Outdoor Survival In Swamps

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Outdoor Survival in Swamps and Marshlands

Survival in the Marshlands

When you think of the phrase “outdoor survival” what usually comes to your mind? Do you imagine mountains, forests, trees, hills, rivers, and streams?

These are the common images that come to mind because it’s what we see on outdoor nature shows on TV. Less glamorous terrains like swamps, marshes, and bogs don’t come up as often because they don’t paint quite such a “pretty” picture.

If you live in a more wet environment, those picture-perfect images will be far from your reality.

What if you end up in the wetlands? Or if there’s a flood and the aftermath leaves everything looking like a swamp?

Things could get difficult in a hurry if you are not prepared to survive in such an environment. And yet we know how resilient the human mind, body, and spirit can be.

We know we need to be ready to survive even in an area where we’re knee-deep in water and dealing with insects and animals that we may or may not have the necessary outdoor survival skills.

Like what they always say, the brain is the primary survival tool, followed by the right equipment. In swamps and marshes, it is best to get to higher ground, find some water and set up shelter.

Then it is time to call for help. Swamps, like deserts, are definitely not ideal for humans to dwell in.

You need to get out of this inhospitable place as soon as possible. If that’s not a possibility though, here are some things you can do.

1. Secure a Weapon


The first thing you would want to do is find something to protect yourself. Hopefully, you have a knife, but you could also create a makeshift spear out of a fallen branch. 

2. Make Your Own Weapon


In the event you find yourself wading through the soggy terrain of a swamp without an airboat or floatation device you’ll want to protect yourself with a long, hard stick.

A solid stick, at least four feet in length, can extend your reach and help you ward off any gators before they are mistakenly bumped. In the event you see a gator, try to climb a tree or find dry land as soon as possible.

You can spot underwater gators by their bubbles percolating out of the water.

3. Tell the Alligator You are There


In addition to using a stick make your presence known by making lots of noise as to not startle your carnivorous friends. Startling an alligator will make it feel threatened and make it more likely to attack.

If you are in a situation where you must cross a river, wait until midday when the alligators are least active. You should also cross as the narrowest point and watch the water for at least an hour to spot any movement.

4. Build a Shelter


Shelter and a fire would be the next step, especially if the night is nearing; alligators come out to feed in the dark. If you are in the water, build a platform within a tree using fallen branches and palm fronds as bedding.

If on solid ground, build a tent with sticks and palm fronds to cover the ‘tent’.

5. Start a Fire


Gather firewood and tinder or anything that’s dry and fibrous such as lint or moss. Stick some tinder within a crevice in a log and use another stick to create friction, which will spark the tinder.

Gently blow on the tinder when you start to see smoke. Continue the process until you have a fire.

6. Boil Water for Drinking


As with any survival situation, getting clean water is your primary concern. If you are stuck in the swamps in the humid summer, you will dehydrate very quickly.

What’s worse, is that you are surrounded by water that is loaded with pathogens. Your best bet would be to boil the water in a campfire, as this will kill most microorganisms lurking in your morning refreshment.

If you stumble on a discarded aluminum beer can, you can use this as a boiling pot. Coffee cans work well too if you are lucky enough to find one.

Besides boiling, there is also a water vine method. Once you locate a one, make a cut high up on the vine and then make another cut lower on the vine.

Then just let the water drain into your mouth or container. Although water from most of these vines is safe to drink, avoid those that have a bitter taste or color sap.

7.Mud to Protect from Insects


To protect himself from mosquitoes, he covers his face with mud. The mud may have pathogens in it, but protection from the mosquitoes during the night his the more immediate concern.

8. Watch Your Step


Always look where you’re stepping! There are snakes, holes, roots, and other things where you least expect.

You don’t wanna get bitten by a poisonous snake or injure yourself while walking on unknown terrain.

9. Avoid Drowning


Be aware that you can drown in a swamp, marsh, or bog as easily as in any other body of water, even if it’s shallow. This is because of the soft nature of the bio-silt beneath these water formations, which can add many more feet to the depth if you sink into it.

In addition, bogs can seem secure but hide very deep water underneath the peat layer.

10. Gather Food


Gathering food is your next goal to survive. Nobody really wants to eat bugs or lizards, but frogs can be a real treat.

Swamps are covered with frogs and they can easily be caught with bare hands. Pulling their legs off and roasting them over the fire will save your life.

RELATED: 31 Outdoor Survival Skills For The True Outdoorsman

11. Know the Beasts that Might Lurk


If you’re in snake country, be very careful for it’s likely that the snakes use the swamps or marshes to travel. Swamps, marshes, and bogs also attract insects; have plenty of insect repellent and try to maintain your hygiene to avoid accumulating body odor which will attract insects.

Best to tie a strap around the bottom of your pant legs to keep leeches out.

12. Set Up a Swamp Bed

Start with the basics. Find some straight trees/poles and lash them horizontally between some upright trees.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky enough, you can do this just by using existing branches and/or notches in the trees without having to lash. Crisscross rope, lash cordage, or put branches crosswise between these poles and secure them.

After that, you can make it soft with anything you can find.

13. Avoid Jungle Rot


Jungle rot is a fungal skin infection that results from constant moisture. To avoid this take off your shoes, socks and wet clothes and allow your skin to dry out every few hours.

14. Make the Night Bearable


The swamps have brutal nights that can be very hot or very cold. The bugs and animals are a very big issue.

You need to start a fire. The bark from the Cyprus trees in the swamp make great fire starter and will catch flame with a spark.

Make sure you have enough wood to last you the night.

15. Water Vine is Your Alternative to Swamp Water


Swamp water is too scummy and full of pathogens to risk drinking even if you could boil it. A good alternative is water vine.

Cutting it and allowing it to drip into the tin can turn out to be a good, but small source of water.

16. Know What to Do if You Sink In

Treat sinking into a swamp, bog, or marsh in the same manner as for sinking into quicksand – indeed, contrary to common belief quicksand is rare in desert terrain but is found mostly in marshes and near rivers and lakes. Do not panic, do not struggle, and do not flail about.

These are all guaranteed to cause you to sink in deeper, and quickly.  Avoid trying to lift one foot as this will place all of your weight on the other foot, and you’ll sink deeper.

17. Get Out of the Swamp

Getting out of the swamp is your main inspiration. Finding the main waterway like a river or stream can be a way out.

All main rivers can lead to a civilization which can save your life.

18. Don’t Give Up

The most important thing to remember, however, is to never give up hope. As long as you believe in yourself and that’ll you’ll be home again soon, you can easily survive.

19. Tell Someone Where You’re Going

Then, sitting there shivering, watching the rain douse your warming fire, you will have the comfort that someone will be looking for you, even if it is likely to be the next day.

20. Survival Pack Items

Like all other hiking and camping trips, you have to make it a point you got everything you need before you embark on the trip. Aside from knowing the needed camping survival skills, here’s a list of the clothing essentials.


  • Waterproof/Breathable Jacket
  • Waterproof/Breathable Pants
  • Fleece Jacket or Wool Sweater
  • Waterproof Gaiters
  • Synthetic Hiking Pants
  • Synthetic Shorts

Base Layer:

  • Cotton T-shirt
  • Synthetic Briefs
  • Synthetic Sports Bra


  • Synthetic Liner Gloves


  • Camp Footwear (optional)
  • Waterproof Hiking Boots
  • Wool or Synthetic Socks
  • Liner Socks

Watch this video by kapoors and learn how to drink from water vines:

When we talk about surviving in a swamp area or wilderness survival skills and tips, the common thing is to avoid the potential dangers that come your way. In swampy areas you’d have to deal with different creatures for food, and protect yourself from other types of predators, survival is quite another type of ball game in the marshlands.

Do you have your own outdoor survival tips to add to this list? Share them with us in the comments section below!


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 26, 2015, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

Feature Image Via – fronteering

This article was originally published on Survival Life

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