Survival Camping: Camping With Only The Basics

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A lot has been made of a term known as “survival camping.” What exactly is it and is it something you want to try?

Survival camping is simply getting a taste of living with only the basics of life and using all available resources away from your home. The idea is that you use mostly camping gear and learn to only use and travel with the essentials.

Depending on the type of camping you plan to do, it might not be the easiest thing to try. There are times people find themselves in a survival situation, which can result in being forced to practice survival in the wilderness.

Although it’s good to be prepared for such a situation, in this article, we’re basically talking about camping without the amenities you’re probably accustomed to on a regular camping trip.

Make Others Aware Of Your Whereabouts

Before leaving for your camping trip, the best thing to do is to alert the local authorities to your whereabouts. When we say authorities, we mean someone like a Park Ranger, Town PD, or Fire Department, etc. You’ll also want to make family members and/or friends aware.

This is done mostly due to the fact that you want them to be aware of check-in times you’ll make with them or the time you expect to be out. If something happens, they’ll be able to contact help to find you. Trust us, telling people where you’ll be can be the difference between life & death.

However, the type of camping survival you’re in can lead to many different ways of handling things. Therefore, we wanted to go over the types and explain them to you. That way, if anyone ever asks you if you want to do it…you can be prepared to properly answer them.

Basic Camping Survival

basic survival camper

The basic form of survival camping is pretty much the definition we gave you above. It is learning to live with the basics and enjoy the experience.

People who do this will pretty much tell you it’s camping. The only conditions will be that they do not bring food from home but, rather, hunt or gather everything.

Water may soon run out but it’s always recommended to take water with you as you first travel out. This way, you have enough time to find and disinfect the future water you gather. On top of this, you’ll also try to only use the things nature gives you but bend if needed.

For example, you’ll take a First Aid Kit and any medication you might need with you. That way, if anything goes wrong you will be able to take care of it quickly.

Some people in this situation will take more than just a knife for protection. This could mean they bring other sharp objects like an ax, hatchet, or tomahawk. Others might even bring a gun for those “just in case” moments. Then, you have others who will bring flares for possible help.

The time you spend doing this will differ, as it’s all on the person. However, cell phones or walkie-talkies will be taken to get a person out if they truly need to leave. Basically, just like a Discovery Channel show on this end of things.

On top of this, people will often use tents and other normal camping gear such as a sleeping bag during their entire stay no matter where it is. This is usually done to help comfort levels as going from your nice warm, soft bed to the ground in a mud hut is not exactly easy.

That said, this would be referred to by most as recreational camping survival. There will eventually be an end to it all for these people.

Survival Skills Of The True Camping Survivalist

drinking rainwater from a leaf

The survivalist generally has a more refined set of survival skills. In the true survivalist camping concept, very little will be present going in. A survivalist will typically take clothes and any food or water they think they’ll need for a few days. After this, everything they do will be completely on them.

They will not take much or any camping gear with them. Rather, these people will build their shelter the moment they get to where they plan to survive. They might start with something small like a Lean-To. They might then develop something bigger and very advanced.

These people will also only take a knife with them. However, there are some who will choose to take a tomahawk as well or even just the tomahawk. It all depends on the person if we’re being honest here.

They will hunt, fish, or gather anything they plan to eat. All fires will be made at first, usually, with matches if they have them. Others will only use a Flint or Ferro Rod.

This will last them for a while, so that might be all they end up using to make fire.

Others will make them using fire-making techniques such as a Bow-Drill or Hand-Drill.

Medical assistance or First Aid is also not something they use outside help with. They will make their own bandages and use various plants for their medicinal properties.

Most places you end up survival camping at will have an endless supply of plants to choose from.

Experienced people will know what plants offer medicinally and how they can be used to help in certain conditions. Although some have cell phones with them, others prefer to only take a walkie-talkie with them or two-way radio. This is used explicitly for emergencies only.

The people who do this type of camping are often experienced survivalists who spent many years in the wild learning how to survive in this way.

This is why it is not exactly advised to go from beginner to advanced like this. At least not for a while until you have acquired the required survival skills to be able to better handle the wilderness.

Escape & Evade Survival

escape and evade survivalist

Sometimes, you will not choose to end up in a survival situation. You will have to get involved in camping survival because you have no alternative. This usually only happens when you are escaping something.

People in the military or those escaping some form of capture will do this. Military types might go into the wilderness and survive there for a bit.

However, they are usually fully equipped with everything. It’s almost like being at home for them.

Yet when they are trying to escape capture, they need to make sure they get far enough away from their enemy while remaining hidden.

This is all about escape but also evading. The latter meaning similar to escape but also to avoid having to escape again.

In these situations, you’re going to want to make sure you take as much with you as you can use, but not so much that it slows you down.

The best thing one can do in situations like this is to get to the nearest body of water and walk through it to hide footprints. You need to make a fire, but you don’t want to give yourself away with smoke or light.

This is why you’ll make small fires that you could hide well in a wooded environment. The shelter that you’ll have to make does not need to be elaborate. A Lean-To if anything.

The reason you do not want something big is that you’ll need to dismantle it when you leave in order to avoid anyone knowing you were there to clue in your location.

Any food you capture will likely be just small game. In this experience, you’ll mostly live off of edible plants, bark, or any fruits and vegetables you happen to come across.

These can all be helpful as many contain some form of water, which will hydrate you too. Some have a good bit in them like coconuts, in fact.

Key Things To Remember

The entire time you’re out here, you want to make sure to get to civilization. This is one reason you’ll likely travel close to water sources and walk through them. Most of these lead out to some form of civilization. Roads can be good to look to as well.

However, it is possible that people will be looking for you in both of these sectors. Therefore, you want to tread lightly and whenever possible, change out your clothes and shoes. The latter is helpful so that if you do make tracks, the shoeprint will differ.

man running through woods

Overall, getting to an area you feel is safest and somehow making a call for help is your best bet to get out alive. None of this is going to be easy, especially if you happen to be a Prisoner of War.

Yet if you’re simply someone who was taken, it is unlikely that there will be as many people trying to find and capture you. Therefore, a lot of local people will be willing to help you and get you out.

In these situations, you’ll survive on the land and maybe even rely on the kindness of strangers. But you cannot trust anything or anyone until you’re able to get home safely.


It takes experience to become comfortable with camping without the usual amenities of a typical camping trip. If you’re just starting out with camping survival, take it slow and make sure you have a backup plan for food, gear, or other items in case things don’t go as planned.

After you hone your survival skills it’s perfectly fine to try a more minimalist camping approach as your experience will allow.

survival quiz