Survivability for the Common Man – The Pathfinder System by Dave Canterbury

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This book was written and self published by Dave Canterbury, former co-star of Dual Survival on the Discovery Channel. There is no copyright date on the book but I believe it was written circa 2009. The book was originally only available on Canterbury’s website and sold for around $30. The last time I checked the book was out of print but an ebook version could be purchased for under $10.

The book was written to showcase the Pathfinder school and it’s Pathfinder System, a term and philosophy coined by Dave Canterbury. The Pathfinder school still offers classes, dvd’s and a virtual classroom. Dave Canterbury’s website states that anyone other than a certified pathfinder instructor is neither endorsed nor qualified to teach the Pathfinder System. So evidently just reading the book is not going to make you an expert.

When you first open the book there is a table of contents, but no chapters or even sections, just topics with page numbers listed. There is a short paragraph about the author where Canterbury doesn’t spend much time talking about his achievements. After that there is a disclaimer statement where he discusses what this book is and is not. He states that it is NOT a disaster preparedness book nor is it a urban grid down survival manual. However, he does state that it was written as a basic survival skills manual for hikers, campers, and outdoor types.

The book then begins with the coverage of his Pathfinder Philosophy. He spends a large amount of the readers time discussing his 10 C’s of survivability. Which you can find on either Canterbury’s youtube page or through google. So I won’t spend any time here discussing those. The book in general is a great overview for basic survival needs. There are several pages in the book where Canterbury shows a black and white photo of a given task and then prints a very brief description below the photo of what is going on in the picture. It leaves some questions though. It doesn’t get in depth about what you should be doing or even any instruction about how to accomplish these tasks. However, I think that this was deliberate because Canterbury probably wanted the reader to take the Pathfinder course and not just be able to learn everything from his book.

Although I enjoyed reading the book and learning the 10 C’s of survivability there were parts of it I didn’t care for. Throughout the book there were grammatical errors, such as, run on sentences, misspelled words and also organizational issues.  After reading the book, it lead me to think that the book was just thrown together without much review or editing. While I appreciate the notion that the book was written to accommodate common men, I thought it would have been better if certain care had been given to the writings and editing of the information presented. For example, when you start reading the book the first topic is a knife and the importance of it. This is the first item on the list of the 10 C’s (i.e., cutting tool). However at this point there has been no mention of the 10 C’s. Then as you move on, the list of 10 C’s is presented and the first thing that is discussed is about clothing, which says 1) Clothing. However, it’s not #1, cutting tool is #1.  So it leaves the reader a bit confused as to why Canterbury jumps around and doesn’t list his 10 C’s at the start and then cover them one after the other.  Perhaps there is a reason he presented it this way, but I think most readers would agree, it doesn’t flow well.

In conclusion, I think the concepts and training you could receive from an instructor like Canterbury would be invaluable. Especially if you had next to nothing in terms of education in the outdoors. The book does show some innovation in terms of mental preparedness and thinking outside the box when you are putting items together to survive with. But I don’t think that this book should be on your survival bookshelf. It leaves a lot to be desired in terms of instruction and “how-to” knowledge.

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