The Complete Guide to Camping and Wilderness Survival is a fountain of information and is the third volume in the Complete Guide series by noted author Vin Sparano, who has been an outdoor editor and writer for more than fifty years. To say that Vin knows his stuff is an understatement!
The book is broken down into 5 sections:
- BOATING FOR CAMPERS
- CAMPFIRE COOKING
- WILDERNESS SURVIVAL
- FIRST AID FOR CAMPERS AND SURVIVALISTS
Section one starts out with information on the different types of tents, as well as RV's. It then moves on to snowmobiles and ATV's. From there it goes in depth on camp bedding, foot gear, clothing, camp lighting and tools, backpacks, campfires, and knots. I particularly enjoyed the "Leave no trace seven principles" page because it really drives home the importance of camp awareness and the impact made by the millions of people who spend their time in the outdoors. I also really appreciated the section on campfires - it supplies a list of different types of wood, their heat value and ease of starting- along with illustrations of the different fire layouts you can learn to use.
Section two is full of wonderful information on boating, whether you favor a small boat, a family size boat, a kayak or a canoe. I've been lucky enough to spend most of my life on one kind of a boat or another, so this section was really interesting to me. When I was a kid my dad used to take our canoe out to the middle of the lake and purposely tip it over so we could swim underneath it into the air pockets. Then he taught us how to get it tipped right side up, get back in and maneuver it to shore. As kids this was fun to do and taught us valuable information. The guidebook has some great illustrations on how to properly get in and out of a canoe. Note to dad - you taught us the right way to do it! This chapter really stresses the importance of boat safety as well as discussing Coast Guard approved equipment, personal flotation devices, and handling wind and weather conditions. I also enjoyed learning how to forecast the weather based on conditions in the sky, watching the moon, birds, and clouds, paying attention to smells, or simply looking at leaves on the trees.
Ok, get ready to lick your lips because the section on campfire cooking will have you firing up your camp stove or the campfire. Learn why a dutch oven is the campers best friend and the guidebook devotes one entire page to controlling the temperature of a dutch oven. Where was this information when I was burning my biscuits?? The treasure trove of recipes includes mouth watering ideas like Buck and Bourbon, Moose Steak, Grilled Trout with Butter, and my personal favorite - Pan Fried Fish, which in my case is always Bluegill.
The section on Wilderness Survival is a must read for anyone who spends time out doors enjoying nature. Survival lists for day pack, hiker and vehicle kits will give you a good start on what you should always have with you. Extra equipment such as guns and knives are also covered. If you get lost in the woods it's always good to have basic knowledge on what you can safely eat or drink. The guidebook shines in this chapter! There is extensive information on edible plants, along with full color photos, complete descriptions, their range and habitat, edible parts and of course, how to prepare them. I've always been fascinated by edible mushrooms and the book covers those as well.
And if you need to rely on animals and fish for your meal, you will also find complete descriptions of game birds, deer, moose, and even bear, along with suggestions on how to set traps and snares, field dress and then prepare a feast.
This chapter also covered what to do if you're lost, as well as surviving extreme hot or cold temperatures, and water submersion. This section was so thorough and packed with information that it could easily be a guidebook in itself.
Finally, chapter 5 is dedicated to first aid, and it never hurts to brush up on your skills in case of an emergency. This section covers basic first aid like nose bleeds, choking and artificial respiration. However it also delves deeper into other scenario's such a poisonous plants, snake bites and bee stings. I found the color photographs and descriptions on venomous snakes of particular interest. The chapter finishes up with wonderful illustrations on setting bone fractures and transporting injured persons.
The Complete Guide to Camping and Wilderness Survival is just that - complete - as well as a must have for those who spend time in the outdoors whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro. I always enjoy and appreciate a Vin Sparano Guidebook because they are full of useful and necessary information. I never pick one up without learning something new. Why don't you pick one up today?
(I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Images are the property of the publisher and cannot be reproduced without consent.)