Skip to content

Ultimate SHTF Survival Skills You Wish You Knew

shtf survival skills

When it comes to survival, there are countless skills and tools that one might consider essential.

But how do you differentiate between what’s essential SHTF survival skills and what’s not?

The SHTF scenario (Sh*t Hits The Fan) is a situation many survival enthusiasts, or ‘preppers,’ prepare for.

The world as we know it can change in an instant, be it due to natural disasters, civil unrest, or any other unforeseen event.

Here’s a visualization comparing the preparedness levels of survivalists to the general population across various categories:


As you can see:

  • Food Supplies: Survivalists are significantly more prepared, with the majority having ample food supplies, whereas the general population tends to have much lower preparedness in this category.
  • Water Supplies: Similarly, survivalists prioritize water storage and purification methods, while the general population lags behind considerably.
  • Shelter & Tools: The disparity is evident here too, with survivalists being vastly more equipped with essential sheltering tools and materials.
  • First Aid: Preparedness in first aid is another area where survivalists excel. The general population, on the other hand, tends to be underprepared in this crucial category.
  • Navigation Tools: When it comes to navigation tools like compasses and maps, survivalists again dominate in preparedness levels.

This chart highlights the stark differences in preparedness between those who actively engage in survival and preparedness practices and the average individual.

In such a scenario, having the right knowledge and skills can save your life.

Here’s a list of the ultimate SHTF survival skills you’ll want to master.

1. The Survival Mindset

Above all else, the survival mindset is the most important survival skill to have. This refers to the mental toughness and resilience required in any survival scenario.

Even if you don’t have all the tools or the best preparation, a strong will and determination can increase our chances of making it through.

Planning and Packing for a Long Journey

2. Basic First Aid

In a SHTF situation, access to medical facilities may be limited. Having a first aid kit and knowing the basics of first aid training can be a lifesaver. Make sure you have enough supplies, know how to use them, and regularly practice these skills.

3. Fire Making Skills

Being able to start a fire is essential. Not just for warmth, but also to cook your food and purify water.

Skills like using a flint and steel, knowing which plants and materials are best for fire-making, and maintaining a fire are all crucial.

4. Water Purification

Safe to drink water can be hard to come by in a survival situation. Techniques to purify water, whether through boiling, water filter devices, or water purification tablets, are critical survival skills.

5. Food Procurement

Knowing how to find food, whether through foraging for edible plants that grow in the wild or setting up snares to catch animals, is a skill many people take for granted.

In a true SHTF scenario, the last thing you want is to be without a meal. You may also want to learn how to grow your own food for long-term preparedness.

6. Shelter Building

Protection from the elements can be the difference between life and death. Skills like carpentry and knowing how to build a shelter from natural materials are essential.

You’ll also need to know how to adapt these skills for both wilderness survival and urban survival situations.

Shelter Building

7. Navigation

In a world without GPS or even a simple map, knowing how to use a compass and being aware of your surroundings becomes paramount. Urban or wilderness, your navigation skills can keep you out of danger and lead you to safety.

8. Self-Defense and Security

In a SHTF scenario, civil unrest and dangerous situations can arise. Whether it’s hand-to-hand combat or knowing how to use a firearm, self-defense skills can protect you and your loved ones. In an urban environment, urban survival skills like securing a location become just as crucial.

9. Carpentry and Building

Beyond just shelter, carpentry skills can be useful for building tools, repairing structures, and creating fortifications. In an urban disaster, you might also need to know how to barricade or reinforce existing structures.

10. Preparedness and Planning

When it comes to preparedness, having a bug out bag, essential survival gear, and a plan can make all the difference.

Preppers often have EDC (Every Day Carry) survival tools ready for any situation. Regularly prep and review your plan with friends and family members.

Preparedness and Planning

11. Urban Survival Skills

Many survival guides focus on wilderness survival, but urban survival skills are equally important. In an urban survival situation, knowing how to find resources in a city, adapting to an urban disaster, and practicing skills like bartering become crucial.

12. Other Essential Skills

There are simply too many survival skills to list in one article. From knowing how to sew and repair clothing to understanding basic survival medicine, there’s a lot one can learn and practice. As the old saying goes, “knowledge is power.” Equip yourself with as many skills as you can.

What Survival Skills Do I Need?

Here’s a list of skills you need to learn and must know, categorized by type:

Type of Skills Skills to Learn
Basic Start a fire, Water purification, First aid, Use a compass
Intermediate Build a shelter, Urban survival skills, Food foraging
Advanced Self-defense, Carpentry, Survival medicine

If you’re new to the world of survival, check out our 101 guide to get started.


The world as we know it can be unpredictable. While we hope never to face a true SHTF situation, wilderness survival skills and preparedness can be our best ally.

By equipping ourselves with the skills mentioned above and continuously learning and practicing, we not only increase our chances of survival but also empower ourselves to face any challenge.

Remember, survival isn’t just about having the right tools, learn how to use but also the right knowledge and mindset. So, pick a skill you didn’t think you needed, and start practicing today.

After all, when it comes to survival, you can never be too prepared and important skills to have.



What is the difference between survival and bushcraft?

Bushcraft is more about thriving in the wild using skills like carving, trapping, and fire making, while survival is about enduring adverse conditions. Learn more about the differences here.

How do I prepare for a natural disaster?

Preparation involves both mental readiness and physical resources. Make sure you have enough supplies, create a bug out bag, and have a plan. Check out our guide on natural disaster preparedness.

How many survival skills are there?

There are simply too many survival skills to count. From basic to advanced, there’s always something many people want to learn and practice. The key is to focus on the skills that are most relevant to your environment and potential scenarios.

Where can I get survival gear?

From EDC survival tools to comprehensive bug out bags, there are many online and physical stores where you can purchase survival gear. Our ultimate guide offers recommendations and reviews.

Why is mental preparedness important?

Mental strength is often overlooked, but it’s critical. In any survival scenario, panic and fear can be your biggest enemies. A calm, logical mindset can increase our chances of making it out alive.

To truly be prepared, it’s not just about the gear or the skills you acquire, but the mindset you cultivate. No matter where you are on your preparedness journey, remember that the best time to learn and practice these skills is now. Stay safe, stay prepared, and always be ready for whatever the future may be like.