Preparing Yourself for Nature with a Wilderness Survival Kit.
A wilderness survival kit should be carried by anyone who goes deep into the wilderness. What should be in it? Matches, a blade of some sort, and first aid supplies are among the usual recommendations. When you read the true stories of survival, though, you start to see that it is what’s in a person’s head that often determines if they survive or not.
What, then, should be in this mental survival kit?
A Survival Kit in Your Mind.
- Willingness to learn.
Even those who know nothing about survival until lost in the wilderness can still learn as they go – if they are willing to. If you’re cold, watch that squirrel dive under a pile of leaves, and try that to stay warm (it works). Notice what’s working and what isn’t, and keep trying new things.
- Willingness to do what’s necessary.
This is one of the most important items in your mental survival kit. Hey, they can eat hissing cockroaches just for the chance to win some money on “Fear Factor,” so you can do it to save your life, right? Spoon with your buddy to stay warm, break open logs to find grubs to eat – do whatever it takes.
- Positive attitude.
This is an essential. In many stories of survival it is clear that those who expected to survive did. Even if you’re not sure you can survive, encourage this attitude by acting as if you expect to.
- Inspirational thoughts.
This is how to have that positive attitude. An easy and enjoyable way to get this inspiration is to read true stories of wilderness survival. Some of the stories are about situations far worse than anything you are ever likely to encounter. Remembering them at the appropriate time is a sure way to see that you can survive. Tell them to others too, if you are in a group.
- Wilderness survival knowledge.
You don’t have to go to a survival training school to read and remember that you can safely eat all North American mammals, or that you can stuff your jacket with cattail fluff to create a winter coat. Any little bit helps, so learn a new trick or two each season, or take an edible plant guide on your next hike, its all part of the wilderness survival kit.
- Reasons to survive.
We all have reasons to want to live, but we needed to remember to pull out those reasons when the time comes. Many people have attributed their survival to the constant thought of a loved one waiting for them, or something they want in the future.
Maybe you’ve already done this mental preparation as part of your wilderness survival kit, but it can’t hurt to look over the list above again. Is there anything you need to work on in your mental survival kit?
Exploring nature, being outdoors can leave you with unforgettable memories.
Now what memories you will leave with depends on how well you are prepared. If a hiker is not knowledgeable about his surroundings, nature can give some pretty nasty surprises.
Below are some advice and tips that will help you avoid certain situations that can ruin your trip.
Bugs go away.
Bugs are always a very annoying problem for a lot of hikers. These critters keep flying around your food, and buzzing in your ears. Also let’s not forget about more serious problems from some insects, like mosquitoes, which love to bite and give you itchy bumps.
Then there are lice and ticks which can pass on diseases. Here are some tips to help keep the bugs away.
- Try not to use fragrant lotions or products. Sweet smells attract insects.
- Try to stay cool. Bugs are attracted to sweat.
- Bring bug repellent/ Sunscreen. Just don’t use too much,
- Avoid eating bananas – this fruit secretes an odour through your pours which attracts mosquitoes.
- Use coconut oil – this repels mosquitoes
Beware of Ticks
Ticks can be a problem due to the fact they can spread diseases. Ways to prevent yourself from exposure to ticks is to avoid grassy areas, wear a hat, and do not wear shorts when you are on a trail. You should check for ticks and if detected remove it as early as possible.
If you find a tick attached to your skin, use tweezers close to your skin as possible and pull off the tick, but do not squeeze its body. You should have the doctor check the bite as soon as possible.
Ticks can spread diseases such as Lyme disease and tick-borne bacterial infection to humans, which is fatal if not treated.
Here is some useful advice that is good to know on every outdoor wilderness adventure:
- Bring and keep a picture of the travellers with you, in case anyone gets lost.
- When hiking remember to bring some water, food, a flashlight, and bandages.
- Never hike by yourself.
- 80% of your body heat is lost through your head, so to keep warm, wear a hat.
Set of Survival skills just for backpacking?
For ultra light backpackers like me, skills replace gear, and therefore weight. If you spend any time in the wilderness, it also just feels good to know you can deal with whatever comes up.
Survival means staying warm and dry, hydrated, uninjured, and finding your way out of the wilderness. Of course, eating is nice too, but not crucial if the situation is just for a few days.
Here are some survival skills you can learn easily.
Easy Survival Skills
- Put dried moss or milkweed fuzz in your pocket as you walk, so you’ll have dry tinder to start a fire, just in case it’s raining later. Cattail fuzz works well too, and you can experiment with different materials.
- If it looks and tastes like a blueberry, strawberry, or raspberry – it is. There is no berry in North America that looks like a blueberry, strawberry, or raspberry, and can hurt you from one taste. Take a taste, and just spit it out completely if it doesn’t taste right.
- Make a pile of dry leaves and dead grass to keep warm in an emergency. I have slept warmly without a blanket, in below-freezing weather, in a pile of dry grass.
- Put a stick upright in the ground, and mark the tip of the shadow. Mark it again fifteen minutes later. Scratch a line between the first and second marks, and it will be pointing east. Techniques like this can save you when your compass is lost.
- Clouds form in the Rocky Mountains just before the afternoon storms in summer. Hikers are regularly killed by lightning in Colorado. Birds often fly lower before storms. Learning to read the sky and the behavior of animals can keep you out of trouble.
- The biggest wilderness killer is hypothermia, and getting wet is the biggest cause. Get in the habit of watching for ledges or large fir trees to stand under when you think that rain may be coming. Learning to stay dry is one of the more important survival skills.
- To stay warmer, sleep with your head slightly downhill. It takes some getting used to, but it works.
- Get in the habit of filling water bottles every chance you get, and you won’t have such a hard time with any long dry stretches of trail. Drink up the last of your water right before you fill the bottles too.
- Break a “blister” on the trunk of a small spruce or fir tree, and you can use the sap that oozes out as a good antiseptic dressing for small cuts. It also can be used to start a fire, and will burn when wet.
- Bark from a white birch tree will usually light even when wet. In a jam, you can also use it as a paper substitute if you need to leave a note in an emergency.
The above are just a few tips and techniques you can easily learn. There are many more, and they can make backpacking not only safer, but more interesting. Why not practice one or two of these survival skills?
There are hundreds of little tricks that can make wilderness travel interesting and safer. Even if you aren’t interested in practicing survival techniques, why not at least read a few survival tips now and then. Someday you may remember something from the wilderness survival kit that could save your life.