Readers can quickly pick up the basics of wilderness survival and work toward mastering the skills needed to stay alive.
This book covers everything from food acquisition and fire building to making a shelter and crafting gear from scratch.
This book shows you exactly what to put into your bug out bag, and how each item is used with a matter-of-fact approach.
A small collection of survival books is a great investment for the outdoorsperson, prepper, survivalist, or even those with just casual interest in such matters. The idea is to put together a reference library that you can use to not just educate yourself and your family, but refer to as you sharpen your skills.
Having the reference materials on hand is one thing, though, and putting that knowledge into practice entirely another. Don’t just let them just sit on the shelf and collect dust. Take your survival books out into the field with you and refer to them often as you put the information to use.
There are a couple of things to bear in mind when you’re shopping for survival books. Consider the following when making your purchase:
Will the book cover the information you’re hoping to learn? There are few, if any, one size fits all survival books. Selecting a book depends on your area of interest.
Is the author well-known in the niche? In today’s day and age, just about anyone can slap together a couple hundred pages on a given topic, come up with a workable cover design, and then make it available for download. Reading reviews is great, but do some research about author.
Why It Made the Cut
Breaking the vast subject of wilderness survival into easy-to-understand chunks, the reader can quickly pick up the basics and work toward mastering the skills needed to stay alive.
Kevin Estela has been a professional wilderness survival instructor for many years. In this book, he drills down 101 skills each person should learn to stay alive in the wild. However, that sounds more daunting than it truly is, and that’s a good thing. This is a vast subject that he divides into 10 core areas:
Each of those sections is broken into 10 individual skills that he teaches in the book. For example, he shows how to make cordage from natural materials in that section. He also teaches how to tie and use different knots, how to join lines of different diameter, and more.
The author packs a ton of information into this book, all while making the lessons easy to follow and understand. He has decades of wilderness exploration under his belt, and it shows. This is most evident in the little things he shares along the way, tricks and tips that could only have been learned through hard-won experience.
Why It Made the Cut
Covering everything from food acquisition and fire building to making a shelter and crafting gear from scratch, you’ll learn all you need to survive the outdoors.
Craig Caudill is a sought-after survival instructor. Based in Kentucky, he’s traveled the United States teaching classes on everything from wilderness survival to man-tracking. His students range from ordinary people to high levels of law enforcement and the military. As such, he’s developed strategies and approaches to teaching that work very well.
Caudill covers a huge range of information in this book, beginning with developing the proper mindset. He devotes a few dozen pages to this incredibly important subject. Everything from situational awareness to developing the mental fortitude necessary to handle a crisis is discussed.
From there, the book delves deep into what he refers to as your toolbox. He explains why it is important to take responsibility for your own safety, rather than relying on others to come and save you. Then he shows you how to do just that, from maintaining your core body temperature using clothing and shelter to finding clean water. How to source food in the wild, foraging, trapping, and more are also covered.
The author also goes into a few areas that aren’t traditionally covered in wilderness survival books. These include tracking, surviving solo versus working with a group, bugging out, and even using weapons for defense. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is unusual and might be surprising to some readers.
Why It Made the Cut
This book delves deep into the psychological and physiological areas of survival. In it, you’ll learn how we react under stress and why, as well as how to improve on it.
In a very real sense, this is a book that should be studied by anyone with even a passing interest in survival. Successfully making it through a crisis has more to do with what sits between your ears than anything else. The author, Amanda Ripley, is a senior writer for Time Magazine. She used her contacts to open doors to disaster experts, brain scientists, and others to learn how and why we react as we do under stress.
She also studied the responses of those who survived historical disasters, including those who were present in the World Trade Center on 9/11. The author interviewed survivors, talking to them about their experiences. She even underwent study herself, going through several simulations of emergencies such as a ship sinking or a building on fire.
The goal of this book was to gain a better understanding of how the human body and brain handle stress, anxiety, and fear. There’s far more to the subject than just the standard fight or flight response most of us learn about in school. And by gaining a better handle on what to expect from our nervous system, we can not only predict what will happen in an emergency but gain better control over our response. This puts us in a better position for success and survival.
Why It Made the Cut
This book examines exactly what to put into your bug out bag or other survival kit and how each item is used with a matter-of-fact approach.
John D. McCann is a recognized authority on survival planning and has been featured on television as such, as well as in the New York Times and numerous magazines. Though he’s written several books, but this is the only one to concentrate solely on the equipment and gear needed for survival.
After briefly discussing the basics of survival kit planning, the bulk of the book is broken into two parts. In the first he goes over the different components of survival kits, including:
In each of these chapters, the author discusses the needs that must be met and how that’s done in a general sense. He then goes into detail about specific products that he’s found will do the job effectively and efficiently. With each one, he explains his reasoning and provides pros and cons, which allows the reader to determine for themselves the best way to go.
In the remaining pages of the book, the author outlines numerous kits he’s made over the years, with several photos illustrating each one. He talks about what he’s chosen for each size kit and why and details the containers he uses for them.
Why It Made the Cut
This is the most comprehensive book available on providing medical assistance in austere settings but can easily be understood by laypersons with little to no medical training.
This isn’t just a first aid manual, addressing sprains and minor cuts. It is truly a medical handbook, covering over 300 topics from cover to cover. Dr. Joseph Alton and his wife Amy have been at the forefront of survival medicine for many years. They’ve both devoted their lives to sharing practical, no-nonsense information with anyone who wishes to learn how to keep their families healthy and safe.
The book assumes that you have no practical way to reach professional medical care and, as such, you’re on your own to handle injuries, illnesses, and more. Written in plain English, the range of topics covered is quite extensive, including:
Each and every topic is covered in great detail, but in such a way that the reader isn’t overwhelmed. Knowing what to do about a problem is as important as diagnosing it, and that’s where this book truly shines. Each treatment and remedy is presented in an easy to follow format.
I have been an author and editor working in the survival field for well over a decade, and have been studying and practicing survival skills for over 30 years. In that time, I’ve had the opportunity to read innumerable survival books and learned from practical experience which ones were worth reading. There are a few criteria I use to determine whether a book is worth recommending.
While the order of these skills will vary based on the situation, everyone should strive to be proficient with:
· Fire making
· Shelter building
· Basic navigation
· Finding food and water
· Situational awareness
Having a good handle on those will solve most problems when it comes to survival.
In addition to the survival books we’ve already discussed, there are a few others that are particularly useful if we’re talking about a grid down or societal collapse situation.
· Be Ready for Anything by Daisy Luther
· Build the Perfect Bug Out Skills by Creek Stewart
· The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker
· Practical Self-Reliance by John D. McCann
This is sort of a loaded question. Many of the very best survivalists are those who live it every single day but aren’t necessarily writing books about it. That said, here is a short list of people who have proven to be exceptionally reliable resources. Not surprisingly, some of them wrote the books we listed earlier. By its very nature, the list cannot include everyone who truly deserves mention.
· Craig Caudill
· John D. McCann
· Kevin Estela
· Daisy Luther
· Christopher Nyerges
· Tim MacWelch
· Angeline Hawkes
· Michael D’Angona
· Reuben Bolieu
· Waysun Johnny Tsai
· Dana Benner
· Alice Jones Webb
· Bernie Carr
· Tony Nester
· Frank Grindrod
Selecting the best survival books can be a daunting task, as there are a great many excellent references available today. However, there are a few that tend to stand out among the rest, due to the content they provide as well as the quality of the writing. Hit the bookstore or local library and start discovering which ones will be your own favorites.
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