Saturday, September 06, 2008

Survival Manuals

Lets face it, there are times when the world and its wife seem to feel that they can produce a good survival manual yet they end up producing the same, tired, old rubbish. Mostly they are thinly disguised copies of old military manuals, often Lofty Wiseman's, and to be frank they offer nothing new or helpful.
I've recently been given a manual which is something of a break from this -
Cody Lundin's 98.6 Degrees - The Art of Keeping your Ass Alive!This is a manual which not only strips away all the unneccessary but also concentrates on what you need. Gone is a reliance on food; instead we concentrate on water, temperature and psychology.
Indeed, the mental aspect is dealt with very well in this book. In general the author looks at what is likely to kill you in a stereotypical 72 hour survival situation and then on how to combat it.
The style is informal and a probably a little crude for some tastes but it gets the point across well. It is probably a book of interest for any bushcraft bibliophiles such as my self but I think would be of most use to the adventure sports crowd. The tone and down to earth approach would likely strike a cord with them.
Some of his tips, how not to die, can be seen on this clip.
For the more traditional approach we can look across the pond to the Maine department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. I know it is a shock but a government agency actually managed to do something of use for the bushcrafter! They produced a downloadable manual entitled
"You, Alone in the Maine Woods"Primarily aimed at hunters it contains lots of sensible but traditional advice and I first saw it recommended, partly due to the bright orange colour, by an article in Tactical Knives.
Definitely worth a download but remember the advice is both seasonally and geographically specific to Maine in the Autumn and Winter.
The final manual is more of a mixed bag. It is called the "Complete Illustrated Book of Survival" and is wide ranging in the extreme. It goes from long term survival techniques to using stone tools to how to fight off an attacker.The bushcraft bits with stone tools are great and really fresh and original. A chunk of the material has appeared in other books though - the book admits to 2 others with similar content in the cover but I'm sure I've seen some of the pictures in knot books and other places over the years. I'm really against putting self defence advice in books - you need to practice and learn in the flesh. If you want to do this find an instructor who knows what you want and has similar size to you - there's no merit learning from a 6'4" 17 stone instructor if you are 5'5" and 10 stone - what works for him isn't going to work for you.
Overall it is a book which will mostly stay on the shelf - not sure quite where to pick up a copy as it was a present. My parents said they got it in a garden centre!


JohnW said...

I will add that the book " Survival with Style" by Bradford Angier turned me on to the whole world of the outdoors. I guess I have not grown up.