Applying the KISS Principle to Survival

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I’ve been in the survival game for a long time. If there’s anything I’ve learned through the various survival situations that I’ve been in, it’s that surviving is difficult at best and can be much worse than that. With that in mind, I’ve always believed that it’s of critical importance that we make decisions based on how to increase our chances of survival.

A major part of that is finding simpler ways of doing things. In business, this is called “The KISS Principle” with the acronym KISS standing for “keep it simple stupid.” The whole idea is to do things the simple, easy way, rather than making it complicated.

Yet when I look around at the prepping and survival community, I see a lot of people who are focused on doing things in ways that are anything but simple. Granted, it’s useful to know how to build a shelter out of available natural materials or start a fire by friction. But those shouldn’t be out primary ways of doing things. Rather, they should be backup methods, only to be used in cases where simpler methods are not available to us. Let’s look at a couple of examples associated with bugging out.


The most popular shelter in the prepping and survival community seems to be the debris hut. While I have nothing against a debris hut, if I am forced to bug out, I expect to have my wife with me. Has anyone come up with a two-person debris hut yet or are we expected to sleep in separate huts? My wife, who is unaccustomed to spending a night in the woods, probably wouldn’t get much sleep like that, hearing the normal forest noises.

Yet hardly anyone bothers putting a tent in their bug out bag. Considering that backpackers have carried them for years, along with sleeping bags, it seems strange that we in the prepping and survival community haven’t borrowed that from them. The only sleeping bag we carry is a “survival sleeping bag” made of the same aluminized plastic material as survival blankets and the only tent a tarp. But a good quality two-man backpacking tent weighs less than two pounds.

Spending an hour to build a debris hut, when a backpacking tent can be erected in five minutes doesn’t sound like an effective use of time or a good way to avoid expending energy unnecessarily.

Starting a Fire

There are all sorts of methods out there for starting a fire, with every survival instructor trying to beat out the other for coming up with more ways. While some of those are quite ingenious and a great thing to know in case there’s nothing else to use. But as a primary fire starting method, they are lacking.

Disposable butane lighters, of the kind found at convenience store checkouts, seem to be the most popular primary fire starter. But have you ever tried using one in the wind? How does anyone expect to start a fire during a storm, if that’s their primary method of starting one? Better to have a lighter which you can be sure will start in a storm, and any other time. Such stormproof lighters do exist.