Survival Tips from Pop Culture



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These days, a survivalist who is in search of tips can find them everywhere. Pop culture has widened its influence on just about any field of interest that you can think of. With the internet, finding information on how to become a better survivalist has become much easier.

Related: 15+ Survival Strategies When Time is of the Essence

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50 Survival Tips from Pop Culture

The World Wide Web is also the home of social networks, the latest and newest source for all things survivalism. You can actually get in touch with the most popular survivalists in the world through social media, something that wasn’t possible a few decades ago.

Interestingly, other forms of mass media have stood the test of time. Films, television, and books can still be great sources of survival tips. If they are not free, they are affordable. This is indeed the right time for our subculture as preppers and survivalists to bloom because of the vast range of resources available at our disposal.

As a salute to pop culture, we have brought together some tips for any survivalist who is interested in knowledge and lessons that can be gained from the movies, TV shows, books, radio shows as well as the famous survival experts themselves. Enjoy!


The Hunger Games (2012): Be proactive

Stop waiting around for somebody to make your life better for you, and start making your life better for yourself! If you don’t like your job, spending every afternoon complaining about it while drinking beers won’t help – start working on your own side project after work. Don’t like how you look? Feeling sorry for yourself while eating ice cream on the couch doesn’t work – get off your butt and go for a walk!

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A survivalist is someone who takes action. Via

We’re not owed or entitled to anything simply for existing – it’s our responsibility to WANT a better life for ourselves and our family, and then its our responsibility to work hard to make it happen. As I’ve learned from my favorite movie, hoping for a better life is a great start, but ACTION is required to actually make it happen. Read more

Into the Wild (2007): Keep your goal in sight. Don’t give up what you want for what you want right now.

Even with a destination that would take him down a path fraught with adversity, Chris’s dream was unwavering. His yearning to find truth and solitude in a world where little exists led him directly into immense obstacle after obstacle.

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A survivalist knows how to stay focused. Via

It is so easy for us to find excuses to not follow through on our dreams. There are always a million reasons not to do something. Keep your dreams in sight and if you should fail, try and try again. Do not concede, and do not compromise to take the easier path and settle for a portion of your dream just because it’s the easiest path right now. 

The Book of Eli (2010)

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A survivalist knows the importance of being armed to keep from being harmed. Via alexraphael

* Benefits of carrying both firearms and low-tech weapons.
* How to barter for what you need.
* You have to be prepared to kill bad people or they will kill you.
* Your faith can sustain you and help guide your actions. Continue reading

World War Z (2013): The latest and greatest technology isn’t always the greatest

The Colorado flash flood of a few weeks ago shows just how true this is. A couple small towns called Jamestown and Estes Park were completely cut off from the world by raging flash flood waters. All communications were down; no cell phone reception, no landlines, no internet — you get the picture.

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A survivalist makes use of reliable technology. Via tonyalehman

So how did the people in those towns communicate with the outside world? Ham radio. It was hobbyists and old timers that knew how to get onto radio waves and communicate with emergency personnel. For the full post click here.

Cast Away (2000): Maintain a positive outlook

The first thing to remember, if you find yourself alone and in a survival situation, is that a positive and optimistic frame of mind can be the difference between life and death. There are many examples where people with no survival experience have managed to remain alive for extremely long periods before being rescued.

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A survivalist must stay optimistic despite the circumstances. Via

Their adaptability, calmness and clear thinking have all been instrumental in helping them get through the ordeal. However, it was that positive mental attitude that meant they battled on where others would have succumbed to despair and given up the routines necessary to sustain life. Read more

The Grey (2011)

Pack a Survival Kit in your checked baggage just in case the plane goes down and you find your luggage
Keep a Survival Kit in your VEHICLE
Before you leave your crashed plane or broken down vehicle be sure to strip as many available resources as possible – chair covers or headliners for shelter canopies or bed rolls, fuel and oil for making fire, water?, food?, anything that can be fashioned into a make-shift weapon, electrical wire for cordage, containers, etc…
Take some general FIRST AID classes BEFORE you need them

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A survivalist must have a survival kit close by at all times. Via

Leave some kind of note or sign at the crash site that tells potential first responders where you’ve gone
Keep your fire building materials and tools in a WATERPROOF container or bag – Just In Case
Learn how to skin, gut, process and prepare wild game over an open fire
Learn some basic COLD WEATHER sheltering techniques
See more

I Am Legend (2007)

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A survivalist should know when to move around. Via

Never go into a new place unarmed, and avoid the dark at all costs. To read the whole article click here.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014): Think before you act

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A survivalist needs to think things through before doing anything. Via

The beginning of the movie held a powerful scene of the apes hunting in the wild. Caesar tells Blue Eyes not to move but he goes after one of the wild beasts. Chaos ensues as a brown bear attacks Blue Eyes and the other apes have to come to his rescue.
Further in the movie, Blue Eyes quick action over thinking gets many apes, and people, into trouble.
This is a great reminder for us to think before we act. Consider what the consequences could be and who could be affected by the choices we make. For the full post click here.

Lord of the Flies (1990):  Smoke signals are effective

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A survivalist knows how to use smoke signals. Via bestmoviescreenshots

The Expert Says: “There are thousands of rescues around the world with people using signal fires,” says Nester. He has a few tips that might have helped the Lord of the Flies boys get help before their makeshift society devolved into savagery: Keep the fire going at all times, and make it smoky by using green foliage and driftwood, which should be easy to find on the beach. But most of all, “you have to have someone manning it 24/7.” Continue reading

Real Steel (2011): Believe in yourself

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A survivalist is aware that belief in oneself makes the impossible possible. Via

Hugh Jackman (Charlie Kenton), a former boxer and operator of a fighting robot, lives life out of truck and is a loner. He doesn’t care much about life and makes a living by betting on fighting robots.
His 11 year discarded son Max (Dakota Goyo) has attachment towards what he does and believes in self. He beliefs that his old generation robot Atom can challenge and defeat the unbeatable Zeus in the major boxing league.
‘Whether you win or lose, believing in self builds confidence and comfort’ Read more

The Hunger Games: Self-sufficiency will ensure your survival

At the end of the day, your survival is contingent upon yourself. You need to realize what it is that you personally need in order to strive and to prosper. What works for one person may not (and most likely will not) work for you. As much as it’s nice and comforting to go through life with a partner, this is never a guarantee. The only guarantee in life is you and the knowledge you’ve gathered over time. Click here to read the whole article.

Cast Away: Change can be sudden and overwhelming so be ready for it before it happens.

Although a plane crash could happen at any time, he never bothered to train himself to know what he would need when he should reach for it, or even where emergency materials were located. Thus, when the plane crash lands in the ocean he rips open the emergency boat and allows the emergency kit to tumble into the ocean and it snags and sinks with the rest of the plane. Had Hanks taken the time to familiarize himself with the emergency equipment on the planes he routinely flew in, he would have been able to grab onto the survival boat and deploy it properly without losing so many vital tools. He would also have been able to secure valuable belongings without forcing his trained friend to run about the cabin trying to help him.

Jeremiah Johnson (1972)

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A survivalist must be know how to hunt and trap. Via

To properly lay a beaver trap, it needs to be completely submerged in a body of water. See more

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

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A survivalist recognizes the importance of emergency plans. Via

* Survival against the cold takes planning and good gear.
* Big urban cities make escape very difficult.
* You have to consider and plan for bad weather conditions.
* Listen to Dad, sometimes he knows what he’s talking about!

For the full list, click here.

Unbroken (2014): Greed hurts others

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A survivalist must think of others, too. Via

While stranded on the lifeboat, Zamperini creates rules for how much the survivors will eat or drink. The rations were minimal but they would help them survive.

One morning they wake up to find that Mac had eaten all of the chocolate that was left.

This hurt Zamperini and Phil. They were counting on the chocolate to last longer than it did.
Mac’s greed caused them untold pain.
The allure of fame and money can easily cause us to do things that we wouldn’t normally do. That’s why we’ve got to be aware of what’s in our hearts and keep the greed monster at bay. Read more

The Road (2009): Hold on to your humanity

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A survivalist knows how to show his human side no matter what the situation may be. Via

In Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” a father and his son travel across a gnarly landscape; survivors become cannibalistic, most are suicidal, dead people are everywhere. It’s a bleak story. But one measure of hope pops up throughout—the father, no matter what, takes care of his child. He puts others before himself. The takeaway is that humanity can exist, even in the most desolate of situations.See more

127 Hours (2010)

Boyle says that filming 127 Hours taught him plenty about survival—and being prepared. “I remember the rescue services saying that your main chance of being found is to stay in the same place and light a fire at night, because they fly at night,” he says. “Don’t start wandering around. Take matches and a torch. And water, obviously. You can last 60 days without food, but you can only last about two days without water. And then the brain just starts to come apart.”

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A survivalist must face the challenges of a survival situation. Via

“This is a story about all of us, really,” he says. “We’re all capable of it. We probably won’t have to do it, but we will face our own boulders, if you like. And we will need other people to get through.” Click here for the full post.

Into the Wild: Find happiness in your struggles

Chris’s journey was an ambitious struggle from start to finish. In the end your struggles were all just a part of the journey. Revel in the hardships that lend to your expedition and become part of your character.

The Hunger Games: Take care of those you care about

If you have people that depend on you, whether it’s your wife/husband/children/elderly parents/grandparents, it’s your responsibility to do your best to help them whenever possible. And I don’t mean that you get to use them as an excuse to NOT take care of yourself. You’re not going to be much help to them if you are in the hospital for another heart surgery or always sleeping on the couch because you have no energy.
It’s your responsibility to take care of yourself so that you can help out those who can’t help themselves. Read more..

The Road

No matter how hungry you are, do not eat from bloated cans. C. botulinum, also known as botulism, creates gases when it eats, and swollen cans are a sign that the food inside might be infected–and can kill you. See more

Zombieland (2009)

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A survivalist must have rules to ensure survival. Via


It’s good to have a set of basic survival rules – you’ll live longer.
People will trick you, take your stuff, and leave you stranded.
Don’t scare people if you don’t want to get shot. Read more

The Pursuit Of Happyness (2006): Humor is always important and no matter what, panic doesn’t help.

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A survivalist knows about the importance of humor. Via

Will Smith’s (Chris Gardner’s) Interview:Interviewer: What would you say if a guy walked in for an interview without a shirt on…and I hired him? What would you say?
Will Smith’s Answer: He must have had on some really nice pants.
Click here to keep reading

The Hunger Games: Alliances are important even if they are temporary

In life, you are going to face a variety of situations that may be better navigated with another person. People come and go in life, that’s just the natural cycle. The people you meet can simply serve a purpose for the time they are there. Take people for what they are worth and what they can offer in particular situations. See more

Dawn of the Dead (1978/2004): Always come prepared with an escape route

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A survivalist knows that escape is oftentimes the best option. Via

If there’s a crisis, your luxury-packed bomb shelter may keep you safe and happy for awhile, but eventually you’ll have to leave. And when you do, you’ll want to make sure you have a clear route to safety. Read on

Predator (1987): Mud for camouflage and protection from bugs

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A survivalist should be trained in camouflage. Via

“I’ve done that myself,” says Nester—though as the predator, not the prey. “When I was younger, we used to cover ourselves with mud and lay on the trail and try to sneak up on deer.” As an added bonus, mud can repel bugs if you apply it thickly enough. Though Predator is obviously fiction, Dutch’s various improvised techniques and makeshift weapons are consistent with his background as a Green Beret; using improvisation to overcome an unknown situation “is certainly something those guys know how to do.” For the full post click here.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Adapt to your world, Avoid violence

Our reluctance to change and evolve, coupled with our knack for choosing violence over peaceful resistance is ultimately what brought civilization to it’s end. Also, when we rise from the ashes and rebuild, we will be tested again: do we repeat our mistakes and act before thinking, or do we evolve with the changing landscape around us and adapt? We have a history of changing our environment to fit our needs instead of changing ourselves to fit into our environment. Read more

World War Z:  Pay attention to your surroundings

Be watchful. Listen. There almost always are clues of imminent danger. See more

The Book of Eli: Stay off the roads when traveling between towns

As it was true in Eli’s time, it is still true in modern times, especially in third-world countries. In the lawless post-nuclear world that Eli occupies, roving gangs of marauders, rapists, and other undesirables will always take advantage of the weary traveler, robbing them of their possessions or worse. If you decide to travel to third-world countries, such as Brazil, be leery that robbers often stalk the remote roads in between cities, stopping whole busloads of passengers and robbing them at gunpoint. Read more

Lone Survivor (2013): People are not what they seem

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A survivalist must be quick to find out if a person is a friend or foe. Via

So often we believe we know our enemy. We may think because groups of people have been labeled bad or wrong that every member of the group is alike. We forget that beyond the political agenda of nations, we are all just human beings-people with wives, children, siblings, and friends. Something inherently good exists within every one of us. It is our conditioned thoughts of separation and judgment that keep us from living our own version of “Pashunwali.” When we accept and embrace our shared humanity and allow ourselves to shine forth, the boundaries of survival fall away and love is found in the unlikeliest of places. Read the full article

The Hunger Games: Go for a healthful, natural diet

Katniss is a prime example of a paleo eater, built for optimal functionality – sure she indulges by eating bread every once in a blue moon, but for the most part she eats what she can catch, capture, or grow. Now it’s your turn. Read more


Hatchet: Small Mistakes Are Magnified in the Wilderness

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A survivalist is careful in his actions. Via

Small mistakes could turn into disasters, funny little mistakes could snowball so that while you were still smiling at the humor you could find yourself looking at death. In the city if he made a mistake usually there was a way to rectify it, make it all right. Now it was different…Read more

California: Have items to trade

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A survivalist is aware of the importance of bartering. Via

In Edan Lepucki’s book “California,” black market trading was run by a lone dealer named August—he traveled freely out of the forest where the two main characters, Frieda and Cal live, to the gated “communities,” where wealthier folks live. Frieda trades her bra for a Vicodin early in the book—the bras, August tells her are “made of fabric and wire, both valuable. And those little metal clasps, those annoying things? Also in demand.” See more


Zach Gilford from The Purge: Anarchy

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A survivalist needs more than one skill to survive. Via

What are your unique set of skills, other than maybe hiding really well.

ZG: [laughs] I’m a really good hider. I’ve always been an outdoors guy. I used to lead camping trips, so I’m very comfortable without comforts. I feel like I’m good at puzzles. I think I’m very logical, and I’m also calm under pressure. I don’t get frazzled, so I think I’d be like, “This is the best plan.” As opposed to like, “What are we going to do?!” Continue reading


The Walking Dead

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A survivalist has to be tough in order to come out alive. Via

Michael Rooker (Merle): “You do what you got to do, simple as that. You’re in a situation and it’s life and death. It happens all the time, people surviving these crazy situations. You do what you got to do to survive.” Click here to read the full post.

Lost: Use available resources

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A survivalist must be resourceful in order to get through. Via lostpedia

The people on the island could not have continued to survive without taking advantage of the resources made available to them. Sawyer constructed glasses out of lost pairs found in the wreckage, and Sun found plants with medicinal uses. Everything from the fresh water stream to the Black Rock dynamite has contributed to the survivors’ existence. Making use of these resources provided survivors with a healthier, safer life. Read more


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A survivalist must be ready to defend himself and his loved ones. Via

Defense – When the lights go out, communication goes down, food is running out, and the end of the world happens – violence in Jericho and surrounding areas takes hold. There is a saying something like “Whoever has the most gold rules”. I think it should really be “Whoever has the most guns will take the gold”…..well, you get my point. Firearms play an integral role in defending yourself, family, and supplies – as well as potentially adding to the food stores. Stock up on firearms and as much ammunition as you can(and learn how to use them). See more

The Walking Dead: Escape is never impossible with a little ingenuity

So when life hands him a machete, he makes machete-ade: That sharp edge can be used to dispatch the undead to whatever eternal resting place awaits them, but it’s also handy for the less dramatic task of, say, prying up floorboards to clear a secret escape route. Whereas once he felt a captive member of a new congregation, his ingenuity with the tools at hand freed him to seek out a fresh start in another parish, hopefully one that is not so quick to abandon the tenets of its faith — if he doesn’t die of tetanus on the way there. Click here to see the full article.

Man vs Wild

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A survivalist knows the importance of informing others about his plans or activities. Via

Always make sure that someone knows where you are going and when you’re planning to come back. If something goes wrong, they will know to alert the appropriate authorities. See more

Lost: Find success as a team

Throughout “LOST,” Jack has constantly reminded the survivors that on the island, you “live together, die alone.” In the days immediately following the crash, characters worked as individuals, fending for themselves unsuccessfully. But when they started to collaborate, their lives began to flourish. In a larger group as well as in small teams, the survivors have worked to find resources, overcome personal difficulties, protect themselves and solve some of the mysteries of the island. Read more

I Shouldn’t be Alive: STOP

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A survivalist should know the meaning of STOP in emergency situations. Via

Wiggins teaches the acronym “STOP”: sit, think, observe, plan.
Keep calm and ask yourself, “Do you know where you are?” “If you don’t know where you are or how to get out, obviously you’re going to stay put,” he said. “Staying put, in most situations, is really going to be key, unless the weather clears up or you have a good idea where to get out.”
You could be moving away from rescuers and wasting precious calories if you don’t know where you’re going. Continue reading

The Walking Dead

Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori): “My husband’s family is military. Preparation is just, from that family perspective, it’s just a part of what makes sense to do. I’ve got a go bag. It’s a backpack that’s ready in the closet at all times for whatever. So that’s all packed.” Click here to read more.


Cody Lundin

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A survivalist should know how to build a fire and keep it going. Via

Building a fire is a literal statement, and involves two out of the three core concepts of fire-making; fuel and oxygen. Put the sticks too close together and you die, (lack of oxygen). Put the sticks too far apart and you die, (lack of the interplay of longwave radiation from one burning stick to the other). Most people fixate on the ignition aspect of fire-making. The wise survivor will spend twice as much time learning about the physics of fuel and oxygen placement – building a fire – than on learning ignition. The more skilled one is at “building their fire”, the less heat or ignition will be required to light the fire. Keep reading

Les Stroud Interview

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A survivalist must be able to exercise prudence in extreme situations. Via thebushcraftshow

In survival situations, go with what you know. If you can turn around and go back the way you came and reach safety, even if it’s 50 miles back, why are you pushing on into the unknown? See more

What’s the biggest myth about survival?

Les Stroud: That it’s fun. There’s nothing fun about it. Survival is very demanding. You just want to go home. People watch my show and they think, “Oh, this looks like a fun activity.” And for those of us who love the wilderness and all the little geeky survival tricks, it can be fun sometimes. But, in general, survival for real sucks. So, to me, a very vital skill set is navigating and knowing how to get yourself home.

What do you consider the top survival skill — something everyone headed out into the woods should know?

Les Stroud: I think that the No. 1 thing is the ability to get a fire going anywhere, anytime, under any circumstances. I don’t care if you’re in the jungle, the desert, it’s hot or it’s cold, you always need a fire and you always need a fire at night; the ability to get that fire going is critical. The measure of a good guide is one who can get a roaring fire going under a big, ugly blue tarp for his clients after four days of solid rain. Click here for the full post.

Ray Mears

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A survivalist must know how to build a shelter. Via uktv

Whenever you build a shelter it is important that you decide on what you’re protecting yourself from. For instance, if you’re sleeping in the jungle there will probably be lots of insects on the ground, so you’ll need to get off the ground in order to prevent yourself from being bitten. Or perhaps you’re exposed when travelling on the Moors; it might be the aspects of wind, rain and extreme cold you are battling, so again you’d need to choose a place that can provide materials for you to build a shelter from. Have you got a sleeping bag or not? Have you got a fire or not? If you have neither, basically what you want to create is a nest that will preserve your body’s heat. Read more

Dave Canterbury

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A survivalist must keep practicing to master the skills. Via adventurousbowhunter

Repetition. You just have to consider the type of skills you need, and hone those skills until you get better and better. So you hone those and have a personal toolbox for use in the wilderness. If you just fish them out a few times, you’re not going to understand them. Repetition is the key ownership of the skill. This proved true for me in the military and in life. If you can’t repeat a skill in your sleep, you don’t own that skill. See more

Bear Grylls

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A survivalist must know when to stop fighting against nature and hide from it instead. Via

One the biggest reasons people die in blizzards is that they push on and try to battle the limitless fury of Mother Nature. Your number one priority when in a blizzard is from the wind and the cold. Cover up any exposed skin, in high freezing winds frostbite can set-in in minutes. Out in the frozen tundra there may not be any natural shelter so digging a snow hole can be the difference between life and death. Continue reading

Creek Stewart

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A survivalist must not give up and keep this in mind. Via

Failure is not failure; giving up is a failure.
Develop a new perspective about failure. Failures are rarely final attempts. You haven’t failed until no more attempts are possible.
Giving up is final. Giving up relinquishes all future attempts to try. Failure is a step in the right direction, a learning opportunity.
As Henry Ford famously stated, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”
Giving up develops counterproductive, anti-survival qualities including low self-esteem, fulfillment, and resentment toward others. The more one gives up, the easier giving up becomes. It’s a vicious cycle that destroys willpower and fuels long-term frustration. This is the give-up snowball effect. Over time, giving up on small tasks reduces the endurance necessary to push through larger and more complex goals and dreams. We are a product of the little decisions we make each day. Read more

Lofty Wiseman

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A survivalist must have a map, compass or GPS to avoid getting lost. Via

Survival Navigation
Nobody should venture out without a map or compass. Seal the map in a plastic bag and keep it in a trouser pocket. Tie the compass to you, so you are never separated from this essential piece of equipment.
You can go north with a touch of east, and south with a touch of the west, but you cannot go north with a touch of south. (Only Army officers can do this).See more

The Importance of Survival Training
Survival training is probably the best insurance policy you can take out. Unlike life insurance which doesn’t guarantee you will live longer, the skills learned on a survival course do. There are many books published on the subject which are a great source of knowledge, hopefully whetting the appetite to learn more. But survival is a practical subject and there is no substitute for going outdoors and practicing these skills. It’s essential that you realize what you can achieve and not impose limitations on yourself. Watching how the experts do it will give you confidence and talking to the right people will help dispel any fears or reservations. Learn about yourself getting to know how the different stresses and problems affect you. You will only achieve this by experiencing these hardships and pushing yourself to the limit. Click here to continue reading.

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 23, 2015, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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