Skip to Content

How To Survive In The Wild

Knowing how to survive in the wild can come in especially handy. It is not uncommon for us to hear stories of men, women and even children who went hiking or camping and simply got lost. 

Being left to fend for themselves in the wilderness, these people have managed to survive in the wild for days and weeks. After all, we did evolve from monkeys and naturally the earth does provide everything we need to stay alive.

It can sometimes be a challenge when it comes to fending off wild animals, but best-case scenario they tend to leave humans alone. What survival in the wild really comes down to is feeding and sheltering yourself from the elements of nature all while trying to stay safe and make it back to humanity. 

Let`s dive into surviving the wild and what it entails.

Tips For How to Survive in The Wild

The keys to survival when you`re in the wild are water, food, shelter, warmth, safety and health. Let`s examine how you can stay prepared with each of these factors.


How to survive: Grilled Rabbit Meat

Nature provides food for carnivores as well as herbivores but when you`re in the wild sometimes you may not have much of a choice. Here`s some tips for not going hungry in the wild:

  • Save some energy bars and snacks in your backpack for a true emergency 
  • Forage for eggs from birds` nests, it may sound cruel but eggs are nutritious, relatively easy to source and (for the most part) won`t poison you 
  • Forage for wild berries 
  • Forage for mushrooms (make sure to read up on wild mushrooms in the area you are going to camp or visit )
  • Forage for leaves 
  • Try to read up on wild food foraging books 
  • Use different methods like zip tie or bungee shoe laces to catch small game 
  • Makes sure to read up on survival food  

If you`re near a body of water with fish in it, then this could be another source of food. If you don`t have a fishing rod, you can easily make one out of a stick and a zipper fish hook. To make the hook cut a backpack zipper and sharpen it with a rock

You can also make a soda can fish hook. When fishing, be careful not to wander deep into unknown water as even some rivers have river sharks and other predatory carnivores.


How to survive: Gathering Water

Once you manage to locate a source of water your task is to filter it and clean it so you don`t get sick. 

This seems like a daunting task without a stove or a pot but it really isn`t. All you need is the following items:

  1. A plastic bottle 
  2. Something to cut the plastic bottle 
  3. Fire
  4. Grass 
  5. Pebbles 
  6. Moss 

Now all you have to do is cut the bottle in half, use the top to filter the water, invert it and punch some holes in the bottles lid. Then, carefully layer in the moss, grass and stones and pour your water through this filter and you`re likely to have less bacteria-filled water. 

Though heating plastic is not ideal, in a survival situation you can use your bottle to boil the water. The important factor to remember though is that the bottle will not burn only if it is full of water. 

Light a small fire and hold your bottle over it until the water begins to boil. Now you have clean water, a usable water filter and water heater. Make sure to do this only in an emergency because plastic does release carcinogens making the water carcinogenic, so it is not suited for long term health but will surely keep you alive.  


Primitive Leanto Shelter

When you are stranded out in the wild and exposed to the elements it can become a serious challenge to protect yourself from the wind, rain as well as the blistering heat. 

Survival World has some superb guides on how to build your own shelter using resources you can find easily in the wild. Ranging from trees to grass we have exhaustive lists and guides on building your own do it yourself shelter. 

Rule of threes says, you can survive three days without water, three weeks without food, but only three hours in harsh weather without shelter. Something as simple as your rain jacket can be transformed into a small tent. While this doesn`t sound like much, it will protect you from the rain and other elements 

You can also build any of the following shelters:

A-Frame Shelter 

This classic triangle shaped shelter is designed to withhold body heat and is most commonly seen in cartoons or children`s play. 

Bough Shelter 

Oftentimes we see woodland creatures seeking shelter in low hanging boughs of coniferous trees, we can do this too as the tree branches work much like a roof letting water and snow slide off while maintaining warmth inside. 

Debris Shelter 

Simple, yet versatile. This shelter represents somewhat of a camouflage using broken branches and other forest matter to make a rough tapering triangular tent

Fallen Tree Shelter 

Trees provide protection and what better way to access this protection than a fallen tree itself. Be careful to pick a stable area of the tree to shelter under, one that wont crack upon you. 

Sod Shelter 

This turf house is strong, resistant to fire, water and allows for less insects

Sapling Shelter 

In a young forest where smaller trees are available this is the kind of shelter you will be able to construct easily 

Tarp Shelter 

This shelter is not too strong in windy conditions but can be used to ride out a storm 

Tree Root Shelters 

This shelter is protective but often used by foxes and other burrowing animals so be careful not to wander into a fox`s den. 

Natural Hollow 

You can find these in woodlands and they make for an easy shelter that`s protective 

Pup Tent 

this can be used for temporary protection using any sticks or fabric you available at that time 

If you can`t build a shelter because you are injured try to climb a tree and remain as far away from any predators as possible.


Starting a Fire

It is essential to stay warm in colder climates, and a heat source is also needed for cooking and boiling water. When you`re out in the wilderness, there are plenty of options to light a fire, you just need to know the right material for heating with fire

First off, make sure your backpack contains a box of matchsticks and add in a wilderness lighter if you can. You can add a candle stick for good measure, especially one of the ones that never go out so if you run out of lighter fluid or matchsticks you can use this to transfer the flame. 

Try to find flint rocks, which are beige in color on the outside with a black interior when cracked open. After you put in some elbow grease and rub these together you can chip off a razor-sharp edge that can light a flame. 

You can use cotton or wool socks are fire starters picking the fibre`s from the socks to make a woolly pile. Surprisingly enough, Dorito chips also work as good tinder as they stay lit for a substantially large time

Backpacks usually have a foam panel, this can be used as tinder but be weary of the toxic fumes 

Put to use some discarded soda cans to make a portable windproof stove in case of downpour to have in front of your shelter. 

Simply cut the can down the front, peel it open to make sort of a miniature fireplace, fill it with tinder and light it up to warm your shelter or carry on the go. Here are some additional tips for staying warm:

  • Carry small pre-drilled spark rods worked into jacket zippers to keep an incognito fire device handy. 
  • If your boots are wet, you can place them next to your fire but another way to warm them up is to place rocks inside campfire, then put them inside boots. These will dry them from inside out.  
  • A cur vex bottle can be used like a magnifying glass to light a flame 
  • When moving your shelter sight, grab the charcoal left over to re-ignite a fire.


When you`re in the wilderness, staying alive is your only priority and you need to be prepared to handle all kinds of danger, even some bug bites can turn fatal. 

Here are some top tips on safety for general survival while in the wild:

  • Try to set up your shelter on a tree or hidden from plain sight 
  • Read up on ultimate survival knives and stock up in your backpack 
  • If you don`t have any weapons or tools, you can use house or car keys to saw notches into objects
  • You can use your headphones as a wire snare for small game.
  • To keep mosquitoes at bay, try to find some lemongrass or citronella or even pine leaves, rub these together to release the oils and apply it to your clothes 
  • You can toss pine into a fire for an aromatic mosquito repellent 
  • Spent bullet cases can be turned to arrow heads. Grab a large rock and pound the case flat, remove the metal rim then sculpt it into an arrow head.
  • Use sharp rocks to defend yourself 
  • Read up on bear safety 
  • Read up on spiders and scorpions 
  • Read up on snake safety 
  • Stock up on survival tools 


Only if your health is in check will you be able to survive the tests of nature. So, it is essential to make sure you carry the needed medications for allergies, pain, anti-bacterial, wound dressings etc. 

As fun as camping and hiking can be, emergencies do happen un-announced. This is why you should make sure to carry a first aid kit and read up on wilderness first aid books.

If you are injured make sure to apply pressure to stop bleeding and tie the wound tightly. If your arm is broken or sprained you can use a scarf or kerchief to turn it in to a sling. Finally, you should make sure to keep your hands clean by washing them regularly .

Try to reach out for help, if your cell phone is dead, take it apart to utilize its parts or try flashing its screen to alert passing helicopters or planes. You can take the phone apart, remove the screen and you will find a mirror, use the circuit board to make arrowheads by grinding it into shape on a rock. 

To make a compass use a magnet and a hair clip, needle or the inside of a watch strap. Rub the metal against the magnet for several minutes until it is magnetized and aligns with the magnetic field of the earth. 

Now you will have an attracting and a repelling magnetic pole. Find a puddle of water and a leaf and gently put your magnetized needle upon it. Hopefully it should align itself with earth’s north and south magnetic pole and it will begin to rotate and settle pointing you north. 

Generally, a good tip to remember is that the end pointing away from the sun is the north and the other end is the south. This however only applies to those living in the Northern Hemisphere and for those in the Southern Hemisphere the opposite will apply.

Enjoy The Wild. Survive in the Wild.

Now that you are equipped with all the tricks and tools necessary you will most likely know how to survive in the wild, at least until you are able to make your way back to civilization. 

Always remember to stay positive in such dire situations and try not to lose your self control. Don`t give up and remember in this kind of a scenario, you`re the only one who can help yourself.