How to Survive in the Woods

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How to Survive in the Woods

Like Robert Frost, you may have stopped by the woods on a snowy evening.  Whose woods it was, you think you know, but you have no idea how to get out.  Getting trapped or lost in the woods may be more of a living nightmare than a surreal fantasy from a poem.  If you have to live for a couple of days in a thick woods as you figure your way out, here are some essential survival tips.

Find Your Way Out

Unlike deserts and jungles, getting out of the woods is easy enough that you don’t have to build shelter.  Always remember that the key is not to stay in the woods, but to find your way out at the soonest possible time without having to rely on survival techniques and methods.

The good news is that woods and forests are not too thick or so dense to the point that you’ll have to spend more than a couple of days there.  The first thing that should be on your mind is how to get out of the woods.  If you don’t have a compass, watch for the movement of the Sun; the Sun rises east and sets west.  Once you know which direction you’re heading, you won’t be running around in circles.

Search for Food and Water

If you figure that you do have to stay in the woods for a few days, you need to find food and water.  The great thing is that you won’t be at a loss for things to eat when you’re in the woods, but you do have to watch out for poisonous or non-edible foodstuffs from Nature.  Here are some of the things you can eat if you’re trapped in the woods:

  • Fruit. Some trees and plants deep in the woods are fruit-bearing plants.  The woods are an important source of many fruits that can be eaten raw, especially berries.
  • Herbs and other edible plants. Leaves, stems, and roots from many edible plants can give you the nourishment you need to get out of the woods.
  • Hunting. You may need to find protein sources and hunt small game.  Protein is still the best and most important high-energy food source you need if you need to stay in the woods for longer than three days.

Once you find a food source, you need to find a supply of fresh water.  Woods contain rivers, streams, and creeks where you can find the water you need to survive. Remember that just because the water looks clear doesn’t mean that it’s clean; you will still need to purify the water either with a purification kit, or by boiling the water.

Build Fire

Once you have a food and water source, you need to build a fire.  A fire is important not only to keep yourself warm in the night, but also to cook food.  To build a fire, you need:

  • Tinder is anything that can be set on fire by an ignition source.  Dry pine needles, dry bark, and dry twigs can be used as tinder.
  • Kindling keeps the fire going.  Dead limbs of trees are best used for this purpose.  Don’t break limbs off trees unless absolutely necessary.
  • Ignition. It’s helpful to carry a box of matches or a cigarette lighter, but you may need to rub two sticks together, or use a pair of glasses and the power of the Sun, to build a small fire.

Always remember to build a fire safely to avoid forest fires and brushfires.  Remember that the point is to get out of the woods, not burn it.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, but you have a promise to keep to get out of the woods.  With miles to go before you sleep, these tips will get you out of the woods and back into safe haven in no time at all.



  1. Ryan Bachynski said,

    on August 5th, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    First of all, it is very difficult to get lost in the woods. Once in the woods, thick heavy greenery could go on for hundreds of miles. You should find water first. Water is more important then anything. Next, you must brainstorm a few ideas of food sources. While doing so, you’ll want to build a shelter that can protect you from wildlife and the weather. Next find some food. Don’t listen to this person.