I was, and am, a big fan of Craig Caudill’s first book, Extreme Wilderness Survival. You can find my full review of that book here. When I learned Craig was working on a follow up book, it got my attention.
I’ll admit, Ultimate Wilderness Gear wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be. Instead, it was so much more! I was expecting a category by category examination of the gear Craig uses in the field. While we he does mention that throughout the book, Craig knows that there is no one size fits all solution for any type of gear. So, rather than just tell us what he prefers for himself, he goes through each topic and discusses what to look for, and what to avoid, when selecting your gear.
One type of gear I always make sure I carry is cordage. Sure, we can make rope or twine from plant fibers and such. Mankind has been doing that for ages, right? But, doing so takes time and patience, neither of which are in great supply during a true crisis. Craig goes into great detail on three common types of cordage (paracord, twisted rope, braided rope), discussing the pros and cons of each.
Craig devotes about 25 pages of the book to clothing. This is our first line of defense against the elements and yet it is one of the most often overlooked parts of our overall survival planning. Craig takes a three tier approach to clothing. Tier 1 is your base layer that sits directly on your skin, such as socks and undergarments. Tier 2 is pants/shorts and shirt. Tier 3 is essentially what we often call outerwear, such as vest or windbreaker. For each of these tiers, Craig really gets into the nitty-gritty of what is important to remember and why. Tell you what, I’ll be adding a good vest to my gear very soon, based on my reading here.
In the Packs chapter, Craig goes through how to choose a pack that will suit your needs as well as what all the different accessories are for and how to use them properly. He even includes his top 10 uses for a trash bag (a couple of which were new to me).
In the Specialty Gear chapter, Craig covers a wide range of great stuff, including paddling sports (kayak, canoe, etc.), mountain biking, and even hygiene. This last one is an area I see neglected all too often in survival literature. Perhaps some authors or instructors don’t think it is sexy enough? Tell you what, there’s nothing sexy about the body odor wafting off a person who hasn’t bothered to clean themselves after several days on the trail.
In each section, Craig does recommend certain brands or products and is careful to explain why he chooses them over others. It is obvious Craig has done his homework every step of the way and chooses gear that works, not just grabbing items based on price or notoriety.
In the Appendix, Craig has listed numerous companies he recommends that provide the gear he discussed in the book. This is very valuable information and you’ll spend hours going through the different websites.
All in all, Craig has put together the most comprehensive guide to wilderness and survival gear that I have ever seen. The book is jam packed with excellent photos (provided by Craig’s talented wife, Jennifer). I love the layout of the book, too. It is very easy to navigate and find exactly what you need. Scattered throughout the book are numerous anecdotes from Craig’s years of experience in the field, including some stories about his own family and raising children who learned to love the outdoors.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The reader comes away with a great understanding of what is needed to survive and thrive in the outdoors. Craig has poured several decades’ worth of experience into this book and it shows.
Ultimate Wilderness Gear is available here on Amazon.
Want a copy for yourself? Craig and Page Street Publishing have been kind enough to provide a copy of Ultimate Wilderness Gear for me to use as a giveaway prize. To enter, simply drop me an email to Giveaway@survivalweekly.com with the message “I’m in.” Entry deadline is Sunday, July 8th. One winner will be chosen at random from all qualifying entries. Winner will be contacted by email and will have 24 hours to respond or prize may be forfeit. Winner will be announced in the next issue of the Survival Weekly Dispatch. Good luck!