In a survival situation you have to use what’s available. Many times mother nature will provide us with what we need. That’s assuming we know what to look for. Part of knowing what to look for depends on the survival skills we have.
In this post we look at 12 Bushcraft Tricks To Survive Using Only Leaves. Hopefully what you learn here will give you those skills. Make sure you watch the video at the end of this article.
LEAF SURVIVAL HACK # 1: ROPE
Yes, you can make usable cordage from leaves! The leaves you’ll want for this particular task are fibrous ones such as those from Yucca or Cattail. I’ve found that dead yucca and cattail leaves work best but they’ll work when green in a pinch. Below is a photo of a Yucca plant and then also a coil of yucca leaf rope that I made.
The technique used to fashion usable cordage from fibrous natural materials is called the Reverse Wrap. It’s an awesome survival skill – so cool that I filmed a short video to show you exactly how to do it. Watch the video below:
LEAF SURVIVAL HACK # 2: NATURE’S TIN FOIL
Have you ever wrapped food in tin foil and cooked it in the coals of a fire. When we were kids, Mom would wrap up some ground beef, onions, potatoes and carrots in tin foil and cook them in the coals of a fire.
She called them Hobo Dinners. I’ve never found a tin-foil tree in the woods but I’ve found a leaf that works just as good – BURDOCK. Food wrapped in three layers of burdock leaves cooks just as good as any tin foil I’ve ever used. Look how huge the leaves of burdock can get.
I’ve cooked fish, quail and rabbit in burdock leaves and it never fails to produce a delicious juicy meal. Check out this quail and potatoes we cooked in burdock leaves during a SurviVacation II last summer.
LEAF SURVIVAL HACK # 3: INSOLES
That’s right – SHOE INSOLES! Need some extra cushion to help prevent blisters? How about some extra cushion that is also antibacterial? Look for a mullein plant. It’s very distinct, you can’t miss it. The leaves are thick, durable and fuzzy.
Not only do they make excellent improvised shoe insoles that will reduce foot odor but they also are your go-to natural source for toilet paper. They are also an excellent substitute for paper towel and are very absorptive. I use them as napkins all the time.
LEAF SURVIVAL HACK # 4: INSULATION
Whether from the cold ground or the air around you, leaves are nature’s perfect insulative material for creating dead air space below and around you.
One of the most effective cold weather shelters is a Debris Hut and it’s made almost entirely of leaves. The leaves capture dead air space which acts as a barrier to the cold.
They help keep warm air (body heat) in and cold air out. As the cool temps come, Mother Nature drops all the insulation you could ever need to the forest floor. She’s nice that way.
Until his mid-twenties, my Dad slept on what’s called a Shuck Bed. This is literally a mattress stuffed with dried corn husks. He recalls it being a little lumpy, but functional. It hasn’t been that long ago that people used natural vegetation insulation for sleeping purposes.
LEAF SURVIVAL HACK # 5: SHINGLES
Yes, leaves are not only insulation but shingles as well. Large leaves from plants like burdock and skunk cabbage can be used to shingle a lean-to in a matter of minutes.
Leafy branches can be used the same way. Remember to start from the bottom and work your way up, just like you would shingle a house.
This overlapping pattern prevents rain from seeping through. Below I used a full burdock plant to protect jerky on a drying rack from a light drizzle.
LEAF SURVIVAL HACK # 6: HARVESTING WATER
With a little creativity, you can use leaves to direct and harvest water. Rain water is the easiest form of fresh drinking water in the wild if you can get enough of it.