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SAS Survival Handbook, Revised Edition: For Any Climate, in Any Situation Paperback – March 3, 2009
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“A classic outdoor manual. ... Written by John Wiseman, former survival instructor for Britain’s elite Special Air Service (an all-conditions strike force considered by some to be tougher than the U.S. Navy SEALs), the book addresses every conceivable disaster scenario. ... Don’t leave home without it.” (Outside magazine)
About the Author
John 'Lofty' Wiseman served in the British Special Air Service (SAS) for twenty-six years. The SAS Survival Handbook is based on the training techniques of this world-famous elite fighting force.
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Top customer reviews
But as is, it covers too many topics, from how to deal with computer viruses (keep your software updated, use an anti-virus program) to warnings about scurvy ('always aim for a balanced diet'). There are pages devoted to wood-boring insects. There's an illustration of a Corgi.
Worse, the book is shallow in its investigation of useful options. For emergency winter survival, it's odd to recommend an igloo (slow to make, hard to construct without a snow saw, and tough to complete in poor conditions) but to omit mention of a snow trench (fast, easy, and warm enough to shelter me on many trips), or even a snow-cave, a simple compromise.
And the information shared has no filter. A beginner has no way of parsing the laundry-list of knots to prioritize a square knot (essential) over a Killick hitch (easily replaced by more versatile alternatives); there's no mention at all of how to make an improvised harness, despite several sections on emergency climbing and rappelling. In the section in explosions, Wiseman advises ways to safely exit a building before the spread of fire, but then says 'If you are caught in an explosion in a building, then stay there until safe to do so' [sic], without further explanation.
Finally, it's unreliable. There are pure factual errors (people cannot survive 12 days without water, even in cool temperatures) and frequent mixing of good and poor advice (crossing a river in a group one behind the other is terrible, exposing each to the full force of the water, while crossing in a line facing downstream, with arms interwoven, is universally recommended).
I don't write many reviews, and even fewer poor reviews - why disparage something others enjoyed? But this is meant to be a practical book, and it sets the bar too low. Pare it down and keep the information accurate. At half the length this could be twice as valuable.
Here are links to better books on the areas discussed. I know too little about bushcraft and trapping to recommend one there - any suggestions appreciated.
For rope, climbing, and mountaineering skills,
Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills, 8th Edition
If you just want information on snow caves (another better alternative to an igloo), Ernest Wilkinson's slim book is out-of-print but easy to find:
Snow Caves for Fun and Survival
For glacier travel, crevasse rescue, and high-angle rescue in general, Andy Selter's book is remarkably efficient. A few pages go a long way on each topic:
Glacier Travel & Crevasse Rescue: Reading Glaciers, Team Travel, Crevasse Rescue Techniques, Routefinding, Expedition Skills 2nd Edition
For emergency wilderness medicine, Eric Weiss' books are the most popular, and they're fine. But I prefer Buck Tilton's, in part because I did my Wilderness EMT training with him, but also for their concise explanations. Here's his most comprehensive:
Wilderness First Responder: How To Recognize, Treat, And Prevent Emergencies In The Backcountry
- survival kit, pouch and knife
- survival in different climates such as mountains, polar regions, islands, deserts and tropical regions
- food such as how to catch and cook animals, how to identify what plants to eat and what to avoid etc
- how to make a fire with what's around you
- how to make tools
- navigating with or without maps
- surviving at sea
- first aid etc
There is heaps of information that a novice like me can understand. Their is also a section on urban survival which covers self-defence, protecting your family and home and what to do when disaster hits your city. This book is very comprehensive and I recomened this book for everyone it is handy to keep in the house and defently a book to read here and there and it's something to practice because learning even the basic survival skills is a important skill in life.
I would certainly recommend this book as a daily hiking carry!