Bugging out

How to Survive in the Desert

Are you wondering how to survive in the desert? Check our desert survival guide.

The chances of you ending up stranded in a desert unexpected are pretty low, but they aren’t nil. Desert survival is an important skill that every human should have, and you should consider this the ultimate survival guide, highlighting everything you need to stay in one piece for the entire episode.

Before going on your hiking trip in the desert, there are a few steps necessary to take so that help will get to you quicker. In essence, your desert survival begins before you set out. These steps are culled from the experiences of people who have been stranded in the desert before and had to wait long for help to come because they did not take precautions.

Let people in on your travel plans

Never go out on a desert trip without letting at least one person know of your whereabouts and how long you will be out. Share your route, map, vehicle details, contact information and other details with a family member or a friend before your trip.

Take a compass with you


Your cellphone GPS may not be reliable in remote areas, so take a compass with you and learn how to use it before your trip. You should not embark on any form of adventure into the desert without a navigation device. Handheld GPSs will come in handy.

Take a communication device with you

You are inclined to believe that this is limited to your cellphone, but cellphones don’t always work in remote areas in the desert. Cell coverage areas are often limited to human-inhabited areas and connecting roads, not the middle of the desert. Satellite phones have better coverage.

Take a tracking device with you

This will allow you to get located faster and be rescued if stranded. You can also take a Personal Locator Beacon that sends distress signals to the nearest rescue service.

Take water with you

Everybody knows the one thing that you will never run into in a desert—water. It gets very dry and hot in there and your body needs a certain level of hydration to function properly. It is risky to venture into the desert without a decent water supply to last your entire trip. You also need food, enough to not starve if you get stranded. Do not drink cactus water or eat anything you see in the desert and are not sure of.

Dress comfortably

A desert trip is not a neighbourhood block party or a formal event. Wear light, comfortable clothes and shoes with breathable soles to enjoy your trip. It’s the desert, where the temperature goes as high as fifty degrees! Your body needs all the freedom and air it can get; don’t clog it with thick, heavy clothes. Also, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.

With all preliminary steps taken, put yourself in a hypothetical situation where you are stranded in the desert and you need to survive till you are rescued. Bear in mind that your actions or the lack of them can put you at risk. The first thing to do when stranded is to send an emergency distress signal using any device you have. Other survival steps are:

Stay off the ground

The ground is much hotter than the air. If you came in-vehicle, stay in the car. If not, mount rocks or any elevated terrains near you. Do not stand or sit on the floor for a prolonged period.

Be calm

This should top the list of what to do in dire situations because your psychological response to extreme situations affects your ability and willingness to survive them. Remain collected and focus on doing something that calms you, like listening to music. Don’t panic-eat or you will run out of supplies!

Keep your clothes on

It will get very hot but do not succumb to the temptation to peel off your clothes. This will give the scorching sun direct access to your body and cause further dehydration.

Easy on the food and drinks

Only take food and drink when you absolutely need to. Every drop of water is important to your survival, don’t waste supplies.

Don’t lose guard

The desert may be devoid of moisture and trees, but there are snakes, scorpions and other unfriendly inhabitants lurking. Be on the lookout and stay safe. You will need a flashlight for when it gets dark and an emergency first aid kit for unpleasant encounters.

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