7 Best Survival Books in 2021

This is a review of the best survival books.

Anyone that heads out to the backcountry, even for a day trip, can benefit from being prepared in their knowledge of different survival skills.

Often, we assume we are going to make it home safe and don’t prepare. If you are ever going out, a lightweight manual takes up virtually no space and can save your life in an instant. 

When you think you’re going on a short hike, but end up lost in the woods with no idea what to do or where to go, these books are there to have your back.

This is why every single person that enjoys the outdoors should have a well-stocked library of survival books. 

If you want to pick one fast, I recommend Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Wilderness Survival! It’s a comprehensive book that will equip you with most skills you should learn for survival.

The people that wrote these books want you to survive, but it’s on you to read them thoroughly and practice. These will not make you an expert, but they will help you get there. So let’s get you started. 

Quick Summary

There’s a wide array of books that are going to give you all the information you need to survive out there. In some cases, some books are better than others for certain skills. Sometimes, books might have it all.

To understand better, here are quick recommendations off of our list. 

7 Best Survival Books: Our Picks

There are hundreds of books out there that teach you how to survive in each and every environment on this planet.

There are also hundreds of different factors you need to take into consideration in a survival scenario.

It’s not really possible for a single book to predict every possibility to prepare you for anything, but they try. 

The books that have made this list range from those that cover it all to those that are for very specific uses. This list is only a mere beginning to start building your library.

Best Comprehensive Texts

Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Wilderness Survival – Tom Brown

This book stands out as one of the tops because of its author.

Tom Brown has been one of the leading survival experts for years on end. His books and courses are some of the best to help those looking to establish skills or those looking to learn how to do what they do, but better. 

What I like:

  • Tom Brown is one of the most talented survival experts there is
  • This book explains the basics to get you started in survival
  • Opens you up to develop further knowledge on the topic

What I don’t like:

  • Tom Brown focuses on the East coast, so this may not be the best for those in other regions

How to Stay Alive in the Woods – Bradford Angier

This is one of the most classic survival books there is. The title is straightforward, and so is the book.

It is small enough to slip easily into your pack any time you head out and will have it easily accessible. It’s an old book, but everything in it stays true to date.

This is a great option to cover all of the things you may need to know out there.

What I like:

  • It’s a classic for a reason. It has the skills that have been tried and true over a long time
  • Easy to pack up and bring with into the field

What I don’t like:

  • A lot of the pictures are hard to understand and lack the necessary detail

SAS Survival Handbook – John “Lofty” Wiseman

The SAS Survival Handbook brings together years of information and is one of the best for keeping itself updated to newer technologies that can help you out. J

ohn “Lofty” Wiseman is an expert in service survival and does a good job of bringing it all together here. 

What I like:

  • Up-to-date technology use is included such as GPS navigation
  • Still teaches old-school techniques
  • On the 3rd version to stay true to time

What I don’t like:

  • Tries to cover everything in urban and wilderness survival, so it has to leave some topics out

Best For Beginners

Bushcraft 101 – Dave Canterbury

Bushcraft 101 brings the basic survival skills into an easy-to-learn format that we believe will best-serve those that are starting to learn.

This book utilizes the 5 Cs (Cutting tools, Covering, Combustion devices, Containers, Cordages) to teach beginners the basics.

This is a good system that is easy to remember when in a difficult situation. 

What I like:

  • Easily understood method of the 5 Cs
  • Great information for beginners

What I don’t like:

  • Not great for those looking to dive in deep

Best For Finding Food

The Trapper’s Bible – Eustace Hazard Livingston

Any survival expert that has interest in trapping animals has read The Trapper’s Bible.

In this text, Eustace Hazard Livingston goes into a wide variety of methods to trap animals of all different kinds.

These range in difficulty and cover a broad spectrum of applications for all different parts of the world. 

What I like:

  • Easy-to-follow pictures for trap setup
  • Large assortment of different trap styles

What I don’t like:

  • This book makes it seem easy to trap animals when it’s not

Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants

When thinking about eating plants when outside, doing so without a guide is the fastest way to a miserable time out there.

Like we mentioned earlier, if you don’t know what it is, don’t eat it. Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants makes the identification process simple and successful. It is the easiest to use wild plant guide out there and covers most of North America. 

What I like:

  • Organized in a fashion that allows you to find plants easily
  • Lays out what can happen when you eat dangerous plants
  • Has over 400 plants in Central and Eastern North America

What I don’t like:

  • Personally, I feel edible plants is something best taught person to person as it is incredibly dangerous

Best First Aid

Outward Bound Wilderness First Aid

Outward Bound teaches several courses on different wilderness first aid, and is one of the top names in the industry for these courses.

This text brings together a lot of easy ways to learn what to do in any situation for medical emergencies.

Remember though, the main thing in wilderness medicine is simply getting the patient to safety. This book does not replace a medical professional. 

What I like:

  • Organized well to find what to do in each situation
  • Has a lot of information for all kinds of different injuries

What I don’t like:

  • This book is so good it can fool you into thinking you are a professional

Buying Guide: What to Look for in Survival Books

Survival books have a lot going on in them. There are, however, a few things that you should look for to find the book that fits you best and will help you survive. 

Wilderness Survival

When it comes to the basics of wilderness survival, every outdoorsman (or woman) needs to find the book that is their version of the law.

Everyone has their own opinions on what books are the best, and this is exactly what it comes down to.

Some people like their books split into clear categories with illustrations and some people like dense amounts of text. 

Just like surviving out there, you want what fits you best. Try out a few of the general comprehensive books and get a feel for each one. 

Wilderness Medicine

Wilderness First Aid can be tricky. There are a huge number of courses that range from Wilderness First Aid (the basic level) to a Wilderness EMT (the advanced level). 

Certain texts are written for beginners while others are written under the assumption that you know about them already.

Assess your level of first aid and go from there.

Outward Bound does a great job of writing to everyone and allowing for beginners to learn and professionals to dive deeper. 

Edible Plants

First off, if you don’t know what something is, don’t eat it. 

Second, get a book that helps you identify what things are. 

Third, if you are unsure of something, still don’t eat it. 

Finally, find a text that makes plant identification easy for you.

I like pictures and thorough descriptions of what I see in front of me. Other people like to follow an identification chart that requires you to know a lot about plant anatomy.

This is another part of survival books that will be key to helping you live out there but can be a quick way to not survive if you have a book you can’t understand. 

Useful Tips & Resources

For this topic, the top tip that I can give you is to go get your hands on each book before finding out which one is for you.

Some of these books are written on durable paper that is meant to be brought out there with you and act as a field manual, some are meant to stay at home to teach. 

Utilize your local library. It happens too often to order a book and find it hard to follow because it’s not your style. Figure out which one is for you and then make the purchase. 

Once you get the book, practice. Take it out with you and a buddy, try out all of the skills.

You never want the first time to be when you need it the most. YouTube is another great source to use when a book isn’t visual enough for you to learn what you need.

Skimming the book is a fantastic way to learn, and then researching and looking at other resources is a sure-fire way to get you to an expert’s level.

Believe us when we all say, we hope you never have to use these skills. 

Final Words

There is no “perfect” survival book. There is, however, no “perfect” way to survive.

These books just aim to get you closer to having the skills that keep you alive.

There are hundreds more out there that are worthy of this list, and we would love to hear about each and every one of those from you. 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest


Leave a Comment