The 15 Best Survival Books

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Unless you have prior experience as a Navy SEAL or Green Beret, or happen to be Bear Grylls himself, you’ll likely need a survival book to sharpen up your survival skills. Whether it’s a weather disaster such as a tornado or earthquake, or your excursion into the wilderness has taken a turn for the worse, having the knowledge learned from a select few survival books, coupled with plenty of practice and preparedness on your part just might save your life.

Remember, a fixed blade knife, and a fire starter are worth their weight in gold in a survival situation, but, like other survival tools, are worthless if you don’t know how to use them.

A Quick Note On Survival Books

You’ll notice the lack of zombie survival books on this list, and for good, probably obvious reasons. An actual zombie attack is most likely to never occur. Even if it somehow did, the obvious way to survive would be to acquire a worthy firearm, load up on plenty of ammo, and start aiming at the walking dead. Instead, this list focuses on survival books aimed at teaching you to survive in situations that you could realistically find yourself in, such as becoming lost in the wilderness on your next camping trip or preparing for and surviving a manmade or natural disaster.

A survival book alone will not save your life. Relying solely on a book will only leave you vastly unprepared for any emergency, resulting in you becoming injured or killed. Even the best survival books do you no good unless they are studied, practiced, and put into use. So without further ado, here are the 15 best survival books on the shelf today.

The Ultimate Survival Manual

The Ultimate Survival Manual

Written by a former paratrooper and US Special Forces demolition officer, Rich Johnson’s The Ultimate Survival Manual ($19) features in great detail over 300 essential survival skills you will hopefully never need to use, such as how to survive a wildfire, how to successfully jump from a moving train, swimming through burning oil, how to predict the weather from plants, or how to cross a fast-moving river. Included in the survival manual are photos, illustrations, lists, and diagrams for easy reference. – $16

Special Forces Survival Guide

Special Forces Survival Guide

With input from some of the best trained soldiers in the Navy Seals, French Foreign Legion, Green Berets, Delta Force, and other elite units, the Special Forces Survival Guide delivers easy to understand, step by step instructions on how to implement survival skills such as how to build a shelter, start a fire, navigate without a compass, and how to craft your own tools and weapons. – $16

Bushcraft 101 Wilderness Survival Guide

Bushcraft 101 Wilderness Survival Guide

Bushcraft and wilderness survival are interchangeable terms and are important when it comes to bugging out for 72 hours or for when you’ve become lost and alone in the woods for more than a few days. These two scenarios are what the Bushcraft 101 Survival Guide aims to prepare you for. Between it’s covers you’ll find a plethora of information that covers fire starting, building a shelter, cutting tools, collecting and cooking food, and protecting yourself from the elements. – $10

U.S. Air Force Survival Handbook

U.S. Air Force Survival Handbook

While you may not be a pilot who has bailed out of a billion dollar jet at mach 4 behind enemy lines, this survival handbook covers that scenario, along with realistic ones such as surviving threats at sea, in the tropics, in the desert, in the arctic, or in your very own backyard, and how to survive the psychological threat of torture and imprisonment. Included are graphic examples and illustrations to go along with it. – $18

Street Survival: Tactics For Armed Encounters

Street Survival: Tactics For Armed Encounters

Based on the research of over 400 officer-involved shooting reports, Tactics For Armed Encounters discusses techniques for surviving in real life situations involving armed assailants, and how to prepare for, plan for, and react to those incidents. – $20

Prepper's Long Term Survival Guide

Prepper’s Long Term Survival Guide

The Prepper’s Long Term Survival Guide focuses on survival long after the emergency or disaster, and delves into long term survival topics such as finding and growing your own food off the grid, first aid and medical treatment, home defense, and strategies for building a new society after the current one has collapsed. – $12

The Survival Handbook

The Survival Handbook

For those new to survival books, the Survival handbook touches on the basics, because its those basic survival skills that will keep you alive longer that anything else. Topics include packing your own survival kit, making a shelter, finding water, catching and cooking food in the wilderness, first aid, and how to get yourself found when you’ve become lost. – $12

SAS Survival Handbook

SAS Survival Handbook

If you had the choice of only one survival book to purchase, this one should be it. The SAS Survival Handbook is an all-inclusive resource for campers, survivalists, and outdoor adventurers alike. It covers everything from basic survival skills such as creating tools and first aid to more advanced topics such as hand-to-hand combat, surviving hostile situations, and surviving in different terrains and climates. – $13

Hawke's Green Beret Survival Manual

Hawke’s Green Beret Survival Manual

Former U.S. Army Special Forces officer Mykel Hawke is, without a doubt, an expert on survival techniques. His Green Beret Survival Manual includes easy to understand, illustrated instructions on basic survival skills such as shelter and water, fire and tools, survival first aid, navigation, and also the psychology of survival. – $15

Bug Out Bag Survival Book

Build The Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit

A bug out bag is a collection of items necessary to effectively evacuate and survive for at least 72 hours during an emergency, and this book will show you how to build one to suit your needs. It offers up a bug out bag checklist, a resource list on where to purchase the required gear, how to use said tools, how to properly pack them, and plenty of photographs and explanations to help you understand. – $15

How To Stay Alive In The Woods Survival Book

How To Stay Alive In The Woods

How To Stay Alive In The Woods is an easy-to-understand survival guide for those who frequent the great outdoors. Complete with color illustrations and organized sections, this book provides valuable insight on how to catch food without a firearm, foraging for food and what plants are safe to eat, building a shelter, making clothing, self defense, and signaling for help. – $15

The U.S. Navy Seal Survival Book

The U.S. Navy SEAL Survival Handbook

U.S. Navy SEALS are some of America’s most elite warriors, who are also highly trained in self preservation and that of their team. A survival book describing some of their survival techniques deserves mention here. Written by decorated SEAL Team Six member Don Mann, the US. Navy SEAL Survival Handbook provides the reader valuable information of weapons and tools, making shelters, signaling, finding water, and hunting for food—complete with 150 color photographs for easy interpretation. – $16

When Technology Fails Survival Book

When Technology Fails

When the grid eventually goes down, not only will your smart devices cease to function, but there will also be an economic and societal breakdown, and secondary disasters and pandemics. Matthew Stein’s “When Technology Fails” is a comprehensive guide on surviving when life as we know it changes, and discusses ways to find, secure, and sterilize water sources when tap water has become contaminated, finding food, building shelters, first aid, low-tech medicine, making clothing, and becoming self reliant after the collapse of our current society. – $20

Staying Alive Survival Book

98.6 Degrees: The Art Of Keeping Your Ass Alive

Taking a different approach to survival, this popular survival book is based on the principle of keeping your body’s core temperature at 98.6 degrees, and that maintaining that body temperature is more important that anything else, including food and water. While reading this book, you’ll learn how to maintain this temperature in a variety of different environments including in the desert, in a blizzard, and everywhere in between. – $10

The Survival Medicine Handbook

The Survival Medicine Handbook

When disaster strikes and the entire system breaks down, there may not be any hospitals, physicians, or medicines immediately available to you and your family. Also, some places just don’t have enough ambulances to go around, especially during an incident with multiple patients. The Survival Medicine Handbook prepares you for these scenarios by giving you the tools to treat injuries and illnesses yourself during a disaster when there is no likelihood of definitive treatment with traditional medicine at a hospital by a doctor. – $36

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