Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Book Review: Survive! Essential Skills And Tactics To Get You Out Of Anywhere - Alive

Once in a great while you come across a gem and I believe I have done so, this time in the form of a book. While I was camping I had the extreme pleasure of reading Les Stroud's latest book Survive!: Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere - Alive.Let me preface this by saying I am a HUGE Les Stroud fan. He is a great person to learn from. I always have said if you want to live, listen to Les, if you want to die, listen to Bear.

If you have never watched Survivorman you are missing out on a true gem which has finally come to a close after three seasons (Season #1,Season #2and the final Season #3.)Les travels to remote locations by himself and does all the camera work himself. There is no entourage as there is with Bear Gryllis, Bear has more support people with him than Metallica does when they tour.

Les has taken all the experience that Survivorman has brought him, as well as him knowledge from being a survival instructor, adventure racer and outdoor adventure guide, and compiled them into one book on the subject. It is extremely well done, fun to read and I highly recommend everyone who has an interest picks up a copy. This along with Jack Spigarellishould be required reading for everyone who wants to be a "survival type".

The book is broken down into the following sections:
1.) Trip Planning and Preparation
2.) Survival Kits
3.) Psychological Aspects of Survival
4.) Signaling
5.) Water
6.) Fire
7.) Shelter
8.) Food
9.) Survival Travel and Navigation
10.) Dangers and Hazards
11.) Weather
12.) Clothing
13.) Survival First Aid
14.) Essential Survival Skills
15.) When Disaster Strikes Close to Home

I am going to give you a few tidbits from each chapter, covering some of the highlights. It should tease you enough to peak your interest in reading this one for yourself. It will make a good reference book in your library if nothing else.

Trip Planning and Preparation - in this chapter Les provides some advice on how to ensure any trip you take is successful. The most important thing to do is research and area BEFORE you go to it. Most people forget to do this. Just because you know the flora and fauna in your area, the rest of the world is different and your knowlegde may be completely useless to you there. The second major thing to remember is to LET PEOPLE KNOW where you are going and WHEN you intend to be back. This will set off alarm bells should you not show up when your suppossed to and could hasten a rescue.

Survival Kits - Here Les does a nice job of covering survival kits. He describes types of kits and their contents and even provides some checklists top use for you own kits.

Psychological Aspects of Survival - this is something that is constantly overlooked by people and is likely one of the MOST important topics to cover. How and what to feel and when to feel it can postively or negatively impact your survival. Consistantly, those with the will to survive outlive those who are equipped to the hilt and don't have the will.

Signaling, Water, Fire, Shelter & Food - these chapters are all very good and cover those aspects of survival and preparedness adequately. Les unlike many experts advocates drinking water regardless of if you are certain if it is safe or not when it comes down to it. Drinking questionable water won't kill you as fast as drinking NO WATER will. The reasoning is sound BUT he does recommend trying to find safe water and treating questionable water if given the choice. Les, also contrary to most experts, advises that eating snow during the day or when doing physical activity is fine. The fact that snow can lower your core body temperature when ingested only comes into play at night when resting or during periods of inactivity. The hydrating effects of the snow out weigh the temperature lowering affects when all is said and done. In Les' words..."Drink or die."

Survival Travel and Navigation - I am a big fan of knowing how to use a map and compass and did a two part series on it myself (part 1 and part 2). Les is a big believer in learning this skill and advocates taking a course on navigation if possible.

Danger and Hazards, Weather, Clothing, Survival First Aid - are great chapters that all cover the basica nd amore. The clothing chapter does a nice job of explaining how research and preparedness done ahead of time can really save your life. Your clothes are your first line of defense and most people do not adequately prepare in this area. Survival First Aid does a good job of explaining what is needed, what you should know and how to execute when the chips are down. This isn't Gray's Anatomyby any stretch of the imagination, first aid could not be adequately covered in a book by itself; BUT he hits the highlights which should lead you to do more research on your own.

Essential Survival Skills - probably not a chapter on what you think. The biggest skill you can have is being able to think and see things and their hidden potential. Having "MacGyver-like" abilities is a skill not to be underestimated, being able to look at items you HAVE and turn them into items you NEED is essential.

When Disaster Strikes Close to Home - this chapter is a recap and advises how these skills apply to everyday occurances outside the realm of wilderness survival.

Once again I cannot recommend this one enough to you. It is the best "survival type" book I have read in a long time. It covers all the basics and more, and comes from a guy who "walks the walk". As with and survival book, it scratches the surface...hopefully engages you enough to lead you to do some followup and more thorough research on each of these topics on your own. That being said this book is a comprehensive tome that covers many topics overlooked by other authors. Great book.

...that is all.

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  1. I bought the book a couple months ago on accident.
    I had just put it on the shelf for reading later. After your breakdown of it I think I will pick it up and read it.
    Thanks Flea.

  2. Although I have sometimes called him "Muddle Through Man" - he generally simply lasts a week by going hungry and cold/wet etc - he still does survive on his own with the additional task of filming it. There is no doubt that les is a great guy and one we can learn alot from.

  3. leave bear alone dude, you know that les does have a problem with bear