Best survival books for life in the great outdoors
Make sure you're ready for all eventualities on your next outdoor adventure with the help of a survival book.
If you're someone who likes to feel as prepared as possible, a survival book is likely to give you a sense of comfort before tackling the great outdoors. Handy for all kinds of outdoor adventures, such as family camping trips and solo hikes in the wilderness, survival books are great for learning those nifty tips and tricks that enhance your outdoor experience. You can finally learn how to properly build a fire; discover the best shelter techniques and understand what to forage if you run out of cereal bars.
In our round up of the best survival books you'll find guides written by former SAS members and survival experts, as well as specialist options delving into the study of what our natural surroundings can tell us in regards to navigation and weather forecasting, so there's something for all kinds of adventurers.
A lot of the survival books in our list are available for Kindle too, so you can download a couple and enjoy a light suitcase or backpack on your next trip.
Looking for more literary inspiration? Take a look at the best nature and wildlife books, the best vegetable gardening books to buy and the best poetry books on nature and the British countryside.
Best survival books for 2022
The Wilderness Survival Guide
Rather than attempting to offer a solution to every single scenario, survival skills instructor Joe O'Leary describes survival techniques that could work in a number of situations and terrains in this useful guide. So if you enjoy exploring different areas and camping styles, you could pick up some new practical skills that are sure to come in handy - an easy way to cover the fundamentals. Presented in straightforward steps, learn basic survival skills such as how to build a fire, shelter and animal trap.
You'll also find ways to help you enhance your outdoor experience in general, even if you're out for a walk in the countryside, or enjoying a weekend camping trip. So you don't necessarily have to be in a life-threatening scenario to benefit from this read!
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The Walker's Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs
For a slightly different take on traditional survival books, but still a fascinating choice for learning more about the outdoors, opt for natural navigator, Tristan Gooley's, bestseller. The Walker's Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs describes what we can learn from the land, sun, moon, stars, trees, plants, animals, sky and clouds. It's all about clues and deductions, so perhaps a helpful choice if you accidentally leave your map behind.
A nice gift for walkers - whether they're a fan of coastal or city walks - this book contains over 850 clues and signs to help you enhance your hiking adventures. You can find out how to spot weather forecasting clues too - a great skill to have, especially if you're chief trip planner.
Wild Camping: Exploring and Sleeping in the Wilds of the UK and Ireland
Nothing beats the feeling of just you, your sleeping bag, and a million stars above you. If you like the idea of choosing your own pitch in the wilderness, and are happy to leave no trace, why not have try wild camping this year? This guide is a handy choice for foraging tips, and kit recommendations as well as gaining an understanding of the various wild camping laws for different countries. Whether you're wild camping in the Scottish Highlands or Devon, this excellent book gives you all the information you need.
Find out more about wild camping in our beginner's guide to wild camping in the UK: law, essential kit and places to camp.
Stock up on your camping gear:
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- Best camping pillow for a well-earned rest
- Best sleeping bag liners for camping trips and multi-day hikes
- Best three-season sleeping bags: review and buyer's guide
Forest School for Grown-Ups: Explore the Wisdom of the Woods
For a more playful option, try Forest School for Grown-Ups. Embraced by a number of schools, the Forest School learning model takes children out of the traditional classroom environment, and into nature where they can enjoy a hands on and practical lesson. This enjoyable read lets adults have a go themselves - a way to find some outdoor activity inspiration after you've been stuck in the office all day.
Packed with exciting activities including bird-box making, tree climbing and beach-combing, as well as the essential fire building and foraging tips, Irvine's book is sure to bring about a sense of nostalgia. There are photographs and instructions to match - read with your family and plan a day of adventures.
How to Stay Alive: The Ultimate Survival Guide for Any Situation
You've perhaps watched Bear Grylls perform some of his survival techniques on your TV screen – gutting an animal to make a sleeping bag, and drinking urine to name a couple – so his survival book is sure to have your back if you find yourself in the most extreme of outdoor situations.
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As the title suggests, this guide is designed to function as your one and only survival book. A top gift idea for Grylls fans, or for the curious keen to discover how to escape quicksand and survive a bear attack. Fun facts to know, even if you don't come across such scenarios yourself.
SAS Survival Guide: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere
John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman
Read up on navigation tips and how to survive natural disasters - including flash flooding and fast-spreading fire - in the SAS Survival Guide. Written by John 'Lofty' Wiseman, a big name in the world of SAS and survival techniques, this survival book covers topics such as self defence, avoiding disease and how to find natural resources. It's one for extreme adventurers who want to tick off all sorts of survival techniques in one go, and it's a neat pocket size too so shouldn't take up too much space in your pack.
Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival
If you're planning a trip overseas to the backcountry, give Bushcraft 101 a read. Written by survival expert Dave Canterbury, this survival book is based on the five Cs - cutting tools, covering, combustion devices, containers and cordages so it's bound to help if you find yourself stuck in a tricky situation when exploring the wilderness. You'll also find tips regarding what to pack; collecting and cooking food as well as how to protect yourself from the elements, so it's a bit of an all-rounder.
As well as the knowledge, make sure you've got the kit to match with our list of survival kit essentials.
Rachel Howatson is a digital writer who works across a range of Immediate’s special interest brands. Whatever your passion, whether it’s hillwalking, cooking, gardening, running, socialising or even sleeping, she'll likely have written about it.