Survival Camping -

            How to Survive on your terms

Survival Camping is the ultimate in a camping adventure.  All skills you have learned are put into play and the goal is simply stated as doing whatever you have to do to stay alive.

Survival camping is not for the novice camper and unless there is an emergency that forces you into crisis mode, we recommend at least 3 to 4 years of camping in the wild before your first experience.  There are actual courses you can take to learn this type of camping.

To make a clear distinction between survival prepping and this style of camping is that preppers have everything to do with being prepared on a 24/7 basis regardless where you are.  Camping is planned on your schedule to the wilderness of your choice.  However, the skills from survival camping are vitally important to anyone that is serious about prepping.

There are two types of survival camping in the wild and each will require its own set of skills to be successful.  The two are base camp and walk out survival camping.

Survival Camping Training

Rigorous training to build up muscle and stamina will be at the core of surviving anywhere.  You must train yourself to endure the harshest of conditions in all seasons and in as many environments you can experience.  Endurance levels will be entirely dependent on how dedicated you are to training.  Training includes hiking your backpack, using weights or rocks to simulate the weight you will be carrying.

At the upper limit, you should be able to hike 25 miles with full pack of 30% of your body weight when on flat terrain per day.  The lower limit is 15 miles with a light pack (water and energy bars only) through a hilly terrain.  Walk out Survival camping has a starting and end point and you must be ready to handle any condition or terrain during your trip.

Camping Equipment


Surviving in the wild depends on your ability to exist and live off the land.  Your gear should be all about your personal protection and not so much about what's for dinner.  It should contain water for two days, emergency rations such as energy bars, and the rest is clothing and survival supplies.  Typical survival supplies will include a few fishing lures such as wrigglers and dry flies, emergency first aid kit, water purification tablets, and a refillable container for water.  Check out our Backpacking Checklist for other items.



The right backpack is almost as important as your physical training.  If the frame doesn't match your torso measurement, you can become physically exhausted much more quickly.  There are different types such as daypacks, bug out packs, and full gear.  For a walk in base camp expedition, you will need to pack as much as possible and there are many backpacks that can do this with durable lightweight fabrics keeping everything dry.  For a walk out survival trip, keeping the gear weight to 30% of your body weight or less is important with much of the contents being water, emergency rations, and clothing.

Depending on the terrain, your pack should either have most of the weight in the bottom or up near the top.  Flat terrain hiking needs most of the weight to be carried by your hips while hilly walks need you to carry most of the weight on your shoulders.

Base Camp

Base camp is simply staying put during the duration of your camping trip and walking in and out on the first and last day.  The important point about picking the right place is that water and food are readily available without depleting the resources around you.   For this reason, a mountain stream or spring nearby make for the ideal spots.  Water is key to yours and the wildlife around you so it is important to set up camp downwind of the water source.

Survival Camping Shelter

Your shelter and its location has to serve a dual purpose.  Your shelter is your protection against the elements, but it must also be able to be protection against larger game.  Base camps once established, will begin to send out their own smell that could attract dangerous animals such as bear or coyote.

One Man Tent

Set up your tent or build your shelter in such a way as to limit the direction that large game can approach.  This can be a small grove of trees around 3 sides of your shelter with only front access.  The absolute best set up allows for you to retreat to an area where you would be safe from harm or at least where you can defend yourself.  Your fire is one method of keeping unwanted animals away, but you can't keep it to a roaring blaze all the time.

The killing of animals unnecessarily is never a good thing, so you must arm yourself as you see fit.

Although fire is one deterrent, setting up an alarm system with rope as a trip wire that can bring down a few logs or rocks onto an animal may be your best defense.  It will wake you up in time to assess if further precautions are necessary and that precious time may be the difference between staying alive or not.

Traps and Snares

 Spring loaded snares using the bent tree and a sensitive trip are good if you are going after larger game.  For most of your meals however, you should concentrate on small game such as squirrel or other small rodents.

Simple rock levers are best for catching small game.  Ultimately, the dropping of a rock quickly is sufficient to catch anything unawares.  The trick is that first, you must attract it to your trap, and then by a series of levers, use the smallest of movements to cause the collapse of the trap onto the animal in one swift motion.  The best trap is a two stage where the trip will first cause the blocking of an animal's escape driving them further into the trap where the final stage finishes the job.  Experiment at home to devise your technique.

Remember that animals survive in the wild because they take full advantage of their senses.  Of these, smell is one of their strongest senses which they use to look for food and danger.  When building anything to allure game, make sure your hands are covered in mud first so no human smells are left.

In some cases, your catch may need to be preserved for a day or two depending on the activities.  Food storage in the wild is really accomplished by either burying the game deep or by hanging it up high out of reach.  Depending on how long your survival camping trip is will determine how to store food.

Walk Out Survival

Walk Out survival is either starting at one end and walking to another or being dropped into the middle by a guide and leaving it up to you and your skills to make it out alive.

This type of survival can be the most challenging since you will be constantly on the move and must keep up your physical state every step of the way.  For this reason, your food sources will only be effective if you can get to them quickly.

What to bring

Since space is limited and adding more weight is undesirable, the food you carry has to be ready for emergency use, not your main food source.  Nuts and fruits such as raisins or other similar types are best.  Dried or dehydrated fruits or meals can use up valuable water so finding the foods that have their moisture still in them are needed.

Hopefully, your survival camping will take you along a stream or lake.  A couple of fly fishing lures and maybe a few wigglers can be instrumental in a nice fish dinner that can sustain you for the entire day.

Survival Camping Equipment

If you have had plenty of practice, setting up small traps for rodents or squirrels is another good method of nourishment.  This takes longer, but if done right, you can trap enough food to make travel easy for at least a couple of days.

The knowledge of edible plants and shrubs is essential to a walk out survival. This practice suits a continued hike while “grazing” along the way.  Research the area thoroughly prior to camping so you are aware of what may be available.

A true survivalist will take advantage of all opportunities whether nuts and berries along the path or trapping game for a meal that evening.  The key to backpacking camping properly depends on all of these skills to be successful.

Survival Camping is one of the most challenging activities in the wild.  One of the best camping shops to be found is our own Camping Store for the necessary gear needed for survival camping.

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