At some point in our lives, we’ve all no doubt pondered, “How well would I fare if pitted against the natural elements in a life-or-death survival situation?” If, like myself, you’ve concluded “Not very well,” Jessie Kreb’s Wilderness Survival MasterClass may just be the course for you.
Table of Contents
What is the Jessie Krebs MasterClass?
Created for the hugely popular online education platform MasterClass, “Wilderness Survival” provides an immersive learning experience for those interested in developing the mindset and practical skills required to navigate nature with confidence.
Under the tutelage of experienced survival expert Jessie Krebs, this 4-hour, 30-minute course provides ample opportunity for budding outdoor enthusiasts to sharpen and craft the key competencies required to survive (and, dare I say, thrive) in the wild.
From signaling and shelter building to foraging and fire lighting, each of the 16 bite-size lessons in this course offers a combination of class-based teaching and practical demonstration. In so doing, learners are afforded an accessible and progressive approach toward understanding the key fundamentals of wilderness survival.
Who is Jessie Krebs?
Jessie Krebs is a former Air Force SERE (survival, evasion, resistance, and escape) specialist and wilderness survival expert with over 30 years of experience in the field. Following her honorable discharge, Krebs has forged a career in providing wilderness therapy and educating others on developing the essential skills required to survive emergency situations. Jessie Krebs is also the owner and head instructor for O.W.L.S. Skills: Outdoorsy Women Learning Survival Skills,
Fans of survival-based reality TV may also recognize Krebs from her appearances in History’s Alone: Season 9 and National Geographic’s MyGrations.
Who is the target audience for Wilderness Survival?
While those who find themselves enthralled by the escapades of Bear Grylls or avid fans of shows such as Survivor may find the course to be more closely aligned to their particular interests, we believe the course holds great intuitive appeal to anyone who enjoys getting out in nature.
As highlighted in the opening section of the course, all it takes is a wrong turn on a long hike or an unfortunate tumble off a steep ledge before anyone’s survival skills can be called into play. With that in mind, it could be argued that everyone could seek to benefit from enhancing their knowledge of these potentially life-saving skills.
Moreover, as Krebs reminds us in the opening and closing sections of the course, we, as human beings, have an intrinsic attraction to natural environments. So, even if we don’t hold a great interest in survival techniques, this course is a great option for anyone looking to develop a deeper connection with nature and learn how to cultivate the plentiful resources it has to offer.
What topics does Jessie Krebs cover in her MasterClass?
The Wilderness Survival MasterClass draws upon “The five basic needs of the survivor” as a framework on which to base its key teachings.
A chronological breakdown of the course is detailed below:
- Lesson 1 is on the survival mindset. This opening lesson addresses the importance of mental fortitude in a survival situation. Moreover, it emphasizes the importance of being able to remain calm and composed when faced with the potential threats of the wild.
- Lesson 2 introduces the five basic needs of survival. These skills include signaling, personal protection, sustenance, navigation, and health. Additionally, this lesson introduces us to the key subordinate skills associated with these needs (namely, survival tools, shelter, fire lighting, and map reading).
- Lesson 3 covers signalling. As well as informing us of the electronic, pyrotechnic, mirror, and ground signal materials we can use to attract help and attention, this lesson also provides some important teachings regarding the appropriate selection and preparation of a recovery site.
- Lessons 4-5 focus on two essential survival tools: knives and ropes. Lesson 4 informs us on what to consider when choosing a knife and how to appropriately care for your blade, while lesson 5 demonstrates the versatility of ropes and advises on useful knots that can be applied for binding and shelter building.
- Lessons 6-7 are on navigation. Lesson 6 provides a useful overview of the ways in which we can safely explore and familiarise ourselves with our surrounding environment, while lesson 7 covers the essentials of compass use and map reading.
- Lesson 8 offers important insights about water preparation so it can be consumed safely. In addition, Krebs highlights the most effective ways to conserve water and minimize the risks of dehydration.
- Lesson 9 provides an in-depth guide to food rationing and foraging and offers practical insights into how we can best ensure we make our food rations last and, more importantly, ensure the food we are selecting is safe.
- Lesson 10 is all about protection. More specifically, it focuses on how to protect ourselves against harsh natural elements by carefully selecting clothing and equipment that provide appropriate thermal regulation.
- Lesson 11 guides us through the essentials of shelter building. Not only does this section allow us to put our newly found knot-tying skills to good use, but it also provides some important considerations when selecting the best environment to create an emergency shelter.
- Lessons 12-13 deep dive into Fire 101 and cover everything from tinder selection, fuel foraging, and, of course, the all-important element of fire lighting. This extends to advice regarding how best to maintain our fire once it’s lit.
- Lesson 14 covers what to include in a wilderness survival kit. Throughout the course, Krebs advocates the importance of being proactive and prepared before setting off in the wilderness, and the advice provided by Krebs in this lesson does well to reinforce this message.
- Lesson 15 reminds us of the immense healing qualities of nature. This final message reminds us that the wilderness shouldn’t be seen as a dark and ominous presence but rather an awe-inspiring and bountiful environment that, when embraced, can help nurture both body and soul.
What I liked about Wilderness Survival
In honesty, I found myself making copious notes throughout the Surviving Wilderness course, so it’s difficult to extract specific lessons I feel provided the most value. That said, below is an overview of the key elements I enjoyed most.
Throughout the course, Krebs adopts an engaging and considered approach to her style of instruction, which enables those watching the luxury of being able to practice a range of accessible survival skills in real time. A prime example of this is her lesson on rope work, which, if you’ll excuse the pun, could have the potential to tie learners up in knots. However, with her easy-to-follow demonstrations and step-by-step instruction, even those with little to no experience in applying this particular skill set could end the lesson feeling, at the very least, semi-competent in tying a hitch or slip knot. Further lessons in knife sharpening and fire starting offer a similar level of detailed breakdown, which further serves to demonstrate to the learner that these are indeed skills we all have the capacity to master.
Rationing food and foraging
For many of us, the archetypical image of a survival expert is likely synonymous with seasoned skills in foraging. While many of us would wish to believe in a survival situation, we could successfully draw upon the land’s natural resources for sustenance, we are also no doubt aware that we are one poisonous mushroom or inedible berry away from serious illness or even death! For that reason alone, I found Krebs’ guide on what, and more importantly, what NOT to eat, extremely helpful. Moreover, while I’m in no rush to start including mealworms and insects into my diet, learning about their high protein and energy content certainly provides some interesting food for thought.
Building your Survival Kit
From the offset, Krebs is keen to reinforce the message that wilderness survival is a proactive process that begins well before we set off on the beaten trail. With this message in mind, I found the lesson on building our very own survival kit to be essential viewing. From headlamps to water purification tablets, this section serves to reiterate the importance of being prepared for every eventuality we may face in the wild. From a more practical perspective, the space-saving tips and consideration for the multifunctional aspects of various equipment made me reflect on how I could best ensure I am optimizing the contents of my survival pack.
What did I dislike about this course?
While reticent to use the term “dislike,” there were aspects of the course that I believe may have benefitted from further exploration.
Use of the surrounding environment
While it was great to watch Krebs operate in a wilderness environment for her lessons on shelter building and fire starting, I feel my learning could have been enhanced by making more use of the stunning landscape on offer for the lessons provided on topics such as navigation and potentially some of the teachings associated with foraging. While I can’t fault the detailed explanation of how to apply these skills, being able to watch Krebs apply them in a real-life/ recreated survival scenario would have been a welcome addition to the course.
More on shelter building and fire-lighting
I’ll be the first to admit this particular critique is perhaps a little unfair. However, the bushcraft enthusiast in me would have liked to have seen some alternative methods of shelter building and fire lighting being offered. While I fully appreciate the importance of being prepared for a survival scenario (e.g., already having a tarp or fire steel at your disposal) is an important aspect of Krebs’ philosophy, the opportunity to explore how to start a fire with a bow drill or create a bed frame from fallen branches would have certainly helped further enhance my enjoyment of these particular lessons.
As a psychologist, I couldn’t agree more that having the right mindset when facing a potentially life-threatening event is key to survival. For that reason, I feel there may have been scope to implement more practical examples regarding specific techniques that can help us cultivate a mentally tough and resilient mindset when faced with a survival scenario.
Review Conclusion: Is the Jessie Krebs MasterClass worth it?
So, the question is, is the MasterClass a worthwhile investment of our time and finances? In my humble opinion, absolutely. Jessie Krebs’ professional credentials speak for themselves, so you know you are in safe hands from the offset. However, watching the Wilderness Survival MasterClass, you quickly come to appreciate that it’s Krebs’ ability to engage and empower the learner that really makes this course stand out. Her undeniable passion and enthusiasm for the topic she teaches really helped capture my interest and attention throughout. More importantly, thanks to her detailed and accessible style of instruction, I left the course feeling that I had obtained some valuable skills and knowledge that could serve me well in my future wilderness exploits.
So, to revisit the question posed at the start of this review: How well would I fare if pitted against the natural elements in a life-or-death survival situation? Thanks to Jessie Krebs Wilderness Survival MasterClass, I can honestly say, “A lot better than before I watched it.”