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8 Outdoor Survival Tactics You Need to Master NOW

8 Outdoor Survival Tactics You Need to Master NOW post image

Think you know how to survive in the wilderness? Sorry to break it to you, but going camping or hunting a few times, or getting some badges in the Boy Scouts doesn’t mean you are ready to SURVIVE. Here are the 8 outdoor survival tactics you need to master now if you want to come out alive.

How to Find Water

When you go camping, you need to carry water with you. But what would you do if you ran out of water?

The first thing you need to learn is how to find water. Ideally, you would have a map packed into your wilderness survival bag so you could find a water source. If not, then you better know some tricks – like dragging a cloth on the ground behind you to absorb dew and water which can be squeezed out.

And once you do find water, how can you be sure it is safe to drink?  Even the cleanest-looking streams and rivers usually have bacteria, viruses, and parasites in them. So you will also need to master the survival tactic of purifying water – which can be done multiple ways. You can:

  • Make sure you put purification tablets in your survival pack
  • Put a camping water filter in your survival pack (won’t remove viruses though)
  • Boil the water for 10 minutes before consuming (works for bacteria and viruses)
  • Learn to make a DIY water filter out of sand and charcoal

Making a shelter

Survival course student tries out a brush shelter.

A prepared person would have a tent and sleeping bag in their Bug Out Bag. But what if you get caught in the wilderness without a tent? Would you know how to make a survival shelter? This is by far one of the most important outdoor survival tactics to learn. Practice making different types of shelters, such as debris shelters, tarp shelters, teepees, A frame shelters, and 90 degree shelters.

Starting a Fire

While other parents were telling their kids not to play with matches, my dad was teaching me how to make a fire. That’s because he knew what an important survival skill this is to have.

You probably know how to make a fire by making a teepee out of dry sticks and lighting a bit of paper underneath. But what if it just rained – how will you find dry kindling? Or how about making a fire in the snow? Or what about in the dessert where there are no sticks?

If you can’t answer how you’d go these things, then you better master the fire making skill NOW!

Read how to make a fire without matches here.

Vegetation Recognition

You are in the woods and go to take a dump. Since your survival kit is all out of toilet paper, you grab a handful of leaves. Little did you know that those leaves were actually stinging nettles, and now you’ve got an itchy painful rash on your rear to deal with!

This is just one example of why it is so important to be able to recognize local plants in your area. The other obvious reason is that a lot of plants are edible (including stinging nettles). It is a lot easier to master the edible wild plants guide than it is to master the art of hunting with nothing but a snare line and survival knife!

Acquiring Food

This survival tactic goes along with the one above, because a lot of plants in nature are edible. Since it is hard to identify every single plant in the wild, I recommend learning the Universal Edibility test, which has you put a small piece of unknown plant first on your lips, and then in your mouth, and then finally eating a small bit. This method takes time, but will allow you to forage food.

You’ll also want to master some basic hunting tactics for outdoor survival. I don’t expect you to be able to kill a deer with a homemade bow and arrow, but being able to fish and catch a rabbit with a small trap are good skills to master. And don’t forget that most insects are edible.

What will you really be eating in the wilderness? See this Wilderness Survival Food Pyramid.

First Aid

In wilderness survival situations, you are likely to come across medical problems like fractures, burns, sprained ankles, dislocated limbs, diarrhea, and blisters. Take a first aid class so you learn how to handle all of these problems.

Animal Attack Response


Do you know the difference between a brown bear and a black bear? Hopefully you won’t come into contact with either of them but, if you do, you better know the difference – because you should make some LOUD noises and stand your ground if you encounter a black bear but WALK slowly away if you encounter a brown bear!  Better yet, make sure you’ve got a can of bear pepper spray in your survival pack if you plan on going somewhere where there are bears…

And while we are at it, do you know how to hang a bear bag? Otherwise all of your hard-earned food is going to be gone in a flash. If a bear doesn’t get it, then some other critter will!

In addition to bears, you’ve also got to worry about a whole bunch of other wild animals when you are in the outdoors. These include:

  • Snakes
  • Wolves
  • Mountain lions
  • Wild boars
  • Scorpions
  • Poisonous spiders
  • Ticks (yes, these can seriously be dangerous!)

Self Defense

In an End Of The World situation, you are more likely to encounter dangerous people than dangerous animals. So you better be prepared to defend yourself from attacks. Simply having a gun or other weapon doesn’t count as self defense. You’ve also got to know how to use it! Master self defense tactics if you expect to survive outdoors!

Image credit: Arctic Survival by Airman magazine (