What are Survival Skills?


Survival skills include the combined knowledge and abilities of methods and techniques that will be used in situations where modern conveniences and infrastructures don’t exist or have been damaged.

Survival skills are typically thought of in the context of wilderness survival. However the term is a very broad and general one, and applies to many ‘levels’ of survival, from the simple ability to cook your own food, make your own bread, shut off the electricity-gas-water to your home, successfully build a fire, build your own shelter, purify drinking water, all the way to identifying outdoor wild edible plants, trapping, hunting, field dressing game, growing a successful garden, building a fence, preserving foods, tactics and evasion, and on and on…

There is an underlying theme though…

The underlying theme is the general ability to be more self-sufficient than otherwise.

A few thoughts:

Everyone has their own unique interests and abilities, and really – no one person can know it all. People will gravitate towards the skill sets that they find natural or enjoyable for them. However, it is also a very good thing to challenge yourself and get outside of your comfort zone. People usually need to be pushed to get into that (somewhat uncomfortable) zone, but the end result is often very rewarding after having conquered a new skill.

The thought of being able to survive and make it on your own, is just that — a thought. In reality, it would be highly unlikely that you could succeed entirely on your own for very long. Okay, maybe the best could — but you get the idea. We will need support from others eventually. After all, this is how a civilization is built.

Having survival skills will enable you some peace-of-mind. Survival skills will also enable you to better adapt to situations without panicking and enable better decisions during times of crisis. Survival skills are a valuable commodity during times of disaster.

Having survival skills, although not necessary in our modern world of support systems, will shape you into a different person – one who is more self-reliant and who knows that he doesn’t necessarily need to rely upon all of our modern systems of infrastructure to survive.

Survival skills also include those that aren’t necessarily primitive. Having an open mind, a logical mind, a thinking mind, a mind with practical experiences – will better enable you to adapt. Adapting is probably the greatest survival skill of all. It’s a very general term (to adapt-adaptability-adapting), but the ability to do, to change, to make something beneficial with the resources that you currently have on hand – is a great asset.

To have survival skills doesn’t necessarily require that you learn how to go off and live by yourself in the woods. You might say that ‘modern survival skills’ could be defined a little differently – having the skills to work and survive outside of the system while still functioning in the modern world.

Start small. Examine what it is that you are ‘chained to’, the things that are holding you down. Figure out ways to break the chains. What are some of the systems around you that you depend on? Figure out alternatives or another way. Become slightly more self sufficient by growing some of your own food – even if it is only seasonal. Learn some of the basics like how to ‘can’ and preserve foods (it’s pretty easy). Think about the skills that you believe would help you to be more self-reliant and/or more self-sufficient. Start learning some of these skills in your spare time – part time on weekends. That’s where it starts…

Survival skills… think, ‘self sufficient’, and go from there.

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  1. I have been interested in survival since my teens.Mostly outdoor survival in the early years.Collected classic books on the subject by Bradford Angier and others.But in todays world,prepping has taken more precedence than surviving in the woods.

    1. Frank,

      Don’t you agree that before you go into the back country, you would “Prep” to ensure the best chance of survival? Just like if the US economy collapses and the dollar becomes useless, we should be “Prepped” for a world of hostility and uncertainty, no? I think outdoor survival skills are essential to successfully surviving even in an urban survival situation without power, clean water, functioning government and so on. I talk a lot about this stuff on surviveforlife.com

  2. I believe one of your best assets is your mind and the ability to adapt. Like you Frank I also had been interested in outdoor survival skills in my very early teens. I found that I could not master many of the fire making skills that the experts say you should know. Then many years later a show came on tv (MacGyver) where I actually learned to think outside the box, to look at things differently.

    1. Had to laugh about this. Not personal.

      The actor that played MacGyver and a senior officer on the Stargate series doesn’t like guns. Unless of course they are used to make him boatloads of money.

    1. Bic lighters are fine for everyday but in a survival situation it would be better to learn to use steel and flint. They are going to last a lot longer than the Bic supply.

  3. The best way to learn anything is to do it. When I was a kid i would pack my bag and hit the wood for sometimes a week at a time with nothing more than what I could carry. My first few outings I learned very quickly that a radio is nice but a small stove for cooking was a better choice for space.
    Reading about how to start a fire with wet fuel is not the way to learn you MUST do it to fully understand the complexity of some seemingly simple task. I don’t see a lot of people surviving after TSHTF. They wont be able to adapt to a more simple but harder life. I grew up hunting and fishing and we ate most things from both. I seriously couldn’t see some of the people I know eating squirrel or Bambi or maybe some salad from the wood.
    Survival is a state of mind that you can adapt and overcome whatever is in your way. This mindset is something that has to be built on and not given after watching a few videos or reading a book or two. You must PRACTICE what you want to learn and build upon your failures and strive to overcome them in order to understand what your trying to do and become comfortable doing them.
    If you REALLY want to learn how to survive the wood put a three day pack together and go practice survival skills. I promise you will learn very quickly what you needed to bring versus what you did bring. This way of learning is the most harsh way buy the most effective way to learn quickly how to build skills in the wood. The only catch to this test is you can only bring what you can carry. When I went trough this test I ended up with a SMALL pack and could stay in the wood for weeks at a time with just basic tools and my skills I developed after MANY outings.

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