Or you can have all the will in the world but w/o knowledge you still perish. Sounds like they both matter.
Got to say I agree with Will they both definately matter.
Although for me the will to survive would be more important, as you could use the surroundings to make shelter, heat and gather food. Even if on a basic level. Knowledge and equipment would be great but you have to want to survive!
The Will to Live is by far the most critical factor in a survival situation. Yes, knowledge will help greatly, and equipment can be important, but these are meaningless without the drive to survive. It is that drive, that instinct, that deep desire to live no matter what you are faced with that you have to possess above all. And no matter what the odds are and no matter how difficult it all seems, and no matter how tough things get, the ability to tough it out and keep going, and going, that's the most important thing. I'm a firm believer that as long as you are never willing to give up, and always fighting whatever you are facing with fierceness and fire in your heart, you can make it. You must have that strength of will first, and it must be the last thing of yours you should ever let go, otherwise you don't stand a chance. I think this principle can apply to life in general as well.
Will alone doesn't put food in your stomach.
Both are important.
Check out the book Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why. Without the will to survive, all the knowledge and gear in the world won't save you. In fact, there are a number of stories in the book of very knowledgeable and well-equipped individuals who didn't survive while children with much more limited knowledge (if any) and virtually no supplies did just fine.
As far as a positive survival attitude goes, has anyone read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Side_of_the_Mountain It is a little juvenile but it still does a superior job going from surviving to thriving.
Thriving is key. The book that I mentioned discusses this topic extensively. In a review of hundreds of survival situations the author found that those who took an interest in their surroundings, even though in the midst of a survival situation, were much more likely to survive than those who focused exclusively on survival. The message is this: Those who allow their natural curiosity and wonder to overtake their fears of death are much more likely to survive than those who block out their environment and either panic or focus on their accumulated skills and knowledge. Children are very good at this.
I used to visit a survival site out of interest and there were several examples of people who'd died just a few miles from civilisation after a few days even when they had plenty good kit with them...and other examples of totally clueless people with no kit who'd walked out of or survived in some pretty hostile enviroments for weeks. So the key must be your will to survive, your ability to weather hardship, to improvise and keep on going when others would just give up or wallow in self pity.
Obviously, having some kit and a bit of knowledge will set you in good stead in a situation like that, but all the tools in the world won't help you if giving up and feeling sorry for yourself is in your nature.
Will to survive trumps anything else in a survival situation. Survival is 10% what tools you have (survival kits, knife, fire starter, etc), 10% your knowledge in using them and your creativity, and the remaining 80% is your mental attitude about it.
The knowledge, skills, and most important, experience are what give you the will to live. I would rephrase that and say the confidence to live.
You are asking the question as if it was all one or the other.
If you don't have the knowledge, you can't will yourself out of a stupid avoidable situation. If you don't have the will to struggle on you can let yourself stay in a bad situation and die.
You need both. More knowledge in my book then will power. You also need physical power. It does not matter if you want to climb the rope out of the pit of bad things, nor if you know how to climb out of the pit of bad things if you simply CAN NOT physically do so, you are stuck in the pit of bad things.
Where there's a will, there's a way. But, knowledge is important. Watch one episode of "Naked and Afraid" (Discovery Channel.) Then you'll learn that the #1 physical need is clothing and shoes. Without good clothing and shoes you'll quickly succumb to hypothermia in many environments. On par with that need is water. Then food. Then shelter. All of these needs have to be met within hours or days at most. To figure out what you really need, do this. Camp in your own back yard. (If you don't have a yard, camp on state land.) Don't allow yourself to go back inside the house for anything. (Don't allow yourself to use the garden hose either.) What do you need? Figure out how to acquire or make these things when you don't already have them. How can you turn tree branches into a shelter? How can you get drinking water quickly? How can you get food? You could put everything you need in the trunk of your car or pickup bed and drive out to the country and see if you can get anything without resorting to what you brought along. It isn't easy. But, you can figure it out. Having a good knife on your hip makes it a lot easier, for starters. Do this a few times, and you'll know exactly what you need on hand at all times to get through almost anything. Think in terms of going a whole week (not three days), or even a whole month.