Best Nonfiction Wilderness Books

Paul Gonzalez
• Wednesday, 23 December, 2020
• 10 min read

Considered the definitive polar adventure story, The Worst Journey in the World chronicles the experiences of a young Apply Cherry-Garrard as he embarks on an expedition to the South Pole with Robert Falcon Scott to collect penguin eggs. Enduring temperatures as frigid as 70 degrees below zero, the expedition trudges through constant darkness toward its goal, fighting to survive some of the harshest conditions imaginable.

wilderness into books penguin
(Source: www.penguin.com.au)


Titled after a particularly high and treacherous Himalayan mountain, Annapurna documents the efforts of the author and his climbing partner, Louis Lacteal, to scale the previously untried 26,493-foot peak in 1950. A haunting tale of tragedy and regret, Into Thin Air details a 1996 expedition to the summit of Mount Everest that was ultimately doomed by the hubris of its leaders.

Jon Kramer, a journalist on the expedition, recounts the events as they unfolded that May and analyzes the mistakes, including his own, that resulted in such a tragic loss of life. The adventure begins with a treacherous journey through a remote area of Pakistan just to reach the mountain, the climbers relying on primitive modes of transportation that threaten to end their lives at every turn.

After being storm bound at 25,500 feet for a week with little food, water or sleep, one climber becomes deathly ill and must be carried back to base if he is to survive. Enduring fierce winds, blinding snow, limited oxygen, sheer cliffs, avalanches, frostbite and a near-fatal fall off the side of the mountain, the climbers struggle with great determination to save one of their own?and, ultimately, themselves.

Running the Amazon is a personal, first-hand account of the perils the expedition faced during its journey: killer rapids, treacherous jungle, financial hardship, internal strife, multiple defections, extreme weather and terrifying encounters with Amazonian drug lords. Armed only with an emergency kit, a handful of supplies and a sea survival guide, Callahan drifted for 1,800 miles and 76 days across open ocean before finding rescue.

Joe Simpson spent three days crawling, with severe frostbite, over mountainous terrain to reach his base camp after his friend, Simon Yates, was forced to abandon him in the Andes. Desperate to secure rescue for their dwindling numbers, two young men leave the group and undertake a dangerous hike through the mountains to look for help, ultimately finding it.

wilderness surviving cfan
(Source: shop.cfan.eu)

Another modern adventure classic by author Jon Kramer, Into the Wild explores the experiences and motivations of a young college graduate, Chris McCandless, who abandoned his charmed life for a lone existence in the Alaskan wilderness. Drawing from McCandless' personal writings, as well his own passion for the outdoors, the author retraces the young man's steps and examines the forces that may have compelled him to forsake all for nature.

If you're looking for an adventure story with some historical significance, check out this account of the infamous Donner party, which endured unimaginably extreme conditions as it sought to blaze a new trail across the American West to California in 1847. Weaving together historical research and diary excerpts of the survivors, Ordeal by Hunger describes the lengths the 87 pioneers reached in their efforts to stay alive?including cannibalism.

Detailing a harrowing journey through scalding desert and frigid mountains, this book gives an electric account of the indomitable American spirit. This camping how-to book contains 31 chapters of survival tips and techniques, from starting a fire and building a shelter to finding food and purifying water.

This book teaches all the skills you need: crossing dangerous areas, tracking small game, signaling by Morse code, navigating by the heavenly bodies and surviving extremes in climate. If you are someone like me, an outdoor enthusiast, you know the relaxation you get while spending the night under the stars or watching a stream of water flow by while sitting near your camp.

However, to pick out a beneficial book from a useless one, you will need to know if the information is authentic, along with the credibility of the author, and the writing style. Read here how they raise the bar on product sustainability, and you too will become a fan to source all your best survival storybooks and outdoor gear from them.

wilderness especially crazy books don
(Source: lynncoulter.com)

This book has several survival stories that serve as examples of how outdoor adventures can turn tragic, when life may be dependent on a single decision. Using the most recent scientific studies, Laurence explains the sequences of events that can leave an outdoor enthusiast in mortal peril within seconds.

This wilderness survival book is a mix of survival science, adventure narrative, and practical advice that has inspired business leaders, military officers, educators, and psychiatric professionals on how to learn to assess risk, take control of stress and make better decisions under pressure. If you wind up lost in the wilderness, in need of food, shelter, or unable to find your way back to civilization, this survival guide book will be your best friend.

The book covers all the basics of getting through life-threatening situations in the outdoors, from navigating in the wild to sending emergency signals to aircraft via a mirror. This pocket survival guide also covers how to build an emergency shelter, starting a fire, find food and water in the wild, and dealing with lightning, avalanches, and hypothermia.

There are loads of recipes all of them equally tasty-looking, but it’s really all the tutorials and detailed information on what cooking equipment you need for camping makes it the best. The book also offers pro-tips on everything from building your own pizza oven to today’s fresh, modern, healthy approach to cooking and eating outdoors.

This book will be enjoyed by people who love cooking under the open sky, whether at a campsite in the woods or at a grill in the backyard. The wilderness survival book has quizzes, tips, apps, and solid information on budgeting and saving before and during travel, smart booking hacks, notes on tying up loose ends at home, and hints at saving on solo accommodations and packing like a pro to make the most of your adventure.

goodall jane untamed kid wild
(Source: kid-lit-reviews.com)

You don’t have to be an extrovert or hooked on adrenaline rushes to have fun, and going it alone is safe if you follow the book’s advice on choosing your destinations and behaving once you’re there. In it, you will find much that was forgotten, the most ancient and essential skills of humankind, presented in a simple, easy-to-use format with clear instructions.

My dear friends, though GPS devices are great, they can break, get lost, or easily be hampered by weather conditions, which makes basic map and compass skills essential for people who love spending time outdoors. In this classic environmental call to action book, Laura and Guy Waterman write about preserving the ecology of the backcountry.

With humor and insight, the Water mans look beyond the ecology of the back-country to explore the factors that make it wild and consider the most difficult wilderness management issues. Ultimate long-distance hiker Andrew Skunk shares his knowledge in this best survival guide to backpacking gear and skills.

The practical and priceless recommendations give you all the tools and techniques you’ll need to hit the trail. It began as a website and blog when friends Aimee Trudeau, Malayan Kwan, and Emily Nielson joined hands to share their love for wilderness, outdoor education experiences, and knowledge of backcountry cooking via workshops, classes, catering events, and easy yet exciting recipes.

Breakfast, trail meals, sweet and savory snacks, dinners, appetizers, side dishes, desserts, even refreshing camp drinks, you can find all this and more in this best survival book. He also explains how to safely identify trailside herbs, fruits, weeds, and greens that grow worldwide, and shares his delicious, nutrient-dense recipes.

moore dinty writer author amazon follow
(Source: matadornetwork.com)

Written by Rick Curtis, Director of Princeton University’s Famous Outdoor Recreation Program, this wilderness survival book provides a gear-agnostic approach to the skills and techniques required for enjoyable and safe backcountry hiking. Published in 1998, and updated and revised in 2005, The Backpacker’s Field Manual illustrates techniques and skills that have been applied, tested, and refined by the experiences of thousands of college students.

It also covers how to research access to domestic and international public and private land and how to create a budget for your travel. Seriously, when I can’t get out, you can find me eating my way out of a calorie hole, or curled up with a great non-fiction adventure book.

As an outdoor writer, I eat, sleep, and breathe all things adventure (shocking, I know). I’ve spent years book worming about to bring you a list of the most heart-pumping, adrenaline-inducing, eye-opening adventure reads out there.

My complete list of the best nonfiction adventure books in the outdoors and beyond has something for nearly every interest. This helps me pay for expenses regarding my blog, so I can keep bringing you rad suggestions for free.

The hardest part about creating a list of stellar non-fiction adventure books had nothing to do with actually reading the material. In fact, I’ve read so many adventure books, I just had to break it down into categories.

loren paperback twilight wiseman wilderness howling 2000
(Source: www.ebay.com)

This makes your life easier when building up that kick-ass list of nonfiction adventure books These books are written by folks who have accomplished some unthinkable milestones in the outdoors.

She decided to take a year off of her regular life and attempt seven million vertical feet of skiing. Levinson Wood completes these fantastic walks across some of the world’s most contested landscapes.

His book about his journey across the Himalaya left me aw-struck, mostly because I want to walk across the length of Nepal someday. This book doesn’t focus on human feats, but rather that of an animal kind.

Bordering on a classic, this incredible book tells the story of Thor Heyerdahl, a Norwegian ethnographer that sets out on a hand-made raft from Peru to French Polynesia. Lynn Hill literally smashed sends and defied gravity throughout her career.

I’ve read countless books about life in the high alpine. These mountain marvels will fix your need to get that thin air and climb high.

every books state wild krakauer based into
(Source: www.travelandleisure.com)

I don’t care what critics said, she still skied Everest and damn does she have a story to tell. After I returned from Nepal, I picked up Arlene Blum’s masterpiece about the trials and tribulations of being the first team of women to summit an 8,000 m peak.

I love the visuals accompanied by the book, and she’s got it right: A woman’s place is on top! Although tragic, The White Death tells the incredible story of three friends heading out to make history in Glacier National Park is a mysterious tale of five climbers who go missing in a mysterious mountaineering accident.

This book not only dives into the depths of avalanche history in the USA, but it also uncovers the mystery of what may have happened on this tragic winter day. Donnie Either tells a deadly journey of a Russian climbing club on a mission to make records.

Donnie Either gives varying scenarios and does a deep dive into just what happened at Dalton Pass in one of the best adventure nonfiction books of all time If you want to combine the best adventure nonfiction books with some overseas travel, then escape with these titles.

This could also be filed under “Amazing feats” but Davidson took a pack of camels (that she trained) and her pup across some of the harshest landscapes on earth. Her insight into the conflict between the aboriginal people and the white Australian settlers was beautifully done.

Sure, it takes a while for the story to get rolling, I almost put the book down, but I’m sure glad that I didn’t. His personal issues cloud the story a bit, but I suppose when your ass spends that much time going numb on a hard seat life will eventually bubble up.

I’ve honestly never been too interested in Antarctica, it largely seemed like a desolate place and I hate the cold. Antarctica is a weird place, not ruled by man, but also frequently visited.

She had some incredible opportunities to jump around to different stations, spend time with various nations and really embed herself in this icy desert. Mr. Long wrote one of the best non-fiction adventure books centered around short stories.

I’ve spent the better part of a year reading anything I can get my hands on related to Native American culture here in the US. Here he uncovers a story of a vast civilization that I can guarantee is left out of every state-issued history book.

This academic read goes into intense detail about the formation of our national parks. Spoiler alert, there was a lot of forced relocation of native people.

I’ve come to see the wilderness in a new light, and the parallels between the Navajo tradition on why animals look and act the way they do, and the scientific thought behind it is pretty freaking’ sweet. Alright, so Shackleton may have been pretty sexist, likely racist, and a little “conquering.” However, that doesn’t make this INSANE survival tale any less impressive.

Although this book doesn’t focus so much on a specific survival story, it could help you in a pinch. Child's dives deep into the world of water in North America’s deserts.

So nonfiction adventure stories set in the Amazon are a little of an obsession of mine. This harrowing story focuses on a backpacking expedition gone wrong in the Amazon and the tale that unfolds is nearly unbelievable.

Although this story focuses on World War II, there is still a strong element of outdoor survival. Bill Bryson is one of my favorite all-time authors and his books about adventure are just charming to read.

His ability to tell even the most complex story in a relatable, human way is unmatched. Little did I know that was an insane amount of work (I later switched career objectives at age 19) but my love of the mountains never faltered.

I reference this book constantly, picking it up when I need a refresher and learning all I can before diving into something new. Gonzales describes ways in which we can learn about survival from the accidents, skills, and accounts of others.

No trad climber should head out into the wonderful world of multi-pitch without reading Climbing Anchors by John Long. It seemed to be directly up my ally with a mix of emotion, life experience and the outdoors.

It took Stafford three years to complete this journey, but all I found was a lot of complaining. I suppose if I had to live in the Amazonian bush I may complain too, but the lack of character development, coupled with his obsession of making sure that you knew he didn’t “cheat” for whatever rules he set forth on himself really ruined the read.

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