Most of us are familiar with the popular survival adage “The more you know, the less you need!” There are a lot of “survival guys” (and girls) that use this adage as a way to disparage other “survival guys” (and girls) that have a tendency to rely on more heavily and invest in nice survival gear. While we absolutely see the point and merits of this adage, it is true… only to an extent. This saying is only true to a certain point and we all would be wise to realize that it is a gross over-simplification. The reality is it’s a bit more complicated than that and you simply cannot live in a world where knowledge is your only asset.

At Equip2Survive, we have given this subject considerable thought and discussion as of late, and we have sort of “settled” on (at least for the moment) an improved survival hierarchy of sorts. You see, the implied hierarchy in the adage above would be as follows:

1) Knowledge
2) Gear

That’s it. Knowledge trumps gear, end of story. OK… but is that really it? We should 100% invest in knowledge as it trumps gear (tools, materials, resources) 100% of the time? That seems like a pretty extreme viewpoint. Hmmm… Aren’t there other fairly significant “assets” in terms of survival also? Well we certainly think so.

For example… What if you know how to make a fire with a bow drill… but one of your hands was injured during a fall. Something tells us that in this situation you might be willing to trade in your fire bow knowledge for a Bic lighter.  ;)

There are an endless number of hypotheticals like this. As we know, there are always exceptions to the rules, aren’t there? And just to be clear, we are not in any way trying to diminish the importance of knowledge. We agree that knowledge is a powerful tool! But it is not the only tool! And… it is not necessarily the most powerful tool either! What we ARE trying to diminish is ARROGANCE. Foolishly dogmatic statements like the adage above (if held as a core belief) can put you in great danger if you foolishly believe that you can overcome any disastrous situation if you simply know enough. Simply put… this is frequently not the case. Even Angus MacGyver had that paperclip.  ;) Supplementing your knowledge with tools, resources, experience, skills and other important items can not only increase your chances of staying alive… they can also help you do it more easily and more comfortably!!

After much thought and discussion, we at Equip2Survive have arrived at a new “Survival Hierarchy”. Let’s take a closer look COUNTDOWN STYLE!

5) Unprepared
This one is pretty self-explanatory. You are unprepared on all fronts. No gear, knowledge, emotionally… you are pretty much hosed if anything happens to you.

4) Gear (Tools, materials and resources!)

Now we are getting somewhere. Now you have some tools, some food, a way to produce light, power, stay warm, stay cool, stay safe and secure… you have stuff. Resources to tap into. You have knives, saws, solar panels, sleeping bags, flashlights, duct tape, paracord… you are on your way, but are you really prepared now? Mmm… no. You can have a tire iron, a jack & a spare tire, but this doesn’t mean you know how to change a flat tire, does it?

But that being said… Better to have the gear and not know exactly how to use it than to know how to use the gear but not have it!!!  

3) Knowledge (What to do and how to do it!) 

Now we are getting somewhere! Now you know what to DO with that gear! You KNOW you need to keep warm, stay hydrated, stay safe, stay cool, stay fed, a way to illuminate after dark… and you know how to use all of those tools to meet those needs! Right? You are all set! Or are you??

You can know all kinds of stuff but still be poorly equipped for a situation. Knowledge alone is not going to save your life. You can “know” that you need a 72 hour kit to help you get through a crisis, but if you don’t actually create that 72 hour kit… well, that knowledge did you little good. You have to actually ACT upon that knowledge for it to be of real value.

2) Skills (practice what you know, experience)

This is where the rubber hits the road. The key word here is action! It is one thing to have lots of gear and equipment with you in a survival situation. It is another to know what to do with them. But it is even better to have developed skills and experience using them well!

You can “know” all kinds of great survival tricks by watching Dual Survival or Survivorman, but until you actually get out there and try it, this knowledge does you little to no good.

Nothing is more frustrating and demoralizing than knowing what to do yet not being able to do it! It is one thing to watch it be done on TV. It is quite another to be able to do it yourself! The key to developing a skill is to do it, gain success and keep doing it over and over again! PRACTICE!! Repetition makes it become a part of who you are!!

And finally… #1 on our countdown…

1) Will
Will is a funny thing. It is a powerful asset in a disaster situation and can allow you to accomplish incredible things. There are many survival stories where would-be victims are able to defy all odds and survive a crisis with little but the clothing on their backs in the harshest of conditions for days and even weeks!

While these inspiring stories do exist… Simply having the will to live is not a survival plan. You simply can’t count on “willing” yourself to live in a life-threatening situation. Your “will to live” really needs to be backed by some real knowledge, tools and skills.

So why then did we put “will” at our number one on our “Survival Pyramid” then if you can’t rely on it alone to keep you alive? Simply put… even if you have gear, knowledge, & skills… if you don’t have the will to live, the rest are worthless. And even if you don’t have much in the way of gear, knowledge or skills, but you do have the will to push on and do whatever it takes to stay alive… your chances of surviving are increased substantially!!

The key is not to give up! DON’T GIVE UP! People are looking for you! People love you, care about you and will miss you! Your wife! Your husband! Your children! They need you! Stay alive for them! Know who are and what is worth living for and do anything and everything you can to stay alive for them!!

Believe it or not, you can actually strengthen your will! The military is a prime example of this! They put our brave men and women through rigorous training and experiences to help them learn their limits and to strengthen their wills!

Getting out there in the woods and trying things, challenging yourself, safely pushing your limits and your abilities can actually strengthen your will! TEST your will! Push yourself! Mental toughness and your ability to withstand stress, discomfort, pain & fear can actually be expanded and can be an educational experience as well... but DO IT SAFELY!!! Don’t push yourself too hard or too far. Don’t do it alone! It’s good to gently and responsibly test your limits… but don’t DISREGARD those limits!

NOW IT'S TIME for us to come clean about something. We haven’t been entirely forthcoming with you in this article. After putting you through this whole mental exercise regarding survival priorities… it’s time to give you the truth:

At the end of the day… you can’t really realistically put these survival assets into a neat little linear triangular graph like we did in the graphic above. We only did this to facilitate conversation and thought.

Honestly, all of these assets are really important in a survival situation and each of us should aspire to develop each of them to use in harmony together. We all need to strengthen ourselves on ALL of these fronts!

As a disaster preparedness-minded individual, you need to prepare your home, your vehicle & your family with the proper gear, tools, food & water preps, light, heat, cooking, hygiene & sanitation, firearms & ammo… everything you need to make it through a crisis situation. Then you need to learn how to implement and leverage your preps and teach your family how to as well. Next you need to practice your preps and develop skills and experience! And last but far from least… talk to your family about why it is important to prepare, stay alive, continue living life and never give up even when things get tough! That, my friends, is a survival plan.