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True Survival Stories: The Miracle In The Andes

Sometimes it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. But when it comes to survival, you don’t have to look very far. There is an incredible history of true survival stories with hundreds, if not thousands of lessons that can be learned from them.

True Survival Stories: The Miracle In The Andes

This is the first in our series of true survival stories and I need to caution you, it’s not an easy read and some may not be able to stomach it.

What would you do if you suddenly found yourself stranded in the mountains, thousands of miles from home… with no supplies for 72 days?

Would you wait for help? Would you try to make the climb down the mountain yourself?

How far would you be willing to go to survive?

Sound far fetched? Unfortunately, it’s not. That exact scenario happened exactly 44 years ago… and it’s much worse than you may think… It’s a true story of survival that exposes the lengths to which some people will go to survive just one more day.

Not all survival stories are fictional.

October 13th, 1972: Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571. With almost no rations and no hope of survival, they stuck together and saved themselves. The choices they made were not easy, but they used everything they could to stay alive. In the afternoon hours, while navigating a low pass in the mountains, a combination of simple miscalculations and mother nature’s unpredictability turned what should have been an easy flight, into 72 days in hell.

Flight 571 made a miscalculated turn too early to the west under heavy cloud cover, which caused a controlled descent into terrain. Before this day, that mountain where this frightening crash occurred had no name. The events that followed were enough to give the crash site a name. It would eventually become known as Glaciar de las Lágrimas or Glacier of Tears. This name could not be more appropriate.

This name could not be more appropriate

The flight carrying the Old Christians Club rugby union team from Montevideo, Uruguay and their families crashed into the Andes…

Their lives would never be the same.

Of the 45 people on board, 12 had died instantly in the crash. The survivors found themselves almost 12,000 feet up with little rations and almost no cold weather gear. Due to the deadly crash, when the seats of the plane were all smashed together by the impact, many of the survivors had injuries and could not walk due to broken legs.

Facing the first obstacle: extreme cold.

Being that high up in the mountains will kill you if you don’t have a way to protect yourself against the elements. At night the temperature would drop below freezing and their only shelter was the wreckage of the plane. When it crashed, it had split in two and the survivors found themselves huddled in the frontmost section of the plane with a giant hole letting in the wind and snow. All night the freezing winds kept them awake and suffering. Five more people died that first night on the mountain.

After no rescue came the next day, they used luggage and clothing to block up the hole, keeping the elements at bay. Unfortunately, few of them had jackets and their shoes were designed for playing rugby, not scaling down the side of a mountain in the winter. During the day it was warm enough to lounge outside the plane, but at night their only warmth came from the body heat of their fellow survivors.

The only food on board were small bars of chocolate the airline gave to passengers and several bottles of wine. They did their best to ration these, but they quickly ran out. They were able to melt snow by placing it on metal they had ripped out of the seats. By placing water bottles under it, they could collect water, but it was a slow process. The survivors tried using lipstick to paint S.O.S. on the cockpit, but gave up after realizing they didn’t have enough to make it visible. Because the plane was white and they were so high up, search crews never found them and the search was called off after only 8 days.

All hope lost and there was a terrible choice to make.

On the 11th day, the survivors scavenged a transistor radio from the cockpit and learned that they were on their own. Upon hearing the news, everyone broke down into tears and prayer except for Gustavo Nicolich. He told everyone it was good news, because they were going to rescue themselves. By giving up hope of being rescued, they could finally make the tough decisions that lay ahead to save themselves. Giving up hope was the only way to survive. The courage of one person kept the group going.

The survivors knew they would have to climb down the mountain, but the combination of altitude sickness, malnourishment, snow blindness, and the extreme cold at night made this almost impossible. They decided that the only way to survive was to eat the remains of their dead friends and family.

At first, this decision didn’t go over well considering the passengers were all Roman Catholic. But as starvation set in, they justified it by agreeing that if they died, they would want their friends to survive by eating them. Because of the altitude and temperature, the dead passengers were perfectly preserved and the survivors were able to cut out greasy chunks of flesh from posteriors of the dead. Without resorting to cannibalism, none of them would have made it off that mountain.

A snowball’s chance in hell: disaster strikes again.

On October 29th disaster struck again. While they were sleeping, an avalanche rolled down the mountain and filled the cabin of the plane with snow. Eight of the survivors suffocated as their friends tried to dig each other out. For several days the plane was buried under the snow until it finally melted. At this point they were out of options. Four of the survivors decided to try and hike out. They were given the warmest clothes and enough rations to survive for several days.

Because of a large peak to the west, they decided to go east. After only several hours of walking they discovered the tail section. They decided to keep going but turned back after they almost froze to death the following night. They returned to the others and set about constructing a sleeping bag from insulation they had scavenged from the tail section. It was big enough to hold three of them and protect them from the freezing nights.

No turning back

On December 12th, two months after they had crashed. Three of the survivors (Parrado, Canessa and Vizintín) set out for the mountains to the west. After three days they reached the top, only to find more mountains in their path. They were quickly running out of food and they could have easily given up and turned back, but they decided to keep going. One of the men (Vizintín) was sent back and kept his rations.

Parrado and Canessa continued on.Route Down The Mountain | Survival Stories

Parrado and Canessa hiked for several more days. First, they were able to reach the narrow valley that Parrado had seen on the top of the mountain, where they found the bed of Río San Jose.

They followed the river and reached the end of the snowline and they began to find more and more signs of human activity. On the ninth day they survivors found cattle and knew people couldn’t’ be far off.

Special: This HYBEAM Could Save Your Life

As Parrado was gathering wood to build a fire for another night in the cold, Canessa noticed what looked like a man on horseback across the river, and yelled at the near-sighted Parrado to run down to the banks. At first it seemed that Canessa had seen a mirage, but eventually three men appeared on horseback. Divided by the Portillo River, Nando and Canessa tried explain the situation, unfortunately a combination of their exhaustion and the roar of the river made communication all but impossible.

One of the horsemen, a Chilean arriero named Sergio Catalán, shouted “tomorrow.” They knew at this point they would be saved and settled to sleep by the river. During the evening dinner, Catalán discussed what he had seen with the other arrieros who were staying in a little summer ranch called Los Maitenes.

Someone mentioned that several weeks before, the father of Carlos Paez, who was desperately searching for any possible news about the aircraft, had asked them about the Andes crash. The arrieros could never have imagined that these two men would be the first of the survivors of that crash to be found.

The next day Catalán took a few loaves of bread with him to the riverbank. There he found the two men still on the other side of the river, on their knees begging for help. Catalán threw them the loaves, as well a pen and paper tied to a rock. Parrado wrote a note telling about the aircraft crash and asking for help. Then he tied the paper to a rock and threw it back to Catalán, who read it and gave them a sign that he understood.

A beacon of hope for the survivors.

Those remaining at the crash site never gave up hope…and never stopped listening to that small radio… their one and only connection to the world.

The radio crackled to life and they heard that Parrado and Canessa had been rescued. The knew that help would be on the way.

On December 22 just three short days before Christmas, a day many of them probably believed they wouldn’t live to see, a miracle happened.

Two helicopters carrying search and rescue climbers arrived. The expedition (with Parrado on board) was not able to reach the crash site until the afternoon due to the difficulty of air travel through the Andes. The weather was very poor and the two helicopters were able to take only half of the survivors.

They departed, leaving the rescue team and remaining survivors at the crash site to once again sleep in the fuselage until a second expedition could arrive the following morning.

The second expedition arrived at daybreak on 23 December and rescued the remaining survivors. All of the survivors were taken to hospitals in Santiago and treated for altitude sickness, dehydration,frostbite, broken bones, scurvy, and malnutrition.

Out of the 27 passengers that survived the crash, only 16 made it down off the mountain. They had been trapped at the site of the crash for 72 days. The survivors went through hell, but from their hardship, there are plenty of lessons to be learned.

What can we learn from survival stories like these?

  • Create an insulated shelter
  • Ration your supplies
  • Stay hydrated
  • Never count on someone else to rescue you
  • Do whatever it takes to survive

The miracle of the Andes is one of the greatest survival stories in history. Through sheer force of will, the survivors of the crash were able to keep going. Every decision was extremely tough and tested the limits of their sanity, but by keeping a positive attitude and the will to survive they made it out.

Two men made a 10-day hike through the Andes with no oxygen tanks, no climbing gear, almost no food or water, wearing shoes designed for running, not climbing 15,000 foot peaks. They used anything they could to stay alive, and in the end, that’s all that matters.

Survival Stories: The Miracle In The Andes, A Timeline of Events

October 1972

  • 12 October (Thu) Day 0
    • Crew 5, Passengers 40.
  • 13 October (Fri) Day 1—crashed at 3:34 pm
    • 5 people dead (Ferradas, F. Nicola, E. Nicola, E. Parrado, Vazquez), 7 people missing (Martinez, Ramirez, Costemalle, Hounié, Magri, Shaw, Valeta). Alive: 33
  • 14 October (Sat) Day 2
    • Five people died (Lagurara, Abal, Mariani, Maquirriain, Martinez-Lamas) Dead: 10, missing: 7, alive: 28
  • 21 October (Sat) Day 9
    • Susana “Susy” Parrado died. Dead: 11, missing: 7, alive: 27
  • 24 October (Tue) Day 12
    • 6 missing people found dead (Carlos Valeta not found until 14 December). Dead: 17, missing presumed dead: 1, alive: 27
  • 29 October (Sun) Day 17
    • 8 people died in an avalanche (Perez, Platero, L. Methol, Nicolich, Maspons, Menendez, Storm, Roque). Dead: 25, missing presumed dead: 1, alive: 19
  • 15 November (Wed) Day 34
    • Arturo Nogueira died. (dead: 26, missing presumed dead: 1, alive: 18)
  • 18 November (Sat) Day 37
    • Rafael Echavarren died. (dead: 27, missing presumed dead: 1, alive: 17)
  • 11 December (Mon) Day 60
    • Numa Turcatti died. (dead: 28, missing presumed dead: 1, alive: 16)
  • 12 December (Tues) Day 61
    • Parrado, Canessa and Vizintin set off to find help.
  • 13 December (Wed) Day 62
    • Body of Daniel Shaw retrieved
  • 14 December (Thu) Day 63
    • Body of Carlos Valeta found. (dead: 29, alive: 16)
  • 15 December (Fri) Day 64
    • Antonio Vizintin sent back to the fuselage.
  • 20 December (Wed) Day 69
    • Parrado and Canessa encounter Sergio Catalán.
  • 21 December (Thu) Day 70
    • Parrado and Canessa rescued.
  • 22 December (Fri) Day 71
    • 7 people rescued.
  • 23 December (Sat) Day 72
    • 7 people rescued. 16 people alive.

If you want to learn more about the disaster, check out this documentary from the History Channel.

These may be just survival stories to us, but real people went through them and came out on the other side. Want to know what impact this had on the minds of the survivors?

Click here to read a follow-up interview from National Geographic with one of the survivors, Dr. Roberto Canessa.

Would you have survived if you had been on board that plane? Leave a comment and let me know what you would have done to get off that mountain.

Do you have any survival stories that you want to share?

Please leave a comment below and let us know. I’d love to continue adding more of these to our series on true survival stories.

Read this next: Winterizing Your Bug Out Bag

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Homemade Weapons You Can DIY To Awaken Your Inner Caveman

Learn to make your own homemade weapons so you’ll have a fighting chance in a survival situation where all you have is nature.

 [You Get One FREE] Weird Little Knife Drives TSA Crazy!

How to Make Homemade Weapons

Why Should You Learn to Make Homemade Weapons?

Let’s say you got lost in the wild, and you somehow forgot or lost your Cold Steel Leatherneck Tanto 39LSFT (or whichever is the best survival knife for you). What do you do?

While your situation is most likely not quite as bad as Tom Hanks had it in Castaway, let’s face it. The only way you’re gonna get out of this situation in good shape is to let out your inner caveman.

Let me explain. Our very primitive ancestors lived in a time when every day was a survival situation. Any tools or weapons they needed had to be made from scratch.

So, should you be unlucky enough to have only the shirt on your back while you’re lost in the wilderness, you’ll have to follow suit. Let the training of your inner caveman begin.

Today’s lesson: how to make DIY weapons in the wild with only the resources nature provided you.

How to Make a Knife | Homemade Weapons

Having a knife, any kind of knife is probably one of the best things to happen should you suddenly find yourself in a survival situation. You can use it to help you find food, build a shelter, and defend yourself against wild animals.

So it’s highly fortunate nature is waiting like a momma at a craft table with lots of materials you can use to create one.

1. Stone Knives

Bone, shell, bamboo, wood, or even an old aluminum beer can may work to perform the puncturing function of a blade. You know you’ve seen these a million times when you’re out hiking.

They’re easy to crack or break or shape into a fairly sharp point which will do in a pinch. Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to use a chicken bone or an expertly-shaped aluminum can point to skin, chop, baton, or any of the other necessary functions of a survival knife.

This is where the stone comes into play. I’ll start by saying making a knife out of stone isn’t easy, but it can be done.

You’ll need three things: a core rock, a hammerstone, and a pressure flaker. Remember, you’re going to be smashing these together in true caveman fashion.

So, having stones you can reasonably grip in each hand is going to make your life a lot easier. Although, it’s definitely an option to stand poised over one rock smashing down on it.

You, with a two-hand grip, pounding until you’ve chipped away at it a bit. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

2. The Core Rock

rock formation background | Homemade Weapons You Can DIY To Awaken Your Inner Caveman | homemade weapons | deadliest ancient weapons

The core rock is what you’ll be making into a blade. Find any large stone, preferably made from obsidian, slate, chert, or flint with a relatively flat side.

In case you weren’t a rock collector in any of your previous lives, here’s another way to decide if a rock meets the requirements for good knife-making material. Tap or click a rock together with another rock and listen for a ringing sound (like glass).

The more rock sounds like glass, the better it is as a material for your core rock. If you can, choose a rock which is already a bit sharp to reduce the amount of time you’ll need to shape it.

3. The Hammerstone

The hammerstone is a medium-sized, spherical rock, preferably made of granite. It will be used to smash, chisel, chip and shape the core rock.

You’ll be using it to chip off pieces of the core stone and to narrow the edges to a blade shape.

RELATED: How To Keep Your Edge | Knife Sharpener

4. The Pressure Flaker

The pressure flaker, or flaking tool, is a rock with a sharp point to help you refine the blade’s edges. You’ll use your flaking tool after you’ve thinned the edges of the stone with the hammer stone to make the “blade” sharper.

When you start making your knife, you’ll want to be sure to wet the core stone to shorten the time it takes to shape it into a blade. Begin by striking glancing blows near the edge of the core rock with the hammerstone.

Chip away at the core rock until you get the general shape of a blade. Then, use the flaking tool to refine the edges you need to sharpen.

You can also use a stone with a rough surface such as a sandstone to sharpen the edge. Use some rope, cloth, or leather to lash the base and create a handle.

If you are having troubling shaping the rock into a knife, you can opt to create stone blades instead. Check out the videos below to learn how:

Part One:

Part Two:

How to Make a Spear | Homemade Weapons

south african zulu spear | Homemade Weapons You Can DIY To Awaken Your Inner Caveman | homemade weapons | deadliest ancient weapons

We’ve talked about how to make a spear using your best survival knife in a previous article. The same principle applies here.

Even without your Cold Steel Leatherneck Tanto 39LSFT or whichever survival knife you normally bring with you, you can still make a spear using your newly made stone knife. To make a spear, you’ll need to find a five-foot-long stick tough enough to endure repeated short or long-distance throws.

  1. First, pick the end of the stick which has a more rounded tip and use your stone knife to start shaving to create a spear. Once you’re done, be sure to heat the spear over some hot coals to make your spear sharper.
  2. As an alternative, you can also make a spear by tying your knife onto a stick. Find a stick which is about an inch wide.
  3. Measure about 2 inches from one end of the stick. Mark the point, then split the stick into two until you reach the 2-inch mark, creating a sort of Y shape.
  4. This will create a space where you can stick your stone knife before you lash it on with some twine, cord, or rope. To lock the blade in place, put some moss or lichen in the remaining space.
  5. If you haven’t had time to fashion your knife out of stone yet, you can also use broken pieces of shell or glass or splintered bamboo or bone and secure it to the end of your stick.
  6. If you find a way to split your stick without a knife, you can insert the splintered bone or bamboo into the wedge and tie it off like you would when turning a knife into a spear.

How to Make a Weighted Club | Homemade Weapons

While sharp pointy tools are all well and good, you can never go wrong with a blunt homemade weapon. You can use it for hammering or bludgeoning something such as a weighted club.

The weighted club could be one of the deadliest ancient weapons. To make one, you’ll need the following: a piece of wood around 14-16 inches, a medium-sized rock, and some rope.

  1. Once you have all the materials, you’ll need to wrap some lashing 6-8 inches from the end of the stick.
  2. Split the same end until you reach the lashing in order to create a V-shaped notch. The rock you picked out should be shorter than the length of the split.
  3. Insert the stone then lash it securely (above, below, and across the stone). The lashing on the stick above the stone clamps both sides of the split together providing the first point of security, so it’s especially important to create a good, tight lashing above the stone.
  4. You’ll want to make sure you bind the split ends securely so the stone won’t fall off whenever you use it to hammer or pound on something.

This video from Wannabe Bushcrafter will show you how to make a bamboo knife:

Now, hopefully, you never find yourself in a situation where making homemade weapons is going to be a necessity for survival. But, if you do find yourself in such a quagmire, this little bit of information and inner caveman training may be what saves your life.

Which of these homemade weapons do you want to make? Tell us your progress in the comments section below!

Up Next:

Go to our Survival Life Store to shop some of our favorites self-defense tools and gear!

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***Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer.***

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 11, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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5 Home Remedies For Chigger Bites

Know these home remedies for chigger bites, or better yet, avoid the bug's bites in the first place with helpful tips included here!

RELATED: Top Ways to Deal with Insects [Especially Mosquitos]

In this article:

  1. What Is a Chigger, Exactly?
  2. Where Do Chiggers Live?
  3. Identifying Chiggers Bites
  4. Home Remedies for Chigger Bites
  5. Tips to Avoid Chigger Bites and Chigger Bites Infection

Home Remedies For Chigger Bites

What Is a Chigger, Exactly?

Chiggers are members of the arachnid family. They are extremely tiny, and my guess is you won’t even see them as they jump from the tall grass onto your skin and/or clothing.

Adult chiggers are about 1/60 of an inch and have eight legs. The larvae are red, wingless, six-legged creatures which measure less than 1/150 of an inch.

Because of their red color, you might be able to spot the larvae when they cluster together, especially on white clothing.

What Is the Arachnid Family? It is a large group or class of invertebrate animals where the spiders and scorpions belong.

Where Do Chiggers Live?

Chiggers reside in tall weeds and grass, berry patches, and wooded areas. They could be in your backyard, by the lake, or your favorite hiking trail.

They are most active in summer and fall afternoons – the warmest part of the day.

Identifying Chiggers Bites

Only the larvae bite humans and they tend to choose warm, moist areas of the body.

Chiggers also have claws which help them grab onto your skin. The chigger then attaches its mouth to the skin and injects saliva.

The saliva contains an enzyme which breaks skin cells down to liquid form. Your body responds by hardening skin cells around the saliva, creating a tube (cyclostome) through which the chigger sucks the dissolved skin cells.

Chiggers can stay attached and feeding for several days before falling off.

When the chigger falls off, you are left with reddish bumps. You may notice a bright red dot in the center—this is a remnant of the tube your skin formed in response to the chigger's saliva.

The bumps may look like welts, blisters, pimples, or hives. Bites generally appear in groups and get larger for several days to a week.

While many insects bite exposed skin which is easy to get to, chiggers like to bite in folds of skin as well as places where clothing fits tightly on the skin. Most chigger bites occur around the ankles, waist, armpits, crotch, or behind the knees.

Home Remedies for Chigger Bites

Just remember, no matter what, DO NOT SCRATCH THE BITES! I know, easier said than done. But, breaking the skin on a chigger bite can lead to infection.

Here are 5 home remedies to help with the itching and swelling.

RELATED: Spider Bite? Here’s How To Treat It

1. Vicks Vapor Rub

Vicks Vapor Rub can put an end to itchy chigger bites immediately and will even reduce the risk of blisters. It’s the cooling menthol in it which relieves itching by affecting itch receptors in the skin.


  • Take a hot shower (use antibacterial soap.) Pat dry your skin with a soft towel.
  • Take a small amount of the vapor rub and add some table salt to it.
  • Mix well and apply to the affected area.
  • Repeat if the swelling continues (otherwise, there is no need to repeat the process)

2. Cold Compress

A cold compress can help reduce the itching associated with chigger bites. Its numbing effect helps reduce the sensation of itchiness.


  • Wrap some ice cubes in a thin cloth.
  • Apply the compress to the bites for 10 minutes. Repeat if needed to relieve itching.

3. Baking Soda

Baking soda is another effective remedy to reduce rashes as well as itchiness. It acts as a natural acid neutralizer which helps relieve itching and reduces the risk of infection.


  • Add 1 cup of baking soda to a bathtub filled with cool water.
  • Stir well and soak in this water for 15 minutes and pat your skin with a soft towel. (Do this once daily)

Another remedy using baking soda:

  • Prepare a thin paste of 2 teaspoons of baking soda and a little water.
  • Apply the paste on the affected areas and leave it on for about 10 minutes.
  • Rinse it off with cool water.

Note: Do not use this remedy more than once or twice a day. Never use baking soda on broken skin or open wounds.

4. Oatmeal

Oatmeal contains anti-irritating, anti-inflammatory and soothing properties providing instant relief from itching–one of the common symptoms of chigger bites. It is recommended to use colloidal oatmeal, meaning oats which are ground into an extremely fine powder.

(You can accomplish this yourself by grinding regular oats in a sealed Ziploc bag, using the backside of a spoon to crush the oatmeal.)


  • Add 1 cup of colloidal oatmeal to a bathtub filled with warm water
  • Stir thoroughly
  • Soak in this mixture for at least 15-20 minutes
  • Repeat 2-3 times a day

5. Olive Oil

Olive oil can also be used to get relief from the irritation and inflammation. It is rich in vitamin E and antioxidants which reduce itching and facilitate healing.


  • After rinsing the affected area with water, apply olive oil to the chigger bite.
  • Reapply several times a day.

Another option using olive oil:

  • Mix a few drops of tea tree oil in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and apply on the affected area.
  • Repeat a few times a day.

Tips to Avoid Chigger Bites and Chigger Bites Infection

As summer and fall are prime time for chigger bites, it is best to take the following precautions:

  1. When hiking, stay in the center of the trail and avoid brushing up against vegetation.
  2. Wear long sleeves and long pants when going into the woods.
  3. Apply mosquito repellent on your hands, feet, and exposed skin on your arms before going outside.
  4. Shower immediately after being outdoors and use antibacterial soap.
  5. Wash your clothes in hot water.
  6. Resist the urge to scratch because breaking the skin on chigger bites can lead to a possible infection.

This video from Online Pest Control will show you tips to avoid chiggers and ways to get rid of chiggers:

Chigger bites much like other insect bites aren't only discomforting, they can be dangerous too. Many of these insects including chiggers carry diseases in some cases.

The best way to deal with these bugs is to avoid them or control them with our tips here. But, if you're so unlucky, you also now know the best home remedies to chigger bites!

Have you had to deal with chigger bites before? Tell us how, including more useful tips which worked for you in the comments section below!

Up Next:

Go to our Survival Life Store to shop some of our favorites self-defense tools and gear!

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr!

***Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer.***

Home Remedies For Chigger Bites |

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 28, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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9 Good Reasons To Carry A “Survival Stick”

Arm yourself with a survival stick, get savvy with it, but first, find out why as you read on!

RELATED: Deadly Parasols | Umbrella As A Self-Defense Weapon

In this article:

  1. Survival Hiking Stick
  2. Survival Stick for Support
  3. Fetching/Reaching Things
  4. Walking Staff Weapon for Self-Defense
  5. Balance
  6. Gauging Depth
  7. Carrying Gear and Supplies
  8. Club
  9. Fishing Rod

Survival Stick: An Underrated Multipurpose Tool?

The Survival Stick in History

A walking stick or a survival cane were popular in the 17th and 18th centuries as a decorative show of power and a defensive replacement for a sword. Yet, the truth is our ancestors have been using them for thousands of years, and for good reason…

…They work! Even the animal kingdom is smart enough to know just how useful these are:

(It may be hard to see, but this gorilla is holding a walking stick to gauge the depth of the water as she sloshes along)

A walking stick is not a new or revolutionary idea. In fact, the use of a walking stick predates history and its use continued on for generations including this present time.

Yet, it is one which is more often than not overlooked. When most people think of a walking stick, it is usually paired with a top hat or seen as a crutch for someone with a walking disability.

Far too few people even realize how important a walking stick can be, especially to someone in the outdoors. We will dig a little deeper into the many uses of a survival stick and maybe safely say, it could be the first multi-purpose survival tool.

Practical and Survival Uses for a Survival Stick

Walking sticks are also known as trekking poles, pilgrim's staffs, hiking poles and hiking staff have quite a few different uses:

1. Survival Hiking Stick

Hold the survival stick in front of you and you can use it to clear your way by parting brushes and branches or leaves and thick tall grasses. You can also use it to clear spiderwebs, especially if you're not too fond of spiders.

Other insects, animals, poisonous plants, and even animal dung can get in the way. Use a survival stick to inspect or poke at those things if you are unsure, and never ever your hands or your feet.

2. Survival Stick for Support

Hiker in Caucasus mountains is crossing mountain river | Good Reasons To Carry A "Survival Stick" | hiking staff
Making your way through an uneven terrain will be more manageable with a walking stick for support. Whether you're going up or down, use the walking stick to either slow you down or hold you up.

You can use your walking stick like breaks to keep you from speeding down or use it to latch on to a rock or crevice when you're climbing up. Besides for yourself, you can also use your multipurpose stick as a support for your tarp emergency shelter.

3. Fetching/Reaching Things

It happens–a supply or gear falling on water, mud, puddle or in an area you dare not walk into. You can fetch or reach for those items with a stick.

It also happens where you need an item over a physical barrier and only a stick can fetch the item for you. You can also reach for fruits, nest, or other food sources up a tree or high structure with a stick.

RELATED: Unusual Weapons From Around The World And How To Use Them

4. Walking Staff Weapon for Self-Defense

To use a survival stick as a weapon, make sure it's a sturdy stick with a finished look and not just any stick you found along the way. You can use it to defend yourself from an attacker whether it's human or animals.

I would suggest to train yourself in some form of martial arts using a stick like a baton as a weapon to have a better handle at it.

You can also fashion a spear with your stick by tying a survival knife on one end. Don't throw this spear though or you risk damaging or losing your knife and stick.

Hold on to your homemade spear and only use it to thrust at your target.

5. Balance

Hiker is crossing the river in Sweden | Hiker in Caucasus mountain | Good Reasons To Carry A "Survival Stick" | survival hiking stickWhen you're crossing a log bridge over a stream or you're going through the stream itself or other bodies of water, a walking stick can help you balance so you don't fall over. If you're walking through a muddy or rocky waterbed, a walking stick will help you up.

If you're up for it and if the body of water isn't too wide across, you can also use a long stick like a pole vault to cross over so you don't get yourself wet.

6. Gauging Depth

Relative to crossing bodies of water, a survival stick is handy in identifying dips beneath the waters which could cause you to stumble. You can also use the stick to identify where it's safe to take the next step.

You can also use this simple trick with the stick when you're traveling in deep snow, marshland, and even the dessert.

7. Carrying Gear and Supplies

Use your survival stick to help you carry gear and supplies. Pack your supplies with a shemagh, tie it tight to one end of your stick then place the stick over your shoulders in hobo fashion.

You can also carry more supplies with your survival stick. Even today, a carrying pole is used by indigenous people all over the world to carry heavy supplies you never thought possible.

Hang bags of supplies or jars of water on either side of the pole or stick, putting a stopper like a notch or tie on both ends so they don't fall off. Place the center of the stick over your shoulders and balance your load to your destination.

8. Club

Man carrying blue backpack | Good Reasons To Carry A "Survival Stick" | walking staff weapon
Use your survival stick like a club to knock obstacle down. A pillar of rocks or other objects may be on your way and a sturdy stick can help you safely knock those.

If you are in a building with glass doors or windows or inside a car, you can break the glass with a stick. Make to knock over pieces around your entrance or exit with the stick, too.

9. Fishing Rod

You only need to bring a fishing kit and your survival stick will make a good fishing rod. Tie a line on one end of your walking stick and fish away.

A DIY fishing pole is actually effective and many a fish has been caught this way.

As you guys and gals already know, I am a stickler for carrying things only if they have multiple uses. This guy managed to fit almost an entire survival kit into a walking stick he built from scratch, for under $20.00.

Check out this video from SOS 2054 I found, and find out for yourself, too:

A humble walking stick will indeed surprise you with what it can do for your defense, convenience, safety, and survival. Since you know now the practical and survival uses of this primitive multi-purpose tool, it won't surprise me if it lands a top spot on your list of survival tools for camping, hiking, or SHTF.

What other uses can you think of for carrying a “survival stick”? Let us know in the comments section below!

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**Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on October 11, 2013, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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