As times get tough, the natural selection process is activated in greater volumes.

How to practice survival skills?

To start with, read the related articles and watch survival-related videos on YouTube. The second step may be taking part in special survival group training, playing survival games with your family and kids, and practicing individual preparation basics.


Mike Millerson

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. In the core of his principal mission is a desire to be a helpful guide into the world of survival for all those who seek practical advice in the rapidly changing world.

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