The thing about “survival situations” is that you can’t plan for a survival situation! Your life could be on the line when some unforeseen circumstance manifests. Maybe you’re going through some cross-country skiing and an avalanche falls,
or an animal attacks you,
or a meteor hits the ground.
Whatever it is, you weren’t expecting it!
There are many things you can do to prepare, but the truth is you can never really plan for ALL survival situations. When your life is really on the line, the experience, the fear, the intensity of that is something you can’t train yourself for unless you’ve actually been in that situation before.
Instead of looking at specific techniques like fire building, tanning hides, or wine making in this Introduction course, we are going to look at what I think is the most important element of survivability: MENTAL POSTURE.
It is your perspective, it is your relationship with yourself and the world which is the MOST IMPORTANT facet of either surviving and/or dying in a survival situation.
There are several facets, both pre-emptive and in the moment, that hone your mental posture:
In a survival situation, you might not have machines or stores or governments to take care of you, right? You’re on your own. If you’re overweight, you won’t be able to move as quickly, you won’t have as much endurance, you won’t be able to climb certain things. You have physical limitations by being overweight, so in a survival situation, you are already at a huge disadvantage.
So get healthy! Lose weight, take deep breaths and meditate, increase your physical endurance and flexibility and strength. Commit to a life of well-being, not for the sake of surviving a potential emergency, but for the sake of feeling good. You will find your MENTAL POSTURE vastly improved when your physical body heals and thrives, when you value and appreciate yourself enough to gift yourself health.
Don't waste energy in panic when you're lost in the woods and you're dripping wet and it's below freezing and night is falling, and you really, really need to start a fire--but you have no idea how to start a fire! Just learn how to start a fire NOW:
You can pack up some tools and gear and go out into the woods or the mountains or the desert, and you can purposefully spend time honing skills that would be beneficial in a survival situation. You're learning, training, practicing, and you're have a great time doing it! Make fires with flint and steel or with a ferrocerium rod. You can fish, hunt, forage, learn to make shelter and fire, breathe fresh air, AND you can have a skill-building, learning, AWESOME and FUN vacation that costs you no money whatsoever! You can practice in a backyard or in a park, and it can be really fun when done with family and friends!
Preemptively explore possible emergency situations to be as prepared as possible. You don’t have time to get on Youtube to research gear or learn how to use it in a survival situation. Chances of surviving an emergency are much higher if you are prepared.
The most important things in survival situations are fire, shelter, water, food, and most importantly your MENTAL POSTURE: your awareness, your relationship with yourself, regulating your body temperature, etc. The things you carry with you should be the most beneficial items for those categories.
A good knife is one of the best investments you could ever make! A quality knife will last a lifetime and is useful in way more than just a survival situation. It can serve for fire starting, defense, cooking, medical treatment, and bush clearing. Because knives are so important at the Garden of Eden, we offer handmade knives to add to your essential gear.
Some kind of rope is essential. Cordage can be used for making shelters, or in a bow drill for fire starting. We offer hand made in The GOE 550 pound test American made P-cord bracelets. In a survival situation, unknot the bracelet for 7' of cordage! While you could potentially make cordage in the wild, you will never make 550 pound test cordage. The convenience and wearability not to mention style of colors and beads available in these bracelets make them impractical not to wear.
Fire is crucial. It provides warmth and drying capabillities. It's used to cook and sterilize water. It may be used as a signal, and provides protection from critters. There are different types of fire starters:
Other items are not necessarily essential in every survival kit, but are incredibly valuable to have in a survival situation, and therefore might be worth considering stocking in a basic pack:
Even remote water sources can be contaminated with parasites and pathogens; access to clean water could be the difference between life and death. If you drink water that causes diarrhea, you actually dehydrate yourself. Boiling water is an effective purification, if you can make fire. Other options:
Next, you can get a full size pack (90 liters) that might be stocked with a tent, tarps, sleeping bag, maybe a bow or gun. This isn’t the pack you would grab if you had to run for your life, but it’s something that would be worth taking if you had hours or days to prepare, because having these things could increase survivability.
You could carry your most essential stuff in something like a fanny pack, purse or glove compartment, then have the next most essential stuff in a smaller pack that fits inside a bigger 90 liter pack with the next most essential stuff. You could drop the bigger pack and still have the smaller pack; if need be, you could drop the smaller pack and still have the most essentials about your person to optimize speed, endurance, strength, and flexibility. That's the ideal way to pack for a bug out situation.
Keep a more thoroughly stocked survival kit in your car, if you have one. It may be worth carrying some food or power bars or purified water in your car, but you’re way better off having a water purifier and fire starter. Prioritize items that have long-term vs short-term survivability: extra cordage, knives, hatchets, and tools.
Additionally, you could have a bunch of food, water, supplies, tarp, rope, knives, guns, and ammo set aside in a section of the garage or already packed in a trailer to hook up to a truck and go. You might have 5 minutes to prep and bail, or you might have hours; to be packed ahead of time could save precious moments in a real emergency and be the difference between life and death.
Investments in quality gear--good knife, boots, tent, sleeping bag, clothes, etc.--can be used for more than just a survival situation. Likewise, if you stockpile, say, 100 pounds of rice or a year’s supply of water, you can start using that inventory right away in your everyday life. Once your stockpile dwindles to some predetermined amount, you can restock. Not only would you be prepped for an emergency situation but, you would actually save money to buy and consume in bulk!
If and when you find yourself in a survival situation--whether it’s a meteor striking the earth, aliens landing, economic collapse, earthquake, war, or whatever--the most important things in that circumstance are:
A city is a terrible place to be in a survival situation; it’s a major danger zone. It will be full of fear-stricken people who will do stupid stuff in panic. In a long-term survival situation, you will have an outbreak of violence in a city by people who are scared, angry, hungry, thirsty, or horny. Militaries will spend their time focused on cities rather than out in the boonies, if it is some sort of militant situation.
You could have a couple different locations at various distances and directions from the city. You can stash waterproof containers or crates with food, fire starters, tools, batteries, flashlights, solar panels, and supplies inside and hide them at these locations, buried or hidden under rocks or big trees. If there wasn’t time to get your stuff before bailing, you can go to that location and collect supplies. Hard-core preppers have several drop locations they have mapped in their brains.
Ideally, you could prepare a secret bug out location, where maybe you’ve dug an underground bunker or built a camouflaged shelter or even built a sustainable food production system.
Again, it’s MENTAL POSTURE. What is your perspective on this whole thing? That is going to dictate the experience that you have. My preparation, my knowledge, my skills, allow me to live a life of safety, security, health, well-being and abundance, because I have developed skills and resources that enhance those things.
This is just an introduction to Wilderness Survival and Bush Crafting. In Part 2, Quinn addresses FIRE.