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There are currently an estimated 3 million or more individuals in the United States that consider themselves doomsday “preppers” or homesteaders (among other nicknames). Some survival books are all encompassing, but many cover a broader spectrum of more specific topics relating to emergency preparedness. Many agree that John “Lofty” Wiseman’s 1986 SAS Survival Handbook is one of the best guides available. The cover to Bradford Angier’s classic guide to wilderness survival boasts over 600,000 copies sold, and each one of those readers is now better equipped to survive on their own.
There have been dozens of official Army handbooks published over the decades that are written from a military perspective. At 350 pages, Paul Tawrell’s Camping and Wilderness Survival is one of the most thorough guides to the outdoors and wilderness survival ever written. Fans of Cody Lundin from the “Dual Survival” TV show will appreciate When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need to Survive When Disaster Strikes, the second survival guide written by the outdoor expert. There are hundreds of survival books to choose from and everyone has their own preferences and opinions on what the book should teach. SubscribeEnter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content. The various UK bushcraft forums are becoming populated with threads about the new Ray Mears autobiography, and particularly references to his involvement with the Raoul Moat manhunt. This is NOT a definitive list of the 10 best bushcraft books, and these are not in any particular order, just the order they appear on my bookshelf!
This is THE book I tell people they should look out for when beginning to look into wilderness and woodland skills. His story  is part of the fabric of Canadian history, and his work as a surveyor for the Hudson’s Bay Company was hugely important in the development of the nation. It is also a reminder that journeys in the wilderness are not just about route-planning, gear and fitness – you need to expect to deal with everything else you carry with you too. Although this is a North American book, a lot of the skills and techniques listed within are transferable to the U.K. British bushcrafters tend to focus on woodland and forest skills, partly because of the influence of North American and Scandinavian wilderness literature.
It was first published in 1963 but is still current, with regular revisions to take into account changes in equipment and access to the UK mountains. Like all of these skills, reading is no match for properly delivered outdoor first aid instruction. Another North American book, this is written by one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America. This book is responsible for getting many people interested in survival and other outdoor skills, myself included. Related Posts and ArticlesTen Foraging Books you need on your shelfTen Coastal Foraging Books you need in your life!
Just like the Army, this manual offers no-frills, direct, straightforward information for anyone who wants to know what it takes to survive, in any climate, on their own, with limited resources.
This reference book has long held the top spot as the best resource for climbers and mountaineers.
Skiers, snowshoers, mountaineers, cold-weather campers and anyone else who likes to play in the snow should read this book. Every good survival guide collection should include a detailed book on wilderness first-aid. ACTIVE is the leader in online event registrations from 5k running races and marathons to softball leagues and local events. While you may never by trained by the elite British Special Air Service (SAS), Barry Davies's expert guidance will make you feel like you have.
With more than 350 full-color illustrations in The Complete SAS Survival Manual, Davies shows you how to avoid capture and how to escape and get rescued should that evasion fail. Barry Davies spent eighteen years in the British Special Air Service, serving around the globe.
However, a very small percentage of that population are an Eagle Scout, Army Ranger, or wilderness guide with years of training and practice on various survival skills.
They cover everything from natural disaster preparation and survival, gardening and food self-sufficiency, self-defense, home security, relocation, and living frugally during an economic collapse.
If anyone knows a thing or two about the physical and mental preparation needed to survive in the wild its Wiseman, who spent 26 years in the British Army’s elite SAS forces.
The book has been in print without much update since 1956, but the content is timeless and the information presented is what has worked and will continue to work for survivors of levels. Military history writer Jay McCullough sifted through their contents and compiled a comprehensive guide on all aspects of survival in a format that soldiers and civilians alike can learn from.
The book includes everything from basic skills like using a compass, reading the sun, and starting a fire to more advanced animal tracking, shelter building, and first aid.


A book that may be elementary to a survival expert may be a beginner prepper’s outdoor bible. We believe that being prepared is important for any family and we want to see preparedness become a mainstream conversation. The primitive skills movement in the USA is much further advanced than here, and the crossover into modern bushcraft and wilderness skills is rather important. It is now published by the Mountain Training Board, the same people who manage the Mountain Leader (ML) award scheme, and is part of the required reading for the ML awards. Kath is a member of Llanberis Mountain Rescue team, the SAR team responsible for Snowdon and arguably the busiest in the U.K. Daniel was born in 1850 and saw first-hand the temporary shelters used by all types of wilderness dwellers and visitors in the USA. The Tactical Survival Revolution Has Begun – At Last, A Breathable Survival Sleeping Bag in Tactical!! This is a must-read for backpackers and anyone who likes to explore beyond park boundaries. Compiled from the experience of millions of scout leaders, this manual is an excellent reference for anyone who loves the outdoors, covering both smart and ethical behavior.
In addition to navigation, edible and non-edible plants, survival medicine and water resources, this manual also addresses things like weapons and tools and the will to survive.
Known as the "mountaineer's bible," it covers everything from climbing knots and navigation to expedition planning and first response.
And what better source to turn to than Outward Bound—a non-profit educational organization that's been teaching outdoor leadership for more than 50 years. Navy SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) School, author Colin Towell was the Royal Navy's Chief Survival Instructor. ACTIVE also makes it easy to learn and prepare for all the things you love to do with expert resources, training plans and fitness calculators.
When in a harrowing situation, Davies, a widely respected specialist on SAS techniques and training, explains that the main problem is often not on of equipment, but the lack of will to do something about the predicament. He participated in the storming of the hijacked Lufthansa plane at Mogadishu in 1977 and was awarded the British Empire Medal. For the rest of the population that hasn’t received some kind of hands-on training, a survival book may be your next best option.
Whether you are filling a niche in your library of survival books or looking to buy your first guide, the books below contain some of the most practical information and are among the most popular currently available. The book features everything from navigation skills, shelter construction, identifying edible plants, predicting weather patterns, and every other basic skill needed to endure life in the wilderness.
HTSAITW is broken down into four sections: Sustenance, Warmth, Orientation, and Safety, each offering detailed instructions and accompanying (though somewhat lacking) illustrations. The book covers first aid, distinguishes between surviving in different environments and whether conditions, surviving biological and chemical attacks, shelter building, and the often overlooked factors of mental fitness and fortitude. In an emergency situation, this book has the resources needed to teach you to take care of yourself if sick or injured, find your way out of the desert or off a mountain, or procure an endless supply of drinking water. The book addresses topics like finding fresh drinking water, heating and cooling the body and shelter with unconventional methods, composting human waste, catching and storing nutritious foods, and even disposing of a dead body.
Remain hopeful that whatever book you chose will have a tidbit, if not an arsenal, of life-saving information.
That said, there is a world of bushcraft and wilderness skills knowledge out there in books, online and in other formats that I often recommend to people.
Bushcraft instructors have always relied on skills learnt from First Nations people, from firelighting to hunting, shelters to crafts. I have several copies scattered around the house and office as a reference for lesser-known wild foods, and it is featured in a previous blog on foraging guidebooks. Mountain Rescue statistics show that being unaware or ill-prepared for the elements, unable to use a compass or map properly or being ill-equipped.
It is also used as a navigation training manual by several UK Mountain Rescue and Search and Rescue teams for new recruits. This book builds on the many other first aid manuals out there, but focuses specifically on outdoor environments.
It can be read in two ways – a manual for campers and scouts for the early part of the mid-20th century, or an account of late-19th Century woodsman and pioneer skills.
Learn everything you ever wanted to know about leading a group, preparing for a trek, reducing your footprint, planning an adventure, and understanding and appreciating nature.
Written by a former Special Air Service solider, the SAS Survival Handbook provides survival techniques for any climate, on land or at sea. As plant species vary depending on region, make sure you have a book that covers the area you plan to explore. Adventurers especially would benefit from this handbook, that covers diagnostic and first-aid procedures to use when immediate help isn't an option.


With this extensive manual, you'll learn everything you need to know to keep yourself alive, from first aid and navigation to acquiring life-saving essentials like food, water, and shelter. For military personnel and civilians alike, this manual is easy to understand and will provide you with the ability to rise to the challenge of surviving in a hostile environment. It may be necessary to put the skills you learn in a guide to practice in order to prepare for a survival situation, but studying up will at least give you an idea and mental image of the tasks you may eventually be faced with. While it’s up to your own self-determination to survive an emergency situation, one of these books may end up teaching you a skill that could save your life. Wiseman also addresses important and often overlooked topics like fear management and how to cope long after an initial crisis. Written long before the “prepper” movement really took off, Angier’s book doesn’t delve much into the topics of urban survival or natural disaster preparedness. Chocked full of illustrations and photographs of different plants, skin diseases, animal traps, and other useful aids, The Ultimate Guide to US Army Survival Skills, Tactics, and Techniques is a great multipurpose guide for the budding survival enthusiast. Whether disaster strikes while you are in your home, driving in your car, or on vacation, Lundin’s book will teach you how to cope and adapt to your situation. Some of these I have discovered for myself through my own research, some have been recommended to me by others but I feel that all will be of relevance to anybody with an interest in learning more about outdoor skills, survival techniques or just how humans do and should interact with the natural environment. This book, complete with detailed line drawings and references, covers almost every skill that our clients want to learn or try for themselves. This book is not a survival manual, but more of a compendium of demonstrable Native American and primitive skills. Although not comprehensive, it provides reliable information on over 200 British edible wild plants, along with recipes and background information. In order to prevent becoming one of those statistics I strongly urge anybody who heads into the outdoors on foot to read and digest a copy of this book.
It includes sections I haven’t seen in other similar manuals, such as dealing with gunshot wounds or multiple casualty triage.
Either way it is a useful and interesting series of projects, articles and tales relevant to U.K.
If you want to take your bushcraft shelter knowledge beyond tarps and leaf-mould kennels and lean-tos then this is a book you should have on your shelf.
Book Description Includes new case studies and survival scenarios The experts survival techniques, based on John Lofty Wisemans 26 years in the SAS Practical, easy-to-follow advice with diagrams and color illustrations Visit the Apple iTunes store to be fully equipped with the SAS Survival Guide iPhone App! This particular book covers Eastern and Central North America with more than 370 wild plants and 37 poisonous lookalikes. With real world case studies, colorful diagrams, and updated content to address surviving with modern technology, the SAS Survival Handbook will have you putting your newfound knowledge to practice the next time you step outside. But with information on game catching, shelter building, signaling for help, and basic self-defense, nearly anyone facing an out of the ordinary situation can find practical value in this guide. Tawrell will teach you how to make the most out of your vehicle’s materials and location to increase your likelihood of getting rescued or fostering your own self-rescue. The book places firm value on the idea that survival is 90% mental and only 10% application and gear.
It is written in away that educates without patronising and was one of my favourites as a teenager.
Like the previous book, Walking Home has an undercurrent of bittersweet human emotion from the author’s personal life. The projects listed include pottery, hunting tools, basket weaving and fire pistons, as well as a short section on tracking and paleolithic mindsets.
The pedigree of Kath’s Mountain Rescue and REC first aid instruction experience is displayed throughout, and the layout of the book is clear and easy to follow.
It focuses on survival skills, as practised by the military but with relevance to civilians.
Some may find the book overly exhaustive, but with so many “what ifs?” possible, Tawrell leaves no stone unturned. Unlike most of the other books and manuals in this list, the main thrust of this guide is on finding the most immediate practical solution to any given problem. Many firelighting techniques are listed for example, but the emphasis is on using what is to hand rather than learning how to use a bowdrill set. The line between survival and bushcraft skills is indistinct at times, and regardless of your philosophy for spending time outdoors there will be something of use to you in this book.



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