Survival Book Review: Bushcraft First Aid

A primer on backcountry medical safety wrapped up in one handy book

Survival first aid
Modeled after old-school survival manuals, this book offers an in-depth knowledge of survival skills, in layman's terms.Tim MacWelch

A few weeks back, we posted a review of Dave Canterbury's book, The Bushcraft Field Guide To Trapping, Gathering & Cooking. Now we've been lucky enough to get a look at the next book in the series, Bushcraft First Aid, co-authored with Jason A. Hunt, PhD. Will this follow-up book heal your ills, or leave you hanging? Let's find out.

Dave Canterbury is one of the survival celebrities from Discovery's hit show Dual Survival, and he seems to have caught the writing bug of late. Bushcraft First Aid is the fourth book in his bushcraft series, and it follows the design and layout of the others, looking very much like a classic outdoor handbook.

For this installment, Canterbury has collaborated with Jason A. Hunt, a guy who has received extensive medical training and is also a medical instructor. And while neither of these men are MDs, that’s not a deal-breaker for me. First aid isn’t brain surgery, and many doctors have a hard time communicating with laymen in an understandable way (particularly through books). We don’t need to know the name of every bone and muscle, or every single chemical process in the body. We just need to know how to keep the red stuff in and keep the patient breathing.

This book gives you all the tools you need to do that. It is clearly written, easy to index, and easy to use. The skilled writers lead the reader through the diagnosis and treatment of the most common outdoor injuries and ailments (and some uncommon ones). I particularly like the frequent scenarios that are presented, as they do a great job of reinforcing the content that was just covered. After reading a treatment, you’ll be given a brief situation and asked what your response should be, testing your newfound knowledge as you go. These thought provoking “quizzes” help to punctuate the content, preventing the new information from running together as it often does when reading medical books.

Like the other books in the series, Bushcraft First Aid is packed with great drawings and pro tips in outdoor self-reliance. It even delves into the art of improvising medical supplies and foraging for plant-based medicinals. Since first aid is the survival skill set that you're most likely to need in your lifetime (at home and in the woods), this book could be a lifesaver—literally. My only gripe is that I wish it was a thicker book: I wanted to read more from these two wilderness wizards.

This fine first aid book retails for less than $12 in the U.S. ($21.50 in Canada) and it could make a great first aid book for those Scouts in your life, or any other outdoor fanatic you care about.

Have you read this book? Tell us how you liked it by leaving a comment.