This book covers a wide range of topics, from computer viruses to preventing scurvy to escaping a burning building. Information is clear and well organized with high-quality photos. No need to read book from cover to cover; simply find the section that pertains to your situation. Effective at relaying the seriousness of being unprepared should danger strike.
Font is extremely small.
Full of helpful survival tips and plenty of informative diagrams. Information is presented concisely with clear instructions. Topics range from how to set up camp, dangerous plant identification, and multiple DIY animal traps. Canterbury includes pros and cons, as well as his preference for many of the recommended items in his book.
Lack of photos in tree and plant section makes them harder to identify in real life.
Nester injects humor into his writing. Informative and easy to read. Touches on a number of topics, including how to make your home self-reliant, cooking when the power's out, and even long-term sanitation and hygiene tips. Plenty of photos and diagrams. We love the helpful summary at the end of each chapter.
Book lacks aesthetic appeal.
Each of the survival hacks seems realistic and easily attainable by the average person. Many can be done at home just for fun. Stewart includes background about when and how he learned each of the tips and tricks. Many hacks have funny or clever names, making them perfect to share with kids.
Some hacks require preparation and wouldn't be helpful in outdoor emergency situations.
Cobb touches on topics that most survival guides don't, like education and entertainment. His focus isn't just on surviving, but thriving in the face of extreme scenarios. The book prepares you should you lose power for weeks or months. Food growth and storage, defending your home, and how to start a new society are just a few of the topics covered.
Sometimes recommends other books instead of expanding on topic.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
From making it through apocalyptic doom to learning how to make questionable water safe to drink, survival books offer life-saving advice and tips for making the best of it when disasters strike.
Some are for beginner campers and offer “how-tos.” Those include advice on how to protect food from wild animals, construct a shelter, and how to make a fire.
There are mid-level survival books that are more for the hardy, experienced survivalist. These books include chapters on finding food and fresh water in a wild habitat.
And for the doomsday preppers there are the books that give advice on what would be needed in the event of an apocalypse. Dystopian survivors read about how to store non-perishable food for long periods of time, how to construct some sort of bunker, and what items are considered essential for survival.
Regardless of what stage of survivalist the reader is, there are priceless nuggets of information contained within each volume. Scroll through our guide, and let us help you survive, then check out our top picks.
In a survival situation, each format of book has its boons and its banes. A hardcover will protect the pages of the book better, and it will keep its integrity longer when stored in a pack. But on the other hand, a hardcover will also almost always take up more space in said pack, and will be heavier.
A paperback is much more pliant but lends itself to more wear and tear. There’s less inner page protection with a paperback, so oftentimes after hard use the front and back covers will tear off. There are some types of paperbacks, though, that have laminated covers. These offer more protection of the book while still maintaining its shape.
Also consider whether you will want to dog-ear pages in the book or write notes in the margins. Check for available note-taking space.
Product in depth
SAS Survival Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere by John "Lofty" Wiseman
Addresses any and all disaster scenarios
The SAS Survival Handbook is the must-have of survival books. It not only contains research on almost any survival situation, but the third edition also includes chapters on urban survival and terrorism. In our current turbulent times, urban survival may be essential knowledge.
As mentioned previously, it’s essential to understand just how severe the survival situation may be. Each book focuses on different scenarios linked to various survival situations.
For instance, if you are planning to go camping and need to know what kinds of plants are edible and what kinds of plants to avoid, you probably only need a broad or short-term tips and tricks kind of survival book, or one specifically designed for camping.
A medium-level book could include more difficult tactics, such as constructing shelter without a tent or with premade materials, or how to disinfect water so it’s drinkable. This is more for a hobby survivalist, who would go on a wilderness survival trip for fun. But it could still be used to education oneself on how to survive in the wild if you are ever stranded or lost somewhere.
The highest level of survival would encompass long-term survival. This would be after a major natural disaster, after an apocalyptic event, or to be self-reliant for any number of reasons. Chapters should include how to live sustainably and how to live “off-grid.”
Photo illustrations can be beneficial while reading. Different books use them in different ways. Some books use photos as the main source of explanation, and offer text instructions as captions. Others are mostly text and only use a photo when it’s necessary because the words themselves aren’t enough of an explanation.
Similarly, different readers prefer different photo uses in books. Page through each book before purchasing or view a digital version of the inside pages. That way you can tell what style the book is formatted in and how photos are used. You may need to refer to it quickly, so decide if you need visuals or prefer text-based instruction only.
Each survival book offers different options when it comes to art and illustrations. Some contain hand-drawn illustrations that give the impression of a true handwritten country guide. Others utilize real-life photographs to illustrate the text.
Fires provide light, warmth, and the ability to cook or boil water. They can also act as smoke signals to attract rescue.
If caught in cold weather, remember most of your body heat escapes through your head. If you have no hat or hood available, use other clothing or materials from nature to insulate your head, especially while sleeping.
Be able to tell directions without a compass. The most common thing to watch for is moss growing on a stone. The moss will grow thicker on the north side of the stone because it’s farthest from sunlight.
Price is linked to both the content of the book and the materials it’s made of (hardcover vs. paperback, glossy vs. matte). The price ranges from about $7 to $20. Easier and simpler survival books in a paperback format would be the most affordable at $7 to $12, with a more specific glossy-paged hardcover being the more expensive at $15 to $20, sometimes even more.
When purchasing a survival book it’s important to check many aspects of its format and creation. Read several tips before buying a survival book.
Review book chapters; they will give insight to the contents.
If looking for a specific topic, check the book’s index to see if it covers the topic.
Read the author’s short biography, usually included on the inside or back cover. Check their credentials and whether or not they are credible.
Remember what the book will be carried in. Will it fit appropriately and comfortably?
Flip through the entire book. A once-over will show how much text there is versus how much space is filled by illustrations or photos.
Essential for backcountry survival
The Bushcraft 101 field guide operates using the five Cs of survivability — cutting tools, covering, combustion devices, containers, and cordages. This unique guide offers ways to survive and flourish in bush country, and it also helps to better connect the reader with nature. Read, and learn to appreciate and respect Mother Nature.
Of course, there’s a plethora of survival books out there. From surviving the in-laws to surviving a relationship, but we’ve narrowed down the list to only those that are for true survivalists and adventurers.
The survival books we’ve chosen contain the most relevant tips and advice, they are written by reliable and credible sources, and they cover an extensive range of topics. If you’re searching for a specific survival tactic however, there are some great choices.
For instance, The Prepper's Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource will tell you all that needs to be known about how to gather, disinfect and store water in survival situations.
Likewise, Survival Medicine & First Aid: The Leading Prepper's Guide to Survive Medical Emergencies in Tough Survival Situations focuses on medicine and first aid in a survival event. Each offers beneficial information on a narrow topic.
Q. Why can’t I just look online for the information?
A. While there may be relevant information online, there are several downfalls to just “Googling” it. For one, it’s difficult to know what is reliable information, and what is opinion or conjecture. When reading a book, there’s an author biography that lists the credentials and demonstrates their credibility. Second, phones and computers die. If you’re in a survival situation, there most likely won’t be a plug-in nearby to charge electronics. Having a hard copy allows you to always access the information, especially when it’s most needed.
Q. Why should I trust one author over another?
A. When purchasing a survival book, there’s some subjectivity involved. If you personally believe someone who has gone out and used their own tips in survival situations is more credible than someone with a degree, then that’s the author you should go with. Different authors have different backgrounds; it’s up to you to decide how you will use the information they give you.
Q. Why read a survival book at all?
A. Some may scoff at the chance of an apocalypse or a monsoon of a natural disaster, and neither one may ever happen. But becoming lost while driving or traveling, or being stranded by a broken down car, are much more common scenarios. Reading a survival book allows you to prepare for the unknown and the improbable. How does that saying go? “It’s better to be safe than sorry.” Reading a survival book can empower you with confidence in worst case scenarios.
When the Grid Goes Down: Disaster Preparations and Survival Gear for Making Your Home Self-Reliant
by Tony Nester
Prepper's Long-Term Survival Guide: Food, Shelter, Security, Off-the-Grid Power and More
by Jim Cobb
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