What's the best survival tip you've ever heard?

edited April 2018 in Survival 101

I'm always looking to pick up new tricks, just in case the day I need 'em ever comes.

One that's come in handy for me a few times is ALWAYS keep a pocket knife, or multi-tool with you. You never know when you'll need it.


  • Make sure you always have a way to start a fire. Could be a life saver!

  • If you ever believe you mightbe getting hypothermic, boil a liter of water and put in a Nalgene bottle as a body warmer. Keep it on your chest, betwwn your legs or under your arm.
  • Make sure you have the Basics... Water.  Fire.  Shelter.  Warm clothes.  Knife/Multi-Tool.  Extra socks.  Compass/Map (don't rely solely on electronic devices!).  Take a Basic First Aid course.  Have fun!
  • There’s drinking water and there’s survival water.  My wife is slowly starting to understand the difference.  Depending on what activity I’m doing I like to have 1 or 1.5L per person in the truck and an extra 1.5L per person as a back up.  Another tip is to put hot water in the double wall because at -18F your regular bottles will freeze in an hour or so.
  • I vote for pocket knife and duct tape! it can safe your life so many uses from shelter to medical. i know its hard to carry a roll while backpacking but any other ways will do.
  •  Always carry a map and know how to read it. Always tell someone where your going and when you plan on being back and update on any changes if possible. This will make it easier and quicker finding you. Leave a note with where your going in your car this way if a Ranger or police are looking for you they have somewhere to start. I do search and rescue in NY.

  • Best advice I received early on was to get a good quality tent and sleeping bag.  If all goes to sh&[email protected] get in and wait it out.  Lost of good tips in the above too.  BTW, I still have that tent.  Went to super-light sleeping bags as a concession to age.

  • Consider carrying a beacon in case you get really turned around.
  • If you can walk you can rescue yourself.  Just because it is hard or you are tired doesn't mean you need to call in a helicopter.
  • Always have to have your 10 essentials on you.  You never know what COULD happen.  REI.com or Boy Scout website for these essentials.
  • As a snowshoer, I think my most lethal risk is getting lost or hurt and unable to walk out, so I carry a two person space blanket survival shelter I got from Amazon for $16.
  • Things I always carry with me when I hike the desert / mountain trails of Arizona:  first aid kit, WATER, knife and multi-purpose tool, plastic comb (for pulling out cholla cacti pods), mirror, whistle, flint to start a fire if necessary, extra shoe laces, I wrap duct tape around a water bottle about 10x so it's there and do not have to carry a roll, sun screen, hat, boulder scaling gloves, trail-mix, extra phone battery, compact rain poncho, and more water!
  • Carry the 10 essentials and train in Wilderness First Aid.  Even a mile or two from a trailhead can put you in a remote location without a cell signal.  A seemingly 'minor' event can be a major issue when help is not available. Accidents are unplanned, and knowing how to respond to them can greatly impact the final outcome.
  • Not counting preventable falls, avalanches, and medical issues, the three biggest killers in the outdoors are cold, heat, and dehydration.  If you have the right clothing to maintain your body temperature and enough water, you can last a long time waiting for rescue.  Of course there are other things you can learn and bring to be prepared, but none of them are more important than clothing and water.
  • Best advice; DON'T PANIC. 

    Having the skill set and ability to remain calm, composed, and situationally aware is your single best strategy for survival in almost all situations. There is a very good reason most people that suffer debilitating injury or death in the wilderness are usually not that far from help at all; they begin to rely on flawed logic, irrational thinking, and rushed decisions. 

    Breathe, slow the heart, get to a position of safety if possible, and think through the next logical steps to provide a safe egress. 
  • Be prepared for anything and let someone know where your going and about when you plan to return.
  • Thanks so much for the posts. I got quite a few ideas.
  • Kasey M.Kasey M. ✭✭✭
    There is a huge difference between having the right gear but not having the knowledge to use and having the right gear while knowing how to use it.
    It can be critically important to know how to start a fire, or read a map and use it with a compass, or where to set up camp, or what food is safe to eat. Who cares if you carry the best gear you can buy if you don't know how to use it. Give a person a knife, flint & steel, and a metal can and they can survive because they can start a fire, boil water, build a shelter, make cordage, make snares, skin animals, craft fishing tackle, defend themselves and get found.

    Best advice - know how to use your gear - practice with it - go for reliability and not for brand names or aesthetics. Aesthetics won't keep you breathing. Test yourself in safe places before you are tested by Mother Nature. The Mountain always has the last word.


    Kasey Marsters

  • More great recommendations for survival and getting found when you get turned around from @Kasey M. in this discussion!
  • "One is none, two is one", and I've added, "three is right". Never carry all of one item (knife, fire steel, compass) in the same place. I carry one fire steel in my pack, another in my knife case on my belt, and a 3rd on my keychain. Stuff gets lost..... then where are you?
  • Regarding the "Rule of 3's", I've added two more: 3 seconds w/o thinking, 3 minutes w/o air, 3 hours w/o thermoregulation, 3 days w/o water, 3 weeks w/o food, 3 months w/o human contact. The first and last ones are my addition.
  • Interesting thread. I like Arthur's post above, basically, my input would be a streamlined version that essentially is body temp > water > food. Too many people think about what they're going to eat in a survival situation, but really, lack of water or thermoregulation or water will kill you much quicker. 
  • Best advice I ever got was have a good tent and sleeping bag.  If all goes to hell, pitch the tent, climb in, and formulate a plan when well rested.  Had to use that once in 30 years of hiking.  For day hikes, water, space blanket, and good map skills at a minimum.  Add rain/cold layer as appropriate.  

  • Eric B.Eric B.
    edited September 2018
    3 days W/O water, 3 weeks W/O food. Those are the survival parameters. But shelter and optimum body temperature are also part of basic survival. 

    1. At least 1 liter of water AND water purification tablets or Steripen or both
    2. lockblade knife (2" blade minimum) or multi-tool
    3. TEN ESSENTIALS (modified for climate and environment)

    These are my suggestions. All this should be in a pouch that never, ever leaves your person until you sleep. 

    Eric B.
  • So getting lost is not a good idea. When I am on a trail and break for a meal, rest or the evening I tie a simple loop knot (larks head) with two pieces of shoe lace type string. One Red shoe lace and one Green shoe lace. The Red on is tied onto a branch or shrub where I stopped and the Green one is tied on a branch or shrub just down the trail in the direction I plan on continuing. Weather conditions may change, lighting will be different but the shoe laces stay... until I collect them on my departure. So far nobody else has remove them for me.
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