Getting lost in the wilderness can be a scary experience for anyone. Modern gadgets may not work. There may be no food, water or proper shelter. On top of that, there may be danger from other elements, too.
Being lost in the wild can really be chaotic and unpredictable, and can mean big trouble if you don’t know what you’re doing.
First of all, you need to keep cool and bear in mind that survival in the wild is all about the fittest. You can survive with what Mother Nature has provided.
For survival in the wilderness, you need to be aware of creative survival hacks that can save the day. These survival hacks are usually smart, expedient and easy to perform.
Here are the top 10 natural hacks to survive in the wilderness.
1. Clean the Water before Drinking It
Water is essential for survival. In fact, there’s nothing more important than getting clean water, as water is essential for the brain and other organs of the body to function properly. Lack of water can lead to dehydration and have a huge impact on your health, reducing your strength and ability to survive in the wild.
Though water is important, it does not mean you can drink dirty or unfiltered water. Such water can make you sick. Also, remember that any kind of stagnant water is not usually suitable to drink, even if you can boil it.
To get clean water, you can make a simple water filter using a scrap of cloth and two empty containers. Collect water from a river or lake and strain it through the cloth into the first container to remove debris and dirt. Again, strain the water into the next container.
After straining the water, boil it once before drinking. For boiling water, you can use bottles and cans. Clean out a glass bottle or metal can, and boil your water in the ashes next to a fire. Do not suspend a glass container over the fire, as intense heat can break the glass.
The best sources of water are places away from manmade things and any kind of pollution. A spring or a stream are also good sources of drinking water. Underground water around water bodies also tends to be acceptably clean.
2. Grab a Meal
Just like water, food is also essential for survival. You can go without food for a day or two, but after that you need to start searching for food.
There are many edible things that you can easily find in the wilderness, such as acorns from oak trees, the nuts and inner bark of pine trees, the base stalk of cattails that is similar to celery, wild onions and sweet potatoes that you can roast, fish from a river or lake that you can roast, dandelion leaves, watercress, and edible berries that grow plentiful in the wild.
If you do not know much about edible plants, follow the animals around and eat what they eat.
You can also test if a plant is edible by placing a small piece of it against your lip for a few minutes. If the plant is edible, you will have no reaction to it.
At the same time, steer clear of plants that have a milky or discolored sap, fine hairs or thorns, a bitter or soapy taste, or a three-leaved growth pattern.
3. Create Fire from a Mirror or Stones
Creating a fire is another one of the biggest challenges when stranded in the wilderness. You’ll need a fire to boil water, cook food, keep you warm during the night and deter wild animals.
Another reason that you may want to build a fire is so that rescuers can find you.
If you have a lighter or matches, creating a fire is easy. You simply need to grab some dry leaves and small tree branches to start the fire.
But without a lighter or matches, you can start a fire with anything highly reflective, such as a magnifying glass, eyeglasses, a camera lens, a mirror or the back of a CD.
Simply angle the glass or mirror in a way that sunlight reflects onto the tinder bundle. Eventually it will smoke and turn into flames.
4. Make a Shelter
A shelter in the wild is very important. It can protect you from the sun, insects, wind, rain, snow, hot or cold temperatures, and undesirable observation from others.
In fact, a proper shelter is one of the basic needs that will keep you alive if you’re stuck in the woods trying to survive.
Making a shelter if you have a tarp or plastic garbage bags and some ropes with you is easy. But even if you do not have these things, you can make a shelter with materials found in nature.
- Start with 2 or 3 strong branches and a dry location where there are low-lying trees.
- Place the branches, with one end on the ground and the other resting on a sturdy tree branch. You can also lash it to a tree.
- Gather some thick branches to line the length of the branches to create the ribbed frame.
- Next, place smaller sticks crosswise for a lattice effect.
- Put soft debris like pine needles and leaves over the smaller sticks.
- Cover the interior floor with soft leaves and block the entrance with more debris.
5. Nurse a Cut or Wound
Whether it a minor cut or wound, without a first aid box, it can cause a lot of trouble.
Bacteria can get into the cut or wound, potentially increasing the risk of an infection and a lot of other problems. Also, when left untreated, it can cause a lot of pain, itchiness and other discomforts.
To nurse a cut or a wound in the wild, you need to find the leaves of yarrow or common plantain plants, which are plentiful in the wild. The tannic acid in the herbs acts as an antibacterial agent and helps reduce pain and inflammation.
- Use a stone to crush the yarrow or common plantain leaves into a paste.
- Apply the paste to the cut or wound.
- Keep it in place for several hours.
- Replace it with fresh paste as needed.
6. Avoid Bloodsucking Mosquitoes
Insects, especially mosquitoes, in the wilderness can be very annoying. At times, they can even be life-threatening.
If you can find onions or wild leeks in the forest, crush them using a stone and rub the juice all over your body. The strong odor of onions and wild leek works as an effective mosquito repellent.
You can also burn bushes near you to keep the mosquitoes away.
In case of mosquito bites, you can stop the itching by applying the gel of an aloe vera leaf or the juice of a calendula flower.
7. Find Your Way
A compass will help you find your way to civilization when you are lost in the wild. Having a map of the area will be even more helpful.
But navigating your way to civilization without a compass, map or GPS can be very tricky.
Like people from the past, you can navigate your way by the sun and stars. To find eastern and western directions, you need to look at the sun. Remember, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This rule-of-thumb can help you find your direction on a sunny day.
You can also follow a water source downstream, or head toward a clearing where you can better signal for help.
You can even improvise a compass by using a metal item, such as a pin or sewing needle. Magnetize the metal item by rubbing just the eye of it some 100 times against your hair. Lay the needle on a leaf that can float in water. If no wind hits the leaf, the metal item will pull the floating leaf to orient itself on a north-south alignment.
8. Signal for Help
If you have a cell phone, communicate your need for rescue by calling the emergency number, even if there is no cell phone coverage. When you are able to connect with emergency responders, give them the details they need.
If you do not have a cell phone or any other devices, fire is the best visual signal to use at night. Even the smoke from a fire can attract rescuers during the day. You can create smoke signals by adding live vegetation, green moss, grasses or even water to the fire.
During the daytime, you can reflect the sun off a mirror or other reflective item in the direction of the helicopter to attract the rescuers’ attention. If you hear rescuers in the distance, you can shout for help.
Remember that you will have to be more discreet in combat situations. Any kind of signal or movement can attract the enemy.
9. Make a DIY Toothbrush
Maintaining oral hygiene is equally important in the wild as when you are at home. Not taking care of your oral health can lead to cavities and possibly a toothache, which will make things worse than before.
To brush your teeth, you can use the twigs of various trees like guava trees, neem trees or mango trees. Take a tender twig from one of these trees and use it to brush your teeth.
You can also use a branch from a willow bush, which is very common in the wild.
10. Find a Toilet Paper Substitute
When in the wilderness, going to the bathroom is just one of the few nightmares that you would have to face. This is mainly because most of us cannot even imagine going to the bathroom without toilet paper.
Running out of toilet paper is not a joke, but you can find the right substitute with a little patience to help you clean up properly after defecating.
It is essential not to use the smooth leaves of poison ivy, oak, mullein and sumac as toilet paper. The leaves of these plants can lead to rashes or infections in the anal region.
Instead of toilet paper, you can also use a stack of dead dry leaves, with one green leaf in the middle for structural integrity.
If you happen to be near a river, you can simply wash yourself off. But, keep in mind that you should not answer the nature’s calls within 200 feet from any source of water. Also, make sure you bury the feces at least 1 foot deep in the ground to avoid the spread of germs.