Survival Skills and Equipment: Classroom Alternative

The following is a carefully curated list of videos and animations, that cover all of the topics we cover in our Academy classroom. These videos will take you approximately 2-hours to fully watch (not including the optional content), which is about the same length of time we take to cover the same topics using an overhead presentation.

If you would like, feel free to watch these videos, complete the online written exam, and come join us at the practical evaluation. The Academy classroom is offered for your convenience, but attendance is not a required.

If you have any comments regarding this list of videos and animations, please contact the KCSARA Training Director and ask them to forward your note onto the SAR Survival Course Manager. Thank you for your interest!

Lesson 1: Principals

Survival Priorities - Rule of Threes, Douglas Burchard
Prioritize what you need to do, and when you need to do it, in any survival situation.

Preparing Your Person, Pack, and Vehicle, Douglas Burchard
Follow the boy scout motto of “be prepared”.

Lesson 2: Clothing and Shelter

Learn to Love Backpacking in the Rain, Dave Collins (9:36)
In one of our longer selected videos, Dave Collins provides numerous tips and tricks on how to be comfortable in the rain. One caveat though, SAR typically requires true hiking boots.

How to Layer Your Clothes for Hiking, Amazon (1:04)
A quick and full coverage of how to properly layer clothing for the outdoors.

Emergency Night in the Woods, Ray Mears (4:28)
Ray Mears is a primitive living expert. Here he takes us through building a basic primitive shelter for an unexpected night in the woods. And notice, he uses nothing except some surveyors tape, some sort of fire starter.

Building a Snow Cave, Ray Mears (3:49)
The basics of building a snow cave.

Clothing and Shelter: Extra Interest (Optional)

Men's Hiking Boots Buying Advice, outdoorgearlab (3:14)
You’re going to need hiking boots. Outdoor Gear Lab is a great site that specializes in testing and comparing outdoor equipment. Here’s their advice on what to look for.

Lesson 3: Fire

Cotton Ball Vaseline Fire Starter, Survival Tank (1:19)
Regardless of your ignition source, you’re going to need some type of fire starter. Vaseline and cotton balls are a boy scout standby, because they just work.

How to Light a Match, Douglas Burchard (1:38)
Believe it or not, we’ve seen a high failure rate in our practical evaluations. here’s a primer that should get you lighting matches the first time, every time.

Using SPARK-LITE Emergency Fire Starter, Todd Beal (1:31)
One of our few product recommendations.

How to Light a Fire, Attitude, Ray Mears (5:17)
Whether you’re using matches, or something more primitive, lighting a fire involves certain key steps. Ray Mears is a master at the science of starting a fire.

Feather Sticks, Ray Mears (1:45)
One of the most undervalued forms of tinder, and a great tip for lighting a fire in soggy conditions.

Fire: Extra Interest (optional)

Swedish Stove, Ray Mears (1:57)
How do you build a fire on top of deep snow? Check out this technique.

Bowdrill Tips and Tricks (Part 1), BushcraftOnFire (11:47)
Bowdrill Tips and Tricks (Part 2), BushcraftOnFire (14:13)
Parts one and two of a much more primitive fire making method. Not real practical for SAR, but we’re often asked about it. So here’s a great introduction.

Lesson 4: Water

Safe Water, Ray Mears (1:54)
To purify water, you need to either bring it to a rolling boil, or both filter and chemically treat it. Ray Mears gives us a brief demonstration.

Does Boiling Always Make Water Safe To Drink?, Paul Kirtley (4:35)
A bit more about boiling water (and you thought it was simple).

Lesson 5: Food

Ultralight Backpacking Food, Dave Collins (7:08)
You’re go-to SAR food is going to be no-cook, food-as-fuel, goods. However, sometimes we’ll want more. Dave Collins breaks down food for through hiking, which is a lot like SAR in this case.

Lesson 6: Minimum Equipment

Ten Essentials of Hiking, Mike Iem (4:43)
If you don’t know the ten essentials, you’re not prepared. Mike Lem covers the topic item by item for us.

Lesson 7: Knots And Hitches

Being able to tie a well dressed knot, that’s appropriate to your need, is critical in the outdoors. There’s many, many, knots and hitches in the world. These three videos, and the nine knot tutorials, have been carefully selected. Definitely watch the videos, and be prepared to tie three of the knots during the practical evaluation.

Knots and Rope | Introduction, Howard J. Donner, MD (2:05)
Not all rope is the same. Learn the very basics of kern mantle construction, and the different between dynamic vs. static rope.

Knots and Rope Terminology, Howard J. Donner, MD (2:21)
Dr. Donner explains some the key terminology used with knots and rope systems: the standing end, working end, turns, bends, round turns, loops, overhand, underhand loops, bights, tail, tag, bends, and knot security.

Dressing Knots, Howard J. Donner, MD (2:38)
An undressed knot is always the “wrong” knot! Find out what we mean when we say to “dress” a knot.

Overhand Knot
An overhand knot is the beginning of how you probably tie your shoe laces, so is probably the best known knot.

Figure Eight
A figure eight knot has many variants, and is thus one of the most useful knots to know. It’s also stronger, and easier to untie after being put under load, then the overhand knot — though it still cinches up quite tight.

Figure Eight on a Bight
This animation demonstrates tying a figure eight on a bight, using a follow through method. In this case, the method you get there isn’t important, just that your know ends up looking the same. Many people just fold the rope back on itself, creating a bight, and then tie a figure eight in the resulting double strands.

Figure Eight Follow-through
This animation shows joining two ropes together using a figure eight. Here, the follow through method is the important part we’re looking for.

Water Knot
Used for joining the ends of webbing together.

Three Wrap Prusik Hitch
A friction hitch between two ropes of different size.

Double Fisherman’s
The double fisherman’s knot creates a very strong join between the ends of two similarly sized ropes. It can be difficult to undo.

Like the figure eight, the bowline has many variants. Often quicker to tie than a figure eight, it’s also quite easy to untie after being loaded.

Munter Hitch
This animation shows much more than a standard munter hitch, but it’s the closest they offer. Follow the animation through step 6 and stop. The tie off they show in the last 5 steps is unnecessary to pass the practical evaluation. This being said, using the munter hitch requires much more knowledge than simply how to tie one. Consider this hitch optional, until you are introduced to it in a more expansive course of study.

Lesson 8: Knife Work

Backpacking Blades - Knife Safety, Sharpening, & Types, Dave Collins (6:57)
The knife was invented 2.5 million years ago. Yep, that’s before modern humans. The knife is the first, and most important, survival tool.

Knife Work: Extra Interest (Optional)

We really like simple fixed blade knives. They rarely break, and are usually much more comfortable. But regardless of which knife you carry, using it properly, and keeping it well maintained, is the key. Ray Mears and Ben Oxford are two of the best at knife skills.


Vintage Ray Mears (23:06)
How to Use a Knife, Ben Orford (13:56)


Mora Knife Sharpening And Maintenance, Ben Oxford (28:18)

Lesson 9: Backcountry Hazards

How to Safely Ford Backcountry Rivers, Dave Collins (7:56)
In 2006 a field team searching for a missing hiker turned back from a swollen creek, reporting it could not be crossed. The lost hiker crossed that same creek an hour later and remained missing for another 24 hours before finally being rescued. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to ford a creek. There are techniques to help keep you safe while doing so.

Backpacking Bear Encounters - Truth and Myth, Dave Collins (8:05)
Bear encounters are very rare. If you do come across a bear, how you react will mean the difference between a good story, and a bad one.

Snake Bites & Cougar Safety, Dave Collin (9:39)
Cougars are even more rare than bears, and King County has no poisonous snakes. Even so, if you do have an encounter, it’s your actions that make the difference.

Insect Protection & Poisonous Plants, Dave Collin (8:29)
You will encounter biting and stinging insects. And, both poison ivy and poison oak are present in western Washington.

High Elevation Hiking Tips and Lightning Storm Protection, Dave Collin (9:23)
On average, 49 people are killed and hundreds more are injured by lightning strikes in the United States each year.

Backcountry Hazards: Extra Interest (Optional)

Applying permethrin to hiking clothes, Don Harmening (2:14)
This is a simple and easy technique to help protect yourself from biting and stinging insects.

Permethrin Effectiveness - Mosquitoes on ACU, USAPHC (0:30)
Permethrin Treated Clothing, TickEncounter Resource Center (0:32)

Last updated on April 17, 2020