Skip to Content

9 Excellent Survival Courses in the US (Find One Near You)

This article will list nine of the best survival courses offered across the US, including at least one in every region of the lower 48. I’ll also go over customer review highlights and detail instructor qualifications, as well as provide a table comparing prices and what each course offers.

Some excellent survival courses in the US include those from Jack Mountain Bushcraft School, Maine Primitive Skills School, Tom Brown, Jr.’s Tracker School, Mountain Shepherd Wilderness Survival School, Sigma 3 Survival School, Boulder Outdoor Survival School, and Ancient Pathways.

Please read on for the details on each option.

People sitting around a makeshift campfire learning to start a fire

1. Jack Mountain Bushcraft School

Jack Mountain Bushcraft School is the self-proclaimed “Ivy League” of survival schools. Located in the Northeast region of the US in Masardis, Maine, it’s been considered one of the top schools in the industry for 20 years.

Customers claim the long-term immersion courses are among the very best, providing comprehensive, foundational skills in bushcraft and primitive living that make the pursuit of advanced wilderness survival experiences imminently attainable. 

The school provides instruction at several levels, including basic and single-skill courses, remote expeditions, off-grid immersion programs, and survival instructor programs. Their courses are college-accredited and GI-bill-approved. 

Course costs range from $450–$12,800. 

Instructor Qualifications

The Jack Mountain Bushcraft school instructors are highly vetted and experienced. All instructors are licensed wilderness guides in the state of Maine, with expert skills in hunting, fishing, sea kayaking, and more. In addition, as part of this licensing process, the instructors have undergone background checks by the FBI since 2017.

Skills Taught

  • Ax and knife use
  • Fire making
  • Shelter building
  • Navigation
  • Fishing
  • Trapping

2. Maine Primitive Skills School

The Maine Primitive Skills School is another highly regarded school in the Northeast region of the US — Augusta, Maine. This school takes a more philosophical approach to wilderness survival. In addition to bushcraft and primitive living skills, they teach “nature literacy,” which is focused on reconnecting people with nature and encouraging Earth stewardship. 

Customers report that instructors go above and beyond to prepare students for survival situations and teach more than just skills. They also teach how to function as a contributing member of the natural world. 

This school offers 1-day, 2-day (weekend), and 5-day courses for novice and advanced learners, including courses for children and families. 

Instructor Qualifications

Most of the Maine primitive school instructors are registered guides or registered master guides in the state of Maine. Special skills and guest instructors have no official qualifications but considerable experience in their respective areas of expertise.

Skills Taught

  • Tool making
  • Tracking
  • Foraging
  • Shelter building
  • Plant identification
  • Fire making

Related 10 Best Places to Practice Bushcraft and Survival Skills

3. Tom Brown, Jr.’s Tracker School

In the Mid-Atlantic region, Tom Brown, Jr.’s Tracker School is easily one of the most renowned organizations for wilderness survival skill courses. 

It’s located in New Jersey Pine Barrens, and was founded in 1978 by a world-renowned wilderness survival expert who was trained from childhood in Native American survival techniques by a genuine Apache elder. As a result, this school teaches survival skills through the lens of Native American philosophy and spirituality. 

People in the woods learning survivalism skills

The school offers courses in survival, tracking, Native American healing practices, and more. These are provided at several levels, from novice to advanced. They also offer online courses.

Customer reviews of the courses are almost entirely positive, aside from those who dislike the spiritual components of the teachings. 

Courses are usually one week in length and cost $800–$900. 

Instructor Qualifications

Tom Brown Jr. himself and a handful of his hand-chosen instructors teach the courses at this school. All have studied and taught wilderness survival techniques for many years. In fact, the instructors all come from the same “lineage” of Apache tracker teachings and trained under Tom Brown Jr.

Skills Taught

  • Shelter building
  • How to find water
  • Bow making
  • Fire drills

4. Mountain Shepherd Adventure School

In the Southeast region of Catawba, Virginia, Mountain Shepherd Adventure School offers some excellent survival, bushcraft, and wilderness first aid courses aimed at safety and preparedness. These courses are designed for those who like to hike, camp, and do other extreme outdoor activities. 

While providing all the foundational survival skills, these courses are also designed to be fun for kids and families. However, the school has a more intensive “survival quest” course for those who want to experience wilderness immersion. 

Reviews of the courses are very positive, citing the experience and expertise of the instructors and the reliability of the techniques taught. 

Courses range from one day to four days and cost between $150–$595.

Instructor Qualifications

Mountain Shepherd boasts some of the best-qualified instructors around, including some trained by US Air Force SERE (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape) instructors. Others boast military experience, nursing degrees, and/or possess graduate and post-graduate degrees in wilderness survival and recreation-related areas. In addition, all instructors have many years of experience teaching outdoor recreation and survival techniques.

Skills Taught

  • How to build a fire
  • Primitive shelter making
  • Using tools
  • Wilderness first aid
  • Backpacking

5. The Human Path

The Human Path is one of the best survival schools in the Southwest. It’s located in San Antonio and Austin, Texas, and it features a unique course structure with focuses similar to majors in college programs. These include “the medic,” “the off-grid engineer,” and “the scout.” Elective-style courses are also offered in conjunction with these focus programs. 

The school teaches: 

  • Wilderness survival
  • Primitive living
  • Tracking
  • Wilderness medicine/first aid
  • Homesteading
  • And much more

The Human Path also provides prepping and survival training for urban and suburban environments as well as tracker, wilderness medic, and first responder certifications.

Customer reviews cite both the expertise of the instructors and their warmth, dedication, and compassion. 

Courses may be one, two, or three days in length and range in cost from $70–$375.

Instructor Qualifications

The Human Pathinstructors include its founder, Sam Coffman, who is a clinical herbalist with more than 15 years of experience. His other instructors include licensed: 

  • Doctors
  • Midwives
  • Doulas
  • Herbalists
  • Botanists
  • Naval officers
  • Nurses
  • And more 

Skills Taught

  • Fire and shelter making
  • Wilderness first aid
  • Scouting
  • Tool making and use
  • Foraging

Related Basic Wilderness Navigation Techniques: A Beginners Guide.

6. Sigma 3 Survival School

In the Midwest (Branson, Missouri), one of the best and most intense wilderness immersion survival courses comes from SIGMA 3 Survival School. They teach: 

  • Wilderness survival skills
  • Bushcraft
  • Tool making
  • Tanning
  • SERE training
  • Wilderness medicine
  • Disaster preparedness
  • Instructor training courses

Customer reviews are excellent, citing instructor expertise, patience, and friendliness, as well as the variety and comprehensiveness of the skills taught.

Someone learning to start a fire with the words sigma 3 survival school embossed on the photo

Courses last one to eight days and cost from $199–$5,000. 

Instructor Qualifications

The Instructors at Sigma 3 all have many years of experience in a wide variety of survival and outdoor recreation skills, including (but not limited to): 

  • Herbalism
  • Military training
  • Martial arts
  • Bushcraft
  • Primitive living 

Most have been dedicated to pursuing this knowledge their entire lives and have certifications in their areas of expertise.

Skills Taught

  • Shelter and fire making
  • Tool making and use
  • Wildcrafting
  • Herbal medicine

7. Boulder Outdoor Survival School (B.O.S.S.)

B.O.S.S., Boulder Outdoor Survival School, located in Boulder, Utah, and Boulder, Colorado, is easily the most renowned survival school in the Rocky Mountain region. This school, however, is not for the faint of heart! Their courses are immersive and intensive, providing rigorous physical and mental challenges for those who want to prepare themselves for true survival situations. 

The school has been in business for over 50 years, teaching bushcraft, wilderness survival, and primitive living. 

Customer reviews claim B.O.S.S. courses are the ultimate standard in hardcore wilderness survival. No fluff or philosophy here, just extreme survival skills!

Courses are 7–28 days in length and cost anywhere from $2,290–$5,990.

Instructor Qualifications

B.O.S.S. instructors are some of the most experienced in the field. With an average of 25 years of experience traveling the world, training in and teaching wilderness survival, they’re considered survival experts. The school also has a few specialist instructors who carry certifications and/or degrees in their respective areas.

Skills Taught

  • Friction fire
  • Shelter construction
  • Flintknapping
  • Edible plants
  • Cordage
  • Primitive pottery
  • Foraging

8. Ancient Pathways

Ancient Pathways is a highly well-regarded survival school in the Southwest region (Flagstaff, Arizona) specializing in desert survival, outdoor safety techniques, and bushcraft. The school was created in 1989, and its founder, Tony Nester, has been a survival instructor for: 

  • The U.S. military
  • The National Transportation & Safety Board
  • The National Weather Service
  • The Federal Aviation Administration
  • The US Marshals
  • And more

This school takes a Native American approach to survival skills without spiritual and philosophical teachings. Customer reviews call this school a leader in the industry and give it top ratings. 

Courses are 1–3 days long and cost $150–$400. Custom courses are also available. 

Instructor Qualifications

The instructors at Ancient Pathways include Tony Nester and his staff. With experience training everyone from the US military to Hollywood movie stars, Tony’s quality of instruction and expertise is exceptional. Other instructors include professional herbalists and former firefighters and paramedics.

Skills Taught

  • Lost-proofing
  • Survival kits
  • Rescue signaling
  • Water location and purification
  • Building shelters
  • Fire making
  • Tracking
  • Wilderness first aid
  • Plant identification

Related How To Get Military Training Without Joining.

9. Thomas Coyne Survival Schools

The Thomas Coyne Survival School is the best of its kind in the Pacific region and, some say, in the whole of the US. It’s located in Irvine, California, and although it was only established in 2008, this school is the official choice for the US military for survival skills training. 

This school offers 21 different courses in survival skills, tactical skills, and survival medical training. They provide courses for all ages and skill levels and have multiple locations across California. They also offer survival instructor certification programs. 

Customer reviews claim the courses offer comprehensive, practical knowledge that will prepare even the most inexperienced learner for wilderness survival. 

Courses last 1–7 days and cost $125–$1450. 

Instructor Qualifications

Instructors at Thomas Coyne Survival School are highly qualified ex-military, including: 

  • Army
  • Navy
  • Marines
  • Air force
  • Special forces
  • And more

The school also employs certified survival instructors and professional MMA coaches. In short, they have some of the most intensively trained, experienced, and vetted instructors in the country.

Skills Taught

  • Tool making
  • Fire and shelter building
  • Navigation
  • Water location and purification
  • Wild plant identification
  • Herbal medicine
  • Hunting
  • Trapping
  • Weapons making
  • Knapping

US Survival Skill Course Comparison Table

School Name LocationTypes of courses offeredCost
Jack Mountain Bushcraft School
Masardis, MEBushcraft
Survival expeditions
$450–$12,800 per course
Maine Primitive Skills School
Agusta, MEPrimitive skills
Survival Education
Wild foraging
Wilderness immersion
$50–$4,500 per course
Tom Brown, Jr. Tracker School
Pine Barrens, NJWilderness survival
Apache scout training
$800–$900 per course
Mountain Shepherd Wilderness Survival School 
Catawba, VAAdventure trail courses
Survival skills
Team building
$150–$595 per course
The Human Path San Antonio, TX, and Austin, TXWilderness survival skills
Herbalism and botanical medicine
Off-grid engineering
$70–$375 per course
Sigma III Survival SchoolBranson, MOSurvival instructor program
Survival skills
Urban survival
Escape and evasion
$199 to $5,000 per course
B.O.S.S. Boulder Outdoor Survival SchoolBoulder, UT and Boulder, COBushcraft
Survival skills
Traditional and primitive living
$2,290–$5,990 per course
Ancient PathwaysFlagstaff, AZSurvival skills
Desert survival
Custom courses
$150–$400 per course
Thomas Coyne Surv. SchoolLocations all across CASurvival skills
Primitive living
Outdoor skills
$125–$1450 per course