If disaster strikes and you somehow find yourself stranded outdoors overnight or lost for a few days, there are a couple of basic survival skills which will improve your chances of staying safe.

And while it can be tempting to draw inspiration from Bear Grylls, we’ve put together some tips and tricks that require no prior experience or training, which will increase your survival rate.

Read on to learn more.

Master your Attitude

Man hiking in wilderness

If you become stranded in the wilderness, with no equipment or supplies, your attitude and mind-set are the things that’ll help your survival. Seemingly impossible situations like this will put anyone to the test, but now is not the time to panic.

Master your mind-set and remember to remain calm, positive and focused. By remaining calm and developing a concrete plan, you’ll increase your chances of survival.

Remember to take an inventory of all your available resources. How much water do you have? Did you pack any food? Did you pack a lighter or box of matches to make a fire? Next identify any critical tasks required for survival (water, shelter, warmth).

Find Shelter

Most people who’ve undergone basic survival training will be aware of the “Rule of Threes”. In general humans can survive:

  • three minutes without air
  • three hours without a regulated body temperature
  • three days without water
  • and three weeks without food

Based on this rule, lost hikers and climbers should prioritise finding shelter as soon as possible. Shelter will keep you warm and dry, which is key to maintaining and regulating your body temperature.

In other countries, it would be possible to take shelter under a tree or fashion a makeshift tent with some branches, however in Ireland this is unlikely as 91% of the country doesn’t have tree cover.

Instead Irish hikers are advised to take inspiration from the native squirrel and build a snug nest. Using heather, shrub branches or long grass, create a big pile of debris and crawl into it. The nest needs to be the length of your arm beneath and on top of you to ensure you’ll stay warm and dry.

Drinking Water

monring dew

Next on your list of priorities is drinking water. Dehydration can make you more susceptible to hyperthermia, so it’s vital that you keep your body as hydrated as possible when stuck in the great outdoors.

Survival experts advise that you shouldn’t drink out of streams, and while this may seem counter-intuitive, it’s for good reason. While the water may seem crystal clear, if you follow it to its source, there could be a dead animal or even agricultural runoff affecting the safety of the water.

Instead, it’s best to collect rainwater or the morning dew off the grass and plants. It’s pretty simple to collect a surprisingly large amount of water from morning dew. By running your t-shirt, along the wet morning grass, and wringing it out into a cup, you’ll be able to collect enough drinking water.


Finding food when stranded in the wilderness doesn’t mean, going out into the woods to hunt and kill your next meal. Instead, it’s best to conserve your energy and forage for food.

As a rule of thumb, lost hikers or walkers should eat all the plants and vegetation gardeners try to kill. This means that dandelions, thistles, plantains and nettles are your new best friends. Nettles in particular are a great source of protein, iron and vitamin C and should be consumed with gusto.

When picking nettles, be aware that the stingers are located underneath, so grab the leaf from the top, fold it, crush it, and roll it around. By doing this, you’ll remove all the stingers and formic acid. After this, pop the crushed nettle into your mouth, it might not taste like a perfectly-cooked fillet steak, but it’s vitamin and mineral content will keep hunger at bay.


In the world of survivalism, fire is a luxury. Once you’ve managed to build yourself a warm, dry nest and secured enough drinking water to keep hydrated, you’ve mastered the essentials.

Building a fire

Making fire by rubbing two sticks together, or using the power of the sun against a piece of glass, isn’t going to work, unless you’ve had in depth survival training.

However if, you’ve happened to pack a lighter or a box of matches, you can make a fire by following these simple instructions.

  • Gather some dry leaves, kindling and some small and large sticks.
  • Place a portion of the dry leaves in a pile and light from underneath.
  • Slowly add more dry leaves as the fire builds.
  • Place smaller sticks on top of the flames
  • Slowly progress to adding the larger sticks to keep the fire lighting.

When hiking or climbing in isolated areas, make sure to purchase an OSi Discovery Map, which will keep you on designated path.

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