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The Premise: Just like the title says, this book contains 101 skills that can save your butt when you’re outdoors. Where this book differs from others with a similar premise is the method in which Kevin Estela, of Estela Wilderness Education, shares his information — he’s a trainer of “feeders.” For the uninitiated, feeders are students of Sayoc Kali, a Filipino martial art that demands students be adaptable, smart, and have the mindset to take control of their situation, whether it’s a knife fight or surviving a night in the woods alone.
Estela provides proven and hard-learned lessons for the reader as well as challenges to them.
The 411: The 101 skills in the book are broken down into 10 sections: fire, shelter, knife, cordage, illumination, navigation, signal and communication, first aid and trauma, water, and food gathering. Each explanation of the skill paints a picture in the reader’s mind about why the skill is important and what the takeaway should be. At the end of each section are ways to further your training with simple out-of-the-box challenges.
The Verdict: Estela launches into the book with some backstory on himself and, most importantly, the methodology of Sayoc Kali and becoming a feeder. Even if you’re not a martial artist, the feeder mindset is applicable to any of life’s situations, and this was explained well. The introduction to this book makes the reader want to improve their skills and Estela explains how his book can help. To say the least, reading the intro motivates the reader to grow into a better person.
The organization of the book is excellent for both the experienced and budding woodsman. Reading through a section and then trying each skill is a worthy and rewarding endeavor. The pace isn’t overwhelming, and each skill builds on the next. Since Estela is both a high school teacher and a professional wilderness survival educator, his ability to connect with the reader was apparent in how he conveys information. Each skill is described in depth and generally accompanied by a visual example. The mantra “always prepared, prepared all-ways” helps the reader understand the overarching theme.
The sections start with introductory skills and build on each one or progress in difficulty and complexity. Here are few of our favorites:
We have very few complaints for 101 Skills You Need to Survive in the Woods; however, our one small gripe is that some skills lack a picture where it would be appropriate. With that being said, going back to the prevailing mindset, a feeder would seek this out elsewhere in an effort to expand personal knowledge. An example would be Skill 81: Use Medicinal Plants. Pictures are provided for only one of the five plants discussed. When it comes to identifying plants, it can be very difficult (and often dangerous) to get it incorrect. Estela does start this skill with a recommendation of seeking the assistance of a local expert.
Overall, Estela knows his stuff, as anyone who has read his previous articles in our magazine can attest. He has made these important skills easy for the common person to read and understand in 101 Skills You Need to Survive in the Woods. His encouragement to train and build on that training will produce a competent woodsman who can adapt and survive in a variety of situations. While many of these skills focus on wilderness survival, having the proper mindset can also be adapted to urban environments.
Book & Author
101 Skills You Need to Survive in the Woods
by Kevin Estela
Page Street Publishing Co.