Backpacker Magazine’s The Survival Hacker’s Handbook by Ted Alvarez

I wish my merit badge requirement books had read like Ted Alvarez’s The Survival Hacker’s Handbook. Written with humor and sprinkled with some fun unconventional fixes, this book is a how-to guide (based on the author’s research and experimentation) for the weekend warrior who may fall into a sticky situation. Alvarez includes his own anecdotes from the wilderness, as well as several stories from adventurers who have been “Mauled by a Grizzly” or “Lost in an Alaskan Blizzard.”

Alvarez begins the book by mapping out the basic premise that all the information in the book is based upon, the “Rule of 15.” He says that people in dire situations can survive: 15 minutes without shelter. 15 hours without water. 15 days without food. 15 months without being found. (Mental deterioration may occur after that.) From these assertions come the knowledge of How to… Build snow shelters. Start a fire with hand sanitizer or a cashew. Self-diagnose hyperthermia. Cook a grasshopper first to stave off its tapeworms… This is only a short list of the plethora of great knowledge passed on. Alvarez also includes many instructive diagrams which take you step by step through many of the skills; I especially like the “locations on the body where animal attacks occur” diagram.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Survival Hacker’s Handbook and while I haven’t been backpacking in a while, reading it perversely encourages me to get back out on the trail. Alvarez constantly advises the reader to practice the survival skills. And why not build a shelter in your backyard or the next time you go car camping? I’m sure it would be lots of fun!

4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley, Backpacker Magazine, Falcon Guides, and Mr. Alvarez for the advanced copy for review.

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