A book about surviving in the most desperate conditions has to be written by someone who knows their stuff, who has faired the most perilous conditions and come out the other side. The SAS Survival Handbook isn’t something you can make up; you can’t fabricate and babble about its contents.

Survival essentials
Survival essentials

The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere

The SAS Survival Handbook contains survival tips to confront any dangerous situations with confidence.

Packed to the brim with useful (often crucial) advice, tidbits, and facts, this survival guide is a must-have repository of information. Most useful if you wish to remain safe while camping, hiking or undertaking any endeavour into the wilderness.

How to make a lean-to shelter
How to make a lean-to shelter

What should be at the foremost of anyone’s plans who intends on staying overnight in the wilderness is their shelter? The survival handbook understands this and provides a wealth of information of the optimal terrain to rest on, shelters to build, and factors to avoid when setting up a shelter for the night. Not forgetting any environment – it caters for every climate such as the bush, forest, desert, and polar regions. The handbook entails how best to utilize animal skins if necessary.

John “Lofty” Wiseman

The author is none other than John Wiseman, otherwise known as Lofty Wiseman. Becoming, in 1959, at the age of 18, the youngest person pass selection for the SAS (Special Air Force), his compendium of escapades and intense experiences have left him fully qualified for the task of writing a thorough and substantial SAS survival guide.

Loft Wiseman served for 26 years in the SAS, and as Head of Operational Research in 22nd SAS, he founded the SAS Counter-Terrorist Team, known as the guys who sieged the Iranian Embassy in 1980.

Under an emergency shelter
Under an emergency shelter

He’s now an instructor at the Trueways Survival School who provide survival training, including being consultants for news channels and TV shows such as Survivors on the BBC.

SAS survival tips

When in a high-risk situation, you can consult the handbook for all circumstances. Want to know what body language to use when up against a wild animal, how to purify water, and how to tie a useful knot. A good or bad knot can make all the difference, Wiseman knows this and helps by concentrating on a small enough selection of useful knots to work with but broad enough variety to use for many applications.

Wakos transport knot
Wakos transport knot

In his impeccably written knot section, you will find all the knots essential for your survival. From the more practical rope knots such as the trucker’s hitch or the square knot to the extremely useful clove hitch – all are of utmost importance if you wish to go mountaineering or camping, where rope and pullies are often used.

Tarp toggle
Tarp toggle

I have my pocket size copy of the Survival Guide in my bag on every hike or expedition. Sometimes you think there’s a better way of doing something, a clever way that you will smile at or sometimes you don’t have the materials to do it the ‘easy’ way. However, the book will often show you a trick that helps you either do it or figure it out.

The SAS Survival Handbook Contents

As well as covering the essentials, being prepared and getting an essential tool kit together, Lofty’s guide has chapters on:

  • Strategy
  • Climate & terrain
  • Food
  • Camp craft
  • Reading the signs
  • On the move
  • Health
  • Survival at sea
  • Rescue
  • Disasters

Water and food

Digging a well for water
Digging a well for water

The Survival Handbook will instruct you on how to utilise your rations and gear best. You’ll be shown how to find water, genious ways of collecting it and purifying to kill bacteria.

How to purify water
How to purify water

You won’t go hungry with this bombproof handbook in tow. Provided within the manual, are ideas for survival meals, with a guide on what plants to avoid and how to forage for the most nutritious and substantial food—not forgetting the intensive guide to hunting.

Everyday disaster

When it comes to accidents and natural disasters, the Survival Handbook indeed does cover all grounds. However, it also helps you prepare for anything from a car accident or animal bite to a nuclear explosion!

How to patch up a wound
How to patch up a wound

How do you treat a wound to stop it getting infected? What plants or methods might you use to sterilise a dressing in the wild? I didn’t do this on purpose by the way, I cut it picking fern to make rope, another chapter in the book.

Focussing on surviving in dangerous situations, the SAS survival guide is a complete guide for overcoming physical and mental hardship. As well as being very to the point, it’s much more concise than any survival guide you may come across. Who needs to be reading paragraph upon paragraph when survival is at stake?

Hammock camping
Hammock camping in the Forest of Bowland

Everyday skills

In the safe environment we live in, you might only ever use this book for improving your knowledge and skills. You might learn how to rig up a hammock and tarp, and take the kids camping. Finally, you may achieve that life long goal of making fire without a lighter. You might be able to navigate the mountains, after studying its pages, even at night, or find out which cloud formations are a sign of good weather.

Family hammock wild camp in the woods
Family hammock wild camp in the woods

You may just use its contents to impress the kids in the woods and unknowingly spark their fascination with the natural world.

The SAS Survival Handbook is a powerhouse of information and will help you to be a competent and safe explorer. The Survival Handbook is worth any extra expense you may have to pay, as you will see its positive effect on any excursion you may undertake.

Sleeping in a lean-to-shelter
Sleeping in a lean-to-shelter

If you would like to improve you survival skills I would whole-heartedly recommend you get a copy. However, there are three formats to choose from and even if you simply want the book, be careful about your selection.

The SAS Survival Handbook first edition

The SAS Survival Handbook
The SAS Survival Handbook

My dad bought me the first edition when I was a kid because I wanted to learn about tying knots, something I’ve always been fascinated with. Growing up on a farm he knew a fair few, like the trucker’s hitch. I use this knot every time I camp in a tarp or hammock and remember the time he taught it to me.

The Handbook is about 9″ x 9″ and is too big to carry round with you.

The pocket guide

Survival essentials tool kit
Survival essentials tool kit

Some years later I got hold of the pocket version which is only 3″ x 5″. It fits in your pocket but usually goes in the top of my rucksack. It’s a little worn now after travelling as far as the Middle-East and Africa. I love it.

The SAS Survival Handbook

SAS Survival Handbook

The original book, now in third edition at just under £12. Published in 2014 as a paperback, it contains 672 pages.

Available here: The SAS Survival HANDBOOK: The Ultimate Guide To Surviving Anywhere

The SAS Survival Guide

SAS Survival Guide

A slightly condensed version, a pocket guide if you will. Although thick, it’s small enough to fit in your pocket.

Available here: The SAS Survival GUIDE: The Ultimate Guide To Surviving Anywhere

The SAS Survival Guide App

SAS Survival Guide App

Useful app. The Lite version is free but has loads of useful stuff. Start with the Lite version but, you’ll use it so much you’ll soon get the £5.99 top-up, it contains too much useful information.

More information: The SAS Survival Guide App

Read next…

How about a spot of Hammock Camping to give your new wilderness skills a test? In this blog, I’ll teach you everything you need to know to pitch your hammock and get a good night’s sleep in the woods.

Hammock camping in the woods
Hammock camping in the woods

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