Wilderness Preparedness - A Full-Length Survival Guide In Your Pocket

Wilderness Preparedness - A Full-Length Survival Guide In Your Pocket

How is the Tight Spot Real-Time Guide for Wilderness Survival unique?

I have been collecting wilderness survival stories, tips, skills, guides, instructions, experiences, case studies, best practices, strategies, failures, and triumphs for decades. Along the way, I’ve also found many rumors, exaggerations, myths, assumptions, and too many tall tales to mention. Every survival guide, article, and course is at least partially useful (even if just as a what-NOT-to-do) and many of them are at least generally educational and useful. Unfortunately, an uncomfortable number have made me bury my face in my hands with concern for anyone in a tight spot who may try to apply some of the information that these resources recommend.

With that context, and a desire to consolidate the best experience and information for my own benefit, I began to define and outline a purely practical new kind of survival guide specifically for getting out of a tight spot in real-time.

I started by creating a list of requirements for myself:


Many survival guides, books, articles, and courses conflict with each other on various aspects of survival. They may advise different steps at difference times, use contradictory methods, and even omit steps that can be critical in certain scenarios, leaving the reader to wonder what applies and when. Who is right? What really works? When should it be done? What is practical? What is missing for my situation? I set out to dig deep into a wide variety of real-world scenarios and case studies and get to what I believe are the true best practices.


Some tips are either obsolete, theoretical, or never worked in reality in the first place, yet they were perpetuated, reprinted, and copied from old survival manuals as filler or as answers to situations for which the compilers didn’t have a good answer or may not have had experience or knowledge. I got to the bottom of many of these myths, and either omitted them entirely, or incorporated the practical reality into mine.


Our Tight Spot company tagline is “Knowledge When You Need It.”™ I found a pattern in search and rescue lost person case studies and countless reports from those who survived (I’m sure most of those who didn’t would report the same things) that in a tight spot, even the very experienced person struggles with clarity of thought. Even very basic things can get lost or jumbled in the panic of the situation; add injuries to the mix and the combination can become dire very quickly.

It’s clear from the research that having a trusted source of emergency survival information, in the moment that they need it, would make a big difference when misfortune combines. The problem is that most survival guides are far too heavy and bulky to be brought on most outings like backpacking, outdoor sports, wilderness walks, and adventure travel. And they certainly don’t accompany us on every random exposure to the wilderness that we may have. Yet, so many survival situations happen in unexpected times and can be anytime we explore, pass through, ride across, paddle on, fly over, or even circumnavigate wilderness areas. Even small state parks have their share of lost person incidents.

Another factor I considered in that tight spots often occur as a result of severe weather or in wet or snowy seasons where moisture is a consistent threat. Any guide I would produce would have to withstand the elements and be durable enough to go on many adventures.

From all of this, it was clear to me that my guide would have to be compact and lightweight enough to fit into a pocket, and it must be printed on a durable paper that is waterproof and tear-resistant.


Many "survival" guides dedicate space to camp craft and bushcraft projects and long term survival that is closer to homesteading than solving life-threatening emergencies. What seemed to be needed most was a guide with a total focus on getting back to safety, one way or another, as soon and safely as possible.

Many guides also delve deep into specific topics that assume the reader is on the higher end of experience and competence, only to lose them and, in effect, waste that space in their instruction. In a survival situation, avoiding distracting time-consuming activities, particularly those that will most likely yield only a minor benefit (if any), can mean the difference between life and death, or at least they risk further disorientation and/or calorie depletion.


I decided to throw out all other priority lists I had heard and approach it fresh with no assumptions. I had to establish a survival priority sequence that applies to the most situations, but doesn’t compromise real needs to do it.

This was the second hardest task of the project; to find a layout, design, and referencing system that was clear and flexible enough to present the specific steps that need to be taken for survival and returning home for the greatest variety of tight spot scenarios. A linear step-by-step real-time guide was what I planned to create. Satisfying this motivation took more thinking and effort than all but one other aspect of the project (described in my last point below).


My own personal observations and experience were corroborated by my research into case studies that the single most important beneficial factor in mortal struggles of every kind is a person’s determination to live. This applies not only to wilderness survival but to serious illnesses and injuries, violent encounters, psychological trauma, etc.

The second common theme that unified a significant portion of survivors is the importance of having faith, not only in those who report you missing and those who are searching for you, but in God. Paired with my own affection for the principle of faith, I had to be certain to give appropriate and beneficial coverage to the importance and impact of both the mental and spiritual aspects of survival. This content comes at the end of the guide, but is not to be seen as lower in priority, but as an appendix reference that contextualizes, enlivens, and qualifies the whole work.

It must BE CONCISE, CLEAR, and relatively SIMPLE, yet remain COMPREHENSIVE

This was my most difficult task. While I love to learn new things and practice skills as much as anyone, we all must admit that many works on the topic of wilderness survival include content (sometimes a lot of content) that isn’t directly related to the process of saving your life. Paradoxically similar, too much of what is written directly for survival can be inadequate or unclear to follow in many real-world scenarios. It’s unintentionally distracting, but an obstacle nevertheless. Most of these experts know their stuff, but perhaps take too much for granted about what their readers actually know and understand about what to do and how. To avoid these issues, I approached this project with my sweet city-girl wife in mind. She loves nature but has no experience in wilderness know-how. Precise practical instructions are most needed to be most useful to the most people. I also approached the problem of being in a tight spot, lost and/or injured, from the search and rescue perspective. By studying SAR procedures, strategies, and best practices I refined my instructions within the guide to help the reader take actions to be more easily found.


After more than a hundred revisions, layout adjustments, reductions, distillations, and nearly endless rearrangements to get it all to fit and be clear and straightforward to read, over almost 15 years of versions and sub-versions, the full and complete Tight Spot Real-Time Guide for Wilderness Survival is now available and eager to be your trusted and constant companion in the outdoors.

I genuinely hope you never need it to save your life. But if you do, I hope and pray that it will be just what you need to get home safely.

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