A long time ago I had a childhood friend whose father was an official member of the Green Beret Special Forces, and to this day I am convinced that man could take himself off the grid at any given moment, and survive no matter what nature might throw at him. A few times, my friend and I were lucky enough for him to take us on one of this “camping” trips, with the word camping being somewhat of an understatement.
This man was determined to teach us some of the essential skills that he, as a Green Beret, had to master as well – skills that had everything to do with making do with what you have in the wilderness and testing your mettle against nature.
Today, I want to talk about some of the most important lessons that he taught us, so that you yourself can apply that knowledge if you ever need to.
1. Choosing the Right Bag
Not a lot of people talk about bag choice as if it’s something very important when it comes to camping, but I’m here to tell you that it is probably one of the most important things. A good bag will not cause chafing, and will be sturdy enough to be able to evenly distribute all the weight inside so you can carry it without fear of injuring your back or your joints under the added weight.
Packing as light as possible is also something that you should consider by the way, because no matter how good your bag is, your back can only carry so much, so it’s very important to consider how long you’re going to be out there, and whether your body can handle dragging around all that weight for that long.
2. Food and Fresh Water
The next thing you need to figure out is how much food and fresh water you are going to need during your camping trip. Non-perishable food is a really good idea, because no matter how much food you bring if it spoils during the first day you are going to have to throw most of it away. There are survival kits out there that you can buy and that will last you up to 72 hours, so I highly recommend that you check those out the next time you decide to test yourself against the wild.
Water is also extremely important, but fortunately if you get a good water purifier you can pick up some along the way and just treat it so it’s safe to drink. A neat little trick is to actually get a stainless steel water container, fill it up with creek water and hold it over a fire until the water burns, effectively killing all the harmful pathogens within the water.
3. Fire and Shelter
Rule #1 when spending the night in the forest: It is NEVER okay to sleep without shelter and without a fire, no matter how hot it is, and you will catch a cold or even pneumonia if you try this. Temperatures can drop a lot faster when there isn’t a ton of concrete around you, and your fire and your tent will likely be your only source of heat and illumination.
Get a good fire starting kit before you even dream of going into the woods, and make sure that you can either find or make a shelter for yourself, or take it with you.
Never underestimate how easy it is to get lost in unfamiliar terrain, especially at night. If you don’t have a guide along with you, a GPS unit is a must. However, you shouldn’t depend on this type of unit fully, as the batteries can run out and you might not always be in the range of a GPS satellite, so bringing a good old map and compass is also something that you should get in the habit of doing.
That about covers all the absolutely necessary survival skills that you need to possess as a Green Beret, and even if you aren’t a member they will definitely come in handy at some point. To sum up, make sure you have the right type of bag, enough food and water, some way to start a fire and find shelter for yourself. And of course, you need to make sure to do everything in your power to keep track of your location and not get yourself lost out there, because trust me, it’s a lot easier to do than it seems.
Robert Foster is a Santa Barbara native, who’s spent more than 5 years trying to help people understand the importance of fitness. He’s also an experienced survivalist who spends more than 200 hours every year mountain biking, hiking and climbing. If you want to have a better insight into his unique knowledge, head over to http://prosurvivalist.com/ and read some of his interesting articles.
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