5 Of The Best Survival Books

Survival. It’s a basic instinct of practically every animal on Earth. From Lions to Butterflies and Crocodiles to Ants, the survival of the fittest is critical in helping the species to continue. The same, of course, applies to humans.

Since the dawn of man, humans have had to face challenges and fight to survive. Okay, in modern society, many of us are blessed with not having to fight for survival every day.

But, some situations require a deeper understanding and knowledge of how best to survive.

Whether you’re out in the bush, climbing mountains, or hiking through rural regions, you need to be prepared.

The great outdoors can churn up some surprising events which can come out of nowhere. These include freak weather patterns and dangerous animals roaming the wild.

Maybe you’re a weekend trekker or an adrenaline junkie looking for their next challenging escapade. Whichever you are, using self-preservation and survival books can be invaluable to you. 

The very best survival books offer important information and knowledge to help you avoid injury and possible death.

But, let’s admit it, there are thousands of survival books to choose from, and you’re a busy person. As you don’t have the time to find the best survival book, we have done it for you. 

Below is a list of the best survival books on the market today. Read so you can conquer the wilderness and great outdoors with priceless intelligence.

Best Survival Books Top 5

The Ultimate Survival Manual

With a name like ‘The Ultimate Survival Manual,’ there’s no doubt that this is regarded as one of the best survival books out there

Add to this that the author, Rich Johnson, has a background as a paratrooper and officer in the US Special Forces and you have yourself a highly reliable survival book. 

Sharing his in-depth wisdom about surviving in extreme circumstances, Johnson offers over 330 basic skills to help you get through whatever nature has in store for you.

In fact, The Ultimate Survival Manual can be used to help you navigate your way through everyday life as that, in itself, can throw up some challenging obstacles along the way. 

Everything is covered in this manual. From getting across a treacherous river to navigating your way through unknown lands, Johnson’s invaluable advice will help a lot.

It even goes into detail about what to do if you are attacked by someone who is armed with a weapon. But, mainly, it guides you through surviving the harsh conditions that nature can thrust upon you. 


  • Accompanying photos and diagrams – these help you understand the tips and tricks in greater detail
  • Covers a range of topics – from surviving armed attacks to dealing with extreme weather, this manual has it all
  • Light-hearted moments – it’s not all serious with some amusing moments throughout 


  • Some sections are a little long-winded – you may feel like skipping some more tedious paragraphs 

Survival Forces Special Guide

Written by survival expert and author of countless survival guides, Chris McNab, this book offers a complete survival guide with incredible tips and tricks shared by some of the most highly trained, elite military troops across the globe.

These include troops from Delta Force, Navy SEALs, the French Foreign Legion, the Green Berets, and more. These soldiers know how to prepare and survive in the wilderness and, after reading this guide, you will be in a much better position of survival too. 

This special forces survival book offers a host of survival tips. Some examples show you how to set up a shelter when out in the wilderness.

Building weapons and tools from objects around you, navigating your way without the use of a compass, how to send distress signals, and, a truly life-saving guide to starting a fire.

If you have a challenging trek coming up or plan an outdoor adventure soon, then Survival Forces Special Guide will certainly help you get through some tricky situations and harsh environments. Most importantly, it may help save your life.


  • Information from highly trained troops – tried and tested methods to help you cope with challenging situations
  • Lots of tips – guides you through how to do certain tasks to help you in the wilderness
  • Covers a range of situations – prepares you for different terrains and weather conditions


  • Written by a survival expert – the author, Chris McNab is a Welsh military expert with years of training

SAS Survival Handbook

If you’re looking for the best advice regarding surviving dangerous situations, you don’t need to look any further than the SAS (Special Air Service).

This bestseller was written by a former SAS troop and survival guru, John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman. In it, he directs you through all kinds of situations and settings, from extreme expeditions in the wilderness to the more sedate camping trip.

After reading this book, you will be much better prepared for all types of terrain. Whatever the climate and whether you are at sea or on land, this guidebook has got important survival tips.

Wiseman shows you how to navigate using traditional navigational tools like compasses, as well as some of the most state-of-the-art GPS devices out there right now.

Wiseman covers a range of topics from first aid tips and tricks, hand-to-hand combat, creating and using tools and weapons, and surviving in some of the most dangerous conditions on Earth.

He also shows you how to scavenge for food, prepare it, keep yourself warm, understand the weather better, and how to survive without little to any supplies. 

Best of all, the book has had some adjustments in recent years to cover more modern survival scenarios. This includes urban survival and what to do in terrorist attacks. 


  • Written by a survival expert – each tip and trick is reliable and trusted thanks to John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman who shares his knowledge
  • Covers many topics – from land to sea and rain to snow, Wiseman guides you through what to do in all conditions and terrains
  • Updated – recent revisions to the text have made it more contemporary to survive in the modern world


  • Some scientific advice is not completely accurate – Wiseman’s scientific knowledge may not be as strong as his survival instincts 

98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive

With one of the best titles of any survival book, 98.6 Degrees: the Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive is one of the most popular survival books in modern times.

Written by Cody Lundin from the TV show ‘Dual Survival,’ this book will certainly be to your liking if you enjoy watching Lundin’s show.

Although the survival skills outlined in this book are very useful, the way Lundin conveys his message is a little different to most books in the genre.

For instance, a recurring point throughout is Lundin’s belief that if your body’s temperature remains at 98.6 degrees, you will always have a better chance of surviving in whatever condition you find yourself in.

Lundin even argues that maintaining this core body temperature can be more important than finding food and water in the wild.  

As you read this entertaining book, you will learn how to maintain a healthy core body temperature whether you’re stuck in a snowstorm or a desert.

You learn this, and much more, whilst enjoying a great deal of humor and wit throughout. There are even some pretty bizarre cartoons in the guide, making it even more entertaining.


  • Based on a TV show – if you like the TV show ‘Dual Survival,’ this is the book for you
  • Entertaining – lots of humor, jokes, and witty remarks throughout the book
  • Lots of tips and tricks – guides you through different situations and weather conditions, with much emphasis on keeping your core body temperature warm


  • Pretty basic survival information – although much of the guidance is very useful, some of it is pretty simple and stuff you would have learned at school
  • Mainly about keeping your core temperature up – too much emphasis on maintaining a core body temperature

How To Stay Alive In The Woods

Heading out to explore the woods and forests soon? If so, this is a book you should take on your travels. In fact, any outdoor pursuit should be accompanied by How To Stay Alive In The Woods by Bradford Angier.

Easy to pack into your backpack alongside compulsory gear, this novel is an absolute classic. Written in 1956, it may not be contemporary, but it certainly includes survival tricks that will always come in useful.

Many survival experts call this book a timeless survival guide as it approaches ways of staying alive and healthy when your back is up against it in the wilderness.

Angier shows us how to keep nourished and not starve in the wild with colored photos of different edible plants in the world. Therefore, you can compare plants around you to see if they are safe to eat. 

As we said, the book is not new by any means and, while the language is somewhat dated, the advice and content is as fresh as ever. Over 60 years later, this book is as relevant as any other survival book out there today. 

Compact for easy transportation, How To Stay Alive In The Woods includes four sections with the first being Sustenance, the second Warmth, the third Orientation, and the last being Safety. 

This classic novel instructs the reader on how to hunt animals, forge weapons from nature, build shelters, and send distress signals if needed. In other words, it helps you stay alive in the woods and the wilderness. 


  • A classic tried and tested survival guide – although an older text, the information has helped countless explorers over the last 60 or so years
  • Still relevant – the guidance is as relevant today as it was in 1956
  • Covers a range of topics – shows you how to hunt, use weapons, build shelters, and much more


  • Language is a little dated – as you would expect, the language used is not contemporary and can be a struggle in sections
  • Lacking some thorough explanations – for instance, it tells you to find vitamin C in the wild but not how

Buyer’s Guide

Each of the five books above go into great detail to help you survive in all manners of situations. But, before you go ahead and choose one right away, you need to consider a few important factors.

Read on as we guide you through what to look for in a good survival book.

Author’s Background

If you want to read a book on a certain matter, you wouldn’t want it to be written by someone with no experience in the subject. This is especially important if the book is about survival!

When considering a survival book, look for ones written by authors with a background in survival scenarios. This includes military troops and/or survival experts. If they have a good reputation, you can be confident that the advice they give is trustworthy and useful. 

Avoid Politically Charged Survival Books

Some authors can be either pro gun or against the use of guns altogether. If you’re looking for a survival book dealing with weapons such as rifles, you should avoid those written by authors against the use of guns.

At the end of the day, you just want to learn about basic survival tactics. If there is too much politics in the book, you may not get all the information you desire.


A survival book needs to draw you in whilst also guide you on your best chances of surviving in extreme situations. Some self-published books may be well-written, but we recommend sticking to those written by professionals who have experienced what they are writing about first-hand.

Also, these professionally published works would have been heavily edited for easier readability, making it more enjoyable and simpler to understand. 

Types Of Survival Books 

There are many types of survival books out there. These cover all aspects of life. Some examples include:

  • Wilderness survival books
  • Bushcraft books on what to eat and what not to eat (foraging)
  • Modern survival manuals
  • Homesteading and gardening guides
  • Kids and young adult books
  • Fiction
  • Self-defense guides
  • Books on firearms and weapons 
  • Books on vehicles
  • Fishing guides
  • Medical instructions
  • Military handbooks

Think about the type of survival book that suits your needs best. Overall, wilderness survival books tend to be the bestsellers. This is why timeless classics such as How To Stay Alive In The Woods still sell truck loads and remain invaluable to modern day hikers.

Bushcraft guides are another popular choice of survival guide. This shows you how to forage wild plants and different herbs during an emergency.

Most of these go into great detail about what you can and cannot eat in the wild, making them critical for outdoor survival. Many of these guides also come with photos, so you can distinguish what is nutritious and poisonous on the spot.

Then there are military survival books, usually written by those with a military background. These will typically have very useful survival tactics that are used by troops and military personnel every day.

You can rest assured that military survival books include thorough research into techniques, with many up-to-date copies being printed every year. 

Choose the right survival book, and you can save yourself from going six-feet under.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Are Fictional Survival Books Helpful?

Absolutely! Some fictional survival stories are based on real events, sometimes experienced by the author themselves.

Before heading out into the wilderness, reading a story of survival can inspire you and, if it was written by someone with a knowledge of survival techniques, then you could pick up some life-saving tips.

Do I Have To Read A Survival Book If I’m Camping For The Week?

If you’re a casual camper and like to go into the wilderness now and again, a survival guide may not be needed. Nevertheless, these books may come in handy in certain, unforeseen situations. Generally speaking, survival guides are there for when the unexpected happens. 

If you’re camping in a campsite alongside other campers, you probably won’t need to know how to forage for wild plants and how to build weapons from sticks and rocks. But, if you decide to head into the wilderness with little experience, we recommend picking up a survival guide book, just in case. 

Should I Buy The Latest Survival Books Or Rely On Classic Versions? 

We are blessed with survival books these days. Each year, more and more texts are released by survival and military experts.

That being said, many of the latest copies will cover the same techniques as older ones. Yes, they may have more up-to-date language and describe the latest technologies

But, when you’re up against nature with little to no supplies, the tried and tested methods of the past tend to work best, even in modern times. 

Matthew Osborn

Matt is an entrepreneur who has created and successfully exited multiple companies and brands. Now, he dedicates his time to Legionary, where he produces content on guns, family, and freedom.

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