I’ve long known that you could eat acorns. I just didn’t know how. I knew that Native Americans relied on acorns as a food source and that they somehow had a way to turn them into flour for little cakes.

I live in an area that has some oak trees, and eventually I became curious about how to actually utilize this resource. As you may know, there are numerous YouTube videos and chapters in books and website pages about processing acorns. The problem is, though, that once I started looking around, I found so much information I didn’t know what was reliable. There are many different ways that you can process acorns to make them edible. I wanted to know what really worked.

The resources I had also didn’t answer some basic questions such as whether it matters if the acorns are green or brown. One of the trees near me had acorns all over the ground, but they were all green. Does it matter if they have their caps on or not? I saw one resource on using acorns as a survival food that said acorn flour needed to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. How will needing to keep the flour cold help me if I’m in a survival situation?

So when I saw that a group near me was offering a workshop on acorn processing, I immediately signed up. I was one of 10 students who spent most of a day with an instructor from a school of botanical studies (they teach herbalism and wild plant foods). We walked around an area with a lot of oak trees, learned to identify the different native species we have in my area (Oregon), and what the trees’ growth patterns can tell us about the environment. Regardless of what type of trees you have around you, all varieties of acorns are edible!

It’s fine to read books and watch videos, but if you have a chance to learn from a real instructor in person, that is highly preferable. You can ask questions, see, hear, smell and taste in a way that you never can by watching a video, no matter how detailed the instruction. Here’s what I learned about using acorns as a survival food. And to be honest, the acorn “mush” turned out so good that you might want to eat it all the time.

A grove of oak trees

Our group walked around to learn how the trees grow. We learned that Douglas firs and other fast-growing trees compete with oaks for light, and if an oak doesn’t get enough sun over time it will die. Knowing what trees you might need to remove can help you manage oak trees if you want to make sure that the trees in your area stay healthy and keep producing. We also learned that oaks have some years where they just don’t produce much, and some years, called “mast” years, where the nuts are abundant.

Our instructor also reinforced the fact that native people had collected acorns from right where we were walking for thousands of years. It was a great feeling to know that we were learning how to keep this craft alive and that we were learning how to truly eat food on a local level.

After we walked around and talked, we collected our nuts. We learned to avoid acorns that still had their caps on. We picked up only brown acorns, avoided ones that had a hole in them which was due to an acorn weevil (more on that delicious little protein morsel later!) and we avoided ones that were cracked.

A purple bag filled with acorns

Then we got to work processing them. Our instructor let us spend a few minutes cracking fresh acorns before telling us that it would never work to turn fresh nuts into flour! So that’s survival lesson number one…if you want to use acorns as a survival food, plan ahead. They must be dried before you can pound them into flour. You can let them naturally dry over months, you can use an oven, or a dehydrator, or put them by a wood stove. But either way they can’t be used right when you collect them off the ground.

Here are some photos of the dried nuts she had pre-dried for us to use.


As you can see, the whole nuts that you use should be free of mold and yellow or green discoloration. The variation in color is ok as long as they are “clean” looking.

It takes about 20 minutes to pound about 1/2 cup of the nuts into flour using a mortar and pestle. If you use this method, pound, don’t grind. If you grind, you’ll release the oils, which will make it turn into nut butter. Maybe that’s what you want, but in this case we were going for finely ground flour.

If you have a meat grinder, that’s a much faster way to process the acorns. You’ll get some fine flour and some “chips” or “grits” size pieces. Those can be sifted out and finely ground by hand or cooked in a soup. You can also use a grain mill or some other technology if you have it available.

Acorns going through a meat grinder


After you start processing your nuts, you’ll sooner or later find one of these acorn weevils. Go ahead and eat it! The little protein morsel tastes like nuts. It’s slightly sweet, and only a tiny bit chewy along the edges. If no one else in your group is willing to eat them, then good, that’s more protein for you. I ate one, and I lived to tell the tale.


An acorn weevil crawling in a cracked acorn

After you collect the flour, it’s time to leach the tannins out of the nuts. The tannins are what make them bitter and you want to remove the tannins before you eat the nuts. There are many ways this can be done. One thing I was surprised to learn is that if you try to leach whole nuts (in the shell) it can take months. One person in the class had a brilliant idea of putting a bag of whole acorns into their toilet tank, so they were constantly being “flushed” through with fresh water. You can soak them in a large bucket. This takes months. Longer than you think. But the acorns are fine in the water for a long time. It’s better to store the whole nuts and process them into flour when you’re ready to use them rather than trying to store the flour. The flour won’t stay fresh for very long without freezing or refrigeration.

The smaller the acorn pieces, the faster they leach. We leached them in two methods…the first was to put the finely ground flour into a jar filled with hot water (photo 1 below). This could take about a week. You can taste it, and when the nut meal tastes good to you, you can use them. Replace the water when it turns brown. If you have the option, place the jar in a refrigerator because if it is hot out it can begin to ferment.

The second way was to put the flour into a bowl, pour water over it to cover and stir, then pour the whole thing through a mesh bag that you can get at a homebrew store (photo 2 below). Pour more water over the flour until it tastes good. You can “hot leach” the acorns by simmering them over a flame or on a woodstove. It can take over a day to leach whole nuts this way.


Our instructor had some already leached flour that we cooked with a little water into “mush.” One cup of flour will expand to about 3 cups of “mush.” The taste was good. It was nutty, but bland. The flavor really woke up when I put some salt on it. If you have any toppings like butter, onions, or salt and pepper, that would make the mush taste much better. But even with no flavorings at all, it was edible and even good, just bland.

Our instructor also had some already-prepared chili that she had made using whole acorns cooked in place of beans. The other ingredients were the same as what you would normally put into chili. The flavor of the chili was great, it was just odd because the nuts oxidized and turned the whole jar of chili a dark, inky black color. If you just focus on the taste and not the color, that too was good! The flour could be made into bread or pasta just as you would use any other flour.

One caution I have is that people can apparently be sensitive to acorns. My partner is allergic to pecans and walnuts, and when he ate the mush, he said it made his tongue feel fuzzy the same way that other nuts do that he can’t eat. So he’s not into using acorns as a survival food because of this. If anyone in your family does have a tree nut sensitivity, you might test it out and see if they can safely eat acorns before you plan for that to be a source of sustenance.

Acorn flour cooked in a pot with water.
Cooking the acorn mush.

Bottom line…I will collect acorns now whenever I have a chance to. Do your research, read your books and watch your videos. But if you get a chance to learn from an expert, do it. It’s the best way to really master a survival skill.

I took my acorn workshop through Columbines School of Botanical Studies.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I would handle a traumatic situation. I interviewed Tom Kaleta of Blue Force Gear last week about the company’s Micro Trauma Kit NOW! and why he thinks it’s so important to have these tools on hand to deal with the three most common battlefield injuries: airway injuries, lungs that won’t inflate, and massive bleeding. I’ve always carried a few Band-Aids and a basic first-aid kit in my car, but the need to be prepared for injuries goes well beyond that and I more fully understand that now.

While I’m pondering all this, the publication of Dave Canterbury’s new book, written with the help of Jason A. Hunt, “Bushcraft First Aid: A Field Guide to Wilderness Emergency Care,” is announced. I’ve reviewed Dave’s past two books for this site and I highly recommend them, with some reservations. They are focused on resources on the East Coast, and I’m on the West Coast, so some of the edible foods and tree species he mentions, for instance, are not common here. But beyond that, highly recommended. Read the reviews here:

“Bushcraft Field Guide to Trapping, Gathering & Cooking in the Wild”

“Advanced Bushcraft”

The new book is just what I needed to learn how to take the crucial first steps to being able to help my family or someone I come across who is in distress. Like Tom said in the interview, being able to be a “hero” by stopping someone with a gun who is shooting up a crowd is unlikely, but stumbling across a hiker with a broken leg or a car accident victim is much more likely, and I might actually be able to help them if I had any idea what to do, and the tools to do it with.

If you can, call for first-aid from medical professionals as soon as possible. But if you can’t, follow the procedures in the book using the items you will likely have in a well-planned wilderness bag or advanced first-aid kit. As usual, Dave covers the basics very well, such as remaining calm and being prepared in the first place with the right kind of gear (which he covers). He covers basic powers of observation that you’ll need if you come across an injury scene: see if you can figure out what happened based on situational clues, and making your assessment of the victim. He covers how to safely move a victim, and how to signal for help if you are in a remote area.

Moving into the treatment chapters, Dave covers how to stop bleeding, and how to close a wound using Gorilla Tape. If you don’t have a tourniquet, you can use a piece of rope or paracord and a stick. Gunshot wounds to various body parts and knife and axe wounds are all addressed. Blisters and burns (and trenchfoot) and broken bones are covered in two separate chapters. This isn’t a medical textbook, so Dave doesn’t cover how to set a broken bone. He assumes that you will be providing treatment and then evacuating the patient to get professional medical care as quickly as possible. But I definitely feel that I now have a better understanding of how to deal with broken bones, even a broken thigh bone, by making a traction splint from a walking stick.

Further chapters deal with bleeding and shock, including internal bleeding and heart attack. Chest injuries and breathing (and choking) are covered. He addresses seizures and stroke, and headaches (if you can find willow bark or mint, that can be used to help). Like I said, Dave does a great job of covering the basics. You might not think you need to learn how to do anything to treat a headache, but what about a skull fracture? Dave doesn’t recommend treating many abdominal injuries without professional help as things like open wounds where the intestines are falling out or hernias can be too severe. But Dave does give basic advice that helps you to figure out what to do, such as signs to look for that things are becoming so severe that you need expert help.

After reading this book, you’ll know how to help with allergies or anaphylactic shock. If the issue is too severe to be helped with a basic kit, as with insulin shock (related to diabetes) he will tell you to evacuate immediately. Some of you will want more detailed information about what you CAN do if you CAN’T evacuate, or if you’re dealing with a SHTF situation and there is no 911 to call. In those cases, or if you know you have someone near you with a life-threatening chronic illness such as diabetes, you will have to earn more on your own.

One of the things I really appreciated is that Dave includes medicinal plants along with eight pages of photos. The book ends with a rather lengthy section on plant medicine, which is something I highly recommend everyone learn more about. In particular, learn what plants are in your state, your town, and even in your own backyard. Once you start really observing plants, you will discover that many plants you pass by every day have edible and medicinal uses.

Dave covers things that you might think you already know about, like frostbite or altitude sickness and animal bites (ticks, snakes, spiders). His “real life scenarios” vignettes help you think through what you might do in a real life situation. And what’s great is that many of his observations help you understand a situation more deeply, even if it is something you think you are already familiar with. For instance, did you know that a cucumber smell in the wild means that a snake might be nearby? I didn’t know that before reading this book. Still, pretty much every scenario in the book ends with knowing when to evacuate, or just evacuating at the first possibility. This is not a book for end-of-the-world scenarios where there is no help and you are the medical professional. This is a what to do until you can get to help book.

While it would be helpful to read this book through from cover to cover, an ideal way to use this book would be to keep it in your boat, your hunting cabin, your home bookshelf, in the trunk of your car, and in your bug out bag (or at least photocopies or notes of important sections), so that wherever you are you’ll be able to reference this information.

I particularly find the section on creating my own first-aid kit to be valuable. It lists bandages and dressings, ointments and medications, and tools in a checklist format that can help you be prepared for many of the scenarios in this book. And following Dave’s 10 most important ‘C’s that you need to have will help a lot too:

  1. Cutting tool
  2. Combustion device (fire tools)
  3. Container
  4. Cordage
  5. Cover (blanket)
  6. Cotton material
  7. Candling device (light)
  8. Compass
  9. Cargo tape (duct tape)
  10. Combination tool (multi-tool like a Gerber)

Bushcraft First Aid: A Field Guide to Wilderness Emergency Care, by wilderness experts Dave Canterbury and Jason A. Hunt, publishes June 13, 2017 by Adams Media, a division of Simon & Schuster). I highly recommend this book as a go-to first-aid resource for anyone headed out into nature. Learn more about the book or pre-order it from Simon and Schuster for $17. The book is available in Trade paperback format ($17) or as an ebook for (12). It is 256 pages long.

After a few days in the woods, you’re going to start smelling like a bear. Maybe you don’t care, but the bears might! Here are our 10 best tips for backwoods hygiene.

1. Avoid bacteria and bugs.
Most of the ways that you are going to get sick in the wilderness involve getting bitten by something or drinking tainted water. There are a lot of invisible creatures in water, like Giardia,  and Cryptosporidium. Unless you brought plenty of store-bought water, plan to bring all water to a rolling boil for one minute. At higher elevations, you need to boil for three minutes. Why? Because water boils at a lower temperature at higher elevations, so even though your water is boiling it may not be hot enough to kill all the critters. Using chlorine in the water is not an effective protection against Cryptosporidium.

2. Use hand sanitizer after bathroom breaks and before preparing food.
Unless you’re actually living in the woods, you can probably afford a large bottle of hand sanitizer. Like, a half gallon size from Costco. It’s cheap and it will last you a long time.

3. Swab yourself with some alcohol and cotton balls.
You might have soap, but you might not have enough water to use it. Instead, you can swab yourself down with some rubbing alcohol. It is cleansing, and sanitizing, and again, inexpensive.

4. Wash your sock regularly.
Wearing dirty, crusty socks is uncomfortable. But beyond that, that’s where a lot of your smell is coming from. Take at least one extra pair to change into and wash the worn pair as often as you can. While you’re at it, swab your feet down with that alcohol.

5. Change your clothes at night. 
If you can’t wash your day clothes daily, at least change out of them while you’re sleeping and let them air out a little.

6. Use dental floss. 
You can most likely take a tip from Native Americans and use some tender twigs to clean your teeth daily. Or you can saw off the handle of your toothbrush for an ultralight version. You should also take a container of dental floss. Dental floss is a good thing to have in your bag anyway as it can be used for a number of things. Like…fishing line, binding together poles for a shelter, a small animal snare, a clothes line, a campsite alarm with tin cans and lids ala Walking Dead, a tripwire, a restraint, a shoelace…the list can go on and on.

7. Wear cotton underwear.
This is true for both men and women. Synthetic fabric is not a good choice for underwear because it doesn’t breathe like a natural fiber. It may trap wetness and promote odor as well as chafing. If you’re worried about comfort and chafing, choose undergarments that cover your thighs. Wash your underwear like your socks…as often as you can.

8. Take along some soft, washable cloths.
If you’re a woman, use these both as padding inside your underwear and also to wipe with. Men need something soft to wipe with too. Take along a few squares of a cotton bandanna. While lightweight microfiber cloths like these are easy to wash and quick drying, when dry they are not very absorbent. Cotton absorbs quickly so you can wipe quickly. Attach the cloths to the outside of your pack when you’re not using them.

9. Stay hydrated.
Especially in hot weather, dehydration can be a major cause of illness. Staying hydrated and peeing regularly will help flush your system.

10. Take sunblock and petroleum jelly. 
With these you can prevent sunburn, a major source of discomfort, protect your lips and treat any chafing that may occur from your pack rubbing.

What else do you do when you’re in the backcountry and trying to keep yourself clean?

Although food storage is an essential part of your disaster preparation strategy, it is important that you supplement your food by hunting and gardening. Learning to hunt will serve you well in your quest for survival.

There are several methods of hunting and each has their own advantages and drawbacks. Some hunting methods require more skill than others. It is not necessary to master all of the skills, but it is a good idea to be familiar with the options, including tools you can use if you find yourself without a weapon. Here’s a list of 10 essential hunting skills you can practice for survival whether you are an experienced hunter or not.

1 – Firearm Proficiency Guns are commonly used by hunters. Although guns provide the most effective method of hunting, it is imperative that you are trained on how to safely use the weapon and that you practice your skills regularly.

2 – Archery A bow and arrow is also an effective tool for hunting. Learning how to shoot a bow and arrow takes a lot of practice, but it may be worth it. If you do not have a bow and arrow set on hand, you can fashion the bow with hardwood saplings and paracord.

3 – Setting Traps and Snares Snares are excellent tools for hunting. There are many styles of snares that require various degrees of skill to set up. They can be used to hunt a variety of animals. Once they are set up, you simply need to check them regularly to see if they have captured any prey.

4 – Alternate Techniques with Spear and Rocks A spear is one of the most primal weapons. They can be used for stabbing an animal or thrown at the target prey. A spear can be fashioned from a sharpened stick, or you can attach a spearhead made of bone, stone, wood or steel to the stick. Although they’re not the most effective hunting tool, rocks can be useful if you don’t have any other tools available. The effectiveness of this tool will depend on your strength and accuracy. You’ll have to get pretty close to the animal and throw the rock with enough force to stop the animal in its tracks.

5- Tracking Learn the game animals that are common in your area and the basics of their behavior. You might not find a proper track for a particular animal, but you might find where it has left fur or scratched a tree. Find where the herbivores go, because the carnivores will follow.

6- Covering Scents If you don’t have anything like or baking soda, which some people say works, or woodsy scent chips, pay close attention to the wind while you are tracking, and adjust your positioning if necessary. The slightest whiff of human will put some animals like deer on edge.

7- Field Dressing a Kill Nothing really replaces experience in this regard, but if you don’t have experience in breaking down an animal in the field, find a video to watch and get a general idea. You aren’t going to get far if you’re trying to carry around a whole elk or bear along with your day pack. And furthermore, make sure you have a good knife with you at all times.

8- Judging Distance Eyeballing distances, particularly after dark, does not come naturally to most humans. But if you’re trying to shoot and keep your use of ammunition or arrows to a minimum, this skill could be what saves you. There are things you can to do practice this skill, such as placing markers at 20, 30 and 40 yards and shining a light on them (at night) to see how much you can identify in each area. During the daytime, take note of rocks, trees or shrubs in the area that are at 10-yard increments.

9- Read a Topographic Map Learning how to read the contour lines of a map of your area is an important skill if you want or need to be able to bug out into the woods or mountains somewhere. The lines can tell you whether you’ll be hiking uphill, in a valley or across flat land. Combine that with knowledge of where your water systems are in your area, and you’ll have a very good idea of the environment. With this knowledge you’ll have a better chance of staying hidden — or of being found.

10- Navigate with a Map and Compass In the age of GPS, many people no longer know how to navigate with a basic paper map and magnetic north. If you know hot to do this, you’ll never be lost again. Think about it…a paper map won’t break or run out of batteries. A compass is breakable, but it works even with cloud cover.

Leave it to the gear masterminds at Sea To Summit to take sleeping pads to the next level. Their Comfort Plus Insulated Mat combines serious technology and durable design to deliver a great night’s sleep, no matter where you find yourself.


Right out of the box, the sleeping mat was easy to use, lightweight, and packable. The design is all about function and would be totally at home in high winds, freezing snow, or the backyard tree-house. Unpacking and inflating the Comfort Plus mat takes less than a minute and could easily be done with gloves.

The mat is pretty straightforward from the start, but has some nice features to explore. The valve system to inflate and deflate could be new to some. One valve directs to a top layer and another to a lower layer, something I missed my first time checking it out.


I used the Sea To Summit Air Stream Dry Sack Pump to inflate mine to test it out, but I also easily inflated the Comfort Plus mat another time with about 8 full breaths without the help of a pump. But, the moisture in your breath can end up reducing the warmth of your mattress. Click here to learn about the science behind sleeping mats.

The multi-function valves split between inflation, deflation, and a slow-release adjustment button. The two levels of inflation is a nice feature of this sleeping mat. Inflate one side all the way for maximum cushioning, then adjust the top layer to your tastes for body positioning. It seems a tad over the top for roughing it, but the ability to adjust the inflation with the touch of a button is a nice little feature.

Read more below the photos.

Comfort and Temperature

I tested out the tapered version of the Comfort Plus Regular size, and it was a bit small for me. I’m 5’10” and about 170 pounds, and I fit on the pad but without much room to move. I’d recommend the larger size for anyone around my size or larger.

The Air Sprung Cells are individual chambers and help the mat conform to your body. Movement and contours don’t affect the Air Sprung Cells nearby, allowing for more comfortable night’s rest.

The dual layers of sprung air cells have the nice perk of staying inflated even if one side gets punctured. I didn’t test the feature so I can’t be sure of how it performs in that way. This style also looks like it would provide a perfect layer of additional warmth from cold or snow-packed ground. The Thermolite insulation Sea To Summit uses is designed to prevent radiant and convective heat loss.


Deflating the Comfort Plus sleeping mat was a breeze, and folding it up for packing took no time. It’s design allows for a packing size way smaller than your traditional Thermarest-style sleeping pad. It would be perfect for long distance cycling trips and backpacking.

In a bug-out situation, when space is at a premium, this mat fits perfectly. The design is durable, sets up and breaks down quickly, and fits a wide variety of temperatures and environments.

Want to learn more about Sea To Summit and their gear? Click here to check out the Comfort Plus Insulated Mat and here to see the Air Stream Dry Sack Pump.

Having some basic survival essential items with you when you’re outdoors is a must and the key to outdoor success. The items you have with you should provide for your basic needs while out and about, both while things are going according to plan and when things get hairy. But the 10 essentials are the bare necessities and a good kit should carry you above and beyond the minimum requirements. Here, we’ll discuss what you should add to your outdoor kit if you haven’t done so already.

First, as a refresher, here’s the 10 essential survival items and what they are comprised of. Take note, a cell phone is not considered an essential.

  1. Navigation (map and compass, GPS with extra batteries),
  2. Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
  3. Insulation (extra clothing)
  4. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
  5. First-aid supplies
  6. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/ferro rod and striker)
  7. Repair kit and tools (tape, patching, thread, etc.)
  8. Nutrition (extra food)
  9. Hydration (extra water)
  10. Emergency shelter (tarp, emergency blanket, bivy sack)

These items can get you to where you need to go and also get you out alive if something goes wrong. But there are some things to add that can aid in your endeavors whether it’s a day hike or a week-long trip.

  • Knife – This can be a fixed blade or a strong folder. This will help you with anything from building shelter, preparing firewood or self-defense. I prefer a fixed blade over anything and will also carry a folder at times. I don’t carry an axe or hatchet due to personal preference. A multitool of some kind will also aid you in making repairs to clothing, sewn gear and hardware. As with any addition to your kit, take weight into consideration when packing.
  • Communication – A cell phone will do as long as it’s only used for communication and not navigation, photography or light. Battery life can drain quickly if the phone is used for anything other than emergency communication. Consider an extra power source or solar charger for extended trips. If you’re far in the backcountry and cell service is out of the question, an emergency locator beacon can be a good way to alert emergency teams to your position. Satellite phones are also an option, albeit an expensive one.
  • Cordage – A good length of 550 paracord can aid in several of the 10 essential systems. The individual strands can be used for fishing line if needed as well as for sewing up torn items. 550 cord can also be used to securely rig a tarp shelter or tie a debris shelter together against an anchor.
  • Water Purification – If your water runs out, you may need more in order to make it out of a survival situation. Not taking proper care of your water will leave you exposed to illness. Carry at least one method of purifying and cleaning water whether it’s a chemical treatment, UV light or cook pot for boiling.
  • Add your own! Your adventure will require its own equipment. Take a look at your kit and see what can be added to help you in the outdoors. Let us know in the comments what you consider your essential survival items.

A wilderness survival knife is an essential tool to keep in your bug out bag. It will help you perform a number of important tasks such as preparing food and cutting branches and rope. And it can be used as a weapon to protect you in case you’re attacked by an animal or another human.

The following features are important to consider when you’re selecting a wilderness survival knife.

Fixed Blade

Fixed-blade knives can be used for a wide range of tasks, including cutting, chopping, skinning and carving. For a wilderness survival knife, make sure you purchase a high-quality knife that can withstand heavy use. A knife is one of the most important survival tools you can have in your bug out bag, so it’s worth doing your research and paying a bit more for quality.

Full Tang

The tang of a knife is the part of the blade that connects the blade with the handle. There are several different tang designs, but the strongest design is the full tang. A full tang knife is one solid piece and the handle is secured to the blade. If the handle breaks off of a full tang knife, it does not render the knife unusable. You can wrap the tang with cloth or a strap and continue to use the knife.


Select a knife with a solid handle, as this design is more durable than other options. The handle should not be smooth, as a smooth handle can become slippery when wet, making it difficult to grip securely. Choose a grooved handle that is contoured to fit securely in your hand. The knife should also have a finger guard that will prevent your hand from contacting the blade in case the knife slips when you’re using it.

Blade Material

Most survival knives are equipped with either carbon steel or stainless steel blades. There isn’t really a wrong answer to which type of blade material you should select as both types have advantages and disadvantages. Many survivalists prefer carbon steel knives because they can be sharpened easily and hold an edge longer than stainless steel knives. Additionally, they can be used to make fire-starting sparks when struck with flint, quartz or chert.

Stainless steel, on the other hand, corrodes much more slowly than carbon knives and don’t require as much cleaning. They also tend to be more expensive than carbon knives. Stainless steel may be a better choice for survivalists who plan to spend time boating in ocean waters or who live near the sea.

There are alternatives for catching fish other than sitting for hours with a fishing pole in hand. In a bug out situation, multi-tasking will be of the essence and your attention will be on other chores besides catching fish. With that said, check out some hacks for survival fishing.

Set hooks consist of a line (the inside of 550 cord works sufficiently), hook, sinker and bait. Tying the line off to a branch hanging above water needs to be adjusted according to its depth. Ensure that the line is strong enough to hold fish until your return, but is flexible enough to give fish play.

You can attach baits to the hook, such as worms, fish, etc. This method is great for most bottom-feeding fish, like catfish. One hook typically yields more than one fish. They tend to the same work as traps and snares.

Trot lines are another method to catch fish without manning a pole. They’re akin to set hooks, but are generally comprised of a long line (top line) with short lines positioned evenly along the long line with a hook attached to each short line.

Hooks on trot lines are baited identical to those on set hooks; the main difference is they’ll have 20-to-25 hooks on short lines that cover a wider area. The ends of the long line are connected to a sturdy tree or other tie-off point at each side of the body of water where the fishing is being done.

Using a boat optimizes this method of survival fishing because allows you to “run” and re-bait the hooks without the need of pulling the line from the water. If you don’t have boat, attaching one end of the long line to a weighted item — such as brick or stone — and throwing the long line into the water will do. Note that this technique is more successful with shorter trot lines since you can conveniently pull it in from the anchor point when checking it.

Fish traps can be constructed by using metal wire and natural materials. This technique is like a basket with a bait or attractant in the center and a narrowed down opening that enables fish to get inside the trap, but not escape out easily.

A host of variables are available here with fish traps, as they go from basic to high-tech in their build. If you want more fish, this method is preferred over set hooks or trot lines. They’re a better alternative if you’re in a bug in or stationery location and expect to remain there for a longer period of time due to its lack of maneuverability.

Natural poisons is a technique used strictly in a survival situation. Natural poisons are done in shallow areas of water to kill a large number of small fish in a brief period of time.

The following natural poisons are toxic to fish, but typically harmless to humans: nut husks from young walnuts; lime (can be made by burning seashells and crushing them up); and a variety of plants (this requires research based on the region you live in).


You can’t walk another step, you feel a thunderstorm brewing, and it’s time to refill your energy stores. You need to find a safe and comfortable spot to make camp for the night. Here’s how to choose.

Where to Start Looking for a Spot

Hollows and valleys are generally the wettest, coldest, and foggiest spots for camping locations. Higher ground means rain will run off and is less likely to gather in your campsite.

Think about how long you’re planning on staying. If it’s just for a night you won’t need much room but you’ll need to stretch out and walk around if you’ll be in the area for more than a few days.

Look for small game trails, evidence of foot traffic from animals or people, and insect nests. Some you can’t avoid, but don’t put yourself in a place that’s a highway for animals or people that you might disturb.

If you’re on rocky terrain, be mindful of ledges that might pose a danger if you’re moving around at night. These areas can also be home to snakes and other critters.

Trees Can be a Friend and an Enemy

Don’t just look for shade. Some trees have dangling branches that could blow over and impale you, or destroy your belongings. If want to be near a tree, discern whether it’s safe enough to settle under first.

If you’ll need to dry clothes or hang bear-bags with food, look for branches that will be sturdy but are higher off the ground.

Be certain there’s enough space between you and a tall tree. Tall trees are magnets for lighting strikes. Keep an eye on low hanging branches that can pose a danger to eyes and your face when moving around in low light.

Read More: The 4 Types of Items Every First-Aid Kit Should Have

Where to Put Your Shelter

Steer clear of tall grass. The reason? Ticks, ants, and other pesky insects thrive in tall blades of grass, which could give you a real dose of misery.

If you can, set up your tent on a durable surface like rock, bare ground, sand, or gravel to protect fragile areas. Kick away any sticks and rocks that can bug you as you sleep. Try to avoid being on an incline, since you might find sleeping slanted pretty uncomfortable.

Before night falls look around for escape routes and potential cover. If you need to bolt for any reason during the night you’ll need to know where to go.

Water’s Benefits and Dangers

A smart bit of advice is to camp at least 200 feet away from water. Any river or stream can unpredictably flood if conditions are right. Also, land close to water tends to be marshy. This brings up another great tip —  not being close to water helps in avoiding an area thick with mosquitoes another insects attracted to water.

Look for access to clean water that’s moving. Stagnant water brings lots of bugs and bacteria. If you’re staying long-term, look for an area in which you can collect rainwater.

Research Any Required Permits or Permission

You may need to have a backcountry permit if you’re on land that’s a state or national park. You’ll need to apply for backcountry permits ahead of time or you may find yourself face to face with a very unhappy hiker or ranger.

If you’re on private property, get permission to camp. If the land owner finds you snuggled up without permission you could face fines and possible criminal charges.

Follow these tips and you’ll find yourself a campsite that you won’t want to leave. Always treat every campsite with respect and leave it cleaner than when you arrived.

Read More: Watch Out For These 3 Nasty Backcountry Bacteria

Survival on Screen is where Shadow Fox takes a look at survival and field craft practices in movies and TV. Some are great, others not so much. We break down what’s happening on screen and what viewers should or shouldn’t take away from the production.

National Geographic’s first season of its adventure series brings us an eclectic set of characters with a variety of skills trekking across the Alaskan wilderness. The beauty of the northernmost state provides a breathtaking canvas for the beginning of an unfortunately short-lived and entertaining reality series.

USA drops 8 adventurers into the Alaskan wild lands with the objective of crossing a stretch of land in 72 hours. Over 10 episodes, the men will cross 3,000 miles of terrain and battle weather, beasts and each other. While it’s not a race by traditional means, being left behind is a real consequence if they don’t make their pickup point in time. The men will cross the land in many ways the same fashion as the explorers before them working for National Geographic.

At the start of each episode, the men divide themselves into teams. Each team works on a different way to get to their destination whether it’s building a raft (or a different variation of a raft), selecting a land route. Each team member has different skills that allows them to help their team survive in the unforgiving environment. For instance, Tyrell Seavy, a fisherman, is able to build a net to catch salmon and provide his comrade with valuable protein. Tyler Johnson, a civil engineer, is able to build a primitive water filter when his team needs hydration. He’s also able to modify boats his team uses to travel on water.

The men only carry what they’ve packed. Their kits have been carefully selected to sustain them throughout the competition. A few carry handguns and rifles for hunting and dealing with bears, while one carries a bow for hunting. One man, Willi Prittie, carries a pressure cooker with him. He says the pressure cooker preserves the nutrients in the food better than traditional cooking.

Food is constant struggle in the competition. Each team has a ration of rice and beans, but that will only get you so far. The men must hunt and forage for their meals and compete with the animals that are doing the same thing. Most of all, they must rely on their resilience and wits to finish each leg of the race.

There’s a lot of adrenaline to go around as the men brave roaring rapids and gut wrenching rappels. The men are constantly at odds with bears, and every encounter causes them to double take after seeing the massive predators. There are moments when the men are dangerously close to hypothermia. Mistakes can lead to injuries and even loss of valuable equipment.

As hard as it is to move through the wilderness, staying in place is just as difficult. The men must make their own shelters each night to keep themselves warm, dry and safe from animals.

Ultimate Survival Alaska’s first season is an entertaining and insightful show. Watching each member show off their own individual skills can give new ideas on how to modify your own methods of survival. Most of all, it’s inspiring. The Alaskan wilderness never ceases to amaze the eyes, and every episode leaves you looking toward your pack and boots, plotting your next adventure.