Survival Series – Priorities for Survival 2

In the last post I asked what three items you would want if you had to survive for a week if your canoe tipped over on a camping trip.  I liked the answers that everybody gave and the reasons why you’d want the equipment you listed.  As promised here are the three items I would take and the reason for them:

The first item I would want is my survival knife.  With a good knife you can create a lot of the things you’ll need in the wild in order to survive.  Shelter, tools, and firewood can all be made or cut using your knife.

The second item would be a firesteel.  Matches and lighters would be wet after getting dunked in the water and might not work.  A firesteel will work no matter how wet it gets and I’ll need a fire as soon as possible after leaving the water this time of year.

The third item I’d want is some kind of metal water container, such as a metal canteen or water jug.  I would be able to gather water and purify it by boiling, which is the best method for making potable water.

Often times you can find things in the woods that will help you out, but it’s not a good idea to depend on finding them. 

In the last post I also talked about the need for air, shelter, water, and food using the Rule of Threes, but I didn’t give any examples of how to do these things.  So let’s talk about that for a minute.

Air is pretty self evident.  If you can’t breath you’re going to die quickly, so taking precautions such as learning to swim and wearing a life jacket is prudent if you’re going on a canoe or kayak trip.

Shelter – there are many different types of shelter you can use in the bush and for many of them you don’t even need tools to make them.  A knife or hatchet will make it a lot easier, but not totally necessary. 

For the first example of shelter let’s look at the simple lean-to.  These can be made out of natural materials right at hand in the forest.  Take some dead trees or branches laying in the forest and erect them into the classic lean-to three sided structure.  After you’ve got the structure in place take pine boughs, dead leaves, big pieces of bark, or whatever you can find to cover it to make it as rainproof as possible.  Build a fire in front of, but not too close to, the shelter and if you keep a slow fire burning all night you will survive in relative comfort.

Another type of shelter that you won’t need a fire to stay warm in is the Debris Hut.  This shelter requires a lot of leaves and other materials, but if constructed properly you will be comfortable even if it’s cold out.  Check out this Youtube video  on to make shelter from natural materials.

Water – clean water is critical to a survival situation.  There are several different ways to purify your water such as water purification tablets such as iodine, filters (I have a Katadyn), and boiling.  You can also add a little bleach to your water if you’re in a pinch. 

The safest way is by boiling.  Once you bring your water to a boil it is pure.  You may have heard that you have to boil it ten minutes in order for it to “kill all the germs”, but that is not correct.  Once you bring it to a boil it has reached temperatures necessary to kill all the bugs in it.

I have probably used the filter more than anything else and never had a problem, but it is not as safe as boiling.  I’ve used the water purification tabs on occasion, but don’t like the chemical taste it leaves; however, that’s better than a case of Giardia – a little bug that will make you wish you dead if you get it bad enough.  I’ve never had it myself, but a few good friends of mine came down with it on the Appalachian trail from drinking out of questionable water sources and were amazingly sick that night.

Food – there are many sources of food in the forest if you know where to look, but you must use extreme caution and not eat anything you can’t identify.  There are things you can eat like boiling nettles, or dandelion greens, or cat tail roots, and other things.  If you can hunt or trap there are many birds, squirrels and other small animals that you can capture and eat. 

I will delve into each one of these topics in more detail at a later date as there isn’t enough space to write about each one individually.

-Jarhead Survivor


Think it couldn’t happen to you?  Read this story:

Leave comments and tell me what you think.  What would you have done different in that situation if you were found yourself stuck?