I. Introduction - Possible Scenarios.
- Your automobile becomes inoperable for a period of time while traveling – it is extremely hot or extremely cold and hours to wait.
- A natural disaster occurs and you have to evacuate.
- Chaos occurs due to financial collapse or other major event causing civil unrest.
- An Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) or Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) caused by solar flare(s) renders your vehicle dead miles from home.
- Or, an EMP occurs as a result of a nuclear strike (with collateral fall-out to follow).
- Use your imagination…in reality, nothing is too far fetched.
While these are listed in order from “Bad” to “Worse”, all of these have great commonalities. The more obvious should be that (1) they are realistic and possible, (2) they can occur and cause mass panic and civil upheaval in a relatively short time, (3) they can land you in a situation that most likely will find you, your preparation, your knowledge and your determination are all you have to survive, and, without a doubt, (4) a lack of planning, preparation, knowledge, determination and the means to employ all will, with reasonable certainty, lead to your death.
I'm glad that I have your attention. Now let us begin to devise some of the basic means, methods and logistics that you will need to exponentially improve your survivability, and with prayer and guts, successfully reach your destination.
II. Equipment. There are a number of “essentials” that you should plan to pack and keep in your vehicle at all times. The only time these items should be removed from your vehicle is (1) if you need the room to haul other items to/from a short destination (i.e. across town, from the store, etc.), (2) to update/replenish items and then place back in the vehicle when completed, (3) you are traveling with someone else in their vehicle (your essential items go with you).
Now let’s discuss what those “essential” items might consist.
1. Pack. You should purchase a quality backpack that is large enough to comfortably load the items you will need. The pack can be of military grade (i.e. surplus such as the A.L.I.C.E. pack), or a quality hiking/camping pack that is supported by two shoulder straps and capable of load bearing for extended hiking. Your pack should be of muted, natural or earth colors such as green, black, desert tan, or brown. Bright colors will only amplify to others that YOU HAVE A PACK and YOU HAVE ESSENTIALS THAT THEY DO NOT! Plus you will need the ability to hide your pack during periods of rest without it being obvious to others who may spot you.
As stated, the pack must be large enough to accommodate all the essentials we will list below yet not too large that you cannot negotiate its weight for long periods.
Some packs are equipped with waist belts to help distribute and support the load accordingly. It is your personal preference. However, most quality hiking backpacks are designed with this feature for a purpose. Be smart.
Other important considerations should be the design for accessing the pack. Is it easy (relatively speaking) to get in an out of? Can I get to the needed essentials quickly and easily at night and/or during cold or inclement weather?
The pack should have ample outer pockets in which to store those items you will use most often (i.e. sanitation, fire starting material, maps, compass, binoculars, food, water, weapon(s), etc.).
There should be the ability to attach additional bulk items (i.e. sleeping mat, coat, maybe a sleeping bag) on the bottom or top by additional straps or para-cord.
2. Water. When it comes to sustaining the human life, one must consider the “Essential Threes.” The order of importance in need is as follows:
- Air – 30 seconds
- Water – 3 days
- Food – 3 weeks However, in a survival situation where you have to exert extreme energy to travel and stay alert, the time frames on water and food are greatly shortened.
You must plan to have clean, drinkable water at all times. The amounts will be covered later. At this time let’s focus on types of storage and conveyance.
2 liter, 3 liter, and 100 ounce water bladders are very popular for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, however they may not always be the best choice for the survivor.
Why? The size alone constitutes added weight that may not be able to be spread loaded especially with a full pack. Backpacks with separate compartments for such bladders have become very popular but you must consider the ability to frequently access the bladder without having to nearly empty the pack to do so. Water refills in a survival scenario will often be done on the move when opportunity arises and in the quickest amount of time. Moreover, a small puncture or tear to such a system will quickly render your main water conveyance inoperable.
Consider multiple 1-2 quart containers that you can store and attach to various locations on/in your pack. Give careful consideration as to how you will carry/attach your primary water source.
For bulk storage of water in addition to your primary containers consider a 750 ml platypus bag that is relatively small, yet flexible and collapsible (like the popular larger water bladders discussed above).
Nalgene bottles are excellent in that they are tough, lightweight and you can see the contents.
Likely sources to replenish your water supply will be streams, ponds, lakes, and rivers. Consider how you will purify water. A supply of water purification tablets should be carried. Also, a small plastic vile of chlorine can be carried. A few drops will sterilize 750 ml of water fairly quickly. (Research the correct amounts and procedures to purify water by volume and make note of this information to carry in your pack with your purification tools. If using common bleach as your source of chlorine, be sure that it is non-scented with non-additives.)
Small water purification systems do very well and can be purchased for around $80+. However, they do take up additional space and add ounces to an already loaded pack.
A very good alternative is the Berkey Sport bottle. A standard 750 ml water bottle has a smaller Berkey Black filter attached to the drinking straw in the bottle. You merely have to fill the bottle with water and drink from the straw to get clean and pure water. Water from your other storage bottles can then be poured into the Berkey Sport bottle as needed. The Berkey Sport bottle can be purchased off EBay for as little as $15 each, so shop around.
3. Food. Amounts will be discussed later. For now let’s consider types.
Food is definitely an essential that will become critical in a survival scenario. It is easy and inexpensive to load up on soups and power bars at Wal-Mart and the local grocery store; however, this may prove to be a very costly mistake.
In a survival scenario, you will be expending a much greater amount of calories due to
- Greater exertion of energy hiking.
- Greater exertion of energy due to fear and adrenalin.
- Greater exertion of energy due to weather (cold requires as much as twice the calories in order to keep warm. Hot can have a similar effect.)
As a result, now is not the time to diet. Caloric intake is key. Inexpensive soups and quick prepare foods found at the local grocery chain will only yield about 1-2 grams of protein on average. This is not a good return on your survival investment or on the weight you will be carrying in regards to the nutritional value received.
Consider specialized foods high in protein such as Mountain House usually found in the camping section at Wal-Mart. Also consider purchasing a bucket of the pre-packaged dehydrated foods from Wise Foods, EFoodsDirect, etc. While you may pay as much as twice the price of the bargain foods mentioned, the caloric value averages 11-18 grams of protein.
Also, energy bars high in protein are a good source and easy to pack. Mix it up. No one likes to consume the same thing over and over again. A variety of good and satisfying food can do wonders for morale and your ability to keep moving forward another day.
Candy bars can produce a quick energy boost but should never be your main source of nutrition. However, looking forward to treating yourself can be a tremendous motivator.
4. Clothing. Pack wise. Clothing, while an absolute essential, can be a space robber in your pack and add unnecessary weight if not planned well. Your clothing should be of natural and earth tone colors. You do not want to stand out.
a. Clothing with logos representing or making various statements should be avoided. For example, clothing that depicts or advertises certain messages should not be used. Examples would be articles that make a political statement, a statement of wealth or your preference for firearms or military should be avoided. This will only prove to be troublesome on occasions you may have to interact with others you do not know.
Obviously the time of year and season will dictate the type of clothing needed, however be smart about it.
In moderate to warm weather and in addition to what you may already have on…you should consider packing…
- pair long pants
- changes of socks (preferably some wool blend for dryness)
- changes of underwear
- shirts and/or t-shirts
- sweatshirt or light fleece
Colder weather…consider packing the same but adding…
- pair of thermal or polypropylene (bottoms & top)
- changes of wool blend socks (rather than pure cotton)
- pair of insulated gloves
(1) fleece or wool watch cap (a fleece balaclava is a good addition)
b. Shoes. There are areas that you can always cut back and/or take the “bargain route” on… YOUR FOOTWEAR IS NOT ONE OF THEM!
You do not buy a nicely outfitted automobile that you will be traveling long distances in and then put the cheapest tires on it. This would not make sense. The same logic holds true for your feet.
As encountering and negotiating multiple types of terrain while carrying added weight is a given, a pair of quality boots should be your primary footwear. Only consider sturdy name brands that have a reputation and a proven performance record for the type of activities for which you will be engaging.
Such boots generally are categorized as “Hiking” or “Military” with a minimum of 8” uppers, aggressive traction and are proven to be good for load bearing (i.e. proven to hold up and support you under the weight of a pack for long periods). Some boots categorized as “Hunting” boots may be satisfactory but do the research and compare.
Boot material is really a personal preference. However, give careful consideration to modern materials. Modern materials such as Gore-Tex and Cordura offer added warmth in cold weather and greater breathability year round. Moreover, Gore-Tex is generally waterproof. Keeping your feet dry and clean is key.
A second pair of shoes is a smart addition. These are for putting on during rest breaks allowing your boots time to dry and air out, as well as giving your feet a much needed break.
They also serve as a “back up” to your boots so they should be sturdy. New is not necessary but there should be plenty of life left in them. A quality pair of running shoes will suffice but also consider sturdier hiking shoes made by companies who specialize in these such as Merrell, Keen, and other proven brands.
c. Coats. During cold weather a jacket/parka that is warm, wind resistant and water repellent is a must. A hood is an added benefit. Avoid bulky coats made from natural fibers (i.e. cotton, wool, or blend). Coats made of modern materials are superior in warmth with less bulk and weight.
During warmer months a light jacket that can repel wind should be packed (or at least a light fleece). Rain, fatigue, and change of weather can bring on rapid chilling causing lose of body heat and robbing strength.
d. Packing Clothing. Most quality packs have some resistance to water. However, prolonged exposure to rain, setting down on wet ground, or the unexpected “drop” in the creek while crossing can become a nuisance in warm weather and deadly during cold.
Before packing your clothes, line the pack with a large plastic trash bag and place your articles of clothing within. Be sure to cinch the bag by twisting, tuck, etc. to seal it from leaking and your clothing will remain dry no matter what occurs.
5. Other Important Items. There are numerous other items you will need, some more important than others. The following list is by no means all-inclusive or absolute. The order in which items are listed should not be construed as more important than the next. Some will be obviously critical while others, not so much. As with anything important, your planning, competency in use and your ability to transport all have to be considered.
Avoid storage of smaller items loosely in your pack. Group like items together and place into smaller zip-loc plastic bags.
- Direction Finding
- Compass. Does not have to be very expensive, just trustworthy and accurate.
- Area Maps. Laminated maps for your state can be purchased at Wal-Mart.
- Fire Starting. Redundancy is key here.
- (2) butane lighters
- (2) boxes of waterproof matches
- (1) fire stick/flint
- Fire accelerates (i.e. Trioxane fuel tablets, small camping fire kindling, fire accelerate paste, lint collected from the dryer)
Spread load these so if one is lost, all will not be lost.
Survivor Ideology: “ Two is one; One is none.” Think about that.
- Small bar of soap, small bottle of sanitizer, etc.…
- Roll toilet paper
- Re-sealable package of wet-wipes
- Toothbrush/travel tube of toothpaste and small deodorant
- Small vile of petroleum jelly for blisters and chaffed skin
- Food Preparation.
- Small folding (Esbit) stove with fuel tabs
- Excess fuel tabs
- Or, a small backpacking type stove such as JetBoil
- Fork and spoon
- Flavoring – salt, pepper, hot sauce, etc.
- Small aluminum pot to heat/boil water. An excellent choice is
the standard 1 qt. military canteen with carrier and the “canteen cup.”
The canteen cup fits inside the carrier and the canteen fits inside the cup.
This saves space and serves multiple purposes.
3. Shelter. A 1-2 man tent is very useful if you have one already, can pack it accordingly, and it is not a bright color. So a tarp, 6’X8’ in camouflage, dark green of brown, is a very good alternative a tent. It will provide a lot of flexibility on all terrain and can be packed many ways.
100’ of para-cord (thin ¼” nylon rope) in natural colors.
(6) small aluminum tent stakes (able to fit through the grommets of a tarp).
4. Sleep System.
Sleeping Bag. One that is light in weight (under 4 lbs.) and is designed for hiking and backpacking. While “down” filled bags are very warm, extremely light in weight, and easy to compress for packing, a man-made fiber filled bag may be the best choice for the average survivalist. Down, once wet, is very difficult to dry and loses all warming properties when wet. The opposite holds true for man-made fillers such as Hollow-fill and other common fibers. Be selective and do your homework. A sleeping bag is generally the largest and most bulky item you will carry. There are quality man-made fiber filled bags under $100 that will pack almost as compactly as the very expensive down filled bags.
Sleeping Mat. A very much appreciated item…especially for unknown sleeping surfaces that you will encounter. Also, great for a barrier to keep your bag dry. Styles, prices, and quality vary greatly so do your research and be selective
First Aid. Seek a well-stocked kit in a soft carry bag rather than hard. Soft is much easier to pack and shift around. Add additional painkillers such as Aleve, Tylenol, etc. Also, consider adding burn ointment and additional bandages such as an ACE wrap.
- Extra pair of glasses/contacts and solution
- Medications that you may require
- Feminine hygiene products
- (2) Small size, quality defensive type flashlight of at least 200 lumens. One to be carried on your person and one packed as a backup.
- (1) Head lamp with harness or hat brim clip on light.
- Extra batteries for all lights
- (1) Red lens for your primary flashlight. To be used to defuse white light at night when you do not need to be seen.
7. Knife. At least one quality utility folding knife with a locking blade. Consider one with a
partial serrated edge. Also, a multi-tool such as the high quality Leatherman series with a
built in saw is highly suggested.
8. Money. Small bills up to about $60. Consider having a few dollars in silver coinage as well.
Debit and credit will not be available.
9. Small Bible. Last, but certainly not least, is God’s guidance and comfort.
III. Situational Awareness. You must always remain calm and in control. You must always be aware of your surroundings and what the general atmosphere is to the best of your ability. Be observant. Listen intently. The little intelligence you obtain from these measures can most assuredly save your life.
In the event a survival situation occurs, it will be helpful to have an understanding of how human nature most likely will react.
In large population centers such as cities, riots could break out almost immediately if the cause is fueled by an emotionally charged event. Think of history and the Rodney King riots of Los Angeles in 1992. Evacuation from and avoidance of such areas must be done immediately. For other events the time line of societal decay will go as follows:
Day 1 – people will be in disbelief. A sense of “what’s happened/happening?” will prevail and folks will generally congregate to get answers. However, as the day progresses and night sets in, panic may escalate and tempers begin to flare.
Day 2 – Panic is growing. People become frantic and less tolerate. Fear and uncertainty is fast growing. The risk of personal danger is rising.
Day 3 – Without clean water and most likely food and a lack of sufficient sleep, destitute people will become aggressive with a large percentage resorting to violence. They will attempt to take what you have. Avoid contact.
Day 4+ - People away from the comforts of home will become very dangerous. People in their homes will become very protective and civil unrest (everywhere) is a certainty. Avoid contact at all cost.
Day 15 - Studies show that civil people will consider resorting to cannibalism if no other food or possibilities of food exist in their immediate future. They will surely kill for what you have.
IV. Protection & Security. While personal protection is somewhat obvious and should quickly
become a very high priority for anyone who finds himself or herself in a survival situation, it is an area that is often misunderstood, misused and left to chance. Neither of these will serve the survivor well and will surely leave you, sooner or later, in the category of “Non-Survivor.”
While movies and books do an insatiable job of glamorizing and even romanticizing the lone survivor who beats all odds to overcome great diversity…like being in combat, one cannot truly understand the experience unless one has experienced it for themselves.
The truth is a person who finds himself/herself in a survival situation will be consumed with confusion, fear, loneliness, and an immense sense of indecisiveness. Having the necessary provisions discussed above at your disposal should give comfort that the essentials to survive are in your possession. This is merely a temporary relief if you have neither the knowledge nor requisite abilities to use your gear properly. You must continue to sharpen your skills by training and planning for such an event.
However, no matter how strong your logistics and the know-how to use them are, if you do not have the ability to protect yourself and your life tools from others who are desperate and will, through whatever means necessary, take them from you…you will fail.
1. Weapons. As noted above, you should always have in your possession a knife. While essential as a utility tool, the knife you choose should also be suitable as a backup defensive weapon. As a primary means of protection, you should have in your possession a quality and reliable handgun that is familiar and that you have had adequate training and experience in firing.
While there are numerous types and brands of handguns to choose from, some do stand out as a much better choice for defensive purposes.
Keep in mind that most attacks are done quickly and in close proximity. Revolvers, while extremely reliable and easy to use, do have limitations. Most notably is the number of rounds (bullets) one has available for immediate protection. This typically amounts to 5-6 before reloading is necessary. Reloading a revolver requires a series of time-consuming actions that make it less desirable as a primary defensive weapon in the survival mode. If a revolver is still desired, nothing below a .38 caliber should be considered. Multiple speed loaders should also be purchased which will aid in reloading quicker.
The optimum handgun for a survival situation is the semi-automatic pistol in mid to full size configuration. A mid to full size pistol will generally hold between 10-17 rounds depending on the caliber and make. The larger bullet capacity definitely provides greater firepower in an attack. Moreover, mid to full size pistols generally have a longer barrel length over the revolver giving it an exceptional advantage in accuracy and range. Pistols use magazines to hold/feed bullets to the gun and therefore can be easily stored and quickly accessed for a hasty reload.
Calibers below 9mm should not be considered. Calibers above 9mm, such as the .40 S&W and the .45 ACP are excellent defensive weapons but be sure to consider the increased size and weight for carrying additional ammunition and magazines.
a. Handgun Carry. The primary defensive handgun should be carried in a manner that allows easy and fast access in the event it is needed. It should not be stored in the pack. A quality holster, that either attaches to one’s belt or to the shoulder straps or waist belt of the pack, should be used. Note: a backup handgun is an excellent idea and may be carried in the pack, if available. A backup handgun in the same caliber is even better in that it allows you to consolidate ammunition to one type.
b. Long Gun. It is commonly understood in the firearms world that a person with a long gun (typically a rifle) will always defeat a person with a handgun in a straight up gunfight. The truth of this adage leads many to consider having a long gun, either a shotgun or rifle, as their primary firearm.
There may not be a right or wrong answer to this: only considerations to be made.
While the long gun of choice has definite and obvious advantages, there are important disadvantages as well.
- Added weight and ability to carry in addition to pack, water, etc.
- Added weight and bulk of ammunition.
- Added visibility or lack of ability to conceal the fact that you are armed in/around others you will eventually come into contact with.
For example…a person sees you from a distance and may choose to by-pass contact with you. However, if they see you have a “highly prized article” such as a rifle or shotgun, they may choose to engage you from that distance in an attempt to take it from you or double back for an attempt at a more opportune time. Again, there may be no right or wrong answers to this question: just serious considerations to make.
2. Traveling. It is always best to travel in groups of two or more (like minded/prepared) persons if possible. This is not always possible so you must develop the skills to protect yourself and provide for your own security.
a. Vehicle. If able to travel by automobile, never stop or leave your vehicle except when absolutely necessary. Breaks to relieve one’s self should be done by the vehicle as fast as possible and then continue on. Do not linger. Modesty is not an issue at this point. Security and safety are.
Always maintain a full tank of gasoline. Try to never drop below a half tank before refilling.
Other than to relieve one’s self, refuel or the occasional meal preparation (try to eat on the go) you should continue to travel to your destination. Should you have to stop to rest/sleep, you should take the extra time to drive off the main routes in search of a secure and secluded area that affords protection and the ability to hide the vehicle from passersby. If you are being observed, travel on until you are not. If traveling with others, someone must be on watch at all times. Rotate shifts for sleep and eating.
NEVER relax your security or let your guard down.
NEVER build a fire unless absolutely necessary for warmth due to potential hypothermia or frost injury. Fire is a beacon that will lead undesirables to you.
Be especially watchful for overpasses, bridges and other various choke points that could make excellent ambush/attack sites.
b. On Foot/Hiking. If you find that you have to travel without the comfort and security of a vehicle, all of the above still apply, but now you have numerous other measures to consider.
- Consider traveling at night when others in the area may be resting and less likely for you to encounter.
- Never camp on or near the route you are traveling. If on a main highway/road you should camp at least 100 yards away hidden from sight in the woods. Again, make sure you are not being observed when detouring to your campsite.
- Pick a site that provides cover (barrier to shield against firearms) as well as concealment (ability to hide) from others.
- NEVER build a fire. If a fire is absolutely necessary, do so for the minimal amount of time required (during daylight) then move far away to a different locale to make camp.
- Noise and light discipline is as important as not building a fire (for obvious reasons). You want to get in and out with as little notice as humanly possible.
- If you sense that you are being followed, you may find it necessary to confront the person(s) rather than continuing on. Do so with extreme caution and with plenty of daylight left if at all possible. TRUST NO ONE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES OUTSIDE YOUR GROUP!
- Short of someone committing a grievous act against another, avoid contact with others. You cannot help them if they are unprepared. They will be desperate. So are you and even more so should they harm you and/or take what you have.
- Plan your route(s). You will most definitely have a planned route if traveling by vehicle. You should also have routes planned in the event you are on foot.
- Avoid bridges, overpasses and choke points. They will be prime ambush sites for people traveling by foot. Bridge crossings, etc. must be done with extreme caution. You will need to spend time observing from a distance in order to determine the safety and opportunity for crossing.
- As time progresses you will want to avoid towns and/or any population centers. Take the time to observe and plan alternate routes around.
V. Quantities to Consider. Above we have talked about the types of food to pack and the means to carry water. Now let us consider the amounts necessary.
- Water. Clean water is an absolute necessity to survive. You should drink plenty of water even when you feel that you are not thirsty. While this should be obvious in hot weather, the same holds true for cold weather as well. Dehydration is a killer and can attack you in heat or cold.
Water weighs approximately 8 lbs. per gallon. Other than your pack and firearm, water will be the heaviest item you carry. You should have at least three of the containers mentioned above on you. One should be readily accessible and the other two can be stored/affixed to your pack accordingly.
Take every opportunity to refill that is available to you. Take the time to filter properly before consuming. Illness due to contaminated water is a killer in a survival situation.
2. Food. Food will be critical to your health, energy and the ability to make good and sound decisions. The amount you need will depend on the distance to your desired destination. Let’s look at an example.
Scenario - 30 miles from your destination – while no one really wants to jump at the chance to hike 30 miles, in a survival situation it seems very “doable”, and it is…if prepared.
Without any problems or delays, the average healthy person with the proper motivation should be able to hike 10 miles per day. For a 30-mile distance we are looking at a minimum of 3 to 3 ½ days on the road. Add in the degradation of society as outlined above and we see our 3 day hike easily extend into 5-6 days. Get the idea? You have to plan your logistics and train your body and mind accordingly – now.
Ammunition. Certainly have your firearm(s) and additional magazines loaded at all times. A box of an additional 50 rounds packed away is not out of the question.
Additional – Nice to Have:
- Radio – Provided you have not experienced an EMP/CME rendering most electronics useless, a radio to monitor news and events is very helpful. Avoid the temptation to listen to music. You need to be listening to what is happening around you.
- Work Gloves
- Bug Spray
- Portable ram radio transceiver (1 for your destination party as well)
- Other items to keep your spirits up (depending on your ability to carry)
With the proper planning, training, and motivation you can survive such a calamity.
It will not be easy – physically, mentally or emotionally. There is a great chance that you will see and experience many bad things. There is a great chance you may have to use violent and/or deadly force. Now is the time to prepare.
“Practice makes perfect” – We have all heard this before and most will agree to this simple truth. If that is the case…shouldn’t you practice the things we have discussed above? After all, getting these important items in hand and these techniques down to a workable level of confidence and ability is a great deal more important than whether or not you will win a sporting event or pull off a successful performance. How well you perform here means whether or not you will live or die.
Finally, I have been told that I should create a checklist to include with this guide. I have given that a lot of thought and realized that this entire guide is, in essence, a checklist. To prepare properly you will most likely devise numerous checklist and I can guarantee that you will revise them from time to time based on your needs, plans, location, time of year, abilities, and desires. The main thing is to get started. Simply check off items in this guide page by page as you acquire them and you will be well on your way.
Survivor Ideology: “It is much better to be prepared a year in advance than a day
God is always with you. Good luck and God speed.