Part of survival is having enough food, water, and supplies to ensure you can survive for a period of time in any emergency situation, such as a natural disaster or any major catastrophic event, whether it is natural or man-made. But if the event lasts long enough to chew through that food and water and the supplies you have stocked up, then what? Perhaps the most important part of survival isn’t what you have stored in your house or bug-out location, but what you have stored in your head.
Skills are tantamount to long-term survival in any societal collapse. You won’t ever lose them, no one can steal them from you, and they are something you can share with others. Some of the best skills to develop are those related to making your own survival gear, which comes in handy when you can’t afford to buy the gear or it eventually wears out or breaks and you have no way to buy a replacement. We won’t cover DIY weapons in this article, but there are still loads of fun and incredibly useful DIY equipment you can make. Check out our top picks for survival equipment you can make on your own.
Make Your Own Water Filter
Water is your number one need in any survival situation. If you don’t have access to clean water, you won’t last long and it can be hard to come by clean water if you aren’t able to get it from your tap. The very first thing you should know is that filtering your water doesn’t mean purifying it and the very best way to purify water to remove the bacteria that can make you sick or even kill you is to boil it. Having said this, you will still want to filter the water to get rid of debris, dirt, and chemical impurities and you can easily make a filter to do this.
For a DIY water filter you will need:
- A 2-liter soda bottle, if available, or a big, rectangular piece of bark, such as birch or white pine, that is at least 14 inches wide
- Gravel (if you are using a bottle without a cap or a cone of bark)
- Moss or grass (moss is best because it acts as a better filter and it contains iodine)
If you are using a soda bottle, cut the bottle in half around the middle to separate the top from the bottom. You will invert the top of the bottle and use this to create your filter. If you are using bark, then roll the bark into a large funnel and secure it. Then you can layer your filtering materials, starting with some gravel, which you will place at the bottom of your filter to help hold in the other filtering materials.
Alternate a layer of moss, a layer of charcoal, and a layer of sand, making each layer about 1-2 inches thick, then repeat the layers of sand and charcoal, ending off with a courser grade of sand. Three important things to note include:
- The opening at the end of the filter should be quite small to help slow to movement of the water through the filter
- The charcoal should be crushed into a powder/small flake size to provide more surface area for the removal of contaminants
- The layers of material in the filter should be pushed down so they are packed in quite tightly before the water is poured in so the water will move more slowly through the filter
You might have to filter the water 2-3 times, depending on how dirty it is to begin with. As the water runs through the filter, it will drip out the end relatively slowly. Once you have clear water, boil it and then you can drink it. Check out this video to see how it’s done:
Make Your Own Rope
Rope is one of the most useful items you can have in any survival situation. In fact, you can never have too much rope. The best thing about rope is it’s all around you whether you are in the city or a rural area or the wilderness. All you need are the right kinds of plants, which happen to grow in abundance almost anywhere. The best thing about making your own rope like this is that you don’t actually need anything other than the plants! No tools are necessary, although you can use a knife if you have one (as a survivalist you should!).
There are many options when looking for plant fiber to make your own rope. The stalks of some plants are ideal. You can also use the inner bark, small roots, or the leaves of some trees and other miscellaneous materials:
- Stalk plants include milkweed, dogbane, stinging nettle, fireweed, velvet leaf, hemp, and evening primrose
- Trees from which you can use the inner bark include cedar, tulip tree, white basswood, walnut, cherry, cottonwood, oak, hickory, ash, maple, aspen, and elm
- Trees from which you can use the small roots (rootlets) include cedar, juniper, pine, spruce, sage, yucca, and tamarack
- Leaves from the yucca tree and cattails and bulrushes can be used
- Other miscellaneous material (not only plant-derived) that can be used includes sweet grass, cordgrass, greenbrier, sinew, rawhide, and animal hair
The easiest plants to work with are the milkweed, dogbane, and similar stalks because you can simply harvest the stalks and work with them. Select stalks that have turned brown, not gray. The gray ones are too old. Ideally, you want one-year-old stalks. You also want stalks that are tall simply because they will produce longer pieces of fiber to work with. You will need to break the stalk off at the base of the plant and gently remove the branches. If you don’t take care, some of the fiber from the plant will be lost in the process. You should also take of the top of the plant, where it begins to narrow.
Once the stalk is clear, lay it on a hard surface and flatten it along its length. This will cause it to split down its length, revealing the inner core of the plant. You can then gently peel away the outer wood of the plant, starting at the thick end of the stalk. The core wood you have left is the material for your rope.
It is also easy to find the inner bark of dead trees that are lying on the ground. You can pry off the bark and strip away the fibrous material that is located between the outer bark and wood. If you have to take from living trees, then take just take a small amount from each of a number of living trees. If you take too much from any one tree, the tree will die.
Whichever material you choose to use, it is very important to ensure it is dry before you start making the rope. If you use wet plant fibers, the rope will not hold together once the fibers dry. Whatever the source of your fiber, you will need to crush it between your thumb and finger or roll it along your leg to soften it and remove any bits of bark or harder material.
If you don’t need the rope to be incredibly strong, then you can do a simple wrap. Hold one end of the bundle of fibers (the more fibers, the stronger the rope) and roll them together across your leg, twisting them in one direction. Once twisted, have someone hold the middle of the stretch of twisted cord or hold it with your teeth (if it’s not from a poisonous plant) and place the ends together. When you let go of the middle, the length of cord will automatically twist together and you can secure the ends.
For a stronger rope, you will need the reverse wrap. Take the bundle of fibers and twist them together in the middle until a kink forms. You will hold this kink between the thumb and finger of one hand and work with one strand at a time. Using your free hand, take the bottom strand of fibers and twist it away from you, then wrap it up and over the other strand toward to one time. Repeat with the other strand and alternate this process until you have reached the end of your available cord.
Check out this video to see a demonstration:
Doing this with one bundle of fibers will make a short cord, but if you need a longer rope, then you will need to splice in more lengths of fiber. If this is the case, then when you originally make a kink in your bundle of fibers, ensure that one strand is two times as long as the other strand. Then preform the reverse wrap until you are within an inch or so of the end of the short strand and separate the fibers so it looks frayed at the end. Fray the end of the new bundle of fibers and mix them in with the short end. Continue the wrapping process, adding in new fiber bundles within an inch or so of each short strand.
To make an even stronger rope simply take thinner ropes you have create using the reverse wrap and reverse wrap those together. When the rope is completed you can pass it quickly over a flame to get rid of any protruding fibers, if desired. Weave the fibers at the ends of the rope back into the rope to “tie” it off.
Make Your Own Fishing Rod
Our final choice in this “Make Your Own” article is to make your own fishing rod. This is quite simple and if you are anywhere near water, having a functional fishing rod can help you catch much-needed food to keep your body nourished and full of energy.
To make a fishing rod, you will need a very long branch or sapling tree, 4 to 6 feet long. Be sure to use a green branch or sapling, something that is alive, because it will have more flexibility. Flexibility is necessary when you catch a fish and it pulls on the line. If the branch is old and brittle, it might snap. If you do have to use an old, dead branch, then choose a thicker one that is stronger.
You will also need your line, which can be any lightweight strings or threads from your own supplies, if you have them. Lightweight cord or the threads that are used to stitch your tent or tarp will work. If necessary, you can use heavier material, such as shoes laces or paracord. You just need to tie them together to make a line long enough. If you don’t have anything suitable in your gear, then you can use natural fibers, such as strong roots or fibrous plants that can be made into fine cordage (there’s that rope-making again – see above).
Your hook can be made out of anything small in your gear, such as a bent safety pin or bent wire or needles. You can also use natural materials, such as pieces of snail shell, horn, or bone. Even small pieces of broken rock will work.
If you have any food at all, a small amount of meat, cheese, or bread attached to the hook will work, but chances are, if you’re making a fishing rod this way, food is already in limited supply. However, bait can easily be found by digging for worms or turning over a rock or log to find other live insects. Even crickets and grasshoppers will work.
You will need to remove any branches from the main branch or sapling and you can strip the bark from your pole if you wish, but this is not necessary. Rather than just tying the line to the narrow end of the pole, which might cause it to break if a large fish is caught, secure the line to the pole by tying it close to the end where you are holding it and wrapping it around the pole toward the narrow end. You can tie the line at the narrow end to hold it in place. Check out this video to see how:
Now all you need to do is tie your hook to the end of the line and attached your bait to the hook. Just be sure that however you tie the line to the hook, it is secure and tight so you won’t lose your hook. Happy fishing!
Make Your Own Snowshoes
While it would be lovely if all of us lived in a climate that does not experience full out winter, this is not the case. Tens of millions of people in North America live in regions of extreme temperature fluctuation and have to deal with a lot of snow each year. If you think global warming will get rid of that snow, think again. While the winter season might get shorter in duration, it will also become more intense, meaning more snow.
Snowshoes are an important piece of equipment when it comes to traveling in the snow. They spread out the pressure of your body weight on the surface of the snow, preventing you from sinking and making it easier to walk. The best part about making your own snowshoes is they can be made while you’re on the move. These won’t be the pretty, aesthetically pleasing snowshoes you might be used to seeing, but they will be functional.
To make snowshoes, the best wood comes from pine, spruce, or fir trees. To make a pair of snowshoes, you will need two green (living) branches that are the same length and contain nice boughs on them. The lighter weight the branch the better because a heavy branch will require more energy to move when walking. If the branches are dead and/or dried out, they won’t have the flexibility needed and have a high chance of cracking under your weight.
You will also need some sort of cord to tie your foot to the branch. You can use paracord or lightweight cord or rope if you have it. If not, you can use strong grasses, pliable roots, or the rope you made from the instructions above! Even strips of cloth will work well.
You will first want to cut each branch to the proper length, which is about 3 feet long for the average adult (children and small adults can use a shorter length). Follow these steps to make each snowshoe:
- Put the branch on the ground with the widest end pointing ahead of you.
- Tie your cord about 3-4 inches from the front end of the branch and leave an adequate and equal length on each side of the branch.
- Weave the length of cord on each side through some of the boughs to make sure it’s secure.
- Put your foot in the middle of the branch and tie the cord around it and the branch to secure your foot in place. Be sure to tie and knot the cord securely.
Check out this video to see how:
Naturally, this is just a sampling of what you can make on your own, but these items are some of the most important. The best thing to do is use your imagination to come up with ways to make the things you know you’ll need to rely on and practice until you can make them efficiently.