12 Ways to Become the MacGyver of Wilderness Survival

Do you have any idea what you would do if you got lost or hurt while out in the wilderness? What if your car broke down and your cell phone died, leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere? By planning ahead, you can save your life when caught in an unexpected situation.

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Must-Read Wilderness Survival Hacks

It takes a bit of planning and a small budget to compile the necessities you’d need if you were unexpectedly alone in the wilderness. The most important supplies would help you stay warm, hydrated, and fed, while alerting others to your whereabouts.

1) Find Flammable Materials in the Wilderness

If it’s wet out and you’re getting cold, you’ll need to build a fire stat. It’s not always easy to come across dry, flammable materials. Peel long strips of bark from a cedar tree or a birch tree for tinder. If you’ve planned ahead, you should have emergency tinder on you, or even baggies of dryer lint, which are flammable. In a pinch, you can also douse cotton balls in Vaseline.

2) Build an Emergency Shelter

If avoidable, don’t try to sleep on the ground without any shelter, and make sure to get the shelter up before the sun goes down. Shelter is one of the most important things to have when you’re stranded outside in an unknown place.

You should have a tarp or an emergency blanket with you if you’ve been hiking or camping, which you can rig up with paracord (get a paracord belt or bracelet so it’s always nearby).

3) Build Makeshift Fishing Gear

If you’re stuck near water and you need to go fishing for food, you can create a fishing spear from bamboo. This may be difficult to use if you’ve never spear fished before, though, but it may be your best option.

You can also fashion a fishing hook from the tab of a canned beverage by snipping away part of the thin circular part at an angle. All you’ll need is something to attract the fish (the sparkly tab may be enough) and something to use for line.

If you think of it ahead of time, pack an emergency tackle kit in a Tic Tac box.

4) Increase Your Light

If your flashlight’s died (or you didn’t bring one in the first place) and all you have are a few candles, increase the light by cutting a soda can to make a “doorway” with flaps on either side.

Place the candle inside – the light will be brighter as it reflects off the can. You can do the same thing with a tuna can.

5) Makeshift Water Filter

Ran out of water? Too bad you didn’t pack that fancy water filter you have sitting at home. Take a piece of cloth and two containers, one empty and the other filled with the yucky water.

Run the strip of cloth from the dirty water to the empty glass. After a little while, the “filtered” water will make its way into the empty glass to give you something drinkable (after it’s boiled, of course).

6) Repel Bugs

If you’re at least a bit prepared with something to start a fire and a few herbs for cooking, sprinkle rosemary or basil on the fire – bugs can’t stand the smell and they’ll leave you alone for the night.

Sage works well at repelling bugs, too. If you need to keep ants away from your campsite, sprinkle grits wherever you see the ants – they’ll steer clear of that area.

7) Impromptu Microwave

Cut three sides of a square into the top of a food box and line both the flap and the inside with aluminum foil.

Place food inside, fold the flap down, and leave the box out in the sun. The food inside will cook in your makeshift solar microwave.

8) Simple Compass

If you’re completely turned around and don’t know which way is home, find a small sliver of medal, like a needle, and rub it against your clothing multiple times.

Float a leaf in water and place the metal on top. The needle will point north.

Make sure you’re watching the needle as it readjusts so you know which way is north and which is south.

9) Emergency Oil Lamp

Empty out a soda can and fill it halfway with olive oil. Roll up a napkin or paper towel and put it in the mouth of the can with part of the cloth still sticking out of the top. Light the end of the cloth – the oil lamp will burn for hours.

Not working? Make sure the bottom of the cloth is far enough in the can to reach the oil.

10) Whistle for Help

If you didn’t pack an emergency whistle and your phone is out of range, find an acorn – you can use the cap to whistle for help.

You need just the cap, not the entire acorn, and you want to find a cap that’s whole, not broken or misshapen. Take the cap in both of your hands, holding it between your index finger and thumb.

The inside of the cap should face you. Place your thumbs near the top of the cap with your thumbs touching each other. Put your upper lip on your thumbs and your lower lips on the bottom of the acorn cap and blow through the triangle that’s formed by your thumbs.

11) Mark Your Way

If you’re lost and trying to find your way out of the woods, use biodegradable tape to mark where you’ve been.

If you retrace your steps without realizing it, you at least won’t think you’re someplace new. If you don’t have trail tape on you, use something to keep track of where you’ve been, even if it’s simple rock formations.

12) Calm Annoying Mosquito Bites

If you’re getting eaten alive, rub a bit of deodorant on a nasty mosquito bite to quell the itch.

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