Related Videos

Top 10 Survival Skills You Need to Know

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by Max Lett.

Do you have survival skills that could save your life? In a worst case scenario, anyone could benefit from possessing certain must-have survival skills like how to build a signal fire, how to perform DIY first aid and how to find food and water. WatchMojo looks at the top 10 wilderness survival skills you should learn now to give you an idea of how to survive in the wild.

To make a suggestion for a WatchMojo video, or to vote on existing ideas, be sure to visit our Suggestion Tool at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/

Watch on Our YouTube Channel:


You must register to a corporate account to download this video. Please login

Script written by Max Lett.

Top 10 Wilderness Survival Skills

Last night was a rager – and you had a blast! But for some reason, you’ve woken up in the middle of a big forest. Now what? Welcome to and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 wilderness survival skills.

For this list, we’re looking at methods, tactics and other things you might want to know if ever you find yourself stranded in the great outdoors. But first, a little disclaimer: we’re not wildlife experts, so be sure to do your own research before you venture out into the woods! These are just some common sense factoids and pieces of life advice that we feel you should consider before you go off on an adventure.

#10: How to Attract Attention with a Signal Fire

Wanna get rescued fast? Of course, you do! First things first: gather any combustibles you can find, like tinder, kindling and firewood, and set up on a hilltop or in a clearing to get maximum visibility. If you don’t happen to have matches or a lighter on you, create a spark using a mirror or a magnifying glass and the sun. In a pinch, your car battery could work too. If you have none of those handy, you can always go the old fashioned route and bang two rocks together or rub two sticks together. When you hear a helicopter or a plane, start piling on the branches – the drier the better! This will make the smoke thicker and more visible. Then do your best to keep the fire going until rescue comes.

#9: How to Keep Up Your Dental Hygiene

So you’re stuck in the wild; that doesn’t automatically make you an animal. You’re gonna want to keep those pearly whites as pearly white as possible, and avoid infections or diseases. So here’s a simple rundown on how to brush your teeth using only things found in the forest as your toiletries. Find the twig of a non-poisonous and fibrous tree and use that to scrape the gross stuff off your teeth. Obviously, you won’t be able to find toothpaste in the wild, so you can boil the bark of any tree with tannic acid – you know, like oaks, birch, hickory, aspen or poplar – and use it as a substitute for mouthwash. Or you can find some sap and chew on that to get all the gunk out of your mouth. If all else fails, just find a stick and chew on it, which will clean your teeth as you chew.

#8: How to Tie a Bowline

Since you’re watching Internet videos right now, chances are you’ve never tied a knot other than for your shoelaces. That’s okay; we can work with that. All you really need to know to survive in the wild is how to tie a bowline, which is an old but easy-to-tie method of securing rope that can lift a huge amount of weight. Real outdoorsy-type people use a mnemonic device about a rabbit coming out of his hole, running around a tree and jumping back into his hole to remember how to tie a bowline knot. What does that mean? In essence, you’ve got to make a loop near one end of the rope, pass the other end of the rope up through the loop, move that end behind and around the upper part of the first end and then pass it back down through the loop. Easy!

#7: How to Find Your Way by Day or by Night (Without a Compass)

If it’s daytime and you have an analog watch handy, you can use it as a compass. Hold it horizontally. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, point the hour hand at the sun. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, point 12 o’clock at the sun. Bisect the angle (or draw a line midway) between the hour hand and 12 o'clock and you’ll find the north / south line, depending where you’re located. If you don’t have a watch, look straight up into the vicinity of the sun. It rises from the east and sets towards the west wherever you are, so you can use that as a good starting point. What about nighttime? Easy, just find the Little Dipper. Now find the Big Dipper. Now, imagine a line between the two stars at the furthest part of the Big Dipper and connect that line with the handle of the Little Dipper. This is where you’ll find the brightest star, which is Polaris or the North Star and it represents true north.

#6: How to Perform DIY First Aid

Alright, so you’re still lost in the wilderness and a bear ate your first aid kit – what do you do? First thing, if you’re injured – presumably that bear that stole your kit also roughed you up a bit – you need to clean the wound. Water will do fine for that, but preferably purified water should be your go-to. Next, you’ll need some kind of bandage. Use a piece of clean cloth or material to cover the wound and apply pressure. If you have duct tape to hold bandage on, even better. Now you’ll need to find some old-man’s beard. Haha, don’t worry; it’s a type of lichen: it’s green and grows on tree branches. You can apply it to your wound as an antibiotic, and you should be good to go! Depending on how serious the wound is, that is…

#5: How to Make a Spear to Catch Animals / Food

Here’s a handy tip for catching cute little forest creatures or small marine animals for consumption: a split-tip gig is a multi-pronged spear that quickly snatches critters from the forest floor or in a body of water. Find yourself a small sapling about an inch around and cut the thicker end into four parts, going about ten inches down from the top. Use a stick to spread the parts and then make sure they’re good and sharp with a rock or knife. Finally, use that gig to brutally spear anything from snakes to chipmunks to rats, raccoons, bears, fish, etc.

#4: How to Find Food

If you don’t have a split-tip gig, you’ll need to get food another way before you become food for something else. Your best bet is to find a guide that tells you which berries and flowers are edible. If one isn’t handy, which it probably isn’t if you’re lost in the wilderness, then you can use the good old-fashioned method of trial and error. But beware: while this approach might allow you to survive longer, it might also kill you immediately. If you’d rather not leave your survival to chance, there are a few rules of thumb to adhere to: avoid plants with milky or discolored sap, three-leaved growth patterns, almond-scented leaves, anything – like seeds – that are inside pods and things that look like mushrooms. Good luck!

#3: How to Build a Fire

If you do manage to get some food, you might need a fire to cook it. But even without food, you need to keep yourself warm. First and foremost, you’ll need tinder – no, not the app. Although we suppose that is one way to keep yourself warm… Tinder in this case refers to small sticks that will easily turn a spark into a full-blown fire. Break those up into even smaller bits, find an area to make your fire and create shelter from the wind by using a log or something big. Then stack your kindling – preferably branches of different sizes – in a conical shape. This will facilitate the passage of oxygen to your fire, which will make it grow. If you don’t have any of the items mentioned in our Signal Fire entry, then you can use a flint to spark the fire or – again – rub two sticks together. When it starts to grow, then you can begin to add bigger kindling. Also, don’t forget to scavenge the area for any other material you can use to keep yourself warm, like leaves, pine branches or the skin of an animal you’ve hunted for food.

#2: How to Build a Shelter

Well, it looks like you’re gonna be here for a while – may as well get comfortable. You’ll need to find a dry area, preferably one that’s flat, elevated and protected from the elements by a cliff wall. Look around for a strong tree. Ideally, you want your tree to be at an angle, but if that’s not the case then grab a big branch from the ground, lean it against a strong tree and start stacking smaller branches on one side to make a wall. This is called a lean-to. Once this is done, find leaves, moss and other forest debris and start covering the wall, as well as the ground, to keep you warm. When you’re finished, get cozy and pray that the wind doesn’t pick up…

No honorable mentions this time around!

#1: How to Find Clean Water

There’s probably nothing more important to your survival than good old H2O. Water that you find in a puddle or stream is a safe bet, BUT only if you boil it – see, we told you that fire would come in handy. If you can’t do that, then collecting rain, snow or dew is also a great way to get yourself something drinkable. To get enough of the stuff to keep you alive, you can soak the liquid up using a rag or some type of fabric like a shirt or bandana and then squeeze the water out. You can also tie a bag around a leafy branch to collect the water from a tree’s transpiration, which is also drinkable. If you happen to find a cactus, you can slice it open for some refreshing H2O as well. Finally, and perhaps most deliciously, you can also quench your thirst with the syrup from a maple tree. What it boils down to is that staying safely hydrated is the name of the game.

Do you agree with our list? What wilderness survival tip saved your life? For more epic top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

Sign in to access this feature

Related Blogs