18 Urban and Wilderness Survival Hacks

At the end of the day, survival is about overcoming life’s obstacles. Whether it be in a city or out in nature, these 18 hacks will help you make your way through any scenario.

The “how to build a bed in the wilderness” is a list of 18 urban and wilderness survival hacks. The list includes things like how to find firewood, how to find water, and how to make a bed.

Macgyver urban and wilderness survival hacks.

The following advice is taken from Creek Stewart’s Survival Hacks: Over 200 Ways to Use Everyday Items for Wilderness Survival.

After over two decades of teaching survival techniques to thousands of people from all over the globe, I’ve come to one conclusion: invention is the most crucial survival skill. In a sudden and unexpected survival event, using what you have to acquire what you need will be the difference between life and death. This is what I refer to as “survival hacking.”

I’ve learnt (and sometimes developed) several really intriguing survival tricks throughout the years that I believe everyone should be aware of. Why? “It’s not IF, but WHEN,” I constantly say. Here are a few survival tips for times you don’t know what to do.

Collar Connector for the Framework

Tree branch collar connector survival hack illustration.

If you need a long pole, you’ll most likely have to lash two limbs or saplings together to get the desired length. This is true, for example, when constructing a dome structure for wigwam-style shelters. If you’re low on cordage, repurposing an energy shot bottle (such as a 5-Hour Energy or comparable product) from your garbage might be the answer. A highly sturdy cylindrical tube remains after slicing off the top and bottom of the bottle. This tube may be used as a collar to link the ends of two limbs. Taper the ends of the limbs so that when jammed together, they glide into the tube opposite each other and make a tight fit. This collar will retain them remarkably firmly, and unlike many lashings, it will not expand with dampness. Heat the collar over coals or a flame to shrink and tighten the fit if it’s a little loose.

Chair with a Blanket

Blanket chair made out of sticks survival hack illustration.

Finding a comfortable location to sit in an improvised survival camp may be difficult, particularly if the ground is damp or covered with snow. In only a few minutes, this hack creates an extremely comfy seat. Only four strong poles and a blanket or scrap piece of resistant fabric are required. Cut three 6′-8′ long poles that are 1′′-2′′ thick, and a fourth that is the same thickness and 4′ long.

Using a bipod lashing, connect two of the long poles at one end. Fold the blanket or cloth in half, gather the ends together, and hang this end from the bipod lashing’s cross with rope. Place the 4′ pole against the longer poles in the unsecured fold of the blanket, so that it stands out on both ends. Finally, as a support, kick lash the final long pole in the middle, and lie back to rest.

Canteen for Condoms

Condom canteen survival hack illustration.

Non-lubricated condoms are recommended in survival packs by several survivalists, including myself. They are tiny, compact, and affordable, with a wide range of survival applications. One useful feature is that it may be used as a small emergency water bottle. Here are a few pointers I’ve picked up over the years about utilizing a condom as a canteen:


  • To safeguard the condom while travel, place it in a sock.
  • As a spout, use any stiff hollow tube, such as an ink pen, elderberry branch, or bamboo piece, and wrap the condom’s base around it using duct tape or paracord.
  • Any dry branch may be carved into a spout stopper.
  • With the addition of a sling, you can create tracks with more than a liter of drinking water. 

2-Liter Rain Collecting Container

2 Liter bottle rain water collector survival hack illustration.

It’s vital to be able to collect rainwater, particularly if you’re left on an ocean island. Fortunately, all you need is a plastic bottle to do this activity (be sure it has a cap; the mouth must be sealed). Begin by removing the bottom of the bottle. Then, beginning at the bottom and continuing a little more than halfway up the side of the bottle, cut vertical slices 1′′-2′′ apart along the side. Fold the pieces outwards to make the bottle seem like a flower. (Heating the bottle at this phase makes it more malleable and speeds up the procedure; it also helps hold the petals in place after the process is completed.) Finally, stick the bottle’s top a couple of inches into the ground and wait for rain.

The leaves on many plants and trees assist funnel rainfall toward the main stem or trunk, and this water collector is designed after nature. Water is funneled into the center reservoir by these plastic “petals.” The water may then be consumed or put into a canteen using a straw or a piece of hollow reed grass.

Feather Stick to Match

Match feather stick survival hack illustration.

If you’ve spent much time studying survival or bushcraft, you’ve probably heard of “feather sticks.” Long wood slivers are shaved down the side of a stick using a sharp knife. You come to a halt just before a sliver is entirely shaved off and begin a new sliver from the top. You’ll have a stick coated with feather-like wood shavings after a few minutes of effort. These shavings burn considerably faster and more easily than the bigger solid stick. As a result, feather sticks are a great and simple fire starter that may be found in nature.

Let’s take that idea a step further by using wooden matches as an example. When you’re in a need and need a little extra assistance lighting a fire, shave little hardwood slivers slightly above the match head with your knife to make a micro feather stick. When the match is lit, it will soon catch these shavings on fire, resulting in a larger and more powerful blaze.

Pencil + Jumper Cable = Fire

Jumper cable pencil fire survival hack illustration.

A typical approach for igniting a fire is to use a battery power source. It may be done in a variety of methods and with a variety of battery kinds. A vehicle battery, jumper wires, and an ordinary No. 2 pencil are required for this one. To expose the lead, start by shaving off an area on either end of the pencil. Then, one on each shaved area, clamp on the positive and negative jumper cable clamps. Ensure that the clamps are in contact with the pencil lead. Place the clamps and pencil on top of the tinder bundle, then attach the other ends of the wires to the vehicle as usual and start the car. In approximately 2 minutes, the energy from the wires will transform the lead into a red-hot ember, and the wooden pencil will explode into flame. To light your tinder bundle, use the flame.


Hacking a 9-Volt Razor

9 Volt battery razor fire survival hack illustration.

As previously stated, batteries may be utilized to produce fire in a variety of ways. Another method is to short-circuit a 9-volt battery using the extremely tiny blades from a disposable razor. When a blade contacting the positive terminal crosses a blade touching the negative terminal, a little spark will fly. The right tinder, such as char cloth or thin tinder fungus shreds, may be ignited with minimal effort at this juncture.

To short-circuit a low-voltage battery, you may use almost any metal or wire, but it must be incredibly thin in order to produce beneficial results. Keep in mind that many tries will deplete the charge in your battery source.

Lens for Mylar Emergency Survival Blanket

Emergency blanket lens survival hack illustration.

Another way to start a fire is to use a Mylar blanket, a container with a plastic snap-on lip, and a hollow tube or ink pen to capture the sun’s rays. To begin, cut the inside of the plastic lid so that just the rim clamps onto the container. A piece of Mylar put over the top will be held securely by this circular rim. Insert a hollow tube or ink pen through a hole on the container’s side. This enables you to suction the sealed Mylar into a convex parabolic form that may be used to make a solar ember on appropriate tinders including punky wood, agave pith, deer dung, char cloth, and tinder fungus under direct sunlight (chaga).

The Pick of Fire

Fire with guitar pick survival hack illustration.

Guitar picks are excellent fire fuel, didn’t you know? They’re composed of celluloid, which is a very flammable substance. As a result, I usually have a handful in my wallet as a backup firestarter. When exposed to an open flame, such as a disposable lighter or a match, they will ignite.

You may, however, start them with only a spark. Begin by cutting a little divot about half an inch in from the end of a piece of wood or a stick. Then, on that end, split the stick all the way into the divot. Fill the divot with shavings from the guitar pick, which you may produce by scraping your knife against the pick at a 90-degree angle. Finally, bury the pick’s edge in the shaving-filled crater by sliding it into the split. You may now use a flint rock or ferro rod (a fabricated, flint-like metal) to light the little shavings, which will then fire the pick. Voilà, a guitar pick as a weapon!

Gum Wrapper Explosion

Gum wrapper fire survival hack illustration.

If you have a power source, such as an AA battery from a flashlight or remote control, you may use a foil-backed gum wrapper (or any foil-backed paper candy wrapper) to start a fire. To begin, cut the wrapper into an hourglass shape. Using the foil side of the wrapper, tap the positive and negative terminals of the battery at the same time. The electrical current will converge on the narrowest region of the hourglass shape, igniting the wrapping and causing it to catch fire. Consider adding a second battery for extra electrical current if the first one isn’t strong enough to light the wrapper. Because you’ll only have about 3 seconds of flame, make sure you have a nice tinder bundle on hand.


Stove for Ramen Noodles

Ramen noodle stove survival hack illustration.

I like products that have several purposes. Ramen noodles are not only a convenient carry-on meal, but they may also be used as a small cooking stove in an emergency. Simply wet the dried brick of ramen with a flammable liquid such as alcohol or HEET brand antifreeze, and it will burn for up to 20 minutes each side like a solid fuel puck. The dry ramen noodles aid in regulating the pace at which the gasoline vaporizes. Build a temporary structure to support a pot and start cooking!

It’s a good idea to soak the ramen brick in one of the above-mentioned fuels for a bit before using it, although it’s not required. When soaked in alcohol or HEET, a regular yellow kitchen sponge works in a similar manner and produces a handy small impromptu burner.

Fishing Fly using Paracord

Paracord fishing fly survival hack illustration.

This exploit was shown to me by one of my pupils some years ago, and I’ve tried it several times at Willow Haven’s fishing pond. To build a highly attractive fishing fly lure, slide a 1′′ strip of paracord over a naked fishing hook. Heat the other end with an open flame to melt and fuse it just below the eye where the line connects, then fluff it up over the hook to hide it. Live bait is usually preferred, but if you don’t have any, one inch of paracord from your shoelaces or bracelet would do. For top-water bluegill and bream fishing, this makeshift fly lure floats really well.

Broadhead Spoon

Sharpened spoon spear survival hack illustration.

Whether you’re hunting with a bow and arrow or a spear, a sharp metal broadhead is always the best option. Believe it or not, you can kill your food using the same tool that most people use to consume it: a spoon! As you can see in the diagram, the transformation from an ordinary spoon to a deadly broadhead is a straightforward one. Using a rock or a hammer, pound the spoon flat. Then, using a normal metal file accessible in practically any vehicle repair shop or garage, file the edges down to a point. Finally, lash the final tip into a split at the end of an arrow with any form of cordage and break off the handle at the base with repeated bending.

Biscuit Slingshot Whisker

Slingshot with paintbrush survival hack illustration.

With one simple modification – a paintbrush — any slingshot can be swiftly turned into an arrow-shooting sling bow. To make a perfect whisker biscuit cradle for a full-sized hunting arrow, cut a.5′′-wide hollow in the bristles of a 2′′-wide paintbrush. The arrow rest will be created by the cut notch in the paintbrush bristles, and the arrow fletching will slip through the bristles without reluctance. Pull back, aim, and shoot the arrow nock in the slingshot bag. Although the brush may be taped in place, in the field, a Velcro strap makes putting it on and taking it off a snap.


Mask for Bra Cup Debris

Bra cup debris mask survival hack illustration.

During natural or man-made catastrophes, toxic ash and debris may pose a major threat. Breathing in ash, crushed concrete, and waste particles may make you slower and cause serious long-term health problems including asthma and lung cancer.

Most ladies always have two emergency debris masks on their person – a bra! In an emergency, the cushioned cups of most bras fit precisely over the mouth and nose and may serve as a primitive debris filter. Most store-bought masks lack the mix of foam, cushioning, and two layers of cloth found in this mask. You can even repurpose bra straps and ties to keep the mask firmly in place on your face while traveling hands-free.

Butterfly Bandage (improvised)

Butterfly bandage survival hack illustration.

This hack was taught to me by an Army field medic when I was taking a wilderness first-aid training a few years ago, and I thought it was fantastic. In a survival situation, bandages are a luxury, and you want to make the most of them when they’re needed. Traditional bandages don’t function as well on the hands, fingers, and knuckles as they do on the rest of the body. Cut a center slice through each of the adhesive strips long-ways, from the ends up to the bandage piece, to make them more flexible and adjustable. You can apply the bandage more successfully to tough body sections now that there are four adhesive strips instead of two.

A Tick Puller Who Isn’t So STRAWEful

Template illustration.

Ticks are unpleasant little creatures that are the misery of many a woodsman’s existence. Ticks are best removed by pinching the head with tweezers and pulling upward with steady, uniform pressure. Make a tick puller out of a plastic drinking straw if you don’t have any proper tweezers. Cut an eye-shaped hole towards the end of the straw using a knife or scissors, big enough to fit over the tick’s body. The eye cut’s outer tip (the side closest to the straw’s edge) should come to a very tiny point. Wedging the tick’s head and neck in the corner of this fine-cut tip, slide the eye over the tick and pull from the side. Pull the tick out slowly until it detaches, then wash the afflicted area with soap and water.

Whistle for Bullet Casing

Bullet casing whistle survival hack illustration.

You can construct one of the greatest homemade rescue whistles in the world with only an empty bullet casing, a file (or sharp piece of concrete), and a branch. Create a groove using a file. As illustrated in the figure, 5′′ from the entrance of the bullet casing. Ascertain that the open end has a flat 90-degree section. Carve off the top fifth or so of a branch with the same diameter as the bullet casing’s interior diameter. Cut this piece to the correct length from the opening to the 90-degree, flat-filed edge, then place it into the casing’s end as indicated. This bullet will now emit a piercing whistle as a recue indication.



When it comes to emergency survival situations, your creativity is your only constraint. Every day, I’m astounded by the inventive survival solutions and ideas that my friends, students, survival enthusiasts, and colleague teachers come up with. It’s important to remember that the question isn’t IF, but WHEN.

Listen to my survival and preparation podcast with Creek.

Listen to my survival and preparation podcast with Creek.

Check out Creek Stewart’s Survival Hacks: Over 200 Ways to Use Everyday Items for Wilderness Survival for additional makeshift and jerry-rigged gadgets that would make MacGyver proud. Stewart is a Senior Instructor at Willow Haven Outdoor School for Survival, Preparedness, and Bushcraft, where he teaches, shares, and preserves outdoor living and survival skills. 



Watch This Video-

The “making a survival shotgun” is an article about 18 urban and wilderness survival hacks. The article includes information on how to make a survival shotgun, as well as other tips for surviving in the wild.

Related Tags

  • ultimate survival shelter
  • survival shotgun
  • shotgun survival kit
  • how to build a super shelter
  • art of manliness survival shotgun