We live in an age of convenience, where it is far easier to find the things we need at a store, or ‘big box’, than it is to create, grow, or make most of what we need for day-to-day living. While this speaks very well of the relative efficiency of our systems in providing nearly everything we could need or want, it also increases the likelihood that many people are not well educated in the basic tenets of self-reliance. It is likely that many of us grew up with some skills passed on by parents or grand parents, but for many, the idea of growing a garden, preserving food, creating a shelter or other basic elements of self-reliance will be far from familiar skills. With this in mind, we’ve curated a short list of 10 of great resources everyone should have on their bookshelf, and in their bug out bag, should there ever be a SHTF scenario.
Books for Your Shelf and Bug Out Bag
Whether you are already actively involved in the study of bushcraft, or homesteading, or someone who is simply interested in “how things are done”, this list covers most everything you will need to get your started, and increase your knowledge. For those who are active in preparing a bug out bag for any unfortunate future situations, these books are great resources to keep with your kit to help you in moments of uncertainty. Finally, for those who are curious how things were done “back in the old days”, there is plenty of information here to ensure you get all the details and knowledge you are looking for!
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” – Benjamin Franklin
We love learning new things, and have a passion for learning the techniques and skills that assist in living a more self-sufficient and less wasteful life. These resources are sure to provide a wealth of information, and are sure to enhance your everyday life, no matter what your circumstances.
1. Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival
This is great guide, and very highly rated by thousands of people. Add to that, it has also managed to be a best seller, which is no small feat for a book on outdoor skills! The author has taken the time to focus on what are known as the “5Cs of Survivability” – and are highlighted as cutting tools, covering, combustion devices, containers, and cordages. Whether you are already an outdoor enthusiast, or someone who is only interested in how things are done, this is an entertaining and informative book, and a ‘must have’ item for your knowledge collection.
2. The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants
This great guide reminds us of those long walks we used to have as kids with Grandparents and other family – and having them show us which plants we could eat along the way, berries and other great and yummy morsels along the trail. In this book, they have prepared a great list of the best and most common edible wild plants available across North America. It includes a wealth of detailed information on how to identify plants, and where they are most commonly found. More importantly, this guide includes details on how and when to pick and harvest each type of plant, and which parts are used and edible. Finally, they round out their guide with detailed information on how to prepare them, as well as various culinary uses, ecology, conservation, and cultural history.
3. Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
From the world renowned supplier of canning and preserving products, this complete guide from Ball is the one-stop guide to everything you need to know about preserving and canning. As one of the most well reviewed books on the topic, this guide includes nearly 400 recipes to make your canning and preserving experience that much more exciting. The process and benefits of canning your own goods are numerous – from better quality products, nutrition and the use of your own organic foods, to flavor and cost benefits, the results are well worth the efforts. For gardeners and growers, the preserving and canning process is an incredible way to make the most of all of your efforts, and maximize the uses for your harvest. From jams to chutneys, pickles to apple sauce – this guide is an amazing resource that you will use over-and-over! If you live off-grid, or strive towards a life more ‘self-reliant’, this is an indispensable book to have on your shelf, or bug out bag, to assist you in your success.
4. Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation
Our day-to-day life provides easy access to products and materials that make the preserving process much easier, though it relies on the availability of these tools to succeed. This book outlines a plethora of traditional techniques, that highlight the processes to preserving, that use only traditional methods and materials. Additionally, they suggest that using the traditional methods outlined in this book results in greater flavors and quality of the foods preserved. This great guide provides hundreds of recipes, ideas and techniques that will surely be of interest to anyone interested in traditional preservation techniques, and makes an indispensable book to keep on your shelf or bug out bag.
5. Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables
The efforts and hard work that is put into growing and harvesting a garden are substantial. While it is a labour of love for most people, and the enjoyment is a reward in itself, when the harvest arrives and it is time to store and keep the fruits of your labour – cellaring and keeping your produce healthy and strong afterwards is a knowledge well worth having. This book highlights some great techniques and ideas for creating cold storage that will ensure your fruits and vegetables are preserved for your enjoyment long after the harvest. It outlines construction techniques, and provides great information and theory behind the various options available. From small to large cellars, there is something here for everyone, and is an important book to keep at hand. This guide provides detail on how to store 100 different varieties of produce, to ensure there is no waste, and you can enjoy your fruits and vegetables all year long.
6. Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre
More than just a fantasy, it is entirely possible to create and start a farm on even a small plot of land. This book highlights and explains in great detail, the process and techniques of starting a mini farm. The idea is that a single small farm can provide nearly all the food necessary for a family of four, and can even provide an income to make the most of the experience! The book covers everything from start-to-harvest, including the selection of seeds, the construction of raised planting environments, soil types, and even how to deal with problems and naturally occurring diseases that can plague many plants. Furthermore, it even explains how to breed and raise poultry, and the preservation of foods after the harvest has been completed. Even if you have no immediate intention of building a small farm, this is a great book packed full of great information, that is sure to entertain and inspire you.
7. Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties: And How to Make Them
As the title highlights, this book provides a wealth of information related to building shelters in nearly any situation. As one of the more popular books on the subject, it comes highly rated as a great guide on the topic of shelter building. The guide includes a great collection of designs, with detailed images to assist in the understanding and construction of smaller wilderness shelters. A definitely useful guide to have close at hand when trekking outdoors, or as a helpful resource to keep tucked away in your bug out bag. Definitely worth checking out.
8. Cabins: A Guide to Building Your Own Nature Retreat
This great book has been described as “Cabin Building 101” – it provides an entertaining overview of the cabin building process, and highlights some great information that is important to know when thinking about building a cabin. From choosing land, to surveying and building, the authors have provided some great foundational information for anyone considering a cabin build. It makes a great starting point for any future builder, and guides you on a variety of topics that you may never have know were necessary, and save you a lot of headache in the longer term. It is a great read, both entertaining and informative, and makes a great addition to your bookshelf.
9. The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game: Volume 1: Big Game
This book is probably the most well regarded book on the topic, given the number of people who have rated it so highly. It is one of the most comprehensive books on the topic, and provides hundreds of images and detailed descriptions to help anyone, no matter your level of experience. The concepts are certainly not for the squeamish, but the knowledge provided by this one book is sufficient to assist anyone in the processes of hunting for, preparing and making use of, most types of large big game. It includes information about the equipment needed, strategies for tracking and finding game, and of course, what to do after you have succeeded in your hunt. For any bug out bag, this is a must, and for those interested in hunting in general, is a great resource to have on your shelf.
10. 101 Recipes for Making Wild Wines at Home: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Herbs, Fruits, and Flowers (Back to Basics Cooking)
This book is recommended, and while not everyone will be interested in fermentation and/or wine making as a self-reliance necessity, it will for many be an important part of their off grid scenario. Whether for use in cooking, or in making vinegar, or wines, these processes are invaluable knowledge to have. As highlighted in previous books on preserving, quality wines and vinegars are important in the successful preservation of foods, and this book will assist in the process. Additionally, for many, the idea of being able to enjoy wines, even in remote and wilderness environment is still an important part of their life strategy, and this book is an excellent resource to help you along the way. It provides a multitude of great recipes, techniques and ideas to ensure you succeed in your endeavors.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of great books to have on your shelf or bug out bag. We’ve found each of these books to be excellent resources, and are sure to provide a wealth of knowledge to ensure you have much greater results and success in all your efforts. Check out some of our other great articles and ideas, including this great article on how to make beef jerky at home! Leave a comment, and let us know your thoughts on any of these titles – we love to hear from you! Be sure to Join Us to get future updates and other great inspirations and ideas from TAG Level.
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