Outdoor survival can mean different things to different people. Essentially, it is staying alive under adverse conditions. But whether you are a combat soldier, or a survival enthusiast wanting to live wild for a week, preparation is essential.
Preparation for a survival situation consists of four basic essentials, in the following order: -
- Mental Attitude
- Training and Practice
Your mental attitude is probably the most important factor. Whether on your own, or with others, morale could be critical. You must have the will to survive. If morale drops low enough, you just give up.
In the film ‘The Edge’, Charles Morse (played by Anthony Hopkins) tells his co-survivors that most people in their situation die of shame.
This may be shame of getting into the situation in the first place, or shame of things that have since gone wrong, or just shame that you don’t know what to do. It is also very common for a survivor to feel ashamed that others died and they didn’t. This shame will affect your morale and your will to live.
Your Mental Survival Kit is probably the most important item in a survival situation.
The next most important factor is knowledge. If you have the knowledge necessary for survival, it will make you more confident and less fearful – your mental attitude will be right.
Not only should you know how to use a compass, but also how to navigate without a compass.
You should know how to light a fire and the different types of fire that could be constructed dependant on the situation.
You should know how to find food, water and shelter – how to use nature to the full.
Get to know the area you will operate in. Try to memorize landmarks and river directions in case you find yourself without a map. Find out about the people, climate, vegetation and animal life. What is the weather likely to be?
Survival Training & Practice
The more you practice the better you will be. Learn how to put your knowledge to use and keep practicing. If you are a bit rusty things will take longer, and time could of the essence. You may, for example, only have minutes to get your signal fire going, so practice.
The last thing on the list is equipment. If you have the right mental attitude, the knowledge, and have trained and practiced putting that knowledge to use, you may be able to survive without any kit. Add good outdoor equipment and you will be ready for anything.
Check out our section on Camping Equipment for advice on sleeping bags, torches and knives.
It is also a good idea to have an emergency survival kit kept in a small container like a 2oz tobacco tin.