Picture yourself on an exhilarating vacation, relishing the tranquility of a remote destination. But what if the unexpected occurs, and you’re suddenly all alone, lost amidst the vast expanse of the wilderness? Or what if a natural calamity or human-induced disaster strikes, isolating you from civilization? Would you have the skills to endure and navigate your way back to safety? These pulse-pounding predicaments form the backdrop for wilderness training courses held across the globe, designed to equip you with survival techniques for the world’s harshest terrains.
The realm of wilderness survival training has evolved beyond the boundaries of military precincts and the bunkers of survivalist enthusiasts. It has entered the mainstream, becoming as popular as adventure sports, martial arts, and other exhilarating pastimes. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a curious novice, or someone simply looking to boost their confidence in the wild, this might be an exciting avenue to explore. Without further ado, we present you with an updated list of the top ten wilderness training courses worldwide, complete with a snapshot of what each offers and the latest pricing information.
- Bear Grylls Survival in the Highlands (UK, Turkey)
- Ray Mears Woodlore First Aid Course (UK)
- Elite Survival Training’s Corporate Management Expedition (Jordan)
- Jack Mountain Bushcraft School (USA)
- Bushmasters’ Jungle Survival (Guyana, Belize, Jordan)
- Sigma 3 Survival School (Arctic)
- BOSS 28-Day Field Survival Course (US)
- Karamat Wilderness Ways’ Extended Summer Survival (Canada)
- Wildhuman Bushcraft Course (UK)
- Backwoods Survival School’s Beachcomber Course (UK)
- Nordmarken Kanot-Center’s WEISS Survival Course (Sweden)
Bear Grylls Survival in the Highlands (UK, Turkey)
Well-known survivalist and TV personality Bear Grylls operates the Bear Grylls Survival Academy in the UK and currently Greece – the USA and SA locations were stopped due to covid.
One of the courses offered, ‘Survive the Highlands’ is a five-day adventure in the Scottish Highlands, at a cost of just £1,325 +VAT per person. It involves two days of intense training offered by Bear himself, followed by a 30-hour ‘island drop’ that will allow participants to immediately put their training to test. Each one will experience exactly what Bear experiences on his Island series.
The course will include adventures including: Abseiling down waterfalls, living off wild food, making wild camps and much more.
Ray Mears Woodlore First Aid Course (UK)
The Bushcraft Woodlore First Aid Course from Ray Mears is an excellent course teaching participants how to administer emergency first aid in the wilderness. The course is a level II Wilderness Emergency Medics (WEM2) course that will prepare students to administer first aid in virtually any situation. Ray Mears offers additional 2-day and weeklong courses teaching a variety of survival skills in different environments.
Elite Survival Training’s Corporate Management Expedition (Jordan)
Among other things, Elite Survival Training offers expeditions for corporate management teams looking to learn lifesaving skills and build a teamwork infrastructure to help them be better business managers. Their corporate management team expedition to Jordan is a five-day expedition that will change how a management team works together. It is an experience that seeks to identify the strengths of each team member with the hope that those strengths will be utilised in the work environment as well.
Jack Mountain Bushcraft School (USA)
Founded by Registered Master Maine Guide Tim Smith, Jack Mountain Bushcraft School continues to stand out in the realm of survival and wilderness skills training. Nestled in the rugged wilderness of Masardis, Maine, this institution provides an immersive, nature-based experience that continues to adapt and evolve with contemporary survival knowledge and techniques.
The school’s courses thoroughly explore traditional and primitive skills, including fire starting, shelter construction, hunting, trapping, and plant identification. This commitment to a hands-on, experiential learning approach emphasizes the importance of surviving and thriving in the great outdoors. They also offer a winter program if you want hit beast mode!
Bushmasters’ Jungle Survival (Guyana, Belize, Jordan)
Bushmasters offers an intense two-week survival course experience in a jungle environment deep in the heart of the Amazon. Participants are transported to Guyana where they train with an experienced Bushmasters instructor and two local guides. They will learn valuable survival skills in a two-phase programme divided between training and isolation. During the isolation phase, students quickly discover how valuable it is to work with local guides who know the Amazon inside and out.
Since writing this article back in 2015, Bushmasters have expanded their locations and experiences. They also now offer desert survival experiences and desert islands survival – which we are looking to book in 2022.
Sigma 3 Survival School (Arctic)
The Arctic can be one of the most punishing environments in the world due to the extreme weather and a lack of natural resources. Sigma 3 prepares students to survive in the Arctic under the most severe conditions. This course can also be used as credit toward earning a level 2 or 3 instructor certificate from Sigma 3. It is a 12-day course with a price of just under £2,000 per person.
BOSS 28-Day Field Survival Course (US)
Boulder Outdoor Survival School is the oldest and longest running survival school in the world, having opened in 1968. Their 28-day Field Survival course takes participants out into the wilderness of Utah (USA) with a minimum of equipment and supplies. It is an experience in surviving a mountain environment with little more than some water, a blanket, and a knife. Boulder Outdoor Survival School offers shorter versions of this training at either 14 or 7 days.
They also offer special courses for young people.
Karamat Wilderness Ways’ Extended Summer Survival (Canada)
Update: Some courses have been cancelled due to covid, please check the site and see what’s available
Karamat Wilderness Ways is a survival training organisation located in Alberta, Canada. Their extended summer survival course teaches students important concepts including fire building, proper clothing for survival, creating shelters, finding and storing safe water, and more. They also offer an extended winter survival course with additional skills training for cold weather. The Canadian location makes this one of the more unique survival courses in North America.
Wildhuman Bushcraft Course (UK)
Wildhuman (formally Woodsmoke) offers a variety of Bushcraft courses including their weeklong immersive Woodlander course. This is an introductory course that teaches general survival skills for ‘go-anywhere’ survival. It seeks to not only teach a broad set of skills, but also to give students confidence to be out in the wilderness without worry. This can be a stand-alone course or a lead-in to one of the more specialised training courses offered by Woodsmoke.
Backwoods Survival School’s Beachcomber Course (UK)
Most survival schools teach the skills necessary to survive in the woods, jungle, mountains, or snow. Backwoods Survival School is one of the few schools offering a course on beach survival. Such a course might seem useless, but there is a lot to know about surviving along the shoreline. Students learn how to fish, build shelters with limited resources, produce drinkable water through distillation, build fires, etc.
Nordmarken Kanot-Center’s WEISS Survival Course (Sweden)
The Wilderness Experience International Survival School is among the most respected names worldwide for wilderness survival training. Nordmarken Kanot-Center is a Swedish survival school offering two Wilderness Experience International Survival School survival courses including the level one Temperate Survival course. This course teaches fundamental survival skills necessary to survive in Europe’s temperate areas. Completing it is the first step in a series of courses that eventually enables successful graduates to earn the coveted Wilderness Experience International Survival School badge.
Wilderness survival training is becoming more popular with each passing day. Some view it as just a different kind of holiday while others see survival training as an essential commodity in an ever more dangerous world. Regardless of the reasons for attending, participants learn new skills and different ways of thinking that serve them well in multiple areas of life. Learning to survive in the wilderness is not a bad way to spend a free weekend or holiday.
Jane Freeman is a travel blogger and digital marketer based in the UK. Jane splits her time between London during the Spring/Summer and Asia in the winter.