Cody Lundin – Interview with one of Americas top survival instructors

By Paul Pinkerton
Publish Date:

I have to say that I think Cody Lundin is great, I love his books, they’re straight forward, well written and they’re full of knowledge and advice. I’ve enjoyed his TV shows, and in our conversations now and then over the last 10 years, he’s always been a gentleman, helpful and accommodating.

Cody owns and runs the Aboriginal Living Skills School in Arizona which he established in 1991. He’s one of America’s best known survival experts having done TV shows and two books: 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive and When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need to Survive When Disaster Strikes.



He lives in a passive solar home that he designed himself, off grid and free from any utility bills. He collects rainwater, composts waste and thoroughly enjoys the off-grid life. Cody is known for always having bare feet and being in shorts, which I can relate to, I love shorts, but I struggle with the bare feet, they must be like old leather, I should have asked him in the interview, Doh, maybe in the next one…


How did you get into Aboriginal skills, what’s your story?

I’ve always been interested in doing more with less. I experimented with primitive skills in the early 1980’s and pursued it more formally in the late 80’s. This later included modern wilderness survival skills, urban preparedness and homesteading. I started my survival school – the Aboriginal Living Skills School – in 1991. At that time there was no you tube, no Facebook, no social media, etc. you had to work hard to market yourself. You had to earn what you were given and prove your field credibility. You had to be good at your craft.

It was a beautiful time when survival skills were “fringe” in the world and held integrity. There was little exploitation from the media and people knew not to drink their piss, jump off cliffs or go after killer bees in a garbage bag. While my “story” is largely the same as it was 27 years ago, I am currently much more occupied correcting the lack of context and credibility generated by media regarding survival skills.

What’s the most important lesson that you’ve learned from your time in the wilderness?

Nature is the boss, and cocky people die.


Have you ever been lost/ If yes, where, when and how did you find your way?

Cody – Anyone who has spent time in real wilderness has been lost. I was nine years old the first time I was lost in the mountains. I was living in Europe at the time and was skiing in Austria on vacation with my family. I had been skiing solo most of the day, and as the sun started to set, I saw a sign on the slopes that said “Germany”. As that’s where I lived, my nine year old mind skied into Germany. Needless to say, it got dark, and I was lost.

I eventually found a small Gasthaus on the slopes and beat on the door crying. I woke up the owner, an older lady, who brought me inside, gave me soup, and called a snow cat to take me to my very anxious parents. What could have easily been a kid dying of hypothermia in a winter wilderness had a happy ending. I have never forgotten that woman.

Where’s your favorite place to be and your least favorite place to be and why?

My favorite place is my homestead; lots of good memories and I continue to create more. On the flip side, I enjoy visiting cities, but I’m not a fan of being around them too long.

What’s your most used piece of kit and why?

It depends on the intention of my training. Due to the incredible landscape variations in Arizona, I teach desert survival and winter survival, at one time both within a 48 hour period. The polarities of dealing with hypothermia and hyperthermia require flexibility in teaching methodology and gear.

What do you think is your most versatile piece of equipment and why?

It’s been known in the anthropological record for some time that “fire” and “cutting edges” are master tools that have literally built civilizations. There are thousands of tasks that these two items – alone and together – can accomplish for the survivor or the everyday person.


What “Golden Rule” do you live by?

Holding integrity. If you lose your principles, you lose your power.

What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?

That I’m not a victim of circumstance.

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