Camping, Bushcraft & Survival

10 of the Best Survival Guides

If you want to learn essential outdoor skills, you need to read these survival guides.

It’s tempting when writing about the best survival guides that money can buy to just sack the whole thing off, and say “guys, the only information you need about survival is right here on your favourite action sports and adventure website.” Survival backpacks? No worries, we’ve got you covered. Survival gadgets, oh snap. Heck, we’ve even written something about survival knives.

But, that being said, we sort of feel that it would be irresponsible of us to pretend that no one else in the world has anything useful to say about the subject of survival. Dare we say it, but there’s probably quite a few people in the world who know more about this survival malarkey than we do. And so, with that statement floating on the breeze like an informative kite, here’s 10 survival guides that might just stop you from dying.

1) SAS Survival Handbook: The Definitive Survival Guide – John “Lofty” Wiseman

If you’re looking to read a survival guide, that will actually help you to survive, you could do a lot worse than reading one written by a man who spent 26 years serving in the SAS. John “Lofty” Wiseman is a wise man by name, and a wise man by nature. This updated edition of his original survival guide, now comes with added techniques for handling urban-dangers.

Whatever kind of adventurer you see yourself as, there’s something in here for you. From setting up camp and finding food in the wilderness, to self-defence and security actions in the streets; this book will prepare you for the big bad world like no other.

2) How To Stay Alive In The Woods – Bradford Angier

In outdoor and adventure circles, How To Stay Alive In The Woods by Bradford Angier is considered something of a classic. Written in 1956, the language is now more than a bit dated in places. On the flip-side, the essential information it contains is evergreen. The skills and methods in here have always worked, and will always work.

If you’ve got a small backpack, and don’t fancy hauling an entire library around with you, there’s a good chance that this book will be the only one you need. As the cover states, it’s a “complete guide to food, shelter, and self-preservation…anywhere.”

3) Outdoor Survival Skills – Larry Dean Olsen

Larry Dean Olsen’s book, considered a firm favourite by numerous adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts around the world, proves that when it comes to teaching survival techniques it’s better to keep things simple.

Outdoor Survival Skills contains lessons inspired by Native-American culture. There’s teachings on acquiring shelter, sourcing food and water, and making fire (three of the most essential elements when trying to survive in the wild). Pick up a copy of this book, practice some of the stuff contained within it, and turn yourself into a Jedi Master of outdoor survival.

4) Survival Handbook In Association With The Royal Marines Commandos – Colin Towell

If you want to “go commando,” without taking your pants off, this really is the only outdoor survival handbook for you. Written by Colin Towell, a qualified Combat Survival Instructor who has spent over 30 years teaching land, sea, desert, jungle, and cold-weather skills to the UK Army, Navy, Royal Marines and Air Force personnel, survival guides don’t come more legitimate than this.

This book will equip you with the skills designed to keep Royal Marines alive. Want to know what do if you meet a bear in the woods? It’s covered. Don’t know how to light a fire in the rain, or what the best course of action is when you’re in shark-infested waters? Get this survival guide in your life, and worry about it no longer.

5) The Zombie Survival Guide – Max Brooks

You might think that this is a bit of a silly one to include on the list, but ‘zombie survival guides’ have become big business in recent years. This one from zombie expert Max Brooks is probably the best one on the market. It might seem silly to worry about “zoms”, but this book will teach you a whole heap of transferable skills to help you survive all manners of apocalypse.

There’s information in here on how to reinforce your home, what constitutes an effective makeshift weapon, and how to spot if someone is succumbing to a zombie-like infection. It’s arguably not as essential as, for example, Bradford Angier’s book but you’ll be glad you’ve read it when the world is coming to an end and the undead are coming to eat your brains.

6) The Wilderness Survival Guide – Joe O’Leary

Joe O’Leary breaks down survival on a play-by-play basis. He writes about things in a clear, easy-to-follow, style and focuses on the realities of actually using wilderness survival skills rather than just on the extremities of life-and-death survival situations.

This book will teach how you to use bushcraft tools to build shelter, how to light a fire and keep it lit, where to find safe drinking water, and how to forage for wild food. Whether you’re a casual hiker or a hardcore adventurer, this guide is well worth reading.

7) When All Hell Breaks Loose – Cody Lundin

Cody Lundin, survival expert and author of ‘98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive’, has written an access-all-areas hardcore survival book for all the city slickers out there (who, let’s face it, often don’t have the first clue about surving outdoors).

Lundin offers a brutally honest insight into the stuff you’ll need when the end of the world comes, whether it be through natural or man-made means. Shelter, water, food, cooking, survival kits, and sanitation; it’s all here. Not only that, but Lundin also helps readers to understand the mental and emotional aspects of their own mind. Because, sometimes, survival isn’t just about making a fire…it’s about speed-of-thought and staying calm in a crisis.

8) Be Ready When The Sh*t Goes Down – Forrest Griffin

Not only does this survival book have one of the greatest titles for anything, ever, it’s also a cracking-good read for anyone with even the slightest interest in survival guides. This book might not be the most serious on the market, and it might be dirtier than a pile of mud, but it also contains some entertaining points that all outdoor enthusiasts should take on board.

This book has got some pretty weird ideas in it. With that in mind, readers should look at it as more of a testament to a pro-active mindset rather than as a step-by-step guide to surviving in the wilderness. There’s a whole chapter, for example, dedicated to building a “Vehicle of Destruction” with an onboard brewery. Forrest Griffin, a UFC fighter by trade, has served up a book that injects some fun back into the outdoor survival genre.

9) Naked Into The Wilderness – John and Geri McPherson

This guide is nowhere near as kinky as the title suggests it is. If you’re looking for a kinky read, rather than outdoor survival guide, get some 50 Shades of Gravel in your life. If, however, you’re looking to educate yourself in matters of wilderness-surviving…sit right where you are, buckle up, and allow us to tell you why this guide by John and Geri McPherson is worthy of your time.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn primitive living skills, this is the book for you. There’s stuff in here on how craft stone-blades, build bow drill equipment, and do interesting things with deerskin. A really handy survival guide, especially if a time-machine comes along and takes you kicking and screaming back to the dawning of humanity.

10) The Ultimate Survival Manual: 333 Skills That Will Get You Out Alive – Rich Johnson

We’re normally a little bit wary of anything that puts “Ultimate” in the title. Because, let’s face it, anything that sets the bar that high straight from the off is almost asking to be a letdown. But this book is genuinely brilliant, and utterly addictive. There’s so a wide array of information in here that it’s remarkable the information doesn’t spill off the pages and onto your hands.

Written in a humorous, yet informative, way there’s standard stuff here on treating heat stroke and frostbite as well as more obscure stuff on how to swim through burning oil and survive a stampede (quickly, someone call Simba’s dad). As the cover proudly boasts, there’s over 300 skills in here. Pick it up, get reading, and be the ultimate survivor.

You May Also Like:

The 10 Best Survival Books Which All Would-Be Adventurers Should Read

The 10 Best Survival Movies of All Time


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