Could You Camp From Scratch? – Camping & Survival Skills

Many keen campers like to think of themselves as well-equipped to handy life in the natural world – but how many of us could truly survive when stripped of the trappings of modern life? Could camp from scratch, without a tent? Could you start a fire without a lighter or matches? Could you forage or find sustenance in the natural world? If you were dropped into a remote region, could you provide yourself with the basics of food, water and shelter? Or would you be lost without all your modern camping equipment and tech? Where would you begin?

Though most of us are unlikely to find ourselves in a true survival situation, many of the skills involved in survival can also stand us in good stead on camping adventures. These skills can also help us to get in touch with our roots and get back to the basics. This can help us appreciate modern life all the more once we get back home.

In a true survival situation, water is likely to be one of your key concerns. Knowing where to find water in different environments can be a useful skill, not only for intense survival situations but also as a general life skill for those who spend time in the wilds. Fortunately, in the UK, water is never too far away and fresh water is rarely a concern.

To find water, the first step would always be to stop, look and listen. You may hear water close by. A clear, fast flowing waterway is your best bet for drinking water – the closer to its source you are, the more likely it is that it will be safe to drink. Following a watercourse upstream could allow you to find cleaner water and perhaps a clear, freshwater spring. Of course, filtering water is always the safest bet, though in this scenario, where you start with nothing, you would have to improvise. Collecting gravel, sand and straw would allow you to create a rudimentary filtration system, though boiling water is also a good idea. Collecting rainwater is also a good option. You can do so my creating a clay depression in the ground, lined with dock leaves or similar, if you have no containers to hand.

If you were in a survival situation, once you had identified a water source, your next step would be to create fire. Fire allows you to boil water for drinking, and of course to get some warmth. Creating a bow drill, or looking for flint to start a fire are both options in drier conditions. Certain fungi can help you to start your fire. In wet conditions, starting a fire can be extremely difficult. Look for caves, or dense forests where the rain does not penetrate as much.

Natural shelter is easier to find. Depending on the natural environment in which you find yourself, you could find shelter in a cave or create a shelter using wood, leaves and other natural debris. Natural twine or cordage to secure a structure can be made from nettles stems, or the stems of other common plants. Sharp stones can be napped to make cutting blades.

How many of us could source water, make fire and build a shelter without all the tools and equipment that we are used to having on our camping adventures? We may not need to do so in our modern world – but still, it may be a useful and fun thing to try.