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  • Writer's picturePatrick Durkin

MeatEater’s Survival Book Tops Christmas Gift Ideas

If you want to read a fun, insightful adventure book that doubles as a detail-rich textbook on staying safe outdoors, tell someone special to buy you “The MeatEater Guide to Wilderness Skills and Survival.”

The book is written by Steven Rinella with Brody Henderson and other members of the MeatEater crew. They created the kind of clever page-turner we expect from Rinella, the popular author and host of MeatEater’s Netflix show and weekly podcast.

Rinella tells and appreciates good stories, and builds his latest book around a simple fact: No one steps into a boat or onto a trail expecting to die miserably. Most of us head outdoors anticipating fun, adventure and — at worst — some risky thrills. Therefore, we often aren’t prepared when we flip the kayak, take a wrong turn, or dally into the perfect blizzard.

Even so, that’s no excuse for most of us. Anyone who grew up reading those one-page “This Happened to Me” survival tales in Outdoor Life magazine knows most real life-and-death scenarios start innocently. Few involve getting bulldozed by a moose, mauled by a bear, or clawed by a cougar.

Heck, most rescue missions don’t even start with broken bones. But see how far and fast you go in the backcountry after rolling an ankle, losing your bearings, or letting your boat drift off without you. As Rinella writes, even selfie photos can trigger tragedies. He notes that the National Park Service reported 12 deaths from 2007 to 2016 “associated with photography.” Yes, 1.2 deaths annually doesn’t sound scary, but it verifies that “photos are more lethal than cougars.” At least in our national parks.

To help folks prepare for unplanned problems like campstove burns, puncture wounds, stranded trucks, gnawing hunger or numbing cold, the book includes MeatEater-tested gear lists for first-aid kits, survival kits, “extra sh*t” tips, and “Oh Sh*t!” situations. This hefty book — 441 pages, not including the introduction — is broken into chapters on what to pack and wear, staying fed and hydrated, handling things that injure or sicken, providing shelter and warmth, navigating and traveling the wilds, and applying medical and safety information.

The book even tells you what not to wear outdoors. That’s where I make my cameo appearance. My contribution to the book explains why you should swap your metal rings and wedding bands for silicone rings.

To order a copy of “The MeatEater Guide to Wilderness Skills and Survival,” visit, or order it wherever you buy books.

If surviving outdoor blunders doesn’t interest you, keep reading. My list of books, gear and other gift ideas fit every budget for holiday gift-giving.

Stay Warm on Stand ( Gamehide’s No Chill Body Suit surrounds your entire body to keep you warm and ready on stand no matter how cold the day. It features 300 grams of HeatTech insulation and Woodlot Camo, and includes a back carrier and blaze-orange cape.

Ice Fishing for Kids: Minnesota’s Jenny Anderson, or “Girl of 10,000 Lakes” on Instagram, wrote “1 2 3 Ice Fishing” ( for toddlers to pre-schoolers. This color-illustrated “lift-the-flap” book primes little kids for ice fishing by teaching them to identify fish species and ice-fishing gear while learning to count to 10.

Clever Christmas Art: Impress someone with an original holiday-themed cartoon painting from the David Burgess Shop ( Burgess, aka “Dreadlocks Dave,” is a Colorado artist whose off-road humor makes light of Santa, Santa’s hoes, frozen surprises from Frosty, and other holiday themes.

Irish Setter Insulated VaprTrek Boots: These durable, lightweight, waterproof, sure-footed boots are now available with 1,200 grams of PrimaLoft insulation. They’re warm enough for Wisconsin and rugged enough for the mountains.

Zip On, Zip Off Long-Johns from First Lite ( ) let you strip off your long-handles for midday comfort, and then put them back on for late afternoon’s cold-temperature sits without removing your boots and pants.

Master Cook Station: Organize your tent-camp’s kitchen with this collapsible shelf system from GCI Outdoors ( It features an extended aluminum countertop, a lower storage rack, three plastic side tables, a telescoping lantern pole, and soft-shell sink with a drain.

Fishing-Rod Racks from Raximus ( make it easy to store your rods, and eliminate that usual tangled mass in your garage or basement.

The Rungu e-Bike ( features two front wheels, making it less prone to wipeouts than traditional single wheel e-bikes. That feature also helps the bike go where single-wheelers seldom dare.

Effective Range Targets ( are rifle targets that help you determine your effective range. You shoot five shots at 100 yards and then “read” the ring encompassing all five shots. That ring reveals your effective range, eliminating the guesswork and trouble of sighting in at extended distances.

RISE Triggers ( are growing popular because they provide great trigger performance at a better price. These drop-in triggers are also easy to install.

Hosted Hunts: If you’re looking for a dream hunt but worried you’ll choose the wrong outfitter, check out Hosted Hunts (, a service that vets outfitters for you at their expense.

The Bubba Rope ( replaces old-school chains, tow straps or tow ropes thanks to its built-in stretch. It’s safer and more effective than other devices because it has no metal parts to turn into dangerous projectiles.

Wraptor Tackle Roll ( helps you easily store your fishing lures without tangles because its soft-side rolls hold lures individually in a clear vinyl pouch. These lightweight rolls also take up little space in tackle boxes.

Help those Bluebirds: The Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (, or offers a quality cedar nest box and predator guard with each $15 holiday gift membership. New Wisconsin members also receive the online quarterly “Wisconsin Bluebird” newsletter and information packet to help locate, set up, maintain and monitor the box.

The RazorFin Ice Fishing Fillet Knife from Outdoor Edge ( features RazorSafe replaceable-blade technology and an ergonomic design. The RazorFin includes three 5-inch scalpel-sharp fillet blades plus a 3.4-inch gutting blade that opens fish like a zipper. The knife measures 10 inches overall.

Steven Rinella’s latest book, as well as gear organizers, a new ice-fishing book for kids, and many other items offer great gift-giving options for the Christmas and holiday season.

— Submitted photos

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