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4.7 out of 5 stars88
4.7 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 17 December 2003
This has to be my favourite of all the Ray Mears "survival" books which is provided as a compact handbook suitable as a companion on any expedition/trip. Ray Mears again reveals an enormous wealth of experience and knowledge in the field of survival and bushcraft.
With clear step-by-by instructions the reader is led through a plethora of subjects including how to construct a shelter from the elements at virtually any time of the year in a wide variety of circumstances/environments. The book also covers sections which deal with the many uses and natures of cordage, the use of knots, a wide diversity of cutting tools (and how they should be used correctly), first aid & personal hygiene together with a list of the essential items to be included within a survival outfit.
An entire section of this handbook is devoted to the importance of water and the dangers of dehydration. Instruction is provided in how to locate water sources & how to access and use them. Emphasis also being given in relation to the collection and purification of water.
Another section is devoted to "living off the land" which includes instruction on "foraging" and how to differentiate between food that is edible and that which is poisonous. Also included is a section allocated to fire and how to make fire by improvising with the use of unlikely raw materials.
In each and every section clear photographs are supplied to assist the reader. This is indeed another essential volume from Ray Mears for anyone interested in the outdoor life, and not just for survival purposes. A basic knowledge would do none of us any harm and this book meets this need and those who require much more. Another excellent purchase.
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on 5 April 2006
Essential Bushcraft was recommended to me and now I recommend it to you. Full of clear and concise information that will leave you excited about your next trip so you can try some of your new skills out.
Not as good as Lofty Wiseman's book in my opinion but an excellent companion to it and Ray Mears benefits from being more accessible than Mr. Wiseman. Well he is on the telly everyday so you can see him do the things from his books.
Lots of great colour shots and clear diagrams that bring everything into focus. Wish I had read this before buying my latest tent. Couldn't decide between two models, chose one and now Ray recommends the other.
Well worth the shelf space and reading time of every outdoorsman.
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VINE VOICEon 2 September 2004
The title says it all really, this book contains ESSENTIAL bushcraft skills. This is a condensed version of his larger book 'Bushcraft' and as it was released after the first one, it actually has more upto date photographs and some new information.
It is very nicely presented with a hard-wearing paperback cover, 240 glossy FULL colour pages with loads of really helpfull information.
It has the following chapters:
OUTFIT
CUTTING TOOLS
WATER
FIRE
SHELTER
CORDAGE
HITTING THE TRAIL
LIVING FROM THE LAND.
As you can see, everything you need to get out there and stay alive! There are loads of 'survival' and 'bushcraft' books, and this book will not tell you how to deliver a baby or give an emergency cesarean like the SAS survival book, however this isn't its aim. Ray Mears has succeeded in delivering a well-thought out and VERY informative book on how to live in the wild whilst causing as little disturbance to the natural habitat as possible. Invaluble reading!
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VINE VOICEon 17 October 2003
This is essentially a smaller, pocket-sized version of Mears's Inspirational Guide to Bushcraft.
Not a bad thing, not entirely good either.
When I bought the larger book, I was impressed by the quality and quantity of the pictures and the amount of information contained in it. I was, however, disappointed that the book's sheer size made it impossible to cart around in the wilderness where one to want to practise some of the techniques it describes.
This is the book I wich I had bought instead.
Lots of fairly useless information for most of us - how to skin an elk, that kind of thing. But also some really good stuff - how to build good fires, carve things, build shelter from naturally occurring materials etc.
As far as I am aware, Ray really doesn't have any competition in the mainstream. He is famous for his relatability and excellence in popularising bushcraft. The book reads like he talks, as opposed to being ghost-written and then signed by the star. As such, it is entertaining and inspiring while being educational too.
If you plan on exploring the wilds - take this book with you.
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on 2 August 2010
There are a few books available on bushcraft/woodcraft, and yet, surprisingly very few seem to be designed for use in the field. 'Essential Bushcraft' is therefore a welcome addition to the outdoor pursuits cannon: a slimmed down, information and illustration-packed volume with a tough paperback cover to shove into the backpack. All good so far.

However, anyone who intends to take the book with them on their next trek, as I intend to, will have a few burning questions. Firstly, why produce a field guide that is so big? I have a couple of 'Collins Gem' books that I carry with me, each measuring 8cm x 11.5cm x 1.5cm, and they fit snuggly into a pocket. 'Essential Bushcraft', meanwhile, measures a thoroughly unhelpful 20cm x 14cm x 1.5cm. This would be fine if it contained a great deal more information than a typical Collins Gem, but it doesn't. In fact, the publisher has happily used up as much space as it can: the opening title of every chapter has a full, two-page spread, as does the vacuous preface by Ewan Macgregor. Removing these empty pages alone would save roughly 20 pages.

For my purposes, by far the most useful subject matter in the book concerns bushcraft in the UK: building simple shelters; making fire; building a raft; and pointers on wild food. This is all dealt with well, if a little too sketchily when food is concerned (wild food is not something you want to take chances with). However, the book tries to encompass bushcraft the world-over, from the Hadza to the Australian Aborigines. But most of this is utterly surplus to requirements for those intending to travel light in the UK. And If I ever am in a position where I need to know how to collect Wild Sisal in Africa or Witchetty grubs in the Australian bush, I don't expect that I'll be relying on just a Ray Mear's book.

The book certainly seems to be at odds with Bushcraft principles, basically taking what you need. It would have been far more worthwhile to strip the book down to skills needed in the UK, while leaving the skills needed in the tropics for a coffee table book. Besides making the book more portable it would have allowed more room for expanding on plant identification. So, not a bad book by any means, but not the 'essential' field guide that it claimed to be.
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on 6 October 2007
Having been very disappointed by Ray Mears 'Bushcraft Survival', I was pleased to have purchased this book. It covers everything that a novice woodsman like myself would need to know. I was very impressed with the section on building shelter. Nice and easy to follow. A good buy in my opinion.
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on 21 January 2004
Ray Mears' essential survival book must be one of the best guides to the outdoors around. It takes you from suggested equipment to cutting tools such as knives and axes, shelters to fires.
He describes and explores his amazing techniques with full colour images and diagrams. He shows you how to make chord from bits of leaves and how to catch fish using a bottle and a few thorns.
Not only that he shows survival from some of the most inhospitable corners of the world. But what makes this book original is that he encompasses the origins and traditions of native people whose life is a game of survival. His vast experience is clear from easy to follow chapters and informative text that will take you from armchair to outdoors in all 240 pages.
Ray Mears truly is a great living man and his book does not disappoint. A truly magnificent guide to survival and living in harmony with the land...
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on 16 February 2014
I sometimes rate people by how much use they'd be if you were marooned on a deserted island with them. Well I'd have Ray with me any time if I wanted to stay alive. This book informs, encourages and above all else offers a feeling of security in that if you have it with you, you stand a chance in the great outdoors. I watch him on TV and have a few of his books. They're clearly and concisely written and don't patronise you if you're a survival dummy. Essential reading.
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on 2 January 2006
Well, I can safely say I'm not going to perish on the village green when the fog falls.
Great book, gives all the right details, misses nothing and is not too big, so can be carried in backpack.
Very concise and clear.
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on 13 March 2007
Well what can you say, anyone buying this is probably already aware that MR MEARS is the "definitive" Bushman outside Africa and Austrailia as to his skills well he uses easy to understand language and does not always get it right first time as seen in most TV shows about the subject hes a real human being and the book comes across like watching one of his shows, very entertaining and very enjoyable, there are a few things in there which are not relivent to the UK but you can put the principals of then into practice which is what i think he meant to say, anyway if you buy this book you will not be disapointed
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