The 10 Best Survival Magazines for Preppers [2024]

by Tommy Grant

Survival magazines are a great way to stay informed, learn new skills, and be entertained. The best survival magazine is the one you feel you can learn the most from. You’ll need a variety of content and good writing to keep you interested and learning. In a world where we have digital versions of everything, it’s nice to be able to pick up and put down a magazine and glance at it whenever you want.

We list out the ten best survival magazines below, so if you are looking for a new read you can try them out. About half of these can be found at your local grocery store, and the other half can be hunted down in bookstores where they have larger magazine racks. You can always opt to get them delivered with a subscription too- so we’ve ferreted out the cheapest places to get bargain subscriptions on these specific magazines.

Contents (Jump to a Section)

What are Survival Magazines?

Survival magazines can cover a wide range of topics, ranging from urban survival to chicken coops. All of the topics relate in some way to preparing for, preventing, and mitigating disasters.

They range from modern highly produced magazines with action-packed photos to old-school page-turners with letters to the editor and reader contributions. Like most things survival, the definition is broad.

What to Look For

A good survival magazine should be both informative and entertaining. It should also have:

  • Quality Content – Filler articles, tons of advertisements, and plain old conjecture really take away from the content of a survival magazine. You’ll want to see expert survivalists and preppers weighing in and being cited in the articles. You’ll want proof that the gear they hawk is actually good. You’ll want the magazine to not be two-thirds ads.
  • Content Variety – Several great magazines that focus on a small segment of survival (HAM, firearms, bushcraft magazines, etc) were left off of this list just because they are too niche when compared to the survival category. There are plenty of good single-topic magazines out there we would suggest but we stuck closer to magazines that cover a wider range of survival topics.
  • Consistency – Reading a magazine once a year is okay, but when they put out their issues consistently at a higher clip the information more readily stays on your mind.

Beyond those, you may be on the lookout for a specific type of content. We go over what each rag covers in our top 10 picks, but prepping and survival are broad subjects. The top magazines that we choose are usually equally broad.

Prepper Survival Guide Magazine Fire Starting Article

Now without much further mulling about, let’s get to the list. I singled my personal favorite, so be on the lookout for “Sean’s Pick”.

10. Self-Reliance

Self-Reliance Magazine

No matter where you are, you can live a more self-reliant life.

US $19.99 Newsstand Price

Quarterly Frequency

4.6 Stars

14+ Issues

* per issue with a subscription

Since 2016, Self-Reliance magazine has been sharing how to do just that. With a myriad of homesteading topics, they can help you survive on your own with articles on foraging, solar, homesteading farm, and pantry planning. It started as a Kindle-only magazine back in 2013 and officially became its own publication separate from Backwoods Home Magazine in 2016.

The magazine is a family-run magazine with a modest circulation of about 15,000 per issue. It’s 100 pages of homesteading, prepping, and community articles and guides from Sam Duffy’s group that you can tell are passionate about it.

9. Grit

Grit Magazine Rural American Homesteading and Prepping

Rural Amercian living, chronicled since the 19th century.

US $8.99 Newsstand Price

6 issues per year

4.7 Stars

80+ Issues

* per issue with a subscription

Since 1882, Grit has been delivering on their promise to celebrate rural America. The articles document a wide blend of rural life topics that overlap with homesteading, off-grid living, survival, and prepping enough to include in our list this year.

8. Backwoods Home Magazine

Backwoods Home Magazine

Solid, practical, hands-on information on a wide range of self-reliance topics.

US $24.99 Newsstand Price

4 issues per year

4.4 Stars

250+ Issues

* per issue with a subscription

Dave Duffy started Backwoods Home Magazine in his garage back in 1989, and they have had a good run since. Sam Duffy took it over in 2019 to bring it back to print after a hiatus where it was only available online. Rumor is that the hiatus was a ploy to drop the ‘lifetime subscription’ that Dave Duffy sold back in the day for fast money that ended up catching up with him and putting the magazine in the red.

It’s a good read of 113 pages per issue on homesteading, backwoods prepping, and one article each on firearms and politics. If you looking for grounded down-to-earth preparedness, this quarterly magazine is a good pickup.

7. Mother Earth News

Mother Earth News Magazine

The original guide to living wisely.

US $10.99 Newsstand Price

6 issues per year

4.6 Stars

300+ Issues

* per issue with a subscription

Mother Earth News has been around for over 50 years as a magazine publication and is also online. They are the authority on everything organic, homesteading, DIY, natural health, sustainable, etc. They tout the magazine as a guide to living “with little money and abundant happiness” since they focus on cheap sustainable living.

You can find some pretty good deals on subscriptions since they are one of the highest circulation magazines on our list, at over 500,000 subscriptions.

6. The New Pioneer

The New Pioneer Magazine

The complete guide to self-reliant living.

US $10.95 Newsstand Price

Bi-Annual Frequency

4.3 Stars

12+ Issues

* per issue with a subscription

The New Pioneer is only published twice a year, but it’s got lots of great info on modern homesteading. They call it ‘the complete guide to self-reliant living’ and focus on gardening, livestock, preserving, and other homesteading skills. It’s published by Athlon Outdoors, which put out a few other magazines on our list.

It’s easy to get caught up as this is a relatively new magazine on age-old skills.

5. The Backwoodsman

The Backwoodsman magazine

Dedicated to preserving Frontier-style living, primitive hunting, and fishing.

US $9.99 Newsstand Price

Bi-Monthly Frequency

4.8 Stars

250+ Issues

* per issue with a subscription

The Backwoodsman is a romantic ode to wilderness survival skills. It celebrates Frontiersman and has successfully carried that banner for over 40 years. Inside, you’ll find plenty of articles discussing survival skills without any modern conveniences.

I personally enjoy reading Backwoodsman. I’m admittedly not as familiar with many of the backwoods tips and how-tos, but that is one reason I find it a valuable read- it covers a weakness in my own preparedness. Also, it has the feel of an older magazine, with letters to the editor and reader contributions included. I’m a sucker for nostalgia in that way and appreciate how the magazine is the standard bearer for wilderness survival.

4. Ballistic

Ballistic Magazine

Firearm-focused, with survival situations scattered in.

US $9.99 Newsstand Price

Bi-Monthly Frequency

4.6 Stars

50+ Issues

* per issue with a subscription

Ballistic isn’t a new publication, but after Survivor’s Edge folded, much of that content has made its way into here. It’s labeled as ‘the premier firearms & survival magazine’, but the focus definitely leans towards firearms. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and the editorial quality is top-notch as well.

3. Backwoods Survival Guide

Backwoods Survival Guide Magazine

Practical advice for the simple life.

US $9.95 Newsstand Price

Bi-Monthly Frequency

4.9 Stars

X+ Issues

* per issue with a subscription

Jim Cobb’s Backwoods Survival Guide covers the outdoors, homesteading, and do-it-yourself projects. The topics are broad enough that there is always something new to take away in every issue. The diverse subjects make it great for anyone, whether they call themselves a prepper or not.

2. Offgrid (Recoil)

Recoil Offgrid Magazine

Emergency preparedness, in-depth gear testing, urban & wilderness survival.

US $9.99 / CAN $10.99 Newsstand Price

Bi-Monthly Frequency

4.5 Stars

50+ Issues

* per issue with a subscription

Offgrid Magazine is published under the same umbrella as Recoil Magazine, which can help explain how they put out great reads. For starters, all of the magazines focused on firearms (see Recoil or Ballistic) have much larger audiences and make more money than survival or prepping magazines. But when these same magazine creators make survival magazines- they can bring a much larger pool of resources.

These extra resources make these magazines a much better production, as exemplified by Offgrid Magazine. They may have more ads in them, but they also have access to high-profile interviews, an amazing array of gear, and very proficient writers.

1. Prepper Survival Guide

Prepper Survival Guide Magazine

Be better prepared for emergencies large and small.

US $12.99 / CAN $13.99 Newsstand Price

Bi-Monthly Frequency

4.4 Stars

15+ Issues

* per issue with a subscription

Prepper Survival Guide may not be published very often with only four issues per year, but they are always solid when they hit the newsstands. They have more time to source quality articles and find topics that stay relevant, without being redundant. Trust us, it’s easy to fall into a pattern where you end up repeating yourself when you write about survival- but the Prepper Survival Guide team pulls it off effortlessly.

Jim Cobb, the editor (you may recognize him from BSG earlier), has a knack for staying relevant. He explains it best: “Our approach is very basic. We’re very focused on common-sense, practical approaches to getting people better prepared for life’s emergencies. We’re not looking at the end of the world. We’re looking at common things that can happen and what you can do ahead of time to lessen the impact.”

Other Survival Magazines

Here are a few more survival-related magazines that you could consider but didn’t make the rankings due to content quality, distribution type (digital only, country restrictions, etc), or other reasons.

  • American Frontiersman – This quarterly print magazine celebrates frontier life but also throws in some product reviews and how-tos.
  • American Outdoor Guide (Boundless) – A digital delivery magazine and the follow-up to American Survival Guide has shifted its focus to the outdoors with survival being secondary.
  • Bushcraft Magazine – This rag is run in the UK and looks like it might be pretty good. Unfortunately, they don’t ship to my address here in the US so we couldn’t consider them in the rankings. They also put on the annual Bushcraft Show which is one of the best survival expos.

Out of Print Magazines

There has been a slew of magazines printed that are related to prepping and survival. Some had a good run and others died a timely death.

  • American Handgunner’s SURVIVE – The last issue was in 2019 (that I’ve seen), but this bi-annual magazine did have a variety of survival topics that were interesting.
  • American Survival Guide – American Survival Guide has existed for over 8 different iterations, and after 11 years as “American Survival Guide,” they yet again changed their name to “American Outdoor Guide” for the ninth iteration just this past year. Many consider ASG’s heyday to be from 1979 to the mid-90s. The highest it ranked on our list was #3.
  • Back Home – Running no more than a few years in the late 90s and early 2000s, Back Home was considered by many to be superior to Backwoods Home. It completely folded (digital too) in 2014.
  • Be Ready – Stealing the FEMA slogan didn’t work too well. This rag put out by The Shotgun News didn’t last more than a year in 2014.
  • Doomsday – An ASG spinoff in 2015 (a little late to capitalize on the Doomsday Preppers TV show) didn’t last long.
  • Eagle – Focusing on ‘adventure, survival, and truth’, this Stanly Harris mag lasted from 1991-1995.
  • EDC – It looks like Engaged Media is having trouble with its survival-focused arm because this went out of print at the same time as ASG/AOG.
  • Guns and Survival – Not sure what happened with this one, but it’s out of print.
  • Living Ready – This one lasted several issues in 2012 – 2014 as a spinoff of Gun Digest. It folded hard and doesn’t even have a website anymore.
  • Practical Survival – This magazine focused on natural living and self-reliance. Not bad, but it went under a few years ago.
  • Prepare – This one lasted a few years in the mid-2010s.
  • Prepper and Shooter – This lasted only four issues back in 2014.
  • Self Reliance Illustrated – Lots of pictures (as you may have guessed from the title) put out by Self Reliance Outfitters for 22 issues.
  • Self Reliance Journal – Around the turn of the century, this one didn’t last long. Information was kind of all over the place with ATV reviews, airline travel tips, and snowshoe recommendations.
  • Stay Alive – Living Ready didn’t present this magazine for very long- it looks like it was around for a few issues in 2016.
  • Street Survival Weapons – A firearms mag disguised as a survival mag just ends up being comically bad. Briefcase guns! As far as I know, this publication didn’t make it out of the 20th century.
  • Survivalist – A huge variety of writers from 2012-2016 with 27 issues.
  • Survive – Also “Survive – Guns and Action” from the team at Soldier of Fortune. Like the banner magazine, these all folded and exist just as content on the Soldier of Fortune website.
  • Survivor’s Edge – This magazine has been rolled up (and watered down) into the flagship magazine from Athlon: Ballistic. At one point, it made it as high as #4 on our list.
  • Vigilante – Four issues back in 1978. Some people think it was great, but I don’t see what the fuss was about.
  • U.S. Militia – Kurt Saxon had a weird conglomeration of other people’s work (without credit) but some of it was weird conspiracies, like Martians.

The Final Word

Survival magazines can give you the information you need to have an edge if SHTF. There is plenty of knowledge out there, and a good magazine makes it easier to borrow some of it while you are on the go. There is a wide range of topics and personalities just inside the survival community, and some magazines do a great job of highlighting these. If you are looking for other ways to explore survival and prepping topics, check out these roundups and guides:

If you have any favorite magazines that we may have missed or chosen not to rank, weigh in below in the comment section. We will give the ones that we haven’t seen or read in a while a shot.

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.

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Top 10 Survival Magazines 2024

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