Survival knife on top of moss in the wilderness

So you’re out on your camping trip and things go a bit pear shaped, what do you do? We hope you are thoroughly prepared, survival knife close by and some of our other survival gear. But what happens if you’re not prepared? We have taken a look at five quirky survival tips that might help you out on your next trip!

Watch Compass

We'll start with one that some of you may well be familiar with; the watch compass. If you become lost and you are without a compass, you might be up the creek without a paddle, but fear not if you have a watch on your wrist!

First of all, you need to have an analogue watch, and hold it out horizontally, with the hour hand facing into the sun. At the centre point between the 12 and the hour hand is your north/south line, with north facing away from the sun. So for example, if the hour hand is pointing at the 4, the 2 would point south and the 8 would point north.

It is worth noting that this only works in the Northern Hemisphere, and during Daylight Savings Time, you would use the 1 instead of the 12 to determine the centre line. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, point the 12 directly towards the sun and the north/south line will cut directly between the 12 and the hour hand, but north will be the closest to the sun.

Bubble Wrap

Everyone’s favourite treat when you receive a package in the post is to pop the bubble wrap, but you should hold onto it for your next wilderness adventure. If you are suffering from hypothermia, bubble wrap can save your life in a pinch!

The air bubbles in the packing material create an insulating shield that traps body heat between the wrap and the person to keep them warm. One study actually found that a sheet of bubble wrap was about 70% as effective as three cotton blankets for insulation, and because it’s made of plastic, it is even more effective in the wind and rain.

Spit Fishing

Your belly is rumbling and you’ve got no food left. There’s a dodgy looking fungus staring at you from the side of a tree, but do you want to risk eating it? Probably not… Why not try your hand at spit fishing? All you need is a shirt and some saliva!

Wade out into the water, lift the front of your shirt to improvise a net under the surface of the water, and spit. Small fish like Minnows are attracted to the spit as they think it’s food, and when they’re clustered in front of you, lift your shirt out of the water and you have a tasty fish snack! Or you could use the small fish as bait for larger fish if you’re a keen angler.

Dakota Fire Hole

The Dakota fire hole, or stealth fire, is a handy little tip for keeping a fire going in very windy conditions, or if you are trying to conceal your fire for any reason (hungry cannibals, hoard of the undead, you take your pick…).

It’s essentially two pits dug side by side in the ground, with a tunnel connecting them underground. The fire is in one pit, and the other pit allows oxygen to reach the fire via the tunnel. Because the fire is underground, it can be shielded from the elements, meaning you can keep it going for longer.

Radio Metal Detector

The homemade radio metal detector is more of a little trick you can try for fun, but could be handy in an outdoor situation, like if your pooch has buried your keys somewhere! All you need is a handheld radio and a pocket calculator (should always be close at hand for the music-loving accountant…!), and you can fashion a crude metal detector.

Set the radio to AM and tune it to a frequency that doesn’t pick up a station. The higher the frequency the better, and the only sound that should be coming out is static.

Now, turn up the volume on the radio, turn on the calculator and hold it in your other hand. Next, you should angle the two so that they sort of face each other. At the right angle, the static from the radio will turn into a light buzz – you should be able to hear the difference, but you might need to experiment with the angle and the distance between the calculator and radio.

If you sweep the device over the ground, any metal buried fairly close to the surface will strengthen the sound of the buzz.