Top Ten Best Wilderness Survival Schools

This is a list of some of the best wilderness survival schools in the world. These schools have proved themselves as the top providers of this potentially life saving training.
The Top Ten
1 Maine Primitive Skills School

A 30-year plus School Owner/Martial Artist here, with 13 years military experience in basic scouting, survival skills BUT out of the picture for a while. When I started looking for a "Survival" school, this one stood out above the rest. First it was the name that caught my eye. If I were to spend time, money, passion on something, I wanted something more than just "survival". I wanted basic to advanced skills, knowledge and understanding behind what was being taught. This was it! Yes, the first stage that they teach is survival (which was an amazing weekend), but I was AMAZED at the ability of the apprentices who were attending. I mean WOW, everything you could think of that dealt with survival, homesteading, thriving, primitive skills, bushcrafting, tracking, latest and the greatest tech BUT also the absolute in the historical native way, the primitive do-it-yourself. You name it, it was there. Also, they had guest instructors with well over 40+ years experience. I've been going ...more

Experience and a supportive instructor staff that has spent years living in the woods is what separates this school from the rest. You do the work, learn the skills, and see where each one can lead until your not only surviving, but being a productive participant in the natural world. Very empowering!

Went to their school as an active duty SERE instructor many years ago and haven't found it's equal in fifteen years of active duty and civilian school. One of a kind quality of instruction and top tier skill level in depth and breadth of knowledge.

What impressed me the most about this place is the genuine concern for student growth. The instructors were certainly skilled, but it was their invested interest in my development in each of the disciplines that really impressed me.

2 Survival Training and Outdoor Preparation

Took their 3 day course and it was great. Leaned to build their frame shelters, purify and find water, make rope from plants, make traps, make a fire with sticks, and wilderness first aid. These guys were serious instructors but were also totally cool and relatable. They could balance their humor with their instruction to deliver a really strong skills course while keeping it entertaining. Even though they had a large group they still gave lots of individual attention and made sure we knew what we were doing and could do it ourselves before they moved on to the next skill. Overall, great school, great instructors, and great time. Can't wait to take the next course.

Got dragged along to a disaster prep class because of a friend. I was expecting a mediocre seminar, something you would be forced to attend at an office. Boy, I was wrong! The instructors were not only well prepared with clear and concise informal handouts, they were also well versed and articulate of everything surrounding their profession. Typically, instructors are unable to explain the methodology and rationale of their lessons, but the instructors from survival training and outdoor prep had everything an inquisitive mind could wish for, with a bit of tasteful comedy to boot.

Eric and Suzanne ran my two day course that I brought my kids, 11 and 9, to. Without skipping a beat, both of the instructors welcomed us all into the class and taught so that the adults and kids were all learning the same skills, without leaving the kids behind or making the adults feel like kids. Talk about professionalism all the way. We all walked away from the course feeling a lot more confident in our wilderness survival skills. I even made a fire with the bowdrill. I almost cried at how good of a feeling that was. One of the best classes I've ever taken.

My husband and I took the one-day critical skills class this last weekend and it was great! We learned about how to make an amazing shelter, water purification techniques, signaling, fire-making, and more. John was very knowledgeable and did a great job of catering to the different levels of skills in the groups. He even gave us the option of taking a shorter lunch and learning a few extra skills, which was very generous. Overall, it was a great introduction to these type of classes, and we'll definitely be back.

3 Survival Training School of California (STSC)

This school is all about practical knowledge and skills that will save your life and the lives of those you're with when faced with any survival situation in the wilderness. What makes you feel good during these classes isn't some spiritual enlightenment journey or learning about and buying all those useless survival tools being sold to the masses. What makes you feel good is knowing that when it hits the fan and the situation get real, you're fully prepared to keep breathing, eating and drinking until you can get yourself out, or signal your location to others who can help. If you want true survival training in how to think and what to do in a survival situation, go to STSC. If you want to blow your money, go somewhere else. I went through the training and have used what I've learned to help myself and those I'm with through a few minor emergencies. Thankfully nothing major has happened yet, but if and when it does, I know I'll be prepared.

This school has risen to prominence pretty quickly, and is now attracting very high level clientele. Any school that is good enough to train US Marine Corps own survival instructors has my vote- but they've also provided training for; The US Air Force, US Navy, Stanford University, The California Dept of Justice, as well as Women In The Outdoors- America's largest women's outdoor organization, and too many more too list. They also advertise; "instructors available for travel anywhere in the world". It seems if your life is on the line, you may want to train with these guys.

What should be mentioned is they are mainly going there for the chief instructor, who regularly performs long distance "survival expeditions" bringing very little gear, and no food or water. He crossed Death Valley in the summer with just a knife, as well as the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in the fall. Don't think so? Wondering if it's just some more tall survival tales? Well, he even brought members of the ...more

Great outdoor survival skills class. Very knowledgeable and helpful instructors taught me the skills I wanted and helped me understand the basics I need to survive; and to help others in the wilderness. My experience with STSC was first class! So much more to learn. Will be taking more classes from them.

I've gotta vouch, Eric Shelton is a great, supportive instructor who is not only skilled and passionate about what he does but is also hilarious and relatable. If you're looking to pick up a wealth of information on survival tactics, he's your guy!

4 Tom Brown Jr Tracker School

If you haven't heard of Tom Brown Jr. "The Tracker", then you must be very new to this. He is one of the founding fathers of the modern survivalist movement, and one of the first to popularize "native spirituality" intermingled with survival training.

Manahawkin, New Jersey.

One of the best out there. His teaching style may not be for everyone but he has a lot to share. A lot what others teach can be traced to Tom Browns lineage.

Tom is the real deal. I have taken many classes at the Tacker School, and I rarely go elsewhere.

The experience is not hardcore, but the skills taught are equal to any.

5 The Pathfinder School

It is a superb school with superb instructors. In addition to Canterbury, several instructors also have their own youtube channels so you can get a taste for personalities and what you will learn. Check out the greybeardedgreenberet and corporalscorner on youtube as well as davecantebury's youtube channel and you will get a good flavor for the training there. Ignore the comments from haters who have never been there if you are actually interested in getting quality training.

I have personally taken his course and found that the classes are very well structured and extremely informative. The instructors are very well trained and have no problem answering your questions when you are having difficulty with a task. As for the whole Dave Canterbury thing who cares cause everyone lies everyday and there's no reason to judge him with complete hate and disrespect after all you should treat people the way you want to be treated.

Absolutely ridiculous. Home of disgraved "expert" Dave Canterbury, who still falsely claims to be a former army ranger and sniper, when he never even tried out for those schools. He is the epitome of the internet tough guy, and has a huge couch potato following guys. They love talking on forums but hate the outdoors. No serious organizations or individuals train there, or ever will.

Give it a break. He embellished his resume. He should have never done that and it was completely wrong. Doesn't mean he's not a expert in survival situations. Also he has openly apologized. Yes he was wrong. Nobody is perfect though.

6 Wilderness Awareness School

This school offers a wide range of programs up to 9 months in length. They can truly get you in touch with the outdoors.

Duvall, Washington

SOLID reputation and program

Great training from great people.
Thank you,
TDS

7 The Human Path

I had a truly transformative, beautiful, challenging interesting and educational experience spending two weeks learning primitive skills at The Human Path. There are things you learn and experiences that will stay with you for life. No bull, just reality mixed with compassion and a huge wealth of knowledge that is delivered in a humble and accessible way. Whatever you think you know about life and being authentic, go to The Human Path and be humbled and learn. There is the sort of education you can't get enough of. Next time I'm anywhere near San Antonio, I'll do every course they offer. You should too!

An amazing organization of truly dedicated, highly skilled people. Their approach to this important work is to empower everyday people with the knowledge and skills to make use of available materials around them to create solutions in a post-disaster world, from ethics to medicine to engineering to leadership to scouting... all facets of human communities that would need to be recreated to thrive post-disaster. I highly recommend The Human Path School.

Best experience. The instructors are very qualified and experienced, and have a caring element that was welcomed. I was challenged in the way I think in regards to post disaster scenarios. I realized that storing and prepping is only the tip of the iceberg, and without a healthy lifestyle and physical fitness, it doesn't matter how much one preps.

Clear vision of the challenges our human family is already facing and will continue to face. As an ongoing student, I am pleased and proud of my education and the school, for the depth of learning, the expertise of the teachers and the school's involvement in missions outside its own. The Human Path is forward-thinking leadership in readiness.

8 ROOTs School

Teachers at Roots are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. They'll answer any question you have, even if it has nothing to do with the class you're currently taking. Their student-centered approach creates a fantastic learning environment for beginner through advanced students.

Wildly knowledgeable people with well grounded core values. A place and community that has forever changed me. I am stronger and a more capable team member thanks to my time with the folks at ROOTS.

Teachers who know how to teach are few and far between these days... Brad and Sarah are two of the best instructors I've ever had the pleasure to learn from!

The amazing range of skills and the fact that they are not just teaching it, they are living it makes them a wonderful place to learn and share.

9 Boulder Outdoor Survival School (BOSS)

"The oldest toughest survival school in the world" says it all. They also operate perhaps the most well known field courses in the world, where students live off the desert landscape with as little as a pocketknife and a blanket for up to 28 days at a time. Of course they also offer a plethora of primitive skills courses where they guide the student back to a more ancient time when humans hunted and gathered their daily wares. Their courses take place in the beautiful and rugged desert of Boulder Utah (not Boulder Colorado!), which is an outdoor travel destination in its own right. These courses are truly legendary in the field.

BOSS has career instructors that are experts in the field. They teach skills in context and lead courses through some of the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen. "Know more, carry less" they say, and they mean it. Students leave these courses with hard skills and a profound experience of being a human in the wilderness.

I took the BOSS 7 day course. Changed my life.
The course is extremely well structured to deconstruct you and let you rebuild a better self.
What I learned was priceless even for my business life.
Traveled a lot and had a lot of experiences. In my opinion it's top 3 for your development as a human being.

The 14 days I spent with BOSS as a student was profoundly challenging and beautiful. I was an experienced wilderness guide, and I was stunned at how much I learned and experienced. It's one of the best things I've ever done. Go to BOSS.

10 Woodlore (Ray Mears Bushcraft)

Long before Bear Grylls and Survivorman; there was Ray Mears. Mears is a legend in the field and operates courses internationally. He can take you tracking through Namibia Africa, or trekking through the frozen arctic. He has trained British Military forces as well as law enforcement, and has even helped police track a fugitve on a real life man-hunt.

London, England

The Contenders
11 Sigma 3

I went through the 45 Day Instructor Program at Sigma III Survival School and loved every minute of it. From learning the essentials like bow drills and water purification to basic traps and shelters, we also learned to make bows, tan hides, do some SERE training, and spend time alone in the woods with nothing more than a knife.

I went in a complete novice. I must've learned something, however, as I survived 30 days alone in the Ozarks a few months after I graduated with some basic tools.

I believe Sigma 3 is great school with great instructor. My experience was fantastic in my 1st basic training course. The instructor were outstanding teaching a group of people with little or no knowledge of the outdoors. The teaching style was something that gave the group of strangers the confidence to work together as a family. I'm eager to return to Sigma 3 to continue my learning process in wilderness survival skills...

I took a class with the Colorado branch of Sigma 3 (Colorado Mountain Man Survuval School) and found the instructors to be knowledgeable, friendly and down to earth. I made good friends and learned a lot. I took a class from an instructor with the Missouri (original) branch of Sigma 3 and found him to be super laid back and absolutely brimming with knowledge, which he shared in a way that made learning easy. You can't go wrong with Sigma 3 schools!

Justin Williams is the new Director of Operations and Lead Instructor at Sigma 3. I trained with him in South Carolina, and he is amazingly talented. He helped me get my first bow drill coal. He was very patient and thorough in his teaching style. I am so excited he is now at Sigma 3, one of the best schools in the nation.

12 Jack Mountain Bushcraft

This school has been recognized as a top provider in the industry for a long time now. the guides are top notch, and they have an outstanding outdoor skills program, perhaps the best in the American Northeast.

Masardis, Maine

These people know what they are doing

13 Karamat Wilderness Ways

Having been to classes with Creek Stewart, Dave Canterbury and Tom Brown Jr., Mors Kochanski is the Godfather of Bushcraft and Kelly Harlton, Dragon, and Randy are his disciples. This is the school for serious bushcraft students and instructors-in-training. While Karamat may not have a slick website like Creek, or a full store like Dave, this is the school for those who are in the know.

And he doesn't lie about his background like Dave Dinglebury. He also actually hunts and doesn't believe you can kill big game with a sling shot/wrist rocket like Dave Dinglebury. He also would never claim you can make fire with a bag of urine like Dave Dinglebury.

This is one of the best survival skills schools in the world. Top notch instructors who actually know what they are doing.

Mors Kochanski, need we say more. Kelly Harlton, Mors says Kelly is better than himself. Great people, from all walks of life. Nice location in the middle of Jack Pine.

14 Trueways Survival School

Quality courses.

15 Trail Blazer Survival School

Just went through their Bug Out Class and it was great. Tom was very thorough showing and telling us what he thought we should include in our bug out bags, how to move without being seen, where to find resources and how to survive in the wilderness until you can get to your destinations. I especially like the tracking part of the class were he led us in tracking down a deer which we spooked were it was bedding down. Best Survival Class I've taken so far!

Just went to their Essential Survival Course and loved it. Tom took us through a 72 hour survival kit and what should be in it and how to use it. He went over shelter, fire, water and food procurement and how to increase your chances of being found by search and rescue. I recommend this course to anyone who goes into a wilderness area and has any chance of getting lost. Thanks Tom! Really enjoyed your class.

Trail Blazer Survival School offers the best variety of classes and adventures and truly has something for everyone. All ages and skill levels can benefit greatly from this school.

Justin Williams, one of the instructors, is a friend of mine. Not only does he know his stuff, he is humble and a patient and excellent educator.

16 Teaching Drum Outdoor School

Learning is by immersion in the Northwoods of Wisconsin with the support of wilderness guides. Immersion courses last anywhere from 80 days to 11 months. In addition to primitive skills, participants learn how to connect with nature, build awareness skills, wildlife tracking, and by the end of the program, they know how to live outdoors using only primitive skills with limited tools. www.teachingdrum.org.

17 Colorado Mountain Man Survival School

Once Jason decided to do this full time he dedicated his efforts to making his school among the very best in the world by obtaining some of the best land and developing it in an eco-friendly and responsible way making it an ideal location for students and practitioners at every level of knowledge and experience who wish to share their love of teaching and learning outdoor survival skills. Colorado Mountain Man Survival School has earned its stripes by not only gaining the trust and respect of his students and his community but also by some of the best names in the business. If you live nearby and are looking for high quality training, you won't go wrong by putting Jason and his team on your "A" list.

Jason and his team have a laid back yet structured teaching style. His military background lends a minimalist aspect that was helpful to my overly gear-laden outdoors style. Jason and his team are all fabulous friends and work so well together, making the classes both fun and instructional. They are all very friendly and outgoing. I can't recommend this school highly enough. The beautiful mountain setting is breathtaking as well.

This school is awesome! Jason is so down to earth in his teaching and really want you to understand what it means to survive

I know Jason from the 40 days instructor course, a great guy!

18 Mountain Shepherd Survival School

I've personally have attended class, at Mountain Shepherd Wilderness Survival School... and it's awesome. Reggie knows his stuff. He'll teach you the difference between real world and Disney World. I've also attended other survival schools... one of which, was with a celebrity of the survival show world... I won't same his name... I'm not into ruing one's name and reputation. But Mountain Shepherd taught me a hundred times more survival skills than I've ever seen on these "survival shows." Go to Mountain Shepherd... you'll regret it, if you don't.

Mountain Shepherd is run by a former US Air Force SERE instructor and is a great place to learn tried and true techniques. You'll find this school on any list of top survival schools.

Catawba, Va

My first Survival class was at Mountain Shepard with Reggie. After 9 years I have retained and used the instructions learned. The techniques are easy to learn, retain and can be used many times over in all types of endeavors and environments.
“Prepare, Practice, Prevail”

19 Aboriginal Living Skills School
20 Mountain Scout Survival School

Student at this school for a couple of years, love it. I learned so much!

Amazing school, with great instruction

Just amazing...

21 Ancient Pathways

One of the few schools to offer a "pocketknife only" course, Ancient Pathways has been a leader in the industry for some time. They've trained everyone form US Military to movie stars and their desert survival training is outstanding.

Flagstaff, Arizona

Have been a student numerous times. Nothing better other than real life, and that doesn't always end on schedule or as planned. TOP RATED!

22 Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC)

This highly professional outdoor skills school offers an all ages survival program that is great for the entire family. Great for an outdoor adventure.

Bryson City, North Carolina

23 Learn to Return, Anchorage Alaska
24 NaturInstinkt Sweden
25 EarthSkills LLC

Awesome instructor! A no frills, in the dirt experience for newbies and experts alike. Highly recommend!

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