What is Wilderness Survival ?
Wilderness survival is the ability to participate in outdoor wilderness activities and to return home in a safe and healthy condition . This of course sounds easy and in essence , it is . In today’s modern world , we spend much less time in the outdoors , but when we do , our activities have become more diversified and much more intense .
This is the product of our sedentary lifestyles , that take place mostly in crowded and cramped offices , schools and other sheltered living spaces . This sheltered , protected living is perhaps the main reason why we incur so many injuries and mishaps when we are out enjoying Nature . Bad planning and little or no preparation are the other main factors .
What are the minimum requirements ?
These 10 items are the minimum requirements to safely overnight in a wilderness emergency .
- A small , comfortable backpack … to carry the items that are a definite must , should you decide to venture into the wilds of Nature . This backpack should have comfortable shoulder straps , an adjustable hip belt and a chest strap . Side compression straps are an important inclusion to compress and shape the pack so that it fits properly and does not shift back and forth as you participate in your chosen activity .
- A tarp or piece of heavy duty plastic … approximately 3 meters x 3 meters . This piece of material can protect you from the sun , rain , snow and wind . When folded properly , it can be reduced to the size of a book and contribute to the over-all aerodynamics of your pack .
- A water bottle , nestled in a metal container … this can be a military style canteen nestled in a stainless steel cup or some type of Nalgene water bottle that fits neatly in a stainless steel or titanium container .
- A fire producing tool … such as a lighter , waterproof matches , ferrocerium rod or other method of producing high-temperature sparks capable of igniting flammable materials . Learn how to safely build a controlled fire at the beach , in the forest and in a variety of natural settings . Starting with small dry materials for tinder and then progressively increasing the size of your wooded materials . Be aware of where you build your fire so that you do not set fire to your environment .
- Sufficient clothing … to maintain proper body temperature . Always dress for the season . Extra clothing in the form of a base layer is very light to carry and can serve you well in the late night -early morning hours when temperatures drop in the bone-cold levels . This is made even worse when you awake to find that your fire has suddenly expired and your wood supply has run out .
- Now is when you will get to appreciate the value of a … headlamp . Headlamps are more user-friendly and anyone can easily see how 2 free hands are better than one . Flashlights are fine , in some circumstances , … but when working in the dark – 2 hands are always better than 1 . Don’t forget the extra batteries !
- Cutting tools … are an absolute must in this survival pack . A good quality knife and small sharpener are a must . A Folding saw and perhaps a small 1-pound ax can be included as well . A word of caution about the ax , … unless you are skilled at using tools , and even if you are , the ax , in untrained and careless hands , is the most dangerous tool in your kit . The damage that it can do with a simple glancing blow is something that should be avoided at all costs .
- This brings us to … The First Aid Kit . First Aid Training Schools such as St. John Ambulance ( in British Columbia , Canada ) and all Safety Suppliers carry excellent First Aid Kits in many sizes . Kit sizes are determined by the numbers of people in the party and the distance to a major medical facility . Your time spent taking a Level One – First Aid Course will NOT be wasted . Do yourself the favor . They are usually 1-day long and you will learn a lot from these dedicated and very knowledgeable people .
- Another important consideration is … Signalling . This refers to being able to help Search and Rescue ( SAR ) teams to locate you and your team , in the event that you do get lost or require Medical Assistance . A large , construction style garbage bag (orange-colored) is a visible target that can easily seen from above by aircraft . Modern , high-tech whistles are inexpensive and scream at ear piercing decibels . Remember 3 blasts , … signals – help , we are in danger ! The mirror on your compass or a small , unbreakable mirror can be used to flash at aircraft on a sunny day . Your fire can also be used . Placing green boughs , such as those from spruce or fir trees ,will produce a column of smoke that will be visible for miles .
- We are now left with … a map and compass . Any planned trip or excursion would have these two items . Acquiring your map early and learning about the area you will be going to is all part of planning and preparation . This map will show terrain , peaks and valleys , sources of water , rivers and creeks and Magnetic Declination . Your compass needle will always point to Magnetic North , in the Northern Hemisphere . Your map points to True North . Your map will indicate Declination in degrees East or West . This is the angle that you must use to adjust your map and compass , so that your map points to the proper direction of some landmark or other natural object . These are the map and compass basics .
A Light-weight , Comfortable and COMPLETE Survival Kit !
This small and comfortable backpack can also include Food Snacks , water , your cell phone , keys and all of your Every Day Carry (EDC) items . This backpack can easily be kept under 10 pounds and will contain all the necessary tools and equipment to ensure your safe return to civilization .
What remains now , is for you to acquire them , learn about their use and carry them with you when you set out on your wilderness adventures .
They can be carried and used when you are hiking , photographing , kayaking , fishing , hunting and prospecting for gold .
Their use and purpose is always the same and this small and very complete Survival Kit will add to your security and safety in all your outdoor adventures . This is not a complicated kit . You already have many of these items around your home .
You simply have to organize them in your small kit and carry them with you . Take the time to practice with them when you are in Nature . Soon you will have the skills to survive the wilds in comfort , should you have to spend the night .