I have wanted to read 98.6 Degrees, The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive. By Cody Lundin, for a while now and finally got around to ordering it. I am glad I did as I enjoyed reading it.
In a nutshell, it is informative and entertaining with a blend of science mixed in. And humor, did I mention the humor. (A lot of bushcrafters will remember Cody Lundin from Dual Survivor with David Canterbury.)
Before we get into the book review, a couple of well-respected bushcraft authors and wilderness instructors gives Cody’s book, the thumbs up. Mors Kochanski author of Bushcraft and John McPherson author of Naked into the Wilderness, give a recommendation on the jacket of the book. (So feel free to skip my boring review and get the book.)
The book review.
Cody’s book is aimed at giving the reader the knowledge so they are prepared and don’t get into trouble in the first place. If something goes wrong, then the reader will hopefully have some skills and basic equipment on them until they get rescued. Those initial three or so days is about the average time before being rescued.
This book doesn’t cover long term wilderness and survival living. Such as tanning a deer skin, making a primitive bow, or weaving a basket. (And nothing wrong with this, as for short term survival, 99% of people don’t need these skills for the average person.) These are obviously not the books priority for short term survival.
98.6 Degrees has a combination of color pictures, illustrations and some cartoon characters, which help the reader absorb the information. The weird and wonderful cartoons also keep the book light and entertaining.
One aspect of survival, which most bushcraft / survival books don’t mention is the importance of a correct mindset for the situation. The Survival psychology chapter, Why fear sucks and the Attitude, adaption and awareness chapters, cover the mental aspects of survival nicely.
Regulating the bodies’ core temperature.
Other important survival elements that Cody writes about is, regulating the bodies’ core temperature. (98.6 degrees is part of the books title and a big hint about the importance of this.) There are three chapters dedicated to this. They are: 1. The most common way to push up daises in the outdoors. (Yes, that is the name of the chapter and some of Cody’s humor I was talking about.) 2. How your body loses and gains heat. 3. The first line of defense. These chapters are vital about controlling and understanding the body’s temperature and avoiding hyperthermia (Extreme body heat.) and hypothermia. (Extreme cold.)
In the chapter, ”How your body loses and gains heat,” the book explains conduction, convection, radiation, evaporation and respiration. It also covers this with some cartoon illustrations to drive the point home.
Hydration for survival.
I have read some bushcraft and survival books and they haven’t even included a section on water collection. As water is vital to sustain life, obviously it is an important subject. The book covers water collection techniques and purifying water methods well. Interesting, but maybe not unexpected, Cody talks about the solar still. All the tests he has done has resulted in more water loss by making them. Compared to the water he has got from the still.
I must admit I have had mixed results and always been disappointed with the amount of water collected from the still. I need more testing on this.
Survival kits and gadgets.
Cody also talks about not being over reliant on fancy gear and gadgets. But use dependable and durable items, not elaborate contraptions that can break. Simplicity is the key.
The book has some good colored pictures of Cody’s preferred items in his survival kit. On page 131 Cody states, “Owning a survival kit that you haven’t used is like reading a book on how to swim when your boat is going down.” A good point, make sure we practice with our gear.
A couple of tips and tit-bits from the book.
If you use surveyors tape to mark branches for a bread crumb trail. Write which direction you are heading on the tape, so the searchers don’t get confused.
I will have to try this one out. – Cody suggests to carry some dental floss in your survival kit. It is cheap, lightweight, small and reasonably strong. Also from Cody, “Four out of five dentists agree that you can easily afford this tiny but tough lightweight cord.”
I like the author’s suggestion of putting yellow tape (Or high visibility color.) on survival kit items, like on the knife and sheath, torch, magnesium block, etc. So it is easier to find if put down on the ground or lost.
Book review summary. Survival Book Review – 98.6 Degrees, The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive.
The book has a totally different feel in a positive way, compared to normal survival and bushcraft books.
For me it ticks the boxes of a survival book, in that it covers mindset, regulating body core temperature and collecting and purifying water. These fundamentals are essential for survival and aren’t skimmed over briefly in the book, but are well explained.
Let’s not forget the humor in the book as well.
It is an informative and refreshing book that I would happily put on my bookshelf. Not only that, it would probably list it in my top ten best bushcraft and survival books. ISBN: 978-1-58685-234-4
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