Surviving in the forest: tips & tricks

Surviving in the forest: "You find yourself alone in the forest and night will soon fall. Impossible to find your way back, you are completely lost and the stress starts to mount. You don't know if the sounds you hear are the hooting of an owl or the approaching footsteps of a ferocious beast! The tension builds up and you find out by shouting that it's just a little rabbit..."

Even if it's just a harmless little beast and you've been very scared, you're still alone in the forest and you'll have to manage! No one is safe from a problem, an accident or a disaster, and you could one day find yourself in this situation, far from help. Don't panic, we're here to make you a real man of the woods thanks to this little forest survival manual!

So, how do you survive in the forest? You will learn the essential techniques of survival in the forest, know the equipment necessary for your survival in this hostile environment and discover how a forest survival course with a professional survival guide can take place. You will also learn how to catch that damn rabbit!

Here are 6 techniques to survive in the forest or in the wild that will allow you to cover your basic needs: sleeping, eating, drinking, and keeping warm. Combine these tips with the right preparation and quality equipment, and feel confident in the wild.

Forest Survival Technique #1: Calculating the Time Remaining Before Sunset

When you're lost in the woods, anticipation is essential! Knowing the time of sunset will allow you to anticipate the construction of a shelter to spend the night for example. A simple technique exists to calculate the time you have left before nightfall. To do this, you will need both hands and a clear view. Here is the procedure to follow:

  • Face the sun
  • Put your hand palm facing you, fingers tightly together, with the bottom of your little finger on the horizon line.
  • Place your hands on top of each other until you reach the sun.
  • Calculate the number of hands and fingers used between the horizon and the sun (1 finger = 15min)

Forest Survival Technique #2: Starting a Fire

According to prehistorians, the time of the first use of fire and its control are still rather unclear. Most believe that fire has been used for 250,000 to 300,000 years. At that time, there were no matches, let alone lighters or gas bottles. So here are two old-fashioned ways to survive in the forest to start a fire:

  • By friction with a firebow: The technique consists of using a shoelace, a rope or other with a slightly curved branch, then wrapping it around it with a drill and rotating it quickly on a wooden board with a notch. The bow has the main advantage of maintaining constant pressure and speed to produce the embers. This method remains difficult to perform.
  • By percussion: The technique consists of hitting the edge of a very hard stone at an angle with the blade of a survival knife, producing sparks.

Don't forget to get fuel to start the fire: dry grass, bark, tinderbox, etc.

Forest Survival Technique #3: Building a Shelter

The shelter serves primarily to protect you from bad weather: cold, rain, hail, snow, etc. So how do you make a shelter that meets the conditions imposed by survival? Preferably choose a high, well-drained site. Avoid settling at the bottom of a valley or too close to a watercourse if you don't want to end up in the water. To sleep well and avoid back pain, choose flat, rootless terrain. The front door of your shelter should be located away from the prevailing winds to avoid drafts.

The type of shelter you choose to build will depend above all on your state of fatigue and the resources you have at your disposal. Building a makeshift shelter under a tree, for example, will do the trick. Find a well-stocked coniferous tree and knock the tree down without cutting it down completely about 1 metre above the ground. All you have to do is make a cosy little bed of moss, leaves, pine needles or other materials. You are now sheltered for a whole night!

Forest Survival Technique #4: Purifying Water

Water is a crucial element in survival. The human body is almost 70% water. No wonder then that hydration plays a major role in health. Dehydration can have serious consequences for your body. You are probably familiar with the "rule of three", according to which you can survive 30 days without eating, 3 days without drinking and 3 minutes without breathing. So you have a maximum of 3 days to find drinking water! Rainwater is the easiest because it is collected in a clean container and does not need to be filtered. However, it is absolutely necessary to filter the water coming from a river, lake or other. Here are 3 methods of water filtration that you can apply:

  • Boiling water in a container will remove all bacteria. This is the safest method of purification. Of course, you can't cheat by using a stove or firelighter to boil water. Ok, you can still use a flint.
  • Making a charcoal filter also filters the water but it is not 100% effective.
  • Combine the two methods in order to have water that is completely clean for consumption.

Be aware that if you cannot find filtered water, you can drink your urine to hydrate yourself. Being highly concentrated, you should not abuse it more than 6 days in a row. It is recommended that you drink it within half an hour after leaving the house as it quickly becomes a real bacteriological culture! A better solution is to have a handy water filtration system.

Forest Survival Technique #5: Recognizing an Edible Fruit or Vegetable

If you know absolutely nothing about edible wild fruits or plants that can be eaten in the forest, this time-consuming and careful method may well be useful for feeding yourself. Here are the steps:

  • Find a plant that you think is edible.
  • First pass the flesh or sap on your skin.
  • If nothing happens after a few minutes, repeat this step on your lips.
  • You still don't feel anything? Chew a small part of it by chewing carefully for about fifteen minutes without swallowing.
  • If all goes well, you can eat a small amount and wait a while before eating again to be sure.

Throughout the steps, make sure that no symptoms or itching appear. Be aware that even if you follow this method to the letter, some plants can be deadly! The method is not infallible! If you don't want to take any risks, eat only the edible plants you know and know the first aid tips on your fingertips during first aid training.

Forest Survival Technique #6: The Basic Survival Kit

The survival kit is an essential element in situations of extreme emergency. In the case of survival in the forest, it is a backpack containing the necessary items to be able to survive in case of need. Your survival kit should contain the necessary items to: provide shelter from the weather (a tarpaulin or at best a tent), maintaining a reasonable body temperature, respond to first aid, bring water and food for basic necessities, allow signals to be sent to the rescue services.

From the list of necessities, we can build ourselves a survival kit worthy of the name for survival in the forest. Take a look on our survival kit proposal. According to the specialists in the field, you need above all:

  • A waterproof bag
  • A survival blanket or a good sleeping bag
  • A waterproof rain poncho
  • A Swiss Army knife
  • A hand saw
  • A rain cover
  • Survival fire stone
  • Tinder
  • Wire or rope
  • A headlamp with a dynamo
  • Wire for setting traps
  • A survival bracelet with a whistle
  • A first aid kit

We hope this little set of survival tips and tricks will give you a general clue on finding yourself in a critical situation in the woods. Above all, remember that the most important thing is to prepare properly and remain calm.