Winter in the Wilderness: A Field Guide to Primitive Survival Skills

Winter camping, backpacking or hiking is an appealing adventure for many outdoor enthusiasts. Most who venture out inWinter Skills the winter months are looking for solitude away from the larger crowds that one would expect to encounter during the summer months. Going into the backcountry or driving into secluded areas during winter does potentially put outdoor enthusiasts at higher risk. Those who venture out should have the skills to survive long enough to get themselves found if something were to happen. Therefore a person’s set of survival skills for winter is much different than that of summer months.

Winter in the Wilderness: A Field Guide to Primitive Survival Skills by Dave Hall and Jon Ulrich is a great, informative book that takes readers through the basics of winter skills in an easy to read fashion that is enjoyable and easy to understand.

Dave Hall has been sharing his love for outdoor survival skills for many years.  In 1999, he started Primitive Pursuits as an after school program.  His knowledge isn’t one of preaching what he doesn’t practice. As you read through the book it is clear that Dave is an expert at surviving in winter.  Throughout the book he provides a plethora of anecdotes and supports the skills by providing specific examples. The Introduction literally starts out with an exceptional anecdote:

“It’s fifteen degrees outside, there’s over two feet of snow on the ground, and I’m laughing.  I’ve pulled an amateur move and have begun to sweat inside my snow shelter. I know better.  I’ve entered my snow trench headfirst, and in an effort to turn around so I can close my door, I’ve overheated. I could have exited my shelter and come in feet first, but in an act of stubbornness I’ve defied rational thought.  Staying as dry as possible in a winter survival situation is one of the cardinal rules.”

Jon Ulrich is a talented writer that is passionate about the outdoors and lends his pen and writing style to the book creating a clear, concise format that complements the illustrations.

According to Jon Ulrich, the book has debuted at the top of Cornell’s bestseller list and has gone on to sell nearly 2,000 copies since its release in September of 2015.

The book is broken down into seven sections and has four useful appendices. 

The sections of the book are broken down into:

1. Priorities
2. Fire
3. Shelter
4. Water
5. Sustenance
6. Helpful Crafts and Skills
7. Navigation and Orienteering

The four appendices are:

1. Motor Vehicle Considerations: (where you’re told what to do if you’re stuck in your car in a remote place in the winter)
2. Survival Kits
3. Winter Gear Checklist
4. Suggested Reading

The book may not be for the more experienced winter survivalist, but it is a good, concise refresher.  Overall the book is not full of overly exciting images and at 190 pages, it probably only covers the surface of the skills that one can learn. Perhaps a few color pictures that showed some close-ups would help the readers to better understand the written descriptions. I also agree with a a few people that have reviewed the book that the cover is a bit bland and could use a more inviting image.  However, the deficiencies of the book are minor compared to what it offers the beginner outdoors person, or the more experienced who could use a few reminders.

This book is well worth reading if you are interested in learning how to survive in winter! Winter in the Wilderness is informative, fun to read and does a great job of showing you how to survive for days in the frigid wilderness.

You can get excerpts of the book and some original articles from  following magazines: Life in the Finger LakesAdirondack LifeConservationist, and LOCALadk.  

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