Saturday, August 6, 2011

Living Wild - Bear Grylls

Living Wild: The Ultimate Guide to Scouting and Fieldcraft
Bear Grylls
Channel 4 Books
Copyright: June 2010
978-1905026654

The amazon.com product description:

The complete guide to living in the wild from the ultimate survival expert.

In this essential guide to living wild, Bear Grylls reveals the secrets of his years of fieldcraft experience. This is the information you really need to know about living in the field from the man who has passed 21 SAS selection, climbed Everest and survived in some of the most inhospitable regions on Earth. In his inimitable style, Bear has thrown out everything that's boring about scouting and fieldcraft and concentrated only on what's exciting, inspirational and a little bit edgy.

It's all here, from mastering the art of making the perfect campfire and constructing the best camp, to navigating safely through all terrains in all weathers -- with or without a map. The only other thing you'll need is this book!
This was honestly a surprise to me in how much I enjoyed reading Living Wild. A book on survival - it seems to be the kind of book you'd read out of order as things interest you (or as needed - such as before you go camping, the sections on cooking and shelter, for example, or on fire-building), but I found it to be both an interesting and fun read from cover to cover. To be honest, I was inspired by watching Man Vs Wild on TV. And, a lot of the Bear Grylls style from the show has come through in his writing in the book. Including some of the humor.

I'll admit that I'm a bit of a novice when it comes to hiking/camping, especially the latter, so a lot of the material in Living Wild was new to me, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if there's stuff in here that's of interest to more experienced outdoors people too. Bear Grylls has included chapters on:
  • Gear
  • Tools (knives etc.)
  • Campcraft
  • Fires
  • Cooking (and there's a recipe or two here that I'd like to try)
  • Pathfinding
  • First Aid
  • And more
There's stuff in here I'd like to try next time I'm out camping, or even just out hiking (such as navigating by compass. I did a bit of that as a kid in the Girl Guides/Pathfinders, but I've completely forgotten everything about it). Not only the compass tricks, but building a fire properly so you don't need firestarting logs, and even how to make your own cords out of found materials. That I really want to try given that one of my hobbies is spinning, and the techniques seem to be somewhat similar. In each section, Bear also includes little tips and safety warnings too. Each chapter ends with a 'campfire tale', a real life anecdote all of which illustrate a point made in the chapter in question.

Living Wild is lavishly illustrated too, with either line drawings/diagrams (for things like how to make your own washstand or chair in the outdoors) or full colour photographs, all demonstrating the various techniques that Bear discusses within the book.

All of it adds up to a book that makes me want to get out there and do some more hiking and camping (although not getting lost) this summer and for the rest of the year too. Reading Living Wild, along with watching Man Vs Wild, has also made me a bit more safety conscious when I'm hiking too - probably a good thing, even on the shorter walks I've enjoyed doing.

Definitely a book I'll recommend to anyone who likes the outdoors.
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