Wilderness Survival Hacks


There’s nothing sweeter than learning a wilderness survival hack. It is a way of doing something that is so beautiful in its simplicity you wonder why it was never been suggested before. Below are 10 wilderness survival hacks that you will want to try on your next camping trip. Just for the sheer joy of showing off to your friends:

  1. Cut parachute cord with parachute cord.

Tie one end of the parachute cord to a tree. Leaving a lot of slack, tie off the cord to another tree, leaving at least as much cord dangling. Grab free end of rope and hook it over the middle of the tied rope. Using the free end and grasping it firmly at either side of the rope slack, pull toward you and saw back and forth rapidly. The friction will melt the parachute cord and it will break in two, leaving you with a piece separate from the long cord.

2. Make a pop can stove with just a pen knife.

–Yeah, baby!


3. Start a fire in the rain.

You can find how to do it here.

4.  Remember that you can use pine resin as a fire starter.

Pine resin has multiple uses.  You can even waterproof boots and mend holes in tarps with it.  But if you light it on fire it burns for a long time, which makes it easier for campfires to catch.  If you mix it with something like dry moss it goes further and does just as good a job.


5. Socks and Rocks.

Wet socks are one of the great banes of camping and hiking.  We always take extra pairs of socks camping with us, but it pays to know how to dry your socks quickly in a pinch.  I like to get a large flat stone about a foot in diameter, give it a thorough clean, and then prop it up facing our campfire.  I just leave it there.  If we need to dry our socks, we roll them up in a towel, give them a good squeeze (an important step), make sure the rock isn’t too hot (you should be able to hold your hand on it for a one-two count), and then lay the socks on the rock. You can keep it propped up a little way from the fire to get heat on both sides. Turn the socks every ten minutes or so.

If you need your socks to dry even more rapidly, get some stones heated from the campfire about the size of baby potatoes, wrap them in tinfoil, and stuff your socks, then lay the socks on the stone.  Depending on the weather, the temperature and what you decide to do, your socks can be dry in fifteen minutes to an hour.

6.  Catch Minnows With a Pop Container.

I saw this on a reality show in which the contestants had remain on their own, surviving in the wilderness, with a limited number of resources that they were allowed to bring with them.  It really works! Grab a clear plastic 2-liter pop bottle and slice the top third off neatly.  Next, place bait in the larger part–shellfish, worms, aromatic meat, bread bits, what have you. Invert the pop bottle top down into the main bottle part.  If you want, you can duct tape the two pieces together so they don’t separate, but it’s not necessary. After that,stab a small hole into the inverted top end. String some fishing line through, tying it securely.

Anchor the bottle to the shore by tethering it to a bush or a stick embedded into the ground. Put a few small pebbles into the bottle to hold it down in the water. Fill with water and place in a secure position in the river or lake or tide pool. This is so the bottle won’t float  or rise to the surface.  Tether to the shore with the fishing line you attached to the bottle. Leave for a few minutes, a few hours or overnight.  Minnows can swim in after the bait but can’t swim out! Great if that’s all you can get for food, or good for live bait, or just giving your kids something cool to do when camping. You can find visual instructions here. There are more complicated ways to make one, but the YouTube video link I provided is the simplest, most straightforward way to make one, with the tools you most likely have on hand when camping.

7.  Start a Fire With A 9-Volt Battery and Steel Wool.

This is pretty neat.  It’s a great survival idea and something you might want to try when you’re out camping, just to impress fellow campers.  You can find out how by clicking here.

8. Heat A Man-Made Shelter With Rocks.

If you have a shelter made of wood or debris, the biggest problem may be that you are unable to build a fire inside to keep warm.  You can build a fire just outside and put something reflective on the far side of the fire to help send heat inside, or you can create some heat inside using rocks.  This takes a little pre-prep; you need to heat the rocks up long enough that they will retain that heat for awhile.

Find some and stick them in the fire about 4 hours earlier.  The rocks should be large enough to hold with both hands comfortably.  If they are too large, the weight will make transferring the hot rocks difficult to manage. Before retiring for the night, dig a trench along one side of the shelter inside, or even where you intend to sleep.

Transfer the hot rocks to the trench and cover over with about 6 inches of soil.  Make sure you’re not mixing leaf or pine needle debris in with it if possible, which could cause smoke or even flames.  Tamp  the soil down and let the rocks sit there for about a half hour in order to dry out the soil. Then, settle down for the night.  Aaaah, toasty warm! If you are going to be there for more than one night, dig the rocks up in the morning. Return them to your fire to reheat throughout the day.

9. Your Feet, Cayenne Pepper and Plastic Bags.

A pair of zip-loc bags or even plastic bread bags can keep your feet toasty dry.  Slip them on over bare feet before putting on socks.  If you step in water, even if your socks and shoes get wet, your feet will stay dry. If it’s really cold out, dust your feet with a little cayenne pepper before putting the plastic bags on.  It’s amazing how warm this can keep your toes.  Try this a time or two before you actually have to do it for real, though–cayenne pepper heat varies, and so does a person’s skin-tolerance.

When I tested it out, the spaces between my toes burned a bit, though not uncomfortably.  I slogged through snow in runners and socks, which were soaked through by the time I got home, but my feet were dry and warm. Of course, once I got inside my warm, dry house, my feet began to overheat, and I did a funny little dance as I ripped my shoes, socks and plastic bags off, then ran into the bathroom to rinse my feet in the tub. My family looked at me a little weird for a week or so.

10. Yay For Transpiration!

Transpiration is a fancy word for the evaporation of moisture from plants. What this means is that if you are ever caught in the woods with no drinkable water nearby but plenty of greenery growing around you, grab a plastic bag and pop it over a bush, tying the opening closed around the stem or base of the bush.  Come back several hours later and you will find water has beaded on the inside of the bag–clean, drinkable water. You are limited only by the number of bags and bushes that you have. This is a good experiment to try with kids when you’re camping–it teaches them a valuable survival skill and you get a good idea of how long it takes and how much water you can collect. Keeping several plastic garbage bags on hand when camping or hiking is always a good idea.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.