Outdoor Survival Tips

Hello, Adventurers! Welcome back to the Coastal Expeditions blog! If this is your first time visiting our blog, we’re happy to have you here. We are all about nature, adventure, and making the most out of the beautiful outdoors of South Carolina. If you enjoy all things hiking, paddling, kayaking, and spending time outdoors, you’ve come to the right place! Here on the blog, we dive deep into different habitats, excursions, conservation efforts, and nature programs. Our site is filled with interactive maps, destination guides, and educational resources. Speaking of educational resources, The Outdoor School consists of afterschool programs, weekly camps, school field trips, and more! We offer hands-on workshops taught by highly-trained guides on wilderness skills, birding, identifying native plants, sustainability, kayaking, and camping. Basically, anything you want to learn about, we teach! If you haven’t already, we encourage you to take a look around our site to learn more about our offerings. Our last article discussed tips to make your next hiking or excursion kid-friendly. Today, we’ll be discussing important outdoor survival tips and skills that you should know. If you spend a lot of time outdoors and are interested in learning more about the basics of survival techniques, you’re in the right place!

 

Outdoor adventures can be a great way to stay active while getting connected with nature, but there are still potential dangers you should be prepared for. Although these dangers can vary based on the geographical area you are visiting, it is still good to be aware and take time to master certain survival skills. First, there is a list of items that you should bring along with you every time you enter unfamiliar territory. These consist of first aid and emergency items and are often referred to as the “10 essentials”:

 

  1. Appropriate footwear: When hiking or participating in other outdoor excursions, you’ll want comfortable shoes. Traction, support, and protection are the three most important things to consider when looking for footwear. There is a wide variety of hiking boots and shoes out there, each with its own benefits, so doing your research will be important. Some things to consider are the type of terrain you’re going to be hiking on, the weather, and your personal needs. Choosing footwear that fits properly and securely is also critical.
  2. Navigation: Most smartphones come with map applications or GPS systems, but it is important to note that you may not have cellphone service in the wilderness. Because of this, you should consider carrying a paper map and a compass in your backpack. But don’t just bring them along– Learn how to use them properly. You should practice using a topographical or relief map as well as a compass or other GPS unit that does not rely on cell or internet service. This will help you in case you get lost, or simply need help getting accustomed to your surroundings.
  3. Water: Staying hydrated is arguably one of the most important items on this list. Participating in physical activity increases your risk of dehydration. When outdoors, especially if it is hot outside, you should drink plenty of water– Before you feel thirsty. Carry enough water for the length of your trip, and know where and how to treat water before you hit the trail. Identify bodies of water in your destination area and bring a way to purify water, like a filter. Learn how to use the water filter or utilize other purifying methods before you go on your trip: This includes collecting water from your source, purifying, and disinfecting it. 
  4. Food: Just like water, pack enough food for the length of your trip. Calorie-dense foods and snacks are best, as well as items that don’t require cooking but still have high nutritional value. Snacks that are easy to digest are also great, such as granola bars, nuts, and trail mix. High-protein foods such as meat, dairy, or nuts can help you stay energized while on the trail. Pack an extra day’s worth of food, in case you are out longer than expected. 
  5. Layers: As you’ve probably come to realize, the weather forecast is not always correct. Weather and nature are unpredictable, so be prepared for sudden changes in weather conditions. Dressing in layers or packing a few extra layers can help you change quickly when needed. For example, depending on the area you will be visiting, you may want to bring a hat, jacket, gloves, and moisture-wicking clothing. 
  6. Safety items: You should bring some form of lighting, such as a flashlight or headlamp. Be sure to bring extra batteries as well! If you get caught in the wilderness at night, lighting will help you see your surroundings as well as your map. A lighter and matches are also very helpful if you need to start an emergency fire, or signal for help. Before your trip, familiarize yourself with the fire use regulations in the area you will be visiting.
  7. First aid kit: A travel-friendly first aid kit is a must when hiking, camping, or going on any type of expedition. This kit should include supplies to treat illness or injury. You can find pre-packaged kits or create your own. Your kit should include necessities such as any personal prescription medications you take, ibuprofen or other over the counter painkillers, antihistamine to treat allergic reactions, bandaids and bandages in various sizes, several pairs of latex gloves, ointment for insect bites, a small roll of gauze and a small pair of scissors, athletic tape, and alcohol-based hand sanitizer. You can include other items as you see fit. You should also consider enrolling in a first aid or CPR course, so you know what to do in case of an emergency.
  8. Knife or multi-tool: Carrying a small knife or multi-tool can help you to repair equipment or come in handy when it comes to first aid. Multi-tools often include a knife, screwdriver, can opener, and more. You should bring other tools specific to your trip or activity.
  9. Sun protection: Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and other sun-protective clothing can go a long way. This will protect your eyes and skin from harmful UV rays. Pants and long sleeve shirts are a good way to minimize sun exposure. These items should be used in every season, regardless of whether or not it is a cloudy day. 
  10. Shelter: Emergency shelter is one of the most important things in case of an emergency survival situation. You’ll want protection from the elements in the event that you are injured or stranded. Consider a tent, tarp, bivy sack, or space blanket as lightweight options for emergency shelter. 

 

Now that you’ve checked the 10 essentials off your list, you’ll want to further prepare for your trip. Before you venture out on any expedition, consider the geographical area you will be in and do some basic research. Are they any poisonous plants native to the area? What insects are common, and do they sting or bite? You may want to modify your first aid kit depending on these factors. Consider environmental hazards and the range of weather you may experience. If you are traveling to a cold and snowy area, you’ll want to be aware of things like hypothermia and frostbite, and know how to treat them. If you’re expecting hot and sunny conditions, know how to handle heat stroke or exhaustion. 

 

Most survival skills correlate with the items included in your 10 essentials. For example, knowing how to start a fire is one of the most important skills, and items that can help you do this should be included with your safety items. In fact, it is best to have at least two different firestarters with you. Some firestarters include a lighter, matches, and vaseline-soaked cotton balls that can be stored in a Ziploc bag. There are three basic elements to starting an emergency fire: tinder, kindling, and fuel wood. 

 

  • Tinder: This refers to highly flammable objects to spark your initial fire. In other words, it is the foundation of your fire. This could be something included in your 10 essentials (like the cotton balls mentioned above) or you could search for natural tinder– But you’ll need to know what to look for. Some sources of tinder include dry pine needles, wood shavings, dry grass, and dry shredded outer bark of a tree. Note the commonality here: Dry. You’ll want to avoid soggy wood. 
  • Kindling: This refers to the larger fuel that catches fire from tinder. Some natural kindling includes twigs and other small branches. Typically, you’ll want to place the kindling in “teepee” form around your tinder. You can then gently blow on the sparks to grow your flame.
  • Fuel wood: This refers to larger pieces of wood that you can add to your fire after both your tinder and kindling are burning. You should see embers before adding your fuel wood. Adding larger pieces of wood will help prolong your fire. 

 

There are countless articles and videos on the Internet that can teach you how to start a fire, but it can also be helpful to learn hands-on from someone who has perfected the craft. Starting a fire takes practice, but you should at least know the basics and have practiced a few times before venturing out on an expedition. Try practicing in a non-emergency situation, or look around to see if there are any local courses on camping or hiking skills happening in your area. 

 

Hiking and going on other expeditions can be fun and rewarding, but it is important to be aware of potential risks and to be prepared in case of an emergency. We hope that you found this article informative and helpful! As always, we thank you for reading and we hope to see you back on our blog soon! If you’re looking to explore the Lowcountry with your kids, check out our offerings on our website to find the adventure which suits you best! We offer kid-friendly tours as well as kids programs, camps, and kayak lessons. Our tours are led by knowledgeable, approachable naturalists and sea captains who are eager to answer your questions! Until next time, readers. Get out there and explore! Adventure awaits!

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@coastalexpeditions

Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant Rentals

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Take in the stunning beauty of local creeks and waters from one of our kayaks or SUPs. Walk-ups are welcome or call / text to book and we’ll be ready when you are. All gear and instruction provided.

Call or text 843.884.7684 to book.

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Isle of Palms Rentals

Offering Kayaks and Paddleboards

Take in the stunning beauty of local creeks and waters from one of our kayaks or SUPs. Walk-ups are welcome or call / text to book and we’ll be ready when you are. All gear and instruction provided.

Call or text 843.884.7684 to book.

Outpost Location

Need A Guide?

If you really want to get a feel for the local history, identify the native wildlife, and get to special places, you'll need someone experienced to show you the way. We'll get you there.

Check out our Isle of Palms tours.

Rent a Kayak or Paddleboard Click to Book via Text