Survival is a mean teacher, because you get the test and then you get the lesson. And the test is pass or fail with no in-between.
Considering the stakes, you should study hard to pass this bar, and to help you do that we are bringing you a tremendous collection of 33 info-packed survival and prepping downloads from all around the web.
As a reference or to shore up a weakness in your own planning or skillsets, these books and guides cannot be beaten. Enough talk, let’s get to the list!
1. 72-Hour Supplies
For many preppers, the beginning step or core prep in your journey is a 72-hour kit.
A 72-hour kit is as the name suggests a stash of vital supplies that will sustain you and your loved ones, or anyone else with you, for 72 hours through a bad situation.
Including things like clothing, food, water, tools, and other necessary gear that can help keep you alive and reasonably comfortable when the wheels come off, you shouldn’t do anything else before you assemble your own 72-hour kit.
This version from Montana’s Department of Emergency Services is an excellent overview, checklist, and preparation guide for a family setting. Download here.
2. Emergency Supplies Checklist, Dept. of Homeland Security
Glancing over a list of vital survival supplies, you might think it is easy enough to get your affairs in order and go shopping for what you need.
Then you might think it is even easier to keep track of what you have once you get it home.
Don’t be fooled. Your logistical challenges will only grow as you go farther down the path of prepping.
Nuclear submarine commanders and elite Special Forces units all use checklists to make sure nothing important is forgotten, and that means you can too.
Don’t assume that your mind will remember, but I can promise you that paper will not forget.
This clean and easy-to-use checklist of survival supplies from the Department of Homeland Security is a great one for starting out. Get it here.
3. Emergency Preparedness Checklist, American Red Cross
This emergency preparedness procedures checklist from the American Red Cross is a great companion to the one above.
This will walk you through implementing emergency response and disaster prevention procedures in and around your home.
And also has a page where you can write in your own information that you or your family might need to call upon quickly when the chips are down and minutes count.
The procedures at detailed within our time tested and easy to implement, and you could do a lot worse when starting to audit your own personal preparedness than beginning with their advice. Find it here.
4. Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room Inside Your House, FEMA
Next to your 72-hour kit, preparing a safe room inside your own home that can help protect you from natural disasters or even man-made ones is an important first step in prepping.
This step-by-step guide from FEMA will help you assess your specific vulnerability to various events, pick the best room in your home for protection, and then equip the room with what you need to further protect yourself and survive in the aftermath.
Easy-to-follow instructions and a wonderful layout make this a must-read, especially for beginning preppers, but it is also a great reference for veterans. Download here.
5. The Ultimate Bug-Out Bag Checklist
For seasoned preppers, bugging out is seen as the default response to serious trouble.
Sometimes, the situation might be so terrible or potentially so dangerous that leaving your home and heading for the hills is the best response. But to do that successfully, you’ll need a bug-out bag, or BOB.
A bug-out bag is the ultimate prep for some preppers, containing absolutely everything that you and your loved ones might need to survive and sustain until you can reach safety. Think of it like a survival air tank when you are away from home.
There’s been an awful lot of ink spilled about assembling the perfect bug-out bag, and most contain such a wide variety of equipment and other gear that a checklist is mandatory. Get it here.
6. FM 21-11 First-Aid for Soldiers
First-aid. If you learn no other genuine survival skill set, learn this one.
When injury strikes and minutes matter, help will only be hours or days away, and so you must be capable of serving as your own first responder.
Knowing how to treat minor injuries and stabilize more serious ones is imperative for disaster preparation, no matter what kind you’re preparing for, natural or man-made.
You can do a lot worse than starting with the fundamentals present in FM 21-11, the United States Army’s first-aid guide for soldiers. Download it here.
7. To Flee or Not To Flee…That is the Question
Believe it or not, one of the biggest challenges associated with your specific survival situation might just be deciding whether or not to bug in or bug out.
Let’s face it, it is easy to make that determination when you were looking at all of the relevant factors on paper, but your knowledge of the overall situation will likely not be anywhere as comprehensive in a live event.
in the end, you’ll have to make the best determination you can based on your unique situation, what your objectives are, and what you can figure out for sure.
This interesting guide will help you way all of the pros and cons based on what you know, and make dependable educated guesses even when you don’t have all the facts.
This is indispensable and thought-provoking reading for any prepper who assumes that they will always do one or the other. Free download.
8. City Prepping Bug-Out Bag Guide
Every environment has its own specific set of challenges and its own advantages for savvy preppers.
Man-made environments are no different from natural ones, and in the case of built-up urban areas you’ll have more working against you than you might think.
Due to the complexities of urban geography and the extreme population densities, city-dwelling preppers are going to have to get prepared in a special way, and their default responses might not look the same as someone living in a rural area.
Accordingly, getting your mind right on the subject from the beginning will save you a lot of grief later, and this guide can help you do that. Get it here.
Bugging In and Long-term Survival
9. Home Storage of Foods: Shelf Storage
Not every situation calls for bugging out, and most survival plans are better implemented by bugging in.
Very few people need to be acquainted with the idea of gathering the family at home before battening down the hatches, but if you want to stand a chance of long-term survival in your home, you’ll need a large stockpile of supplies.
Foremost among those supplies is going to be food. This relationship usually turns into one of those love-hate things for preppers since acquiring, storing, and maintaining a large food supply can easily turn into a part-time job.
There is lot of stuff that you should know when it comes to storing your food properly so it will go the distance.
This comprehensive guide will tell you about best practices, typical shelf lives, and more. Get it here.
10. Ultimate Guide to Natural Farming and Sustainable Living, Nicole Faires
You cannot store enough food to survive the collapse of society. Eventually, your storeroom will run low and there will be no more stores, and maybe no more farmers, to get more from.
You’ll have to do it yourself, and in that case, you’re going to need to know how to raise your own food, be it plant or animal, and keep it coming year in and year out
This is why you need to start learning permaculture skills. Permaculture will allow you to better fit into your surrounding environment in your area while also responsibly exploiting it to produce the things that you need.
Once upon a time, these weren’t called survival skills, they were just called life skills, and we may all have cause to draw on them again.
This wonderful book will give you a ground-floor look at the lifestyle and the skill set, and provides detailed instructions for getting you moving in the right direction today, now, with what you have so you won’t be under the gun later. Get it right here.
11. Passport to Survival, Esther Dickey
For those who are dead serious about accumulating a massive store of food that will go the distance in the aftermath of a society toppling event, this book might as well become your new best friend.
Packed with tons of information on long-term storage, enhanced packaging, rotation, and even recipes, this is the food plan for austere but serious preppers who want to accumulate tons of calories while keeping them nutritionally complete and shelf stable for years on end.
Download it here.
12. Your Basement Fallout Shelter
The shadow of nuclear war once again hangs heavy over the Earth. It follows naturally that people have begun dusting off procedures that we have tried to forget about since the conclusion of the Cold War.
As silly as it might seem on its surface, it is possible to meaningfully prepare your home for a near-nuclear strike with the right preparations.
Probably the best preparation you can make is the installation of a proper fallout shelter somewhere on your property.
A fallout shelter can help keep you and your family safe from the worst of the radioactive debris that might rain down over time in the aftermath of a nuclear blast, and can even protect you from the effects of a nuclear detonation that is too close for comfort.
This guide from 1961 will give you a good foundation from whence to build, no pun intended. Download it here.
13. Low Input Food & Nutrition Security
Most preppers who have not undertaken gardening as a hobby or are engaged in farming as a profession have no idea how difficult it is to do right, and furthermore have no idea how challenging it can be to sustain over time.
It is entirely possible that you can put in a backbreaking amount of labor only to get a minimal or even no return on your investment, and then you could be facing a worse situation since the calorie requirements of you and your family will not change whatsoever despite the situation.
Consider this book to be a sort of crib notes or cheater’s guide to maximizing the return on your labor when gardening or farming with the least possible amount of effort.
This guide makes high-efficiency growing of produce achievable and repeatable. Find it right here.
14. Essential Underground Handbook
It is a harrowing thing to consider, but I believe that most people don’t need too much convincing these days: the government is not your friend. In fact, they might be your very worst enemy in fact and in theory.
Learning how to stay off of their radar is imperative, and learning how to protect yourself and your assets from them once you are on their radar is even more important.
Though somewhat dated based on its era of publication, the information contained in the essential underground handbook is still invaluable.
It is a primer for orienting yourself towards the notion of keeping your identity, your holdings, and all of your assets properly concealed and undiscoverable.
Depending on how things go heading into the 21st century, you might need to put these concepts to the test. Better to start learning now. Find it here.
15. Cartridges and Firearm Identification, Robert E. Walker
Precious few people need to be sold on the idea of defending themselves when things start looking a little hairy and the rule of law becomes shaky.
Invariably, the best way to do that is going to be with a firearm and, whether you like guns or not, learning everything you can about them is an important survival skill.
One of the most fundamental components of this skill set is learning to identify the many, many guns out in the world by type, brand, essential components, and caliber or chambering.
If you are something of a gun dummy or just not as fluent as you would like to be, this cartridges and firearms identification guide by Robert E Walker can easily fill in the gaps, and deserves a spot in your survival library. Get it here.
16. Getaway Driving Techniques, Ronald George Eriksen
For as much as motor vehicles factor into people’s daily lives and survival plans, almost no one cares about maximizing their capability outside of installing a cargo rack, knobby tires, or heavy-duty bumpers.
There is so much more to it than that, not the least of which is maximizing the performance of the vehicle on the road.
Whether you need to avoid an accident, leave a paved surface, catch someone who is getting away, or get away from someone trying to catch you, performance driving skills are what will pay the bills when you’re behind the wheel.
This older but surprisingly complete guide is a great starting point for anyone who has not had formal training in these tactics. Get it right here.
17. Be Your Own Bodyguard
Self-defense is about more than knowing how to throw a punch or shoot a gun. Self-defense is a mindset, and your mindset must be focused on the right things and holistic with your objectives for it to make a difference.
What you need to do is treat yourself, your family, and the rest of your concerns as the principal and you are in charge of the detail for protecting it.
In short, you need to become your own bodyguard and think accordingly. This wonderful gem of a book is an excellent guide to the concepts, factors, and techniques of protection from the inside out.
Whether it is the grounds of your home when assessing it as a potential target for Invaders or moving your family through a crowded and tense area safely this book can teach you much. Get it here.
18. Shadowing and Surveillance: A Complete Guidebook, Burt Rapp
Learning how to observe and surveil an area is an important skill for those who are on watch, and equally important is learning how to discover people who might be watching you and documenting your activity.
Advance work is the first step in military and criminal operations involving direct action against targeted personnel or structures.
You’ll need to understand both sides of this coin if you were going to protect your holdings and your tribe and the aftermath of a societal collapse or just major civil unrest.
Author Burt Rapp can show you how. The link is here.
19. FM 20-3 Camouflage Concealment and Decoys
The apex of skill concerning conflict is to avoid having to fight at all.
The easiest way to avoid fighting with your opponent is usually to misdirect him, either getting him to chase targets that are not there or concealing the presence of his targets entirely so that he directs his attention elsewhere.
Together, these skills can give you an undeniable edge against your enemies, be they in singular or large groups.
Another time-tested and greatly loved field manual from the Army in the proper community is 20-3 which covers camouflage, concealment, and employment of decoys.
Though written with a battlefield context in mind, the lessons are as applicable to societal use as they are for survival in a grid-down or collapse scenario. Get it here.
20. FM 21-75 Combat Skills of the Soldier
Most folks are not prepared to truly take care of themselves and their families or communities in the event of societal collapse.
There are many skills and activities that would have prior to been considered unthinkable that will become just another part of daily life in the aftermath.
It will be best if you were not completely unprepared for what you might have to do in order to survive if that is destroying an enemy or navigating the devastated remains of a city.
The classic skills of a soldier can be applied here as a template for how you must be ready to behave along with others in your group that you are depending on.
As you might have expected, the Army has a guide for that too in the form of FM 21-75. Link.
21. Desert Survival Guide
Whether you are sheltering in place or evacuating, surviving in the desert or any other arid environment will compound your survival challenges.
The temperature itself can be lethal, but it will also hamper your efforts to complete the tasks needed to ensure survival.
On top of that, the desert environment is usually one that has scarce resources, and what resources you can find are likely to be toxic or otherwise difficult to utilize.
You’ll need to be at your best if you are going to survive in the desert and to do that you need the right information.
Maricopa County has put together an excellent ground floor guide. Get it from here.
22. Winter Survival Guide
The elemental opposite of surviving in the desert, cold weather survival might sound more appealing to some, but it has just as many challenges associated with it.
Whereas hot weather will try to prevent you from exerting yourself to avoid overheating, to avoid overheating, cold weather will do just the opposite, gnawing away at you whether you are active or not trying to snuff out your life.
But like desert survival, cold weather survival also entails unique challenges in the form of resource acquisition, specific injuries, and more.
You’ll need to know how to deal with all of them if you’re going to navigate the challenges waiting for you in such environments.
This lengthy guide has everything you need to do just that. Get it here.
23. How to Avoid Getting Lost
When reacting to a disaster or crisis by any means, especially when evacuating or bugging out, there’s always a good possibility that you could wind up lost.
Whether you are traveling through an unknown area, or have just lost your bearings due to circumstances or the landscape around you being radically changed, you might find yourself in an entirely new crisis.
It is imperative that you learn how to keep cool, backtrack your steps and reorient yourself so you can get moving toward your original destination or at least towards help.
This guy from United States Army is a great way to “lost proof” yourself. Here is the download.
24. Be Prepared for a Power Outage, FEMA
Power outages are among the most common infrastructure failures around the world, and that includes the United States.
Though most are very short-term, lasting only a few hours at most, there is plenty of historical precedents just in the past 30 years for titanic, grid-toppling outages that can leave millions without power.
The second and third-order effects of major blackouts are difficult to detail in this short section, but suffice it to say that they can be tremendous.
But to get ready for those you’ll need to get ready for smaller, more localized blackouts, especially if you and your family have special medical needs or other requirements.
FEMA is back again with an excellent guide for the purpose. Get it here.
25. Hurricane Survival Kit Checklist
Hurricanes are terribly destructive natural disasters that can occur all over the world, and still affect areas that are far away from the coasts that they strike.
Bringing with them torrential downpours of rain, massive flooding, debilitating storm surge, and highly destructive winds, you might think of a hurricane as a total systems disaster.
A hurricane can make any effective disaster response extremely difficult, as responders will be hampered just trying to get into the hardest-hit areas.
Your very best bet when a hurricane is approaching is to get as far away from the projected landfall as you can, but if you can’t do that, you’ll need to buckle down for a long and worrisome ride until the storm has dissipated or passed.
This guide will prepare you for both eventualities. Get it here.
26. Nuclear War Survival Skills, Cresson H. Kearny
Surviving a nuclear exchange is not just a matter of somehow, some way making it through the apocalyptic explosions.
Emerging from your shelter in the aftermath the entire world will change. The land, sky and very water around you will likely be poisoned, and every facet of society will break down.
Surviving in this sort of aftermath requires a total systems reboot of your survival skills, and everything you do will have to be tailored to defend against the ever-present threat of radiation and literally countless second and third-order effects.
From protecting yourself and a structure to decontaminating people, animals, and water, this immense 500-plus page tome I can show you what to do if only you have the fortitude to see it through.
27. The Survival Handbook: Essential Skills for Outdoor Adventure, Colin Towell
Misguided preppers think they will just be able to grab their BOB and head out into the nearest forest to camp peacefully and pleasantly until the whole situation blows over is a nice thought… but nothing could be further from the truth.
Surviving in the wilderness, really roughing it, is anything but easy, and there are any number of things that can go wrong to turn your bug out into yet another legitimate survival scenario.
Basic outdoor survival skills are imperative, no matter where you live, or what your plan is.
This book will equip you with those skills to help you navigate your environment, make use of what resources you find, create shelter, and even find edible food and drinkable water. Link.
28. You Will Survive Doomsday, Bruce M. Beach
This is a nuclear survival guide that pulls no punches. Light on theory, but maximal on practicality, this one can help you get straight to the point and implement preparations and survival strategies that can keep you and your family alive when the bombs fall, or at the very least increase the chances that you will survive a nuclear exchange.
Get it here.
29. The Big Book of Secret Hiding Places, Jack Luger
Getting the stuff you need to survive is only one part of the problem. Keeping it safe from people who would take it from you is the other.
Don’t delude yourself, when society starts shaking and the rule of law becomes tenuous at best, there’ll be all sorts of people prowling and growling looking for where their next acquisition will come from, whatever it is.
It could be looters, government agents, desperate survivors, or even your own neighbors that have turned on you.
Whoever they are and whatever they are looking for, you can keep your stuff safe, for a time, if you hide it well.
This short book will provide you with plenty of hiding places in and around your own home and even more food for thought when it comes to devising your own spots for caching and stashing. Download.
30. Ask Me No Questions and I Will Tell You No Lies, Jack Luger
Another equally uncomfortable realization when it comes to long-term survival is that you, or someone in your group, might be interrogated. And don’t think it cannot happen to you, and for any number of reasons besides.
You could be questioned by government agents who are looking for anyone who is keeping more than the prescribed amount of food or water.
Bands of marauders or local strong men that might be shaking people down for weapons and other supplies. There’s just no telling.
Knowing how to fend off casual inquiry and dedicated interrogation is a big part of information and operational security, one that you would be well advised to acquaint yourself with now before the pressure is really on.
This is an older and mildly infamous book, but an excellent introduction to critical concepts for beginners. Find it here.
31. Where There is No Doctor, David Werner
Too many preppers omit serious first aid training, and even beyond that, long-term healthcare and surgical skills.
Yes, these skills are the province of healthcare professionals and doctors in particular, but you must consider the notion that there will be no doctors when you need them most.
They could be unreachable or simply overwhelmed and triaging day in and day out.
In such a case, you or someone else must be able to act as a doctor when required, or else lives can be lost.
It is possible to learn these skills as a layman, at least to a possible level.
For employing them in an austere environment this massive book is second to none and legendary among those who are forced to practice as such in remote and hostile places of the world.
Get it, read it, no exceptions. Link.
32. Disinfection and Decontamination Principles, Applications, and Related Issues
Seasoned or smart preppers know that hygiene is a vital concern in long-term survival situations.
Getting dirty is fine when required, but staying that way is a fast track to disease and epidemic.
Accordingly, many preppers choose to stock up on disinfectant and other chemicals that can help them eradicate germs on gear, clothing, and surfaces.
It’s a smart move, but one that might have severe unintended consequences.
Failing to follow proper sterilization protocols might be slowly and insidiously breeding ever more dangerous and resistant germs that can turn into a major problem post-collapse.
If you learn how to correctly and responsibly sanitize and sterilize your tools and environment when required, you can greatly delay the breeding of such germs.
This volume is massive and somewhat dry reading, but imperative for healthy long-term sustainment strategies. Download it free from here.
Fill Your Survival Library to be Better Prepared for Disaster
Nothing beats experience, but the next best thing to experience is education and it is education that will guide your efforts when it comes to getting experience.
All of the guides, books, and checklists and this article are invaluable additions to your own survival library, and each of them should be occupying the top slots on your reading list.
But remember, the information won’t do any good if you don’t apply yourself, so learn what you can and then start practicing!
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.