Special Forces Survival Guide by Chris McNab

Posted on: June 24, 2011

There are various types of survival guides. Some are geared toward primitive living. Others are more for setting up family disaster plans. Then there are the wilderness survival books. The “Oh crap, I’m lost in the woods, now what?” books. The latter are a dime a dozen nowadays. But, for my money, I’d put the Special Forces Survival Guide at the top of that list.

Now, truth be told, McNab isn’t a veteran of the US Special Forces, or any other elite unit as far as I can tell from a few minutes research online. But, what he’s done is collate some of the best survival tips and information from the elite units around the world. If it somehow relates to surviving in the wild, it is in this book.

Food acquisition
Improvised shelters
Fire building
First aid
and much more.

The book itself is the perfect dimensions for a cargo pocket on a pair of pants. However, it is thick and heavy. A little over 300 pages and over half of them have fairly detailed drawings illustrating the techniques discussed. This is both good and bad. The illustrations are first-rate and detailed enough to really understand what’s happening. But, that also means you’re only getting about 150 or so pages of actual text.

Along the way are sidebars with tips specifically from various elite groups, such as the SAS or the US Army Rangers. These are hit and miss. Some tips are really good, others are just common sense, such as keeping ropes away from sharp edges that could cut it.

Personally, I could have done without the first aid segments. Not that this information isn’t important, of course. Just that there are many other books out there that have covered the topic in greater depth. But, if you can only pack one book, this one will suffice for most common medical needs.

The chapter on camp skills contains an excellent overview of commonly used knots as well as a few primitive skills like making stone tools. Again, other books have covered this information in more depth but the Special Forces Survival Guide is kind of a one-stop shop for this information.

There isn’t much that will be brand new to those who have studied wilderness survival for any length of time. But, this one volume covers so much diverse information, it would be quite handy to have in the pack “just in case.” Recommended.

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