wilderness survival skills mistakes

Wilderness Survival Mistakes You Should Avoid Making

It’s a fact that unexpected wilderness survival situations are often born from innocent everyday activities. Such as hunting and fishing trips with friends or a family camping trip. Most of the time these great activities go off without a hitch. However, sometimes things can go very wrong and when they do things can escalate very quickly. Before you embark on any of these fun activities. Take a look below at the most common wilderness survival mistakes that can cause failure to survive.

Failing To Prepare In The First Place

Unfortunately, the people who often come off worse when these situations happen are those that are unprepared. The truth is that even if you don’t consider yourself a fully fledged Survivalist or Prepper. If you’re going camping, hiking, fishing, hunting or embarking on any other activity out in the wilderness. You are going to need some basic skills and knowledge in order to have the best chance of surviving the unexpected.

Failing to prepare yourself with the proper knowledge, skills and survival kit along with having one or more contingency plans is a recipe for disaster if things don’t go to plan.

Lack Of Knowledge

The majority of survivalists and preppers will tell you that whilst it is essential to have some basic survival tools. The most valuable tool in your bag will be your knowledge and the skills and ability you have developed.

For example, if something goes wrong on your fishing trip and you find yourself stranded in a wilderness environment you are going to need to have the following knowledge and skills.

  • The knowledge and ability to signal for help.
  • The ability to navigate.
  • Know how to source and purify water to drink.
  • Be able to build an adequate shelter to protect you.
  • Know and be able to seek wild edibles and other food sources.
  • Be able to start a fire to give warmth and the ability to cook.
  • Have at least some basic first aid knowledge and kit.

You may think that you do not need any of the above knowledge or skills because everything will happen as you planned. Don’t make this big mistake, it could lead you to your peril, instead, you should learn and practice the basic skills above.

Inadequate Provision For Shelter

If you’re stuck out in the wilderness without shelter your chances of survival are greatly reduced and this is something that you should not risk. It,s important to have the knowledge and skills needed to build a shelter that will protect you from exposure to extreme weather.

Whilst you can easily pack a tarp in your backpack you should also take time to learn how to build a survival shelter using natural tools from the environment around you.

Having The Wrong Kit & Clothing

Its great to have a survival kit and tools at your disposal when going on a fishing, hunting or camping trip. In most cases, your kit can make life easier in a survival situation. However, you need to make sure you plan the kit and clothing your taking with you in advance of your trip.

Not only that but you should also make sure you understand the survival uses for each piece of kit you carry and be confident in your ability to use them. This will allow you to only take essential items and keep the weight down.

When it comes to clothing you may be planning on going fishing for a few hours in warm conditions deciding to stick to a t-shirt. But what happens in an emergency that causes you to be stuck out in the wilderness overnight?

Temperatures can drop rapidly leaving you open to getting hyperthermia or at the very least being extremely cold. The weather could change for the worst, for example, a sudden unexpected storm.

Plan to take layers of clothing with you, ideally, clothing that has the ability to stay warm if it gets wet such as wool clothing. Having the right type of clothing and layers will give you the flexibility to adapt to changing temperatures and weather.

Not Prioritising Food & Water

Although we can survive without food for longer than we can without water. If you find yourself in an emergency situation out in the wild both will be a priority.


Dehydration will not only initially slow you down and disorientate you. If you don’t drink water within a couple of days your not going to survive.

You should research and learn the various methods of sourcing water in the wild. In addition to this, you should learn and understand water purification techniques to avoid becoming sick from drinking water bourne parasites.


Whilst you can survive longer without food than water, lack of food is going to slow you down and affect your state of mind. You should learn how to find food sources in the wild such as wild edibles and hunting and trapping. Having these skills will enable find food to eat that will keep up your energy levels and give you a better chance of surviving.

Lack Of Navigational Knowledge & Equipment

Wilderness locations can often be hard to navigate especially if something happens that causes you to become disoriented. It’s essential that you learn how to use a compass and take at least one with you on your trip for when you find yourself in unfamiliar territory. If you find yourself hiking through dense woodland it’s easy to get lost or even go round in circles. This would be both demoralizing and exhausting.

No First aid Kit or Knowledge

Nowadays most of us carry a basic first aid kit of some kind. Whether it be in the home, car, pocket and most importantly when heading out into the wilderness in your backpack.

Just having a first aid kit is not enough for survival in the wilderness. It’s important that you research the different types of first aid items that you will need. In addition to this, you should learn some basic first aid skills that can be used in a wilderness emergency, such as resuscitation techniques and how to make and use a splint.

Learn as many first aid techniques as you can. this will make you better prepared for medical emergencies in the wild.

Inability to Create and Maintain a Fire

Whilst you may think that starting a fire in an emergency is an easy thing to do. This is not always the case even if you do have your trusty lighter with you. You may find your self in a damp environment or even worse in the torrential rain. You need to learn the different methods of wilderness fire starting so that you can adapt to your circumstances and environment. Without fire, you will have no warmth and no ability to cook. The smoke from your fire can act as a rescue signal which can be seen by people who may be searching for you from miles away. It can also stave off predators such as bears.

Wilderness Survival Mistakes Conclusion

Embarking on a fishing trip or family camping trip is a great fun-filled activity. In most cases, all will go well leaving you with positive fun-filled memories. But ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you really want to take for granted that all will go well?
  • Are you happy to ignore the common wilderness survival mistakes listed above?

Taking the time to learn some basic wilderness survival knowledge and skills will make you better prepared for the unexpected. You should also make some (what if?) contingency plans. This will give you the ability to survive by making smart decisions based on what you have planned and learned.

Related Links & recommended Reading

Wilderness Survival 101

Prepper Knowledge Is Key To Survival

Practicing Prepper Skills Makes Perfect

Prepper Bits Prepper Resources Section

Survival First Aid Kit Ideas

Survival Clothing You Should Pack

Comprehensive Bug Out Bag Master Checklist



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