Not everybody can be like Bear Grylls or a Navy Seal or an experienced scout with untapped ability to survive in harsh outdoor conditions. For the average guy, a lot remains a mystery about the outdoors. Luckily, various practical books exist to help increase your chances of survival in the outdoors by improving your overall knowledge and techniques. Anybody can explore the outdoors, be an adventurer, or go camping with the correct tools, but if you don’t know the proper techniques to utilize what you have, there is no point in having them at all.
This article aims to answer some frequently asked questions on survival and outdoor adventuring whilst also providing you with the 8 best survival books that money can buy.
Frequently Asked Survival Questions
What is Bushcraft?
You will see the word ‘bushcraft’ mentioned quite a lot in this article, and that is because it is a common term used among adventurers and outdoor survival experts. Put simply; it is the skill of living and surviving in the bush or the outdoors. It centres around the use of your natural surroundings to help aid survival.
What is a Bug out Bag?
A bug out bag is an essentials kit used by emergency service personnel. However, it can be utilized by outdoor adventurers and nomads as a means to hold essential survival gear that will help you get out of danger. Each of the books mentioned below has a guide on bug out bags.
Are there any common mistakes to avoid when in the wilderness?
There are many ways to make silly mistakes when in an unknown area in the wild or the bush, but there are a few basic mistakes that should be avoided:
- Failure to set up an adequate shelter
- No tools for navigation
- Wearing the wrong clothing for the environment
- Carrying too much equipment
- Failure to have the ability or resources to make fire
If you get lost in the wilderness, what is the best course of action to take?
It is widely believed that the best course of action to take if you feel that you may be lost is to mark your current position and look to find your way back to the last familiar place that you recognize. The place you mark can act as a home base if you end up back at the same place again.
1. The SAS Survival Guide
Written up by a host of Britain’s toughest survival experts, the SAS survival guide is the perfect companion for teaching the average civilian how to survive in unpredictable terrain. In it, you will find techniques on how to best survive in every climate, from the desert or forest to the wilderness. And with chapters on food and foraging, urban security, and all essentials needed to survive, you are well covered. What I love about this book, aside from its depth, is that it has pictures and guides on how to utilize equipment and surroundings. This makes it more visually pleasing for newer readers. It is pocket-sized, so it can be taken anywhere and is well priced at $9.
2. US Army Survival Manual
You can already tell by the name that this book will be a comprehensive and impressive guide on how to survive in harsh conditions. Commissioned by the department of defense and written by some of the United States armies most trusted wilderness experts, the guide is the perfect companion for any nomad to have.
As well as having a comprehensive checklist at the start of the book that anyone can use to assess their surroundings and ensure their safety, the book has a host of useful chapters on personal protection, shelter, water and food management, evasion, navigation, and psychology. Priced at $10, this book is a must-have for anyone serious about the great outdoors.
3. Bushcraft 101- A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival
Written by renowned survival expert Dave Canterbury, Bushcraft 101 looks to give readers of all capabilities helpful tips on surviving in the bush. It bases itself on the 5 C’s of survival which are:
- Cutting Tools
- Combustion Devices
The books are categorized into small and easy-to-read chapters that look to help you build your own kit, choose the right items, forage, cook, protect yourself and your family, and utilize your weapons and tools. Priced at only $10 and with over 12,000 5-star reviews on Amazon, Bushcraft is one of the most trusted and comprehensive survival manuals on the market.
4. 100 Deadly Skills
Written by former Navy Seal Clint Emerson, this pocket manual was inspired by Emerson’s real experiences while serving for over 20 years. The book has chapters on shelter building, how to start a fire, how to do essential first aid, foraging for food and even has scenarios for surviving a bomb scare or a hostage situation. As well as having helpful navigation tips for when in the wild, the book itself is easy to navigate, and to its credit, is broken up nicely into bitesize chunks that are easy for the reader to digest. This is particularly handy if you are in a sticky situation and need an answer to a question quickly.
5. How to Eat in the Woods
This book is a little different to all of the others on the list in that it does not deal with general survival in the wilderness but rather focuses on one aspect. The first of two Bradford Angier books on the list, How to Eat in the Woods, is an expert guide on all things related to eating and survival.
The book is compact and easy to read and has chapters on foraging buts, berries and leaves, fishing, and hunting. The book’s main premise is to teach people how to maintain their levels of sustenance for as long as possible. With pictures and information on leaves, plants, berries, and nuts, you can rest in the knowledge that you will know what is safe and not safe to eat, as well as how best to eat it. This comprehensive book is the perfect companion for those that need guidance on maintaining sustenance and gathering food in the wild.
6. Hawkes Green Beret Survival Manual
Containing all of the essential survival strategies needed for every scenario, Hawke’s Survival Manual is a must for anyone that is serious about learning the basics of bushcraft. Written by Green Beret veteran Mykel Hawke, the book contains chapters on every survival area, from starting a fire effectively to the psychology of trying to survive to navigation and first aid tips. Hawke is the director Spec Ops in the US Army, and his cv only further emboldens the legitimacy of his manual. The book is about 700 pages, which does make it a little bulky, but it does contain the most comprehensive list of strategies and tips of any book on the list.
7. The DK Survival Handbook
DK have a series of easy to read and easy to understand books on certain topics. Luckily for us, one of those topics is survival. This book does not go into great detail but rather gives the reader the basics of survival, how things work and what to do in certain situations. The book has chapters on essentials like making a fire, building shelter, and what to have in a survival kit.
Still, like any good DK book, it also has a host of great illustrations and pictures that look to make life easier for those trying to understand what they are doing. There are also various pro tips scattered throughout the book. Perhaps not the best option for more experienced nomads, but an excellent choice for the beginner.
8. How to Stay Alive in the Woods
The name says it all really. How to Stay Alive in the Woods is a practical guide for anyone who likes to frequent the outdoors. It is one of the easiest to read and organized books on survival, with pictures and sections that will make reading and understanding the content easy.
The book is broken up into four sections, Sustenance, Warmth, Orientation, and Safety, and each section has a series of sub-chapters that are easy to find and easy to understand. Written by the now-deceased wilderness expert Bradford Angier, the book is still seen as a staple of wilderness survival, and with over 1,000 5-star reviews on Amazon, you can rest assured that when you buy this book, you are buying quality, and for only $12, it is a steal.