The best survival books are a shortcut to proficiency and preparedness. They are great to keep on hand as a reference in case of emergency and an excellent way for preppers to learn the essential survival skills necessary incase SHTF. Even though there are many great resources online to help you learn various survival skills, books usually go further into the details.
The tricky part is finding out what books actually have valuable information. It would take a lot of time to figure that out on your own.
Lucky for you, we’re survival nerds. We’ve read pretty much every survival book out there and decided to put together this list of our favorites!
1. Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival by Dave Canterbury
Defined as the art of “living in the bush” bushcraft skills are a must for any survivalist. This outdoor survival book from Dave Canterbury covers a wide range of topics. Primarily, it covers the author’s five C’s of survivability: cutting tools, covering, combustion devices, containers, and cording.
You’ll learn how to manufacture important tools from the resources available to you. Using those tools, the book will teach you how to create an efficient shelter, gather food, and cook it safely.
The book contains detailed instructions as well as several alternatives to make the most of what you have. There are even diagrams to act as a visual aid.
The author, Dave Canterbury, is the co-owner and supervising instructor at The Pathfinder school. It’s one of the top 12 survival schools in the country. Combine that with his real-world experience and numerous published guides and the author is a very reliable source for survival information.
2. How to Stay Alive in the Woods: A Complete Guide to Food, Shelter and Self-Preservation Anywhere by Bradford Angier
Focused around what to do when you’re roughing it in the woods, this survival book includes a wealth of information! It’s a great survival manual that’s broken up into four separate sections.
The first is “Sustenance.” In this section, you’ll learn how to identify, collect, and prepare foods in the wild. This includes how to kill game without a gun and how to find edible plants. There are full-color illustrations for simplicity.
The next section, “Warmth,” teaches you how to build an effective shelter and stay safe from the elements outside. Learn how to use natural resources to stay out of the cold!
The two final sections are “Orientation,” and “Safety.” The former section provides essential information every survivalist needs. It can teach you how to get your bearings and make your way to safety. Meanwhile, the last section will provide you with information on how to stay safe during your endeavors.
3. SAS Survival Handbook, Third Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere by John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman
The SAS Survival Handbook is a comprehensive compendium that covers a wide range of topics. This includes how to make a base camp, how to collect food, and much more. The pages are fully illustrated, which makes understanding topics and finding resources much easier.
The unique thing about this survival handbook is that it covers several survival situations. You’ll find information on how to make do in the wilderness. However, there’s information about urban threats, too.
The author touches on topics that many survivalists don’t think about. You can learn more about what to do in the event of terrorist attacks or how to act during a break-in at your own home.
While many survival books focus solely on survival techniques, this one has information about self-defense as well. It shows you how to arm yourself and teaches you more about popular hand-to-hand combat techniques. The book truly is a comprehensive guide to survival.
4. The Survival Medicine Handbook by Joseph Alton and Amy Alton
If you’re looking for a survival book that centers around first-aid and medicine skills, this title is for you. The Survival Medicine Handbook covers, in great detail, the steps you need to take to address both serious and minor injuries. Several diseases and common ailments are addressed, too.
With 670 pages of information, this book covers a wide range of scenarios that you might find yourself in. Each situation is treated as if professional medical help is unavailable. So, you must use the resources available to you. This includes medicinal plants, basic medical supplies (or a first aid kit), and more.
You’ll also learn some invaluable medical techniques. Basic dressing methods, sanitization techniques, and more are all useful even if you’re not facing disaster.
The survival book is written by two long-established medical professionals. Joseph Alton was a board-certified Obstetrician and pelvic surgeon. Meanwhile, Amy Alton is actively licensed as an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner. The authors use their real-world experience to provide information that’s grounded by medical science.
5. Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide: Food, Shelter, Security, Off-the-Grid Power and More Life-Saving Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living by Jim Cobb
Most of the books you’ll find on the market are devoted to helping you survive until help arrives or you make your way to safety. This prepper survival book, however, is all about staying alive in the long-term.
It’s about keeping you and your family safe for long periods without access to the conveniences of modern life. Whether it’s weeks, months, or years, the depth of information in this book can help you stay alive.
The author discusses several scenarios where long-term survival techniques would be necessary. These include the collapse of the water and power grid, global pandemics, and the dissolution of the government. In these situations, you would have no choice but to create a safe haven on your own.
The book teaches you how to establish a shelter and protect yourself from any potential threats coming in. You’ll learn how to gather off-grid power, how to establish a food garden, and how to fortify your base.
6. When The Grid Goes Down: Disaster Preparations and Survival Gear For Making Your Home Self-Reliant by Tony Nester
When the Grid Goes Down is a disaster preparedness book that can help you develop self-reliance when faced with a survival situation. Most of the content in the book centers around short-term survival. However, many of the techniques are adaptable for long-term situations as well.
One of the most useful aspects of this book about survival is the section that focuses on building a self-reliant home. The author talks about six key areas that can transform your domicile into a long-term survival hub. This includes developing a water storage and purification system, alternative ways to collect water, and how to fortify the building from outside threats.
The book details other lesser-known survival techniques, too. You’ll learn innovative methods to stay clean, techniques on how to keep your home cool without power, and effective home defense measures.
The goal of the book is to make you and your home self-sufficient during emergencies.
7. Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skill by Abigail Gehring
If you’re looking to live a simpler life away from the city, Back to Basics has you covered. This is a homesteader’s manual that can teach you how to survive without relying on the grid or other conveniences of modern life. It shows you how your forefathers survived!
Unlike some of the other best survival books in this list, Back to Basics isn’t solely devoted to survival. Some potentially life-saving tips will cover your bases should an emergency arise. However, this title is all about basic living skills.
It has detailed instructions and full illustrations on how to do things in a more primitive way. Learn how to build your very own log or adobe brick cabin. Then, find ways to make the most out of the land around you!
You can even learn how to craft furniture pieces with traditional tools, how to dye wool, and how to make tasty foods from the fruits of your labor!
Read Also: 11 Best Places To Live Off The Grid
8. Survival Hacks: Over 200 Ways to Use Everyday Items for Wilderness Survival by Creek Stewart
Written by an established survival expert, this book includes unique survival techniques you have never even thought of! When you’re surviving in the wilderness and have limited supplies, learning how to make gear is paramount. This outdoor survival book shows you how to do just that.
This isn’t a book that focuses on how to use existing equipment. Instead, it shows you how to fashion gear out of random objects you might have on hand or resources you can find in the wild. For example, you can learn how to make the most out of trash bags or empty soup cans!
The hacks vary quite a bit, but all of the techniques you learn are adaptable. Start small by learning how to make pocket-sized tools out of sticks and some rope. Then, work your way up to more pressing equipment, like a water purification tool made from nothing but a plastic bottle!
9. 100 Deadly Skills: Survival Edition: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Surviving in the Wild and Being Prepared for Any Disaster by Clint Emerson
Want a book that can teach you how to survive any situation? Check out this book from Clint Emerson. Clint Emerson is a retired Navy SEAL who went through intense training to develop his survival skills.
He adapted what he learned as a SEAL into important survival skills for civilians.
This book covers all of the basics you would expect out of a survival book. However, everything has a touch of military expertise behind it! Learn how to build a fire and shelter, find food, and make your way out of any environment. No matter the climate or terrain, the tips in this book will help you get to safety.
There’s also a ton of useful survival information about hostile situations. Learn what to do if you’re ever held hostage or faced with danger from a terrorist. You can also learn about trauma medicine, allowing you to act as a first responder until help arrives.
10. The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Expert Advice for Extreme Situations by David Borgenicht and Joshua Piven
Since it was first published in 1999, the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook has been helping survivalists across the globe! The international best-seller has spawned several new iterations with even more useful information to learn.
This latest version includes survival information about extreme situations that basic survival skills could never prepare you for. Many of the scenarios are separated by category.
In the “Great Escapes & Entrances” section, you’ll learn how to do things like break down a door, land a plane, and get out of a sinking car! In the “Tooth and Claw” section, you’ll find survival tips to get out of sticky animal attacks. For example, the book teaches you how to fend off a shark, survive a snake bite, and get away from angry bees.
All of the information in the survival book is practical and potentially life-saving. However, everything is presented in a fun and exciting way. So, you’ll never forget what you read.
11. The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide: A Common Sense, Step-By-Step Handbook To Prepare For and Survive Any Emergency By Bob Mayer
Ever want to get some survival insight from a Green Beret? Here’s a survival book worth checking out!
It’s written by a former Green Beret who spent years teaching at the JFK Special Warfare Center. Many of the techniques and survival methods used by the special forces branch are included in this book. However, they’re adapted for the common man, making the information accessible to anyone.
You can learn how to survive a wide range of situations. This includes mild temporary emergencies to full-fledged survival scenarios.
The interesting thing about this book is how the information is presented. With many survival books, the techniques are spread out. In this book, everything is positioned in a logical flow. Learn how to take action from the moment disaster strikes.
The book does a fantastic job of changing the way you approach survival situations. Learn what steps you need to take and how to prioritize your actions for the best results.
12. How to Eat in the Woods: A Complete Guide to Foraging, Trapping, Fishing, and Finding Sustenance in the Wild by Bradford Angier and Jon Young
The biggest challenge of surviving in the wilderness? Finding and preparing foods safely! In this book, you can figure out how to take advantage of the food resources around you.
Portable and easy to read, this book is an excellent guide that you can take with you. Use it to identify edible plants, fruits, and nuts. Detailed descriptions will remove any doubt about the safety of food that you encounter in the wild.
In addition to plant-based foods, How to Eat in the Woods teaches you how to become a fine-tuned predator! Pick up valuable skills on how to track, trap, and kill prey foods. The book has information about animals that you can find on land and in the water.
There’s also plenty of information about how to adequately clean and prepare food, ensuring that you’re not eating parts that could make you sick. Of course, there’s also a section devoted to finding and purifying potable water.
13. 100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation by Clint Emerson
Here’s another book from retired Navy SEAL Clint Emerson. While his previous book focused on surviving any climate or terrain, this one is about getting out of sticky situations caused by other humans.
Emergencies don’t always center around the weather or environmental problems. Threats to your personal safety are everywhere. This urban survival book can teach you how to overcome those threats and get out of hostile situations unscathed.
Like his other book we went over, this title features Navy SEAL procedures adapted for civilians. Learn important self-defense techniques to evade capturers and run to safety. You can learn how to immobilize attackers and protect yourself in the worst-case scenario.
If you ever find yourself in a hostage situation, this book can teach you how to react and what you need to do to avoid harm.
There’s even some great information on how to combat high-tech threats. For example, it teaches you how to stay safe from cybercriminals and how to trick facial recognition software.
14. The Prepper’s Medical Handbook by William Forgey M.D.
You never know when professional medical services won’t be available. With The Prepper’s Medical Handbook, you can learn how to address medical concerns on your own when help is nowhere to be found.
The first part of the book is all about being prepared. Get a better understanding of the supplies you need and how to use them in an emergency situation. Then, learn how to gather supplies when you don’t have your stockpile on hand!
If you or someone in your family is injured, this survival book will teach you how to manage the issue. You’ll find valuable information about how to address bone, joint, soft tissue damage, and other forms of trauma.
The book also covers how you should respond in dangerous situations. This includes how to get to safety after a bomb, how you should act during a disease outbreak, and what you should do if you suspect that you have been poisoned.
15. The Trapper’s Bible: The Most Complete Guide on Trapping and Hunting Tips Ever by Eustace Hazard Livingston
The Trapper’s Bible is a hunter’s dream. Whether you hunt for sport or you’re in a situation that requires you to hunt for survival, the information in this book can make all the difference.
It teaches you how hunters tracked and trapped animals before guns came into the mix. The methods are primitive, but they’re the same techniques used by your forefathers. The information is backed by hundreds of historic photos and illustrations.
In this book on survival, you’ll learn how to make and use traps. It also details how you can attract prey animals with your own scent concoctions!
Once you have bagged your dinner, the book goes into processing and preservation. You can even gain more insight into how hunters of the past tanned and used animal hides!
There’s extensive information about many different animals. The book outlines methods to attract many of the common food animals you’ll find in the wild. These include small creatures like rabbits and raccoons to bigger deer and bears!
How to Put Together a Well-Rounded List of Survival Handbooks
Having a collection of the best survival books at your disposal can make all the difference in the worst-case scenario. While there are tons of television shows, documentary series, and even smartphone apps to teach you about survival skills, nothing beats the information you’re going to get from a book.
That said, not all survival handbooks are created equal. Not only that, but it’s nearly impossible for a single book to cover all of the aspects of survival!
To truly sharpen your skills and train your brain to think like a survivalist, you must have a collection of well-rounded books that cover your bases. Here are some things to consider when selecting the best survival books to add to your library collection.
Cover a Variety of Specialties
If you’re ever unlucky enough to find yourself in an emergency, you’ll quickly discover that staying safe is about much more than just following step-by-step instructions. When the conveniences of modern life are thrown out of the window, you have to make do and fend for yourself. That involves taking care of everything from finding food to building shelter.
When you’re building your survival book collection, you must have titles that cover a wide variety of specialties. Many books will touch upon different scenarios that you might face in a disaster situation. However, they hardly go into depth about how to do things right.
Pick up books that are devoted to specific topics. For example, you might want to study up on how to build a shelter in the wilderness, how to identify edible wild plants, and how to provide efficient first aid.
You can easily find titles that go into depth on those topics. Spend some time reading up so that you’re comfortable enough to take action whenever the situation arises.
Titles centering around concepts of long-term survival are available as well. Homesteading guides, wilderness encyclopedias, and gardening books provide tons of useful information. Plus, they can serve as reference guides to help you survive for however long you need.
Don’t Waste Your Money on the Silly Stuff
On your search for the best survival books, you’re going to encounter some niche topics and guides centered around fictional survival concepts.
Zombie survival guides, for example, have grown in popularity in recent years.
Avoid those books at all costs. They’ll do nothing but take up valuable space on your bookshelf!
Silly titles built around fictional survival scenarios aren’t practical. The chances of a zombie outbreak occurring are pretty slim! However, natural disasters, civil unrest, war, and getting lost in the wilderness are situations that you could very well find yourself in.
Zombie survival guides are more about entertainment than providing you with information of any real value. Don’t waste your money! Even in the off chance that the world did crumble due to a zombie outbreak, the techniques you learn in real survival books will have you covered!
Pick Them Up for Yourself
Now that you know what the best survival books are, it’s time for you to pick them up for your library at home. The knowledge you’ll acquire from these books will take your survival skills to the next level, and help you keep your family safe.
If you have any other survival handbook suggestions that you think we should take a look at, feel free to send them our way.