In almost every outdoor survival handbook there’s a chapter on what you should pack and carry in a survival kit. But what most of these survival handbooks fail to explain is the difference between the basic “must have” necessities and the “nice-to-have” items that can make your survival situation less life threatening, more comfortable, and yes…even enjoyable too.

And whether you’re in the military or not, a hunter, camper, hiker, survivalist, or some other type of outdoor enthusiast, or you frequently beeg travel to remote and off the road places, you need to carry a survival kit. And as Joseph A. Laydon Jr. of Intensive Research Information Services and Products (IRISAP) points out in his books;

A survival kit MUST BE constructed to satisfy the eight elements of survival, which are Fire, Water, Shelter, First Aid, Signal, Food, Weapons, and Navigation. And if a survival kit does not contain the proper items to satisfy ALL (and not part) of these eight elements of survival, then it’s NOT a true survival kit.

Well, after personally reviewing about a dozen or more survival handbooks, these are the basic “must have” necessities they all recommend you serviporno should carry in a survival kit.

What should you carry these items in? Well if you’re in the military you should carry them in an extra ammo pouch on your belt or inside your butt pack or rucksack. And if you’re not in the military, then you’ll probably want to carry them in a small nylon or canvas pouch or rucksack. Unless ya wanna carry’em the same way military aviators carry theirs, in a Survival Vest.

Now there are several types of vests on the market, from military flight and assault vests to safari and traveler vests. But what I don’t like about these vests is the price – they’re too damn expensive. Except one type, a fisherman’s vest. Which I much prefer because they’re less expensive, lighter in weight and come with an assortment of small, medium and large pockets for all your survival goodies.

And when you need something, you can quickly get to it without having to dump everything out. And if you do forget which pocket you put it in, you just have to feel for it. And best of all, this vest can be easily stored under the seat of a car, boat, plane, or snowmobile. Not bad, huh?

And in addition to these “must have” and “nice-to-have” survival items, I personally carry in my survival vest the following “luxury items.”


I’m sure you’ve heard or read stories about lost skiers, hikers, and stranded motorists freezing to death due to prolong exposure to severe cold weather conditions. And or if they did survive their ordeal, they either had to have their fingers, hands, feet or toes amputated due to severe frostbite.

With all these high-speed commercial products on sitio web the market today, especially the easy-to-carry-in-your-pocket kind of stuff, it’s hard to believe why some outdoor “winter enthusiasts” don’t better prepare themselves before venturing out in the cold. I mean… Hello! Don’t ya know it can get pretty darn cold outside?

And whether you’re only going away for a few hours or for the entire day. If you’re gonna be off the main roads, trails and or away from civilization, you should at least carry in your pants or jacket pocket or in a small pouch a few basic “winter survival items. Such as a small signaling mirror. a small compass, a small florescent orange cloth, etc. And if nothing else, at least some matches a candle and a compact pocketsize emergency space blanket. (See photos/drawings on how to use.)

And a modification you should immediately make to a thermal pocket blanket (when you purchase it), is to place some pieces of “duct tape” on the corners and also along the sides. Then take a “hole puncher” and make some nice clean holes where you placed these pieces of tape so it won’t tear when you attach some nylon string (which you’ll also need) to the corners and sides for use as an emergency shelter.

Another modification you should make to it, is to place two (2) 12-15 inch long pieces of duct tape “one-over-the-other” directly in the center of the thermal blanket and repeat this same procedure on the reverse side.

Then if you should ever need to use it as a rain or cold weather poncho. All ya gotta do is remove one layer of duct tape from both sides, take your knife and make a slit down the center of the “second layer” of tape (but not the entire length) and then try it on for size. When you’re finished using it, reattach the two layers of duct tape that you removed to close up this slit/hole so you can use it again as an emergency shelter or blanket.

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First a Few Words From Ranger Rick…

As a former US Army Ranger, Drill Instructor, and an advisor/trainer to the Bosnia & Herzegovina Army under the US State Department approved “Train & Equip Program.” I have always enjoyed sharing with soldiers my personal experiences and tips on how to survive in a military outdoor environment through field expedient know-how. And although I’ve been retired from active duty since 1993, I’m still doing what I like best, “teaching and training soldiers.” But not in a class room, but through a series of books I publish called THE RANGER DIGESTS.

They’re about how to survive and thrive in the outdoors “military style.” From how to take a crap in the woods, improvise, modify, and improve military & civilian outdoor gear to lots of useful tips, tricks & ideas that you won’t find in other books, military or civilian. And because I’ve been getting a lot of inquiries from hunters, campers, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. I’ve had to expand onto other subjects like basic & advance outdoor survival techniques and fieldcraft ingenuity too.

Now before I got started publishing these handbooks I use to forward all my tips, tricks and ideas to the Pentagon.But the only thing I ever received back were letters stating, “…sorry, not feasible for military related outdoor field conditions.” Well, since the Pentagon and the Army weren’t interested in my tips, tricks, and techniques, I decided to write a book about them and let the troops decide what’s feasible or not. After all, when it comes to “common sense” and “field expedient know-how” the troops know more about this than some “chair-borne” Colonel or General free sex sitting behind his desk at the Pentagon. You know what I mean?

And my instincts proved to be right on target too, because not only did the troops love my first Ranger Digest, but they also help me write Ranger Digests II thru IX. How? The same way you can, by forwarding me your personal outdoor field tips and tricks for future publications. No doubt it was a blessing in disguise that the Army and Pentagon did reject my tips, tricks and ideas or there wouldn’t be a Ranger Digest series today. Their loss – my gain! Or I should say “our gain,” all you Ranger Digest readers and contributors.

And quite often, almost everyday I receive an email or two from someone complimenting me on all the work I put into this website. And how much they enjoyed reading and learning about some of my unusual & unique military/outdoor survival tips that other survival websites don’t talk about or offer – free tips & tricks. And you know what? I never get tired of hearing these compliments. And sometimes, sometimes someone sends me an email asking if there is a way they can purchase my books cheaper. And you know what I tell them? Sure!

Do you want to know how to get them cheaper too? Just send me an email at: and I’ll tell you too. That’s all it takes, all you gotta do is ask. But before you do send me an email, please look over my tips & tricks first. So, I guess by now you’re a bit curious to find out what kind of unusual & unique military/outdoor survival tips I have here on my website? Aren’t you? But before I show you just a few of them, I have one little itty-bitty favor to ask. And that is if you really like what you see here on my web site, all I ask is that you please spread the word and let others know about it. Please?

Well thanks for stopping by, I hope you like what you find here and will come back again later when I have posted some more tips & tricks. And if you wanna learn what the rest of my tips & tricks are about, sorry but you’ll have to order my Ranger Digests to find out. And now without further delay, you may now click on the topic to the left of this screen.

The Story of Mountain Man

The Story of Mountain Man

The story starts in 1980 when I bought 5 acres in the Mojave Desert and moved my wife and three kids on in a 40 foot travel trailer. We had no water or electricity. I came to Southern California in 1972 as a young farm boy from Ohio. I found plentiful work in the LA basin, and learned the trade of electrician. I soon tired of the “rat race” of LA, and became a self employed electrical contractor in the desert communities of the Victor Valley.
Our 5 acre parcel is nestled in the foothills of the north side of the San Bernardino mountains at an altitude of around 3500 feet. The San Bernardinos rise to over 11000 feet and separate the coastal plains and valleys of Southern California from the interior high desert plateau.
We’re on the northeastern side in the beautiful but harsh Mojave Desert. Here we have all 4 seasons. The summers are long but not too hot as the desert goes. Average highs are about 102’ F from late June through September. We get almost half our annual rainfall from summer thunderstorms that come up the Colorado river valley from the Gulf of California.
The falls are really comfortable with cool clear nights, but the winters are cold and windy with occasional snow, comparing to much more northern latitudes like Kansas and Nebraska. The Springs bring more wind and rain, that finally slows down again with the oppressive heat of summer.
The five of us survived in the trailer while I got my business going and started the foundation for a small house.
The following is a step by step explanation of what we did, mistakes we made, and if I had to do it over again, what I would do differently.

Our 5 acres is fairly flat, but full of Joshua trees and creosote bushes. So, I had to grade the land by pulling bushes out with a steel cable attached to my pickup and dragging a section of chain-link fence around the area where we were to put the trailer. After we set the trailer in its place I hooked up the electrical generator . The next thing I did was to bring in a 2000 gallon galvanized steel water storage tank and contracted with a water hauler to bring me a tank load every week. I installed a ½ hp jet pump to pressurize the water supply. Then very quickly the holding tanks filled on the trailer, and I realized that probably the hardest thing to deal with was going to be sanitation and trash, not power and water.

I didn’t have the $2000 to install a proper septic system yet, so I built one with buried 55 gallon drums. I’ll show you in greater detail later.
I quickly realized that a 3500 watt generator uses way too much fuel to run day and night, so we had to alter our lifestyle to accommodate. This was my biggest discovery. The way we are dependant on a 24 hour available unlimited electrical supply. Well, I am an electrician, so I figured I could come up with a way around this, and I did, batteries. The dictionary defines “battery” as: A storage cell, to produce electricity now for use at a later time. This is exactly what we needed. My 3500 watt generator is used for my job, running skill saws and power drills, but we were only using it for our trailer at about 10% of its capacity. It was wasting a lot of fuel.

The most cost effective purchase you can make to become energy independent is storage batteries and low voltage lighting.
Once this is in place, you have an uninterrupted power supply that you can recharge with your gasoline generator once a day in a one or two hour period. Or you can recharge continuously with a wind generator. I tried solar voltaic cells, but they are still too expensive and produce little power.
Another option is converting the 12 volts DC to 120 volts AC with a DC to AC inverter to run all your normal household appliances. With the advance of modern electronics, these dependable units are now very cost effective.
I started out with a small 300 watt unit, but have recently gone to 1000 watt units to operate most of the appliances in my house.

In time, I finished my house, installed a proper septic system, drilled a well, and got a permanent electrical service. But I never forgot those things I learned and kept everything in place, not only for backup, in case of power failure, but as a way to greatly reduce my electrical bill and dependence from the system.
Here is what I have in place today. My house is all electric so I have every incentive to keep my bill down. My well house is the hub of my power generating and battery storage installation. It contains my 3500 watt generator, a bank of six deep cycle batteries, 2, 1000 watt power inverters, and a 60 amp distribution panel from the house. While I’m on the grid, power comes into the panel from the house. If I’m off the grid, power comes from the well house to the main house. Since my well is deep, over 400 feet, it requires a 240 volt, 30 amp circuit. No way around this. So, next to my well house, I have my 2000 gallon storage tank.

Once a day or so as needed, I fire up the generator and pump water from the well into the storage tank, and at the same time, charge the batteries. One or two hours at the most. This consumes less than a gallon of gas. Outside the well house in the orchard, I have two Windpower wind generators that are hooked to the batteries also keeping them charged. At the water tank, I have a 12 volt pump that maintains 40 psi to the house. With this system, I can switch off the main at the house and run all the appliances off the batteries and inverters. The only thing I cant run is the electric water heater and the kitchen stove, which require 240 volts from the generator. If I were going to be completely independent of the electrical utility, I would have to choose how to power these. Either purchase more batteries and inverters, or, replace these appliances with propane models. 240 volt inverters are expensive and hard to find, so I will probably go to propane appliances.

I have included drawings and more details of my installation here, and you can also visit some of our linked sites for more detailed information. I also have become a distributor for some of the products I have described here. Be sure to visit our “Handy Stuff” page. I continue to try to learn and improve my system, so please email me if you have any suggestions or similar experiences. You can be a contributor of this page with your comments or suggestions.


I think it is obvious that the four main things that a man needs to provide are: Warmth, Shelter, Water, and Food. Their importance are in that order. Here we will talk bout some common sense approaches to preparing and providing these four things.

Warmth : Obviously it depends on the season and your location as to the extent of preparation. But for the short term, a kerosene non vented heater is the most efficient means to heat a small area. Cordon off a small area of the house, seal all doors and windows. In an enclosed area it is very important to monitor Carbon Monoxide levels. Keep the temperature at no more than 55′ F. For the long term, a wood stove with a generous supply of wood is needed. More details are available in the “Mountain Man Online Survival Guide”

Shelter: If you’re at home at the onset of a disaster or emergency, it is obvious what you should do. Stay put. Know where your utility shut offs are, especially gas and electric, and be prepared to shut these off at the main. Even if the power goes off, turn off the main disconnect if your house is damaged so that you wont be awakened in the middle of the night by fire caused by returning power and a short circuit.
Depending on the weather and the nature of the disaster, it will be advantageous to cordon off a section of the house to keep it warm. Of course a basement or cellar would be even better. If your not at home, your car or truck would be a good shelter. Don’t leave it unless your sure you can get to better shelter. If neither permanent shelter or a car are available, you can still build a shelter. Details are available in the “Mountain Man Online Survival Guide”
The basics of any shelter are to “keep em dry and keep em warm”.
Nuclear Attack!
Remember, you can survive almost any disaster, even a nuclear attack! It is survivable! Basically, if you’ve survived the initial blast, stay indoors for at least 48 hours and take potassium iodine tablets. When you finally come out, avoid the dust. Wash everything down with water. Using a respirator will greatly increase your survival rate.

More details are available through these links. Mountain Man Underground Shelter Nuclear Attack

Water: The next most immediate need of survival is clean drinking water. The human body can not live longer than a few days without water. It is important that you have stored an adequate supply at home or in your car. If you haven’t, then you must create a supply for you and your family. More information is available in “Mountain Man Online Survival Guide”
Food: There are lots of sources of stored food available on the Internet, but for most survival interests, canned food will work just fine. If cans are kept in a cool dry place, the food contained in them will last for decades.
More information is available in “Mountain Man Online Survival Guide” Handy Stuff

Being prepared is something we should all do even in the best of times. Everybody realizes the importance of getting together a stockpile of essential items to have on hand in the event of an emergency or disaster. You don’t have to necessarily go to a survivalists store to purchase items especially for this purpose, but sometimes, certain products are designed just for the survivalists use.

Food that can be stockpiled for months, or even years in advanced are available at the grocery store. Check the Food button on the left. Products Given all the survivalist information available, I have researched put together a list of products I think would be invaluable for a well planned prepared Disaster and Emergency kit. Some items you may not be able to readily find so I have researched and found the best deal I could and purchased in bulk and offer them for sale here. Click the Products button on the left.

Protection I believe this is probably the biggest responsibility a man has to his family. We may not agree on this issue, but I think every man should own a firearm for protection of his family. I don’t think we can or should count on local authorities for this purpose. I can’t sell firearms from this website, but we can discuss here what type of firearm is most effective for this purpose.
Check the Protection button on the left. Don’t forget to visit the Free Stuuf section for more valuable advice, and please email us with any survival suggestions. Below are more links to other sites that may provide to be valuable to you. This site will show you how to build a cheap wind generator that will provide you with unlimited