Questions relating to staying alive in the wilderness and learning survival techniques. Please **do not** use this tag for questions about general survival that are not related to the outdoors. Surviving in town or city environments will likely be closed.

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54
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5answers
2k views

What are essential items in an emergency kit?

What are must-have items in an emergency kit for a multi-day hiking trip?
46
votes
3answers
105k 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 ...
44
votes
4answers
24k 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?
42
votes
9answers
33k 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 ...
42
votes
7answers
11k views

Does cotton really kill?

For outdoor hiking, backpacking or camping trips, I always hear people saying Cotton Kills. That means don't wear cotton anywhere (underwear, shirts, pants), and no cotton blends. Usually it's given ...
41
votes
14answers
15k views

How can I tell if I am dehydrated or have low electrolytes (need salt, etc.)?

How can detect, in the outdoors with minimal equipment, if I am dehydrated or need electrolytes? Update Some background: I get overheated very easily, possibly because I don't sweat as much as most ...
39
votes
10answers
3k 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.
37
votes
3answers
16k views

Can I eat rotten meat and carcass given enough cooking?

I've met often with the concept that rotten meat and carcass is inedible because of bacteria and toxins. The most harmful is the botulinum toxin. However, in the question Can any waterborne pathogens ...
31
votes
6answers
9k 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?
29
votes
4answers
2k 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?
27
votes
6answers
8k 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 ...
26
votes
2answers
2k views

What makes certain mountains more dangerous than others?

Why do mountains like K2, Nanga Parbat and Annapurna (36 successful attempts, 47 failed) have higher fatality rates than, say, Everest or Cho Oyu (79 successful attempts, 28 failed)? (source) Can I ...
25
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
24
votes
4answers
4k views

What do mountaineers eat and drink on the day of an Everest summit?

I was watching Everest (2015) on the weekend and was wondering what the mountaineers do for sustenance on the day they attempt to summit. It appeared they left around midnight, aiming for a 2pm ...
23
votes
9answers
2k 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)?
22
votes
4answers
4k views

What are the rules for eating raw, wild meat?

Can you always eat raw meat (wild) as long as it is fresh?
21
votes
4answers
38k 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 ...
21
votes
3answers
818 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 ...
20
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
20
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
19
votes
2answers
4k views

In a survival situation, should I drink unpurified water?

If I am in a survival situation, is there any reason I shouldn't drink the available water? I am aware of Giardia and cholera. Are these worthy concerns, or are there good enough cures available that ...
19
votes
3answers
492 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
6answers
9k views

How to check if a fence or cable has electricity without having special tools?

You run across a wire cable, or wire fence in the wild, with which you would have to interact in some way. How to check if electricity runs through it without having special tools? EDIT: As the ...
18
votes
5answers
1k views

When will a rattlesnake strike?

There are a few questions about how to avoid rattlers, and what to do if you're bit, but at what point does a rattler actually strike? I had my first rattler encounter ever yesterday, just out in ...
18
votes
7answers
359 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?
18
votes
2answers
3k views

Can groundwater still be consumed if after boiling the water turns brown with an oily substance floating on top?

This weekend we went "pole camping". A pole camp site (dutch link only) is a camp site offered by the departments of forestry in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is very basic. What is offered is a ...
18
votes
4answers
642 views

Why are people so worried about Giardia?

Everyone I have ever been camping with seems to have an unwritten rule never to drink from streams no matter how clear they might seem, for fear of Giardia. I have also heard people telling about ...
18
votes
4answers
1k 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. ...
17
votes
2answers
983 views

What is the first thing to do, when buried in an avalanche?

Are there set rules I should follow which would increase my chances of survival if I get buried by an avalanche? Should I try to do anything if I get caught-up in one, before it has settled?
17
votes
4answers
13k views

Is it possible to develop 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 ...
16
votes
7answers
4k 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?
16
votes
5answers
9k views

What do I do if a black bear is right outside my tent?

Even if I was to follow the advice of letting bears know I am in the area, keeping my cooking and anything that smells at least 100m from my camp & downwind, etc, suppose a bear finds my tent and ...
16
votes
4answers
14k 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?
16
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
15
votes
12answers
6k 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

What formation to best survive a flood?

I just heard of an incident where a group of people were caught unprepared by a flood. It is known as the "Bulacan State University Field Trip", Looking at the images online, I couldn't help but ...
15
votes
4answers
802 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

How to make a traditional torch?

How would you go about preparing an old fashioned torch for use in survival situations where an electrical torch has failed?
15
votes
2answers
5k views

If you are buried in an avalanche will you survive?

Obviously, my best chance of survival is in not being buried, but if I am unfortunate enough to become buried in an avalanche what are my chances of surviving it?
15
votes
2answers
586 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
511 views

How do you make a snow shelter?

Sometimes when mountaineering, there may be an emergency situation which leaves you in bad weather with no or damaged shelter (such as returning from a summit attempt or after a wild and crazy storm). ...
14
votes
3answers
3k views

How do you locate the “North Star”?

What if it's night and you want to find north? How do you locate the North Star in the night sky?
14
votes
5answers
1k views

Ration or consume water?

In a situation where you don't know when you will find water again, is it better to ration the water you have over time (and ever increasing dehydration) or to drink it to quench thirst as soon as ...
14
votes
3answers
2k views

What to do if a team member falls sick?

Recently I fell ill whilst car camping and it made me consider the situations when not around amenities. In addition to this I recently was part of a four man, one dog team climbing Snowdon and one of ...
14
votes
7answers
1k 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
513 views

What are the real dangers of climbing at high altitude?

I had a campfire discussion not long ago with a man that got pulmonary edema while attempting the summit of Aconcagua, and we got into the discussion of the effects of high elevation. I had always ...
13
votes
5answers
523 views

What are some alternative ways of fishing - i.e. catching fish?

If I'm out in the wilderness and want to catch fish to survive, what are some ways I can do this without a conventional fishing pole/line?
13
votes
3answers
13k 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?
13
votes
2answers
716 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 ?
13
votes
3answers
442 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 ...