What Does It Mean To Be A Survivalist? Skill Sets and Survival Tips

What Does It Mean To Be A Survivalist? Skill Sets and Survival Tips

Understanding Survivalism

It started in the 1960s when individuals or groups in America got warned by possible emergencies, including political or social orders from local to international.

 It can also apply to preparing for emergencies like job loss, being stranded in remote and wild places, or harsh weather conditions.

What is a Survivalist?

A survivalist is someone who constantly prepares for doomsday events in the future. They stockpile food, medicine, or emergency kits. 

Their main goal is to be able to survive any possible emergencies. Survivalism emphasizes self-reliance or self-sufficiency, learning surviving skills and knowledge. 

Survivalists acquire emergency medical training, self-defense, stockpiling food and water, and survival retreats such as underground shelters as catastrophe getaways.

Survivalists erupted when nuclear problems arose because of the cold war and high inflation rates. Additionally, urbanization became a threat, considered unsustainable, causing supply shortages and disorder in urban centers.

Characteristic Traits Of The Survivalist

Survivalists possess attributes that work together in embodying their overall persona. As mentioned, it is a mindset, but sometimes some traits just come out naturally.

The following list of character traits is shared among the personality and character of the survivalist prepper:


The ability to adapt to any circumstance is a challenging task. Being adaptable is the number one survival characteristic under difficult situations. 
The ability to improvise is backed by knowledge and practical experiences with many conditions and things and applies to open-mindedness without being limited by fear or bias.


Simply taking something openly without understanding the workings of something only sometimes leads to knowledge. Instead, the openness and enthusiasm to actively know and understand the 'why' of things will lead to becoming a survivalist.


Instilling and staying calm works wonders when you think and make decisions. You can not make any biases and emotion-driven judgments of things. 
It is one good state that enables you to function effectively, especially during adrenaline. You may not have experienced this, but once you do, you'll want to become calmer and more effective in your decision-making.

Neither a Pessimist nor a Pessimist

A survivalist must be able to see the good in the bad but don't let the bad get in the way when things don't look good.
This means you can deliberate proactively on how things might go wrong and not let excessive pessimism or optimism get in decision-making. More or the other upsets the balance of clear thinking.

Resilience after Mistakes

Moving on after a mistake or failure can save time.  It also enables you to be adaptable in any situation, unlike being bogged down by past events.
Focus more on the present and what could happen in the future.


Gut instincts know without knowing why. Like wild animals, instinct is a powerful survivor characteristic. Combining our past experiences and strong senses, we can ensure our 'gut feeling' can work.

Determination to Survive

When things get intensively hard, it takes a strong will to survive. Some can't go on, and defect, but a real survivalist is determined to be a real 'survivalist.'

Breaking the Rules

Some people love to break the odds. They think outside the box, wondering, bending, or violating the rules. Most people accept what's laid out before them; others can't accept everything under all circumstances.


The will to accomplish every situation is crucial. It impacts the mission to be possible.

Ability to Make Decisions

Making a sound judgment to make a good decision is a survivalist attribute. This keeps things moving forwards. 
Most people have difficulty making decisions, especially in time-pressured and different situations. Just keep it lightheaded and think straight.

Plan and Foresight

Insight, foresight, and anticipation come from experience, knowledge, and situational awareness—the ability to plan. 
Staying organized and working towards a goal is a good indicator of a survivalist. This advanced thinking can avoid any unpleasant circumstances.

Survivalism Skill Sets

Survival abilities start with something other than building a shelter or bonfire. You must grow your survival abilities, watch them improve, and worry less. 

Often what makes you worry only makes you stronger. Here are skill sets you should hone to establish self-reliance, self-sufficiency, independence, or whatever you call it.

Grow Your Food

Learn how to cultivate your food. Learn also how to store, preserve, and dry food. Learn to cook with fewer ingredients. Consider also learning and growing medicinal and edible plants growing naturally, wildly, or locally. Once you start growing it, you can save money while receiving essential nutrients from these foods. 
Composting is also one great valuable thing to try because biomass energy is also generated.

Know the Earth's Rhythm

Being a survivalist, when you don't have the devices and gadgets, you should learn to use the natural environment and gather astronomical changes such as the sun and moon cycles.
Also, document eclipses and learn how to navigate the stars. Understanding the earth system is not a lost art where master navigators used to revere and understand them often by explorers and elders of ancient civilizations. Polynesian navigators still use age-old techniques to travel the ocean by canoe.

Green Your Energy Supply

Renewable and alternative energy sources are suitable investments when choosing sustainable energy sources. Invest in solar panels, a generator, wind turbines, and geothermal energy. Look at Tesla's solar shingles and solar energy innovations by Rocky Mountain Institutes to inspire new home designs.

Choose Independent and Natural Health

Learn how to heal yourself and take care of yourself. Don't be too dependent on medicine but find a natural remedy that you can grow. If you need glasses, consider getting laser eye surgery. Please don't be too reliant on glasses because they can only worsen your eye hyperopia (farsightedness) or myopia (nearsightedness). If you have allergens, explore immune-building tactics you can take to increase your tolerance.

Get Skilled

Learn how things work and how to take apart and put them together. Take engineering, technology, or construction courses in survival skills. Understanding nature and learning how to use natural materials and processes to survive is a great help. Learn how to light a fire without matches or build a snow cave. Here are the training courses you may want to consider.
  • Survival training in different environments in urban or rural areas
  • Basic medical training, including CPR
  • Herbology and gardening
  • Electrical activity, such as how to repair a radio
  • Machinery maintenance
  • Chemistry
  • Cartography and map reading
  • Archery
  • DIY anything

Plot a Communication Plan

When cell sites or communication signal systems become blocked or fail, establish a meeting place or signal system with loved ones. FEMA provides guidelines for emergency preparation, such as the organization of identification and financial documents. There are instances. However, government emergency services must be drafted and consider a basic plan on where and when to meet with family members. Choose the higher grounds at a particular time driven by nature, such as sunrise.

Look for Allies

The "lone wolf" survival strategy is only one approach to survivalism. According to Gregg Brader, cooperation or competition is the most successful strategy. Make a connection, a network, on how you understand each other's strengths and weaknesses. Work with others to create and implement solutions.

Honor Indigenous Wisdom

Historically, various indigenous cultures have lived in harmony with the planet with respect for nature, animals, and the planet's cycles. Learn about indigenous and traditional knowledge systems in your area. These practices offer ingenious survival tricks.

Play Defense

Learn how to protect and defend yourself. Some stockpile ammunition, but there are more sustainable strategies. Instead, try learning martial arts, archery, or basic physical defense strategy. Placing a shelter or a high ground with a bird's eye view is an example of a tactical defensive system.


To prepare, develop a skill set that people will need and appreciate. For example, learn how to grow strawberries or make wool hats for cold winters. Use your strength and leverage them.

Put Into Practice

Survivalism requires practice. Embrace a mindset of sustainability and independence. Set aside time each year to test and advance your survival skills. Consider living off the grid full-time.

8 Survival Tips

1. Master your attitude

A survival situation is not a time to panic. Instead, it would be best to focus on what can be done, maintaining a proactive and positive outlook. 

First, develop a plan. Inventory your resources, such as water, food, and medicine. 

Check what other tasks are needed, such as making your shelter and fire for warmth. Be determined to keep your thoughts on the tasks at hand. Don't let anxiety give you an option.

2. Make Shelter for Insulation and Shade

Build an adequate shelter that can protect you from cold nights and protect you from the elements. When making your shelter, make it as big as how many people it will occupy. In building it, make it a simple lean-to. You can use a fallen tree or a strong branch as a framework, then use sticks close together for the sides. To ass insulation, cover the sides with bark, leaves, pine needles, moss, or all other thick materials. Add similar insulation for its base. The wider, the better.

Dig a few inches from the soil for the shade to find the more incredible ground. Use sticks or limbs to make a shelter a little over the floor. Use available materials such as leaves, bark, a poncho, an emergency sleeping bag, or a blanket to cover one side. Then you can lie on the excellent ground underneath the shade.

3. Find clean water resources and purify them.

The holy grail of survival is finding clean water. You are lucky to find a spring as it is nature's purest water. If you are near freshwater, then that is a good water source. If it is dirty, you must do a primary purification method--boiling or distilling it. If you only have rain, collect it, store it, and you may drink it or filter it. If you only have snow, melt it under your camp stove or use the sun or your body's heat.

4. Collect water from vegetation.

If water sources are mentioned, dew is another safe and precious option. They are collected from plants and grasses. Use a cloth or a piece of clothing to soak up the dew, then squeeze it into a container. This can be very effective considering you are where there's much vegetation around you.

Another way is to collect from plants' transpiration. Plants are continually transpiring water vapor; if you trap the leafy branch of a tree using a plastic bag, this water vapor condenses to become liquid water. Over time the water will collect.

5. Light a Fire

There are many ways of starting a fire, from easy to advanced levels. The easiest one is to use a lighter or a waterproof match. Next, you can use a magnesium fire starter, use the back of your knife to create a spark from the shaved magnesium fillings off the stick then ignite the fillings. 

The hardest is using a battery to create a spark to light tinder. First, remove your vehicle battery from the boat or vehicle, then attach the wires or steel wool to connect the positive and negative posts. Through this, it can ignite a spark in the thread. Align the two small batteries together, positive and negative. Use strands of steel wool to link the posts in, creating a spark and igniting the wool. A 9-volt battery works great.

6. Build a fire

First, gather dry leaves, pine needles, milkweed, or thistledown and dry grass for tinder in building a fire. Then start igniting it small, gradually adding small dry sticks. Then make it bigger by adding more significant pieces of wood for a long-burning fuel. To make that happen, large amounts of timber are put into a tipi to create space inside for oxygen. Constantly add pieces of wood to spread and lengthen the flame.

7. Know these knots

You need to tie things and make them sturdy for survival. You may need these basic knots ready.

  • Bowline- This knot is proper when connecting something from a rope via a loop. The tighter you pull, the tighter the knot. 
  • Double half hitch- This knot attaches to one rope's end around another object. This kind of knot helps build a shelter. Tie a half hitch around your object, like a tree or pole, and follow it by a second in the same direction to make it a double. Pull tight to make it secure.

8. Make a spear

A spear is a good hunting tool for a small image or catching a fish. Since prehistoric times, spears have been great tools for their survival, but in modern-day survival, it is still as handy as it was before when you don't have anything sharp such as a knife, with you.

In making a small gear, choose a long, straight stick. Split it at the end of the rod to create a fork. Separate the division with a small stone or a wooden wedge. Sharpen each fork with a knife or sharp rock. Finally, lash it into place. To make a triple-prong spear, add a smaller stick after placing the wedge, sharpen, and tie it into place.  

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