• Baileigh Higgins

Basic Survival Tips

Basic Survival Tips

Part one: Water

Clean water is the first thing that everyone needs. There are many ways to get this but the main thing is a good filter. There are many types and styles depending on the use of the filter. The last thing you want is Giardia, a nasty little bug that is not fun.

According to the CDC. Giardia is a microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal illness known as giardiasis. Giardia (also known as Giardia intestinalis, Giardia lamblia, or Giardia duodenalis) is found on surfaces or in soil, food, or water that has been contaminated with feces (poop) from infected humans or animals.

Not fun, if you know anyone who has had this they can tell you it is no fun at all.

Now I’m a big fan of the Sawyer filters but I’m not going to get into all the different brands. You can buy one and play with it. No matter what you buy look at the different brands and get what works for you. Traveling light or setting up a base camp, there are different demands for water, choose what works for you.

Oh, also be careful and watch for cross-contamination. I know a gentleman, an experienced “bushcrafter” who swapped his contaminated water bladder for his clean bladder. What happened? See the definition for Giardia above or google it.

Now that I touched briefly on water what’s next?

Part two: Shelter

Holiday Inn is a nice shelter, look for the heated pool, restaurant, and bar.

OK, we were talking apocalypse, bushcrafty stuff.

A silnylon tarp is light easy to hang and can be used in multiple configurations. No tarp?

Guess it sucks to be you. Start piling sticks and logs. Wedge a longer stick in the crotch of a tree. Angle it down to the ground. Lean the other sticks/logs against your ridge pole. Make a solid wall of them and then start throwing leaves and other debris off the floor of the woods. Boom. Debris hut. Fast and easy shelter.

Winter? Winter is rough. Find the biggest snowbank you can. Possibly against an earthen bank. Dig a slit trench just over the width of your shoulders. Cover it with sticks, limbs, and bark. Don’t forget to leave an air hole you have to keep breathing. Pile snow on top of all the sticks and bark and whatever. Simple fast (relative term) and easy. A small heat source like a candle can raise the temp 20 degrees in this type of shelter.

Then there are the quinze the igloo and other types of snow shelters.

These are just a sample of different types of fast and easy shelters. Do your homework before you get stuck in a true survival situation.

So, I guess I’m going to cover fire. Fire good!

Part three: Fire

Surviving requires fire. But how do you start a fire?

My favorite method is a butane torch lighter or a hand full of bic lighters. Why screw around with ferrocenium rods and such when a bic works great? No matter what you use the key to starting a good fire is the right materials.

1. Weeds, leaves and dry grass.

2. Small sticks, pine works great, use the dead stuff that snaps off the bottom of the tree. Keep it small.

3. Larger pieces pencil to thumb-sized. Fatwood (heartwood) saturated with natural pine sap is great stuff. You can find dead pine stumps or trees and cut them up to find this. Also, the white crusty stuff on the outside of pine trees helps, it's dried sap or pine tar.

Get a spark into the grass and leaves. If it’s dry it will light. Feed it with the smallest twigs you have. As the fire grows feed it larger stuff. Just make sure you have plenty of all three types before you start. If you run out you could have to start all over.

Part Four: Food

McDonald's is fast and easy. I’m not a plant guy but I have had some amazing meals just from plants picked off the ground. One of my favorites is fiddleheads. The tops of a bracken like fern before it unfolds. Very tasty.

Mushrooms I avoid unless I have a knowledgeable guide with me. That shit can kill you.

Hen and chicks, morels and others can be tasty. But again, you need someone that knows their stuff. I’m a hunter and fisherman. Fishing is the easiest. A pole, a line, and some bait. Worms or bugs found by turning over rocks. If need be you can whittle a hook out of wood. The inside of the paracord makes a decent line. There are a bunch of small cords

inside the paracord.

Good books can provide a guide to wild foods. Take classes. I know several really good people for that. Nicole Apelian who was on the TV show Alone is really good. In Michigan, Rachel Mifsud and her “will forage for food group” is fantastic. Or If you get the chance George Hedgepeth is great too, I hear he is back in the mighty mitten.


Okay you have the very condensed version of the big 4 things needed to start surviving. Now you need to practice practice practice. Read, take classes, don’t try to reinvent the wheel, learn from those that have done it for years. Just don’t go to the lying TV guy. He can get you killed, quickly. Cody Lundin is the real deal, as is Creek Stewart (Fat Guys in the Woods). Joe Robinet in Canada another Alone alumni really knows his stuff. Or Jeffy Geer, a good friend that has had years of training and spent time with Mors Kochanski.

(All credit goes to Tim Ricketts for providing this insightful survival series.)

About T. D. Ricketts

T.D. Ricketts is a resident of the Mighty Mitten aka Michigan.

Married for 35 years and his wife deserves a medal for putting up with him.

Two beautiful daughters, a grandson and a grand dog round out the crew wandering in and out of his house. Trying to teach his Son-in-law to hunt and camp is an ongoing task.

A compilation of short stories is nearing completion but there is a really cool anthology that needs a story.

Retirement figures somewhere in his future and then look out the books will fly.

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