Survival Basics

Survival Skills to Learn From the Couch

Most of us have been spending a lot more time at home in the last several months. If you haven’t been able to get out as you normally would, don’t fret. There are tons of wilderness and survival skills to learn from the comfort of your home.

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Please don’t read this article and try to start a fire in your living room. There are numerous amounts of skills that are safe to learn from inside the home. Check out 8 ideas below. Master surviving without ever having to get out of your pajamas. Thanks, 2020.

Knots

A super simple and safe way to practice some wilderness skills is to work on your knot tying abilities. There are several knots that all survivalists should know how to tie.

  1. Bowline: A bowline knot is used to create a fixed, non-slip loop at the end of a line. These are super common and incredibly handy. It’s fairly quick to tie and has an easy release as well. You use this essentially anytime you need  a solid loop at the end of a line so that something won’t close or move (aka hanging a bucket from a tree, securing an anchor, etc.)

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  2. Double Sheet Bend: Sometimes called a Weaver’s Knot, this knot is super easy to do and is often used in emergency situations. There are several modifications that can be made to this style of knot to make it fit your specific needs and situation. This type of knot is used for when you need to make a longer line from several smaller ones.

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  3. Halter Hitch: Sometimes known as the Slipped Halter Hitch this knot is super useful to tighten or hold a line. It’s also really easy to release. The Hitch knot needs something else to hold on to, like a tree or a carabiner for example.  The strength of these kinds of knots is determined by how much friction is created by the object it has been tied to. For example, using a tree will cause more friction due to the bark than compared to tying it to a carabiner which is metal. Use this knot to secure gear to your bag, to tie stake lines, or to attach a food bag to a bear hang line.

To practice these knots simply grab some rope or paracord, open up a youtube video and get tying!

Feathering Wood

Feathering sticks are used for getting a fire started in otherwise tricky situations. It is also sometimes called creating a “fuzz stick.” If you’re ever in a situation where the wood available around you is wet, or if there are no small sticks available for kindling this is a great skill to know how to have.

The primary purpose of a featherstick is to provide fuel. We all know that kindling and tinder are extremely important for tarting a fire. You cant expect to set an entire log on a flame and have it create a fire. You need small fuel. In cases when you don’t have any available you will need to feather.

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You don’t need any particular wood to practice on, however, ideally, the wood you choose will be dead and dry. Take a piece that is approximately a foot long. You’ll need a good knife to complete this task. I relate feathering to peeling a full-sized carrot. Getting started is the toughest part. But once you get it going it’s pretty easy to get those nice curls. Use the sharp side of your knife and place it horizontally on the wood while holding the wood vertically. Use the blade to strip a thin layer of wood on the main piece. Think of it like you’re peeling a carrot with a potato peeler. You are using the same motion.

It’s not entirely important for these curls to be of a certain length or thickness, but again this is to help get your fire started if you do not have enough small fuel.

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Try not to get too frustrated if your pieces aren’t curling, or if they’re coming detached from the main stick. This takes time and practice to get it right. The more flat of a surface you have to work on the better your feather curl will be. Work on getting the stick to a flat edge so your knife can more easily glide.

If you are going to practice in the house you may want to either throw a towel or newspaper down or be sure you have your vacuum cleaner handy to clean up the mess afterward.

Notches

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Use the same piece of wood to practice making notches. Again, this is a staple skill to have because it’s used for many shelters and traps. You’ll need a knife to make these notches in the wood. As previously stated, you probably want to have a vacuum cleaner handy just in case.

Whittling

Whittling is often seen as a hobby.  It’s the act of transforming a piece of wood into a tool of some sort by using a knife or an equivalent object. But this skill can be useful when in a survival situation.  If you are required to be outdoors for an extended period of time you may benefit from having the knowledge of how to whittle a spoon. You may think “Oh, I have that gear with me at all times anyway,” but you never know when you and your ear may become separated. Wouldn’t you rather have more than enough skills than not enough?

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Paracord Projects

I’d probably bet my life on the fact that you’ve heard of paracord, if not, go back and find out more here. If you have, then you know the incredible tools and necessities that can be made out of paracord. Items ranging from hammocks to water bottle holders, this material has a vast amount of uses. I’d also bet that you have some paracord in your survival kit. If not, I’d recommend you get some.

Paracord is not just used by the military anymore, it is used by survivalists and anyone else that has heard how life-saving this little bit of rope can be.

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Grab yourself some paracord, or order it online, and follow a tutorial. Since there are literally hundreds of things you can create from paracord your options are virtually endless. Start with one thing and then go on to the others.

For more ideas check out these paracord projects.

Plant Identification

Wouldn’t it be super convenient if when you happened to be stranded somewhere that you had your outdoors field guide with you? The likelihood of this happening is pretty minimal unless you’re someone who carries these books around with you at all times.

Taking time to memorize or identify plants may feel like you’re back in high-school studying for your SATs. Except these SATs may save your life. Consuming a plant that is actually poisonous can quite literally lead to death. It’s extra important to have a base knowledge of the plants in your area that are safe for consumption.

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You should also have knowledge of plants that can assist with other needs, such as repelling mosquitoes or having medicinal effects.

A great way to learn these basics is to read up on it, and quite literally, begin studying.

Basket Weaving

Having the ability to weave your own basket is definitely an important skill to have. We aren’t talking about weaving a basket to sit on your mantle or be a decorative piece in your home. We’re talking about weaving a basket in order to carry items such as firewood or food.

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For this activity, you’ll need to gather some supplies from outside, but once you have your items you can quite literally sit on your couch and weave. You’ll need to gather a large amount of whatever material you plan on using. Materials can range from a basket made from grass, to yucca leaves, to willow branches. The possibilities are endless. Once you gather these simply lug them inside and pull up a tutorial.

There are many types of weaving techniques so feel free to try out a few different ones and see which one you get the hang of most quickly. As with any skill you’re developing, it will definitely take practice. So try not to get frustrated if you see some lopsided baskets at first.

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Once you’ve mastered the art of weaving you will quickly be able to transition that skill into other, similar, skills.

Traps

Very similar to basket weaving, you can use the weaving technique to weave traps such as fishing baskets. Some of the most successful fish nets are those that have a smaller basket inside of a larger basket. These traps are great because you aren’t expending any energy to catch your food. You’re simply placing the basket and leaving it.

Most of the traps you’re going to be studying and learning about can be replicated indoors but will definitely need to also be practiced outdoors as well. Depending on your location and the wildlife around you there will be different traps that will be the most successful. Take a look at some of the most common and most successful types and get started trying some out.

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As we continue to spend more time inside, especially as the cooler months approach, you might be feeling like you’re bored, or not getting a lot accomplished each day. Learning how to survive (well, survival skills at least) will definitely help you feel accomplished for the day. Grab some materials, and maybe your vacuum, and get started!

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