10 Skills You Should Know Before Exploring The Wilderness

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

We all get that weekend warrior vibe where we just want to go out and explore things. Depending on how adventurous you are, you might think about honing up on your skills. Going out into the wilderness is no picnic. People have gotten lost and been hurt without medical care in the past. To be sure you can manage should any disaster befall you, it’s better to have a couple of survival skills on your side. We’re going to explore those survival skills that everyone should have before going out to explore the woods.

  1. Have a plan. Make sure you have the right gear for the right environment. Outline the route you will be taking. Place notes on your calendar about all the tasks that might be done before you go out into the wilderness. Be sure to tell everyone in your family and friend group where you intend to go and when you will be back. Designate one person from your family or friends to call the authorities if you don’t return home by your due date.
  2. Have water and a plan to get more. This is where it’s important to have the right gear to carry water and sterilize it. Additionally, you should make sure to mark places along your route of travel where there are freshwater sources. Knowing where to get water and how to make it safe is important. Generally speaking, if it is fresh running water you can boil it for two minutes at sea level to make it safe. It’s important to have the equipment to make a fire and to hold water in a container in which it can be boiled.
  3. Navigating without GPS. Using a map and compass is an old skill but very useful when out in the bush. Taking the time to learn how to read a map and use a compass with that map to navigate is very important for getting into and out of exploration sites. Never rely only on technology to get you out of the middle of nowhere.
  4. Foraging for local foods safely. It’s important to know which plants in your area are safe to eat and which are poisonous. It’s not as simple as taking a field guide with you on your hike. Spend time studying the vegetation of the area you intend to be in. Being able to identify and properly prepare wild foods so that they are safe to eat might be the difference between life and death if you get lost.
  5. Signal for help. Knowing how to signal for help when your cell phone isn’t working can get you to civilization a lot faster when you’re lost. Although there is a lot of modern technology that can help in this situation such as locator beacons or your cell phone, these are not always guaranteed to work. Make sure to have a signal mirror, a whistle, and know-how to signal to airplanes from the ground by using rocks or sticks to write out SOS. It’s best to practice these skills before heading out on your adventure.
  6. Learn basic first aid and have its equipment in your kit. When you’re adventuring out in the wilderness there isn’t a clinic or doctor’s office nearby. It’s surrounded by dirt and germs. Having the ability to attend to little scrapes and cuts can prevent infection. Additionally, first aid skills can be as complicated as learning how to splint a broken leg or help someone going into shock. The more first aid skills you can learn, the better off you will be.
  7. Fishing and trapping for protein. Although no one wants to get lost in the wilderness for an extended period of time, knowing how to fish or trap will be the difference between getting enough calories and not. Have a small fishing kit in your pack anytime you go out. It can be as simple as fishing line, a hook, and a bobber. Any worms, snails, or minnows can be used as bait and found on site. Trapping would require a snare line or knowing how to make your traps ahead of time. Practice making traps in your backyard before any excursions.
  8. Building shelter. An emergency can make the difference between life and death. Being caught out in extreme temperatures, whether they be extreme heat or cold, can quickly kill. The shelter you build will depend upon the environment you intend to be in. A lean-to works in the woodlands and a snow cave in the middle of Alaska. Practice making your emergency shelters based on where you will be out and about.
  9. Proper disposal of waste. If you must go dig a latrine away from your campsite and at least 250 yards away from any water source that you intend to use. Going closer to your water source can introduce bacteria such as E coli to your drinking water. Always cover your skat once you’ve gone number two.
  10. Know local natural medicines. Some things have to be treated with modern medicine, but other things do not. Learn the local’s way of managing minor medical issues in case you run out of supplies in your first aid kit. This may require an in-depth knowledge of the local flora and fauna.


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