SURVIVE! The Ultimate How-To Guide

What to do when the you-know-what hits the fan.
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When Sir Ernest Shackleton crossed the icy glaciers of South Georgia Island in 1916—the final hurdle of his 16-month epic in Antarctica—he didn’t have crampons, so he twisted metal boat screws into the soles of his boots for traction. In a similarly brilliant stroke, John Wesley Powell, trapped on a cliff 400 feet above the Colorado River without a rope, had his men scramble up to nearby ledges and pin him to the wall with long oars so he could climb down. And John Muir crawled inside a hollow tree trunk to escape the flames of a Sierra wildfire. It seems H.G. Wells was right: “Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.” To learn how to grapple with life-or-death scenarios, improvise survival tools when key gear gets lost, and grade your own emergency skills, read on.

In The Wild with… Only a Knife

Lost with…Only a Bottle of Whiskey

Injured with…No First-Aid Kit

Need Fire But Have…No Tinder

Crossing an Icefield with No Crampons

Stuck in Powder With...No Snowshoes

Lost with...Only Some Junk Food

Off-Course With No Map or Compass

In the Cold with...No Body Heat

Famished but with…No Cooking Pots

In the Backcountry With a Missing Partner

Lost with Only a Trash Bag

In Dire Straits With Enough Battery Life for...Only One Call

Must Cross a Raging River With No Personal Flotation Device

Cliffed Out With No Climbing Gear

Survival: Stuck at a Remote Trailhead With... A Dead Car Battery

Deal with a Snagged Rope