Survival Skills

Outdoor Survival In Swamps

How confident are you of surviving a few days of being lost in a swamp area? You won’t know what creatures are lurking around you in the marsh. Learn what you can do to increase your chances of survival.



Hunter man creeping in swamp during hunting period | Outdoor Survival In Swamps | Featured

Think of learning some outdoor survival is a waste of time? you never know where you'll end up if SHTF and you decide to bug out.

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Outdoor Survival in Swamps and Marshlands

Survival in the Marshlands

When you think of the phrase “outdoor survival” what usually comes to your mind? Do you imagine mountains, forests, trees, hills, rivers, and streams?

These are the common images that come to mind because it's what we see on outdoor nature shows on TV. Less glamorous terrains like swamps, marshes, and bogs don't come up as often because they don't paint quite such a “pretty” picture.

If you live in a more wet environment, those picture-perfect images will be far from your reality.

What if you end up in the wetlands? Or if there's a flood and the aftermath leaves everything looking like a swamp?

Things could get difficult in a hurry if you are not prepared to survive in such an environment. And yet we know how resilient the human mind, body, and spirit can be.

We know we need to be ready to survive even in an area where we're knee-deep in water and dealing with insects and animals that we may or may not have the necessary outdoor survival skills.

Like what they always say, the brain is the primary survival tool, followed by the right equipment. In swamps and marshes, it is best to get to higher ground, find some water and set up shelter.

Then it is time to call for help. Swamps, like deserts, are definitely not ideal for humans to dwell in.

You need to get out of this inhospitable place as soon as possible. If that's not a possibility though, here are some things you can do.

1. Secure a Weapon


The first thing you would want to do is find something to protect yourself. Hopefully, you have a knife, but you could also create a makeshift spear out of a fallen branch. 

2. Make Your Own Weapon


In the event you find yourself wading through the soggy terrain of a swamp without an airboat or floatation device you’ll want to protect yourself with a long, hard stick.

A solid stick, at least four feet in length, can extend your reach and help you ward off any gators before they are mistakenly bumped. In the event you see a gator, try to climb a tree or find dry land as soon as possible.

You can spot underwater gators by their bubbles percolating out of the water.

3. Tell the Alligator You are There


In addition to using a stick make your presence known by making lots of noise as to not startle your carnivorous friends. Startling an alligator will make it feel threatened and make it more likely to attack.

If you are in a situation where you must cross a river, wait until midday when the alligators are least active. You should also cross as the narrowest point and watch the water for at least an hour to spot any movement.

4. Build a Shelter


Shelter and a fire would be the next step, especially if the night is nearing; alligators come out to feed in the dark. If you are in the water, build a platform within a tree using fallen branches and palm fronds as bedding.

If on solid ground, build a tent with sticks and palm fronds to cover the ‘tent'.

5. Start a Fire


Gather firewood and tinder or anything that's dry and fibrous such as lint or moss. Stick some tinder within a crevice in a log and use another stick to create friction, which will spark the tinder.

Gently blow on the tinder when you start to see smoke. Continue the process until you have a fire.

6. Boil Water for Drinking


As with any survival situation, getting clean water is your primary concern. If you are stuck in the swamps in the humid summer, you will dehydrate very quickly.

What’s worse, is that you are surrounded by water that is loaded with pathogens. Your best bet would be to boil the water in a campfire, as this will kill most microorganisms lurking in your morning refreshment.

If you stumble on a discarded aluminum beer can, you can use this as a boiling pot. Coffee cans work well too if you are lucky enough to find one.

Besides boiling, there is also a water vine method. Once you locate a one, make a cut high up on the vine and then make another cut lower on the vine.

Then just let the water drain into your mouth or container. Although water from most of these vines is safe to drink, avoid those that have a bitter taste or color sap.

7.Mud to Protect from Insects


To protect himself from mosquitoes, he covers his face with mud. The mud may have pathogens in it, but protection from the mosquitoes during the night his the more immediate concern.

8. Watch Your Step


Always look where you're stepping! There are snakes, holes, roots, and other things where you least expect.

You don't wanna get bitten by a poisonous snake or injure yourself while walking on unknown terrain.

9. Avoid Drowning


Be aware that you can drown in a swamp, marsh, or bog as easily as in any other body of water, even if it's shallow. This is because of the soft nature of the bio-silt beneath these water formations, which can add many more feet to the depth if you sink into it.

In addition, bogs can seem secure but hide very deep water underneath the peat layer.

10. Gather Food


Gathering food is your next goal to survive. Nobody really wants to eat bugs or lizards, but frogs can be a real treat.

Swamps are covered with frogs and they can easily be caught with bare hands. Pulling their legs off and roasting them over the fire will save your life.

RELATED: 31 Outdoor Survival Skills For The True Outdoorsman

11. Know the Beasts that Might Lurk


If you're in snake country, be very careful for it's likely that the snakes use the swamps or marshes to travel. Swamps, marshes, and bogs also attract insects; have plenty of insect repellent and try to maintain your hygiene to avoid accumulating body odor which will attract insects.

Best to tie a strap around the bottom of your pant legs to keep leeches out.

12. Set Up a Swamp Bed

Start with the basics. Find some straight trees/poles and lash them horizontally between some upright trees.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky enough, you can do this just by using existing branches and/or notches in the trees without having to lash. Crisscross rope, lash cordage, or put branches crosswise between these poles and secure them.

After that, you can make it soft with anything you can find.

13. Avoid Jungle Rot


Jungle rot is a fungal skin infection that results from constant moisture. To avoid this take off your shoes, socks and wet clothes and allow your skin to dry out every few hours.

14. Make the Night Bearable


The swamps have brutal nights that can be very hot or very cold. The bugs and animals are a very big issue.

You need to start a fire. The bark from the Cyprus trees in the swamp make great fire starter and will catch flame with a spark.

Make sure you have enough wood to last you the night.

15. Water Vine is Your Alternative to Swamp Water


Swamp water is too scummy and full of pathogens to risk drinking even if you could boil it. A good alternative is water vine.

Cutting it and allowing it to drip into the tin can turn out to be a good, but small source of water.

16. Know What to Do if You Sink In

Treat sinking into a swamp, bog, or marsh in the same manner as for sinking into quicksand – indeed, contrary to common belief quicksand is rare in desert terrain but is found mostly in marshes and near rivers and lakes. Do not panic, do not struggle, and do not flail about.

These are all guaranteed to cause you to sink in deeper, and quickly.  Avoid trying to lift one foot as this will place all of your weight on the other foot, and you'll sink deeper.

17. Get Out of the Swamp

Getting out of the swamp is your main inspiration. Finding the main waterway like a river or stream can be a way out.

All main rivers can lead to a civilization which can save your life.

18. Don’t Give Up

The most important thing to remember, however, is to never give up hope. As long as you believe in yourself and that'll you'll be home again soon, you can easily survive.

19. Tell Someone Where You're Going

Then, sitting there shivering, watching the rain douse your warming fire, you will have the comfort that someone will be looking for you, even if it is likely to be the next day.

20. Survival Pack Items

Like all other hiking and camping trips, you have to make it a point you got everything you need before you embark on the trip. Aside from knowing the needed camping survival skills, here's a list of the clothing essentials.


  • Waterproof/Breathable Jacket
  • Waterproof/Breathable Pants
  • Fleece Jacket or Wool Sweater
  • Waterproof Gaiters
  • Synthetic Hiking Pants
  • Synthetic Shorts

Base Layer:

  • Cotton T-shirt
  • Synthetic Briefs
  • Synthetic Sports Bra


  • Synthetic Liner Gloves


  • Camp Footwear (optional)
  • Waterproof Hiking Boots
  • Wool or Synthetic Socks
  • Liner Socks

Watch this video by kapoors and learn how to drink from water vines:

When we talk about surviving in a swamp area or wilderness survival skills and tips, the common thing is to avoid the potential dangers that come your way. In swampy areas you'd have to deal with different creatures for food, and protect yourself from other types of predators, survival is quite another type of ball game in the marshlands.

Do you have your own outdoor survival tips to add to this list? Share them with us in the comments section below!


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 26, 2015, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

Feature Image Via – fronteering

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  1. Paddy Flynn

    January 28, 2015 at 9:39 AM

    Great information. Thank you. Small anecdote. In the early seventies I visited Manaus, Brazil. I went up the Rio Negro prepared to camp out wherever I could. 200 kms from the city I found a place. Made fast friends with the locals. Finished my food in a few days and started eating their fare, fish, mandioca, monkey and more. Cooking with no sugar nor salt and bathing constantly in the local waters kept insect bites to nearly none. Today I recommend that explorers go on a salt and sugar less diet for at least a week befoe going into the jungle, it will keep them safe fro stings. Be well. PF

  2. J C Parjer

    January 28, 2015 at 10:04 AM

    I wish nothing more from you! John Parker

  3. Gerard Babin USMCV

    January 28, 2015 at 10:34 AM

    I dont know where the author is from, however it the SHTF the safest place to be would be there.City people fear it, other would be thugs will be busy picking off easy victims in the city.
    I grew up in south Louisiana, survival in the marsh is a hell of alot easier than the desert. The abundance of food, fire material weapon material and water.
    Oh did I mention the abundance of food and water! Its a virtual Grocerey store.
    I’m also a Marine and environmental survival instructor.Call me if you need detailed information

    • Robert Spears

      February 1, 2015 at 4:34 AM

      I’d like too no more about the swamps any other tip’s

    • Anonymous

      June 22, 2019 at 6:46 PM

      As a former Navy SEAL some of the things that I have read on your website or true but some of them are absolutely non applicable. Specifically your alternative source to water drinking water specifically. We don’t have turtle Vines and most indigenous swamps in the states of the United States unless you’re in places like Louisiana Mississippi Florida and several other estuaries and several other estuaries. You do have some several decent responses to how to deal with being by yourself getting called in a bad situation in the swamp and the number one thing that I saw in there that I believe in and that I know of as a former Navy SEAL is never and I mean “NEVER GIVE UP”! This is,and can be one of the biggest mistakes that anyone can make in any territory they are not familiar with in a major major way. Furthermore,we were trained in the Navy Seals that they’re absolutely must have things in your water type pouch and if you don’t have a watertight pouch is very simple things like char cloth so simple to make so easy to make.there’s a TV show called dual survival that shows that but you can go on to Google and Google char cloth making or char cloth. And it will show you how to make it and it’s very verythere’s. Also,a 9-volt battery and plain steel wool is one of the best fire starters in the world and you can buy a 9-volt battery not one of the best but a decent 9 volt battery for 1 Buck $1 at any dollar store or any Dollar tree and anybody or anywhere you can get some steel wool and it doesn’t matter if it’s wet or not cuz it’s easily dried out by your clothing or some type of cloth.that’s just some of my suggestion I have plenty more and I’m fat writing a book on surviving in many areas in the states and abroad.
      Respectfully, Lieutenant Commander jm, United States Navy Navy Seals retired

  4. Meathead

    January 28, 2015 at 11:13 AM

    Having hunted in the Okefenokee Swamp throughout my childhood and teenage years, I can attest that this contains very sound information. One advantage of the Okefenokee is that all the water drains into the Swanee River and into the Gulf of Mexico, so over a few weeks time it is possible to drift out to civilization.

    When the SHTF moment arrives, a large swamp will be one of the safest places to be. You can “disappear” into the swamp and live off the swamp’s bounty pretty well. Lots to eat in the swamp IF you know where to look.

    Build the floor of your shelter about two feet off the ground and for the posts beneath the floor, square off the poles. Snakes can climb round poles, but can’t climb square poles. Ya don’t want to wake up with a moccasin next to you that was looking for warmth.

  5. Carl Tessmer

    January 28, 2015 at 3:01 PM

    Does water vine grow in American swamps?

  6. Ed

    January 28, 2015 at 8:15 PM

    Good info. But I think I’ll stick to my woods.

  7. obsidian

    January 29, 2015 at 12:09 PM

    A swamp is a place where fortunately food readily comes to you, unfortunately it’s cotton mouth water moccasin’s and alligators but hell, ya ain’t gonna starve!

  8. kg1321

    January 31, 2015 at 9:48 AM

    The best advice I see here is:

    17. Outdoor Survival in Swamps: Get out of the swamp.

    I lived my youth in Southeast Louisiana. I have camped as a kid several times in the swamp. There is reason why human beings build houses!

  9. geoffrey fulton

    January 31, 2015 at 6:35 PM

    All very interesting stuff for an Aussie ….. we think we are safe in suburbia!
    We are shipping container home specialists… houses, houseboats, floating islands, you name it we can design it for economical tornado living. Find it on (not .com)

  10. Sheryl Buffkin

    February 1, 2015 at 12:51 AM

    I really like this source of info. Info seems accurate and dependable delivered in concise no-frills fashion. Great.

  11. Whiskey Sierra

    February 2, 2015 at 12:09 AM

    This article has a great backpacking list, but a laughable swamp packing list! I sure hope a head net and a really strong, swamp variety bug dope is on your packing list. The old Vietnam era cotton rip-stop jungle fatigues and jungle boots are the best for this type of terrain. Wool socks will be virtually worthless in this wetness. A few pairs of synthetic liner socks that can be easily washed out and dried will help prevent jungle rot/trench foot. Several big cotton bandanas will be very useful for multiple applications. The old military triangle bandage is great too. Platform sleeping or hammocks are the only way to go. A sleeping mosquito net would be a true luxury to have too; keeping relatively bug free and getting sound sleep is key to making rational decisions in the long run. Finally, a large jungle knife/machete and a smaller working/cooking knife are indispensable to the swamp survivor. Enjoy your swamp smorgasbord; I especially like boiled crawdads, fried snake, palmetto heart salad and cattail biscuits. A country boy can survive.

  12. May B Rhetty

    February 3, 2015 at 12:15 PM

    I was born, raised and still live in South FL. The only thing I disagree with in this article is having to do with moving through the swamps with alligators in this area. Most of the year is hot, so the writer is correct in assuming that the alligators are least active during midday. However, during this time of the year, alligators, like other cold-blooded animals are sluggish and don’t move much until they are warmer. During the colder days, midday is when they will be active, and more nimble.

  13. Pingback: How To Build An Overnight Bushcraft Camp | Tutorial For DIY Survival

  14. FL Prepper

    October 13, 2019 at 6:17 AM

    This article is why I moved out of the Big City and into the Swamp. Got to look at real History. The only Native American Tribe that never Surrendered to the US Government was the Seminole Indians. Instead of a forced expulsion from Florida to the Oklahoma Reservations. Instead of being cowards, about 200 Seminole Indians that remained, headed to the Everglade SWAMPs to avoid Capture and did so quite successfully. I live and have property in the Swamps, and if I needed to go deeper into the Swamp, I will load up my kayak and slip into the night with all my Bugout Bag Survival Gear. I would also add to the list of preps for this bug spray, a Hammock Camo- Mossy Oak, and Mosquito Mosquito netting. #1 rule, you need to get a good night sleep to b effective the next day so, sleep critter free. And watch out for those Water Moccasin Snakes. Use a stick to hold it down and with a machete, whack its head off. This snake you want to bury, because I had a buddy once cut open a Water Moccasin on a boat dock and out poured dozens of baby snakes slithering back into the water. he snake was preggo. I am looking into another cargo hauling kayak I can pull behind my main kayak to haul more gear into the wild. One of the safest places you can survive is in the Swamp. And few will go in to follow you or chase you. Get all your swamp gear in Camo, like digital woodlands camo, or Marine Marpat. That camo design is prefect for the swamp. Good Luck yall!!

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