50+ Quick survival tips for the outdoor junkie

Would you have the knowledge to survive if suddenly your awesome outdoor adventure took a turn for the worse? Here are 50+ survival tips you should know.

If you love the outdoors, then you know the wilderness can quickly change and in a moment the unexpected can happen. If this were to happen, would you have the knowledge to start a fire, find medicinal plants or dress an open wound? Well here are 50+ tips that you should know if you're an outdoor junkie:


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1. Coal fungus 

Coal Fungus also known as Crumbles is a fungus that is known by its charcoal appearance which is normally found on trees and dead food. This fungus is a great fire starter as the core of it has a dusty dryness that makes it easy to catch a spark from a fire steel, which then begins to smolder into a burning hot ember. 

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2. Horse hoof fungus 

Horse hoof fungus is also another great fire starter it’s easily identified by its horse hoof like shape. The very outer layer of this fungus has a very thin layer below that is very fibrous making it easy to catch a spark and smolder for a lengthy duration. It can also be used to set fire to flammable objects and is also great for transferring fire to a different area. 

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3. Birch bark

If you need to create a signal torch to get the attention of an incoming aircraft, ship or  vehicle split the top of a stick around 5 inches deep and add as much birch bark in between the open sections of the stick. The birch bark from the birch tree provides a great tinder for easy fire starting. If the bark is stripped down into tiny strips it’s easy to catch a spark, however if the bark is from a dead or rotten tree it would have lost the majority of its flammable properties. If this happens, scrape away the surface of the birch bark with a knife to reveal the dust like residue, then throw a spark to get a fire going.

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4. Pencil sharpener

 A pencil sharpener can be useful to create smaller, dry wood shavings from twigs that may have gotten wet during a rainy day as the inside of the twigs should be dry enough to start an easy fire.

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 5. Fissile plant

Another great tinder is the fissile plant, they are often found in large amounts which makes gathering in great quantities easy, for later use.

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6. Feathers

Feathers are also another fire starter that you probably haven’t even given much thought to and are walking past on your journey, the fluffy young ones are quite flammable when hit with a spark, so gather as much as you can.

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7. Pine needles

If you’re in the forest then there’s a high chance the floor is covered in yet another fire starter, pine needles, which are pretty much available year round.

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8. Pine Resin

Pine resin is also another good fire starter and is found encrusted in the bark of pine trees, it is also known to have some medical properties. To get a fire going you would crush the resin into small grains or a powder to increase it’s igniting abilities, it’s also ok to use it in it’s gooey like state, it simply means that the resin is fresh. 

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9. Pine Resin

Pine resin can also be used as a form of glue when melted, this can then be used when making basic utensils or to fix a hole in your shelter.

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10. Fatwood

Fatwood is another term used for the hardwood of the pine tree, this wood has a flammable pine resin in the wood, making it very easy to set afire. To get a fire going get some shavings or sawdust from the wood. 

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11. Spruce boughs

You can turn your fire into a signal fire by adding spruce boughs or any form of green plant over the fire as this will create a nice thick plume of white smoke. 

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12. Dried grass

Dried grass can be used to insulate your shelter but you can also use it to insulate yourself by stuffing your clothes with the leaves to help trap your body heat.

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13. Sandwich bag and straw

Take a sandwich bag and straw with you in your kit so that you can have another option for drinking water which is a little life saver. Fill the bag with water from a nearby stream, plop in a water purification tablet, put your straw in the bag and voila! You can also use a condom for this as well if there are no bags.

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14. Moss

Another means of water is to grab an ample amount of moist moss and squeeze that into a container. You should be able to get at least a liter of water in about 20 minutes from squeezing out moss, however the taste of this will not be pleasant.

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15. Foliage

Foliage is also another great source of water, you can tie rags or any spare garments around your ankles and also your waist to collect water when you walk through grass early in the morning, this will allow you to collect heavy dew before sunrise. Then take all the water you’ve collected and squeeze it into a container.

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16. Waterproof your gear

Keep all your gears dry by making them waterproof, not just your fire starter tools. Gears like your compass where water could interfere with the pins and affect reading or equipment that may be cheaper and not able to withstand water seeping in.

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17. Filtering water

It is suggested that before you purify your water for drinking purposes, it’s best to filter it first. This will help to remove any type of toxic plants, particles of animal feces, mud and any other harmful stuff.

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18. Water filter

You can create a free tiered water filter by using a whole lot of crushed charcoal and stuff it down into a sock and then adding sand on top of the charcoal, followed by some grass on top. The grass will grab on to the large particles, while the sand catches the smaller particles and the charcoal absorbs some of the chemical contaminants that may be present in the water.

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19. Makeshift cantina

A sheet of tin foil can be used to create a makeshift cantina by placing a smooth large rock or your fist in the middle of the foil. Fold the sides of the foil upwards around the rock to create a bowl that you can boil water in.

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20. Shotgun shells

If you melt shotgun shells you can create a variety of different tools. Poking your knife through a melting shell will create a makeshift arrowhead, just get rid of the excess material and stuff the opening with wet mud or clay to add weight to it.

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21. Pine cones

Pine cones are another free kindling material, gather as much as you can and then toss them in at the start of your fire for dependable fire fuel.

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22. Canteen holder

To make a nifty little canteen holder, drive four 10 pegs in the ground, you can then build a fire in the space underneath and around it.

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23. Space blanket

Your space blanket can be used as a fire reflector wall to ensure that you get the most warmth or heat from your fire. What you want to do is to take the edge of your space blanket and wrap it around two spikes and run it into the ground close to where you want to build your fire or you can attach it to the insides of your shelter.

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24. Green branches

You can also build a rectangular pattern fire reflector by driving four sticks in the ground, then add green branches in between the support sticks on top and between the support sticks stacked on top of each other. This will block some of the wind and reflect the heat back to you. 

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25. Space blanket

You can create a large mirror that can be used as a mirror to reflect sunlight onto the horizon or up towards an aircraft which is hard to miss from air. You do this by wrapping the edges of your space blanket around two sticks and holding it upwards or in the desired position. 

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26. Signal devices

In your outdoor kit it’s always smart to have a few signal devices along with your man-made devices. Some of these can be a whistle, signal flares, smoke grenades, handheld or rocket parachute varieties, signal mirrors and glow sticks. 

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27. Signal mirrors

One of the most common signal devices in survival cases are signal mirrors. However do not rely on this method only for rescue services, because the sun does not travel across the north side of the sky, and if there is a rescue service coming in from the northern direction you won’t be able to signal them. There’s one tricky method however that can be used if you have two signal mirrors, you can go about this by holding one mirror facing the south and towards the sun, this can reflect the light into the mirror facing the north. 

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28. Northern hemisphere

If though you are in the northern hemisphere and the sun is at the highest point in the sky, what we would call noon or 12pm in the summer, which would be around 2pm in the winter, walking directly towards it will carry you south.

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29. Crab apples

If you have a wound or laceration, applying raw crab apple will assist with the healing of the wound. Crab apples in their raw form are very stringent and they are able to help with the tightening up of skin and blood vessels around the wound.  

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30. Pine resin 

Pine resin can be a potent antiseptic, if you add water to the granules and stir, you can create a topical antiseptic treatment or it can be used to fight mouth and tooth infections when gurgled. If the resin is found in its wet gummy state it can be applied directly to the wound.

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31. Acorns and oak bark

You can develop intestinal infections like cholera and dysentery if you drink untreated water in the wild and this is not something you ever want to have happen. If you find yourself in this situation there are various plants and trees that can be used to help fight the effects of the infection. Acorns and oak bark contain a chemical known as tannic acid, which helps to treat diarrhea and other things. To make this treatment, bring them to a boil in hot water to create a medical tea to combat these effects of intestinal infections.

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32. Blackberry plant

The leaves from the blackberry plant can also be used in the same way as the acorn and oak bark. The leaves contain tannic acid, but not as high as the previous but enough to do the same task.

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33. Rosehip plant

The young leaves of the rose hip plant when added to water is able to create a mild constipation relief while the fleshy section is edible and has a lot of vitamin C.

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34. Dandelion

The dandelion plant is edible and also able to create a tea that can be used for mild constipation relief.

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35. Snow blindness

Ultraviolet rays bouncing off the snow and into your bare eyes can cause a condition known as snow blindness, the effects of this can be painful with the eyes becoming red and a sensation of grit in the eyes, eye movements can also be painful. The more a person is exposed, the more severe it becomes accompanied with an intense headache. This is one of the reasons why skiers and snowboarders wear UV protected goggles. You can help to reduce this in the wild by applying charcoal under the eyes to help absorb some of the light and reduce glare. Ever wondered why American footballers have those black smears under their eyes? Well it’s not just for intimidation it’s far more functional and that is to absorb some of the light in the stadium. You can also get a piece of bark and cut some eye holes into it and run some cords through it and wear like sunglasses. 

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36. Snow and ice

Eating Ice and snow will lower your core temperature resulting in your body working overtime, burning calories just to process the cold water. Its best to melt the snow and get it warm before drinking, if possible.

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37. Dock leaf

Dock leaf sap is a natural antihistamine, you can chew on the leaves for a few seconds and you can apply the chewed up mixture on a bite or sting, this will help to ease the itching and discomfort. You can find dock leaves around the hedge line around the tree line and not far away from the nest of stinging nettles.

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38. Willow tree

If there’ a willow tree around, stripping the inner bark of one of the branches and then steeping it in water or chewing it will help to relieve symptoms of a cold or fever. It's also a very potent pain reliever as the bark contains salicin which is related to the main ingredient in aspirin. Warning if you’re allergic to aspirin then do not consume willow bark.

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39. Cattail

In the sausage like form of the cattail plant there are tons of tiny fluffy seeds. These seeds can be used as tinder for ignition from a fire steel. You can find cattails in wetlands, marshes, swamps and ponds. 

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40. Charcoal

Ground up charcoal with a couple drops of water can be used as a make-do toothpaste. The charcoal when ground up is not too rough that it will damage your teeth but it’s good enough to clean your teeth.

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41. Night time eating

If you’re running out of food supplies, it’s best to eat in the night when your body will be burning lots of calories, and needs the fuel to burn to keep you warm.

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42. High percentage alcohol

For a last resort emergency antiseptic you can use high percentage alcohol with a 150 proof or higher. These are great for treating wounds, cuts, burns and lacerations if you have no other medical supplies.

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43. Drinking urine

Despite what you’ve been told or you’ve heard! Drinking your own urine will not keep you hydrated or alive. As a matter of fact it will only make you more dehydrated as your urine is dehydrated and contains it’s highest salt concentration.

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44. Paracord

If you need a quick handy glue for a few seconds you can hold a paracord over a flame and it will begin to melt it. Once it’s melted you have use it very quickly on whatever object you’re applying it to such as a hole in a tarp.

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45. Sanitary napkins and tampons

Sanitary napkins makes a great bandage, as their primary function is to absorb blood and tampons are very useful when trying to plug up punctures or deep wounds. 

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46. Tampons

Tampons are also a great source of tinder if you unravel the tampon and expose the fine fibers. To fire harden tools or weapons, hover them above the fire without burning it, the fire will allow the moisture to evaporate and allow your tools or weapons to become a lot more durable.

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47. Duct tape and birch bark

If you have a hot canteen with hot water, place a piece of duct tape or birch bark over the rim of the canteen, this will help to reduce the chance of you burning your lips.

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48. Tinfoil

Placing a piece of tinfoil over the top of your canteen will allow the water to boil a lot faster, saving you time and resources. If the canteen has a matching cup then put that on top of it.

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49. Tinfoil

A scrunched up bit of tinfoil can be used as a makeshift cookware cleaner. You can use it to scrape away dry food matter that may be prone to mold.

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50. Trash bags

Add a few trash bags to your kit they are light and come in very handy. You can stuff dead leaves and dry grass in these bags, tie it off and this can then be used a padded bed. These bags can also be used as emergency shelters, ponchos, to collect rainwater or as a barrier against moisture keeping you off a damp ground. 

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51. Keffiyeh

A keffiyeh is very multifunctional piece of equipment, the many functions of this tool should not be unnoticed it can be used as carrier for firewood, acts as a tourniquet bandage, a bug net, water filter, a sunshade and more.

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52. Duct tape

Having some duct tape in your kit is worth it’s weight in gold as it provides you with some cordage in case you need an emergency shelter, and most definitely if you need to patch holes in tarps or your shelter.

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53. Foil space blanket

Foil space blankets can be used in very hot temperatures and not just for cold weather emergencies. If the space blanket has both non-reflective and reflective surface, turn the reflective side outwards and this will reflect the sun’s heat back into the air allowing you to keep cooler in hot environments.

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54. Pine spruce and fir branches

If you need to insulate your shelter, you should do so with natural materials like layers of pine spruce or fir branches which makes a good enough bed to insulate you from the cold ground.

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55. Birch tree

Not just great for fire making, a fallen or erect birch tree can provide you with make-do roof tiles, giving yourself a natural cascading waterproof layered roof by stripping away large strips of the bark.

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56. Condom

To create a makeshift magnifying glass, place some water into a condom and arrange it into a ball like shape. This can be used to ignite fine tinder on a sunny day if you are out if ignition tools. Finally putting to use that old condom in your wallet since high school.

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57. Guitar strings

Guitar strings are often pretty good snares when trying to capture small creatures.

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58. Rat traps

Rat traps are most time not a part of the survival kit but are very effective and foolproof to catch a small game than the usual paracord or brass wire snare traps. You can tie them to a tree so that a relentless animal doesn’t go running off with it.

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59. Red sky

If there is a red sky in the morning, it is often a sign that there’s an approaching storm. The storm may not get to you, it may end before it gets to your location, however it is still worth considering. So if you plan on leaving camp it may be smarter to hunker down for a bit longer instead of being caught in the storm.

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60. Toilet paper

Add toilet paper to your list of survival gears as you don’t want to have to wipe your bum on a pine cone. 

Here you go, over 50 plus survival tips you should try to remember when going on one of your wild outdoor adventures.

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