Questions relating to staying alive in the wilderness and learning survival techniques.

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43
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5answers
1k views

What are essential items in an emergency kit?

What are must-have items in an emergency kit for a multi-day hiking trip?
34
votes
3answers
18k views

Is drinking urine safe?

We've all heard stories about how people saved their lives by drinking their urine. Is drinking urine safe when there are no other water sources available? Can I filter it with a water purifier?
34
votes
3answers
47k views

How long does water need to be boiled for to kill all bacteria / viruses?

This has come up a few times in a few other questions, but I've heard varying opinions from different people in a number of answers and comments on here - some saying that just boiling for a moment is ...
30
votes
11answers
2k views

How can you navigate without a compass or GPS

What are the ways you can navigate when you don't have a compass or a GPS? For example how can you tell which way is north.
30
votes
3answers
6k views

Can I eat rotten meat and carcass providing enough cooking?

I've met often with the concept, that rotten meat and carcass is inedible because of bacteria and toxins. The most harmful of it the botulinum toxin. However, in the question Can any waterborne ...
29
votes
9answers
19k views

Does eating snow help dehydration?

I have heard many people say that eating snow actually can increase dehydration since the energy required for the body to heat up and melt the snow is greater than the benefits received from the ...
27
votes
6answers
5k views

How can I identify edible berries/fruit from poisonous?

How can I identify edible berries/fruit in the wide and avoid the poisonous varieties? Is there a general guideline that can be followed or is each plant specific?
22
votes
3answers
839 views

If I have to cross an icy, flowing river, what are some ways I can cross safely?

If I'm alone in a survival situation and I have to cross a very cold river that's still flowing, how should I accomplish this safely?
20
votes
5answers
4k views

What essential items should go in a small first aid kit?

Another question asked what survival equipment should be carried in an emergency kit. But very little was about medical or first aid supplies (band-aids, gauze, tylenol, moleskin, etc). What items ...
19
votes
3answers
351 views

What pattern for casual planes should a castaway create on a desert island?

This answer has inspired me to a question: say you are a castaway on a desert island. There might be a plane flying casualy but you can miss it. So you want to create some pattern (e.g. put some ...
18
votes
7answers
1k views

How can you navigate / determine your location in thick fog?

Are there any good hints, tips and ways you can use to navigate around and find your location in thick fog (apart from a GPS)?
18
votes
2answers
529 views

Surviving a forest fire by starting another fire

Awhile back I heard on CBC radio about a man who got trapped in a forest fire (surrounded on all sides) and survived. The way he survived was so ridiculous that he was brought to court and almost ...
17
votes
5answers
464 views

Keeping warm in an emergency

When roaming the outdoors, it might happen that one finds oneself in a situation that is much, much colder than one planned for. What can one do in such an emergency, especially when it's so cold ...
16
votes
4answers
569 views

What should I do when I'm lost?

What should I do when I get disoriented or lost? How can I find help or make myself easier to find? This is a general question to do when lost in the wilderness, whether it is a meadow or mountain. ...
16
votes
4answers
23k views

How can I start a fire by rubbing two sticks together?

When trying to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together, what does one need to consider? I am assuming I can't just grab any two sticks and start rubbing... Should they be dead or green? Hard ...
16
votes
3answers
447 views

Are carabiners useful tools to have in the wilderness? If so, what would they be used for?

Carabiners are obviously essential in certain circumstances, such as with any type of climbing / rappelling. But are they a good tool to have generally as well, and if so what might be some example ...
16
votes
4answers
1k views

What are the rules for eating raw, wild meat?

Can you always eat raw meat (wild) as long as it is fresh?
15
votes
2answers
384 views

If I cross paths with a bear, what should I do?

If I'm out hiking, and I come around a corner and stumble upon a bear, what's the best course of action to take to minimize the chance the bear will act aggressively? Do different types of bear ...
14
votes
5answers
240 views

Good books to learn survival?

Does anybody have a recommendation to a good book about how to survive in the Norwegian woods and similar?
14
votes
2answers
369 views

Where are good places to look for water sources when I have run out on a multi-day hike?

Luckily this has never happened to me, but even the most prepared hiker can often get themselves into difficulties if they run out of water. My question here is in your experience in remote arid ...
13
votes
12answers
1k views

Survival type activies for Scout camp

I taking a bunch of scouts camping next week. While we are staying at a Scout campsite with facilities and some organised activities. We have decided we want to have a bit more of back to ...
13
votes
7answers
636 views

What to look for when purchasing a fixed blade knife

I'm planning on doing some back country canoe camping this summer. I would like to avoid bringing a hatchet if possible. I also find my folding knifes get full of gunk and I am a little bit afraid I ...
13
votes
3answers
246 views

What steps should I take if someone starts sinking?

What are the steps that should be taken if someone you're hiking with starts to sink uncontrollably into say a marsh? What are some good techniques and points that should be used to get them out ...
12
votes
5answers
1k views

If lost in the wilderness, what is the first thing I should do?

If I get lost in the wilderness, what is the very first thing I should do?
12
votes
2answers
7k views

Can you eat pine needles in an emergency?

If you are in a survival situation in the woods and REALLY hungry, and you are unsure about which plants are edible, can you eat pine needles?
12
votes
2answers
415 views

How to make a signal fire that can be seen miles away

If I were lost in the North American woods, how could I make a signal fire that would attract attention many miles away ?
12
votes
3answers
365 views

Falling into an ice cold body of water

I've never been hiking in such extreme situations, but if in the situation in the question, i.e. you're hiking in very cold weather and someone falls in (let's say so pretty much their whole body is ...
12
votes
3answers
175 views

Tree bark as food

I saw a youtube video where this guy skinned a spruce tree stick and ate the bark while claiming it is nutritious. That got me curious since trees are everywhere and this could be a great tip so I ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

How can I tell what time it is without a watch?

Assuming I don't have a watch or other time-telling device with me in the wilderness, is there a way to know what time it is? I don't necessarily want to know the exact minute of the day, but a ...
12
votes
3answers
159 views

Are there any specific guidelines for edible plants in North America?

I know there are dangerous plants and fruits to eat, but are there any basic rules one can use when in an emergency situation that apply to all safe foods? The 'rules' don't necessarily have to apply ...
12
votes
1answer
452 views

Techniques for building a raft from wood

What are some good techniques to use (materials, knots, etc.) for building a raft by gathering wood in the local area? I'm talking about something to sail on still or slow moving bodies of water, not ...
11
votes
3answers
4k views

Can I shoot a bear in self-defense?

Can I shoot a bear in self-defense? Will I face fines and jail time if I do?
10
votes
2answers
2k views

How do I desalinate seawater?

I know I shouldn't drink seawater (because of the salt it contains), but how can I desalinate it?
10
votes
2answers
414 views

Will boiling be enough to decontaminate standing water from pathogens and toxins?

Will the boiling of the water itself be enough to decontaminate water taken from such standing water reservoir as that: This water looks horrible, and probably drinking it raw would cause serial ...
10
votes
5answers
285 views

Reacting to tornado warnings while camping with no buildings nearby

This afternoon there was a tornado warning - TAKE SHELTER IN A PERMANENT BUILDING IMMEDIATELY - for the west half of Algonquin Park issued through the usual channels including Twitter. I believe by ...
10
votes
3answers
402 views

Would a tampon be a good addition to a survival kit

Jezebel magazine suggests a tampon for your survival kit. I don't question that, if you just happen to have a tampon, you can use it. But at the end of the article they suggest even guys carry one ...
10
votes
1answer
834 views

What should I do if caught in a sand storm?

If I find myself caught in a sand storm, what should I do? Should I sit it out, or try to keep moving somehow? Can this depend on the severity of the sand storm?
10
votes
2answers
132 views

Is there a standard set of light signals for mountaineers?

On a recent winter backpacking trip there was some confusion and danger of separation of the group. The group had not walked together before. Some members were not very experienced, while others were ...
9
votes
3answers
4k views

Is it possible to develop the immunity against mosquitos?

For me, every bite by mosquito results in heavy itching and the blister, which size is dependent on how long the mosquito was sucking the blood, in worst cases even 1 cm in diameter. If I would stay ...
9
votes
2answers
238 views

Moose: How to decrease the risk of being injured?

Based on Wikipedia: Moose injure more people than any other wild mammal and, worldwide, only hippopotamuses injure more. In this case, what should I do to decrease the risk of being injured ? ...
9
votes
1answer
99 views

Are there significant behaviour differences among bear species to adopt different safety rules?

Living the north-east part of America, my chances of encountering a grizzly bear is very low. I have greater chances of meeting a black bear. If I got the chance of meeting a grizzly, should I change ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

Are barberries edible?

Barberries are so common around here that there would be enough for a fruit serving a day for quite a while. But there is a problem: I do not know whether or not they are edible. Are they edible in ...
8
votes
6answers
807 views

Practical uses for urine

When on extended outdoor excursions are there any scenarios where you can leverage urine as an efficient tool? An example would be: You're in your sleeping bag in a tent and it's -30*C outside, you ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Can I heat a shelter with fire?

So I built my survival shelter and I decide a nice fire would really warm things up. Is there a way I can build a fire that would heat the shelter without too much smoke? I know I could make the ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

How do I catch fish with fish hooks but no bait?

As most survival kits come with fish hooks, I am wondering how do I catch fish without any bait?
8
votes
2answers
121 views

Is it necessary to carry a knife sharpener?

Under the assumption that an emergency kit like the ones listed here are for the emergency of getting lost and being stranded for days, how necessary is a knife sharpener?
8
votes
1answer
569 views

What to do if you're bitten by an adder?

I've heard that while adder bites are venomous the number of people who have died from them are extremely low. If you're on a trek and you're bitten is it safe to continue for a couple more days ...
8
votes
2answers
238 views

How to maximise the chances of survival when stranded in open sea?

I read with interest about news of a scuba diver being stranded in the open sea when the diving operator failed to account for all members of a group. Mishaps like this and accidents such as boat ...
8
votes
2answers
126 views

Are there any specific techniques that should be used when starting a fire in the rain?

Starting a fire can sometimes be hard enough when it's dry, let alone when it's tipping it down. But when it is, what steps should you follow to try to ensure the fire gets going successfully? I'm ...
8
votes
1answer
163 views

Is it possible to improvise a knife sharpener in the wild?

Assuming I am lost with minimal tools, but have my knife, is there any way to improvise a knife sharpener in the woods?