Are primitive skills important?

From time to time, the question about the importance of learning primitive survival skills comes up. What with all the modern devices we have access to today, from strike anywhere matches to camp stoves that will cook our meals while charging our cell phones, do we really need to know how to do things the old way?

You bet we do. Supplies and gear are finite resources. They won’t last forever. They can break or get lost. They can run out of fuel or power.

Knowledge, however, is infinite. The more you know, the less you need to rely on gear.

Don’t get me wrong. If I’m in a survival situation and need to get a fire going, the first thing I’m reaching for is a butane lighter. If that’s not available, then matches. If I’ve run out of those, I’ll grab a spark lighter. Only after exhausting these options will I try more primitive methods.

Survival situations often hinge upon energy. You need to conserve energy as much as possible. Gear and supplies allow you to do so by giving you easier means of accomplishing goals. But, if that gear is not available to you, then you need to know how to do it yourself.

There are a wide variety of texts as well as Youtube videos that can show you primitive methods of starting fires, making cordage, cooking without utensils, and related skills. However, if you have the means to do so, I’d encourage you to take a few classes in person at facilities like Willow Haven Outdoor as there is nothing better than face to face learning when it comes to things like this.

Published by

Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

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