How to Make Sure Camping Doesn’t Become Survival

Outside of bug out scenarios or soldiers getting lost behind enemy lines, most wilderness survival situations begin by people willingly entering into the wilderness to enjoy themselves.  For many, the more remote, the more enjoyable the experience.  The concrete parking lot, hot shower, flush toilet, “camp” site is just not the same as a site that you hike to, where no other human can be heard or seen.  But it is in these places that a simple mistake or poor planning can quickly change your camping trip into a struggle to stay alive in the wilderness.  Here are some tips on keeping your wilderness experience an enjoyable camping trip and not a survival situation.


  1. Bring a warm waterproof layer even if the forecast is warm and dry. Mountain weather can change quickly, and no matter how much food and water you have in your pack, if you get caught in a freak storm you can be dead in hours.
  2. Bring more than one fire starting method as well as weatherproof tinder like cotton balls covered in petroleum jelly.
  3. Mark your trail when you leave camp. No matter how much gear you have at camp, if you get lost hiking away from camp it won’t do you much good as the sun goes down and temperatures with it.  Use ribbons around trees, knife marks on dead trees, and even sticks or stones as arrows on the trail to let you know where your path is.
  4. Bring a water filter. If your stay is extended for any reason, your water will be the first of your resources to run out.  With warm clothes, a tent, and a water filter, you can last for weeks in the wilderness.
  5. Bring extra lights and batteries. If you need to move at night, or build a shelter in the dark, you don’t want your batteries to run out.
  6. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. Send a text message to a friend or family member or leave a note in your car or at the ranger station.  If you are injured in the wilderness and no one knows to look for you, you could be suffering for a long time before you either die, or are rescued by pure luck.

The wilderness is awesome.  Get out there in it, to enjoy it, and to practice your survival skills, but plan ahead and use your head so you need to put your skills to the test for no reason.

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