There is a whole range of situations that look completely different in real life situation than in the survival ‘realm’ on youtube.
It is normal that you can not bring full scale of reality in training situation but still some things needs to be shown more real then they are shown in usual shows over internet.
I watched few days ago couple videos and read some stuff about (safe) river crossing in survival situations, and noticed some things.
I will mention most important:
Common sense (yes, common sense… again)
First majority of those videos and articles describe river crossings in wilderness survival situations, and while some of those are pretty good and gives you good advices about basic stuff like how deep, how wide, what kind of ground (under the water), how fast, safest places to cross etc they are forgetting to mention urban river (survival) crossing.
In urban river crossing there is whole new set of things to think about like polluted water, garbage and different kind of stuff in (like car wreck for example) in river bed (that can give you lot of troubles).
Also videos usually shows rivers that are up to your waist deep, or rivers not too wide (so you can use fallen log to cross it)…
But just like with all other internet survival one thing in those scenarios is missing – other people.
If your survival situation will include river crossing in the middle of day in peaceful country settings, where there is no single soul (with possible bad intentions to you) except you and only noise is birds singing etc. you are lucky man, but most probably it is not gonna be like that.
Forget about videos of shooting anchor with rope over the river and crossing it like that unless you are SAS (in good condition), in reality most of us can not do that.
Also most of the river in urban settings (and lot of in wilderness settings) can not be crossed by „fallen log“.
Either there is no fallen log, or you do not have time to look for it, or it is pitch dark, or simply river is too wide for fucking „fallen log“.
Instead of looking for a fancy solution of survival rivers crossing immediately I suggest you (just like with all other survival tecniques) go from the start, from the very basic.
Check your survival plans (you bug out route for example) and see what kind of rivers are there.
Do not forget to include area that may be your secondary or tertiary choice for bugging out, remember that plan is only that – plan.
Now see what kind of rivers are there on your way, what kind of river beds, what banks are (remember sometimes what it looks like good aproach to river may be mud hell where you can at least lose your shoes if not even something more important).
There are huge differences between „wild“ rivers and rivers (in urban settings) where river bed is controlled and paved or similar. Walking through those rivers are different, approach too.
Good advice too is to think about bridge as a first and easiest crossing over the river, take that as a start and then check possible pros and cons for crossing particular river over the particular bridge.
In other words do not go and drown yourself because you try to swim over dangerous river just because you felt very „survivalist“ while there is a bridge standing close without any danger of passing over that bridge.
Forget being fancy-use common sense and choose less danger in particular situation.
Internet survival techniques
Lot of techniques that works beautiful on internet turns out like into shit and mess in real life, and reason for that is simple: most of the internet survival techniques are based on „philosophical“ or fictional scenarios and can not include all possible real life factors.
Simply- reality can throw on you much more factors that you did not think about.
Still it is not reason not to learn and prepare for different situations.
I can share with you my experiences about „survival river crossings“, my experience is quite different, and actually not smart at all, but i think there is lessons to be learned.
It was around 3am and I was in the part of the town where I should not been in that time of the night, simply because I should be home earlier then that.
I would like to say that I was there to trade, find food, scavenge or fight-it would sounds more „survival“ for the sake of this article and blog but truth was that I was there to see a girl that i like a lot.
On my way back I found myself into the one of sudden raids. A 50 man group attacked the street and I run from them through ruined houses and found myself on the bank of the river (Pictured above).
I always kinda hated that river-I liked the river but I hated how cold, fast and treacherous that river can be.
It was pitch dark and I crawled downhill some 20 meters through small willow trees, and bush on huge stones that stands on a bank (no fucking fallen log there, so you know…)
I crawled through something smelly and soft, I felt like all was rotten in that bush.
I could see river, small waves were wetting my shoes, and I was standing on slippery stone holding willow branch with one hand.
River bed is mix of huge stones and sand, and depth is going from 30 cm to 3 meters- depending on size of stones, stones go very „steep“ so you can actually swim under the stone (and probably drown there) or simply strange current and whirlpool will do that for you, roll you and pull you under the stone and drown you there, or simply throw you on the stone and smash your head. It can be dangerous river for experienced swimmer in broad daylight and swimming suit.
I tried to see what is on other bank-some 20-25 meters far, tracer round flashes reflects on my eyes and all I could see is darkness on other bank and something moving in darkness, same willow trees or people with rifles, or maybe is my imagination, in that time and situation seeing a guy selling popcorn on the other side would not be surprising how my imagination worked.
I expected any moment that enemy would shoot me, so adrenaline worked hard .
I had backpack which was almost empty, 22 rifle which was duct taped (two screws that holding steel part together with wooden part were „worn off“ so it was duct taped to hold it together) tobbaco box and some 15 bullets in pockets.
As I heard guy approaching to my place I hesitated for a second or two thinking what to do then I put rifle over my chest and jumped into the river.
And I immediately started to drown.
Shock of freezing river somehow „turned off“ my adrenaline surge, and my thought was „I am gonna die now“.
Next second river „took“ me and roll me all over and I felt my rifle sling is choking me, if I had enough voice and strength I would yell „help“ to the guys that I wanted to run from, but at that time I simply had no ‘voice’.
Crossing that river was not swimming-it was drowning, it took maybe 20 seconds for me to get to the other side, but it was way longer for me, and I ended up some 100 meters downstream.
Several times river throw me on big stones, I was trying to loosen my rifle sling all the time and when I finally managed to grab stone with my hands and stop the crazy movement I was not even sure am I on the same river bank or I actually crossed river onto the other bank.
I was holding the stone for some 10 minutes probably, then slowly crawl from the river.
I was on the other bank, I was frantically holding rifle sling, the rifle was falling apart, steel part was separated from wooden part.
I lost my backpack, my tobacco box too. I did not see from one eye because it was full of blood from big wound on forehead.
Later I figured I broke two fingers and rib too.
But I was alive, and on the other side. I had huge luck.
Point of the story is that sometimes crossing the river may look much more complicated and dangerous then finding fallen log.
And very often crossing river is like lot of situations in real survival-be ready to leave everything and take just your life.
Or things that you like may pull you down and drown you.
Or point of the story is to carry heavy duty trash bag with you all the time so you can use it to put all your stuff inside and try to swim then…?
Toby Comment – Without going into to much detail just now, River crossings are one of the subjects we cover in our field based courses. It is surprising for us to consistently see folks have not factored this concept in at all to their plans, and even when doing so, struggle to often acknowledge the ‘time sensitivity’ that, in reality, comes with river crossings.
If it is of interest we can write a full article on this subject, please just comment below with your thoughts on this matter…