While nothing replaces knowledge and practicing perishable skills before you get into trouble, sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder to brush up on that knowledge and experience when things don’t go so well. Under stress we sometimes forget things we have learned, or need a refresher to jog our memories and bring us back up to speed. That’s where survival and first aid manuals can really come in handy.
The problem often is that as good as some of these books are they’re too big to always pack around with you. I’ve seen some decent survival pamphlets provided in survival and first aid kits and they’re certainly better than nothing, but they often are stripped down to the bare bones as far as information goes. I’ve often wanted something in between the shelf sized survival volume and the brief pamphlets you sometimes see so when I stumbled onto the OutSmart Survival Guide from Integrity House Publishing I felt that I may have finally found something that was just right.
The OutSmart Guide is truly a pocket sized book at 3.5 x .25 x 4.5 inches in size and weighing only 2.1 ounces. The guide is 72 full color pages long and is set up in a rather unique manner. It’s really two books in one, a survival guide and a first aid manual. If you start reading in a conventional manner you’ll see that every other page is upside down! The way the book works is that one side has all of the first aid material on it, and when you flip the book around and read from the back you get the backcountry skills/survival material. It’s a slightly odd setup but it does keep the two sections separate so that you can address one topic at a time and narrow down your search to the pertinent half of the book. The book is nicely printed on heavy, glossy stock and is very well illustrated.
The first aid portion of the book is 32 pages and runs the spectrum from bug bites through strokes, fractures, and bleeding. That portion of the book is written by Ron Dawson with input by a wide array of physicians and emergency medicine professionals. The text is small, but readable and they pack an awful lot of information into those 32 pages. The backcountry skills section runs from page 33 to 66 and is once again authored by Ron Dawson, this time with input from a variety of specialists in the outdoors field. This section of the book covers what to do before you hit the woods, what to do when you find yourself lost, and gives detailed sections on fire, shelter, signaling, water, knots, plants, map and compass work and even hunting. There’s also a section on survival gear which obviously should be read before you hit the woods! Once again this section is well illustrated with nice color drawings and diagrams.
While the material covered in the OutSmart Survival Guide may not be new to students of the outdoors it does a very good job of packaging a lot of material in a size that truly is pocketable. The book will slip into a shirt pocket, many survival kits, a day pack, or even your back pocket. It’s one of the few survival manuals I’ve seen that’s sized so that you really can have it with you in an emergency. While you definitely should get some firsthand training and experience before you hit the woods it never hurts to have some reminders and backup material with you to help you out of a jam. At a cost of only $5.25 for a single copy ($6.50 shipped) and price breaks for multiple copies there’s really no reason not to have one of these books stashed with every emergency kit, daypack, and field coat that you own!
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