Book Review: Survival Book Roundup

Book Review: Survival Book Roundup

Survival Book Roundup


Written for Washington Trails magazine


Visit the published article here and the companion blog here


When it comes to resourcefulness in the outdoors, you don’t need to learn everything by trial and error. There are plenty of great books that can help you sharpen your skills and become a more prepared hiker. Here are some we recommend—and our favorite tips to get you started.

Bushcraft 101 book picBushcraft 101

By Dave Canterbury

Best For: Survival Skills

Get ready for whatever nature could throw your way with this guide on bushcraft, (the art of surviving in the woods with as little modern gear as possible). Detailed lessons include firemaking, manufacturing your own tools and gear, foraging, and trapping and processing game.

Top Tips:

  • Stones used for cooking or placed directly in a fire should never come from a creek bed or river. Even if they appear dry, they may still hold moisture that could fracture the stone when heated—and explode.
  • When using your tarp for sheltering on the ground in cold weather, use debris or snow to help insulate around the edges and reduce any breeze from entering.
  • Never use your knife unless you have to. Break sticks whenever possible and strip bark by hand or with sharp rocks.


Prepare for Anything book picPrepare for Anything Survival Manual

By Tim MacWelch

Best For: Survival Skills

Move over boring skill books. Here is a guide that’s loaded with colorful and helpful graphics, from checklists to step-by-step illustrations to comics, that make learning how to survive anything—from the apocalypse to getting stuck on your way to the trailhead—a breeze.

Top Tips:

  • Vodka can be your best friend on trail—and not for its obvious use. It also works well when applied to the skin to sooth discomfort from poison ivy and help blisters heal, and it can be spritzed on for a natural mosquito repellent.
  • Duct tape is a great fix for pierced hydration bladders. Just make sure to dry the surface of the bladder before you affix the duct tape, as most tape won’t adhere to wet surfaces.
  • A lot of the “must have” clothing for survival is wool. That’s because it’s breathable, dries quickly, keeps you warm even when wet, is resistant to fires and offers some good UV protection.


Psychology of Search and Rescue book picThe Psychology of Search and Rescue

By Ronald Glaus

Best For: Intellectual Read

Want to get brainy about the psychology of search and rescue? This book will teach you all sorts of fascinating stuff about the behaviors of lost and missing people—and the rescuers who help them.

Top Tips:

  • People who have put themselves in dangerous situations knowingly (by bypassing caution signs, etc.) and then need to be rescued tend to feel guiltier than those whose rescue is the effect of purely external circumstances. Because of that guilt, they are less likely to call for help. (But trust us—it’s worth any potential embarrassment. Make the call.)
  • Understanding how people deal with adversity in everyday life (fight, flight, faint or freeze) can help us understand how they might react in a rescue situation—and increase the probability of a successful rescue.
  • It’s just as important to understand the psychological effect of emergency situations on rescuers. By being aware of the stress they face, we can keep them safer—physically, mentally and emotionally—during missions.


Test of Will book picA Test of Will

By Warren MacDonald

Best For: Armchair Adventure

If you’re looking for an inspiring tale for the offseason, look no further than this true story of an experienced mountaineer who was trapped under a giant rock for two days and two nights while his buddy went for help. Just don’t count on this read to be a downer—you’ll love its uplifting message.

Top Tips:

  • It’s always safer to hike with another person.
  • One of the best skills you can perfect is the ability to keep yourself together, to not panic when things go wrong on trail (or in life).
  • You’re stronger and more capable of surviving than you think.

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