The more skills you learn, the more self reliant you are and the higher your chances for survival become. Here we are going to talk about some basic survival skills and teach you how to best utilize them to protect yourself and your loved ones when disaster strikes.

When you are out on your own without the safety net of a functioning society, these are the traits and basic survival skills you need to master in order to succeed.

  1. Have a positive mental attitude
  2. Locate and purify/filter water
  3. Seek or build shelter
  4. Get a hold of and prepare food
  5. Be Able to reliably start a fire

Positive Mental Attitude

This is actually more important than any of the others because when you are relying on your ability to wring survival from your environs, once you give up hope you are finished. There are many astonishing stories of people who have survived avalanches, fires, floods, and being isolated for extended periods and making it through thanks to an undying will to endure. They are every day people who would simply not admit defeat. Keeping a positive mental attitude will give you the strength to never give up on yourself no matter the situation.

Some ways to instill this mentality are:

  • Set goals for yourself – These may be daily or even hourly goals such as making it to the next ridge or obtaining a meal from your environs. Make sure they are achievable and objective oriented. Every step you complete will be a psychological boost for you and will build confidence in your basic survival skills.
  • Focus on what you can change – If a substantial disaster has struck, focusing on the injustice of the resulting situation or the loss that has occurred will not help you. However, focusing on building a shelter or staying dry will help immensely. Concentrating your efforts to improve your situation will help you both in the long and short terms. Ignore the big picture and totally focus on improving your immediate situation.
  • Keep hydrated and nourished – This will give you the energy to keep on in the face of adversity. A steady water and food supply are important and vital. You wlll not be seeking to feast daily but meeting your basic calorie and hydration requirements will be enough to keep you going. 2400-3600 Calories per day is a strong amount to aim for. Along with that, if this requirement is squared away it will allow you to really concentrate more on recovery efforts or getting help.
  • Be outwardly positive – Positivity generates more positivity. Showing fellow survivors that you are with that you have a positive mental attitude will stop the group from being dragged down under the pressure of the disaster. Be the seed that grows into higher morale for your team.


Beyond your own internal fortitude, water is the most important resource you will need. Finding it and knowing how to make it fit for ingestion are two of of the most crucial basic survival skills you can master.

  • Know how to locate signs of water. This may be looking where plants are growing, where terrain slopes or contours into a natural water trap, or observing animal movements to see where they are getting their water supply.
  • If you are able to map a route as a part of your bug out plan, identifying likely sources for water along the way will be a massive boon.
  • Fully understand how to treat water to make it fit for ingestion. Drinking contaminated water can be life-threatening.
  • Filtration – this consists of passing water through particularly fine membranes to remove particles and some pathogens. Some viruses may still make it through even the finest filters available.
  • Purification – treating water with either chemicals such as iodine or UV light sources. This neutralizes all pathogens but does not clear away particles.
  • Boiling – This is a type of purification as it kills all pathogens but does not eliminate particles. Water should be kept at a rolling boil for at least 1 minute to sterilize it.
  • Because of the differing benefits of both filtration and purification it is recommended that you use both methods to be 100% sure of water safety that a combination of the 2 be performed. The most basic way to do this is to pour water through a cloth and then boil it. However a better performing approach is to pass it through a filter device device and then purifying it with tablets of Steripen.. These items should be considered mandatory supplies for any list of bug out bag essentials.
  • Be able to harvest rainfall if possible. This may include catching it in a poncho or container if available.
  • Utilize a Solar Still – This can be purchased or made out of your survival gear. A Solar Still uses the sun’s heat to evaporate liquid and then recapture it as clean water.
  • Understand how much water you need – A person can survive 72 hours without water. It is however recommended that someone who is active takes in 75% of their weight in ounces daily. So if you weigh 150 lbs then you should be drinking about 113 ounces (3.31 liters) of water each day.


Hiking with your Bug Out Bag loaded with survival gear will cause you to burn 400-500 calories in an hour. To keep your body functioning as an efficient machine it is vital to keep it fueled up.

  • First off, ration what food you have with you. You are concentrating on survival, not feasting. Eat small portions when you are hungry but do not over do it.
  • Complement your rations with foraged sustenance from your surroundings. This means you will need to learn what edible plants are around and how to pick them. Also learn where these plants grow. Does a specific berry grow around water holes? Does a high calorie plant prefer the shade? Learn these aspects to understand where to search for nutrients. Some plants are only edible after cooking or boiling, learn what you need to do with your local flora to make it palatable. Additionally, learn what is hazardous or poisonous to eat to avoid making yourself sick!
  • Understand what types of animals live in your region. This includes possible predators to avoid and prey to seek out. Learn what environments these animals inhabit. Is there a particular fish that likes eddies and whirlpools? Target these spots to find them. Does an animal in your area like to eat a particular plant? Placing snares in the vicinity of these plants would be advantageous. Also learn how to prepare these animals for cooking. This includes skinning and butchering animals and filleting fish.


A well prepared person will have a means of sheltering themselves from the elements as a part of their bug out bag essentials. However, a TOTALLY prepared person will also have learned survival shelter building as one of their basic survival skills. A survival shelter does not need to be complicated or fancy but it should keep rain/snow out, keep heat inside, and be easily cobbled together from available materials.

  • A survival shelter can be constructed from most anything – debris from collapsed buildings, brush, animal hides, or a tarp or poncho
  • Take into consideration bringing paracord and a survival saw or hatchet when developing your bug out bag contents list as these can be your best friends when constructing a shelter. With these items you can put together a survival shelter out of just about anything in a short amount of time.
  • If you do not have paracord, zip ties, duct tape, or another binding material, primitive rope can be improvised from strips of tree bark, small green saplings, branches, and vines.
  • A basic survival shelter could consist of constructing a frame from long rigid materials such as tree branches or 2×4’s and laying a poncho or tarp over it.
  • If you cannot use your poncho or tarp for this, layer brush on to the frame sloping away towards the ground to insulate for warmth and keep moisture out.


Fire can provide numerous things when in a survival situation and both building and maintaining one are essential basic survival skills. A fire will give a morale boost, provide heat and light, and let you to purify water and cook food.

  • The basic requirements to build any fire are to give it air, fuel, and an ignition source.
  • Air – A fire consumes air hungrily and it is essential to build it in a manner that allows air to flow into the combustion. Don’t smother a fire by putting too much fuel onto it.
  • Fuel – This is what actually burns in a fire and can be sourced from many places. If a branch or stick snaps cleanly it is dry and will burn well. If it bends and splinters it is still green and will smoke and smother a fire.
  • Ignition Source – this can be a lighter, matches, or a fire starter that you bring with you. You should however learn more primitive means of fire starting as one of your basic survival skills in the event that these items cannot be found.
  • A fire is build in successive layers of increasingly larger wood. You start with tinder, which is very small, dry, and catches easily. Various kinds of tinder are tree bark, dryer lint, coconut husk, and pine needles. From tinder you step up to kindling which is generally twigs up to the diameter of your little finger. Next is fuel wood which is in sizes up to your thumb. Continue to add more wood gradually until you have a fire large enough to ignite logs. These logs are what will produce the vast majority of your coals in a fire pit.
  • Learn how to use a fire to cook food. Coals are a more effective technique of cooking food than a naked flame. Coals will produce a more even heat and allow you to control the rate at which your food cooks, rather than having some parts seared with the inside raw. A naked flame is however more adept at boiling water.
  • The most commonly used types of fires are called a Teepee and a Log Cabin.
  • A Dakota Fire Pit is another type that is less widely used than these but more efficient.


There is no doubt that learning basic survival skills will substantially boost your chances of survival. Putting in some time now to teach yourself these basic survival skills will make you better prepared and help you provide for yourself and your family when disaster strikes.

Thank you for reading. If you would like more information about urban or wilderness survival, disaster preparedness, or would like to try our Free Bug Out Bag Planning Tool, please come visit my site at:

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