Wilderness survival. How do you do it?

I’ve seen tales on this forum of people who make worlds with virtually non-existent cities in them, because they wanted to try surviving without all of the resources of a city. I’d considered trying this a few times, but it just seems incredibly daunting.

So, to the veterans out there, how do you go about it?
What skills are your priorities?
How do you defeat the merciless cold?
Starting fires; fire drill/campfire drill, or something else?
What is the best source of food?
What about preserving food?
What about the infamous nutrition system; where do you get the proper vitamin levels?
I’m sure there are other things I am forgetting to ask, so if there’s any other advice, feel free to give it.
Please note that I am currently using PK’s Rebalancing, so cold is a problem, and most wildlife is a bit harder to kill for food. Any strategies/weapons to make that easier would be appreciated. I’m also using Cata++, so if you know any recipes in that mod that will make surviving easier, I would also appreciate that.

Thank you for your time.

As someone who doesnt stay ENTIRELY in the woods, but often spends a large amount of time there:

Survival, fabrication, tailoring, construction (if setting up a proper base) are all pretty useful skills.

Cold is beaten by getting some form of tent, if refusing to use buildings. A tent and good clothes can keep you warm through all but the coldest nights. You can make various makeshift tents/shelters using survival, I believe. It may also be worth going underground into a cave - they tend to have less variable temperatures.

Campfire drill served me well for a long time. There might be something better, but a drill is sufficient.

Foraging in the bushes can sustain you for a time, but if you need more food than that, good sources are: Ant hills (ALL the meat), swamps if you can take on swamp monsters (again, lots of meat and you can harvest cattails for both food and fiber), growing your own if you have the time and patience. I’ve heard good things about fishing, too, but there were no rivers near me when I did the wilderness stuff.

Easiest way to preserve food is salt. You can easily acquire this from salt water tiles in swamps, though be careful of monsters. You can also set up a smoking rack if you are dedicated enough, and smoked meat keeps just as well as salted. If you can put together a chemistry set (not sure if this is possible if staying entirely innawoods, but if you are still allowing labs and such it is easy) you can make sugar from fruit and then preserve other fruit as fruit leather. Acorn meal never goes off, same with flour you make from cattails/acorn meal.

tbh I mainly cheat the nutrition syste with multivitamins. I can’t help you here.

If looking at weapons, you should be able to get some spears together from nearly nothing without too many issues. Those will at least help taking most enemies down early - reach is a powerful thing. I’ll be honest, I punch my foes to death, so I cant help much here. Putting together a bow, or a sling if really early, seems like a good idea though.

I need a quick way to grind survival up to 2 at least. Foraging works from 0 to 1, but it’s too slow for anything above that. Making plant fibers from cattails is good, but requires a swamp.
Also, the makeshift shelter in construction, does it need to be activated somehow? I set one up, but it didn’t change the cold when standing on it, at all. If the makeshift shelter doesn’t prove sufficient to beat the cold, then what can I make to not freeze to death on Day 1?

I suppose I should supply a bit of background. I’m using a broken cyborg with Slow Healer, and spawning in the middle of nowhere, with no skill in anything except dodging, so I really can’t afford to take more damage than strictly necessary, that includes the cryo damage from cold.

How does one preserve food using salt? What components, skills, levels and tools are required?

Bone needle & digging stick.

Cyborg looks frail… I’d try lumberjack, and recommand medieval peasant.

When you are lucky, you can find cave which is empty. Safe and warm.

I will inevitably shamelessly plug More Survival Tools, if you haven’t tried it already. :V

Making jerky (salted meat) is actually very easy. Only tool requirement is a nearby fire (or other source of heat). Requires cooking 3 to make, and only needs meat and a source of salt (either as salt, salt water - thus allowing you to make it easily if next to a salt water tile - or various forms of seasoned salts. Also allows pepper if you happen to have that instead for some reason).

I didn’t realise that mod existed until you mentioned it, thank you. I quite like the throwing sticks, and they’re a great way to get survival to 2.

That will probably be useful, then, but I am starting with 0 cooking, so grinding that up will have to wait. Cold is my biggest problem. It stays -47 to -60 on every body part out there, and if it’s not snowing then it’s raining acid, so shelter is a major priority. Makeshift shelters take all day to get together because they require 2 survival, heavy sticks, pine boughs, a digging stick, something that can cut (so a stone knife, which takes another hour to make), a shallow pit and finally, 2 hours to actually construct. I finally finished one under relentless attack by giant mosquitoes, and sat in it to find that made no perceptible difference toward the cold. Do I need to do something to activate it somehow, or is that just the best I’m going to get? I’ve seen a few other constructions with the More Survival Tools mod, but I’m not sure where to get a tarp, or if going through the trouble would result in a superior shelter to the makeshift one.

Strings for fire drills are also a problem; the best place I know to get them is by making plant fiber from cattails. Does anyone know anywhere better?

If I recall, the shelter value of pine lean-tos and tarp lean-tos are both lower than improvised shelters, because terrain warmth is a hardcoded thing. There was a brief moment when someone helpfully added a warmth entry for pine lean-tos in the source, causing mod errors if you DIDN’T have the mod.

Honestly, pine lean-tos have caused by trouble since the day I added them, well before I ever released More survival Tools and only had it as my own personal mod. They’re also the reason MShock Modded exists.

So it’s not better, then. Good to know. How did two constructions bring about an entire tileset, though?

Fastest and easiest way to get survival from 1 to 2 is making tinder (it might be in the more survival tools mod, though). From 2 to 3 is crazy easy - just craft all those wild vegetables you found getting from 0 to 1 into stems. After 3, I just ignore it and let it go up as I forage and butcher as I go along, since I don’t really need it for anything else.

It started when I added pine lean-tos, and realized that if a terrain doesn’t have a tile assigned to it, it’ll display the fallback character used, but the lack of a background made the rest of the space become a reality-devouring void of insanity.

At least, that was back before that problem was fixed.

Wilderness survival? What, do I look like some sort of HIPPIE to you?!

Just kidding. As dumb as it sounds, I tend to hang out around swamps a lot especially during winter. Rivers tend to be very rare on the worlds I generate, so having a source of water without funnels is very useful. Plus if you get a good enough weapon, all those giant bugs and frogs are a good source of food. For clothing, I tend to use bone needles to grind my tailoring up so I can make fur clothes and all that garbage. I also layer a lot during winter, which throws off my encumbrance but it’s better than freezing to death.

On the contrary, it doesn’t sound dumb at all. Swamps seem to be a great source of meat + salt water for preserving it. I believe I’ve even seen a few fresh water pools in swamps, but I’m not quite sure about that one. I would layer clothing, if I had any to layer. Playing a broken cyborg means starting with just briefs, foot rags, a noise cancelling headgear, and a subject suit, and playing in the middle of nowhere means that there aren’t exactly ample supplies of clothing materials available until you get enough cooking and/or survival to cure/tan hide. Getting cooking/survival that high is quite difficult when most characters don’t make it out of Day 1.

I’m probably just getting my priorities wrong, but I’m having trouble figuring out what to focus on first. That’s why I wasted valuable forum space to pester other people for suggestions.

The biggest problem I’m having in this case isn’t starving or dying of dehydration, it’s the cold dealing cryo damage, and making all of my characters slower so that they’re in the cold for longer. I’ve looked into all available shelter options using resources found in the wilderness, but none seem to be sufficient in alleviating the merciless cold, and extra clothing isn’t an option unless a stray moose happens to reduce the Static NPC to paste.

Something with cutting would speed the process up greatly. You’d think that since fingertip razors can butcher (unless that’s some other bionic that the broken cyborg starts with) they would be able to cut too, but since they can’t I usually have to spend a great deal of time looking for resources to create a stone knife. A makeshift knife would be much faster, but it requires components that you have to find by foraging. If there are any other recipes for knives (or anything with cutting property) that can be made in less than an hour, and with forest resources, I would greatly appreciate hearing about them.

I’ll probably switch to another profession/scenario soon, the lack of first aid kits in the wilderness means that it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever be able to get the negative bionics out, and having a Leaky Bionic forever doesn’t sound very fun. While I’m on the subject, how bad is the health penalty for the Leaky Bionic. If I were to start a broken cyborg holed up in a town instead of the forest, should I prioritise getting it out? Is it bad enough to warrant attempting to remove it before getting high levels in the relevant skills? What skill levels are high enough to safely attempt it? I know the necessary tools for removing it (unless they have changed, that is), but what are recommended?

Well for me I’ve usually done Wilderness games and ended up starting usually near water or a swamp and I go for the basic survival needs primarily always as in any real-life survival manual.


Strike out, grab rocks and withered plants > knife > hammer > digging stick and stake out a prospective temp campsite. Bonus points for finding a 3x3 crafting area near salt and normal water. Got that in a swamp once and I built an entire base around those 2 tiles and lived for almost a year. :smiley: Build a lean-to or makeshift shelter or at least sleep in the pit that I dug for the shelter. I’ve never used a lean-to yet really ingame because needing an actual tree to make it always confused me and they were always really far from any main resource.

If you can find a Pine tree in a grove of trees surrounded by other fully grown trees and your back is against that “wall” makes for a great start of a base. For medium-immediate term security in a wilderness setting: I go for pits dug in circle around my camp with a 2x4 for a bridge out. I dig the pits at night when it’s cooler and I can’t craft without light and line them with Pointy Sticks and make sure at least 1 board is there so I can get out. Drag everything back to this camp as best I can if I can’t make a Vehicle/Travois if there’s no source of nails and live it out.

If I’m near a swamp and cattails: pick those up and get Mortar and Pestle/Quern running ASAP to make Starch > flour and ensure I can at least make Flatbread for a source of food and fiber > small thread from the plants. Everything else is supplementary with foraging to make Vegetable Sandwiches for the time.

Strike out and gather what I can carry depending on my clothing/carrying gear and if I’m naked - try best to get self covered up or at the very LEAST to get enough rocks together to build a fire pit or fireplace. No warmth means no cooking and foraging every bush I come across. If I’m lucky to find a tin can or glass container: even better. Whatever I find to eat I cut up HALF of it for seeds and till the land at night as well during non-crafting hours and plant to ensure that I at least have Dandelions to eat if desperate enough. XD

I always remind myself to no bank on civilization or coming across bodies/camps etc so self sufficiency is the name of the game and following the basic rules of survival as I’m able. I have spawned in games where there’s NOTHING but terrain in every direction and there’s been games I’ve run into cabins/gas stations etc on a route and nothing in every direction up until I get myself stabilized enough to at least hit the road clothed somewhat with water, a few days food, a travois-cart of some fashion and a reliable weapon.

Salt and a water source of some measure is always primary for me and wherever I find those I put down temp camp until I can move again to better locations. A Travois is always my priority seeing that it’s so difficult to transport your supplies by hand everywhere. Never got lucky with vehicles at all since I’ve been playing. They’ve either been absolutely wrecked or the character(s) not live long enough to get one running for Road Warrior games.

You can smash shrubs and shit for withered plants now. :V

Oh? Time to update my game then! This’ll help with my Wilderness (No buildings) challenge!

It wouldn’t matter though, as my current character in the wilderness challenge can produce all the string he wants!*

[move] …If I have a bunch of cattails*…[/move]

Can bushes be re-foraged? Maybe at the start of a new season, or something? One of the largest logistical challenges I can think of with a static base of operations is the exhaustion of supplies. If the bushes don’t refresh, then you would have to travel farther and farther each day to keep foraging for food, or rely solely on animal meat, which would lend itself to quick health deterioration. Planting things would work, if planting wasn’t impossible in Spring.

Edit: I’m not sure I’m using “logistical” correctly. Can anyone tell me if the term would apply in this circumstance?

They regrow when season changes. You can pluck more canvas sacks, glass bottles, or blood soaked rag from the new growth.

Agriculture based on wild vegetable and buckwheat should suffice.

what do the “lean-to’s” do? i made one myself but it really diden’t protect me from cold, i diden’t testrain tho, i only use it to hide my precious treasure (rocks amd sticks) from raiders whit shotguns as regular weapons