The Most Common Wilderness Survival Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

The wilderness can be a dangerous place, but it’s also one of the most beautiful and rewarding places in the world. 

If you’re doing any kind of outdoor activity that takes you away from civilization, then you need to know how to survive in the wild.

 Whether it’s hiking, camping or hunting, there are many different things that can go wrong when you’re out there alone. 

One of those things is not knowing what survival skills are needed and how to use them correctly so that they’ll actually help keep you alive instead of just make things worse! Here are some common mistakes people make when trying to get out of trouble:

Top 5 Wilderness Survival Mistakes
The most common wilderness survival mistakes can be avoided by being prepared and informed
Staying safe and surviving in the wilderness requires a variety of skills, including shelter building, fire starting, and finding food and water
Building a support system and practicing self-care can help in dealing with the mental and emotional challenges of wilderness survival
Having the right gear can make all the difference in a wilderness survival situation, so it’s important to be prepared and pack accordingly
With the right knowledge and preparation, anyone can learn how to survive in the wilderness

Not Knowing Where True North Is

If you are new to the wilderness, knowing where true north is can be one of the most difficult things to learn. This is because it’s not as simple as following a compass needle away from your current location. 

In order for any compass to work, it needs something called an “alignment feature” in order to determine direction—and that alignment feature can be anything from magnetic fields through the ground or even sunlight itself.

The easiest way around this obstacle is by using a map and compass together. A map allows you to see where your destination is on a larger scale than just what’s right in front of you; then all you need to do is line up the map with your landmarks so that those two alignments match up with each other when looking at them both simultaneously via mirror (or by simply holding them up against each other). 

Once they do, draw a line between them so that they’re joined together exactly how they appeared on paper; now trace another line beyond this point (through whichever landmark appears closest) until it intersects with another point on this same line which corresponds with its counterpart on.

etc., until all three points have been connected into one continuous straight line extending from start point through end point without breaking off anywhere along its path!

Wilderness survival can be a daunting task for beginners, and it’s often challenging to know where to start. Our wilderness survival tips for beginners guide offers a step-by-step approach for anyone looking to sharpen their survival skills.

Trying to Save Energy When Lost

When your energy is low, it becomes tempting to try and save it by not doing anything that requires exertion. 

This is a mistake because you need to stay warm, hydrated, and fed. If you are in the wilderness, you should assume that whatever situation has led to your getting lost will continue indefinitely meaning that if you don’t have any food or water with you when things go wrong (as they often do), then this will become a very serious problem.

You also need to be prepared for anything so that when something does go wrong (as it often does), there isn’t much time for planning or hesitation in making decisions about what to do next. 

While most people who get lost do so because they were unprepared for the weather conditions where they were hiking or camping, others lose their way while traveling through wilderness areas on foot either intentionally or unexpectedly due to unforeseen circumstances such as an injury or mechanical failure on their vehicle.

Best Practices for Saving Energy in a Wilderness Survival Situation

Tips to Save Energy
Wear insulated and moisture-wicking layers from brands like Patagonia, The North Face, or Columbia
Use LED headlamps or flashlights that have a long battery life, like those from Black Diamond or Petzl
Cook food by using a reliable camping stove like those from MSR or Jetboil
Stay hydrated by carrying a hydration pack, like those from Camelbak or Osprey, to avoid wasting energy on carrying water bottles
Rest often to avoid overexertion and conserve energy, which can be supported by using lightweight and comfortable camping chairs, like those from Helinox or Alite Designs

Not Building a Proper Fire for Warmth

A good fire is the most important tool in your wilderness survival kit. It keeps you warm, it’s easy to make, and it will help keep you safe from predators.

If you can’t build a proper fire for warmth, then at least make sure that when you do have a fire that it isn’t too big. If your fire gets out of control, it can start burning down trees or consuming all the available fuel around it before going out on its own. 

This can cause serious problems for other people who might need those resources later on (you don’t want anyone else finding their way into the woods with nothing but charred wood and ash).

To ensure that your campfire stays safe:

1 Keep an eye on it at all times! Don’t leave any unattended flames unattended! Even if they are small enough not to worry about now…they may be large enough later tonight when they’ve had time grow while nobody was watching them closely enough.”

Are you tired of camping in the same old spots every year? Look no further than our guide on the best camping destinations in the USA for inspiration on where to go next. We’ve compiled a list of the most beautiful and scenic spots in the country that are sure to make your next trip unforgettable.

Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket (or All Your Wood in One Pile)

If you’re going to spend time in the wilderness, one of the most important things to remember is that when it comes to survival, you need to be able to think outside of the box. This means being able to put together multiple solutions with a variety of resources available and not relying on one thing (or even two or three) as your sole source for sustenance and protection.

By putting all your eggs in one basket, you could find yourself in big trouble if any part of that basket breaks down or fails unexpectedly like if you were only storing food inside an airtight container without any backup plan for how much longer it will last without spoiling. 

Diversifying Your Survival Supplies: Best Brands to Depend on in a Wilderness Situation

Diversify Your Gear
Bring multiple fire starting methods, such as waterproof matches from UCO or a magnesium fire starter from Light My Fire
Carry at least two reliable forms of navigation, like a GPS device from Garmin or a map and compass from Suunto
Pre-pack lightweight and high-calorie foods from brands like Mountain House or Backcountry Pantry to diversify your food sources
Bring multiple forms of shelter, including a tent from Big Agnes or a bivy sack from Outdoor Research
Carry at least two forms of water filtration, like a pump filter from Katadyn or water purification tablets from MSR, to ensure access to safe drinking water

The same goes for wood: if all your wood is stored somewhere together and then gets wet or damp due to rain or snow, it might become unusable.

Whether you’re an experienced camper or a newbie, having the right gear is essential to enjoy the great outdoors. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 10 must-have camping gears that you should consider taking on your next camping trip. From reliable tents to campfire cooking essentials, this list has got you covered.

Taking Too Many Risks when Lost

The most common mistake people make when lost is taking too many risks. This is often due to panic, the need for food, or exhaustion.

Most commonly though, it’s because someone wants to get out of the wilderness as quickly as possible instead of waiting for rescue.

If you’re lost in a remote area that’s not near civilization and you’ve decided to leave your location and head for help, there are a few risks you should avoid:

  • Going cross-country without knowing where you’re going or how long it will take (this could lead to getting stuck overnight)
  • Taking shortcuts through thick brush or over steep terrain that may be impassable (it may be faster but it’ll also be harder and more dangerous than if you went around)
  • Running into bears or other large animals along the way.

Not Carrying a Headlamp Everyday

Not carrying a headlamp is the biggest mistake you can make. A headlamp is your best friend in the wilderness, and it’s important that you have one with you at all times. 

The most obvious use for a headlamp is finding your way around when it’s dark out, but there are other uses too:

  • Looking for food or water
  • Signaling for help (if you get lost in more than just a few feet of snow)
  • Cutting branches to build shelter (or defending yourself from wild animals if necessary)

Building the perfect camping checklist can be a challenge, especially if you’re camping with kids. However, with our ultimate camping trip checklist, you can ensure that you have everything you need before leaving home. This checklist covers everything from what gear to pack to what to do before leaving and when you arrive at your camping destination.

Mistaking Calming Down For Feeling Good Enough to Move On

When you’re in the wilderness, an injury can be a very serious thing. If you have an injury, rest and recovery should be your number one priority. If you don’t know how to tell whether or not your body is ready for movement on a particular day, it’s time to learn.

When it comes to deciding whether or not it’s safe for you to move on with your trip after sustaining an injury, there are two things that will let you know: pain levels and swelling/bruising.

If either of these symptoms are severe enough that they interfere with normal functioning (like walking), then being upright is probably going to exacerbate them instead of help them get better at all. 

When this happens, sitting down for awhile might still hurt but at least won’t make mobility harder than necessary! 

Just remember: if pain levels aren’t getting better and swelling/bruising isn’t getting smaller by staying still for awhile longer than usual—don’t move forward just yet!

Recognizing the Importance of Adequate Rest and Recovery During Wilderness Survival

Tips for Rest and Recovery
Use a high-quality, lightweight sleeping pad from brands like Therm-a-Rest or NEMO Equipment for optimal rest and comfort
Bring a comfortable camping pillow, like those from Sea to Summit or Exped, to support your neck and improve sleep quality
Take adequate rest breaks to avoid overexertion and burnout, and use lightweight and sturdy camping chairs from Helinox or Alite Designs to make resting more comfortable
Practice yoga or stretching with a lightweight yoga mat from Gaiam or Manduka to alleviate soreness and promote recovery after a long day of hiking
Use topical pain relief products, like the Recovery Rub from Klean Athlete, to ease sore muscles and joints and promote relaxation

Worrying About Big Animals When Small Ones are the Real Threats

The most common wilderness survival mistakes are the ones that you don’t even realize you’re making. 

While it’s easy to worry about big animals and difficult situations, many small ones can pose a bigger threat to your survival than bears and mountain lions. Here are some of them:

  • Mosquitoes, ticks, and flies
  • Rodents (including squirrels)

These little guys are hard to catch but easy to eat, skin and cook. They can carry diseases that make other animals sick or kill them outright so they’re worth catching! 

If you get one with your hands then make sure to wash them well afterwards as it may be carrying something nasty like fleas or lice which could spread disease around camp if left untreated in time for dinner tonight!

Being stranded in the wilderness with no help in sight can be a scary situation for anyone to experience. That’s why it’s crucial to learn essential survival skills to prepare for the unexpected. Check out our guide on wilderness survival: essential skills and safety tips to learn how to stay safe and thrive in the wilderness.

Focusing on Wilderness Survival and Not Wilderness Medicine

If you’re going to be in the wilderness and want to survive, it’s important to know what wilderness medicine is. 

Wilderness medicine is a branch of emergency medicine that deals with injuries or illnesses that can occur while hiking, camping, backpacking or otherwise being out in the wilds of nature.

For example: What do you do if your foot gets injured? How do you treat cuts, scrapes and burns? How do you stay hydrated if there is no water nearby? How do you keep warm when temperatures drop below freezing at night time?

These are all questions that would need answers before heading out into the woods for any length of time. 

There are many books written about these topics; however most of them assume an advanced knowledge base from their readers which may not be true for everyone reading those books (including me). 

In this article I’ve tried my best to make things as simple as possible without leaving anything out important for survival situations such as medical emergencies or extreme weather conditions.

Expecting the Ground to Always be Flat, Open, and Dry Enough for Travel

You’re in a survival situation and you need to cross a river or stream. You look at the ground and think it’s flat, open and dry enough for you to travel across. But is it really?

The ground can be very dangerous in the wilderness and not always what you expect it to be. A lot of times when people are crossing rivers or streams they don’t realize how deep they are until they get into them, which makes them panic because they can’t swim well enough to cross safely without getting wet. 

If there’s no one around who knows how to help them out then they’ll have no other choice but to try their luck at crossing without being prepared first (which rarely works out well).

If there are trees nearby then you should use those as your guide instead of just relying on your eyesight alone because sometimes things look different from above than from below where we walk through everyday life with our heads down focused on everything else besides what’s directly beneath our feet!

Thinking You’ll Never Get Lost or Run Into Trouble

No matter how much you prepare, there’s a chance you could get lost or encounter trouble in the wilderness. Before you leave on your hike, it’s important to know what to do if something goes wrong. 

For example:

  • You can get lost in the woods.
  • You can run into trouble with wildlife.
  • You can get injured or sick from either of these situations—and that’s not including all the other things that could go wrong!

Having Gear You Don’t Know How to Use or Take Care Of

If you’re only going out with one knife, make sure it’s the right one for the job at hand. Sharpening is an important skill to learn, especially if you have an expensive knife that should not be damaged by a dull edge. 

Likewise, there are many things that can go wrong with fire starting kits starting a fire without matches is hard enough as it is! 

If you are planning on building a shelter from natural materials or improvising some kind of trap or snare, learn how to do so before heading out into the wilderness.

  • Not having all the right gear for your trip/expedition/adventure/excursion/whatever else people call them these days (yikes).

You’ll save yourself trouble in the long run if you plan ahead and make sure everything is in order before leaving home. 

Don’t go into a bear-infested forest without any food storage containers; don’t cross glaciers in flip flops; don’t cut yourself on branch while trying to build yourself a raft; etcetera (you get it).

Not preparing for worst case scenarios like dehydration and hypothermia even though those are two things which kill most people who die outdoors every year (and also bears).


The wilderness is a place of danger, but it’s also full of opportunity. Make the most of your time there by avoiding these common mistakes, and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying your next trip.

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources related to wilderness survival that you may find useful:

10 Most Common Mistakes of Wilderness Survival & How to Avoid Them: This article provides insights into the most common mistakes of wilderness survival and offers tips on how to avoid them.

The Top 10 Wilderness Survival Mistakes: This article lists the top 10 wilderness survival mistakes and how to overcome them, with suggestions for staying safe and making the most of a challenging situation.

Wilderness Survival: Survival Cache’s wilderness survival section provides a wealth of information on everything from building shelters to gathering food and water in the wilderness.


What is wilderness survival?

Wilderness survival is the knowledge and skills necessary to survive in a remote or isolated area. It requires a variety of skills, such as shelter building, starting fires, and finding food and water.

What are some common mistakes people make when trying to survive in the wilderness?

Some common mistakes include not bringing enough supplies, getting lost, not knowing how to start a fire, not having adequate shelter, and not having enough food or water.

What should I bring with me on a wilderness survival trip?

Some essential items to bring on a wilderness survival trip include a map and compass, a first aid kit, a knife, a firestarter, and a shelter.

How do I start a fire in the wilderness?

Starting a fire in the wilderness can be challenging, but it’s essential for warmth and cooking food. Some approaches include using matches, a lighter, flint and steel, or a magnesium fire starter.

How do I find food and water in the wilderness?

Finding food and water in the wilderness requires knowledge of the local landscape and the ability to identify plants and animals that are safe to eat. Water can be found in rivers, streams, and lakes, and can be purified with a filter or from boiling.