Top 50 Best Wilderness Survival Tips – Tactics And Techniques To Master
We don’t think much about survival skills in our on-demand society. Everything happens at the touch of a screen, and we usually have our basic needs met with some ease. But what happens when you’re lost, stranded, or injured and you need to keep yourself safe from harm?
Do you know the basic skills necessary to stay alive long enough to get to safety? Most people can’t say with any certainty that they would know how to survive in a wilderness situation.
Many people even believe survival myths that could hurt or kill them. That’s why we’ve created this list of 50 of the most important wilderness survival tips that could mean the difference between life and death.
1. Stay Calm
Managing your attitude is key. Stay calm and take stock of your resources and immediate survival needs. It’s okay to be a little afraid, but don’t allow yourself to succumb to it. Determination is survival.
2. Make Shelter
Ideally, you’ve brought a tarp or other item that can be used as shelter. If not, you’ll need to build something from your available resources. A lean-to is insufficient on its own, so add sides and insulation by filling gaps between logs and sticks with smaller twigs, pine needles, and leaves.
3. Collect Water
Finding water is your second highest survival priority. Be wary of standing water such as lakes or puddles, as these can be full of pathogens and bacteria.
A running stream or river is best, but even this water should be purified before drinking. Boil the water over a fire, or make a water filter (see below).
4. Start a Fire
Start your fire with a small tinder bundle made of leaves, grass, small twigs, or pine needles. With luck, you’ve brought along a flint and steel or a lighter. If not, improvise a magnifying glass with water and a clear plastic bag to amplify the sun’s rays and start a fire.
5. Keep The Fire Burning
Once your fire is started, make sure the oxygen can flow. To this end, stack your fuel in a cone shape around your burning tinder. Add smaller branches and logs first and get them burning well before you add thicker, longer-burning logs.
Learning to navigate is important. A compass is handy, but there are other tricks you can use to find your way.
Remember that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Find the North Star using the Big Dipper constellation — the North Star is at the end of the Dipper’s handle.
7. Carry Two Signal Mirrors
If rescuers are flying to find you, use two mirrors to catch their attention. One signal mirror isn’t always reliable because of the varying angles of the sun. Use the second mirror to reflect light off the first to ensure you are seen from above.
8. Catch Small Game
It takes too much energy to hunt large animals, so focus on rabbits, squirrels, and fish for meat. Learn to make a snare to catch them, or make a spear out of sharpened sticks.
Bonus tip: use the bones and skin of the animal to make tools and small pouches, and be sure to discard the entrails far from your location to avoid attracting predator animals.
9. Create A Smoke Signal
The smoke from your campfire is not enough to attract rescuers’ attention. Make a smoke signal with material such as pine and spruce leaves to create thick, heavy smoke. Camp on high ground to be more easily seen.
10. Make A Water Filter
Much of the water in the wild must be filtered to remove dirt, debris, and other contaminants. Use an empty bottle or container and poke small holes into it with your knife or a sharpened stick.
Then fill the bottle up to two inches with a layer of coarse gravel, a layer of coarse sand, some ground charcoal from your fire, and a layer of fine sand. Pour the water in, and as it travels through each layer, impurities will be filtered out.
11. Make Char Cloth
Take any small piece of cloth and place it inside a metal container with a cover. Place the container in a fire for a couple minutes. When the cloth is dark from having been burned but is still intact, you have successfully made a char cloth.
Char cloth is an ideal fire starter because it catches with a small spark, saving you time and energy gathering tinder.
12. Keep Aluminum Foil
The uses of aluminum foil are endless in a survival situation. Use it to fashion dishes and cooking utensils, or to shield your shelter from heat.
You can use it as a dry surface to start a fire. To save space, don’t bring a whole roll. Simply fold up a few large sheets and tuck them into your pack.
13. Bring Extra Socks
In addition to keeping your feet warm and dry, socks can be used for a number of other purposes. A clean sock can make a water filter in a pinch, or you can use them on your hands for extra warmth.
14. Treat Blisters
Blisters can be painful and can slow you down as you travel. Prevent blisters by covering your toes in duct tape, reducing friction as you walk. If you already have a blister, puncture it with a sanitized pin or needle on either side to drain the fluid and then cover it.
15. How To Waterproof
Waterproofing spray is good to have, but if you don’t have any, make sure your sleeping area and fire are elevated. Use a hammock or logs to raise your body from the ground. Cover your shelter with pine branches to allow rain to run off the shelter.
16. Protection From Animals
If you run across a wolf or coyote, don’t run or play dead. Look the animal in the eye and slowly back away.
17. Find Edible Plants
Know what plants are edible and which can make you sick or kill you. This requires study and practice to familiarize yourself with edible plants. Even when you learn about these plants, never eat a plant if you’re in doubt. Common edible plants include cattail, wild grass, dandelion, and acorns.
18. Treat Small Cuts
Any time your skin is broken, you are at risk for infection. An infection can worsen and become a serious problem, so it’s important to treat cuts as soon as possible. Never wash a wound with dirty water. Use only filtered and purified water to wash the wound thoroughly, and bind it with a bandage from your first aid kit.
19. Take Care Of Hygiene
There are some hygiene practices that can be largely ignored in a long term survival situation, but others should not be shirked. Keeping your teeth clean will prevent painful tooth infections.
Fashion a toothbrush from birch bark, or simply scrub your teeth clean with a cloth. Try to also keep areas where skin touches skin (such as armpits, groin, and between toes) clean and dry to prevent bacteria and fungus buildup.
20. Learn Knots
If you never learn another knot, learn the bowline knot. The bowline is the kind of knot that gets tighter the harder you pull — a true multi-purpose knot.
After you make a loop, remember this: the rabbit comes out of the hole, in front of the tree, goes behind the tree, and back down its original hole.
21. Prep Food Far From Your Shelter
When you catch a small animal for food, be sure to skin and gut the animal quite far from your fire and shelter and discard the remains even further still. This will prevent any predatory animals from catching the scent of the kill and paying your campsite a visit for some dinner of their own.
22. Other Ways To Find Water
Rain is the most obvious way to collect water, but what if it doesn’t rain? You can also collect water from trees, which “sweat” water throughout the day.
Tie a plastic bag around tree branches and leave it there. When you return to it, you will have collected water that has condensed inside the bag.
23. Don’t Travel At Night
Traveling through the wilderness in the dark is dangerous. Most predatory animals are nocturnal, which means they will see you long before you see them.
There are dangers in the terrain that you may not see at night, too. You can fall off a cliff or into a pit if you can’t see where you are going.
24. Sleep Elevated
Sleeping above the ground will keep you warmer and drier than sleeping on the ground itself. Make a hammock out of a tarp or sturdy poncho, or raise your sleeping area off the ground using logs.
Construct this bed similarly to the way you build your shelter — thick logs first, then fill in the gaps with smaller sticks and leaves.
25. Carry Extras
You never know when a supply item might fail, so always carry several options for emergency use. Have two or three options for fire starting and waterproofing, a backup knife or saw, several ponchos or garbage bags, and extra water pouches on hand at all times.
26. Carry Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer has a variety of uses in a survival situation. It can be used to treat small wounds, and because it’s so high in alcohol content, it’s very flammable. Put a few drops on your tinder bundle or a small cloth and light it, and your fire will be burning in no time.
27. Carry Duct Tape
You’ve heard that “duct tape fixes everything,” and it’s never more true than in an emergency. You can use duct tape to reinforce your waterproofing efforts, strengthen your supply pack, prevent blisters, treat injuries, repair items, and to help you make tools.
28. Use Charcoal To Purify water
As you learned in the tip about how to make a water filter, charcoal is useful to purify water. It has absorptive properties that can remove contaminants from lake or river water. Simply save a few chunks from your fire and you’ll always have some charcoal on hand.
29. Keep Rope On Hand
Rope is useful for making shelter, hunting, and a number of other things. If you don’t have rope in your pack, you can make rope by braiding together the soft ribbonlike material found under willow bark.
30. Learn Survival Fishing
If you’re near a water source, fishing is the most convenient way to find food. Because fish swim toward the wind, you will catch more fish if you cast your bait into the wind while fishing. This will ensure the bait lands in front of the fish rather than behind.
31. Invest In A Good Backpack
Tactical packs are made of durable, weather-resistant material that will protect your supplies and keep them well organized. Organizing your bag is important so that you’ll be able to find what you need quickly. Good tactical backpacks are lightweight, which will save energy.
32. Use Your Watch To Navigate
If you don’t have a compass, you can use a watch to navigate. Point the hour hand at the sun and draw two imaginary lines between it and the 12 o’clock point. This will create an angle, and then draw an imaginary straight line bisecting the angle. Because the sun moves from east to west, the line pointing away from the sun is the north.
33. Keep Your Cell Phone
Even if you don’t have a signal, your cell phone can be useful for survival. In a pinch, you can start a fire with your cell phone battery. Look for survival apps you can use offline.
34. Use A Poncho
Carry several extra ponchos in your pack. Use them not only to cover yourself in the rain, but to collect rain water, to protect your shelter from rain, or as a barrier between the ground and your bed. Stuff them with leaves for added insulation, like a makeshift mattress.
35. The Universal Wave
In addition to light or smoke signals, you should learn the universal wave to communicate with rescuers. Stand upright and hold your arms in the shape of a “Y” to get their attention as they fly overhead.
36. Collect Fat Wood
“Fat wood” is actually resin from pine trees. It is effective both as a fire starter and as an insect repellent, so it’s a good thing to collect and have on hand.
37. Keep Good Tools
You can waste a lot of energy trying to make tools out of sticks and animal bones. It’s best to always have tools on hand. A good knife, a multi-tool, a saw, and a shovel can go a long way toward your survival.
38. Surround Your Fire With Rocks
Rocks around a fire will retain the fire’s heat long after the fire is out. You can even use small hot stones from a fire to boil water. Simply drop the hot stone into a metal container of water, and the stone will bring the water to a boil.
39. Don’t Eat Snow
It might sound like a good way to stay hydrated, but snow is made of more air than water. It costs your body more energy to eat the snow than to drink water. Always melt snow and drink it as water instead of eating it.
40. Pack a Mylar Blanket
These space-age blankets don’t look like much, but they are made of reflective material that retains your body’s heat. In the cold, they can be life savers. In the heat, they can be used to reflect the sun’s rays away from your shelter.
41. Invest In Waterproof Matches
When regular matches get wet, their chemical composition changes and they won’t light again. If you’re packing matches, make sure they are waterproof.
42. Learn To Predict The Weather
By looking at the sun or moon, you can tell whether there will be rain. A halo around the sun or moon indicates oncoming rain within 36 hours. The halo is created by light reflecting off ice crystals in the atmosphere.
43. Wear A Survival Bracelet
Survival bracelets made of paracord have become popular among outdoor enthusiasts. These can be used as rope to help make shelter or bind injuries.
44. Make Your Tools Visible
Paint the handles of your tools with bright orange paint to make them visible. You don’t want to spend precious time and energy searching for your tools if you drop them on the ground.
45. Don’t Cross River Rapids
Even if you’re a strong swimmer, don’t risk crossing a rapid river. You could get sucked into a strong current and drown. Even if you survive the crossing, you will spend far too much energy in the effort.
46. Carry Glow Sticks
Glow sticks can help rescuers find you at night. The unnatural light from a glow stick easily catches attention. Tie them to your backpack or your shelter to help others find your position.
47. Chop Wood Without An Axe
Be careful with this tip so that you don’t break your leg. Just place the wood pieces diagonally between the ground and a tree. Kick the wood using good balance between force and strength.
48. Organize Your Pack
As mentioned above, keep your pack and supplies well organized so that you can find what you need easily. You don’t want to waste time searching through your supplies. Take special care with your firestarters so that they are always close at hand.
49. Know About Medicinal Plants
Pain and irritation from insect bites, diarrhea, and muscle and joint pain are common ailments in the wild.
Knowing what plants will help treat these problems will help. Willow bark tea, charcoal, dock leaves, and pine are readily available and can help treat these problems.
50. Stay Cool In The Heat
When you make a shade shelter, it’s helpful to dig a few inches into the ground to reveal a cooler surface. Cover your shelter with aluminum foil, shiny side out, to deflect heat away from your shelter.
In extreme heat situations, soak a cloth in urine and tie it around your head to stay cool.
Top 29 Best Watches Under $500 For Men
With cellphones so ubiquitous, your watch choice can be less about telling time and more about personal style. However, a watch is not ‘just’ a watch. For example, the vast majority are made for right-handed people, but a select few cater to the lefties among us. There is a wide range in functionality and size.
The wristwatch is also one of the few socially acceptable accessories for men, so why not have a small selection? If you’re not cashing a CEO’s paycheck just yet, here are the top 28 most handsome watches for men that retail for under $500.
Got a bigger budget? Then check out our guide to the best men’s watches under $1000 instead.
Top 29 Best Watches Under $500 For Men
1. Tommy Hilfiger Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
If you like the feel of a pliable, non-metal band but aren’t comfortable with genuine leather, this watch comes equipped with a handsome synthetic band. At 46mm in diameter, this watch is perfect for men of smaller stature, as it will not overpower your hand or make it look like you’re wearing your father’s watch. With bold Arabic numerals, a stainless steel case, and classic styling, this watch is an outstanding choice for an everyday watch and the man on a budget.
2. Nordgreen Pioneer – Black Dial
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Not everyone has an endless amount of cash to drop on a luxury timepiece. If you’re money-conscious but want something high-end, then why not consider the Nordgreen Pioneer.
An inspired take on a classic Chronograph, Nordgreen celebrates the Danish with what they call a timepiece “that captures the sustainable future.” Available in various dial colors from blue, black, and white. There’s even the choice of three case colors – gunmetal, silver, and rose gold. A perfect addition to the collection of any watch enthusiast.
3. Fossil Grant Brown Leather WatchCheck Price
This lovely offering by Fossil features slim Roman numeral hour markers and delicate cut-out hands. The casing is stainless steel and is water-resistant to 165 feet, making it a great dive watch. The band is made of supple, soft calfskin leather and uses a buckle closure.
Of course, this timepiece also comes with the generous 11-year warranty and it’s own fun tin. This watch oozes class and is great for nearly every occasion in your life.
4. Citizen Sport Stainless Steel Men’s Watch With Brown Leather Band
If you don’t want to deal with changing out a battery in a digital watch, this watch is powered by either natural or indoor lighting. The mineral crystal face and stainless steel case make this watch water-resistant to 330 feet, making it a great choice for swimmers and snorkelers.
Handsome and utilitarian, this is a great watch for everyday wear. It’s one of the best watches for men who are always on the go.
5. Fossil Men’s Machine Chronograph Silicone Watch
This watch was designed with the active man in mind. The knurled silicone band stands up to sweat and oils without issue, and the timepiece itself is water-resistant to 165 feet.
The patterned bezel and quality craftsmanship of the black dial is excellent, as is to be expected from a Fossil watch. It even comes in the iconic and collectible tin!
6. Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Watch
This men’s watch features Japanese quartz movement that charges itself indoors or out when exposed to light, making it a great choice for those who don’t want to change out the battery too often. The stitched canvas strap is soft against your skin and will wick away moisture, while the mineral crystal face stands up to the rigors of your everyday life.
Water-resistant to 330 feet, this dive watch is a classic and simple design you’ll be proud of for years to come.
7. Invicta Pro Diver Chronograph Men’s Watch
Another gorgeous offering by Invicta, this watch features a bold design with a slightly nautical feel to it. It will look at home whether you’re wearing a business suit or are going for a dive of less than 660 feet. This piece is also covered by a one-year warranty as a matter of course. The luminosity feature and magnified date window make it a great choice if you work or play in low light.
If you want something that looks like a Tag Heuer but without the luxury watch brand price tag, this is a good option!
8. Casio Edifice Multi-Function Men’s Watch
This watch has three sub-dials for 12 hour, 60 minute and 60-second displays, in addition to the standard time. It also features a fold-over, push-down clasp on the stainless strap, keeping it secure throughout your activities. If you’re looking for a classy timepiece that shrieks sophistication, this is a great choice.
9. Fossil Machine Three Hand Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
This quality watch is a chameleon piece. It looks at home as a dress watch riding below the cuff of your best suit, and it also looks great paired with jeans and a t-shirt. Backed by Fossil’s 11-year warranty as a matter of course and beautifully crafted, this smoke-colored piece is guaranteed to become the go-to accessory for nearly every occasion.
10. MVMT Watches Black Face Men’s Watch
If you like the look of a simple watch, this minimalist offering from MVMT is right up your alley. With just a plain black face, tick marks to denote the hours and a single date window, there is nothing overdone or extravagant about this design. The is understated and suited to the simple design. It’s definitely a classy, low-key piece for the budget-conscious.
11. Timex Weekender Watch
If you’re looking for a fun watch to pair with casual outfits, this is a great option. The band is blue and yellow woven nylon, and the face features both civilian and military timekeeping. An Indiglo night light is also included. This watch is water-resistant to 99 feet, meaning it can withstand splashes of water or exposure to rain but you won’t want to submerge it.
12. PUMA Ultrasize Black Sport Men’s Watch
Boasting a 50mm diameter, this piece is perfect for the large-framed man or one who likes to wear his accessories oversized. A true fashion statement, this sports watch comes in eight different colors schemes to match your favorite hues.
Do be aware, however, that the dial knob is configure for left-handed men!
13. Timex Easy Reader Men’s Watch
Another dress watch designed with the older gentleman in mind, this watch features a white dial with generously sized numerals that do not appear comical to the casual observer.
It’s also an excellent choice if you take your contacts out at night and still want to be able to check the time. With classic lines and a simple white face, the watch would not be out of place at any casual gathering. It comes with Timex’s one-year warranty at no additional charge.
14. Fossil Nate Men’s Chronograph Watch
For men who like a more gritty, industrial feel to their accessories, this Fossil watch is right on point. The bezel is gear-edged and the face is utilitarian black and gray. Water-resistant to 165 feet, this watch is a great choice if you like your adornments to be understated yet add visual interest.
It’s definitely a stand-out piece, for those who would take notice!
15. Timex Expedition Field Chronograph Men’s Watch
Featuring an indigo night light, tachymeter, a date window and a buckle closure, this watch is perfect for men who like to work or play outdoors. It is also water-resistant to 330 feet, making it a great choice for snorkeling or swimming.
You won’t want to wear it for diving, however. With classic, black styling and a genuine crystal face, this is a timepiece that will stand the test of time in both form and function.
16. Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
This Seiko automatic watch has all the bells and whistles you need, but presents it all in a plain and strikingly attractive manner. It features a date window in either English or Spanish, sword-shaped hands, a sweeping second hand and a mineral dial window. This is a great option for the man on the go. The canvas strap can be removed and hand-washed if sweat or other odors become an issue.
This watch is not water-resistant, so you’ll only want to wear it when you won’t be popping by the pool for a swim!
17. Invicta Pro Diver Collection Silver-Tone Men’s Watch
For those who prefer an all-metal timepiece, the stainless steel Invicta fits the bill nicely. It has a similar aesthetic to a Tag Heuer watch, but at a more affordable price. Equipped with a unilateral bezel and removable links, the band can be customized to fit your wrist perfectly. The face is flame fusion crystal and features a magnifier to highlight the date window.
It’s also water-resistant to 660 feet. If you’re looking for a gorgeous watch that stands up to an active lifestyle, this is an excellent choice.
18. Seiko Men’s Adventure-Solar Classic Casual Watch
This Seiko watch derives its power from either natural or indoor light and can withstand water depths of up to 330 feet. The supple brown leather strap and timeless brushed steel give this piece an attractive look, and the alarm chronograph is easy to set.
If you’re looking for a watch that can serve as a backup for your wake-up call while traveling, stand up to the elements and look awesome, this casual wrist watch is a winner.
19. Nautica Men’s Stainless Steel Watch with Blue Resin Band
Featuring a plethora of options and a smart, snappy style, this a great casual watch with a eye-catching blue dial. The hardy resin band is adjustable, and the face is protected by a mineral window. Whether for work or play, this bold blue design is handsome and substantial on the wrist. It comes with Nautica’s five-year warranty at no additional charge.
20. Citizen Sport Men’s Stainless Steel Watch with Black Leather Band
The black, red and white face of this piece eschews the traditional two-tone color scheme so often employed in other watches, and the contrasting stitching on the band adds creative flair. It comes backed by Citizen’s five-year warranty and will compliment any casual outfit.
21. Alessi Tic15 Analog Display Analog Quartz Black Men’s Watch
Another not-quite-round offering on our list, the curved square casing of this piece gives it instant visual appeal. Sleek and clean, this unfussy design will be a compliment to almost any occasion. It has quartz movement and is water-resistant to 99 feet, making it a great choice for everyday wear.
22. Invicta 1517 I Force Collection Watch
Another on our list designed for left-handed men, this watch is something special. Water-resistant to 330 feet and featuring oversize stenciled numbers and a sub dial, this watch is great for any casual outfit. The cloth band is extremely durable and stands up to dirt, sweat and grime.
If you lead an active lifestyle, this watch will be right at home in your collection.
23. TRIWA Blue Steel Nevil Canvas Watch
This watch comes in a whopping 14 color variations, all of them beautiful. You may decide to add more than one to your collection!
Designed in Sweden, this watch features Japanese quartz movement, a stainless steel casing and a strap made from Tärnsjö organic leather. TRIWA, which stands for Transforming the Industry of Watches, believes in the artistry of fine jewelry and it shows in their product.
24. Victorinox Swiss Army Alliance Watch
Another fine dress watch from the makers of the Swiss Army knife, this watch is emblazoned with the internally recognized cross and shield emblem. It has no sub-dials, tachymeter or other add-ons to detract from its simple and appealing style.
This watch will be at home with all but the most formal of outfits and carries a two-year warranty.
25. Ingersoll Automatic Stainless Steel Bull Run Watch
Again, Ingersoll remakes the classics and brings them into the present day. With a highly polished stainless steel casing, two sub-dials, a date aperture and arrow-shaped hands, this quartz watch is beautiful.
The band features contrasting stitching on the fine-grain leather, adding depth and detail to the workmanship. This watch will compliment any casual occasion and can be relied upon for years to come.
26. Tissot Quickster Chronograph Black Leather Men’s Watch
Made with scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and Swiss automatic movement, this watch is a smart and utilitarian choice. If you’re looking for a solid Swiss watch that isn’t flashy, this is an excellent option. It’s also guaranteed for two years.
27. Seiko Sport Solar Men’s Beige Watch
Are you getting tired of squinting down at your watch or holding it closer and closer to your face? Don’t worry, we all get a bit nearsighted with age, especially over the age of 40.
If you’re not quite ready for reading glasses or a comically huge watch, this is a great choice from Seiko. The numerals, indices and luminous hands stand out in stark white against a black background, and the numerals are generous in size. It’s a perfect casual watch for the older gentleman.
28. Seiko Men’s 5 Watch Blue Canvas Band
This simple and affordable watch has a clean, crisp aesthetic to it and doesn’t bog down its design with a ton of bells and whistles. It’s time and date, end of.
If you want a watch for casual wear, this Seiko is a shoo-in. The band is forgiving and comfortable against your wrist, and it’s blue color will likely compliment your existing wardrobe. The price is also extremely affordable.
29. Tommy Hilfiger Men’s Stainless Steel Watch With Brown Leather Band
Featuring the Hilfiger logo at the three o’clock position, this wrist watch is a statement piece. It is a bright, shiny stainless steel work of art that you’ll be proud to wear at all but the most stuffy of workplaces. The calfskin leather band uses a buckle closure and the date window is beside the logo at three o’clock.
If you’re a fan of Tommy clothing, cologne or luggage, you can complete your look with this stunning accessory.