Book Review: The Prepper’s Pocket Guide

Book review Prepper's Pocket Guide

I am not usually a fan of the “Dummy’s Guide to….” or “101 Easy Steps To…” kind of books.  This excellent little handbook by Bernie Carr (The Apartment Prepper) is a rare exception to my rule.

By Captain Bart, contributing author

Prepper’s Pocket Guide is well written and broken down into logical subject headings, it is a great checklist for the seasoned prepper to see if their preps are as complete as they think.  Have you really checked to see if you have everything needed to cook that food you stored?  Really?  Going through the food section will help double check what you have.

For the beginner who is overwhelmed by the idea that they have to go out and get a year’s supply of food at $1300 per person this little book is the answer. Simply put, don’t waste your money. The guide leads through easy stages to find what you need, where to get it, and how to store it.  No huge outlays – you can successfully prep on $5 a week and the Prepper’s Pocket Guide will show you how.

In each major area, the book takes you through the essentials and shows you what you need and how to get it.  There is no attempt to sell you on this gizmo or that food supplier.  It is a simple straightforward look at those things that one needs should the support structure that we have grown accustom to disappear.

Now, for the draw back.  One of the reasons I am not a fan of most guides is that they don’t contain enough detail.  While this guide is better than most, no pocket guide can contain the background information that will help you understand the ‘why’ of something.  It can tell you to use unscented chlorine bleach to make your water safe to drink but doesn’t go into detail as what is wrong with the lemon scented stuff in the laundry room.  It is a minor point and I would hope all readers would get interested and seek more information in every area.  While I found the book accurate and often offering alternatives to critical needs, my bias says that being informed of the “why” of a thing better equips you for survival.

With that caveat, this little guide is very helpful for both old and new preppers alike.  The Prepper’s Pocket Guide is small enough to be carried (do you remember EXACTLY how much bleach to use per gallon of water? It’s in the book) so it should always be available.   It is a great refresher for things you already know and a really solid checklist to see if there are any gaping holes in your preps.

The price is very reasonable and you can have a hard copy and a copy on your Kindle for under $10.  I highly recommend it as an easy read with a great deal of information that just might keep you or a loved one alive.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

bob July 21, 2011 at 6:36 pm

who needs a guide? you either know it or you don’t, and those who don’t won’t last long at all. sure a guide might help if it is practical, and you own every little gadget. I prefer the KISS method. the only guide ive ever needed was my bible and boyscout handbook pre 1969 ,,good hunting


Mike July 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Seriously? "you either know it or you don't"? …it's called "learning"….


scott July 22, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Wow Bob, you know it or you don’t? So you came out of the womb all prepared? Nobody taught you or guided you? Everyone could and.can.use.some guidance.


Rescue7 July 22, 2011 at 3:59 pm

One can learn something from almost anyone. Even one gem of an idea like a solar still or a multiple use medical item could make a huge difference in a survival situation. What surprises me is how many people (men) get stuck out in the boonies and can’t take care of themselves. A little book like this in the glove compartment could save some peoples lives.


CaptBart July 22, 2011 at 5:19 pm

I'm a pilot with over 5,000 hours of flying time. My son is a jet captain, also with around 5,000 hours of flying. When we fly together in airplanes like the Cessna 152 (about the simplest airplane around) we still use checklists. Why? because the cost of forgetting something can be a flaming pile of wreckage at the end of the runway. The more stressful the situation, the higher the likelihood that you will forget something. Since Murphy was a bloody optimist, the thing you forget will most likely be critical. If professionals use handbooks and checklists for things they do every single day, seems reasonable that I'd have one for something I don't do very often. If you live at your BOL, off grid, and in full blown survival mode, then perhaps you don't need a guide. For everyone else … let's just say that I'd prefer to be able to double check the water purification method before I take a chance with amoebic dysentery – I've done that and it wasn't any fun. Just my not so humble opinion.


DK144 February 13, 2013 at 7:28 am

Well said CAPT. I'm a military aviator and we don't lift the wheels off the deck without going through a checklist. The redundancy has also allowed us to deviate, when necessary, at critical moments, without forgetting those critical points.


Charlotte lusy September 23, 2013 at 12:12 am

A big thank you for your post.Really looking forward to read more. Really Great.
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Jeffry L. July 22, 2011 at 2:26 am

Great article again Capt. Bart. I always appreciate your input and writing. Thanks!


Ben228 July 22, 2011 at 11:28 am

Sounds like a good reference book to have on hand.
To Bob, you sir, might be the repository of all things “prepped” but what of those you hold near and dear? Civilization was set back hundreds of years in the Black Plauge because masters were struck down before passing on their knowledge to journeymen and apprentices. What happens to the group you are with if something happens to you and all that hard won knowledge dies, quite literally, with you? Or even worse if the lifesaving information is trapped in your uncosiencious brain. Having more info recorded AND retrievable is the key to thriving, not just surviving!


Mike July 22, 2011 at 2:11 pm

I'll definately check the book out. I've read alot of these types of books and in every single one I find useful stuff that I didn't know before.


CaptBart July 23, 2011 at 6:26 am

I've grown fond of my Kindle as a BOB article. It contains a ton of stuff that I could never carry if I had to do so in book form. Check out the article on Kindles here at the site… This is one I've added to my Kindle as the organization makes it simple to find things like receipts. I've got the book as well so I'll have it to stuff in the BOB if a Carrington Event fries the Kindle. It is another option for having this source of information available.


BamaMan July 26, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Bought on your recomendation. Review on Amazon just as good as this article!

Should arrive tomorrow.


CaptBart July 26, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I trust you'll like it, sir, and find it useful. Please feel free to add your comments here as well.


wyzyrdap August 13, 2011 at 7:53 pm


The combination of a camping-type dry-bag with a metallized-mylar emf-protection bag (search on 'anti-EMF bags" online – they are cheaper from discount electronics supply houses than 'survivalist' suppliers) SHOULD protect the electronics, kinda, probably, maybe. It's still a crap-shoot, but WTH? If it works, you have a library in your pack. You probably already have a solar-charger :)

To help protect against "Murphy Events", get a plastic 'semi-flexible cutting board' (flexible plastic, about 1/16 inch thick so you can bend it and "pour" what you cut into a pot), cut it to the size of the Kindle (or other reader) and slip it into the reader's padded case to help protect the touchscreen surface from impacts.


CaptBart August 14, 2011 at 7:45 am

Excellent recommendations! I had thought about one of the larger "anti-static" bags for the Kindle but I had never even considered the cutting board idea. Brilliant and thank you. THAT is one thing I'll do this week.
Since I know from experience that Murphy is a bloody optimist, I will take this simple step – although you nearly got me in trouble. My lovely bride took umbrage at me measuring her flexible cutting mat for size! I guess I'm on my own for purchasing what I need. Thank you for the suggestion – I'll remember it and pass it along.
You might consider going to the Kindle article… and making a similar post. I think it would be most welcome.


tinderwolf July 23, 2011 at 6:51 am

Good article. I do agree somewhat with bob. In the sense that you can't carry all these guides and books with you so you better know the basics. Its good to have some of these on hand but I definitly don't have room for another guide, I believe I have all the info that I need but at some time I will probably take a gander at this guide just to see what's in it and if there is anything valuable to me. Theres always room for learning but sometimes in a situation you don't have time to referenace a guide.


CaptBart July 23, 2011 at 9:03 am

There are 'immediate action' items that demand you react correctly – therefore you practice those skills until they are totally ingrained. Engine failures at critical speed (pilots call it a V1 Cut) requires immediate response. You get to the checklist when things calm down. Hopefully those things are rare – you don't want your life spent in 'immediate action' scenarios. I suspect my hard copy of the guide will be passed around to friends who are starting to realize they aren't prepared. Things that I might want to refresh before trying, I can check on my Kindle copy.


Regulator5 July 23, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Great Article again Capt. I like the idea of a small pocket guide to keep in a BOB, while bigger books can be kept at the BOL. I went thru and was making similiar "how to's for my kids and wife and laminating them for quick reference. Having an actual easy to read book would be ideal and simple.


MrAlpine August 9, 2011 at 4:27 am

It sounds like a good book from what I have read about it. The survival handbook, put out by the LDS, is very detailed and free. The only drawback to the LDS book is pages 1 through 20 are mormon propaganda, after that it is full of detailed information of what to buy, what to skip and how to store the stuff. I recomend it. If I remember right there is a link to it somewherer on this site. And, being a teacher I have to comment on the first post. I agree that the Holy Bible is the most important survival book ever made (given to humanity) and Paul says that there is not one thing that we have or can do that did not come from somewherer else. I have clothes because somebody else made them, I can read because some one taught me, etc… think about, not one thing. But, MrAlpine I can grow my own food. Did you make the seed?


wyzyrdap August 13, 2011 at 7:26 pm

The longer I live, the more I appreciate checklists. Unless you have an eidetic memory, or very OCD, you have probably, at least once in your life, locked your keys in the car, driven without your wallet and driver's license, or forgotten the eggs (or something else) at the grocery store. In normal life, you may swear a bit, or at least say 'oops'.

If you are flying a plane, or a space shuttle, or performing a spec-ops mission, or bugging-out after 'The Big One', that one little 'oops' could kill you, or someone else. That's why those things are done "by the numbers" – fewer 'oopses'.


RickD August 15, 2011 at 7:19 am

Im a noob prepper. This guide is easy to understand and packed with tons of info. The book doesnt explain every idea 100% but rather gives simple terms. I can do futher research myself. Good read IMO.


Leslie August 20, 2011 at 10:35 am

Well I'm prob new as it gets but I've been having too many inner unctions and checks to ignore them any longer. Turning 53 next week, retired disabled AF woman, mom of six adult children, divorced, caregiver for a disabled blind man and my 71 yrs old mom in poor health. Was a missionary teacher in Liberia for 7 years and lived by local standards, no elec., no running water, no sanitation systems just the remains of war. Everyone – well less than everyone in recent years, seems to think it'll never happen to us – anything – I know better but have just gotten a degree of improved health and a tad bit of financial stability. Need to make some plans and provisions. Don't own anything but my car or have any real future provisions so I'm really starting from scratch with scratch. Wanted to start at least putting some basics together, and learning, especially learning, and see about getting a piece of land in the wilderness here in NY. Comments from Capt or anyone else minus sarcasm would be welcome.


CaptBart August 23, 2011 at 6:51 pm

First – I like your name – I spell my first name the same way. I think you'll find this site is a "sarcasm free zone". It does happen but not from the regulars and it isn't really welcome. I think the preppers guide is a good place to get an outline for your preps. There is not as much depth in it as I would want to feel really prepared but as a starting point or as a check list it works well. It is also available for a Kindle if you want it in that form.
As to just starting out, we all did it at one time so welcome to the group. I'm medically retired Army so I emphasize with your status. You have a big advantage since you know you can survive without all the modern stuff. You have a disadvantage in that you have to care forothers in poor health. I have a similar issue with my mother-in-law. For a bunch of reasons, I don't consider bugging out (GOOD – Get Out Of Dodge) a really viable first option. We have several articles on various gear and on survival psychology that you might find interesting.
I'd say the starting point is the basic 72 hour kit.
Once you have that, then go to 2 weeks, then several months and then for a year. The key is to realize that a 72 hour kit is very generic and you can start there now. Before you go much further, I recommend that you think about what you think the most likely SHTF (Sh*t Hit the Fan) event is and then prep for that happening. In Houston I figure Hurricanes and (everywhere in the US) some type of economic collapse. The weather this summer is telling me that I wasn't well enough prepped for water supplies in a record setting drought. We learn as we go. (continued)


CaptBart August 23, 2011 at 7:13 pm

One of the things I've run into is that my get home kit in my car is not a good place to store my medicines. I keep a week's supply in the BOB (bug out bag) but now that we are on day 30 of over 100 degrees the meds degrade quickly. Something I've learned in this unusual weather. Survival Cache is about to start a forum and frequent visits there might help as well once it is open for business.
I recommend a basic 3 gun battery for a prepper. Basically a handgun (I recommend revolvers for folks who don't have a lot handgun experience), a shotgun and a rifle. Unlike many folks, I don't think combat operations will be a large part of any likely SHTF event. Given that, you are looking for basic self defense and hunting firearms. In NY the largest predator is likely a black bear. That means a revolver in .357 Mag, a 30-30 type rifle and a 12 or 20 gauge shotgun. Larger calibers are cool, smaller will probably work provided you have a handgun that can handle the largest predator you're likely to see. I consider a handgun to be my "where the H*ll did that (name least favorite predator here) come from and how did it get so d*mned close" emergency weapon.
Ask any questions you like, we have a lot of great readers and contributors here. I personally think once you get the food, water, shelter squared away for the immediate use, then add firearms as necessary and then grow the preps until your are comfortable.
Each of us has unique needs based on age, health, wealth and location. Read what you can and see how you can use what is in the books. I would recommend that you do NOT go out and spend $5000 on bulk stored foods. When you go to the store buy an extra can of Peanut Butter or soup or 3 or 4 cans of chili (you can never have too much chili, in my not so humble opinion), get some extra meds and slowly build your stockpile. If you start today and TSHTF tomorrow, you will still be well ahead of those who don't prepare. Just remember, do what you can with what you have and always work to learn and grow.
Then when TSHTF in a way we've never, ever thought about (this is called a Black Swan) we will have the basics to draw from and survive.
I hope this helps and again, welcome. Feel free to ask anything you want; we'll try to answer.


survivalcyclist February 28, 2012 at 12:15 pm

One of the most useful little books I ever had while I was in the Army was called "The Combat Leader's Field guide', and all it was really, was a collection of checklists and charts to help you remember the million and one things a unit leader needs to remember in combat. It came in handy many times over the years, and I own two copies of it (9th edition and 14th edition). I believe this little book (about an inch thick and small enough to fit in a cargo pocket easily) is still in print. While I don't think it is terribly useful to a prepper (who lacks the military supply network), the principle of a 'one source collection' of checklists is the same. Thanks for the review, I'll see if I can find a copy of this Prepper's Pocket Guide and check it out.


survival101 March 9, 2012 at 2:41 pm

thanks for the suggestion, Capt. Bart. we'll be ordering one. everyone has a different perspective, so one survival book is definitely not the same as another.


Bumbury01 April 2, 2013 at 11:27 am

I read this book and was already preping for a few years.. still i found it to be a good solid foundation of information.. no matter how long you have been prepping its always good to remember the basisc as we/ I often forget as i get into the deeper things of prepping… Unlike BOB in these comments i do believe that a wise man always listens and learns…


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