Wilderness Survival Kits, Tips & Training About A.Ranger Rick 173rd ABN/SETAF Bardolino / Rentals Useful Links Wilderness Survival Skills Wilderness Survival Tips Wilderness Survival Training


"Rolex" Survival Kits & Products

Every once in awhile I see an article in some outdoor magazine about what's the best survival kit to buy and own. And I gotta tell ya, some of these articles look like either the manufacturer put the article together themselves or they "bribed" someone (probably with some freebies) to write positive things about their product.

For example, not long ago I read an article about what some "park ranger" carries in his personal survival kit and how much each of these items cost: XXXX GPS - $200.00, XXXX Knife - $60.00, XXXX Water Container - $30.00, XXXX Sleeping Bag - $155.00, etc. And the total amount came to whopping $800.00.

First of all, to that magazine editor and park ranger, that's no freakin survival kit you boneheads, that's called a "camping kit."

Second, why spend a bunch of money on some over-rated, well known brand name outdoor / survival product when you can buy a similar product for a lot less? It's sorta like choosing between a BMW and a Toyoto and a Rolex and Timex watch. A Toyota will still get you to where you need to go and a Timex watch will tell you what time you arrived there. You get my point?

And speaking of Rolex watches.not to change the subjects but in 1992 while on a military exercise in Turkey I purchased a "fake" Rolex from a Turkish vendor for $25. Then in 1992 my wife bought herself a real lady's Rolex watch from the base PX for $1,500, and in 1997 I purchased a real Rolex too for $1,800.

Well, I have had my "fake" Rolex watch five years longer than my "real" Rolex watch and I wear it a lot more often than my real one too. Well guess which watch has been taken to the repair shop more than the other? Nope, not my fake one but my wife's Rolex and mine too. My fake Rolex has yet to stop ticking and still works today 17 years later. Go figure.

And so I will never again buy another real Rolex watch and neither should you, not when you can buy one like it at a much cheaper price and it will work just as good. Just like the difference between an "expensive" and an "inexpensive" outdoor/survival kit.

Now let me ask you this, which of these below would you prefer to have and rely on.

A sharpen tin can lid or a small pocket knife for cutting and preparing game?

Wave, jump up & down or to use a signal mirror to get someone's attention?

To use the sun & stars to determine north or a general direction compass?

Piece of flint rock or some factory made flint for igniting and starting fires?

Scream & holler until you lose your voice or to blow a whistle for help?

Feel your way around in the dark for fire wood or to use a flashlight?

Cut & chop wood with your teeth or with the use of a wire saw?

You get my drift? See my point?

Yep, these are the same items that most personal survival kits come with, including mine. Which I gotta tell ya. I have heard a few Johnny Rambo Wannabes call my kits (quote) "..a bunch of cheap trinklets." That is until I challenged them and asked."Hey @sshole, have you ever purchased and tested out any of my kits? If not, then before shooting off your mouth why not buy one first, test it out and if you still think it's a bunch of cheap trinklets. I'll give you your back money and then feel free to bash my kits all you want. Fair enough?"

Well to this day not one of my buyers/customers have asked for their money back. Check out some of these reviews that I have received so far. And nope, I didn't bribe none of these writers nor did I write any of these articles myself. Read on.


From: "Combat & Survival," a United Kingdom Magazine, recently published in their July 2009 edition. Article by "Bob Morrison" editor of Combat & Survival.

If , like me, you travel a lot or your work takes you to remote places you probably carry a survival tin in your day pack, in your grab bag or in your jacket or vest pocket. The classic tobacco tin, made completely watertight by a strip of electrical tape around the lid is pretty much is pretty much ideal for the job in holding all those small but essential aids and until recently I had never really considered any alternatives to this.

On the other hand, the author of the Ranger Digest Series, a former US Army Ranger Rick F. Tscherne thinks out of the box and has assembled a whole range of different ways of doing things based on his many years of experience. After retiring from the US Army in 1993 and easing off for three years, Army Ranger Rick was employed under a US Department of State program as a drill instructor and trainer to the fledging army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, following the Dayton Accord and peace returning to that part of the Balkans, but today he is fully retired from military activities and runs the Survival Outdoor Skills.com website from Bardolino in Italy.

On my recent trip to photograph some WWII gun emplacements on the northern side of the Straits of Gibraltar I took along one of Rick's survival necklaces to test out the concept, as well  as some of the smaller survival accessories he sells separately.

The basic necklace is actually a wire saw carried in a polythene tube which protects the neck from abrasions. Split rings at each end allows the user to insert stout twigs to form improvised handles. A section of small survival accessories, such as a small compass, fire starter, whislte, signal mirror, and LED torch lite is then hung from the split rings. Other accessories such as a mini fishing, snare and water purification kits in plastic containers can also be added to the personal preference.

If a necklace survival kit doesn't take your fancy, Rick recommends a tightly braided paracord lanyard to which your survival accessories can be attached with small split rings. And then attach the other end to your belt or D-ring and stow the lanyard inside your pocket or pouch where you can instantly lay your hand on it in an emergency or find it instantly in the dark. Paracord is one of these things that has a hundred and one uses in outdoor survival, and this braided lanyard is an ideal way of carrying a length at all times.

On the other end of our lanyard we carried a tightly wound wire saw bound in paracord to keep it compact and to prevent abrasions, plus two small plastic containers that contain a mini fishing & snare and a water purification kit. The first container, the fishing & snare kit contained two grades of line, one of which could be used as an improvised small game snare for use in a life-saving situation, plus a selection of different size hooks and swivels. The second container holds a non-lubricanted condom for carrying water (use a sock to give it extra strength) and a strip of water purification tablets. The wire saw and kit containers simply attach to the lanyard with more split rings, which are one of those little bits of seemingly insignificant kit that actually have a myriad of uses.

Incidentally, we actually had a reason to use the necklace to light a fire, but that's a tale saved for another day and article for "Combat & Survival." As and when space permits in future issues we will look at Army Ranger Rick's survival accessories in more detail, but in the mean time you can read all about Rick's tips and tricks, as well as ordering his hand assembled products from his website at www.SurvivalOutdoorSkills.com.                            


From: M4040 Link: www.m4040.com/Survival/Ranger_Rick_SOS_Necklace.htm

As the author of a wilderness survival site (www.m4040.com), I make it a priority to visit many survival related sites to keep tabs on the type and quality of the information that is being purveyed. One of the sites that I've really enjoyed is by a retired Army Ranger named Rick Tscherne (he refers to himself as "Army Ranger Rick"). You can see it here: http://www.therangerdigest.com .  Rick Tscherne's site, above almost any other site I can name, believes in the same type of zero bullshit practical survival information that I try to convey here.

I was recently contacted by Mr. Tscherne, who asked me to review his SOS (Special Ops Survival) Necklace. It was designed as a small chain a soldier could wear around the neck in conjunction with his "dog-tags" (a nickname for a GI's identification tags). In reality, anyone can wear and use this kit. The unique thing about this kit is that it is worn under the shirt, and is therefore out of sight. Most kits are either in a belt pouch or are in some sort of tin, which means you walk around with a big bulge in your pocket.

This kit is a compact bare essentials type, and does not contain a lot of the items you typically find in most kits (fish hooks, band-aids, needles, etc). By bare essentials, I refer to the fact that it provides the means of signaling for rescue, building fire, shelter, and for navigating your way out. This kit is probably not the one I'd want if I was in a long-term survival situation, but most survival situations last hours, maybe overnight... not days or weeks. Mr. Tscherne's kit takes this into account, and also relies on the fact that a kit that you can keep on your person at all times is probably a good kit to own!

ITEM 1 - The "necklace" in this kit is actually a mini survival saw. While I'm not a big fan of this type of saw, this is actually quite innovative in that it is the necklace portion of the kit. While I usually recommend a good knife or other chopping tool,  these cannot always be carried. This saw is completely concealed under one's shirt and can therefore be carried just about anywhere. The saw is enclosed in a protective rubber sleeve (not protecting the saw... protecting your NECK!). I didn't try this because to use it, you actually cut right through the sleeve. (once you've used it, you can't wear it like a necklace anymore). Also, I've used wire saws before, so my "review" is that wire saws suck to use, but they're a lot better than nothing! Once I'm done wearing this for a while, maybe I'll put the wire saw to the test on some non-standard materials and see how it holds up.

ITEM 2 - Magnesium Flintbar - Firestarter / Signaling Device - I LOVE this piece of kit. This is about a quarter the size of the one I typically carry. With a little practice this little item can start hundreds of fires. This is going to replace the one on my keychain!

ITEM 3 - Striker for the Magnesium Flintbar - Though I call it a "striker", you should NEVER actually strike it on the flint. This item appears to have been made from a hacksaw blade, and is thus very hard steel. It makes short work of both shaving the magnesium and to shave some sparks. I have a few recommendations for how to improve this item (read about my recommended changes in the Tests and Modifications section below ).

ITEM 4 - Mini LED Flashlight - This is a very bright little light, so you can also use it for signaling at night. I like this item because it has both a fixed on/off switch and momentary pushbutton activation... good thinking Army Ranger Rick!  This item is great for short durations where you need to locate items at night. For longer duration, build a fire.  My two cents worth is that you can pack along a couple extra button batteries as well. These could be fastened over the compass with electrical tape to act as protective covers.

ITEM 5 -  An obnoxiously LOUD little whistle. Great for signaling, and glows in the dark as well. See my modification in the Tests and Modifications section below .

ITEM 6 -  This is a plain old GI "dogtag". Army Ranger Rick recommends sharpening an edge on this item. How sharp can you make a dog-tag? More on that in the Tests and Modifications section below .

ITEM 7 - Compass - For its size, this is not a bad little compass. I've seen quite a few plastic "button" compasses that may or may not point North. This little compass sports an aluminum housing and is actually quite sensitive and fast acting. As such, remember to remove it from the chain before use, as any nearby ferrous metal will make this compass "dance". All in all, this is a nice piece of gear for it's size.

ITEM 8 - Mirror (Signaling, grooming) - A signaling mirror is great for signaling at long distances or to passing ships or aircraft. It can also be used for self inspection. No, I'm not talking about fixing your hairdo, I'm talking about checking wounds, rashes, etc in places you would not otherwise be able to see without being double-jointed.  This is also a GI "dogtag", but someone has taken the time to buff it to a mirror finish. It comes with a protective wrap which was paper. I ripped this off immediately, as I'm supposed to beat this stuff up, not baby it. At some point, I'll cover this up with some electrical tape to protect the mirror finish.

ITEM 9 - Small Folding Knife -  This is an "el-cheapo" Chinese folder, and I wouldn't expect much from it... did I mention that the entire kit is sold for about $20 ??  Anyhow, I'd recommend either replacing this with a small Swiss Army type knife, or doing what I did ( read about my recommended changes in the Tests and Modifications section below ).

M4040's Overall Evaluation : My first impression is that this is a heck of a value at about $20. As I mentioned above, there are a few minor modifications I would make (more on what and how later), but even as delivered, this kit is far better than having nothing!  I'm already considering giving these kits as gifts to anyone I know who day-hikes, bikes, jogs in remote areas, etc. Whereas this kit focuses on signaling (whistle, mirror, flashlight, fire), it could save someone even if they possessed zero "survival" skills.


From: Delta Gear Link: www.deltagear.us/

Army Ranger Rick's Special Ops Survival Necklace includes a mini compass, fire starter, signal mirror, luminous whistle, flashlight, and wire saw. Before we begin, let us emphasis that this is a survival kit and not a camping or pioneer kit.

The compass is a good compass to use to double check your main compass. The compass is made with clear plastic, an aluminum body, and comes with a rubber silencer. The fire starter is a magnesium stick with flint and striker. To lighten your load, ditch the striker and just use your knife. The signal mirror is small and compact, but a little unnecessary. The dog tag silencer on the signal mirror is made of a real porous rubber (not like the type sold by Military Clothing Sales) that started to rip in the corners after four weeks in the field. The ACME Tornado whistle (Model 636) is a photoluminescent, pea-less, two-chambered whistle. It's not the loudest, but it is one of the most compact and reliable whistles. The mini LED flashlight produces a bright white light. The on/off switch can be a little sensitive, but it helps when trying to signal or send code. The small pocket knife is a made of stainless steel, has a liner lock, and is perfect to use as an emergency knife. To use the wire saw just saw right through the plastic tubing, peel it off, and throw it away. The wire saw in the Spec Ops Survival Necklace is made to use once in an emergency situation. The plastic tubing prevents the wire saw from cutting into your neck, and keeps sweat and water off of the saw to keep it from rusting. The saw is one of the best overall wire saws (see Military Spec Wire Saw review for more info on a similar saw). Army Ranger Rick also used good quality fishing swivels, key rings, break-away chain, and blank dog tags.

The necklace can be purchased disassembled for a couple bucks cheaper, but the warranty won't cover you if you break something during assembly. It can also be purchased on a braided 550-cord keychain. The pre-assembled kit will save you some hassle, and land you some additional survival free-bees. Rick's web site, www.therangerdigest.com , has additional information on warranties, assembly, and modifications.

The Survival necklace is a great back-up for camping, day hiking, backpacking, hunting, cross-country skiing, or kayaking. The Spec Ops Survival Necklace is a little bulky to wear as-is out of the package, but it is made to be modular. So pair down the items you don't need, and either wear it around your neck, stick it in a pocket, or find an empty container to put it in. The bottom line: You can't get this package anywhere else for cheaper.


From: Over-The-Edge, Inc Link: www.over-the-edge.net/

A Survival Kit That Really Works! Eric ecently began a dialogue with "Army Ranger Rick" F. Tscherne, a retired US Army Ranger, Drill Instructor and an advisor/trainer to Bosnia & Herzegovina Army under the US State Department's "Train & Equip Program."

Eric has always been impressed with Army Ranger Rick's tips & tricks of the trade and had purchased all nine of the Ranger Digests. As we in search & rescue know, we may not have the same concerns as enemy forces and fire arms, but Army Ranger Rick's survival tricks certainly have a significant place in search & rescue.

Army Ranger Rick sent Eric his "survival necklace" to test out. The necklace comes with a survival compass, signal mirror, whistle, blade, flint, steel & magnesium fire starter. All of these items are held together by a plastic tube that encases the wire saw. Now we know, before you say that you should have nothing tied around your neck. But the SOS Necklace has a break-away safety chain and so if you do happen to get snagged, don't sweat it.

Having all these survival tools connected made it much easier than going into my pack and having to go into my ziplock bag and search for my items. And after having the opportunity to go thru it's paces, Over-The-Edge, Inc is going to be offering this survival necklace in it's search and rescue classes.

The flint and magnesium fire rod was extremely useful in getting our fire going. The rod itself is small, which takes some time getting use to when you have used larger fire starting devices in the past. But if you get enough shavings in your tinder ball from the magnesium rod, you'll be warm in no time.

The whistle is certainly loud enough as an alert signal or attraction device. Army Ranger Rick has also put together a mini jaggered tooth folding knife and a mini LED flashlight with a convenient on/off switch for continous use in addition to the standard squeeze buttton.

The small survival compass is just that, a survival compass you definitely need to keep an orienteering compass in your pack for the next mission. But it's a nice item to have as a survival tool. The signal mirror is just plain useful. You'll be seeing the Over-The-Edge staff use the SOS Survival Necklace during our courses and responses. Don't forget to check into the Ranger Digest books too.


From: GSL.net Link: www.qsl.net/kf8gr/survival.html

Minimalist Survival Kits - Army Ranger Rick's Special Operations Survival Necklace: You and I both know about survivalists.  They think thyroid pills will stop them from getting radiation sickness after a nuclear attack. They wear executive parachutes in case the high rise they are in is set on fire, and they think they can thrive in the wilderness with nothing but a Swiss Army Knife and the training they got from the TV show McGyver. BULL!

I love the wild, and spend a lot of time playing in nature.  Hunting, camping, Adventure Radio. I also work in the wild. I am a member of West Michigan Search and Rescue, Ottawa County Emergency Communications, and Skywarn. I believe in survival, and survival training, NOT survivalists.

Mandatory Survival Skills: There are several survival skills that must be mastered BEFORE you end up in a survival situation. Most of them can be mastered in your backyard, where if you fail, you can just go inside, warm up, cool down (whatever) and review what went wrong. Learning and practicing these skills are never a waste of time.

This is a fine survival kit for trained survival types, and augments the less experienced survivor's survival gear.  Remember "Two is One, One is none!" is a prime directive of survival training.  The Army Ranger Rick Survial Necklace contains the following, a rough direction button compass, a "glow in the dark" tornado whistle (that you can set the compass on to navigate in the dark), a fire starter with room in the bottom for a cottonball saturated with Vaseline), a polished ID tag to use as a signalling mirror, and another ID tag for ID, which can be sharpened into a knife/razorblade type cutting tool.  The "chain" of the necklace is a wire saw inside of a plastic tube for cutting wood and bone.  To this necklace I have added a Micro Photon flashlight, a small container for a condom (for water gathering) and a small fold-up pair of scissors.  Other items will be added later.   The total weight of this survival kit (after my additions) is about 2 3/4 oz.  To get a better idea of this unique piece of survival gear, check out the Ranger Digest Website.


From: EZinArticles Link: www.ezinearticles.com/?A-Review-of-the-Special-Ops-Survival-Necklace

I recently received in the mail an SOS survival necklace developed and marketed by former Army Ranger Rick Tscherne now retired and living in Italy. He develops and markets his own field expedient survival gear as well as publishes The Ranger Digest, a series of military training manuals that double as educational material for the survival enthusiast.

The SOS survival necklace comes either unassembled ($21.99) or fully assembled ($24.99). The one I received was fully assembled. The necklace itself consists of a wire saw in plastic tubing with two ring terminals on either end which are attached to two split rings which, in turn, are connected to a breakaway keychain. Enclosed was an instruction manual for assembly of the necklace and usage instructions.

On the keychain, the necklace is well equipped with all the essentials that the backpacker, hiker, climber, skier, hunter, etc., would need in the event of an actual survival situation. Included are: a compass, a magnesium fire starter, a signal mirror, a 117 decibel whistle, a small, folding serrated-blade knife (4 ¾" open) for cutting, a mini LED flashlight, a plastic container including a condom (for water collection) as well as water purification tabs, and a plastic container containing basic fishing accoutrements.

The compass is far from a fancy orienteering compass (not a Silva) nor is it a cheap liquid-filled job either. It is constructed from aluminum and rubber and, in my field tests at least, I found it to be quite reliable, which is what counts in the woods.

The magnesium fire starter is the lightest and easiest to handle I've ever personally used. Simply shave off some magnesium, run your knife across the flint, and let there be light! The flint is long lasting and capable of producing thousands of sparks. The benefit of magnesium and flint is that they work even when wet. This is a very handy addition to the necklace.

The signal mirror is small and light and worked fine in field tests as per the instructions. As well, the whistle is a handy little number that is constructed of durable plastic, ball-less (meaning it won't freeze up or lose sound quality when wet or cold or both), and it glows in the dark also. This whistle, the "Acme Tornado," is very loud as well.

The knife, though not a knife one would choose if facing a survival situation is certainly a knife that one can manage with. The knife is a folder with serrated blade. It is compact, light, sharp, and steady. It fits well with the survival necklace and is sufficient for all of one's cutting needs.

The two plastic containers (which are necklace add-ons that come separately) contain survival essentials. The condom makes for a very lightweight water catcher and receptacle and the purification tabs fit in nicely with the condom. The fishing kit contains a sufficient amount of monofilament, 2 medium hooks, 2 small hooks, a swivel, and a couple of other accessories of use to the creative survivalist.

Finally, one of the nicest components of this particular kit is the mini LED light. This little number is lightweight, durable, and puts out a very nice beam of bright light. I've been using it consistently for a while now and it seems as if the battery has good life as well. A must have if forced to spend the night outdoors.

In conclusion, though I've seen about every survival kit available to date, I must say that I am very much impressed with "Army Ranger Rick's" SOS survival necklace. In fact, I say that it is a must have for both those who venture outdoors recreationally as well as the dyed-in-the-wool survival enthusiast. Two thumbs up for the SOS survival necklace!

By M. Shane Huey - An avid outdoorsman and proponent of survival, highly recommends Rick Tscherne's Special Ops Survival Necklace. To learn more about Army Ranger Rick's SOS Necklace, or survival more generally, visit his site at www.therangerdigest.com

From: Mr. "Buckshot" Link: Unknown Email: Unknown

About five years ago, or maybe more, I once exchanged a couple of emails with a fellow name "Buckshot." And he was upset with me because I disagreed with. which is better to pack & carry in a personal survival kit, a few (2) factory made snares or some wire so that you could make a whole bunch of snares. Naturally, I chose the wire and he chose the factory made wire snares.

And so then he fired back another email telling me I don't know anything about trapping & snaring and that my survival necklace is made up of nothing but a bunch of "cheap trinklets." I wish I kept his email but I didn't, but I do remember (not word for word) what he said.

Mr. Buckshot Wrote.

Your compass is way too small and only gives general directions. That is if you can get it to work properly with all those other metal items you have attached to your survival necklace that will interfer with the magnetic North seeking needle.Your wire saw will only cut through several inches of wood, that is if you can get it out of the plastic tube that you have it wrapped in. Your mini LED flashlight doesn't put very much light and the battery inside of it won't last long in a survival situation. Your knife is so small that the only thing you can cut with it is cordage, fish and small game. What about big game? If you trap something larger than a rabbit or squirrel, you're screwed. The only thing good about your survival necklace is your magnesium & steel fire starter and that's it.

My Reply Back To Mr. Buckshot. When it comes to compact, personal, small survival kits, there's not much room for full size compasses and so that's why it's best to pack & carry a small general direction compass. As for all those other survival items attached to my survival necklace that will interfer with the compass's magnetic needle..None of those items are made of metal but instead plastic and aluminum and therefore has no effect on the compass needle. Even if they did, you would still need to detach the compass from the survival necklace to use it correctly and effectively. As for my wire saw in not being able to cut wood thicker than a few inches.well it's a lot more compact, lighter, easier to pack & carry than axe, wouldn't you agree? And if you put your reading glasses on the next time you visit my site, it says all you have to do is cut right through this tubbing to remove it. Sorry if you think my folding knife seems to be too small, but at least the blade is serated and will cut & gut most small and medium game. Not many people I know are going to try to trap bears, mountain lions and moose in a survival situation, ya know? As for liking my magnesium & steel fire starter.great, at least you like something about my kit. But I still think you're full of bull poop in thinking it's best to pack just a few (2) factory made snares in a personal survival kit than a small roll of wire. READERS NOTE: To read more about this snare disagreement, click on my "Snaring Game" page.










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