Best Survival Training and Guides

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Survival is one category that most people don’t think you can get a formal education in. I’ll agree- there aren’t any major universities where you can graduate with a degree in survival. However, there are survival training programs around the country where you can master the fundamentals. There are dozens of professional survivalists who offer workshops for an affordable price. Considering how dangerous the world can be, it might be a good idea to invest in a few of these survival courses.

Take an Objective Look at Your Skills and Knowledge  

I encourage you to take a step back and take a good, honest look at your skills and knowledge: could you survive in the wilderness all by yourself with nothing more than a camping hatchet? If you answered “No”, then you should consider joining a survival school. Having someone who’s already well-versed in survival teach you is one of the fastest ways to learn. Sure, you could read survival books, but that wouldn’t do you any good if you didn’t practice the tips inside.

Survival Training 101 – Courses and Workshops

If you type “survival training” in Google, you’ll be flooded with dozens of pages of results. That’s because survival courses and workshops are popping up all over the United States, as well as other parts of the world. Each survival school has its own philosophy and focus. For example, one school might place an emphasis on building shelters while a different school might focus on catching food. Since no too training programs are the same, you’ll be able to become a well-rounded survivalist if you attend more than one of them. Let’s take a look at some popular programs:

The Survival Training School of California

This wilderness survival school has an amazing track record in the survival community. Not only have they helped various branches of the United States military, but they’ve also worked with several other prominent outdoor organizations. What I like about their survival courses is that they vary in length. Some are relatively short (only a few days long), while others can last as long as a few weeks.

This means that you’re more likely to find something that can accommodate your current schedule. What will you learn at this survival school? Basically, you’ll learn all the survival skills you need to survive in the wild. Some of their workshops also focus on teamwork and emergency preparedness. Overall, their courses are a lot of fun, and you’ll definitely learn a lot. Their 7-day cross climate course is particularly challenging, but highly recommended. They also have 4-day survival courses specifically designed for families.

Learn More About This Survival School

Self Reliance Outfitters™ - A Division of The Pathfinder School, LLC.

Held mostly in Ohio (with some classes announced in a few different regions), this group is spearheaded by David Canterbury, well-known and highly respected survival expert and hunter. We always learn so much from Dave's information - even his YouTube videos are well-balanced and thoroughly enjoyable to watch.

Classes start with "Basic Survival" level which also accepts children beginning at age 10, and consists of 3 days and 2 nights, an "Intermediate" level which goes 4 days and 3 nights, and finally an "Advanced" level with 5 days and 4 nights out. Be advised that when they say "Advanced," they mean it - you will be going out without food, water, or sanitation facilities, being expected to truly "live off the land." The school also offers a Wilderness First Responder Course (WFR), a 3-day 2-night course that is certified by the American Safety and Health Institute.

Honestly, if someone were to say to me tomorrow that I could go to any of the survival training schools out there, I would likely choose Pathfinders. And, while we can't promise that Dave himself will be at all his classes, he does appear at a bunch of them. 

Go to the main site, and then navigate across the top menu bar, and you'll see even more. No matter what - this is good stuff.

Learn More About This Survival School

Jack Mountain Bushcraft School

Another wilderness survival school to know about is the Jack Mountain Bushcract School. Would you like to accumulate a few college credits while becoming more proficient at survival? Then this is the place to do it. Their training programs will allow you to take college credited classes in areas like shelter building and primitive fire starting. Their philosophy is that if you allow students to gain real-world skills while accumulating college credits, it will help them become better-prepared for life.

One of their most popular survival training courses is the “Wilderness Bushcraft Semester”. With it, you’ll be able to get hands-on experience for surviving in the wild. Think about learning a language: would you become better by practicing alone, or traveling to the country of origin and speaking with the citizens who live there? Obviously, the latter is better. That’s one of the many reasons why this survival school is highly recommended.

Are the survival courses at this school physically challenging? It depends on the program you’re taking. Some are very physically challenging (like the “Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester”) while others aren’t so physically challenging (like the “Summer Woodsman”). This means that no matter what your current physical abilities are, you’ll be able to find a survival training course that suits your abilities. So if you’re looking to accumulate college credits while learning how to survive in the wild, the Jack Mountain Bushcraft School is the place to do it.

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Wilderness Awareness School

This is non-profit survival school located in Washington State. One reason why they’re so great is because they offer survival training for adults and kids. As with most of the programs on this list, some of their courses are short, while others are longer. The shorter ones last a couple of days, while the longer, more intensive ones can last up to 9 months (this is their “Anake Outdoor School”).

Some of the things you’ll be able to learn here include ethno botany, tracking, and general wilderness survival (finding watermaking traps, etc.). Although spots are limited, this survival school offers on-camping housing. There’s also scholarships and financial aid that you can acquire to help you cover the costs of going here. Check them out and you won’t be disappointed.

Learn More About This Survival School

Live in a City? Give Self-Defense or Gun Training a Try!

Learning survival skills like how to use a compass and building a fire are important to know no doubt. But what if you live in a densely-populated city far away from the wilderness? Then many of these skills aren’t going to do you any good unless you’re someone who travels a lot (of if SHTF and you need to evacuate your city). If you live in a city, instead of taking survival training courses, you can participate in self-defense or gun training a try!

For Gun Training – I.C.E. Firearms Training

If you live in a city, you’ll definitely want to learn how to use a gun. This is especially true if your neighborhood or city is dangerous. This is where I.C.E. Firearms Training comes into play. I.C.E. Training is a company that will teach you about armed defense, as well as how to defend yourself when you’re unarmed.

It’s basically like regular survival training, except for a city environment. I.C.E. offers some excellent professional grade gun training courses. You’ll be instructed by professionals in the field (special ops forces, police, etc.). You’ll learn shooting principles that you never previously would have thought of until taking their city survival courses. You’ll learn how to shoot while on the move, load, unload, shoot with one hand, and a whole bunch more. It’s almost like being transformed into James Bond!

But on a serious note, it’s something you should definitely consider checking out. They offer courses all around the United States, so you’ll need to use this page to see where they are. Note, these city survival courses can be expensive. The cheapest course I was able to find was $280, with the more expensive ones ranging around $800 (or more). But they’re well-worth it in my opinion. At the very least, check out their website and decide for yourself.

For Self-Defense – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu   

Another option for survival training in a city environment is learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This form of martial arts is the best in the world for defending against an unarmed opponent.

As a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner for the past 10 years, I’ve learned how to defend myself against bigger and stronger opponents– and you can too. Most BJJ classes will cost you between $70 to $150 per month depending on the quality of the school.

Is Jiu-Jitsu physically demanding? Of all the forms of martial arts out there, not only is BJJ the most effective, but it’s also one of the least physically demanding. Why? Because instead of using brute strength in a fight, you’ll be using leverage and proper technique. This means that once you become good at BJJ, it will take very little energy to defend yourself. Again, if you’re living in a city, survival training like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the way to go. Simply type “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu + Name of Your City” in Google to get started.

Learn CPR

Learning CPR is can be very advantageous. Similar to skills like electrical engineering, vehicle repair, or pluming, it’s invaluable to know. If you find yourself in a pinch and the only option is to give the other person CPR, will you be able to do it? Imagine if it was a loved one and you had to sit there and watch them die, simply because you didn’t learn a skill as simple as CPR. Check out this page for training centers near you. Once you locate a training center, sign up for a course and learn CPR. It’s better to know it and not need to use it, than need to use it and not know it.

Survival Training – How to Practice By Yourself

You technically don’t need to attend formal survival courses to become good at survival. This is the recommended option of course (since you’ll be working with experienced professionals), but there’s no reason why you can’t learn these skills on your own. Here are some things that you can do to become good at survival without paying for a workshop:

  • Read Survival Books: Read our review of the best survival books out there today. It will give you an idea of what’s worth reading and what isn’t. Like all subjects, there are some books on the topic that don’t offer much value. Stay away from these at all costs.
  • Join a Forum: Create an account on Once you do this, you’ll be able to interact with people from around the world who are also interested in survival. You can ask them specific questions and get answers within a few hours.
  • Practice What You Learn: A big part of survival training is practicing what you learn. There’s no point in reading about it and that’s it. For example, if you read an article on how to start a fire with a dead lighter (like this one), then actually practice what you’ve read. Otherwise, it’s a waste.

These are the three main things that you can do to become more proficient in the wild without taking “official” survival courses. The key is to practice what you’ve learned to the point that it feels completely natural. That’s how you know that you’ve learned something to the point of mastery.

Stay a Student….Forever

There’s no “end” to survival training. You should remain a student for life. People who think they know it all are usually the ones who die (because they were too overconfident). By staying humble, and realizing that there’s still a lot left for you to learn, you’ll become a much better survivalist. As Conrad Hall once said, “You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward”. These are some amazing words of wisdom.

Survival Training – Bottom Line

By now, I hope you’ve come to see that there are many options for learning about survival outside of reading books and joining forums. By taking real survival courses, you’ll be able to interact with instructors who have years of experience under their belts. You’ll also be able to have fun in an outdoor setting with other people who share a passion the subject. Although some of these survival training programs might be considered a little costly, they are well worth it over the long run, especially considering that you never know when you’re going to find yourself in a life-or-death situation in the wild.

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