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The 21 Best Survival Books That Should Be In Your Collection

The need for survival books. Our survival instinct kicks in when we face an emergency or disaster, whether in an urban setting or the wilderness. However, our modern lifestyles barely equip us with the skills to take the steps to ensure our survival. The good news is that survival skills are not usually that hard to learn. 

You can learn survival skills from various resources, such as online videos and courses, to help teach you survival skills. Books are usually the best resource because they give many details and come from people with skills and experience. In this article, we will review some of the best survival books that should be in your collection. 

Why a Collection of Different Survival Books Is Important

Purchase survival books from bookshelves in a bookstore
Bookshelves in a bookstore

A collection of different survival books will help you adapt to different survival situations. You can anticipate more scenarios and learn from various unique experts. It could be from first aid to hunting, urban survival, wilderness survival, and more. Here are some of the most important areas survival books cover:

Wilderness Survival Books / Bushcraft

The wilderness is the most likely place for you to employ your survival skills. There are various survival skills you will need in the wilderness. They include:

Apart from being confident about your outdoor adventure, you will have these skills in the long term. An excellent book to consider is “How to Stay Alive in the Woods,” by Bradford Angier. 

Urban Survival

The urban space is also prone to various emergencies and disasters. For example, there could be natural calamities like earthquakes, collapsed buildings, tornadoes, hurricanes, and more. Some of the urban survival skills necessary include:

  • Physical strength
  • Getting food, water, and shelter
  • Communication
  • First aid
  • Shelter

An excellent book to consider is “Be Ready When The Sh*t Goes Down” by Forest Griffin, a UFC fighter, and his friend, Erick Krauss. It explores various concepts of survival in the urban space. Some scenarios in the book may be extreme, which prepare you for almost anything. 

Plants & Edibles

Getting the right plants and edibles is a survival skill on its own. In the wilderness, you will need plants for various reasons. You can need plants for food, to build shelter and other important structures. “A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants” by Lee Allen Patterson offers excellent survival skills regarding plants. These skills also help you know which plants have some medicinal properties and which ones may be poisonous. 

Hunting Books

Hunter with a rifle and his dog in the forest
Hunter with a rifle and his dog in the forest

In a survival situation in the wilderness, you can get food from either gathering plants or hunting animals. These books cover which animals are edible and which ones could harm you. They also give you hunting tips to help you catch animals, birds, and fish. You get to learn about how to improvise various hunting tools to help you get some meat. Consider a book like “Hunting and Gathering Survival Manual” by Tim MacWelch.

Homesteading Books

You may also experience various situations in your own home that may need you to employ some survival measures. It could be a decrease in income, supply chain issues, building, or rebuilding your home. You need skills to help you take care of yourself and your family. An excellent book for homesteading is “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery.

Fiction Survival Books For Entertainment

1. “How to Stay Alive in the Woods,” by Bradford Angier

Bradford, a book is a great survival manual with four separate sections to help you manage emergencies in the woods. These sections are sustenance, warmth, orientation, and safety. The “Sustenance” section is about identifying, collecting, and preparing food in the wilderness. “Warmth’ is a section on how to stay safe from the elements and building effective shelter using natural resources. “Orientation” is a section about finding your bearings and getting to safety. The last section teaches you how to be safe in the woods.

2. “Bushcraft 101” by Dave Canterbury

Bushcraft 101 is an outdoor survival book that equips you with various bushcraft skills. It is the first book of the Bushcraft series. The author suggests 5 C’s of survivability, including covering, cutting tools, combustion devices, cordages and containers. It has instructions on how to manufacture important tools using the available resources. You also learn how to gather food, cook it safely, and create a shelter. There are detailed instructions that include diagrams to act as visual aids.

Dave Canterbury has published four New York Times best-selling books as part of the Bushcraft series. 

3. Dave Canterbury’s “Bushcraft First Aid”

First aid is an important skill to have because you may not have the option of calling 911 or emergency services. Dave Canterbury, a wilderness expert, partners with Jason Hunt, an outdoor survival instructor, created a first aid resource to help you in the wilderness. The others combined the experience to teach backpackers and hikers how to handle emergencies, including cards, balance head injuries, and broken bones. It also teaches you what to carry and how to make dressings, slings, and bandages when necessary. You also learn how to select and use various plants as medicine.

4. “National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Expedition Planning” by Dave Anderson

Jungle barbecue with open fire
Jungle barbecue with open fire

Dave Anderson and Molly Absolon help you plan a successful trip, whether short or long. (NLOS) Expedition Planning helps you create a budget to travel checklists for essential gear and learn how to access international private and public land. It also shows you how you can prepare physically and mentally for the hardships in the wilderness. You’ll also learn about transportation, lodging, health issues, risks, injuries, and illnesses in the wilderness.

5. “The Survival Medicine Handbook” by Joseph Alton and Amy Alton

Survival medicine handbook is a detailed guide with over 150 topics, 75 illustrations, and up to 617 pages that prepare you medically for any disaster. The book assumes that you have no medical experience and that there is no access to hospitals are a doctor engineer future. It gives you the knowledge to confidently handle illnesses or injuries in any situation.

6. “98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive” by Cody Lundin

Many people overlook the temperature concept, but it is essential to maintain your core body temperature, especially when lost in the desert or a blazer. 98.6 Degrees is a book on Modern Survival Skills and common sense for the backyard backcountry or the highway. It emphasizes that a person can live without water for a maximum of three days and without food for weeks. It also argues that you can die within hours if your body temperature goes above or below 98.6 degrees. The book is highly informative with some rebellious humor.

7. “Hunting and Gathering Survival Manual,” by Tim MacWelch

Hunting and Gathering Survival Manual is a book that helps you eat like a king while hunting like a caveman. It covers how to use old-fashioned snares, modern tools, and your own hands to catch and cook your prey. The book also has detailed field guides on edible plants, mushrooms, and nuts. It also has step-by-step illustrations to survive in the wild or in your backyard.

8. “Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide to Over 200 Natural Foods,” by Thomas Elias

Edible wild plants are a must-have guide that discusses over 200 species of edible plants and provides about 400 color photos. The author organized all the plants by season to help you easily find your desired ingredients. Each plant and tree cover its physical properties, habitat preparation, harvest poisonous look-alikes and images of a plant.

9. “The Prepper’s Blueprint The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster,” by Tess Pennington

The purpose blueprint is a guide that covers and helps you prepare for various types of disasters. The first section covers everyday disasters with short-term effects such as storms, injuries, power outages, and evacuations. In the second section, the book helps you prepare for disasters that could last longer, including long-term power outages, pandemics, and economic collapse. Lastly, it prepares you to complete my style change, long-term issues, and the end of the world. The book gives you self-reliance on surviving and thriving in a world with short-term and permanent changes.

10. “Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family,” by Arthur T. Bradley

 In survival situations, you may need to take care of yourself and your family as well. This book covers 14 basic human needs to help you prepare and plan for your entire family in case of a disaster. The book also features information on how to help people with special needs such as children, people with disabilities, pregnant women, the elderly, and pets.

11. “The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide” by Daisy Luther

Humans can live for a maximum of three weeks without food, but can live without water for only three days. Therefore, water is an important aspect to cater for in case of a catastrophe. This is a step-by-step guide to help you know how to collect rainwater, store freshwater, purify water from rivers and lakes,s and dig a ground well for groundwater. It also teaches you to test the water for dangerous toxins, sweetwater-related illnesses, and tools to keep the water untainted.

12. “The Modern Survival Manual” by Fernando “Ferfal” Aguirre

The Modern Survival Manual is based on first-hand experiences of the 2001 economic collapse in Argentina. The other covers various subjects he considers essential. You will learn how to prepare yourself, your family, your home, and your vehicle. It also teaches you how to prepare your finances and fight with your bare hands, a pen, a gun, and a chair. The most important topic is how to determine the appropriate awareness level to avoid employing these survival tactics.

13. “Just In Case” by Kathy Harrison

Just in case is a book that teaches you to be self-sufficient in case the unexpected happens. It teaches you how to rotate your food supply, manage inventory, maintain communication with loved ones, pack an evacuation kit, and a lot more. The book gives you the resourcefulness and ingenuity to help your family get through even the most unfortunate circumstances.

14. “Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills” By the Mountaineers

Mountaineering Freedom of the Hills has been a useful guide for new and intermediate climbers for almost 60 years. The book covers various topics, including belay and repel techniques, gear selection, rope-work, glacier travel, and a lot of emphasis on safety. Its latest edition covers how to navigate an avalanche safely. It is currently available in at least 12 languages.

15. “Where there is no Doctor,” David Werner

Disaster management includes preparing a disaster kit that can be contained in a go bag
Prepare a first aid kit that can be contained in a bug out bag

Where there is no doctor is one of the most used healthcare manuals worldwide. It provides easy-to-understand and practical information on how to prevent, diagnose and treat common diseases. The book also gives some special attention to nutrition. It is available in over 75 languages and is useful for clinicians, health workers, and people in primary health care and health promotion programs.

16. “Adrift: 76 days lost at sea” by Steven Callahan

Adrift is a riveting first-hand account by Steven Callahan, the only known man to survive alone at sea for over a month. It’s featured on the New York Times bestseller list for over 36 weeks. Callaghan’s small sloop capsized after just six days in the sea, and he had to survive on an inflatable raft. You can learn the tips and tricks he used to stay alive that long before getting to safety.

17. “Prepper’s Home Defense” by Jimm Cobb

There may be situations where civilization fails, or you need to defend your home. One of the best-selling authors in the country gives you security and physical strategies for home defense. The book covers fortifications, safe rooms, traps, perimeter security systems, defensive combat techniques, firearms, hidden and secured storage, forming alliances, and gathering intelligence.

18. “When Technology Fails” by Matthew Stein

Technology has been beneficial for many generations, but it helps to have sustainable living skills if it fails. Time helps you prepare for potential disasters that could last days or years because of economic meltdown, environmental catastrophes, or social upheaval. You will learn alternative first aid and health techniques, how to install a renewable energy system for your home or business, how to stay warm in the wilderness or, if you’re homeless, how to manage other utility failures such as water issues.

19. “Special Forces Survival Guide” by Chris McNab

Man in camouflage pours water in a mug to make tea
Man in camouflage pours water in a mug to make tea

Special Forces Survival Guide Book with field-tested skills, tips and tricks the world’s best-trained soldiers used to survive. You learn some commandos like Navy Seals, Army Rangers, Delta Force, Green Berets, Royal Marine, Australian SAS, and French Foreign Legion. It teaches you how to start a fire, build shelter, find food and water, craft tools and weapons, first aid, signaling for help, and getting compass directions in the woods.

20. “Lights Out” by Ted Koppel

Ted Koppel, argues that it is possible and likely that the American power grid may come under cyber-attack. There would be a significant breakdown in infrastructure, causing issues like no running water, or refrigeration, no Banks, no devices, low food, and medical supplies. Koppel explores the threat, which is unique to our time and gives some potential ways to help you prepare and manage the catastrophe.

21. “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery

Many of us desire a greener, healthier, holistic, and self-sufficient way to manage Modern Life. It is a comprehensive guide with detailed and up-to-date information covering topics such as homegrown food preservation, raising goats, chickens, and pigs, beekeeping mail-orders supplies, sourcing, and more. 

Variety of Survival Books

There are many more books that cover various survival situations. It is important to learn many unique skills, from first aid to gathering, hunting, fighting, getting water, and more. You also need to consider different scenarios and environments from water, mountain landscape, modern environment, the country, and more. Get one or more of these books to learn unique survival skills for different situations and environments.

Did we miss one? If you have a survival book you’d like to recommend, please write it in the comment section below.