When it comes to you or your companions’ lively hood you need to know what to do in every situation. You could have the best gear possible in your survival kit, but if you don’t know how to use them then what’s the point? This list of best survival books are must reads that should be read thoroughly and even brought with you on your adventures where possible. After all,
Knowledge is power.
– Sir Francis Bacon
This list is more geared for survival in the wilderness and not so much in the urban lifestyle. These are in no particular order and some topics will overlap, but that’s not a bad thing. The more ways you know how to do one thing is best so you can change your technique depending on the situation. There are many more books available on the survival subject, this is barely the tip of the iceberg.
Best Survival Books
The Ultimate Survival Manual Canadian EditionThis is a Canadian adapted version of the original best-selling Outdoor Life book. It’s nice to see us Canadians getting some love, so of course it’s on the list.
The Ultimate Survival Manual covers a huge array of topics. This includes your essentials, wilderness, disaster, and urban survival situations. The book is filled with clear, concise instructions, helpful diagrams, essential checklists, and inspirational first-person stories, this book is a fascinating armchair read that could potentially safe your life.
Although Outdoor Life calls it the “Ultimate” manual, there are more true manuals available. This book will serve as a great coffee table read for everyone to enjoy and learn from. Get a sneak peak inside the book at Amazon. It’s available in hardcover, paperback, and for the Kindle.
Survive!Survive! is written by Survivorman, Les Stroud. You can’t get any more Canadian than this guy. Survive! comes in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle format.
Survive! includes detailed information on the following:
• preparing for survival, mentally and physically
• fire-making techniques
• basic survival kit components
• finding, collecting and making water
• sources of food
• types of shelter
Les uses his experiences from traveling on 6 continents and field-tested techniques to create this book. Definitely a must read before heading into the wild. Check it out on Amazon.
Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness SurvivalBushcraft 101 at the time of this article is an Amazon bestseller and also a New York Times bestseller in the Sports and Outdoors category.
It’s authored by Dave Canterbury who co-starred on Dual Survivor for a couple seasons. He’s now the co-owner and supervising instructor at the Pathfinder School in Ohio, which was named by USA Today as one of the Top 12 Survival Schools in the United States. He is also the managing editor of Self Reliance Illustrated magazine. His YouTube channel has more than 400,000 subscribers and his videos have more than 34 million views. His work has also been published in New Pioneer and American Frontiersman.
There was some controversy over him embellishing his military career to Discovery Channel which got him booted from Dual Survivor, however that does not affect the knowledge this man has and is able to provide.
The book is based on the 5Cs of Survivability:
- Cutting Tools
- Combustion Devices
Bushcraft 101 provides only the most important survival skills to help you craft resources from your surroundings and truly experience the beauty and thrill of the wilderness. Inside, you’ll also discover detailed information on:
- Choosing the right items for your kit
- Manufacturing tools and supplies
- Collecting and cooking food
- Protecting yourself from the elements
This is a must have survival guide and should be one you memorize and take with you on your adventures. Buy it on Amazon
SAS Survival Guide: How to Survive in the Wild, on Land or SeaThis is an updated version of the original SAS Survival Guide by John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman, a former SAS member. The update adds information in regards to surviving in an urban environment, which more and more people will need as cities expand and we lose touch with nature, unfortunately.
This guide will teach you:
- Preparation – Understanding and assembling the latest and most resilient kit.
- Navigation – Skills, technologies, and techniques to get you through unfamiliar terrain.
- Food and Health – Finding resources in your environment, feeding yourself, healing yourself, and avoiding disease.
- Urban Safety and Security – Recognizing dangerous situations, defending yourself, and saving others.
- Disaster Survival – Dealing with unstable environmental conditions: what to do in the face of flash flooding or fast-spreading fire.
This book is an overall guide to help you through any situation. Readers have commented that it’s a great beginner book, but is not a book you’d carry with you into the wild to rely on. See it on Amazon
100 Deadly Skills: Survival Edition: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Surviving in the Wild and Being Prepared for Any Disaster100 Deadly Skills was written by retired SEAL Team member Clint Emerson. It features 100 skills are not necessarily deadly, so don’t think this is a book on 100 ways to kill something.
Some of the ideas in the book you may never use, like how to fight a shark or run from a wild boar, so scan through the table of contents don’t worry about the things you’ll never need to know, and study the rest. You’ll discover why preparation is the most important thing, to how to find water, and even how to use household items has weapons. Something you hopefully won’t have to encounter, but good to know nonetheless.
Readers have commented that it’s a fun and helpful read that should be in everyone’s library.
Advanced Bushcraft: An Expert Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness SurvivalAnother book by Dave Canterbury, Advanced Bushcraft is a more advanced version of Bushcraft 101, could you tell by the name? This book goes into detail on surviving with little no tools. Dave covers crucial survival skills such as tracking to help you get closer to wildlife, crafting medicines from plants, and navigating without the use of a map or compass.
He also offers ways to improvise and save money on bushcraft essentials. The idea behind Canterbury’s advice and guidance is so you can learn how to forgo your equipment, make use of your surroundings, and truly enjoy the wilderness.
This book is great for those already somewhat experienced or anyone looking to advance their skills. I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners, but definitely have it on your must buy list for later.
The Bushcraft Field Guide to Trapping, Gathering, and Cooking in the WildAnother from Dave Canterbury’s lineup, The Bushcraft Field Guide focuses on food. Dave teaches how to trap, gather, and cook in the wild (as the title suggests) and provides recipes to do so. Of course you probably won’t be carrying most of the ingredients, but hey, it can be useful in the kitchen too.
One of the great things about this book are the full colour photos of plants to forage and which ones to avoid. My old books growing up had hand drawings that didn’t help me much, so this is a nice change.
When you know you’ll be in the woods a while, or even a few nights, this guide will come in handy to ensure you bring the proper supplies and ingredients so you can spend less time scavenging for food and more time enjoying the wilderness.
Bushcraft: Outdoor Skills and Wilderness SurvivalWritten by Mors Kochanski, the third edition book comes with updated colour photos to teach you practical skills and knowledge essential for surviving and enjoying the wild.
Bushcraft includes basic instructions for lighting and maintaining a fire, chopping wood and felling trees, creating a warm shelter, using knives and axes safely, finding plants and animals important for survival, cooking in the outdoors, and making tools, ropes, and so much more.
Add this to your lineup of beginner survival guides and you’ll be set.
The Knot Tying Bible: Climbing, Camping, Sailing, Fishing, EverydayThe Knot Tying Bible is an important guide to have, even in everyday normal life. You never know when you’ll need to tie a knot, and as crazy as it sounds you’ll be able to impress people with your knot tying skills.
In this book you will learn everything from tying knots to haul logs, securing the canoe, even to wrapping a present. This book is great for beginners and experienced rope users who can enjoy new knot challenges and discoveries.
It focuses your learning by using photographs and written instructions explaining step-by-step how to tie knots. Inside the book you get:
- A comprehensive introduction to rope
- Material properties of rope types
- How to select, care for, and store all types of rope
- Ropeworking terms
- Descriptions of rope constructions and outlines of breaking strains
- Information and ideas for using each knot
- Picture icons.
The knot directory outlines the function and formation of 70+ knots and categorizes them according to physical properties, making it easy to find the right knot for the job. The knots are set out in ten chapters:
- Quick-Tie Knots: overhand knot, cow hitch, figure-eight knot
- Easy-release Knots: the bow knot, the reef knot
- Hold-Fast Knots: the surgeon’s knot, Klemheist knot
- Sliding Knots: slip knot, trucker’s hitch, running bowline
- Loop Knots: Englishman’s loop, neck halter, angler’s loop
- Knots for Joining Ropes: Carrick bend, double fisherman’s bend
- Shortening Knots: chain knot and sheepshank
- Weight-adding Knots: Stevedore knot, monkey’s fist, stopper knot
- Lashings: Cross lashing, parallel lashing, transom knot
- Decorative Knots: the Turk’s head and the true lover’s.
Knowing the right knot to use and how to tie it can make life easier and safer. The Knot Tying Bible is a timeless resource and an essential purchase. You won’t realize how important learning different types of knots is until you’re in a situation you need them.
A Survival Kit Shelter, The Super Shelter and Some of It’s Variants
Another by Mors Kochanski, this Kindle (and Kindle App) only book will teach you one of the most important skills next to being prepared, shelter. Without shelter you’re doomed. With the main focus as that, Mors gets to the point and teaches you what you need, how to do, and the physics behind the designs.
The only downside is that it’s Kindle only, which would be the last thing on my mind to bring camping or adventuring. But, if you have the room and know you won’t destroy it, bring it along!
I hope you enjoyed this list, and as I said above there are waaayyy more books and resources available. Any of the above will be a great resource to have in your library. When it comes to knowledge you can never have too much, and no one can take that from you.
Do you already own one of these books or have another favourite? Let me know in the comments below!
Keep studying and stay prepared my friends!