Expert Tips and Tricks for Long-Term Wilderness Survival

Have you ever heard the story of a teenage girl who survived a plane crash and found herself alone in a forest? Fortunately, she learned some survival skills and was lucky to find help after a few days in the woods. So, what would you do if you found yourself in a similar situation, and how would you survive in the woods for a year or more?

Here are a few tips on how to survive in the woods for a year or more:

  1. Be prepared to live in the wild.
  2. Have a positive attitude.
  3. Find a water source.
  4. Choose a suitable location for shelter.
  5. Figure out how to keep warm.
  6. Find appropriate sources of food.

Being alone and lost in the woods can be a terrifying experience. Yet, some people voluntarily choose to escape ‘civilization’ and live in the woods. This article provides tips on surviving in the woods for an extended period, so keep reading to learn more.

1. Be Prepared to Live in the wild

The contemporary world is moving so fast. No wonder many people are going-off-the grid nowadays, opting to leave everything behind to connect with nature. If you love the outdoors or a simplistic life, you might have dreamt of living in the wild for the rest of your life. If that’s the case, you need to make proper preparations.

However, you may also be okay with the comforts of modern life but enjoy being outdoors for a couple of months. And you might be planning an escapade into the woods for a year or more. Now, your instincts, survival skills, and adequate preparation will help you cope with the change of environment and even thrive in the wild.

Careful planning and preparation involve knowing where you’re going (the woods) and what to expect. Therefore, you’ll need to know what type of items to help you survive in the wild. Moreover, practice survival techniques such as building a shelter, lighting a fire from scratch, or making traps.

Here are essential supplies that you’ll need for your survival in the woods:

Water Bottle

Your body needs to remain hydrated, and you can’t survive in the woods if you’re dehydrated. Besides, you never know when or where to find the next water source in the wild. Hence, it’s paramount always to carry your water bottle.

Since you can’t trust every water source, some explorers recommend having a portable water filter to purify your drinking water. A good example is LifeStraw Water Filter from Amazon, an ultralight filter with a microfiltration membrane to remove bacteria, parasites, and microplastics from water.

Lighter (or Fire Starter)

You can’t survive in the woods without fire. You’ll need it to keep warm (or hypothermia will kill you), cook, boil water, or scare predators. A fire starter will come in handy if you haven’t learned the old way of making fire – rubbing twigs with your hands.

These days, you can get a wide array of multipurpose lighters or firefighters, and they’re a must-have for outdoor enthusiasts. For instance, the Swiss Safe Fire Starter (from is a 5-in-1 device comprising two fire starters, a compass, a steel scraper, a whistle, a paracord, and a rod. Hence, it’s an essential survival tool that will enable you to make fire and brave the harshest environments.

Cooking Pot

Can you survive on wild berries (and other fruits), grubs, tree barks, leaves, or nuts for a year or so in the woods? Certainly not! Therefore, you’ll require a cooking pot to cook or boil some food. Furthermore, the vessel will be essential when you need to boil water, whose safety you are unsure of.

Survival Knife and Machete

A versatile knife will be one of the handiest tools in the wood. You’ll need the knife to:

Cut fruits
Skin animals
Break nuts
Set traps
For self-defense

You can also carry a machete for cutting branches on your way, splitting wood, or clearing space when building your shelter.

You can go for the Ontario Survival Knife (from, which features a leather handle, sheath, and sharpening stone. It’s not high-end, but it will help you greatly in the woods.

First Aid Kit

Accidents (or incidents) are inevitable in the woods. You might experience an animal bite, scratch your knees while hunting, or sprain your ankle while climbing a hill. Moreover, you could fall ill, e.g., get a stomach upset or a headache. Therefore, you’ll require a first aid kit with essential medications to deal with such injuries or illnesses.

Building Tools

Staying in the woods for a year or more requires a semi-permanent shelter. If you can’t find an unoccupied cave, the best alternative is to build a log cabin. So, building tools, including an ax, hammer, saw, and nails, will come in handy. Some of these items will also come in handy when setting up traps or clearing your path.

Heavy Boots and Protective Clothing

Many adventurers suffer (or die) from hypothermia when temperatures become unbearable. Heavy, insulated boots and warm, protective clothing will help you keep warm when outside your cabin. As such, you’ll have no problem trudging through muddy water or rough paths when searching for food.

Another essential protective item is a warm sleeping bag. Before building your shelter, you’ll need a temporary spot to spend your night. A sleeping bag will be essential whether you’re sleeping in a portable or makeshift tent.

Gun or Crossbow

Living in the wild is not a walk in the park. In most cases, you’ll encounter dangerous scenarios such as attacks by wildlife. Therefore, you’ll need a gun or crossbow to defend yourself.

However, if owning a gun is illegal in your jurisdiction, and you can’t afford a crossbow, the best alternative is to make a spear. Here’s a YouTube video demonstrating how to make a survival spear in the woods:

Note: You might also consider carrying your cell phone (with an extra battery and charger), ropes, headlamps, canned or dried food, and books.

2. Have a Positive Attitude

While appropriate preparation is essential when planning to live in the woods, you must also have the right mindset. Leaving the comfort and safety of your home to live in a dangerous environment isn’t for the faint-hearted. A positive attitude will help you overcome many difficulties.

As you’re already aware, life in the woods will mean being cold, hungry, exhausted, in pain, or danger. Moreover, you’ll feel lonely or isolated if you’re living alone. A positive and proactive attitude will help you not panic, especially when you lack or encounter danger.

Preparing or planning properly will also give you confidence as you embark on your adventure. For instance, you can thoroughly research the terrain or geographical features of the woods and the type of animals or plants you expect to find there. Sufficient knowledge of the new environment will enable you to develop critical survival skills.

Additionally, you’ll need to believe you can make it and shrug off any fear.

3. Find a Water Source

Water is an essential item for survival. You can go for up to three weeks without food (if you have water and shelter). But you can’t survive more than three days without water. Hence, it’s paramount to locate water immediately after setting foot in the woods.

You can obtain water from different sources, including:

  • Rainwater: It’s the safest form of drinking water. You can collect it using a tarp, containers, or bamboo gutters attached to your log cabin.
  • Freshwater bodies: If there’s a freshwater stream, river, pond, or lake nearby, you can fetch water from here. However, it’s advisable to boil it before drinking to purify it.
  • Dew: If there’s no rainfall, you can collect some water from the morning dew. Place a piece of cloth or any absorbent material on the grass early in the morning. Then, squeeze it out and collect the water in a container.
  • Ice: It’s challenging to find drinking water during winter. However, you can collect ice or snow and then melt it using your cooking fire. However, avoid collecting opaque or gray ice as it may have a high salt concentration.
  • Underground: Sufficient topographic knowledge of your surroundings can direct you to the most probable places to find water through digging. For instance, you can dig a hole in a dried-up stream or an area with lots of green vegetation. Please wait for the water to collect and settle for a few minutes, then purify it before drinking and storing it.
  • Plants: Some succulents, such as cacti and tropical fruits, contain a lot of fluid. Thus, you can cut or crush them to obtain some water. Alternatively, you can get the water lost by plants through transpiration. All you need to do is tie plant leaves with plastic bags in the morning and allow water to collect. However, avoid collecting water from poisonous plants.

survive in the woods

4. Choose a Suitable Location for Shelter

Your survival in the woods largely depends on where you build your shelter. Since there’s a vast area with different terrain, vegetation, and inhabitants, you need a favorable spot to suit your needs. Most importantly, the location should be near a source of water and food.

If you’re lucky enough, you might find a suitable cave – check for animal prints to confirm that it is unoccupied. In such a case, you only need to make it more comfortable by insulating it with vegetation for a door and bedding.

A log cabin will be the most appropriate shelter if you plan to stay in the woods for a year. It is a semi-permanent structure that will keep you warm and safe even during harsh weather. Still, constructing one will require some building skills.

It’s best to construct the cabin the first few days after arriving in the woods since you’ll be more energetic. After completing your shelter, use vegetation to insulate it and make your bedding. Also, ensure that you’ve built a sturdy door to keep animals and other invaders at bay.

5. Figure Out How To Keep Warm

After finding water and building a shelter, keeping warm is essential. If you’d prepared sufficiently for your adventure in the woods, you should have carried some food supplies to keep you nourished and warm for some days. However, making a fire would be inevitable if you stayed in the wilderness for several months.

As we noted earlier, a fire starter (or lighter) is a vital survival tool; having one will make things easier for you. Nevertheless, you still need fuel. Hence, look for twigs, tree branches, fallen trunks, or leftover logs (after constructing your cabin) to serve as firewood.

Since you’ll be staying for several months, you should store the wood properly in a dry place to protect it from rainfall or snow. A good spot in your log cabin will do. The dry wood will be handy when making a fire, especially during winter. Nevertheless, you must learn alternative ways to light a fire in the woods if your fire starter (lighter) runs out of fuel.

6. Find Suitable Sources of Food

Building a shelter near a water source will also simplify your quest for food. The woods contain various foods, including plants, insects, rodents, and large animals. Having enough food will keep you warm and energetic.

Still, adequate knowledge of different types of plant species (including mushrooms and berries) will save you from consuming poisonous varieties.

Here are various places to find food in the woods:

  • Fallen (or rotten) logs and under rocks are ideal places to find grubs and insects. You can either eat them raw or after cooking them.
  • Trees: These are one of the richest food sources. They contain fruits and edible bark and may have nests with birds’ eggs.
  • Water sources: Freshwater streams, ponds, and lakes will have fish and other edible aquatic animals. If you know how to fish, this will be a great source of protein!
  • Traps: Setting traps or snares is another way to obtain food in the wild. So, use essential tools such as knives, strings, or wires to trap small animals, like hares and squirrels.
  • Hunting: If you’re a seasoned hunter, you can use your gun, crossbow, or spear to hunt down larger animals. Killing a deer or wild pig will provide sufficient food to last you through winter. However, you should have proper preservation methods to avoid food wastage. Also, hunting big game is not advisable, especially when the weather is favorable.


Surviving in the woods for an extended period requires careful planning and preparation. It is essential to have the necessary supplies, such as a water bottle, lighter or fire starter, cooking pot, survival knife and machete, first aid kit, and warm clothing.

It is also important to have a positive attitude, find a water source, choose a suitable location for shelter, and figure out how to keep warm. Following these tips and using your survival skills can increase your chances of survival in the woods.

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