Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Survival Hacker’s Handbook: An Enjoyable Read That Just Might Stave Off Death

Among the things I’m hoping I never have to deal with are a grizzly bear attack, an avalanche, and being caught in the middle of a flash flood. I also don’t want to find myself miles away from civilization and without fresh water. And come to think of it, I don’t want to deal with a gushing flesh wound, either.

But, if any of those things happen, I’ll be better prepared to face them thanks to Ted Alvarez’s enjoyable, informative new book, The Survival Hacker’s Handbook . Subtitled How to Survive with Just About Anything, this lavishly illustrated, well-organized 250 page book covers all the basics and even well beyond when it comes to backcountry survival.

survival hackers handbook gear
Steven John/The Manual

Alvarez has been a writer and editor for Backpacker magazine for many years, and he’s a lifelong, avid outdoorsman. After some open-minded self-assessment, he realized that, despite all that time spent plying the fields, forests, and mountains, he wasn’t actually all that prepared for a genuine survival situation. So he did what any sensible person would and began to regularly plunge himself into wilderness survival scenarios, testing out techniques and gear, devising his own new survival tricks and strategies, and finding out much of what works and what doesn’t when a person is far afield and on their own.

First, a word of caution: Reading The Survival Hacker’s Handbook does not make you ready to survive alone and without proper gear and provisions. Only practical experience does that. Reading this book will, however, serve as a great first step toward developing backwoods survival skills, and can help you plan your own survival training program, assemble your own wilderness supply list, and ready your mind for the challenges you might one day face out there in the wild.

Also, reading this book is a good way to spend an afternoon or two, because unlike many such guides, it is written with compelling, often amusing prose. You can select chapters and sections that are of particular interest or which might be germane to a given situation (say you just got lost, you have no water, but you do have your copy of the book, for example).

survival hackers handbook fire
Steven John/The Manual

I’d recommend you just read the thing straight through. Taken as a whole, The Survival Hacker’s Handbook covers just about every topic required for making it through a survival ordeal, from preparing shelters to finding safe sources of food to treating injuries to navigation to handling various dangers and on and on. It is also organized in a logical way for front to back reading, starting off covering the absolute essentials (shelter, water, food) and progressing later to topics that are important, but not universally critical. (You always need shelter, hydration, and nourishment, e.g., but you might not always be facing a wild fire risk or dealing with a broken leg.)

Another good reason to read The Survival Hacker’s Handbook in its entirety is the fact that, as a quick-reference guide, this book isn’t all that helpful. The information is shared in story and essay-style writing, not in quick bullet points. If you try to depend on this book in an actual crisis, you’re probably in trouble. Acquiring the knowledge Alvarez has to share requires a thorough reading of each section, so don’t wait to study up on this or that survival technique in a pinch. Read the book now for fun, then read it again before your next outing, and practice some of the techniques covered too. Then hope that the re-reading and practice were ultimately a waste of time, because good read or not, no one ever wants to actually need to employ the content covered in this book.

You should also read our list of backpacking essentials and how to assemble a DIY emergency kit.

Steven John
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven John is a writer and journalist living just outside New York City, by way of 12 years in Los Angeles, by way of…
Samsung’s incredible outdoor TV is $4,000 off right now
Samsung The Terrace outdoor-ready QLED smart TV lifestyle image on patio.

While there are a lot of TVs catering to the average living room, for those who have outside patios and spaces, there aren't a lot of options. Having to contend with dust, rain, and other parts of the weather that electronics don't fare well in, it's no surprise that a lot of TV manufacturers don't really bother with making TVs focused on the outside. Luckily, Samsung has your back, which is good because it's a company that excels in making great TVs, and in this case, we're talking about The Terrace TV. Not only is it IP55 rated, which means it can handle both dust and rain relatively well, but it's also a QLED TV, which gives you an excellent picture and a high peak brightness, so the sun won't interrupt your viewing too much. If you're interested in grabbing one of The Terrace TVs, you better act quickly, because Samsung's Discover sales event is going to end soon, and you'll miss out on a great couple of deals, including

and a whopping

Read more
You may want an electric mountain bike, but you probably shouldn’t buy one – here’s why
Spoiler alert: You can blame the government for this, too
A large sign on a tree on the side of a mountain bike trail telling riders that e-bikes are not allowed

There is really one more type of mountain bike that should be added to the list of mountain bike categories that make up the sport. Electric mountain bikes have broken onto the scene and have rapidly grown in popularity.

One look at these electric mountain bikes, especially if you look at the suspension travel numbers, would have you thinking that they fall into the “trail” or “enduro” mountain bike category. And while these bikes do look similar, the pedal assist of an electric mountain bike means that long cross-country rides aren’t out of the question.

Read more
Make winter sports stress-free: Visit these phenomenal all-inclusive ski resorts
These are the best all-inclusive ski resorts for you this winter
Skiiers shred slopes

All-inclusive vacations can be a great way to save money and relieve stress when planning a trip. The resort handles the logistics of buying lift tickets, renting ski gear, booking lessons, cooking meals, and even supplying drinks. All you have to do is show up and enjoy yourself. If you're the type of person — or family — who enjoys the ease of taking cruises in the warmer months, an all-inclusive ski vacation might be just the thing for you.

While we appreciate that not every all-inclusive will suit everyone — perhaps you've got your perfect ski setup already and don't want to pay for a rental package you won't use. But with such a variety of packages on offer, isn't it time that you took the stress out of your ski holiday and found yourself an idyllic ski resort that not only catered to all of your skiing needs but also where you had your meals and drinks and everything else sorted before you arrive? Well, check out these 10 all-inclusive ski resorts because it's time to get booking.

Read more