5 Physical Skills for Surviving Outdoors

These days, surviving outdoors is something that we do for fun. But, for thousands of years, outdoor survival was essentially just survival. Since then, most the population has lost some necessary skills required to keep them alive outdoors, and although all of these skills are skills you naturally have, they are not necessarily well developed for outdoor survival. With popular doomsayers popping up more and more often, it is a necessity that you improve your skills for survival outdoors. Not a follower of potential catastrophe? That’s okay, maybe you just want to survive outdoors for fun. Regardless, these skills could one day help you beyond belief.

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These days, surviving outdoors is something that we do for fun. But, for thousands of years, outdoor survival was essentially just survival. Since then, most the population has lost some necessary skills required to keep them alive outdoors, and although all of these skills are skills you naturally have, they are not necessarily well developed for outdoor survival. With popular doomsayers popping up more and more often, it is a necessity that you improve your skills for survival outdoors. Not a follower of potential catastrophe? That’s okay, maybe you just want to survive outdoors for fun. Regardless, these skills could one day help you beyond belief.


The Difference Between Capable and Effective

No doubt, you have these skills already in your toolbox. However, just because you can chop a tree down, does not mean you can do it safely and quickly all while making the most of your energy expenditure. Likewise, just because you can run the streets of New York City daily, does not mean you can run through the forest dodging limbs and roots while you chase down a deer with a spear.

Just because your skills could currently “get the job done” does not mean that you will be highly effective with them in situations where your life could be on the line. However, with only a little practice, these skills can greatly be increased to a level where survival in the outdoors would be nothing more than a normal day for you.

And before you ask, workouts in the gym cannot accurately help develop these skills. You might be able to pick up a thick bar that is similar to a log in the gym, but can you actually lift a real log, whose shape is not uniform and may not have stability all the way through? Probably not.

So, these skills should be practiced and mastered to put you in peak position for performance outdoors.


Physical Skills to Master for Survival

Walking (seriously)

Walking is easy, most people do it. However, most people do not have to walk long distances frequently. Even if you live in New York City, walking long distances over uneven terrain and surfaces is just not something experienced often. So, walking is a necessary skill for survival.

Now, it is not enough to just walk distances and outdoors often to perfect this skill. To truly be able to survive outdoors, you need to be confident in your ability to walk long distances especially when conditions are not favorable.

How do you practice for this skill?

  • Walk long distances. Both carrying gear and not carrying gear
  • Walk in many different places, with different terrain and surfaces.
  • Get walking in the rain, snow, and heat.

Balancing

Following a mastery of walking, balancing is the next progression in being able to move freely outdoors. You will encounter many different surfaces and terrains, which could easily slow you down if you are unprepared for balancing. On top of being able to quickly traverse terrain, balancing helps keep your mind directly connected to the physical sensations of the body, something that is greatly overlooked when the discussion of survival comes up.

How do you practice balancing?

  • Practice on a beam (a 2×4 works great), going many directions with different foot positions and stances.
  • Perform basic actions while balancing.

Lifting

While you might not think that lifting follows balancing properly, be assured that balancing is a necessary skill to accomplish lifting. If you cannot properly balance, how can you expect to be able to lift objects from a variety of stances?

Most of the time, we think of strong when we hear about lifting, which is true to an extent. However, strength does not cover agility and flexibility needed to lift oddly shaped objects. So, good practice of lifting involves the use of agility, flexibility, and strength.

How do you practice lifting?

  • Pickup objects with varied shape, size, weight, and textures.
  • Change the surface and elevation from which you lift objects.
  • Pick things up, and put them down.

Carrying

After lifting, carrying is the next natural step in being able to survive outdoors. After all, what good is picking up a fallen tree if you can’t move it out of the way?

There are three types of carries for objects:

  • Shoulder carry: carrying objects on or leveraged against your shoulder(s).
  • Chest carry: carrying objects by resting it against your chest, often supported by the strength of the arms.
  • Waist carry: carrying an object leveraged against your waist.

There is not much to say about carrying, but know it is important to have enough skill to carry (nearly) anything from any one of the above positions.

How do I practice carrying?

  • Switching up the position, grip, and surface.
  • Changing the object being carried.
  • Carrying objects long distances.
  • Carrying objects through obstacles.

Swimming

While not necessarily following the skill of carrying, I would consider this to be the least important of the five skills listed. Although the surface of the earth is ~71% water, not everywhere has water sources that would mean life or death in a survival sense. However, if in a situation where water is present, knowing how to swim effectively could be the difference between life and death.

How do I practice for this?

  • For long periods of time.
  • Swim in moving water and still water.
  • Swim with and without clothes on.
  • Swim in harsh conditions.
  • Swim with and without gear on.

Bonus) Mental Toughness

Survival outdoors requires a lot of mental control. There is often a lot of time with your thoughts, whether you find yourself alone or with company. Anyone who has ever worked a mindless job can easily tell you how too much time with your thoughts can be a bad thing. It is important that you have the mental toughness to be able to weather the storm, because the mind is generally the first thing to break down when surviving outdoors.

There is no real training plan for developing mental toughness. Living a life that requires you to face challenges, and have the thoughts and emotions that accompany them. Living a strenuous life is the best way to develop mental toughness.


Hopefully you found this useful, and are well on your way to practicing for survival outdoors.

Let me know if there are any skills you would like to see added to this list.

How do you train for survival? Let me know!

Jack of All Trades, Master of None?

These days, the term “Jack of all trades” is rarely thrown around. Most people I went to school with had hardly even heard of the term.

To those unfamiliar with it, a Jack of All Trades is said to be a man with knowledge in many trades, and yet has no specialization in any of them.

The phrase originated in Robert Greene’s Groats-Worth of Wit in 1592 and was used to dismiss the accomplishments of William Shakespeare. Though this is the first known appearance of the phrase, a similar phrase “Johnny do-it-all” has origins from late Latin.

While the phrase we use today is “Jack of all trades, master of none”, the later part of the phrase was added sometime after 1700, where it became a derogatory comment. During this time, young men were encouraged to learn a specific trade, and it is thought that the addition of the “master of none” was to express how learning multiple trades would never lead a man to success.

Although a jack of all trades has been looked down upon for years, is it truly something that should be looked down upon? Is learning many things, but not necessarily having a specialization a bad thing? The conclusion that I come to is that it is not a bad thing.

Throughout schooling (pre-university) it was widely encouraged by the schools to learn all subjects equally, and to have a greater understanding in all of them. Although it was always stressed that everyone would “specialize” in a certain subject, it was important that all students took the same classes to develop useful skills for the future. To me, this emphasizes the idea of a jack of all trades. Yes, the education received at this point is to be far from considered knowledgeable in the subject, but it echoes the idea of a jack of all trades: knowing a little bit of everything. We are all jacks of all trades through basic schooling, however, it does not go far enough. We may have knowledge in school subjects, but that does not give us knowledge in everything. Far from knowledge in everything, in fact.

However, many people have naturally developed a curiosity of wanting to know more. This curiosity causes them to read books, listen to podcasts, watch videos, on subjects they do not have extensive knowledge in and may not even understand fully, all for gaining more knowledge. Much of the people have no intention of ever even using the knowledge they have on a subject, but rather just enjoying the process of learning.

And here we find ourselves at the true purpose of a Jack of All Trades: the process of learning.

A real Jack of All Trades may have specialization in something, but they continue to pursue knowledge because they find enjoyment in the process of learning.

This is no different than a Jack of All Trades would have been in the earliest mention of it, yet, it is seen as a negative phrase because of the addition of Master of None. The addition of this part of the phrase has all but ruined the exceptional meaning behind the phrase; a true shame.

My challenge to all those who read this is to encourage the use of Jack of All Trades once more, omitting the negative portion of the phrase, and encouraging all people to continue to pursue knowledge.

How a Trip to Peru Inspired Me to Do

Throughout our lives, we will be given many opportunities to change how we experience the world around us, but it is only beneficial if we take up action on these opportunities.

This post was difficult to write, mostly because I wanted to tell a story while expressing what I learned from my experiences. Sometimes it may not flow smoothly, but I encourage you to finish it out and understand what the message is.


Like an average college student, I have many activities I would consider to be recreational. Some I devote a lot of time to, others I do rarely. These activities have been developed throughout the course of my life, and will continue to develop as I age and grow as an individual.

This is a story about how stepping outside of your comfort zone can realistically develop and fuel desire for recreational activities.


Beginning in October 2016, I became interested in a month-long trip to Peru during May of 2017. I had never been out of the country before, and only outside of Michigan a dozen times. Yet, something told me that this trip was something I needed to do. So, I signed up for the trip, worked hard to raise the money needed, and put off all thoughts about the experiences I would have. Normally, you would expect that I would be excited and encouraged of what lied ahead. But I was more concerned with getting through the school year, and thought next to nothing of what I would experience on this trip.

When a week before departure arrived, I still was not concerned with the next month. It was just something that was going to happen, and I continuously went on with my days without a second thought about it.

After arriving, I spent two weeks doing relatively mundane day to day tasks, not particularly enjoying them any more than I would have back at home. The experience was great, but not life changing. After this time however, I quickly came to realize that I had a passion for being outdoors.

It began with a day long white water rafting trip down the Urubamba river. I had been rafting before, but rafting in Michigan was generally mundane and the scenery was what was to be expected. Rafting the Urubamba however, was unlike any other experience. Firstly, the sheer size of the mountains that the river was nestled between was mesmerizing. On land, they are giant, but on the river, they become gigantic. It encouraged many deep thoughts about how at one point, the river and the peaks of the mountains were at the same elevation. The experience made me feel small, perhaps insignificant. But, this experience also helped me to realize the staggering strength of nature and time.

Not only was this exciting experience enough to make me curious about what nature had to offer, but it gifted me the will and desire to complete the next step in my journey in Peru: conquering the Inca Trail. If you are not familiar with the Inca Trail, I should make it clear that I did not hike the whole Inca Trail. In fact, most of the trail is closed or remains hidden within the mountainsides. My group decided to do the two-day hike from kilometer 104 was the way to go. Now, at this point I would not consider myself to have been in the best of shape. I had the ability to do a traditional hike, but this was no traditional hike. The first portion of the hike consisted of a three hour, steep switchback hike up the side of a mountain. I was exhausted when we reached the top of the mountain, and the view was beyond incredible. Tired, but determined by the experiences of a few days prior, we completed another three hours of hiking and reached the Sun Gate, and looked down upon Machu Picchu. Talk about a surreal and inspirational, nature experience.


Now, this story is not designed to encourage you to go to Peru and have a surreal experience that causes you to love nature. In fact, that is not even what I obtained from my experience in Peru. This story is intended to encourage you to do new things that might not excite you immediately. I learned more about myself from this trip than I would have ever learned staying in Michigan and participating in other plans I could have made.

Throughout our lives, we will be given many opportunities to change how we experience the world around us, but it is only beneficial if we take up action on these opportunities. If this post inspires you to do anything, I hope it inspires you to do it.


Give me your thoughts in the comments! Let me know if you have anything to add!

Some Motivation for New Ultimate Frisbee Players

As I finish up finals, and continue to work on The Ultimate Ultimate Training plan, I want to provide some content for people to look at, and to help them remember to keep moving forward.

Here’s a motivational video about an ultimate player who struggled with throwing and game mechanics, it shows that the only thing standing between your ability to improve is yourself, all you have to do is take the first step.