Book Review: Surviving a Wilderness Emergency

“Surviving a Wilderness Emergency: Practical advice on what to do when you find yourself in trouble in the backcountry” by Peter Kummerfeldt


Peter Kummerfeldt

Reviewed by Leon Pantenburg

This book should be required reading for anyone who ever ventures off the pavement.  After extensive testing of the gear and techniques mentioned in the publication, I recommend this publication as the go-to book for wilderness survival.

Kummerfeldt stresses practical methods of surviving, not obscure, primitive skills.  His common sense approach techniques and advice on survival systems and kits to wilderness emergencies could save your life.

His DVD “Skills of the Survivor,” sponsored by the National Bowhunters Education Foundation is great, too, and both are well-worth inclusion in any outdoors library.

Kummerfeldt grew up in Kenya, and came to America in 1965, where he joined the U.S. Air Force.  He is a graduate of the Air Force Survival Instructor Training School and served as an instructor at the Basic Survival School, Spokane, Wash.; the Arctic Survival School, Fairbanks, Alaska; and the Jungle Survival School in the Philippines.  He served for 12 years as the Survival Training Director at the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colo.

Today, Kummerfeldt travels widely, promoting the concept of practical wilderness survival.  I met him several years ago at the Deschutes (Oregon) County Sportsman’s Expo after attending one of his seminars.  My motivation for going was more curiosity than anything else – I had been knocking around the western mountains on big game hunting and backpacking trips for decades, and was confident there wasn’t much more for me to learn about survival gear.

I was also heavily involved in my sons’ Boy Scout troop and went camping and backpacking at least once a month. I enjoyed testing and trying out new techniques and equipment.  I thought I knew a lot, but one sign of a survival mindset is your willingness to keep learning!.

I sat spellbound through his seminar on “Survival Myths,” then attended every other seminar he did that day.  Afterward, we chatted at his booth, and I bought a copy of “Surviving a Wilderness Emergency.”  That night, I went home and threw away a lot of the survival stuff I’d carried for years.

For the past few years, Kummerfeldt has been one of my valued sources for stories regarding some aspect of wilderness survival. He does extensive testing of new products, and if there is something new in the survival market, Kummerfeldt probably has experience with it.

I’ve personally used many of his techniques and recommendations when teaching adult leaders and Boy Scouts wilderness skills, and his instructional DVD is part of our troop’s teaching library.

Kummerfeldt is also a featured guest author for and his expertise and superb photography skills are greatly appreciated!

This book should be in every survival library.



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3 Comments on "Book Review: Surviving a Wilderness Emergency"

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  1. dan says:

    Having attended just one of Mr.Kummerfeldt’s seminars I may not be thebest judge of his abilities but the seminar, class whatever you call it seemed to be directed more to promoting the products he sells rather than solid survival information. Some of his material is helpful and of use but I would not want to rely on his information in a wilderness survival situation. His material seemed more text book than actual. In the class I attended he brought one of the attendees in front and proceeded to make him look less than competent. He also demonstrated the reason not to use a “space blanket’ however he demonstarted the very small version that no one I know would ever carry. He did not mention the heavy duty space blanket that is resistant to tesaring and works quite well. he shows various fire starters but never mentions the age old “flare” that will start a fire ANYWHERE.

  2. Leon says:

    I would rely on his information, and for 30 years, so did the U.S. Air Force Survival School. Kummerfeldt’s resume speaks for itself. I have been to several of his presentations and seminars. Regarding the demo you mentioned – it opened my eyes to the validity of checking out equipment. The mylar blanket he uses in the demo is very commonly found in survival kits, and Kummerfeldt’s intent is to show how useless they are. I have replicated that demonstration several times for different survival training groups. In every group there is someone who defends the mylar blankets.
    In fact, a company that is no longer on my website did a who video promoting those useless mylar blankets.
    Generally, time forbids mentioning EVERY fire ignition or survival tool. If I could only rely on one source of survival information, it would be Peter Kummerfeldt.

    • Lonnie says:

      What is your/his reasoning behind the disdain for mylar blankets. Also for them to have effectiveness the radiating side of the blanket needs to be turned inward towards the body.

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