Guest Post: Survival Skills Are Better Than Survival Gear

Hello, my friend and welcome back! Today’s Guest Post is from John Brown at This subject is something I have tried to impress on my readers for a very long time. It’s a good post and I hope you enjoy it. Now grab a cup of coffee my friend and have a seat while we visit.

In a recent article by Les Stroud of Survivor man fame, Les wrote about essential survival gear one should carry when going out in the wilderness. And as usual, Les is a pretty smart survivalist, and he knows what he’s talking about. Gear list aside, the most important message in his article was not about the gadgets you carry on you, but knowing how to use them.

A lot of preppers and survivalists put together these massive bugs out bag gear lists, and really I’m no exception. The truth is, all the gear in the world might not save your life if you don’t know exactly how to use the things you carry with you into the unknown. Survival itself is an ordeal, but when relying on equipment that you’ve never used before – you could be in for a big surprise when it’s time to break things out of their wrapper and use them for the first time.


As the #1 most important survival need, we can’t overlook the water. For the most part, I’ll assume that by reading this far, you have the ability to get water in a container from a stream or other source and boil your water to kill bacteria. So for now, we’ll skip canteens and pots. But what about fancy water filtration devices like the Katadyn Hiker or Sawyer Squeeze that have multiple moving parts that have to get threaded together. What happens if the filter gets clogged? Just assuming your filter will work in the midst of a survival situation could easily lead to your not surviving.


One should always carry super easy fire starting methods like a basic cigarette lighter or a pack of matches. Most times, those will be the best tool for the job as long as you have them. But fire crafting is much more than just putting flame to tinder. The reality is, making A fire is much more difficult than just producing SOME fire.

Aside from learning basic fire craft, learning to use your more “survival gear” style fire starters like a Magnesium Firestarter before you’re freezing and need heat is important. Getting tinder or fuel to light from just a spark isn’t easy. As great as most survival fire starters are, they aren’t perfect. Wind, wetness, fuel source, and a thousand other factors can turn what seems like an easy survival tool into the most complicated gizmo you’ve ever had to use.

Lastly, there’s the ever popular primitive fire methods like the hand or bow drill. While Les and many other TV personalities (Cody Lundin – I’m talking’ to you!) make primitive fire looks easy, it’s not as easy as it looks. For someone without the knowledge and understanding of WHY these methods work, just fumbling around with random sticks will make you look like a cave dweller in the pre-fire days. These are great skills to learn and have great use if you don’t have any easier method, they take time and energy, two things that are often in short supply when you need them most.


If you’ve packed, weighed, and repacked your survival bag a hundred times, you’ll know that a tent and its associated bits of stakes, bags, cordage, and everything else adds a lot of weight to your pack, particularly if your go-bag is designed for 72 hours or less. That’s why many of us have moved to the hammock, tarp, or even bush craft shelter plans. Much like primitive fire, bush craft shelter building is an art form all of its own and carries a lot of inherent safety risk. If you’re building a lean-to shelter and don’t know how to properly secure the brace beam, you could end up with logs on your head and in a direr situation than you were originally stuck in. Knowing your cordage, your knots, and multiple potential designs based on your shelter spot options will greatly increase your comfort, if not your survival.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The words of your elementary piano teacher ring over and over in your head. Practice and more practice. You can read articles, watch YouTube videos, and DVR your favorite reality survival shows until your eyes are glazed over with more survival information than your brain can handle. But none of it makes any difference until you put the things you learn to use.

Even if you don’t plan to sleep in them, making a survival shelter in the back yard can be great training and good fun for the kids. Particularly if you don’t have (or have room for) cool treehouses and other backyard shelters.

If you have the ability, lighting small campfires regularly with scrounged materials and various starting tools in all types of weather will give you the skills you will use when you really need them.

Author Bio

My name is John Brown. I am a professional blogger and head gear tester, survivalist and knife enthusiast as well as lead writer at

Well that’s it today and I hope you have found it worth while. Untill next time my friend, stay safe, stay strong and stay prepared. God Bless America!


2 thoughts on “Guest Post: Survival Skills Are Better Than Survival Gear”

  1. Hey Sarge, this article is a nice addition to your awesome survival resources and I would also love to thank John. Water, fire and shelter, all the main aspects have been covered precisely.

    I am kind of those guys who collects information a lot but practice very little.

    John pointed out a very important factor that, without much practice no information or knowledge will help in the dire situation. For practicing purpose, I will make a survival shelter in my backyard. Gradually, fire making will come. At least I hope so.

    • Danny,

      Only through practicing can we hope to retain as much information as possible. Sometimes we think we understand something because we simply don’t know what questions to ask. Practicing exposes those questions and makes us better Preppers.
      I’m glad to hear you’re going to start practicing what you have learned. Keep up the good work.


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