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10 Outdoor Skills Everyone Should Master

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If there’s one thing we love, it’s spending time outside, be it on the trail, in the saddle, or on a surfboard. Sometimes though, the great outdoors isn’t so great. Like when the weather changes quickly while you’re scaling a mountain, or when you take a wrong turn on your way back to camp and have to post up somewhere else overnight. Do you have the skills you need to survive in these situations? Check out our list of the 10 survival skills everyone should know.

How to Start a Fire

Starting a fire is easier said than done. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Build a Fire Ring: Make sure you have an appropriate barrier around your fire. If you don’t have access to a built-in ring, make sure to gather rocks, or dig a deep hole.
  • Gather Firewood: This includes tinder -- think wood shavings, wadded paper, dryer lint, or strips of cardboard. In addition, you’ll need kindling and of course, larger logs. Try the pyramid or teepee technique for the formation of your logs for best results.
  • Ignite Fire: While matchsticks and a lighter are of course the ideal options, you won’t always have them on you. Read this article from Skilled Survival and learn how to make a fire with sticks.

Make sure you are fully aware of any hazards before starting a fire, and always ensure it is completely out before leaving.

How to Find Water

When you are out hiking the trails or hitting the dust with a mountain bike, it is always a good idea to know where clean water is in case you need it. Stand quietly and listen for sources of water. Streams and rivers are some of the easiest water sources to locate as well as being some of the safest, because the water is constantly flowing, making it harder for bacteria and algae to form.

Remember, wherever your water comes from, you should always filter it and then boil, treat with iodine tablets, or sanitize it with UV rays.

Find a Campsite

It’s not smart to set up shop just anywhere. When seeking a campsite, make sure to look up for things that could fall down or cause danger. Check for pests and clear the ground of leaves and rocks. Do one last look for hazards and check for possible weather protection. Once camp is set up – sit back, relax, and enjoy.

Learn to Pitch a Tent

Bought a new tent? Better learn how to set it up before hitting the trail. Do a few test runs in your backyard or living room. If you really want to be prepared, try setting it up in the dark. The better acquainted you are with the equipment, the easier it will be to pitch in less than ideal conditions.

How to Identify and Treat Altitude Sickness

You don’t have to be climbing Mount Everest to get altitude sickness. In fact, you can start feeling the effects of altitude at elevations as low as 8,000 feet. (For reference, the Mt. Baldy hike near LA takes you all the way up to 10,064 feet.) Be on the lookout for the following symptoms: 

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping

Luckily, the body can heal itself when in this state. Give yourself time to adapt to a higher altitude, and if you do get sick, descend to the last elevation you were at with no symptoms.

Learn to Use a Compass

Invest in a compass and know how to use it. REI Expert Advice has this great article on orienteering. Read it to learn the difference between true north and magnetic north, how to orient yourself on a map, and more.

How to Read a Topographic Map

If you’re getting ready to adventure on a big hiking expedition, bring along a topographic map. While it can be trickier to read than a normal map, it does provide a lot of useful information on upcoming elevation changes.

Check out these helpful tips on how to read a topo map.

Learn to Use Your Phone Camera

We know what you’re thinking. What does a camera phone have to do with wilderness survival? A lot, actually. In addition to documenting your awesome adventures, it also uses GPS to keep track of when and where each of your photos was taken. This can be a really helpful tool if Search and Rescue is dispatched to come find you, especially if you’ve recently uploaded a photo to Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. Unless you have the location feature turned off, rescuers can track down your last known location and go from there.

Learn to Pack Light

Planning a backpacking trip? Take our advice and learn to pack light. First off, your back will thank you. Secondly, the lighter you pack, the more miles you can cover in a day, which is also essential if you need to hike out quickly in the event of an illness or injury.

Stay Safe, Have Fun

Finally, have fun! That’s what the outdoors is for after all. Take up a new hobby or revisit an old favorite pastime activity and really master it. Biking, hiking, surfing, kayaking, rock climbing, swimming – whatever you want to do, go all in! And when you need somewhere to store all your outdoor adventure gear, StorQuest is here, and we have your back.

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