Have you ever had a nightmare of being lost in an unknown place and you just start running around and panicking until you wake up? What would you do if this happened in real life and you found yourself wandering off the beaten path without being able to return? It’s not a pleasant situation to be in, but one thing you definitely shouldn’t do is panic.
However, if you decided to go off into the woods to test your survival skills then kudos to you, but also, be very careful and don’t get cocky. Nights in any kind of wilderness are always challenging because your primal instincts kick in and you start feeling anxious, as you left your comfort zone at the edge of the forest. Maybe you need some advice on how to survive your first night in the forest and if so, here’s what you should do.
Make a Plan
Whether you’re lost or you’re chasing an adventure by spending a night in the woods, having a plan is essential to your survival. First of all, you need to establish where you are, at least approximately. Second, check how you’re feeling and whether there’s any injury or problem that needs to be taken care of before you tread on. Finally, take a closer look at the weather and the time so that you know how much daylight you’ve got and if the weather is on your side or you have to find a shelter immediately. Everything around you directly dictates how you should behave and what should come first on your to-do list, but the very first thing to keep in mind is that you should stay calm at all times, no matter what’s going on. This won’t be easy to do, but it’s vital if you want to see yourself in the civilization again.
Choose Your Gear Wisely
If you’ve decided that you want to test yourself by spending a night in the forest, then you better be equipped for the journey ahead. You shouldn’t burden yourself with too much stuff, as you’re the one who will have to lug it around, but don’t skimp on the necessities either. Dress adequately so that you don’t get cold, as nights in the woods can be quite chilly, in this case, layers are recommended, so that you can shed them if needed.
After that, you will need a water container that can serve you for purifying any water you find along the way, or even better, bring filtering straws with you. Flashlight or a LED light are also a must unless you want to wander around in pitch dark, which is not advisable, just make sure you’ve got new batteries in them. Waterproof matches, flint or magnesium fire starter are one of the things you should pack first as you need your source of heat during the night, along with a good multipurpose knife. When it comes to food, you want to take a supply of trail mix and energy bars with you, canned food or a survival food kit, if you’re planning on staying longer than one night. Finally, to secure a shelter, bring a travel blanket with you or a compact sleeping bag, and don’t forget rope and a compass to help you navigate your way through the woods.
Finding Water and Shelter
These are your number one priority – find or build a shelter where you can spend the night and locate a water source nearby. This might not be that easy to do if you don’t have much experience, but it’s still manageable, as long as you know what you’re looking for. Caves are always the best option for impromptu shelters because it’s much easier to keep yourself safe in them, but they are seldom unoccupied. You should check thoroughly if you’re invading some animals private space because they will not appreciate it and you’ll end up in trouble. You can also build a lean-to shelter with some branches leaning on a big tree or a rock to protect you from the elements.
Once you’ve found a place to stay, so to speak, light a fire so that you alert the wildlife to keep away. Next order of business is water and finding a stream or a river is a must if you want to survive. There’s a general rule of thumb in these situations – water always flows downhill, so downhill you should go to find it. You can also collect rainwater if you see that there will be some rain, it’s a great way to get plenty of drinkable water in no time, just don’t forget to purify it just in case. When you haven’t had success in finding a water source, follow animals or their footprints – they all sooner or later lead to a waterhole.
As you can see, keeping your head on your shoulders will help a lot in surviving in the forest for one night. The circumstances under which you found yourself in the woods during the night might vary, but if you find a shelter, get a fire going and do your best to find a water source, everything will be much easier to do. – Tyler Michaelson
Tyler is a man of adventure. Loves spending time outside, and “luring” others to do so as well. Besides that, his main hobbies are writing, working out, photography and movie nights. He is also one of the main contributors to prosurvivalist.com