Surviving in the desert is simpler than you think. Deserts are beautiful and there’s nothing more amazing than visiting an exciting and foreign place, but they can also be scary if you are not prepared for what could happen. There is a reason that humans have, in general, decided to settle outside of deserts. That doesn’t mean that you should be deprived of seeing their beauty — on the contrary, you should still be able to visit and experience these beautiful places.
The fact that deserts are desolate only adds to their mysterious charm. You do need to be very prepared, however, as that is the most important factor when it comes to surviving in the desert. You will find it a lot easier to survive in the desert if you go fully prepared, but there are ways to survive and even thrive in an emergency. Even if you don’t have all the supplies that you need, you still have to ensure that your mindset allows you to provide for yourself. Arm yourself with both knowledge and tools to take on these arid landscapes.
Here’s what you will need to follow this tutorial:
We can recommend that you drink all the water in the world, but the most important thing when it comes to survival is how you handle it. As long as you are fully prepared and you know that there are different ways to survive in the desert, you shouldn’t panic. Panic is the easiest way to forget everything that you have learned. It also happens to be the easiest way to waste your resources.
The importance of water cannot be overstated. It’s very easy to get dehydrated in the desert because of the high temperature and the fact that there is no shade. Water can be a little heavy to carry, but it is really important that you take enough with you. You should plan to take several canteens since finding water in these environments is incredibly difficult. You should be drinking more than a gallon a day when you are in the desert so make sure that you have enough space between all your things to pack for that much per day, at least. For instance, if you are planning to stay in the desert for two days, you should make sure that you have two gallons of whatever. Remember that this is a minimum — ideally, you would be drinking more than that!
Don’t rely on your phone’s GPS to get you through the desert. A million things could happen. It is likely that you won’t have signal or your phone may die after you use it for a while — where are you going to charge it? — so it is really important that you have a map, or several maps, handy. The locals who live near the desert often have intimate knowledge of it and can mark a route on a map for you. You may also have some luck with topographical maps. Rely on people who have already charted the terrain. They know where the water is, and, most importantly, they know how to make sure that you get out.
Your body isn’t designed to withstand temperatures like the ones in the desert. It’s certainly not designed to take constant exposure from the sun during the day, not while you are walking and trying to find your way out. Even indirect sun is taxing on your body, no matter how in shape you are. That’s why it’s really important that you wear a hat or some other protective head garment. This way, it won’t work as hard to keep itself cool, which is good news for you. When your body isn’t so worried about keeping you cool, you’re less likely to get dehydrated or be affected by heatstroke. Your head covering is always really important, so if you have to swap an item of clothing for it — for instance, if you lose your hat and only have a shirt — then you should definitely do that.
You may think that looking for food in the desert would be a fun challenge. The issue is both that it is incredibly difficult to find creatures who live in arid climates and that would be appropriate for human consumption. There is also the inconvenience of having to make a fire and cook what you have found. The type of food that’s available depends on the desert you find yourself in, but you don’t want to risk it. Make sure that you take enough food.
When you are in the desert, you are probably going to find yourself in the position of having to build a shelter. You want to make sure that you have everything necessary for that. One of those things is a blanket.
Deserts don’t just get really hot during the day. The fact that there are no mountains surrounding them mean that the temperature drop during the night is very drastic. You need to be prepared to hide from the elements both during the day and during the night, so it’s important that you take enough clothes to bundle up for when you are about to go to sleep.
There’s no electricity in the desert and, if you end up traveling at night, you’re going to want to be able to see.
Now that you have all your stuff together, it’s time to go to the desert!
1. Don’t drink too much water
I know, it seems counterintuitive. I just told you that you needed to pack a lot of water and now I’m telling you not to drink it. You should drink as much water as possible, but you shouldn’t wait until you’re thirsty to do so. You may feel like you need to store your water and save it for when you are truly dehydrated, but that’s the opposite of what you need to do. Long sips are the way to go. Small sips may actually not be enough to hydrate your internal organs, so while you might feel like you’re hydrated, you’re not actually helping yourself that much.
That said, you should also try to conserve water if you are short on it. It’s important that you monitor how hydrated you are. You can do this through your urine. Light-coloring means that you’re good but dark-coloring means that you need to have more water.
2. Don’t drink the desert water
You are probably not going to find water in the desert, but if you do, proceed with caution. You don’t know that the water you find is potable. There could be a few issues here. Water in the desert tends to be underground, so it’s very hard to find with the naked eye. Water may also have a high salt content, which means that, if you drink it, you will get dehydrated more quickly. Even worse, you may end up getting sick, which can lead to a quicker rate of dehydration.
3. Don’t drink cactus water
While it’s true that a cactus will have water in it, unless you know your plant species really, really well, you should probably steer well clear of drinking cactus water. This should be your very last resort. Yes, certain species have a lot of water inside of them. Cactus water won’t just hydrate you, though, it will make you sick. This is because of Oxalic Acid, something that cacti need but is toxic to humans.
4. Stay hungry
You have your food, but it’s also important that you stay hungry. Satiety makes you thirstier and if you don’t have that much water, it’s important to keep your food intake down. Remember, your body can survive for way longer without food than it can without water.
5. Shelter your body
Some deserts have fauna where you can seek some shade, but the several are open, vast spaces that you are going to have to make your way through. It’s really important that you shelter your head and the rest of your body. Wear a hat. If it’s still too hot to travel during the day under those conditions, then you can always build a shelter and travel at night.
6. Shelter your environment
The most important part of this step is ensuring that you find yourself some shelter. You can make a desert shelter out of sticks, rocks and your bed sheet during the hottest parts of the day to completely cover yourself. That way, you can rest when it would be too punishing to travel and you can save your energy for when it’s a little cooler. If it’s very, very hot, you can always build a shelter by digging into the ground and tying your blanket on top of your newly-dug trench. That’s going to be a lot cooler than staying on the surface, but it will take a lot more energy than a regular makeshift shelter so you should seriously consider whether this is something that you need to do.
Remember, the most important thing when you are trying to survive in the desert is to keep your wits about you, stay hydrating and don’t overextend yourself. Keeping your energy is really important and if you have to stop and take a break when it’s too hot or when you are tired, then you should. Listen to your body. Don’t eat anything if you don’t know what it is. Deserts are beautiful and getting to experience them is a once in a lifetime thing, but you should be thoroughly prepared.
Follow these tips to survive in the desert and don’t forget to share your own with us! If you find this how-to useful, make sure to share it with your friends, too.