best how-to survival books

As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

While our everyday life lures us into the comforting sense of security derived from routine, there is relief in basic survival knowledge. Primal information that has helped generations thrive is always worth learning.

Whether you are a camping enthusiast or wish to be prepared for worst-case scenarios, how-to survival books are the best way to gather quintessential outdoor knowledge and skills. However, crafting your personal survival library is somewhat challenging, considering the wide range of books, topics, and areas of expertise available.

Considering this, the following books can be the best to kickstart your collection. Ranging from bushcraft information to herbal tips, they cover various topics that will ensure you are always prepared, no matter what.

best how to survival booksSAS Survival Handbook, Third Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere

by John’ Lofty’ Wiseman

John “Lofty” Wiseman—a talented writer, survivalist, and former British Special Air Service member—channels his talents in summarizing his all-encompassing survival knowledge in a single book.

Divided into clear-cut sections, SAS Survival Handbook walks readers through the essentials of survival—from understanding terrain to navigation using celestial bodies. Make sure to purchase the third edition, which includes a brand-new urban survival segment.

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how to survival booksBushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival.

by Dave Canterbury

Bushcraft is not your standard set of survival skills—they are a compilation of abilities that allow you to thrive in nature and sustain yourself.

Dave Canterbury can pride himself on crafting a complete guide on bushcraft, aptly titled Bushcraft 101. A former sergeant of the U.S. Army, Canterbury conceived his book as an introductory yet comprehensive guide to provide a full-reach approach to surviving within the wilderness.

best survival booksSurvive!: Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere – Alive.

by Les Stroud and Michael Vlessides

While other guidebooks attempt to cover a wide range of knowledge, the authors of Survive! strip survivalism to the bare bones and provide only the most essential skills. Due to this didactic approach and matter-of-fact wording, Survive!is the perfect first book for absolute newcomers to the world of survivalism.

Worth noting is Les Stroud’s experience as a survivalist, as well as the creator of the popular show Survivorman.

How to Stay Alive in the Woods: A Complete Guide to Food, Shelter and Self-Preservation Anywhere

by Bradford Angier

First published in 1956,How to Stay Alive in the Woods has become an heirloom within families and a generational gift of outdoors wisdom.

Within its four sections—sustenance, warmth, orientation, and safety—Angier provides practical guides and detailed illustrations that make it easy to understand what it takes to survive outdoors.

Although the book may show its age and can have slightly outdated advice in some areas, it undoubtedly stands the test of time.

survival books100 Deadly Skills: COMBAT EDITION: A Navy SEAL’s Guide to Crushing Your Enemy, Fighting for Your Life, and Embracing Your Inner Badass

by Clint Emerson

Although survival can often encompass a metaphorical “fight for your life” against the elements, sometimes it takes a literal meaning.

Clint Emerson, a retired Navy SEAL, conceived 100 Deadly Skills: COMBAT EDITION as a basic yet full combative manual for survival in situations where a fight may be the only option.

The compilation provides information from multiple sources and styles, from martial arts tips to professional fighters’ insights. Likewise, each of the hundred techniques comes with fully illustrated guides.

best survival booksSurvival Hacks: Over 200 Ways to Use Everyday Items for Wilderness Survival

by Creek Stewart

Rather than providing a comprehensive guide covering the basics, Survival Hacks is akin to a cheat list that enhances your tool management.

Meant for people already familiar with fundamental survival knowledge,Survival Hacks provides tricks and tips to change how you use everyday items. For example, the guide explains how to build a makeshift air conditioner with duct tape, a computer fan, a 9V battery, and a Styrofoam cooler.

With Survival Hacks, you’re on track to become the next MacGyver at the hands of survival expert Creek Stewart.

best survival booksThe MeatEater Guide to Wilderness Skills and Survival

by Steven Rinella

Steven Rinella rose to prominence as the host and star of Netflix’s MeatEater, a show that chronicled his experience as a hunter across different environments. Derived from his expertise, The MeatEater Guide to Wilderness Skills and Survival rises as an attempt to share his knowledge with the world.

However, do not be fooled by the title—the MeatEater guide covers far more than just meat eating. Or any eating, for that matter. You can find everything you need to thrive—prep, water and food resources, shelter, and more.

With lighthearted prose, Rinella’s outdoor advice is equally sardonic and valuable, making it an easy read.

best survival booksThe Long-Term Wilderness Survival Bible: The Ultimate Guide to Survive in Any Extreme Situation How to Build Shelter, Purify Water, Eat Game and Other Life-Saving Techniques to Live Without Society.

by Noah Foster

Published in 2023, The Long-Term Wilderness Survival Bible is the newest entry within this list, therefore, one of the most updated when it comes to survivalism techniques.

Framed as a 6-in-1 book collection, it prides itself on being a guide with a penchant for environmental responsibility at each step, transforming it into one of the most eco-friendly options for survivalists everywhere.

A jack-of-all-trades when it comes to bushcraft, The Long-Term Wilderness Survival Bible is the perfect starting point for the modern survivor.

best survival booksRosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use.

by Rosemary Gladstar

The secret to surviving outdoors in extreme circumstances relies on using what Mother Nature provides. And sans a few specific environments, the odds are that she will hand you plants. Lots of plants.

The aptly-named Rosemary Gladstar uses her green thumb to pen her Beginner’s Guide, a compilation of the most common and versatile plants and their multiple benefits for wound healing, poisoning, and other afflictions.

best how to survival booksThe Backpacker’s Field Manual, Revised and Updated: A Comprehensive Guide to Mastering Backcountry Skills

by Rick Curtis

The only survival book on this list with an unwavering focus on backpacking, Rick Curtis’ The Backpacker’s Field Manual provides everything you need to develop planning and decision-making skills to explore the backcountry.

Curtis has served as Princeton University’s Director of the Outdoor Action Program since 1981, making him exceptionally capacitated to share knowledge. This comprehensive and all-encompassing book compiles his experience, providing keys for strategic packing, preparation, navigation, wilderness protection, and more.

A must-have for any hiker, experienced or otherwise.


Survival is all about guaranteeing you get the bare necessities to live. However, survivalism is a state of mind—gathering knowledge, skills, and practice to ensure you can take on whatever comes your way.

Building your survival library is essential if you are passionate about the topic since it allows you to carry that knowledge whenever you venture outdoors. With BookScouter, you can compare offers from over 20+ online bookstores & marketplaces to find the best deal, giving you a head start on your skill-building journey.