Bob Podesta – Top Ten SAS Survival Tips

Paul Pinkerton
Bob Podesta spent 25 years serving in the SAS credit: A Squadron Ltd
Bob Podesta spent 25 years serving in the SAS credit: A Squadron Ltd

Here’s a great article from Bob Podesta who it’s fair to say know’s what he’s talking about when it comes to Survival and adventuring around the world.

Here at Outdoor Revival HQ we’re excited to be publishing a number of articles from Bob so watch out for more from Bob on Outdoor Revival

Even though Bob I based in the UK but the principles and tips are universal and valid no matter who you are or where you are.


Advice from Bob:

Having spent 27 years in the British Army and 20 years as a private security consultant; I have been fortunate to travel all over the world. I’ve lived and worked in the dramatic deserts of Oman, the claustrophobic jungles of Borneo and Belize and the unrelenting cold of Arctic Norway in winter.

I am often asked for advice on travelling abroad and frequently advise people on how to prepare for both UK based walking and camping excursions and foreign travel.

Here are my top ten tips for anyone planning an adventure at home or abroad, whether it’s just a day on the hills or a month long trek in the Andes. Working through a check list of this kind before any trip, even if it’s just your family holiday, will build confidence and help you enjoy your outing to the full.


My number one tip is to always have a positive attitude. Learning to cultivate and maintain a positive outlook is paramount. When the worst happens, even if you have the skills to succeed, without an optimistic outlook you can easily slide further into disaster.

The SAS Selection course is revered as one of, if not the most, challenging army tests in the world. But time and time again we saw that it wasn’t the fittest, most physically prepared men that made the grade but those with the mental toughness to take all that was thrown at them and still stick it out and then ask for more.


Giving up is the easy option, and it is in the arena of the mind in which the battle to keep going is won or lost.

Coupled with a steadfast determination to win you should avoid dwelling on anything negative that has happened. Look ahead, not back.

If you have taken a wrong turn and gone off track, it has happened and no amount of worry, blame or arguing will be able to undo the error; put it down to experience, learn from it and say “it’s over my shoulder” and move on; then work out where you went wrong and get yourself back on track… with a smile on your face.


All my fellow soldiers will be familiar with the 7 P’s, which I have adapted slightly for civilian use; proper prior planning and preparation prevents poor performance. I cannot stress enough the need for proper planning. You can never plan enough. As well as the obvious preparation of basic clothes, food, kit, maps, routes etc. it is important to repeatedly ask the question “what if?”.

The more possible scenarios you envisage and plan for before you even set off the more chance you have of taking them in your stride if they occur when you are out on the ground.

The 7 P’s essentially encapsulate all my remaining practical tips and coupled with a positive mental attitude I believe any budding ‘adventurer’ will set themselves up for success.


Not much in life is certain but you can guarantee that things will never go exactly according to plan. As important as planning is, you need to allow for the unknown. Your plans should be a flexible framework which allow you to adjust accordingly.

In the Regiment we use the mantra “improvise, adapt, overcome”, the ability to accept change is critical and is especially important when travelling abroad and dealing with cultures different to our own.


Before you travel or attempt an expedition you must make sure that you are in good health, physically fit in line with the activities you are planning and that, if required, your inoculations are up-to-date. It would be very silly if you went on an expedition carrying an illness or injury and didn’t let it be known there was something wrong with you.

Not only would you put yourself at risk but it could jeopardise your entire team. Safe-guard your health, eat well, keep hydrated and don’t take unnecessary risks. If you become unwell during your travels you must act accordingly and inform your team immediately.

Remember there is no shame in being ill, you can’t help it.



Make sure you have a working knowledge of survival skills. These skills could save your life, or someone else’s.

If the worst happens and you get lost or encounter a problem you will increase your chances of surviving long enough for help to arrive or until you can get back to civilisation.


Make a thorough study of your area of operation. This will help you to know what you need to pack, wear and what special equipment you will need to carry out a successful mission.

**Study the UK Government website on foreign travel for UK citizens ( and always know the location of the British Embassy when abroad and how to contact them.


Ensure your equipment is serviceable before you leave. Many missions have failed because this simple rule has been overlooked.


Always check and test and then check and test again. This applies to all your equipment and if anything is damaged or worn, replace or repair. Simple things like your compass and radios not working could get you lost and you won’t be able to get help.

Hopefully it should also go without saying that you should know how to use all your equipment properly before you leave.


Carry a small survival kit and plenty of paracord with you wherever you go. I carry a small tobacco tin in the top pocket of my shirt which never leaves me and lace my boots with paracord with excess wrapped around my ankles.

It is surprising just how much you can fit in a tobacco tin and what you can do with such small items, when you know how (and if you don’t know see point 5 above and get yourself booked onto one of my survival courses).

The tin doesn’t weigh much and it’s a very easy thing to get used to having on you at all times. Make sure you check the contents over regularly, replace any old/expended items and add in any region specific items as required.


Before you go anywhere tell people where you are going and that they may get a call if things go wrong. You can also arrange to check in at agreed times so that if you miss an agreed check-in the alarm can be raised.

Stick to your agreed plan and keep your support team updated so they will be in a position to help direct support services to your location as quickly as possible.


If you get lost or things aren’t going to plan, don’t flap. Stop. Sit down, collect your thoughts and have a brew. Don’t run around like a chicken with no head, you will only make the situation worse. If you are lost, study your map and calmly retrace your steps, work as a team to establish where you went wrong and where you are.

Then carry on.

And one for luck!) KEEP SMILING

Having put in all the hard work ahead of time to ensure your adventure is a success don’t forget to enjoy yourself.
Take time to stop and look at the beauty around you. Savour every new experience, every stunning view and every obstacle overcome.

Bob Podesta
‘A’ Squadron Ltd

** The website for US citizens that want to know more about traveling to other countries can use the Department Of State site –

If you want to know more about Bob and A-Squadron here’s a few links:



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jack-beckett is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival