I’m not a mountain man.
I live in New York City. I have an apartment, my deli around the block makes the best bacon-egg-and-cheese north of Central Park.
But, when Covid-19 hit the city, things got a little screwy. People were freaked out, lines got out of control, and panic buying set in.
Everything is okay now, but it made me realize how dependent I was on my city around me—and it made me want to learn how to be more self-sufficient.
Enter The Lost Ways: a book designed to teach you society’s lost survivalist skills.
Did I like it? Was it worth it? Read my ultimate The Lost Ways Review to find out!
What is The Lost Ways?
The Lost Ways is a survival book that is based around the concept that what we in the 21st century would call a “catastrophe” is what the 1850s would call “daily life.”
This isn’t meant to be demeaning.
Instead, it shows that when the rubber hits the road, when the apocalypse hits, humanity already has a ton of survivalist techniques and methods at their disposal, because it’s how we used to live for centuries.
Survivalist Claude Davis has captured these techniques in a nearly 400 page book (available as a PDF download, or a physical copy for an additional $8.99 shipping charge) that focus around several key survival subjects
- Outside of Oxygen, water is the most critical element to survival. Claude shows you how to find water, ensure the quality of your drinking water, detoxify potentially hazardous water, and many other critically important water survival skills.
- This functions almost as a mini-cookbook. Claude introduces us to 25 lost-to-history superfoods that are ideal for stocking up for a survival situation. He explains the benefits of certain foods that do not require refrigeration—certainly a critical skill in a survival situation.
- Dovetails in with Food, but cooking focuses on how to build certain cooking instruments (like smokehouses) which are useful for preparing foods in survival situations.
- Ya gotta eat! Ya gotta clothe yourself! Claude walks you through traditional hunting and fishing methods that you can create for yourself from scratch, allowing you to hunt game in order to survive and thrive.
- Home Building
- Everyone needs shelter, and Claude spends considerable time teaching you how to build shelters large enough for your family—the pinnacle being a subterranean roundhouse that has its roots in Native American traditions.
- Poultices and other medicines
- Claude explains how to create organic medicines that can be used to reduce inflammation, prevent infection, and for many other uses.
This information is presented to you to help you survive in an extreme circumstance.
The Lost Ways feels certainly like a workbook—a collection of tips along with specific guides to help you execute necessary survival techniques in case of a severe emergency.
Who is Claude Davis?
Claude Davis is a survivalist. He has decades of survivalist experience, which were inspired in in no small part by his grandparents who survived the Holodomor in Ukraine.
He is the owner of askaprepper.com, a popular website dedicated to “prepping” or preparing for an apocalyptic situation.
His mindset that anyone can and should prepare for the worst—it’s not simply a pastime for the ultra-rich who can construct million-dollar bunkers.
He believes that everyone can and should learn necessary survival skills in order to prepare for the worst.
Does he know what he’s talking about?
You bet he does!
Claude doesn’t just rely on his own expertise. He consults with a variety of different experts to deliver a well-rounded, valuable survival book that tackles nearly every possible element of survivalism.
He consults with:
- Erik Bainbridge: a Native American who explains how to build subterranean survival shelters that can house up to five people
- Patrick Shelley, a hunter who walks you through various traps
- Shannon Azares who teaches you how to preserve your water
- Susan Morrow: a chemist who shows you how to use homemade + organic medicines
- Lex Rooker, whose investigation of Native American cooking has allowed him to compile a list of long-lasting, nutrient-dense superfoods.
These experts, along with Claude himself, work together to craft nearly 400 pages of expert advice on preparing for a survival situation.
In other words, Claude does his homework, and it really shows.
What does The Lost Ways teach?
The Lost Ways teaches survival skills. I touched on briefly what the book covered, but I figured that I’d go into a little more depth about three topics The Lost Ways covers: fire, food, and Donner Party.
One of the structures that Claude covers is the self-feeding fire.
It’s early on in the book, but it’s a neat concept. In essence, you build a “v” out of two flattened pieces of wood that hold a series of logs of wood above a fire. Claude shows you how to load these logs so that they will gently fall into the fire as the fire needs to be fed.
It’s a pretty clever concept that has a strong element of “why didn’t I think of that” once you see it in action.
The food section is a neat division between traditional American recipes and survivalist-based foods. There’s an entire section dedicated to making food from cattails—something I had no idea was possible.
Claude explains that the roots of cattails have 10 times the starch of potatoes, and he spends considerable time showing you how to extract this starch before going into a great deal of different recipes that utilize cattail as a primary ingredient.
Another recipe that Claude goes into explanation about is Pemmican. Pemmican is a type of dried meat and rendered fat that can keep for years if stored properly.
It doesn’t sound exactly the most appetizing, but hey, it’s survival! This falls into the general theme of the book: that your survival is paramount. Pemmican is a high-density food that holds a great deal of nutrients and keeps for a long time.
If you’re trying to figure out how to make your food last a long time? The Lost Ways is great solution.
Claude’s case study of the Donner Party was a bit different than the rest of The Lost Ways. He actually takes a few pages to talk about what led to the Donner Party disaster, and then parses each decision and how it impacted their chances at survival.
For those who aren’t familiar with the Donner Party, it was a group of pioneers who made a series of fatal miscalculations on their route to California which resulted in nearly half of the 87 members of the party dying. Several resorted to cannibalism.
Claude then spins this tale into a bunch of lessons that you can apply in survival situations—some more specific, some more general.
Some of these lessons are:
- Survival depends upon weather
- Donner party got stuck in a serious snow due to their delay getting to the mountains. This proved fatal.
- They also were in the Great Salt Lake Desert while the sands were wet, not dry, costing them precious days and eating into their resources.
- Stress leads to anger
- A member of the party killed a man out of anger. Not good for survival chances
- Know when to turn back
- Sometimes you need to cut your losses
It’s an interesting approach to apply his survival skills to a historical incident and then dissect the mistakes that were made along the way.
While we can agree that hindsight is 20/20, it’s important to see how we can learn from history, and Claude certainly works to impart those lessons to his readers.
How much does The Lost Ways Cost?
The Lost Ways comes in at a surprisingly affordable $37.
For this, you get a 350+ page PDF. Included, you get three additional texts dedicated to growing survivalist foods, surviving an EMP attack, and building a can rotation system. So, you wind up with a considerable amount of information for a pretty reasonable price.
If you’re interested in getting a physical copy of the book, that runs $37 plus $8.99 for shipping and handling.
It’s not that often that ebook guides like these have a physical copy available as well, and the price differential is pretty negligible, so if you’re a physical copy collector, you can rest easy knowing it’s an affordable purchase.
So what did I like about it?
There were a lot of things I liked about The Lost Ways. I really enjoyed Claude’s frank nature, the breadth of material covered, his dissection of historical events, his recipes, and his guides.
Let me tackle them in greater detail.
- Claude spends a great deal of time showing you two main forms of recipes: traditional foods that Americans ate before the 1900s, and then survivalist recipes that you can make with access to a few key ingredients.
- You can tell which recipes are meant to be the survivalist ones as he spends a considerable amount of time going over their creation, preparation, storage, and applications.
- Breadth of material covered
- Claude covers a lot of ground! He walks you through building an underground shelter, along with how to determine the proper ground and ensure that the structure has proper drainage.
- He gives a lesson on how to possibly make your own bullets and gunpowder
- He teaches you how to make herb+organic material based medicines called poultices
- Great survival tips
- Need to purify your drinking water? Claude explains how to build a charcoal water filter.
- Need to make a candle? Gather some pine resin and follow Claude’s lead.
Again, Claude has a lot of material that he covers which makes for a very compelling read.
I really liked how many different elements of survivalism he examined, allowing you to get a well-rounded approach to thriving in a destabilizing situation.
What I wished had been a little better
As with anything I review, there are always a few things I feel could be better.
Not too deep
While Claude covers a lot of ground, he doesn’t go into a great deal of depth in many categories. This leaves a lot of pieces of the book feeling a bit lighter than they could be, especially for a survival situation.
In some cases (food, poultices), the lack of depth gives it a more “intro to survival” feeling, which isn’t bad. I often found myself using Claude’s information as a jumping off point for further research.
In other cases, like building an underground shelter, the information was so brief that it was confusing. I felt that for being a “survival guide” it owed it to the readers to go into specific detail with something as critical as “building a shelter.” Instead, that section read a little like a summary of how shelters were built, rather than a step-by-step guide.
Not always helpful
This goes hand-in-hand with the “not to deep” complaint, but some of the information was a little abstruse and relied on specialist equipment.
For instance, he devotes paragraphs on how to cast your own bullets, but then doesn’t go into real, concrete detail on how to obtain these materials, how to forge them, or any real step-by-step instructions. The same can be said for how to fashion a knife, which basically said: get a metal file, and grind it down with a belt sander.
Granted, I am very new to the world of survival + prepper-ology, and maybe the intended audience has additional knowledge and tools that I don’t have.
But at times I felt a little out of my depth.
Speculative elements get a little off course
In a few sections, Claude veers from survival teachings to the realm of speculating on societal collapse. With this comes discussions on maintaining law and order in your environment, a la the Wild Wild West.
These sections, while grounded in the history of how sheriffs operated in the Wild West, start to get a little fantastical. While he does go out of his way to say disavow extrajudicial executions, the fact that he feels he even needs to talk about it is unnecessary for mine.
BUT, again, this is a book about survival, and Claude is doing his due diligence by informing you of potential situations you may come across. It just feels a little dissonant.
Is The Lost Ways worth it?
Before I jump into this, let me walk you through who this book is good for.
The Lost Ways is good for:
- People interested in early American history, cooking, and living
- Those looking to learn survival skills—particularly cooking, water purification, and fire preparation
- Preppers or survivalists looking for an authoritative text on skills you’ll need for a real emergency
- Folks curious about getting back to nature and learning forgotten trades.
There’s a lot of good and cool stuff in this book that will satisfy any curious reader.
As for me?
I really enjoyed the book. Covid (as of now) has proven to be more of a societal gridlock than a SHTF (his acronym) situation, meaning that a lot of the advice he gives is for a disaster an order of magnitude greater than what we’re currently handling—knock on wood.
The advice is still super solid, but I think that my panic-induced brain may have jumped to “worst case scenario,” when what I needed to do was just stay inside and wear a damn mask.
Who might not like this book?
- Folks who don’t like the outdoors. This is about survival in wilderness situations. Cities aren’t given a lot of detail.
- Vegetarians. He has plenty of vegetarian friendly recipes, but there is a lot about hunting and maximizing meat.
- People looking for a short read. At nearly 400 pages, this isn’t something you can read in an afternoon.
- People looking for detailed info on one topic. This is more of a broad approach than a deep one.
My The Lost Ways review verdict
Do I recommend The Lost Ways?
My answer is a solid yes. The Lost Ways is a great text that spends considerable time outlining how to handle a survival situation.
It goes into good detail on food preparation, cooking, water filtration, and poultices. It also spends some time looking at weapons, law and order, and shelter.
I especially liked the sections on food that showed you how to maximize the use of certain wild ingredients—such as cattails. This section explains the nutrients of different components of the plant, along with how to extract them, before giving you a slate of recipes featuring the wild ingredient.
Other sections are cool (if entry level) introductions to more complicated subjects, like shelter, that de facto encourage you to do more reading on your own.
Claude’s book is a very solid look at a variety of survival tactics, drawing on the rich history of American explorers whose lifestyles were much more difficult than ours were today.
At the very least, it gives you a lot to be grateful for.