Non-preppers might take modern conveniences for granted, but experienced preppers know that it's also important to learn and practice different survival skills so you can find food, water and shelter when SHTF. Don't just rely on your high-tech gear and tools.
Below are some essential survival skills that modern preppers should learn and practice so they can survive if they lose their gear or bug-out bag when disaster strikes. (h/t to AskAPrepper.com)
How to start a fire without matches
You need a campfire to stay warm, cook and boil water when SHTF. Knowing how to start a fire, even without matches, is crucial to survival.
You can start a fire with different methods, but the best and most effective is the bow drill method.
You will need:
A flat piece of wood
A spindle or a straight stick
Another thin stick for the bow
Some string (e.g., shoelace or paracord)
Tinder (e.g., dry leaves, pine needles, shaved bark, etc.)
Cut the spindle to about 12 inches (30 cm). Sharpen one end.
Cut a V-shaped notch on a flat piece of wood and place the tinder underneath it.
Tie the thin stick to the spindle at one end, then loop the string around it.
Place the spindle into the notch in the wood, then start rotating the spindle by pressing down on it. Use the bow stick to turn the spindle.
Once you’ve generated a bit of friction and heat, you’ll see a bit of smoke. Add more fuel so that the smoke catches fire. Keep going until it is burning steadily.
How to build basic shelters with natural materials
While preparing for various scenarios, take the time to learn how to build basic shelters using materials you can find. You need shelter, even a temporary one, for protection when it is hot outdoors.
The most basic shelter is a debris hut, which you can build from sturdy sticks and leaves. A debris hut can be built within one to three hours. It will do for short-term protection.
Find an area that is well-drained and sheltered from the wind.
Use an eight-foot stick and poke it into the ground at a 45-degree angle. Stack other sticks against the first stick to form a triangle.
Cover the arranged sticks with at least four inches of debris to form a waterproof layer.
Make sure the bottom of the shelter is dug out slightly so rainwater can drain away.
Position the entrance facing away from the wind for extra protection.
When lighting a fire, place it near the entrance so you can keep warm and cook food.
Line the inside of your shelter with soft materials, like grass, for padding.
How to identify edible herbs and plants
If you are facing a survival scenario and are running out of food and supplies, knowing how to forage for edible herbs and wild plants may save your life. Before SHTF, sign up for classes or self-study to learn how to distinguish between edible plants and their poisonous look-alikes.
You can also read up on a universal plant edibility test to learn how to identify edible plants correctly. Keep in mind that this test does not work for wild mushrooms, so avoid those when using this test.
To do the universal plant edibility test:
Look for common poisonous traits like fine hairs, spikes, waxy leaves and milky or discolored sap.
Separate the plant into its different parts: fruits, flowers, leaves, stems and roots.
Smell each part separately and check for a strong or unpleasant odor.
Taste each part of the plant separately. Spit out any parts that have a strong taste or bitter aftertaste.
Chew the plant, then wait another 15 minutes to see any reaction. If you are fine, swallow the plant and wait at least eight hours for any adverse reactions. This is the only way to confirm if a plant is safe to eat.
How to look for water sources
When disaster strikes, you might get stranded in the wilderness and lose your gear. You can’t survive more than a few days without a water source, so you need to learn how to find and purify water.
Keep these tips in mind to learn how to spot water sources:
Puddles and other water-filled depressions in the ground
You may find puddles in low-lying areas and they can be filled with rain or groundwater seeping up from the earth’s surface.
Snow and ice
If it’s cold enough, you can melt snow or scrape the top layer of ice from a lake or river for fresh drinking water. Don't consume untreated snow or ice because this will drop your core temperature.
Dew on plants
If the timing is right, you can collect the morning dew on plants.
Set up a tarp to capture and funnel rainwater into a container like a bottle during the rainy season. Purify the water you harvest before drinking it.
If you spot animal tracks in the wilderness, you may find water sources.
Once you find a water source, purify the water by filtering it or by boiling it. Bring the water to a rolling boil for at least one minute to eliminate bacteria and other contaminants.
How to catch small prey with traps
Once you build a fire, set up a shelter and find some water, set a trap to catch small prey.
Setting a trap is one of the most common and effective ways to catch small prey, and making a snare is one of the simplest ways to do this.
You will need:
A trigger mechanism, like a bent stick
An anchor point, like a log or tree
Cut the wire into three pieces of equal length. The wire pieces must be long enough to form a noose around the animal when set in place.
Create a loop with one piece of wire. Grasp each end in one hand and twist it together to form a lasso.
Attach the looped wire to a trigger mechanism, like a bent stick or spring-loaded holder. The trigger system should be secure enough to hold the wire once it is set up.
Securely attach the other two pieces of wire to an anchor point, like a log or tree, at eye level from where you plan on setting the trap. The wires must be securely tied or fixed so the animal won't be able to escape.