Every generation is skilled at using the technology of its era. For example, people today are very good at driving cars, using smartphones, setting up home entertainment systems, and so forth. The problem is, if the end of the world as we know it ever happens, all those skills will be useless. The skills of our forefathers, on the other hand, will never be useless.
Below, we’ll take a look at 30 survival skills from our past that have mostly been forgotten today. If you want to be able to survive in a world where relying on technology isn’t an option, these skills are certainly worth learning.
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Note: For each skill, I included links to resources where you can learn how to develop that skill.
1. Hand Washing Clothes
These days, almost everyone owns a washer and dryer, and those who don’t are able to rely on a visit to the laundromat. Washing clothes without these conveniences, though, is a forgotten skill.
Here is how to wash clothes by hand.
Being able to accurately fire a gun is a skill that takes dedication and practice. At one time, it was an essential skill for survival. Today, though, few people know their way around a firearm.
To get started, check out this guide to marksmanship.
3. Navigating Without a GPS
GPS’s have made navigation incredibly easy. But now that almost everyone has a powerful GPS in their pocket at all times, not many people know how to navigate without one.
Here is how to navigate without GPS.
4. Building a Fire
Building a fire isn’t as easy as they make it look in the movies. Even with the right tools and ideal conditions, getting a fire started can sometimes be a challenge – and it’s a skill that few people today have acquired.
Here is how to start a fire without matches.
Prey animals have spent their entire lives avoiding predators, and they are very talented at it – which makes hunting a real challenge. In an era where fresh meat is always a trip to the supermarket away, hunting has become a forgotten skill.
Here are the basics of hunting.
Fishing may be a slightly easier skill to acquire than hunting, but it still requires a lot of learning and practice. Without the right gear and strategy, fish can be very difficult to catch.
7. Purifying Water
Constant access to clean, pure drinking water is a very modern convenience. In the past, though, knowing how to purify water was essential for survival.
Here are some of the many ways to purify water.
8. Preserving Food
Thanks to our abundant supply of food as well as the invention of freezers and refrigerators, knowing how to preserve food is no longer a necessity. Without these modern-day conveniences, though, food preservation is essential for survival.
Here is our beginner’s guide to emergency food storage.
9. Tying Knots
Everyone knows how to tie a knot in a string, but few people these days are able to tie a wide range of more-complicated knots.
Here are five of the most useful knots.
10. Raising Animals
Outside of farmers, few people raise their own animals these days. However, animal husbandry still remains a very useful skill to know.
Before you start raising animals, check out this list of the most popular animals to raise.
Sewing used to be a skill that almost all women and even many men were taught at an early age. Today, though, few people know even the simplest sewing methods.
Here is a brief introduction to sewing.
12. Cooking from Scratch
Putting together meals is now easier than it has ever been in the past, but this also means that most people have forgotten the skills necessary to cook at a tasty, healthy meal from scratch.
Sadly, cooking from scratch is becoming a lost art.
13. Predicting the Weather
Today, figuring out what the weather is going to be like is as easy as turning on the television or pulling up an app on your phone. In the past, though, being able to predict the weather without these modern conveniences was essential for survival.
Here are some old fashioned ways to predict the weather.
14. Self Defense
There was a time when it was common for fathers to teach their sons how to defend themselves. Today, self-defense is an important skill for men and women alike, but it is certainly less common for people to know.
Here are some basic self-defense tips, but you’re better off taking a martial arts class of some kind.
15. Butchering An Animal
Even if you know how to raise your own animals for meat, you’ll also need to know how to butcher them. This is a more complicated process than many people realize and it’s a skill that must be acquired.
Here are some tips for butchering at home.
16. Using Cloth Diapers
Before the days of disposable diapers, cloth diapers were all that was available. If the day comes when you can no longer purchase disposable diapers, learning how to use cloth diapers is going to be a necessity.
Here’s a beginner’s guide to cloth diapers.
Our abundance of food and the ease in which we are able to acquire it has eliminated the need for many skills, including gardening. As far as survival skills go, though, gardening is one of the most important.
Here is our beginner’s guide to urban survival gardening.
18. Keeping Yourself Entertained
We have so many sources of entertainment and distraction these days that not many people are comfortable entertaining themselves without outside stimulation. In a world without electronics, knowing how to keep yourself entertained is very useful.
To learn what it takes to keep yourself entertained without relying on technology, here are some ways to entertain yourself for free.
19. Mechanic Work
Though we are very reliant on mechanical things, not many people know how to work on them without the help of a professional. At one time, though, most everyone knew how to repair their own cars, motorcycles, and other mechanical products.
Here’s how you can learn to fix cars.
We aren’t used to having to barter for the things we buy today, but bartering used to be a way of life. It’s an important skill to know should we ever have to go back to purchasing things locally rather than buying them from a nationwide chain.
21. First Aid
Thanks to the convenience of modern medicine, few people have to worry about treating their own wounds. Nevertheless, first aid remains one of the most valuable forgotten skills that a person can learn.
To learn the basics of first aid that may one day save your life, check out this Red Cross guide.
22. Keeping Warm
Not many people today have to worry about dying of hypothermia. But in the past, knowing how to keep warm – both inside and outside the home – was essential for survival.
Here are some ways to keep warm when it’s freezing outside.
23. Making Do With What You Have
We live in an era of excess. If we ever return to a time when life isn’t so full of plenty and abundance, many people will struggle to adapt.
Here are some tips on how to make the best of what you have.
24. Making Cleaning Products
People didn’t used to purchase pre-made cleaning products from the store. Instead, they made their own cleaning products with the raw materials that were available at the time.
Here is a list of homemade cleaning products and how to make them.
25. Home Maintenance
In the past, when something broke down in the home, people would fix it themselves. Today, however, the skills of home maintenance are only known by a select few.
26. Building a Shelter
Knowing how to build an effective shelter is key to wilderness survival. During the times where people would travel out into the woods without the convenience of a portable tent, knowing how to build a shelter was a vital skill.
Here are some designs for wilderness shelters.
27. Driving a Vehicle With a Manual Transmission
Automatic transmissions haven’t always been around, and there was a time when everyone drove a manual. Today, the ability to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission is becoming increasingly less common.
Here is how to drive a manual vehicle.
28. Locating a Campsite
Not every spot in the woods is suited for a campsite, and choosing the right spot to set up camp is a skill in and of itself.
29. Avoiding Panic
We live very comfortable lives compared to the lives of our ancestors, which means that most people today are a lot more likely to panic when things take a turn for the worse.
Here are some tips for staying calm during a disaster.
30. Repurposing Items
Throwing things away used to be unheard of. Instead, people would repurpose old items and find new ways to make use of them.
Here are several dozen repurposing ideas to try out.
Even mastering just a few of these skills will put you leagues ahead of the average person, thus giving you a much greater chance of survival after a disaster. Pick one that interests you the most and start practicing. Once you get a little burnt out on it, move on to a different skill. Just be sure to get back to the first one later. With this list of survival skills, you’ll never be bored again!
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