Survival skills

Survival in nature depends on a variety of important skills. The fundamental elements of survival include orientation, shelter, fire, water and food.

In the sections below are listed the different options that can be used in a variety of situations. Detailed explanations and hands-on are given partly in the annual lectures, but mainly in the survival courses and thematic workshops. The list of skills grows each year. For questions or new suggestions, please contact us, and we will gladly help in any way we can.

ORIENTATION

If we get into the troubles  in the wilderness, orientation is one of first things that we have to consider. The use of orientation is very varied and adaptable, due to the various different environments that we may find ourselves in. Factors such as topography, vegetation and weather can hinder our ability to navigate and orientate ourselves. Some examples of orientation methods include:

  • Sun and watch

  • Sun and shadow movement

  • Northern star (we can locate it by using constellations such as: Plough, Cassiopeia, Orion)

  • Southern Cross  (in the southern hemisphere)

  • Electrically charged needles

  • Sun and watch

  • Sun and shadow movement

  • Northern star (we can locate it by using constellations such as: Plough, Cassiopeia, Orion)

  • Southern Cross  (in the southern hemisphere)

  • Electrically charged needles

Examples of less reliable methods are: Moss, tree rings, snow, tree crown density, moon, wind direction…

SHELTERS AND BIVOUACS

Shelter and fire are usually one of the first things that must be considered when surviving in the wilderness. Without water we can survive for a few days and without food we can survive for weeks. However, hypothermia can set in within the space of one night and can be lethal. Proper sleep without a good shelter in temperate zones is usually not possible.

It is recommended to build shelters with a simple design and good insulation around the body (particularly underneath). For this purpose we use material that is abundant in your surroundings (dead wood, leaves, spruce branches, straw and ferns). Otherwise we waste valuable time constructing shelters that are thermally inefficient. Natural structures such as boulders and trees can act as support for shelters, speeding up the building process and increasing their effectiveness. In winter seasons, a fire is often made beside or even inside a shelter.

FIRE

In certain situations, having a fire can spell the difference between life and death. Fires provide warmth, light, protection from predators, a means to cook food, and an important morale boost.

Aside from the common lighting of fires using lighters, matches and fire steel, there are plenty of other alternatives such as:

  • Chemical reactions (acids from accumulators, carbides)

  • Batteries and gum paper

  • Batteries and steel wool

  • Water or glass lenses

  • Sparks from flint and steel

  • Various methods using wood friction (hand drill, simple bow drill, pump drill, thong drill, fire plough, fire saws)

When making fires, the type of wood and the species of tree from which it came must also be considered.

Commonly used tinder:

  • Birch bark

  • Tinder fungus (processed)

  • Woolly fibres on seeds (thistle, dandelion)

  • Straw and dry grasses

  • Wood chips

Types of campfires:

Standard: Tepee, the star, pyramid, hunter fire, log cabin fire, long fire.
Purposeful: Self feeding, upside down, Dakota hole, reflector fire, Swedish torch

    WATER

    In any situation, water is crucial for survival, especially in drier regions. In hot summers this can be an issue even in temperate climate zones. Beside surface water bodies, we can find water by digging into dry river beds, in caves, from succulent plants, tree holes, rotten trunks, and from dew.

    Water quality is also something that can be overlooked when thirsty. When we are uncertain, water should be filtered or boiled. If contaminated water has already been consumed, we can mitigate it’s harmful effects with charcoal. In extreme situations when our choice lies between either eating snow or drinking urine, the decision is not that trivial, due to risk of possible negative consequences in one hand or dehydration in other.

    FOOD

    With sufficient knowledge and skills, food can almost always be found in some form. While it may not be highly calorific and filling, it will provide us with valuable energy and nutrients.

    Plants and herbs are usually the most readily available source of food, however they happen to be low in energy. The same is true for mushrooms. Fruits are rich in sugar, seeds and nuts are high in fat and protein, however they are seasonal foods that are only available during certain parts of the year.

    Animal meat is valuable to us due to its high protein value, however without sufficient knowledge, meat can be difficult to obtain.

    Alongside finding food, processing food also plays an important role when surviving in the wilderness. Cooking not only improves the taste, but also rids foods of some toxins and improves the digestibility of whatever we are eating.

      OTHER SKILLS

      After having fulfilled the basic human survival needs, we can invest our time and energy into other products. When surviving in the wilderness, there are various other skills that can make our experience more comfortable by making the most of the surrounding materials. Nature provides a surprising list of materials that we can use to create various different tools and instruments.

      In the wild, we can expect to start with little to no resources, other than what we may already have on ourselves. However, with each day, we can acquire new materials and craft new tools such as: Ropes, glue, baskets, pots, torches, traps, weapons. It is also possible to produce charcoal, quicklime, iron from ore, etc.

      CALENDAR OF COURSES 2023

      The courses, which will be held in English (or German) language in 2023 are: 

      • Wild pottery workshop (27.-28.5. or 7.-8.10.) and
      • Island survival course (9.-12.11.)

       Other courses/workshops will be in the Slovenian language (see below). You can always contact us to organise a special course tailored to the group.  

      WORKSHOPS
        • Fire 1: 14. 5.

        • Fire 2: 11. 6. 

        • Shelters: 10. 6.

        • Edible plants: 13. 5.

        • Clay: 30. 9.

        • Mushroom workshop: 01. 10.

      BASIC COURSES
      • 13. – 14. 08.
      DEMANDING COURSES
      • 05. – 07. 05.
      • 14. – 16. 07.
      CHILDREN'S CAMPS 
      • 30. 06. – 02. 07.    

      • 25. – 27. 08.

      ADVANCED COURSES
      • 31. 08. – 03. 09.

        CONTACTS

        Zavod gozdovništvo in preživetje v naravi

        gozdovnistvo@gmail.com

        Žiga: +386 41 299 469
        Miha: +386 31 722 945

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