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Extreme Skills for Extreme Environments

by Kyt Lyn Walken


Every location has its pros and cons. We are all pretty aware of that. From a survival perspective, bugging out in a secluded location could be a good choice if you are familiar with the environment and you know how to handle it.

When your bug out site is extreme, in order to ensure long-term survival for you and your family, it is necessary to understand and to respect the laws of that landscape.

Let’s go for it.


On Extreme Environments

If your idea is to relocate to a desertic or tropical area because you want to stay away from any metropolitan area, it is pretty legit to ask which is the best environment to find yourself in if it comes to survival.

I am quite sure we all have a plethora of ideas related to this, mainly developed by studying manuals, watching dozens of YouTube videos, or, again, by developing our personal considerations after reading shocking stories of survivors.

The basic point is that every scenario has its own “rules of engagement,” which involves a distinct level of awareness. A lack of knowledge of the area – in terms of climate, terrain, flora and fauna – can only result in catastrophic and traumatic results. A wrong choice can mean a pit of dangers.

No doubt there is a word well-fit to describe both desertic and tropical environments: hostility. Those extreme places – along with their wildlife and vegetation – hardly tolerate human presence, and for this specific reason, mankind has always faced a large amount of issues in flourishing there.


Issues Arising from Morphology

Generally speaking, desertic areas are rich in wild animals, large predators, snakes among the most poisonous in the world, disease-carrying insects, parasites, and, obviously, lack of water.



It is therefore imperative to change one’s mindset and remain constantly 100% focused. This is clearly difficult, especially when you have to handle constant scouting to look for the most suitable place to set up your shelter.

Desertic environments mean being isolated and without supplies. Without a proper plan, being unprepared will surely lead to a tragic end. The story of Everett Ruess is clear proof of that.

Lastly, without a good geographical knowledge of the place, you cannot go very far in the desert.

What about tropical areas?

The tropics contain thousands of different species, from some of the most lethal predators to a myriad of insects and snakes. The high humidity means a lot of water, but it also favors the development of dangerous bacteria.

In addition, you must be aware of what is above your head as well as under your feet. Your knowledge of local flora and fauna makes the difference here in terms of knowing where to set traps as well as what to gather.

By applying observation and tracking skills in a systematic manner, you can effectively scout the whole area and select the best spot to set up your shelter. You must consider that you will have to take care of it every single day due to the constant rainfall.


Calls to Action

As stressed in some previous articles, bugging out in the great outdoors requires an advanced level of skills. Without them, your chances of survival are quite nearly zero. This is even more the case in extreme environments.

Your basic necessities are strictly related to shelter, the presence of water, and the presence of food.

In order to achieve these necessities you must master the following skills:

  • navigate land

  • make essential knots

  • collect the proper tinder

  • start and maintain a fire

  • build an improvised shelter in a safe place with natural or artificial materials

  • collect water

  • purify water

  • hunt, skin, process and preserve meat

  • carve wood in order to make tools

  • create containers for multiple uses

  • produce handmade primitive weapons

  • gather herbs and berries

  • sew clothes and gear

  • read man, animal, and vehicle tracks

  • reduce your presence in the area (“antitracking” in the tracking terminology)

  • apply first aid fundamentals

  • use and care for weapons

  • use and fix communication devices, radios, and vehicles



Once you have established an ideal area to bug out, you can start to equip your shelter with a general list of items like:

  • proper water and food supplies

  • generators

  • communication devices

  • solar panels

  • stockpiled gear, weapons, and ammo

Once you have equipment, setting a surveillance system to keep it safe is obviously a priority.


Essential Gear for Extreme Environments

Equipment is always a very critical issue. It must be assembled according to specific uses and personal needs (either physical or psychological).

The assemblage may vary due to weather conditions, duration of your stay, temporary injures, presence of other individuals, and so on.

A survival kit should contain at minimum:

  • a small folding knife

  • a map of the area

  • some paracord

  • an emergency thermal blanket

  • a lighter

  • some matches

  • a signaling mirror

  • needle and thread

  • a plastic bag

  • a whistle

  • two tablets for water potabilization

  • a painkiller

  • antibiotics

  • a compass

  • a metal mess tin

  • a fixed blade knife

  • a GPS

  • a Combat Application Tourniquet

  • a first aid kit

  • a flashlight

  • a canteen

  • a tarp

  • sleeping bags

  • some MRE

  • spare clothing

  • binoculars

A few more things to consider in the tropics:

Keep in mind that tropical areas require very lightweight gear. When you put your gear together, make sure you have your med and survival kit in very easy reach.

Crossing streams means being and staying soaking wet for a lot of time; therefore, the most common enemy in this kind of environment is trench foot. For that, keeping lots of pairs of socks is necessary.

Finally, the presence of very thick vegetation will make exploration tough. In this kind of environment, covering a distance of about 380 feet requires at least an hour. You could need a good parang or machete in order to make your way through the jungle.



Generally speaking, the risks and dangers of bugging out in extreme environments can be faced and fixed with application of a determined mindset.

This approach must always be based on deep respect for the area itself and its vegetation and animals.

Bugging out in desert or tropical areas is surely harsh but not impossible. Rarely will this be more than a last resort, but unconventional situations may require unconventional approaches and solutions.

Kyt Lyn Walken

This article was optimized by Grace McCuthchen, Survival Dispatch Editor

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