Wilderness survival gear

Wilderness survival gear

At some stage in our lives we could find ourselves in a survival situation. This could happen at home but often happens when we are enjoying outdoor activities such as camping, hiking and exploring the great outdoors.

If we are under prepared in our knowledge of bush skills we could find ourselves in a dire situation with no way out. We also need to be constantly reviewing our wilderness survival gear before embarking on any hike

We have heard of the stories of people that go out for a leisurely hike or mountain bike ride in the bush only to get lost for days at a time. Because of their lack of understanding of the environment they are in, they find themselves exposed to the elements. Sometimes ones have lost their lives due to the lack of knowledge on how to survive in this type of situation.

Recently I heard of a teacher that took his young students on an outdoors excursion in the bush, only to get lost. Luckily he was well-equipped, knowledgeable and well-prepared on bush survival. The teacher had the commonsense to notify the local authorities of his plans beforehand, and they were quick to respond when he delayed in returning from the hike.

Because of his well-thought-out preparation, he had the knowledge to stay put in the one spot and the skill to build a fire to keep warm. He kept the students occupied by building a basic shelter to keep dry and carry out some basic tasks. Thankfully all of his students survived three nights in extreme conditions.

There are many things we can learn, that will guarantee our survival when getting lost in the great out-doors. These can be so easy to learn that even our kids can gain a proper understanding on how to keep safe and sound if they were ever lost

But Let’s focus on how to build a fire from scratch with no man made tools, with basic bush materials

Building a fire with a flame

You have been out exploring taking photos of some remote bush-land for the day and its starting to get late. You decide to pack up and head back to the car. After a while the trail you thought was the one you walked in on, ends up winding to a dead end. You scratch your head and turn around to familiarize yourself with the trail and your surroundings. You decide to walk back to the original location to find the trail back, but this also leads to a dead end. Oh no you whisper to yourself IM LOST!

The first thing you will wanting to do is build yourself a fire. This will be vital in keeping you warm and signaling for people who may be looking for you. A fire will also dry any clothes that may become wet, cook some food or boil water. Also, a fire will keep any nasty animals away that may want to eat you through the night.

Starting a fire isn’t as complicated as you may think. If you are fortunate enough to have a lighter or matches on you, this process will be quite simple. However, if you don’t you will have to make a fire from scratch.

First of all you will want to

  • Clear an area where you intend to have your fire
  • Find some large stones that you can form a circle
  • Collect small kindling and leaves that can be used to start the process
  • Collect some large, dry fallen tree branches

Clearing an area for your fire is a must because you don’t want the fire to take hold of other surrounding grass or debris. Forming a circle with some stones will guarantee that no fire will spread by wind or sparks. Obviously you don’t want a raging out of control fire, just one that will keep you warm.

Small sticks no bigger than a match stick in thickness and leaves will ensure your flame will take hold as you build on your fire with bigger sticks. When your fire has been burning for more than 15 minutes you can start increasing the size of your logs. Be sure not to smother your flame by adding too much to soon.

The fire triangle consists of




Take one of these components away from any fire and it will go out.

 No Flame no worries

Imagine the feeling the first person had when they created fire. You could imagine his amazement as he stared down into the glowing ember and feeling the first signs of heat as the smoke circled around his body, filling the nostrils of everybody that was close by. Fire changed everything back then, how people cooked food, made tools and the list goes on.

But nowadays we have so many ways of making a fire, such as using matches or a lighter etc. But you may ask, how would I start a fire if I didn’t have any of these?

First we need to find the tools needed to make the friction needed to create a burning ember

you will need a sharp pointed stone

To find the wood needed I try to find a old dead log thats been lying on the ground for a long time. If you can pick it up and try to smash it on the ground or on some rocks. This will give you many pieces of different sizes to use.

When making the bow you will need a long (arm length) flexible stick about the width of your middle finger. If you don’t happen to have any string, you can use material from a shirt or shoelaces. Tie each end of the material to the stick so there’s just a little of flex in the stick.

The piece of wood that will act as your drill will need to be the width of your thumb. Scrape off the bark at the end of the stick making it into a blunt point, you can use a sharp rock to do this or scrape it backwards and forwards on a large boulder.

The piece of wood on the ground needs to be flat and about a finger width thick. With a sharp stone dig some holes into the wood until it goes through to the other side. This is where your drill piece will spin to make the necessary friction and heat.

  • Make a loop in your string of the bow and put your drill piece through the loop
  • Place drill piece in the dug out hole
  • Cup a piece of wood in your top hand and put some of your weight on the drill piece
  • Move bow backwards and forwards, turning the drill piece in the hole
  • Do this unit smoke billows from the hole in wood

After you have done this process a hot ember should appear around the bottom of the drill and hole in the wood. You will then need to transfer this hot ember to your tinder. Do this by rolling the ember into the dry debris, or place a little bit of your dry tinder on top of it. Allow the ember to get some oxygen, by gently blowing on it. Don’t blow to hard on the ember as it may go out. This should be sufficient and by now, you should have a flame.

Practice practice

There’re tonnes of online tutorials on this subject, so I suggest watching as many as you can to see what works and what doesn’t. Go out into the back yard and practice using different timbers and materials and with the knowledge you have now gained, you will have a fire cranking in no time at all.

Teach and show others how its done

This skill is priceless and everyone should know how to do this. Get the family practicing and copying you, once you have mastered the technique. Go out into the bush and test it out to see what troubleshooting you may have.

Don’t leave yourself in the cold

All the best with mastering these techniques and learning how to build a fire from scratch.

Any questions leave them in the comments below and I will answer them ASAP









2 Replies to “Wilderness survival gear”

  1. Hi Dave, What a well thought out, practical guide to survival in the bush. I am not likely to be going camping anytime son but have grandsons who love being out in the wild. As we live in Africa we have plenty of wonderful opportunities to go into the bush. I shall get them to read your post as it will be very informative for them.

  2. These are really important skills to have under the belt and I feel that schools should teach children the basics of outdoors bush skills. You never know when you’ll need it! The story of the teacher being lost with his students for three days is really inspiring. Thanks for the great tips.

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