Wilderness Survival Books

Wilderness Survival - My Top Two Books

See Also: Australian Field Guides and Nature Books, Survival Books, Survival DVDs, Books by Tom Brown, Jr., Permaculture, Self Sufficiency And Sustainable Living Books, Dystopian Fiction / Novels, Books About Near-Death Experiences, and Survival Courses Near Sydney and the Blue Mountains.

This books I am writing about on this page are more for longer-term wilderness living skills. For short-term wilderness survival skills (such as you would need if you got lost in the wilderness), see Survival Essentials: How To Survive In The Wilderness. The book I recommend on that page is "Wilderness Survival" by Gregory J. Davenport.

If I had to learn wilderness survival, or survive with only two books, they would be these:

Wild Food Plants of Australia, Tim LowWild Food Plants of Australia, Tim Low. This is easily the best book for edible plants that I know of for Southeast Australia. (And probably for almost all of Australia, though if you are mainly interested in the North, check out Les Hiddins' Pocket Guide). It is also small enough to carry easily. If I had to survive with only two books, this would be one and the other would be a survival book — the first "Naked Into the Wilderness" book by John and Geri McPherson, or possibly Thomas J Elpel's book.

Purchase from Australia (Booktopia)

Purchase from Australia (Angus & Robertson)

Purchase from Australia (The Nile) (free shipping)

Click here to purchase from Australia (Fishpond)

Only available used on Amazon

Wild Food Plants of Australia is an easy pick since there is no other field guide for Australian edible plants (that I know of) that even comes close. I would recommend reading chapter 11 on bush survival (wilderness survival) as one of the first parts that you read.


Naked Into the Wilderness - Primitive Wilderness Living & Survival Skills, John & Geri McPherson.

which is now sold as

Ultimate Guide to Wilderness Living: Surviving with Nothing But Your Bare Hands and What You Find in the Woods, John & Geri McPherson Ultimate Guide to Wilderness Living: Surviving with Nothing But Your Bare Hands and What You Find in the Woods, John & Geri McPherson. This is a new version of this important wilderness survival book, under a different title. If you have this book already, don't get the new one since its almost the same content. If you don't have "Naked Into the Wilderness" yet, then this new one is the one to get.

From the publishers, "In-depth instructions and step-by-step photos of real survival skills — exactly what one needs to stay alive in the woods. The book first covers immediate needs like starting a fire, erecting temporary shelter, and finding food. Then it goes beyond other survival books by explaining advanced techniques for long-term living in the wild — using only those things found in nature. The authors show how to make tools by chipping stones, fashion a bow-and-arrow out of tree branches, weave baskets, fire primitive pots, build a semi-permanent shelter, and even tan hides. Finally, the authors explain how to bring all these skills together to live in the wilderness for days, weeks, months, or even years."

Purchase from Australia (Booktopia)

Purchase from Australia (Angus & Robertson)

Purchase from Australia (The Nile) (Probably unavailable)

Click here to purchase from Australia (Fishpond)

Click here to purchase from Amazon.com

The second book had to be some kind of general wilderness survival book, and it was harder to decide on one favourite, since there are a lot of good ones.

I chose Naked Into the Wilderness on the basis of its detailed and very practical descriptions of the most important wilderness survival skills. With my current skill level (quite low) I would want a book that can describe the techniques well enough to be actually able to learn them from the book, with the greatest of ease. I think this book fits that requirement.

It is not a "pretty" book, the illustrations are generally much too dark, and the text is kind of "rough". It is not the most inspiring book in terms of romantic descriptions of a sacred, magical wilderness survival life (if you want that, Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival would be a better choice).

It is also not a book that contains the absolute basics of wildnerness survival, such as that you can die in three minutes without air, three hours without adequate protection from the cold and wet, three days without water, and three weeks without food. I would recommend "Wilderness Survival" by Gregory J. Davenport for that kind of information.

The chapters are not in ideal order, in my opinion, so it is not a book I would recommend reading from front to back, unless you are particularly keen to do that. I would recommend reading the chapters in the following order:

Chapter 2: Primitive Fire & Cordage
Chapter 4: Makin' Meat Part 2
Chapter 5: Primitive Wilderness Cooking Methods
Chapter 10: Primitive Semi-Permanent Shelters
Chapter 9: Primitive Tools, Making & Using Them

and then the other chapters as you see fit.

These are the five basic wilderness survival skills that John mentions in his second book as being the ones to learn first, the core techniques that all the others depend on. (Note that he leaves out plant foods altogether, but we have the Tim Low book for that.) His five basic skills are, in order: 1) Fire, 2) cordage, 3) traps, 4) tools and 5) shelters. I have reversed the order of 4 and 5, since in all probability you will have some kind of steel-made tools with you, even if it is just one knife. It is also likely that you would have some kind of modern firemaking device with you (such as a $2 "Bic" lighter), so in that light it would be forgiveable if you were to skip the firemaking until you have mastered some of the other wilderness survival skills. (As long as you can make a good fire with a lighter, and in the wet, and in all kinds of conditions). Keep in mind also that a lighter, metal match, etc., will run out eventually, while a knife can last a very long time (if you look after it). So firemaking goes ahead of "tools". You will need some simple tools though, such as a throwing (or "rabbit") stick, but this is very easy to make. You will also (if you are prepared adequately) have access to some factory-made cordage, so making cordage is in that sense a less important wilderness survival skill than traps and shelters.

There is a second volume of "Naked Into the Wilderness". I have quoted a section from it about the most important basic skills.

Australian Field Guides and Nature Books
Survival Books
Survival DVDs
Books by Tom Brown, Jr.
Survival Courses Near Sydney and the Blue Mountains
Permaculture, Self Sufficiency And Sustainable Living Books
Dystopian Fiction / Novels
Books About Near-Death Experiences
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