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Top Ten Wilderness Survival Books

author image Hannah Wickford
After attending Fairfield University, Hannah Wickford spent more than 15 years in market research and marketing in the consumer packaged goods industry. In 2003 she decided to shift careers and now maintains three successful food-related blogs and writes online articles, website copy and newsletters for multiple clients.
Top Ten Wilderness Survival Books
A man standing on a rock looking over vast wilderness. Photo Credit Amy Blassingame/iStock/Getty Images


Bear Grylls, survivalist and star of the television series “Man vs.Wild,” says his philosophy to surviving in the wild is “to keep smiling, keep going, and as Churchill said, never give up.” A clear focus, calm demeanor and knowledge of some basic survival skills are essential to outdoor enthusiasts facing any emergency situation. Before heading into the wild, prepare an emergency survival kit that includes basic tools, and don't forget a guide to wilderness skills, perhaps chosen from the following top-10 list of survival books.

U.S. Army Survival Manual: FM 21-76

The "U.S. Army Survival Manual" presents straightforward information in an easy-to-understand style. It covers everything outdoor enthusiasts should know about survival in the wilderness, including navigation, health, hygiene, how to identify and harvest food, where to find water, how to build a shelter, survival at sea and more. The book includes color photos of plants to make identification easier.

SAS Survival Handbook: For Any Climate, in Any Situation

Written by former SAS survival instructor John Wiseman, the "SAS Survival Handbook" has been updated to reflect the latest in survival knowledge and technology. The best-selling book, considered a standard reference by outdoor adventurers for years, contains everything you need to know about surviving in the wild or at home in the case of a natural disaster or hostile situation.

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98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive

The "Los Angeles Daily News" calls "98.6 Degrees" an “outrageously straightforward survival book (that) teaches you what you need to know, now, to live through virtually every survival scenario.” Author Cody Lundin, director of the Aboriginal Living Skills School, shares his wilderness survival knowledge while stressing the importance of keeping your core body temperature up.

Bushcraft: Outdoor Skills & Wilderness Survival

Author and outdoor survival expert Mors Kochanski has built an international reputation as a leading authority on the skills necessary to survive in the wild. "Bushcraft" uses clear language, plenty of diagrams and color photos to teach the practical knowledge that outdoor enthusiasts need to survive and even enjoy the wilderness.

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why

Although "Deep Survival" is not a traditional how-to survival book, it is a must-read for any wilderness explorer. Author Laurence Gonzalez, who has written survival stories for “National Geographic Explorer,” “Outside” and “Men’s Journal,” explores what he considers to be the best survival tool—your mind. He uncovers the psychology behind why 10 percent of people faced with a life-threatening situation stay calm, cool and focused, while the other 90 percent freeze and panic.

Ultimate Guide to Wilderness Living

In the “Ultimate Guide to Wilderness Living: Surviving With Nothing But Your Bare Hands and What You Find in the Woods,” authors John and Geri McPherson teach wilderness survival strategies using only things found in nature. The text covers the basics from starting a fire, building a shelter and foraging for food to strategies for long-term living in the wilderness.

Wilderness Survival for Dummies

This practical field guide to surviving in the wilderness covers an assortment of scenarios, including poisonous snake bites, survival at sea, getting lost in the woods and building a shelter to protect you from the cold. In addition to basic skills, the text covers how to manage your emotions and increase your chances of rescue and offers real-life stories of survival.

Rich Johnson’s Guide to Wilderness Survival

Rich Johnson, one of America’s best-known survival experts, draws on his own experiences living in primitive conditions in Utah’s wilderness areas. He has filled the book with common-sense applications of field-tested methods to handle emergency situations in the wilderness in a calm, low-stress fashion.

The Ultimate Guide to U.S. Army Survival Skills, Tactics, and Techniques

Author Jay McCullough draws on dozens of U.S. Army field manuals to provide a complete guide to surviving any difficult situation in the wilderness. The 1,000-page guide includes information on surviving extreme climates, first aid techniques, building a shelter in any environment, and finding food and water in every situation.


Les Stroud, creator, producer and host of the television show “Survivorman,” offers readers a straightforward look at the real world of survival. In addition to covering the basics of surviving in any type of wilderness environment, he also debunks some widely accepted notions. Learn why drinking contaminated water might be necessary, why you shouldn’t waste time trying to build a lean-to, and why you should hunt small animals and leave the large game alone.

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