Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
I’ve met a lot of preppers who, although they have a lot of emergency supplies, don’t spend much time practicing survival skills. Instead, they do things most people do: watch TV, play video games, browse social media, and so forth. While there’s nothing wrong with these things, they’re not going to help you if a major disaster strikes.
Now more than ever, I think it’s important to take up hobbies that will be useful in a grid-down scenario. Remember, once you’re in an SHTF situation, it will be too late to learn how to build a fire, hunt for food, or grow a garden. Instead, you should start practicing these skills right now.
Below is a list of 20 hobbies that will improve your survival skills. You’ll find each of them to be more fulfilling than staring at a screen. (Unless you’re reading this site, of course. 😉)
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Gardening improves your survival skills for obvious reasons – it increases the likelihood of feeding yourself and your family. Start a small garden in your backyard, gradually adding more plants and herbs.
Gardening is one of the first skills people begin that takes them on the survival and homesteading journey, so give it a try!
Start by reading this vegetable garden for beginners.
Food foraging is gathering wild food, a skill that all of our ancestors knew well. As a child, you might have picked wild blackberries and enjoyed them, but many wild edibles exist everywhere.
Foraging takes a lot of knowledge, so take your time and be cautious, but knowing what is edible is a valuable resource when the SHTF.
Check out this article to learn more about the art of foraging.
3. Baking and Cook From Scratch
Our ancestors knew how to turn from scratch ingredients into delicious meals. Learning how to cook from scratch is a fun hobby that helps you save money and cook better food for your family.
Many people don’t consider cooking from scratch a survival skill, but you need to know how to take the ingredients on hand and turn them into food for your family to enjoy. Start by reading all about cooking from scratch for beginners.
4. Preserving Food
Food preservation is a valuable survival skill and a hobby that many people love, myself included. I love to spend time canning and preserving food for my family, especially the food I grow in my garden.
Most people think of canning when they imagine food preservation, but it’s more than that. Take a look at this list of 15 ways to preserve foods.
5. Home Brewing
Brewing your own beer at home or making homemade wine is a hobby perfect for those who appreciate a good drink after work. It allows you to be creative and try new flavors, finding things you never knew you would like.
When it comes to survival skills, alcohol makes an excellent barter item. Some people will want to drink the SHTF away, which might get you things you want. Also, everyone needs a good drink when things in the world go crazy.
Beekeeping is one of the best hobbies to improve your survival skills. Of course, having beehives gives you a sugar source – honey – but it also helps bring pollinators to your garden and gives you beeswax. In addition, you can use beeswax to create candles, ointments, salves, and so many other products.
For prepping, having bees ensures you always have a sweetener on hand; honey lasts for centuries – seriously. We have found honey that’s over 3,000 years old!
Start here with this backyard beekeeping for beginners guide.
7. Raising Animals
Some might say that raising animals isn’t a hobby, but it’s enjoyable and brings a new element into your life. I say it’s a hobby, especially raising chickens, because chicken math is a real thing.
Once you learn how to raise animals by yourself, it increases your family’s food security for any situation. I suggest starting with chickens or ducks before moving to goats and other larger animals.
Read this beginner’s guide that covers everything you need to know when you’re ready to start raising backyard chickens.
Hunting is a great hobby to have for adults and kids. It helps fill your freezer with organic meat and reduces your grocery budget at the same time.
Knowing how to hunt ensures you always have meat for your family, and that’s a big deal in a survival scenario. Protein is needed to maintain weight and fuel your body for the hard work you will inevitably have.
If you’ve never spent time hunting, read this step-by-step guide for new adult hunters.
Our family loves to fish; it’s a hobby we all enjoy, including our kids, but it’s also a survival skill. Fish is an excellent source of protein and essential fatty acids for your diet.
So, toss a line in the water and spend your day fishing, but call it training to survive. Like anything else, the more time you spend fishing, the better you will be at this skill.
Here’s a great beginner’s guide to fishing.
Have you ever seen animal tracks on your property and wondered what animal walked through your yard? Tracking helps you identify animals through their tracks and scat. This is a skill that kids can develop alongside their parents, combining it with hunting and trapping to secure food for your family.
Here is a basic animal tracks identification guide to help you get started.
Join an archery club; you’ll find clubs for adults and children, or set up a target in your backyard. Archery is a fun hobby to practice and not too expensive when compared to firearms since arrows are reusable.
Learning how to shoot a bow and arrow is a great survival skill; bullets run out eventually, but you can make homemade arrows in a pinch. You’ll always be able to feed your family if you’re a skilled archer.
Start by reading this archery guide for beginners.
Camping gets your family out in nature, spending time together. Our family loves camping; we spend time swimming, fishing, hiking, and cooking over a fire. We sleep in our tent and have a great time.
Not only is camping an excellent hobby for families, but it also gives you a way to practice plenty of your survival skills. For example, cooking over a campfire is far from easy; it takes some practice! Read these camping tips for beginners to make your first experience a positive one.
Hiking is something that families can do together for fun and exercise, and it helps you prepare for survival. You never know what will happen when the SHTF, but you might need to bug out and hike long distances. Having experience hiking will be a boon in those situations.
Start reading this Hiking 101: The Complete Guide to Hiking.
14. Firing Firearms
Working with firearms is always a great hobby; our family enjoys target shooting at local ranges together. Start with learning basic firearm safety and take time to learn how to target shoot.
Learning how to handle and fire firearms is highly beneficial as a survival skill. Firearms are used for hunting game for food and as self-defense. I recommend working with a local professional at a firearm store to help you learn all the basics and feel comfortable using them independently.
Here is a fantastic beginner’s guide to guns.
15. Tying Knots
Kids love to practice tying knots; I know my kids have practiced tying my shoes together plenty of times. However, tying knots is more than learning how to tie shoes; it’s a survival skill. You might be surprised by the large variety of knots you can tie and challenge your family to learn how to untie them.
Read this guide on the best survival knots you need to know.
16. Making Soap
Making soap is a fun hobby to start at home. Homemade soap might not save you money, but you can come up with fun combinations of scents, and everyone loves homemade soaps as gifts.
Knowing how to make soap at home is a great survival skill; hygiene matters when the SHTF. Poor hygiene increases the risk of infections, which are deadly if antibiotic access is limited.
Learning how to make soap at home is far easier than you imagine!
17. Making Candles
If the power goes out, you need candles, so learning how to make candles yourself and having the supplies to do so (get those beehives) is an excellent skill to have. Plus, homemade candles are one way to make money at home, and they make wonderful gifts.
My kids and I spent time making homemade candles; it’s a lot easier than making soap, in my opinion, and just as helpful!
Another skill that our ancestors knew well was sewing; everyone knew how to sew, especially women. Nowadays, few know how to sew correctly, especially hand-sewing, but it’s a skill that serves you well.
How often have you gotten a hole in an item you loved? Instead of tossing it out, mending and sewing help items last for longer and extend their lifespan. Check out this sewing guide for beginners and everything you need to have to start sewing.
Blankets are something that everyone always needs, and quilting is a hobby that keeps your family warm. It gives you a way to recycle fabric and create something new out of used items. It’s possible to turn old shirts into beautiful quilts.
Before you get started, learn all about the basics of quilting and consider taking a class or two. Many craft stores offer them for a low price.
20. Knitting and Crocheting
Knitting and crocheting are useful hobbies that allow you to make something useful with your hands and time. I spend a lot of time working with yarn, crafting items for my family and friends.
Knowing how to knit or crochet gives you a way to create usable items your family needs like blankets, mittens, and scarves in a survival scenario. Crocheting and knitting aren’t the same; they use needles and yarn, but that’s where the similarities end. So, you have to learn how to crochet and how to knit separately!
Having hobbies that offer enjoyment is fantastic, but if you also enjoy hobbies that improve your survival skills, you kill two birds with one stone. Try adding a few of these hobbies into your free time to see what you love the most.