What are the essential skills for survival?

What are the essential skills for survival

Here are some basic skills to learn and master so that you are ready to face any survival situation.

Start a Fire

A fire can keep you warm, ward off wild animals, and provide heat for cooking. Signage is unique among survival techniques, giving you the means and ability to alert each and every potential rescuer that you need help. Fire, flashing light, brightly colored markers, flags, mirrors and whistles can help them find you.

There's something inherently satisfying about starting a fire and keeping it going, so it's a great life skill to carry with you. Make sure you have matches, a lighter or a fire steel on your person when you head out for an adventure. You never know when it might come in handy.

Two ways to start a fire that I really don't recommend are the bow drill and the hand drill. For those looking to fully immerse themselves in survival skills, naturalistic studies, and land-based resilience, check out The Immersion at Wilderness Awareness School for a transformative nine-month experience. I've said for years that first aid skills are the most likely “survival skills” anyone will ever need. Starting a fire with a blow from an iron rod or building a shelter in the middle of nature are essential skills if you plan to hunt or hike in the countryside.

Three triangular-shaped fires are a recognized distress signal. Carefully aim your signal fires to prevent the surrounding area from igniting. Use normal signal mirrors only when you can see an airplane or people in the distance. Use an emergency strobe light at night to help attract the attention of people who may be in the area may save your life or death situation.

Make smoky signals with organic material over the fire during the day to attract attention. Design ground messages to the air signal in an open field, S, O, S. From rocks, logs or colored clothing, whatever is seen against the background. Most search and rescue groups use airplanes as their primary method of observation.

Food and Cooking

Another important skill for survival is knowing how to forage for food. In a disaster situation, it's important to know where to find and how to cook food. This will also provide you and your family with something to do while waiting for rescue. In fact, foraging can be fun and provide you and your family with valuable exercise.


With water and fire, you gain two of the most basic survival skills that everyone should know. The next thing is to secure a place to hide from the elements. Whether you need to protect yourself from the sun and heat, or want to avoid rain, having shelter is very important to staying dry and out of harm's way.

Use a space blanket to prevent dampness, to insulate your shelter, or to wrap yourself up in a sitting or squatting position to concentrate your body core heat.

You should also build a bug-out shelter if you are able to build one. It's the most effective force multiplier during survival situations. A bug-out shelter can also provide you with additional space for your family and pets.

Stay communicated

This Skill Set Won't Boost Your Ego. After all, you're asking for help and admitting that you can't do it alone. However, it's the skill set most likely to get you rescued. Modern technology can do a lot for us when we carry and use locator beacons and even our mobile phone.

There are a few other signaling tools that are not as “push-button” in operation and require practice. Just one example is the use of a signal mirror. The beam of sunlight redirected from a mirror can be noticed up to 10 miles away, but it's quite a challenge to reach a target with that beam, even when it's a few hundred meters away. These skills require practice, and it's best to do it before you get into trouble (not while you're in trouble).


As children, we all learned to tie our shoes. However, for a massive segment of the population, knot-tying skills stopped there. There are so many interesting and useful knots that we could all master. To be fair, the average daily work no longer requires much of a knot, but I would still consider this a knowledge gap.

In addition to the overhead knot, which most people know, only a few other knots can serve us well in many situations. The square knot, the fold of the sheet and the arch line are closures that I use very often. Two half hitches and the taut line hitch are also in heavy rotation for me. It has been estimated that there are between 3,500 and 5,000 knots, but start with the knots I mentioned.

First aid kit

In order to help you be a little more prepared for whatever happens to you, we've put together this list of the 8 most important survival skills every man should know. Store your first aid kit along with any other essentials in the Snugpak ResponsePak, so they're always handy when you need it. Knowing how to build a camp stove out of materials found in nature is an excellent skill, but your life can be simplified in the most extreme circumstances if you plan to pack something like the Snow Peak Giga electric stove. There's something inherently satisfying about starting a fire and keeping it going, so it's a great life skill you can carry with you.

Learning to do first aid is also important for survival. Aside from CPR, it's essential to know how to treat burns, stabilize limbs, and treat insect stings. Similarly, survival fishing is an essential skill for survival as it provides you with protein without consuming too much energy. Different techniques and snares will be needed for different kinds of prey, so learning these techniques is vital.

Be Prepared

If you're worried about having to carry a lot of equipment, make sure you have a good quality lightweight backpack, such as the Snugpak Xocet backpack, which is designed to fit all the essentials for a day on the trail, with adjustable shoulder straps for added comfort. There may be hundreds of different survival skills to learn, and there's no way anyone can improve on all of them. Going on an adventure without the right equipment or survival skills, assuming someone will be there to help you, is a dangerous game and a risk you shouldn't be willing to take. We caught up with the guys at Snugpak, who provide the essential kit for such a scenario, to discover the five best survival skills everyone should know before embarking on an adventure.

I hope I pointed you in the right direction, and now you know what skills you need to master to survive. While it takes patience and some skill to build a trap and use it to catch a meal, it will also cost you far fewer calories than actively looking for food. . 

Darius Lauder
Darius Lauder

Wannabe social mediaholic. Friendly bacon trailblazer. Avid pop culture guru. Typical tv guru. Hardcore music geek.

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