Watching a few hours of reality TV will have you imagine that you could wake one day to find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere or in big wilderness forest with nothing but a few tees in your backpack. And you may be expected to survive with nothing more than a can of tuna, PJ bottoms and a pair of flip-flops. Of course, those episodes are all about ratings and not reality.
True survivalism brings a whole new meaning to reality. A few hours of a hike can turn into a nightmare; a major disaster can leave you without modern comforts and resources.
The deciding factor on whether you make it or not is the stuff you arrived with for the show. Will you be empty-headed as well as “empty-handed” if you find yourself in an emergency situation or lost? You need things like the flashlight and first-aid kit for survival. Additionally, the skills and knowledge that you carry in your head may as well determine your destiny. Using these to the maximum effect, however, requires sound direction.
Without direction, you won’t likely make good use of your skills (or the things you’re carrying along) and not be able to enhance your knowledge very quickly.
To that end, below is some advice that’ll help you start off on the right foot.
Building a Survivalism Foundation
1. Learn The Basics First
The journey towards becoming a survivalist can be exciting, but it’s important not to get too ahead of yourself. Yes, you’d receive a round of applause of making fire with the use of sticks, but do you know how to light up a flame with matches yet? How about using a firesteel to start a fire?
Once you’ve learned these simple methods, then move onto the challenging stuff. You’ll lay the foundation for much more advanced skills. The key to becoming a better survivalist is covering more groundwork in the initial phase.
2. Boost Mental & Physical Health
They call doomsday or emergency events scenarios those things because they cause panic and induce anxiety. When things go awry the instinct kicks in, causing a survivalist’s body and mind to take over. In the ideal scenario (and with the right practice), neither of these should go in flight mode).
In simple words, you should be able to remain confident, relaxed, and laser-focused on what you need to do to get yourself out of the situation. Responses like these take control of the natural reaction that most individuals have in emergencies and enable you to thrive under pressure. That’s why experienced cardiologists remain calm in the operation theater, and soldiers undergo rigorous regimes.
We recommend preparing yourself with a balanced exercise regime that develops both physical endurance and mental strength. It also doesn’t cost a fortune. When you’re out there battling for survival, your fitness will have a direct impact on your general ability to help others as well as your resistance to insanity, thought processes and stress.
3. Build A Survivalist Toolkit
Wilderness brings with it all kinds of contingencies, so it’s crucial to prepare for as many as you can. Glow sticks and lanterns will help you find your way when darkness falls, and a flare gun will assist incident responders in finding you during an emergency. A compass will guide you through a difficult map; even handier is a GPS device.
For setting up shelter, a tarp, rope or Paracord, cable tiles and duct tape are essential. Also necessary are gloves, folding shovel, and a multi-tool. Remember to include a lighter, a fire-starting kit, and some waterproof matches; redundancy can be a good thing in these cases. In a plain tin, place razor blades, a small magnet, sewing needles, line and fishing gear, threads, and some money.
4. Pack the Essentials in an Organized Manner
A properly packed toolkit is requisite to your safety and survival. Improper weight distribution can result in an unnecessary burden on your spine as well as cause muscle aches.
Therefore, learn how to pack the essentials in an organized manner. Put heavy things – food, tin, cooking gear, and water – in the center of a backup, near to your body. Medium weight things, like rain gear, clothing, and traps, can be used to cushion the heavier things, securing them, so that weight remains balanced while you’re walking on an uneven surface.
If you’re planning to carry sleeping gear, it can be placed in the bottom corner of the backpack (or tied to the bottom). Items that’ll frequently be needed can be kept in the outer pockets or the side – sunglasses, toilet tissue, pocketknife, compass, towel, and a flashlight. You have to make sure you buy durable sunglasses, though.
5. Be Smart When It Comes to Food
Prepackaged food is the perfect survivalist companion. It’s convenient, easy to prepare and lightweight. While you’d come across several prepackaged food items commercially, it’s possible to save up, buy the type of meals you want (vegetarian, seafood, etc.), and have fun while preparing your own.
Take a freezer bag and will it with a cup of cooking oats, a teaspoon of stevia, a tablespoon of powdered milk, and a handful of nuts and dried fruit for a healthy, nutritious breakfast. Lunch can be prepared with a tablespoon of shredded cheese, half cup of freeze-dried vegetable items, dry couscous and a couple of seasons.
How about rice and mushrooms for the last meal of the day? All these things are more comfortable to carry around and are more perishable than the standard meals you consume on a daily basis.
6. Find a Community
Yes, every survivalist needs a community if they really want to come out in good health. A community can go a long way in sharing knowledge as well as education about the ways to approach survivalism. See who in your proximity is interested in being a survivalist (use social media, direct inquiries, etc.), and connect with them on a regular basis.
Another thing you can do is be a part of scouting groups (it’s okay to involve the kids too). There are independent hiking groups, camping groups, wilderness groups, and even no-electricity meal preparation groups.
All these communities work have their own perspective of survivalism and are an important source of peer-to-peer education. The other benefit to it is that they make the survivalism fun. You’ll come across several like-minded people who enjoy planning ahead and being strategic about unforeseen disasters. Monopoly doesn’t have to be played alone.
7. Know How to Protect Yourself
While guys like Liam Neeson can survive by punching wild animals in the face, that’s not the best answer in a potentially dangerous setting. Instead, the ideal thing to do is go away from the animal and be out of sight, gradually.
A simple approach is recommended for cougars, coyotes, and wolves by The Boy Scouts: slowly back from the animal while you’re facing toward it. Don’t approach the animal, run, or play dead. If you’re stuck in a corner, try making yourself as big as you can by making a lot of noise and spreading out your arms. If that doesn’t work, find anything you can to throw at them. In certain situations, you might also have to get yourself out of an attack.
For instance, if an animal like a wild dog attacks, use your non-dominant hand to block its mouth and smash your hand’s heel in the eyes of the animal or into their snout. If you’re successful in disabling the animal, escape the scene and find shelter before you take out the first aid kit.
8. Practice, Until You Get the Hang of Things
Take what’s been taught to you and put it into practice. Don’t just trust you’ll be able to make a shelter out of your clothing because you’ve watched a YouTube video – actually test the process out. You don’t have to go anywhere other than your backyard to begin self-training – and you’ll also be able to transition from the skills you’ve performed at home to the capabilities you show in the field.
Just ensure that you’re going through the motions mentally and physically while executing the skills you’ve gained, pushing yourself to make sure that you can actually replicate what your brain dictates a survivalist should be able to.
9. Integrate Survivalism into Your Life
Put everything you’ve learned into practice by integrating things into your daily life. Go to mushroom hunts with your friends, learn how to make a tent with clothing, take camping trips, use fire steels to start barbeques, and prepare prepackaged meals on the weekend.
Use that knowledge and skills you’ve learned as frequently as you can so you won’t forget them. And while you’re at it, test your own limits to know what can come difficult to you, so you don’t panic when things don’t turn out well.
For instance, in a survival scenario where it’s getting dark, and you’ve been failing at setting up shelters, you may want to buy yourself extra time and save energy by looking for a natural shelter instead – a tree or a cave may be just the ideal thing you need, to spend the night.
If things remain as they currently are, there’s a slim chance you’d need the knowledge and skills, but even if you don’t find yourself stranded in a forest, the likelihood of disaster in your city is always a possibility. With the right approach to survivalism, you can get yourself out of any kind of situation safely.