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25 Best Survival Books (2021)


Best Survival Books

Photo Title Rating Length Buy
SAS Survival Handbook 9.24/10 672 Pages Check Price On Amazon
Bushcraft 101 9.06/10 256 Pages Check Price On Amazon
Deep Survival 8.78/10 336 Pages Check Price On Amazon
Prepper's Long-Term Survival Guide 8.74/10 208 Pages Check Price On Amazon
Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag 9.02/10 425 Pages Check Price On Amazon

Mysterious Times

We’re living in mysterious times. Technology has propelled us to luxury and comfort heights our forefathers couldn’t even dream of, because they would have considered it witchcraft. However, our overuse of gadgets and apps to navigate everyday life is making more and more people aware of just how dependent they are on… anything but themselves.

A movement started years ago to give people the ultimate gift: the gift of knowledge, and how to apply it to save their own skin. In this article, we are going to go over some of the best survival skill books to help guide you down the dangerous path of wilderness adventures.


SAS Survival Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere by John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman

 

Universally Loved

The SAS Survival Handbook is loved by survivalists everywhere because it has everything you need to know. That’s why it’s a 700-page beast of a book. It covers all the topics you would expect and then some you’ve probably never thought of – and that is exactly why you need this best survival skills book.

SAS Survival Handbook will show you how to read the weather by looking up at the sky instead of checking your weather app, set up your camp, adapt to climatological conditions, distinguish edibles from un-edibles, etc. It also contains a chapter on the psychological and mental state you need in order to survive because being prepared isn’t just about knowing what to do. It’s a mind-set. Unagi…

Recent Update

John Wiseman’s book has also been recently updated to include a chapter on Urban survival, for the city dwellers, making it the best survival handbook and one of the best urban survival books around.

If you’re out in the wild, Lofty is the man you want to be taking instructions from – he served for more than 20 years in the elite SAS corps in the British Army, and has appeared on TV and worked as a consultor for many survivalist shows. Simply put: he knows what he’s talking about. For more info about the book, see our selection of the top bushcraft books.


Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival by Dave Canterbury

 

Easy to Understand

Dave Canterbury is a survival expert with formal military training who starred in Discovery Channel’s production of Dual Survivor. He made the jump from wilderness expert and hunting guide to New York Times bestselling author when he started musing what would happen to someone on a hunting expedition that suddenly got lost.

Canterbury has a knack for turning complicated into simple. He states himself that he’s a big fan of simple, so Bushcraft 101 tries to break down a lot of complex information into easy-to-swallow knowledge pills. We suppose it is quite clear from the title that you can find this book on our list of the best bushcraft books as well.

5 C’s of Survival

You’ll learn about the 5 C’s of survival – cordage, combustion, cutting tools, containers, and covering – in ways that are easy to remember. It’s one of the best-rated survival books to pick up if you’ve decided you want to give the Big Outdoors adventure a try.


Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales

 

Author’s Father

The impetus behind the writing of Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why is the story of the author’s father, and his unlikely survival in World War II.

Against all odds, his dad made it home alive even though his plane was shot down by the Germans and he fell from the sky without a parachute, a German farmer tried to gun him down AND he was held in a POW camp living on little more than breadcrumbs.

Unlikely Survivals

Fascinated with the tale, Laurence Gonzales has gone on a quest to find out the reasons behind survival. Why do some make it out of dire situations, and others get lost along the way?

He has put together several stories of unlikely survivals that showcase scenarios where a person is battling for their life. Throughout the narrative, Gonzales introduces his own analysis of the matter. One of the most popular survival books for adrenalin junkies, as the author is one himself.


Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide by Jim Cobb

 

Forget Everything

You know the old saying, “forewarned is forearmed”? Well, Jim Cobb believes that forearming yourself for a disaster scenario à la 21st century is a half-baked solution. Stocking up on canned food, bottled water, and toilet paper will only help you if the microwave is working and so is the plumbing in your house. But what happens when the grid is down and nothing works, and you don’t have a clue when it’s going to start working again?

Never Say Never

That’s where Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide makes an appearance. One of the best SHTF books, since Cobb will teach you the necessary skills and information to keep yourself alive without any modern commodities, and for extended periods of time. Although an apocalyptic scenario is unlikely as we speak, you can’t take one off the best survival books review because… never say never.

Easy to Read

The book is divided into easy-to-read chapters, such as “Water”, “Hygiene”, “Medical”, etc. where the author goes into more depth about each topic and how to approach it. They are sorted roughly according to importance, but of course, there are no two disasters alike. You are welcome to download the e-book version, but given that you might need to grab it off your shelf when the power is down, perhaps a good old-fashioned paperback would be more suitable. Just a suggestion.


Build the Perfect Bug-Out Bag by Creek Stewart

 

Eminently Reasonable

Readers who live in areas prone to natural disasters know that, when calamity strikes, it can take a while until rescue services and help is on the way. That crucial 3-day window is what Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit has in mind.

It contains practical information on what to pack and take with you so you can stay safe until you find help. It’s eminently reasonable, in the sense that it won’t help you prepare for a zombie-apocalypse-alien-invasion scenario, but rather the type of reality you’ll be facing immediately after an earthquake, flood, hurricane, and the likes.

Ready to Bug Out

Building your BOB is about knowing exactly what you need to pack into a small, portable bag so that the minute disaster strikes (even if unannounced), you’re ready to leave your house behind at a moment’s notice and care for yourself and your loved ones, and no list of the books about survival would be complete without it. We also mentioned Stewart’s name in our article bout the top survival books for kids. Check it out!


98.6 Degrees by Cody Lundin

 

Different Approach

If you’re wondering which are the best survival guide books for people interested in surviving depending on the weather conditions, then 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive is just what you’re looking for.

It has a different approach to many other volumes covered in this review since it centers on one essential topic: keeping your body warm. Yes, water is crucial. Yes, you’ll need to eat. But have you ever wondered what would happen to you if you start getting cold?

Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a real threat out in the wild. Warm-blooded creatures such as us need their body temperature to stay within the 98.6ºF range, otherwise we’ll be staring death in the eye in a matter of hours.

Cody Lundin, a survival instructor at the Aboriginal Living Skills School in Prescott, Arizona, which he also happened to found, fills up the pages of this book with information on how to do just that, which makes this one of the best outdoors books to take with you. We dedicated a whole article to this amazing author, so make sure to take a look at our selection of the best Cody Lundin books.


When The Grid Goes Down by Tony Nester

 

Keeping it Simple

Tony Nester is the founder of the Ancient Pathways School, the main provider of survival courses for the Military Special Ops community.

His vast experience is condensed into When The Grid Goes Down: Disaster Preparations and Survival Gear For Making Your Home Self-Reliant, which is one of the best survivalist books for beginners or even more advanced readers who like to keep it simple.

Tried and Tested

The tactics described on water, hygiene, tools, etc. have all been tried and tested by the author. He does not prepare you for a bunker-style post-apocalyptic off-the-grid situation where fancy equipment to combat external foes is necessary, because it is unlikely to happen.

He does, however, provide low-tech, no-frills type of solutions to the most common situations you would face if the power supply were suddenly shut off. Readers of Tony Nester praise the author’s straightforward explanations and his realistic answers to realistic problems.


When All Hell Breaks Loose by Cody Lundin

 

Be Prepared

This book has one aim: to prepare you, psychologically and intellectually, for the event of a natural disaster and its aftermath. It’s one of those rare survival books that isn’t destined for wilderness lovers, but for your average armchair adventurer who lives in an apartment block and is surrounded by more concrete and steel than trees and wildlife.

Yes, urbanites need to be prepared too, and this is one of the best prepper books for them. Especially since their entire life depends on a myriad of services being delivered to them. Floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, and the like have a nasty tendency to wreak havoc on electrical lines and plumbing.

What Will You Do?

What will you do when you’re out of canned food and the stove isn’t working? When you’re thirsty and the bottled water has run out? What will you do when Nature calls (because Nature doesn’t lose your number just because the toilet’s clogged), but the sewers aren’t working?

If you’d rather not have to find out the hard way, do yourself a favor and pick up When All Hell Breaks Loose.


Advanced Bushcraft: An Expert Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival by Dave Canterbury

 

Great Addition

After the immense success of his first book, Bushcraft 101, Dave Canterbury went on to write its sequel, which also did very well in the sales department: Advanced Bushcraft. If you’ve read Canterbury’s first book, this is a great addition to your bookshelf to expand on the basic skills you already learned.

Detailed

Even if you haven’t, if you have some knowledge and want to take your survival skills to the next level – the Advanced Level – this is also a great book for you. It covers the same topics, the 5 C’s of survival, but in much more detail so the passionate outdoor adventurers can venture deeper into the wild.


The Survival Medicine Handbook by Joseph and Amy Alton

 

Surgical Precision

Most, if not all, best survival and prepper books will include a section on First Aid. However, none of them with the amount of details and surgical precision The Survival Medicine Handbook includes. It makes sense since this was written by two medical professionals.

Their aim is to make sure that every household has at least one person who can step up in the medical department in case of a doomsday situation. That no home is left without its “medicine (wo)man”.

Medical Requirements

So, they’ve authored an entire book on the medical requirements in an outdoor or grid-down situation; there are no tips on how to build fires or catch mice – just how to treat dislocated joints, read vital signs, cure infections, avoid contaminated food and water sources, suture wounds, and prepare the best first aid kit known to man.

One of the most recommended survival books for those that have a special interest in health-related matters and want to go beyond simply giving CPR or making a sling. It includes many illustrations and photos so you can get your anatomy straight. Thanks to a book like this, you might be able to save lives – and limbs – if you are ever in a pickle and help is NOT on the way.


100 Deadly Skills by Clint Emerson

 

For City Dwellers

What is the best survival book for someone who lives in the city, you may ask? Many of the books in this review of the best books on survival should actually be labeled “best wilderness survival books” because the truth is, they focus on making sure Nature doesn’t send you through those pearly gates sooner than you’d like.

Different Approach

Former Navy SEAL Clint Emerson brings you a different approach: learning how to evade the perils of modern-day city dwellers. Here you’ll discover the best self-defense tactics to help pin your aggressor down, how to trick facial recognition software, how to get out of or avoid a kidnapping (the latter being preferred) – and the most 21st-century threat you will ever experience: defending yourself against cybercriminals.

High-Adrenaline Read

100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation lets you peak into the mind of a highly-trained special operations agent, and even if you never plan on using the skills for anything because you live a risk-free life, it’s a massively entertaining high-adrenaline read.


U.S. Army Survival Manual by U.S. Department of Defense

 

FM 21-76

The U.S. Department of Defense brings you a book on survival in true Government fashion. Informative, thorough, and with an alphanumeric code in the title: US Army Survival Manual: FM 21-76.

It has many illustrations and contains terabytes of information. It is one of the best survival books and a good present for your typical paranoid friend who is always rambling on about what they would do in case of this or that extreme situation because it covers pretty much all of them.

Survival in Any Climate

You’ll discover how to survive in any climate, what to do in case of a sandstorm, and it will remind you of what you’ve already heard a million times: if you’re not 110% sure it won’t kill you, don’t eat that mushroom. Many tips and tricks are just common sense, but we all know it’s the least common of all the senses, so go ahead and give it a thumb through and do not skip this one of the best books for survival.


The Bushcraft Field Guide to Trapping, Gathering, and Cooking in the Wild by Dave Canterbury

 

Food Expedition

Packing canned or dry food in your bag is a must before you go out camping, right? Weeell, perhaps NOT! With Dave Canterbury’s Bushcraft Field Guide to Trapping, Gathering and Cooking in the Wild you may be able to skip that part entirely and turn your camping trip into a food expedition with this perfect example of the best book on survival skills! You can learn more about the author in our top Dave Canterbury books review.

Cooking in the Wild

This specialized bushcraft book is dedicated entirely to teaching its readers the A, B, C of cooking in the wild. The different natural elements that can be a source of nourishment, which ones to avoid altogether if you cherish your life, and how to go about gathering, trapping and cooking them.

Recipes Included

It’s a great guide to know which plants, edibles, fungi, roots, berries, and so on are safe to eat. How to hunt and fish if you’re looking for animal protein. And, last but not least, this best book about survival includes recipes! In case your culinary imagination doesn’t stretch beyond an avocado toast.


The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by Mormon Pioneers by Caleb Warnock

 

Back to the Land

The Pioneers were a tough bunch. They crossed the Atlantic and appeared on completely new land and then had to make a living. Nowadays, the “back to the land” movement is a quaint option we have, an alternative to city living. Back in the day, it was either that or death. The Mormon Pioneers wisely chose “that”, and now Caleb Warnock hands their timeless wisdom down to modern readers.

Tips and Tricks

The author passes on all the tips and tricks his ancestors used to make it through the rough winters, such as planting a year-long garden without relying on any high-tech inventions and how to raise chickens properly to secure a good source of protein. The memoir-style it is written in is certain to appeal to the more romantic and history-loving readers.


Survival Medicine and First Aid by Beau Griffin

 

The Doctor

Here’s a riddle for you: in a post-apocalyptic world, or in case of a disastrous event where the world around you is crumbling, who’s the last person you throw off the boat? The doctor! Every tribe has a “medicine man”. Not every tribe has a “record label man” or a “youtube blogger man” because, well, need I explain?

If you want to double the chances others have at surviving if they are in your sphere of influence (and probably triple your own, because of see above), grab this book by Beau Griffin.

Common Injuries

He is a survival expert and has years of experience with coming to the aid of the injured in need. After reading the best survival book ever written, you’ll learn to recognize and diagnose common injuries and maladies, know what to put into your first aid kit for your bug-out bag, and much, much more.


Wildwood Wisdom by Ellsworth Jaeger

 

Old School

For those of you who want to go truly old school, here’s your chance. Wildwood Wisdom isn’t just a book on how to do things the old-fashioned way, it is one of the top survival books and was actually written almost a century ago and manages to give you a view of what life was like in the 1800s.

Love of History and Outdoors

This is a great read if you want to combine a love of history and love of the outdoors into one neat package. Or if you want to learn how to make your own moccasins or cook an old-fashioned stew over an open fire.

It is also one of the best-selling survival books out there! It’s also filled with fun illustrations to help you along the way because you will be making things from scratch. Remember, there weren’t that many shortcuts in the 19th century. The blender was only invented in 1922. Tough times.


How to Stay Alive in the Woods by Bradford Angier

 

Old But Gold

Well, the title pretty much sums up what Angier has to teach. This volume is also not recent, and was first written in the 1950s, although it’s been published again more recently and many consider it the best book on survival. So, enjoy the fun writing style and non-PC comments of days gone by while you soak in the useful teachings.

It covers the basics you need to know: Sustenance, Warmth, Orientation and Safety. So, what to eat, how to catch it, how to build a decent and cozy shelter and watch out for all kinds of dangers. The typical syllabus of any survival course.

Cut to the Chase

It was written for a time where people didn’t have iPads and Smartphones to keep them entertained, so the author assumes you might know a bit about using knives and such. If you’re handy with these instruments, this’ll be a good buy for you because it’s more cut to the chase.


Survivor Kid by Denise Long

 

9 and Up

Hansel and Gretel wasn’t a cute fairy tale, it was a cautionary tale of what can happen to kids when they get lost in the woods because they lack the necessary survival skills. As shown by Hans’ terrible idea to track his route with bird fodder in woods filled with… you guessed it, birds.

Survivor Kid is written for ages 9 and up (no limit), but specifically tailored towards children. That doesn’t mean the information isn’t useful for adults either – if everyone in your household is a novice, you’ll probably all benefit from it.

Covering the Basics

It covers the basics of wilderness survival, like camping, edible plants, and navigation. It’s explained in simple terms, easily understandable for the target audience.

It also includes fun activities that the children and parents can practice together to prepare the children in case they should ever find themselves in a dangerous situation. The kids are entertained, and parents acquire peace of mind from knowing their offspring has what it takes to survive. You can find more similar publications in our best survival books for kids review.


Survive!: Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere – Alive by Les Stroud

 

Innovative

One of the best adventure survival books by Survivor man himself. What’s not to love? That’s how Les Stroud is better-known thanks to his wildly popular TV show by the same name, where he was willingly thrown in the type of situations the rest of us pray never to find ourselves in, and had to make it out alive. Given his vast experience, he has updated and changed some of the more traditional notions of survival skills.

Filtered Through Experience

Les Stroud understands that, like anything, bushcraft has to evolve to suit the needs of the people putting it into practice today, so he covers all the basics (camping, fire, sanitation, first aid, food, etc.) but with advice that’s been filtered through his own personal, hands-on experience. Les Stroud travels with his photographer, so this is one of the more recommended reads for lovers of vivid photography and colorful illustrations. For more books written by this author, check out our review of the best Les Stroud books.


The Last Kids on Earth Survival Guide by Max Brallier

 

Post-Apocalypse World

The Last Kids on Earth is a book series created by author Max Brallier about children surviving in a post-apocalypse zombie world. This spin-off is an interactive, illustrated book for children. It includes coloring activities, drawing your own characters from the books and designing your weapon for a zombie apocalypse.

Tons of Fun

Perhaps, compared to the other volumes covered in this review, it’s not as useful if you’re out and about in the woods; let’s face it, you’re unlikely to run into any of the animals included in the bestiary. It is a tone of fun and one of the best books about survival, and a great way to get kids interested in SHTF scenarios and the importance of survival skills.


How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It by James Wesley

 

Fragile World

James Wesley, Rawles (with the comma) has been warning and forewarning millions of readers on the many perils that can shake the modern world to its core. If you are also the kind of person that believes that our world is an incredibly fragile web of highly interrelated elements, where the toppling of one could have a catastrophic domino effect on the rest… read on.

EOTWAWKI

Out of all the best survival books, this one’s for you. It covers everything you need to know to be prepared in all kinds of EOTWAWKI scenarios: pandemics, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, nuclear attacks, and even a worldwide financial collapse. It’s all there.


The Prepper’s Pocket Guide by Bernie Carr

 

Natural Disasters

The Prepper’s Pocket Guide is an interesting take on how to prepare your surroundings for the event of a natural disaster. This book assumes that, at one point in time, you’ll live through a catastrophe and that it’s a good idea to get your home (and yourself) ready for it.

Long Checklist

With 101 brief tips to follow, you’ll find it’s almost like a long checklist that you can walk your family or yourself through to tick off as many preparedness items as you can. It is one of the best survival books for those that live in a natural catastrophe prone areas.


Bushcraft First Aid: A Field Guide to Wilderness Emergency Care by Dave Canterbury

 

How to React

Even if you read the best survival guide book and are the best survivalist out there, luck is a fickle friend. No matter all your skills and knowledge, there’s always a chance you’ll get into scrapes, or literally just get a scrape.

Knowledge is the ultimate weight that balances out the luck scales, because if you know what to do, you’re miles ahead. That’s what Bushcraft First Aid is for – a complete guide to teach you how to react in case of a first aid emergency.

Keeping a Cool Head

You’ll learn how to treat wounds and bug bites, distinguish which plants could help with pain or have antibiotic properties, and even how to cauterize a wound if you’re up for it. Although the idea might seem farfetched now, knowing the steps to take to address a medical problem helps keep a cool head. If you are interested in Canterbury’s works, read our review of the best Dave Canterbury books.


The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs by Tristan Gooley

 

Almost Magic

I don’t know if you’ve ever witnessed an almost surreal experience of watching a farmer look up at the sky and predict rain when all you see is blue sky. And then, a few hours later, come the first drops. It’s almost like magic. But it isn’t meteorological witchcraft. It’s the keen art of being able to read the signs nature is constantly throwing our way.

Hidden Side of Nature

Tristan Gooley is an expert on how to pick them up, and his book The Lost Art is a compendium on the subject. Thanks to this one of the best survival books, you’ll discover a completely hidden side of nature. A tree won’t just be a tree. Stars will turn into compasses. So many secrets to uncover.


The Ultimate Survival Manual by Rich Johnson

 

Entertaining

The Ultimate Survival Manual is one of the most entertaining survival guide books and the best outdoor survival books on the market, thanks to the author’s dry wit and humor. It combines fun with learning, as it takes you through what to do in all kinds of scenarios, ranging from the probable ones to the wildly unlikely, but not impossible.

The explanations are short and basic, as the book covers more breadth than it does depth. It’s great for readers who want tidbits of advice they can easily remember and put to use in a tense or dangerous situation, and not necessarily a complex step by step play.

Staying Put

The truth is, unless you practice daily, your brain starts to flush most of the information you read down the drain. If it’s short and catchy, it has a higher chance of staying put. And you have a higher chance of staying alive.

And here we come to the end of our list of the best survival books. As you may have gathered if you made it thus far, surviving requires many complex skills, so you have many to choose from. Start your adventure safely. Pick out the best outdoors book and read first.


Robert Hazley

Robert is a science fiction and fantasy geek. (He is also the best looking Ereads writer!) Besides reading and writing, he enjoys sports, cosplay, and good food (don't we all?). Currently works as an accountant (would you believe that?)