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4 Things You ABSOLUTELY Need To Survive!

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There are four things you absolutely need to survive. In what order of importance -with regard to survival- would you place these four necessities of life? 

4 things you need to survive: FOOD, SHELTER, WATER, LAND

Wikipedia says that survival means “Survival is the struggle to remain living.”

The operative word here is survival. This is how I place importance on these necessities from a SURVIVAL standpoint. In everyday life, the order of these necessities would change based on individual circumstances: political turmoil, natural disaster, weather, war, riots, power outages, etc. Each of these circumstances has different effects and will dictate which is the most important element of survival based on immediate circumstances.


Foraging wild edibles


I’m not saying I’m correct, or that my opinion is the right one, only that this is my opinion. It is based on what I see as a logical progression of need based on science, in “normal” survival circumstances, if there is such a thing. The scenarios and variables are endless.

Let’s just say for sake of argument that you are plunged into the wilderness with no idea where you are or what is going on in the civilized world. What are the FIRST things you would look for?

I say do it all at once! So my answer isn’t construed as a cop-out easy answer, here’s what I mean:


Without a way to shelter yourself from the elements or bad people, even with food and water, you could die. Technically speaking, unless it’s freezing cold and you have no clothes or way to get warm, or unless it’s scalding hot, and you need shade, then you don’t really need shelter, right away (skip to finding fresh potable water).

Things you need to survive: shelter

Cabin in Alaska, Shutterstock/Daniel Requena Lambert

But this could change based on the weather. And the weather could change at any given moment. If it rains, you’d have water, but you could get cold, hypothermia could set in, and you’d be dead in a matter of hours. Or worse, if you couldn’t get warm, you could suffer for days before you died.

If you’re in an area that is hit by a natural disaster, political or civil riots, or power outage, you will have to make your choice and prioritize. The priority might be getting to a safe location where you can shelter yourself from the dangers. Then you can look for water and food. Or – what I think is the smartest answer – look for water and food along the way while you are looking for shelter.


The human body needs water more than food. Water is the base for the building blocks of life. Without it, you’ll die. Find a fresh water source, and have the knowledge and skill to purify it for drinking.

Things you need to survive - water



To survive you need food. Food gives you energy to live, travel, work, hunt, fish, and build. Without food, in time, you’ll die. You need protein, fats, sugars, and vitamins, not particularly in that order. Too much sugar is bad in a long-term survival scenario. It’ll give you quick energy, but you’ll burn out fast. You need fats, protein, and vitamins.

Hikers will eat peanut butter because it’s high in fat and protein and gives you energy. A high fat, high protein diet should get you by very well until you can settle into a more permanent diet.

Foraging for food



Unless you’re a nomad, you’ll need a place to go that’s safe. Finding a place to set up a temporary base camp, or to settle down and build a cabin for your family are two very different scenarios.

The point is that you must prioritize based on YOUR circumstances. It is YOUR life we’re talking about.

This all is also highly subjective and open to interpretation based on endless variables.

Off grid necessities



If you’re with your family, then finding a safe and secure shelter for them is the MOST important priority. Once they are safe and sound in a good shelter, you can go out and find water and food and bring it back. Which brings us full circle back to the beginning.

Sure, you don’t really NEED land to survive because you’ll be living off the land where you are. Hence the reason it’s last on our list. However, you do need to find a place that has water, which arguably makes your LOCATION the most important aspect to survival.

In other words. Don’t be where it’s dangerous.

Keep moving if you have to. But, look for shelter first. While you’re searching for shelter, you’ll be traveling overland, hopefully hunting and gathering along the way. Then with a base of operation, you can look for water, and move out from there.

Things you need to survive


We could play the “What if?” game all day, but the fact remains, there are really only 3 basic essentials for survival. It was kind of a trick question asking about the 4 things you need for survival, because LAND is the one thing that we don’t really NEED to survive, and it kind of goes without saying.

Without any one of these 3 things, you will die eventually.

Shelter, water, and food.

In that order.

Oh yeah… I did say 4 things, right? So, what is the #1 thing that you need to survive?

You need the will to live.

Things you need to survive


Tuesday 3rd of September 2013

You've got it right on the order. It's the law of three's. You will die if, 3 minutes without air, three hours without shelter, three days without water and three weeks without food.