Fielder’s Choice

Civilian-Friendly Army Field Manuals

None It happens all the time.

You’re on a camping trip. A s’mores fire burns your camp to the ground, forcing you into exile. You could:

A) Die.
B) Fashion a parachute out of your pants.
C) Start a fire using your cell phone battery, make a tomahawk and hunt things, then use the Big Dipper to find your way back to civilization.

If you chose B, congratulations... that’s a hilarious solution to your predicament.

As for executing that last option: enter the US Army Field Manuals, three handpicked how-to books from the ’60s and ’70s written and illustrated by the steely-eyed servicemen of armies past, available online now.

Think of this as one of the few pieces of vintage Americana that can actually save your life (close second: Snoopy Sno Cone Machine). There are over 600 of these manuals in existence, most of which have absolutely no business being in your hiking backpack (unless you’re just really into counterinsurgency).

But you’ll be happy to hear that this particular collection—Rigging, First Aid for Soldiers and Survival—keeps things decidedly civilian-friendly. Which means that should your weekend sojourn into the woods turn ugly (running out of beer doesn’t count), you’ll know how to make fire, set traps, treat snakebites and... build Ojibwa bird snares and lethal spear traps.

And yes, there’s even an entire section devoted to turning a pair of pants into a parachute.

Apparently MC Hammer did some ghostwriting for the Army back in the day.

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