Here is my pick of the best bushcraft and survival skills books. But before we dive into the list, I want to go over my criteria for why the books are included on the list.
The books have to cover some main categories. (There are one or two exceptions.) With at least a couple of sections including depth of information on:
1. Controlling body temperature (Clothing and shelters are important considerations.)
2. Collecting and purifying water.
3. Also fire making. As this helps with controlling body temperature as well, boiling water, signalling, light, cooking food, etc.
The importance of mindset and positive attitude are also discussed in some books which make them valuable books. Ease of reading, photos and illustrations also help the reader (Me.) absorb the knowledge.
Here is a rundown and a brief description of my top bushcraft and survival books. In no particular order:
Bushcraft. The Ultimate Guide to Survival in the Wilderness. By Richard Graves. This book is a classic. It contains a wealth of information and detail on a wide variety of bushcraft disciplines. The making of natural cordage and navigation chapters are interesting. Another good thing about this book is has a lot of diagrams for knots, shelter building, (Huts and Thatching chapter.) as well as snares and traps. ISBN: 978-1-62087-361-8
Ultimate Guide to Wilderness Living: Surviving with Nothing But Your Bare Hands and What You Find in the Woods. By John and Geri McPherson An excellent book overall and aimed towards long term wilderness living. Details on tanning skins, pottery, making tools are just some of the information covered. There is also a good detailed chapter on survival bow making. The flint knapping section is also interesting.
The authors are down to earth, combined with their vast experience and skills, it makes for a good read. The book has over 600 photos. ISBN: 978-1-56975-650-8
98.6 Degrees, The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive! By Cody Lundin.
I like this book, because it covers an important element of survival that is neglected by many survival books, that is mindset. Positive attitude combined with some skills, could be lifesaving in a survival situation.
It has a good blend of common sense, entertainment and backs it up with some science. The book also covers regulating body core temperature in good detail. Oh by the way, it has some good humor in it. ISBN: 978-1-58685-234-4
Read my book review on 98.6 Degrees, By Cody Lundin I’m looking forward to reading Cody’s other book, When All Hell Breaks Loose.
Bushcraft: Outdoor Skills and Wilderness Survival. By Mors Kochanski.
This book is highly recommended by a lot of bushcraft and wilderness enthusiast, and rightly so. Every time I read this book I pick up another tip or reinforce something I forgot.
Wilderness living skills and survival instructor, Mors is well known for saying, “The more you know, the less you carry.” The book covers general bushcraft and wilderness skills living cold weather climates well. The axe craft, knife craft and shelter chapters are well worth reading.
A great outdoors book that also has a lot of diagrams and should be on every bushcrafters book shelf. ISBN: 978-1-77213-007-2 Mors Kochanski also has several other books that are well worth the read.
Tom Brown’s Field Guide, Wilderness Survival. By Tom Brown
Another classic book that has been around for a long time. As well as a how to book, the author also weaves his personal stories about learning skills from an old Apache Indian Scout.
The book also lists a wide variety of edible plants (Black and white illustrations.) and decent tracking and survival trapping chapters. ISBN: 978-0-425-10572-6
The Survival Handbook. A Practical Guide to Woodcraft and Woodlore. By Raymond Mears.
A good book that also covers a lot of information. Shelter and tracking chapters are a mixture of colored and black and white photos and illustrations, which give the book a well-rounded feel. Common edible and poisonous plants are listed as well.
Ray Mears is another favorite amongst bushcrafters and The Survival Handbook is well worth the read. He also has quite a few other popular books that might be worth looking into. ISBN: 0-946609-88-8
The Bushman’s Handbook. A Practical Guide for Finding Water, Snaring Game, Catching Fish, Camping and General Bushcraft. By H.A. Lindsay.
This book was written around 1948, so some of the writing doesn’t seem to flow like today’s books. Having said that, the book has some great bushcraft information to bring to the table. Finding water has three chapters on it and plenty of methods and ways for collecting water.
While mainly concentrating on Australian bushland, the knowledge can be transferred and has some hidden gems. ISBN: 978-1484837290
Editors Note; these books below have just been read and added.
Outdoor Survival Skills by Larry Dean Olsen.
Another book that has stood the test of time is Outdoor Survival Skills. It covers traps and snares, making bows, primitive shelters, fire making and flint knapping skills to name a few. For foraging, the book lists some edible plants (Black and white illustrations.) and their uses. ISBN: 0-671-72298-0
Primitive Technology. A Survivalists Guide To Building Tools, Shelters And More In The Wild, by John Plant.
If you enjoy watching watching John on his Primitive Technology YouTube channel, this book is worth reading. Aimed at more primitive skills such as building shelters and hunting with primitive tools. However, some of the shelter building, methods can get quite advanced for the limited array of tools used in the construction.
While it is not the typical bushcraft and survival book, I have added it as it gives a good base of primitive knowledge. A review on the Primitive Technology book can be read by clicking on the link, Primitive Technology.
Essential Bushcraft, by Ray Mears.
Just like the, “The Survival Handbook,” by Ray Mears, this is another exceptional book by him. Full with a wide variety of chapters like, shelter building, wild edibles, knots and collecting water, etc. Also cutting tool uses, safety and good detail on fire making are included in this book. ISBN: 0-946609-88-8
How to Survive: Lessons for Everyday Life from the Extreme World. By John Hudson
This book has some amazing survival stories. The book isn’t about bushcraft or survival tools, but covers one of the most important factors of survival – mindset. It is written by John Hudson, who is the Chief Survival Instructor to the British Military.
Summary. Some of these books are more designed with bushcraft skills and others are focused towards more long term survival and wilderness living skills.
Other books, like Cody Lundin’s, is more short term survival until rescued theme. (I haven’t read them yet, but I have heard that, Les Stroud’s book and the other Ray Mears books are well received. These books will be on my wish list soon and hopefully in a upcoming book review.)
Hopefully I can add a few more to the top bushcraft books list. I will also look at a few more primitive skills books in the future. These bushcraft and survival books can be found on Amazon and eBay.
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