78 Skills Everyone Should Know

July 14, 2013 by | 148 Comments

Survival is based largely on two things: a positive mental attitude and knowledge. With those two covered, you can make up for any lack of tools. Knowledge doesn’t break, wear out, and short of forgetting a thing or two, you generally can’t lose it.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of skills I think everyone should know. This is by no means a “complete” list because there is always room to learn more, and the more you know, the greater your chances of survival. But this will give you a solid foundation and a far broader skill set than most people. Everyone should know how to:

  1. Drive a stick shift
  2. Swim
  3. Start a fire without matches or a lighter
  4. Build a garden
  5. Use herbal remedies
  6. Produce beer/wine
  7. Build your local community
  8. Tan leather
  9. Cure/smoke meat
  10. Make soap
  11. Construct animal/fish traps
  12. Make activated charcoal
  13. Survive hypothermia
  14. Properly load a backpack
  15. Conduct basic repairs (home, auto, equipment, etc.)
  16. Operate a ham radio
  17. Defend yourself without a weapon
  18. Identify surveillance
  19. Build a rainwater collection system
  20. Weld
  21. Accurately fire an arrow
  22. Dehydrate food
  23. Construct snowshoes
  24. Build a raft with a tarp
  25. Navigate using the stars
  26. Right an overturned raft
  27. Build with stone/brick (basic masonry)
  28. Cut down a  tree with an ax
  29. Forage for food
  30. Sew and/or make clothing
  31. Pilot a boat
  32. Shoot a firearm accurately
  33. Find water
  34. Utilize camouflage
  35. Construct a pond
  36. Can food
  37. Ski
  38. Dig a latrine
  39. Build with wood (basic carpentry)
  40. Determine authenticity of gold and silver
  41. Rappel
  42. Follow a trail/tracking
  43. Use less-lethal weapons (baton, stun gun, pepper spray, etc.)
  44. Metal working (blacksmith)
  45. Lose a tail
  46. Operate power tools
  47. Construct a splint
  48. Open a can without a can opener
  49. Drive a motorcycle
  50. Construct a net
  51. Identify animals by tracks and/or scat
  52. Patch a tire
  53. Reload ammunition
  54. Build a bow and arrow
  55. Administer first aid
  56. Identify venomous snakes
  57. Accurately fire a slingshot
  58. Make candles
  59. Raise fish (for food)
  60. Distill water/alcohol
  61. Hot wire a car
  62. Cook without a stove
  63. Survive heat injuries
  64. Raise livestock
  65. Find tinder
  66. Create fertile soil
  67. Make charcloth
  68. Properly store food
  69. Survive a riot
  70. Sharpen a knife
  71. Butcher livestock
  72. Purify water
  73. Make leather products (sheathes, holsters, boots, etc.)
  74. Hunt and fish
  75. Cast bullets
  76. Maintain a bee hive
  77. Use hand tools
  78. Tie a knot

Are there any skills you think should be on this list? Let me know in the comments below.

Melanie Swick (a.k.a. Survival Chick) grew up wanting to be a rocket scientist, but when she realized she that required way too much math, she took to her second dream—spending time in the wilderness. Today, when she's not hiking, camping, or hunting, she's blogging about it. You can connect with Melanie on Facebook.

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148 Comments

  • Debbie Hudnall says:

    I was just visiting my son who is a Marine and we were talking about this same thing. I was asking him what things to put together in a back pack in case of something happening where I might need to survive out in the wilderness. Thanks for the list things I should be reading and learning about.

    • Jeremy Knauff says:

      Thank him for his service, and thank you and the rest of your family for your sacrifice. As a fellow Marine, I know first hand the challenges you all face. Semper Fi!

      • Larry Krause says:

        I believe one thing would be to learn how to clean your firearm and maintain it. I’m talking simple repairs here. I’m a gunsmith in Texas, and find that the biggest part of my business is doing the things that gun owners can do themselves. Not that I’m complaining. It pays the bills. But in a survival situation, a gunsmith may be hard to find.

  • Deborah Guthrie says:

    I have TONS to learn lol. Only 41 of 75 🙁 The only other thing I can think of would be to learn to identify animal tracks and their scat. This would be very useful in identifying where dens are.

    Thanks for a great article!

  • Dennis says:

    Probably “Blacksmith” should be included along side “Welding”. Everyone should have a familiarity with both, and be able to say “I can weld/blacksmith” without saying “I am a welder/blacksmith”.

    “Build your local community” is in the list twice.

  • Tstac says:

    Anndd.. 29 and 26 are the same. I also think knowing how to cook basic food such as pancakes, a pot of beans, meat without burning or making too tough, and the best way to cook foraged greens in a palatable way is also important. I tried feeding plantains to my kids, and they went hungry instead. 🙂 Speaking with a friend, I began discussing cooking tips and tricks, and he was amazed at how quickly things can go wrong in the kitchen without experience on how to adapt to the conditions your kitchen is in.

    • Jeremy Knauff says:

      Thanks for the heads up on the dups.

      You have a great point on testing out recipes. I’m a big proponent of storing what you eat so in a SHTF scenario, you don’t have to suddenly change your diet. You mentioned that you shared cooking tips—do you have any that you’d care to share here? I’d be happy to give you the opportunity to guest post here.

  • Steve Slaughter says:

    I’m certain that you MUST have nearly memorized Robert A. Heinlein’s quote… but in case the others here haven’t read it:

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
    -Robert A. Heinlein

  • Patrick Oliver says:

    How about identifying edible and non-edible wild plants/fungi?

  • Roberta says:

    Everyone should know how to love and how to express it. How to be a good partner in life. How to respect those that have earned it. HOW is the operative word here.

  • Elijah says:

    I think it would be a very good idea for people to also have some mild to moderate skill in the fields of Electronics, Electricity, Radio Technology, Green power science, Here is why. Do you know how to make a crystal set radio? Do you know how to make Electricity in the wild? Do you know how to make a fire from an electrical circuit powered by a solar device? you can live with a lot more comfort if you can learn the basic Electrical, Electronics, and Green Power Technology skills most commonly used in today’s technological society, most at a basic level are fairly easy for the average person to comprehend and utilize

  • grayfox114 says:

    How about capturing animals with a steel trap? Can catch anything from a weasel to a beaver to a nutria! Lots of food and fur available for little effort!

    Also, read a map, ACCURATELY, suture a wound.

    Hot wiring a car is easy, the real rick is getting the steering wheel and inter locks on new cars to unlock! Pretty tricky….

    Build a snow shelter or other shelter that will keep you alive in sub zero cold…

    • Eric Mobley says:

      Never, never, never, never, never, never, NEVER suture a wound outside of a sterile environment. That is how you get gangrene and blood poisoning. Even in a sterile environment such as a hospital, a certified MD will only suture for about 12 -18 hours after an injury. Otherwise abatement is probably needed, and you certainly don’t want to do that in the bush without proper tools and training. Stick with a poultice and a wrap,and let the wound heal naturally. Clean – Compress – Cover – Change (the bandages). Suturing is slow death. Better to cauterize, but really you should not do that either. Wounds impair – infections Kill. Notice I said Clean – Compress. Blood is sterile and a very effective way to clean a wound. Let it bleed a bit (unless severe – then Compress – Clean). – Signed, A wilderness medic and martial arts weapons expert who cuts himself a lot (that’s how I got to be an expert – by doing it wrong, THEN learning the right way – I recommend doing that backwards, but I’m a very special kind of stupid sometimes – my wife has the stories and tells them well – lots of practice)

  • Jay says:

    be able to improvise weapons and kill with or without them, offense or defense

  • Redpill says:

    Thanks for the list. It shows many holes in my education and places I need for me to improve. I have read about in depth on several of the items but there is a vast difference between book knowlege and practical knowlege. Having done something correctly and being able to reproduce the same correct results repeatedly is true knowlege.

  • Lisa Coomer says:

    How about deliver a baby? Everyone should at least have a basic idea of how its done, as well as a basic idea of helping a newborn to breath, the delivery of the placenta, as well as how to handle a hemorrhage. How about the basic of breastfeeding and the many uses for breast milk (it’s amazing stuff). Thank you for the list.

    • Jeremy Knauff says:

      That’s a good one, Lisa. It’s definitely not my area of expertise; would you be interested in writing a guest post on the subject?

  • Jim says:

    Collect and Save Seed for replanting each year.

  • Lisa Coomer says:

    Jeremy; I would love to write a post on the subject.. (I think it would be best to separate the birth and postpartum management, from the breastfeeding and breast milk uses, but of course that is up to you). I will start on it this evening, and you just let me know when you want it submitted. I have a couple people due to deliver soon so not sure how long it will take me to get it done, but I will do my best to get it to you soon.. make it a wonderful day. Lisa

  • Cindy says:

    How about first aid including stopping bleeding, splints, sewing a wound etc

  • Richard says:

    I would add hygene/handling excrement
    which then leads to:
    Composting
    which then leads to:
    improving the fertility of your garden

    the dirty side of the cycle of life- 😉

    • Jeremy Knauff says:

      I did cover most of the skills you mentioned, but yes, it could be broken down into further granularity on some. For example, I listed digging a latrine, but you are correct, general hygiene is just as important. Composting technically would be covered by #66–creating fertile soil. I’ll amend the list. 🙂

  • ron says:

    how about the proper use an care of handsaws? indoor an outdoor.as a teacher of traditional tools an their use, i see an unusual proportion of inadequate knowledge in hand skills and materials.

  • Ken says:

    You should know how to quickly tie several types of knots.

  • Ginny Jolly says:

    If one of the survival skills is drive a car, then there are four techniques that go with it: how to pump gas, how to check all the fluids and fill them, how to jump start the car, and how to change a tire. This is the bare minimum one should have besides driving the car well and knowing how to drive a manual transmission.

    I have jumped a number of cars in my time, and you wouldn’t believe how many men don’t know how to do this.

    And jumper cables should be a must in the trunk along with a better jack than they provide with the car. And have at least one mounted extra full-sized wheel at home.

  • Bebe says:

    Birth babies (which I did see in the comments, did that post get written?), make medicine from herbs (stored or foraged), ferment and culture foods (it is a method of food preservation, which has merit in its own right, but is also a means to increase nutrients and their absorption), sprouting (because seeds and grains have a very small nutrient content compared to their sprouted selves).
    Now I’m going to work on some of the 50 or so skills I have yet to learn/master… Great list!

    • Jeremy Knauff says:

      Bebe, the birthing post isn’t written yet, but Lisa Coomer is working on it, so it should be up soon.

  • Ginny Jolly says:

    Basic cooking tool in life:

    Either

    The Betty Crocker Cook Book

    or

    The Joy of Cooking

    The Joy of Cooking is written by a lady who learned how to cook by trial and error with no good experience to begin with. She explains in her book not only how things are cooked, but defines the terms, tools, and techniques used in recipes that should be the most common basic recipes in everyday cuisine. She explains why food is cooked as it is, as well. It is a great compendium!

    She answers questions like: “Where do you get jackets for cooking potatoes in their jackets?” (jackets are potato skins.) And “Where do you get scratch?” (cooking from scratch is cooking from unprocessed, basic whole foods.)

    • Ryan H says:

      The Joy of Cooking is a must have book IMHO. We’ve even taken our old copy car camping with us a few times. On the book subject, I’d also include Self-Sufficiency by Gehring and Basics of Butchering Livestock by Mettler.

  • Margaret says:

    candle making? how to make salt peter? creating lanterns from everyday items? Dunno if those were covered in all the comments.

  • Maggie Weeks says:

    How about learning to sew up a wound and what herbal remedies to use and fight infection?

    Great list!! 😉

  • Dawn says:

    build temporary shelters

    build off the ground bedding areas from natural resources – ie hammock

    collect water from various sources

    first aid from plant sources

  • Mike says:

    I think that some diplomatic skills should be considered. So, negotiation, non-violent communication, compassionate and empathetic skills. For times when you have to help a friend or talk someone off the ledge, but also for your partner and kids.

  • Chip. says:

    My wife was thinking that perhaps lock picking would be in there somewhere (although there may be an “integrity check” associated with learning that skill; much like hot wiring a car).

  • Gib says:

    Know The Bible and where to find in it what you need .

  • Delores Johnson says:

    How about finding or building shelter?

  • Nolan King says:

    Great article! There are many other important and/or useful skills, but how about telling time with the stars?

  • Diane says:

    Shear a wool bearing animal efficiently.
    Card wool, cotton, flax, bamboo etc.
    Spin thread.
    Weave.
    Make a spindle, spinning wheel and loom.
    Sewing is useful but you need cloth first!
    also knitting or crochet.

    Fair disclosure I can’t knit of crochet either, but I can shear, card, spin, weave, and sew.

  • chris E. says:

    Awesome list. There are several items on it that I still really want to learn. I think some points to add would be 1; Deliver a baby 2; Learn good diplomacy 3; Know how to ride and care for horses and 4; Pottery is very useful for many things including water filtration.

  • Martha says:

    Fire safety/fighting – everything from kitchen fires, electrical fires, vehicle fires, wildfires, to structure fires

    Weather (or related)safety for your area – tornado, flood, blizzard, extreme temps, hurricane

    Climb a tree

    Navigate by an analog wristwatch

    Barter

    Sew

    Paddle a boat

    Shelter building

    Ride/Drive a horse

  • kris says:

    I got 71 out of your 78! I am quite impressed. I was thinking perhaps a need to know how to properly save seeds from edible plants. If you don’t know how to grow more you will run out of food and if you save em wrong…they won’t grow right. Thanks

    • Jim says:

      I mentioned saving seed above. It is indeed a lost skill we all need work on. Used to be just what everyone did. Now everyone just buys big agra crap. What good is organic if it is GMO to start with. Saving seed would be in my top 10 rofl. Love to eat!

  • Thomas Cole says:

    Trapping is one skill you can not do with out. Knowing how to make a snare can save your life. Deadfall traps require very little tooling and can be made rather large. Pit traps are good for larger pray and humans.

    A good list altogether. Gives everyone some learning to do and something to practice at. Does anyone do survivalist fairs?

  • Karen says:

    Could you possibly give references as to where to find the correct information for these items. I know some and can google it but that does not mean the information coming up in the search is correct.

    Thanks for the great list.

  • Sue Hill says:

    And your Boys can learn most of this by joining Boy Scouts!

    • Don says:

      Scouting is the #1 tool for teaching life skills, survival skills, team building, leadership and community responsibility available to young men today!

      • Jeremy Knauff says:

        I agree, but I think the Scouts, as an organization, have changed dramatically since the days when we were young boys.

  • Tim says:

    Awesome list with great ideas. Raising fish was mentioned, but more specifically, I would say Aquaponics. (The raising of fish and plants together) The fish are harvested for food and their waste feeds the plants that grow in almost half the time as traditional gardening. Just a thought.

  • Ruth says:

    I was excited to see that you are a Knauff. Without a doubt, you and I are related somehow. Since coming to the USA from Germany, they have spelled our line as Knauf. My niece, Terry Maydole, keeps the family genealogy. Have you ever attended any of the family reunions in Germany?

    I love your list, which I saw for the first time just now, but am sadly deficient in my knowledge of many of the skills. Have you ever prioritized your list? I hardly know where to start.

  • mond5004 says:

    I would add three more things:

    To expand a bit on the making things perspective. EVERYONE should be able knap a basic blade out of stone (and how to identify the best stones like quartz, or obsidian). You may find yourself in a situation where paleo-tech will keep you alive.

    Also, the ability to use the leather you tan to make TAILORED clothes. It’s the tailoring of clothing that allows you maintain a micro-climate against your skin that will keep you from freezing to death. Loose and baggy will help, but tailored articles will work much better.

    And…

    Lastly, HOW TO MAKE A FLOTATION DEVICE OUT OF YOUR CLOTHES!

  • Deb Boyce says:

    In addition to being able to raise livestock, one should also be able to vet and train them as well. Riding a horse is a necessary skill. The horse was the main mode of transport for millenia and could be the essential means again. Being able to pack horses, mules, llamas, alpacas and other beasts of burden is also a good skill to have.

  • matt says:

    There are a couple things I could think of adding. How to properly clean, fillet, and cook fish. How to move through wooded areas quietly. Noise and light discipline. Hand and arm signals. Fire and movement techniques. How to operate as part of a group whether as the leader or as a member. You mention piloting a boat, but I would also add how to use a kayak or canoe. I would also add land navigation by terrain association without a map. How to use a map and compass. How to construct a hasty or temporary shelter out of materials you find in the wilderness. Emergency signaling. Hmmm… I think that’s about all I’ve got. I’m sure I’ll think of others later. 🙂 ~Army Veteran~

  • Steve says:

    Wow, a whole bunch of pleasant commentary…and nary a cross word between participants. Really like the exchange of ideas. The exchange has really set my mind a’thinkin’ about my own personal need for basic education. Keep up the flow of some excellent ideas!!
    Steve

  • Dilan says:

    50 of 78 here, guess I’d better get to work. Also I think you should add CB radio communication and/or amateur radio operation. Never know, people may need those skills if the cellular grid gets knocked down.

  • Bill says:

    Hand to hand combat, both offensive and defensive. Everyone should know how to defend themselves without the use of weapons.

  • Tristan says:

    Be able to read maps of all kinds and use a compas.

  • Leanne says:

    Cooking over an open fire, without pots and pans. Making a spit or “grill plate”. Boiling water for purification without a pot to put it in.

  • Adding to #’s 1 and 61, Everyone should know how to push start a car or truck with a clutch and how to jump start a car with cables.

  • Chris Barnes says:

    After your list, I feel pretty good (73/78). Question: what does “build your local community” mean? The buildings? Relationships? I couldn’t count it because I couldn’t define it.

    Also – at risk of being disagreeable :-)… I don’t think handling childbirth needs to be on the list (speaking as someone who has birthed more horses, cows, cats, & dogs than I can count). It just isn’t that big of a deal. 99% of the time, everything that needs to be done is covered in basic first aid (or less). And that 1% is going to require specialized skills.

    • Jeremy Knauff says:

      “Build your local community” means establishing and nurturing the relationships of the people within it. Most of us today don’t know most of our neighbors—that needs to change if we ever plan to rely on each other.

      Regarding the childbirth: humans and animals are quite different. 😉

  • mjones says:

    Someone in the group should be in charge of the moral/religious aspect of day to day survival. This would include proper ways to bury someone.

  • star says:

    Hmm seeing the opening can thing why not just open it with a knife since the guy had a knife ?

  • lynn says:

    weave a carrying basket, construct a shelter. dig a root cellar, dry meat, stitch up a wound, set a broken bone, flint napping arrow heads … now if many people know many of these skills, everyone would not have to know ALL of them.

  • darren says:

    How to make rope from a tree

  • John says:

    Great list. My parents went through the depression and World War II. My Dad told me about making gunpowder from chicken poop, sulfur, and charcoal. He made priming from match heads. There are a great many skills in the Fox Fire books also. They scrounged lead from old batteries or fishing weights. Gardening skills were highly regarded too.

  • Marty says:

    With the possibility that gasoline/diesel are unavailable, knowledge of true horsepower (or oxen) could be very valuable. Whether it be riding or driving, horses can provide lots of power. The skills needed to work safely with horses can take some time to acquire.

  • dan-o says:

    I recently was taught how to suture a wound. It is a step up from first aid, but can be a life saver and not hartd to learn. Also, my father’s generation was big on enema’s. For dehydration, breaking a fever and such. If you can’t keep a baby drinking fluids, an enema could save a life. (gross, I know). Just thought I would pass it on.

  • melissa says:

    I think gardening should be added to the list it is important for people to know how to garden and how to harvest seeds

  • Chris K says:

    Make shoes from raw materials.

  • Chris K says:

    Shear a sheep, clean, card, spin and weave. I actually know people who do this.

  • Chris K says:

    Suture a wound. Remove a bullet.

  • Jen says:

    Great list. I have much to learn. I did not see culturing penicillin…anyone know how to do this correctly?

  • Ann says:

    I would add identifying edible insects to the list. (eww)

  • Kristie says:

    How to fashion a carrier to carry another human, from an injured adult to a newborn baby, while still having hands reasonably free. Excellent article on it here: http://beltwaybabywearers.blogspot.com/2011/03/emergency-babywearing.html

  • Nita says:

    darn a sock, run a sewing machine,repair a shoe, mend a tire

  • Xeno says:

    I was surprised to number 73, how to use leather, and that no one as yet has said how to tan hides to MAKE leather.

  • Geoff Ross says:

    No mention of Land Navigation Skills? Determine direction without a GPS and Compass.

    Read a Topo map and find your location on it.

    The military spends a lot of training time on this for a reason.

    Another item, basic repairs on firearms.

  • chuck says:

    A minor quibble regarding No. 21 “Accurately fire an arrow”. Unless you douse the arrow in gasoline and put a match to it, you do not “fire” it – the proper expression is to “shoot” an arrow.

  • Ryan H says:

    Love the list but I would include basics of weather/cloud/star pattern reading and prediction. Protecting you and yours from being out in the elements during a inbound heavy storm can be worth it’s weight….. As we can attest from trips into Yellowstone (July hail, Sept snow, etc).

  • Crochetlady says:

    How about a bible. I am not a religious fanatic, but it can’t hurt.

    • Jo O. says:

      How about teaching any of these skills? Are we willing to share them with family members, neighbors? It isn’t just about ourselves. We want those around us to be self-sufficient also. Show what you have learned and know. Object lessons are invaluable.

  • Teresa Forrester says:

    Wow, I’ve a lot to learn! What about a communication network? Knowing who you can call upon, if possible for information/skills that you don’t know. It’s an uphill battle to know all these skills at one time and now.

  • Loyd Stone-Phillips says:

    Can The Calcium Chloride be reused after making Activated Charcoal or do you need fresh for the next batch.

    • Jeremy Knauff says:

      Fresh. A chemical reaction causes molecules to transfer and/or rearrange, so the calcium chloride (CaCl2) would no longer be calcium chloride.

  • Venecia says:

    How to gut a deer, or just in general prepare the food you’ve hunted/caught.
    Sorry if that’s up there already.

  • Mike Lubinski says:

    On the topic of getting good soil to start a garden: in my experience the top soil that big box retailers sell have a lot of sand in it. That’s okay for some specific vegetables but generally not so good. They all sell bags of “garden soil” and most sell ones that are labeled as organic. This is a pretty good blend and you can buy it without fertilizer added. I will often use this when establishing a new raised bed and then supplement it with my compost.

    • bob lacoe says:

      I assume there will be no soil for sale, and probably no gas for a car or truck, so one will need to build on what they have. Compost is an excellant soil ammendment or mulch. Small batches of plant waste I bury in holes in the garden. Weeds I chop up, dry and spread as mulch around growing plants. Worms help to fertilize the soil, create holes for air and water to enter the soil, and help to mix the contents like clay and compost.

  • Bad Dawg says:

    Hi folks,
    Love the site but one thing I need to point out as I look over this is FITNESS. We all want to plan and take this and take that BUT have you looked at your escape plan and then re-looked can you make it on foot? Is your gear packed in “comfort” items and must have items? Do you own a compass can you read it? A basic combat load.. ( Food and water for 3 days, socks underwear dry boots medicine etc.) can weight 65-120 lbs before ammo and weapons..(PLEASE learn to shoot the weapon)point blank if you can not make it up a flight of stairs you wont make it out. Yes I would love to say hunker down and wait but if that dosnt work? If your not building yourself and family up to hike it then all prep and supplies are not gonna save you, just make you easy pickings for the scavengers.

    Food for thought
    Bad Dawg

    • Dianne says:

      Very good point! Does somebody know a site that has a good and reliable listing of what should go into a bag like this? I’m not even talking about your usual “zombie apocalypse” type of thing but just a general have to bug out for weather or whatever may be the issue of the day…

      • Jeremy Knauff says:

        Absolutely—http://howtosurviveit.com/survival-tools/

      • Eric Ebeling says:

        As long as you remember ‘the big 4’

        Food (or means of getting it)
        Water (or means of getting it & storing it)
        Fire (means of producing it)
        Shelter (means of making it)

        Once you have them your chances of surviving are better.

        Before you even hit the army surplus/outdoor stores, look for the following items at home—a heavy duty bin (trash bag) or two—can be used for kit storage, water gathering, shelter building. Gaffa (Duct) tape—it fixes everything to everything (as long as it’s clean & dry)and can even be used as a wound covering (with ventilation holes punched in).

        Potassium Permanganate—added to water so the water goes light pink; it will purify water, dark pink; it can be used as a disinfectant, Add to glycerine (the inside of cough sweets with runny centres or car anti-freeze) it has an exothermic reaction and can start a fire. Mouse traps—believe it or not in Europe, the edible door mouse was introduced to Britain by the Romans…as a food source. Tampons/sanitary towels—obviously if there are females in the group this is (probably) already a consideration. But both are designed to be absorbent & can be used as wound dressings. Also, if kept dry, can be used for kindling.

    • Joe says:

      Totally agree. 90% of survival is being mentally capable of staying positive, 9% is physically able and 1% gear.If you cannot stay in the game mentally and positive, it will drain you physically in which then all your gear is useless, that is proven fact. Check out Ray mears pshychology(spelling?) of survival or here is the link, very insightful information –

  • Chet Schaeffer says:

    I think being able to shinny up a pole and climb a tree could prove to be valuable in certain situations. Also, the ability to ascend/descend a sharp incline with a rope is something most people think they could do without problems, but there is a knack to it to be able to keep yourself out of trouble.

  • Cervantes says:

    Try taking a few day trips to someplace outdoors. Omit carrying your sidearm or long-rifle unless your visiting family property in West TX.. Go out and enjoy your day.

    I tried this one weekend a few years back. Before the kids.. Went out and enjoyed myself, then looked at what would make outdoor life more tolerable if there was no going back to AC, walls and bed. Mostly sleeping arrangement improvements and keeping pests away were really high on the list. Suspended hammock and mosquito netting (for sleeping and a hood for my dome) quickly added to the kit.

  • Liddy Midnight says:

    Very comprehensive list! I have 67 out of the 78 skils.

    I would add to this list the abilities to skin an animal and turn fiber into thread or rope.

  • Joe says:

    This is a nice and good list, most everything on it should be almost second nature to every human being alive, unfortunately learning hands on skills was lost many many years ago.

    The only thing I didn’t see was open fire cooking, that is not just a skill but an art in itself.

    Thanks for the great post.

  • Teena says:

    The making of Diesel fuel from rotting vegetation or used cooking oil could be mighty handy. Intense list, though for general fitness and mental health meditation or yoga would be a benefit. Also a pencil and place to record observations of plants, weather trends, locations of important plants, wildlife paths, water etc. would be very helpful…All the best,

  • Eric Ebeling says:

    For me, identifying gold is not really an essential skill. I’m unlikely to use it, it’s heavy, inert and therefore a luxury I can actually do without (I personally don’t like the stuff).

    Anyhow, I’d say manufacturing tools using chert (stones like flint)for most of mankind’s 100,000 year existence, the classic hand axe (a teardrop shaped flint tool) was effectively the original ‘Swiss army knife’.

    Hand held, the broad bottom end was the ‘axe / cleaver’ while the narrower ‘top’ end was for finer work (skinning etc.). You can practice basic ‘knapping’ techniques on the broken off bases of empty beer bottles. If you get sufficient skill you can graduate to arrow heads.

  • Glen prof says:

    I think people should learn how to feed new born babies and change them using natural foods and items found out in the lands. how to make netting to catch small game and fish, learn how to do yoga and stretch properly, how to make recycled clothing using disposable items, how to wash properly, how to treat wounds, infections, aches and pains using natural plants, how to whistle, how to make animal calls, how to treat other humans in a compassionate manner.

  • Joe says:

    Forgot some crucial human inter action skills.

    Know how to barter/negotiate is in my opinion more valuable than half the skills listed. You’ll never know or have everything you need. Know how to barter/negotiate to get what you need, without giving away too much of what you do have.

    Know how to de-escalate a volatile situation. In almost any situation it’s better to know how to avoid a fight. Even a fight you win can cost you time, resources, energy, and possibly leave you wounded.

  • Joe says:

    Also, I’ve double and triple checked the list because I was shocked to not see this super basic need/skill on the list but
    how to find/build a shelter

  • Kathy Kelley says:

    Raise chickens for meat and eggs as well as rabbits

  • Judy says:

    How about knowing how to deliver a baby – both animal and human.

  • Larry Redmond says:

    Accurately navigate with a compass. Prepare a meal without pans bowls etc, only using a knife.

  • BBarrioz says:

    I like your list. The key is not just knowing but practicing these skills and teaching others… I see gardening and Butchering, cooking- as part of these items people need to learn to preserve and store their food- Drying, canning, Etc…

  • Larry Johnson says:

    I recommend finding a copy of the Boy Scout Field Manual circa 1960s. Very good for survival techniques. Covers tracking, camping, cooking, makeshift shelters, knots, lashing and more. I treasure mine.

  • A.T. says:

    How to Ride a bycicle,
    how to purify water, and the different ways to either procure or make potable water,
    How to climb a tree,
    how to climb up any thin rope by the use of the sliding prusik knot.

  • A.T. says:

    How to sharpen a knife properly.

  • Darnell Fugate says:

    I actually like #45 where all the guys have to lose a tail. I realize it is a typo but got me a great laugh out of that one.

    Great tips by the way. Us oldies know a lot of this basic stuff and we are trying to teach the younger ones but they really don’t care to know. A shame too as seems they might need our information sooner than they think.

    Thank you!

  • CJ says:

    Pick a lock. Including how to pick and get out of a pair of handcuffs and other restraints like duct tape.

  • Walker says:

    dunno if it’s been said but pick a lock or locksmithing in general.

  • krys says:

    Learn how to stich up wounds if you don’t have a kit,hair from the mane or tail of a horse works wonders,even for sewing up clothes,shoes ect. Practic on a chicken or another cut of meat.
    Some tree barks can do the same thing.

    • Eric Mobley says:

      Please see my reply above about suturing. Bad idea.

      • drcate4 says:

        I am a latecomer to this discussion, I know, but agreed. Suturing can make things a lot worse. Eric, you mentioned that blood is sterile and a good cleansing agent. As awful as it seems, urine is also sterile until, like blood, it is released.

        In cases where there is no water to be had, it is possible to stay alive by drinking one’s urine as long as it is still being produced.

  • NancyB says:

    If there are gaps in your knowledge, it is a good idea to try to learn a new skill every month or two. It exercises your brain, so you are never too old to learn something new!

  • Byron says:

    Get you body in shape.That never seems to make any lists. What good is it making a bow and kill a deer if you don’t have the strength to carry it back to you camp/shelter, which would likely be a few miles through the woods.

  • Dave G says:

    Signalling – using a heliograph to be rescued or for comm’s if your group or team has to split up.

  • Joseph Shanabarger says:

    how do you keep kids quite so not to give away your hiding place when shtf

  • Daryl Smith says:

    I created a spreadsheet of your 78 and increased it to 99. If you would like to have it email and I will send it to you. You can edit it more and send it back.

  • grant says:

    in south africa we have a rural book containing 500 skills in the homesteading area they are very useful eg navigate via stars store water in large bird eggs 40 different healing herbs etc glad to share

  • jbrad says:

    Along with masonry, making adobe bricks would be a good one. Also, properly and safely falling a tree with an axe.

  • jbrad says:

    Raising livestock? What about horsemanship? Horses are great assets in these situations!

    • Jeremy Knauff says:

      Indeed! That is a valuable asset to have.

    • drcate4 says:

      In the case of an EMP, horses/mules may again become the transportation of choice. The BLM has more than 90,000 wild horses in holding pens all over the country. NV, OK, CA, WA, NE–a few states where many horses are held. They aren’t trained, but they are available. It’s possible to make a halter out of a bra, or torn pieces of nearly any cloth, or out of rope. Learning how might come in handy. Learning how to build a corral is another potentially important skill, as is learning to make and use a picket line and hobbles.

      Start now and learn to not be afraid of horses. Also join one of the wild horse/burro advocacy groups and work to prevent the BLM from rounding-up and selling off the wild horses in this country. It is a myth that horses destroy the rangelands. Horses are ungulates; cows are ruminators. This means that horses excrete viable seeds in their manure, because what they eat isn’t completely digested. They help reseed the ranges. Cows completely digest what they eat. Cows have split hooves; horses have solid hooves. Cows stir up the top soil and allow it to blow away more easily than horses, who, with their solid hooves, tamp the top soil and help it stay put. There IS
      enough rangeland and live water to support both cattle and horses.

  • Kachina says:

    Would be great to have Educational Video’s available from experts in each field! I am sure people could help get a Library started online through family and friends they know that are experts in various fields we need for survival. A Community Project!

  • CountryGuy says:

    – how to change a tire
    – how to put on tire chains
    – know how to get a car unstuck
    – know how to use a come-a-long
    – how to siphon water or fuel

  • Brian says:

    This would make a great book!

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