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As disaster prepping continues its precipitous rise in popularity it seems every conceivable gadget, defense rig or bit of advice has been done or handed out. Everything’s been thought of, right? Not so fast. When you come right down to it, that advice, those how-to’s are what works for them. “Them” are all the people out there on the internet writing blog articles and posting videos. Most of them have the best intentions. They want to impart their knowledge to others who might benefit from it. But how do you take what they offer and make it your own? How to tweak it, modify it and customize it to what works best for you? This is exactly what should be done for a bug out vehicle, or in this case a bug out trailer. It has to meet your specific needs and include those particular adaptations and improvements that will be comfortably functional for you when everything else is going down the tubes.

Where to Start

First, select a base trailer to build up into the perfect survival masterpiece trailer. Lucky, for you there are a ton of choices out there. Trailers in all shapes and sizes have been manufactured for decades to meet all kinds of utilitarian needs from the professional contractor or construction firm hauling equipment to trailers meant for moving goods to those built for transporting recreational toys. Add to those variations all the recreational camping trailers on the market and the choices seem pretty much endless.

 

Do your research, envision the finished trailer in your mind, go look at potential buys in person, seek out used trailers for sale to save money, and pick the one that best fits your needs. Remember the longer a trailer is, the more restricted it will be for some locations. Longer trailers, obviously, need a larger turning radius and more space, in general, to maneuver. They are also limited to predominately flat roads as they are unable to manage rolling trails with narrow troughs between steep inclines.

Consider these types as potential bases to build out from;

  • Box utility trailers
  • Compact horse trailers
  • Teardrop trailers
  • Airstream trailers (compact versions)

To pull that trailer you need to first build your bug out vehicle.

These types provide solid bases from which to customize to your unique specifications offering enough variety to fall within particular budget constraints. The benefit of these trailers is they are already enclosed which is a head start, so to speak, which allows you to jump right into customizing the inside. Having said that, though, there are numerous examples of people who have built up open-topped trailers, or even homemade pickup bed trailers, into rugged, workhorse camp trailers capable of going anywhere the vehicle towing them can go. But more on those later.

Enclosed Trailer

Determine the type of space you want to have inside. Will the trailer be self-contained with room to sleep and move around or will it serve as a gear and supply storage and transport? Once the usage of the inside space is settled on you can set to designing the features; insulated walls, the sleeping and sitting areas, storage (gear, food, water), cooking equipment and fuel (Used inside or out? Is ventilation needed?) and windows.

The biggest decision to make (most likely made before even buying the trailer) is will it be a sleeper or a transporter. Will the environmental conditions require an insulated, indoor living area or will an expansion component like an attached tent or pop-up roof sleeper be sufficient and comfortable?

BugOutTrailer1

This trailer has almost every bell and whistle imaginable. Click the image for more photos and details.

If you’re starting with what is, essentially, an empty box on wheels then it would behoove you add a layer of insulation, especially if you plan to sleep inside. The typical, recreational, camp trailer will already be insulated but it’d be worth checking its condition if the unit is an older model. Insulating a cargo trailer is done in the same fashion as insulating the walls of a house. The trailer will already have ribbed, structural support throughout, just as a wall has studs. Cut and fit sections of insulation between these ribs and cover over with sheets of plywood, measured and cut to fit properly and don’t forget to do the same with the roof.

From here, the rest is a custom job, built to your standards and needs. Aftermarket interiors such as cabinetry, foldout beds, convertible seating (into sleepers), and counters are available from various travel trailer retailers or you can build them yourself. Sinks and plumbing are easily found at supply stores and counters can be built to fit a typical camp stove. Research space-saving techniques online for innovative storage areas, utilizing every empty space inside and out. Add storage fuel and propane tanks, generators and batteries outside to avoid gasses from building up creating dangerous conditions inside. For additional energy supply needs beyond fuel, with most trailers’ flat roofs, consider installing solar panels or even a roof-mounted, wind turbine.

 

ButOutTrailer4

Sleeping tents are a popular add-on to some bug out trailers.

Open Trailer

The open utility trailer comes in a full range of forms and sizes. By the term “open” we mean what is essentially, a flatbed trailer with 1-2 foot sides all around or a shallow, open-topped box on wheels. A popular customization for these is to convert them into tent trailers. A number of companies have cropped up over the years that manufacture folding or pop up tents that collapse into a zipped up square and overlays the open trailer. The tent and its support platform are hinged on one side and raise like a hatchback and serve as a cover lid for the open-topped trailer. The inside space is used for equipment and supply storage which can be partitioned off to effectively organize supplies. Or a portion of the inside houses slide-out storage containers or even full, outdoor kitchen setups with stove, sink and counter space.

Many people who go this route with their bug-out trailer make them into truly rugged, go-anywhere contraptions. Fitted with independent suspension, off-road tires and specialized hitches with couplings that allow for extreme vertical and horizontal towing angles these trailers can go virtually everywhere the vehicle towing them can go.

Both types of trailers, open-topped and enclosed, can incorporate external storage containers mounted to the outside walls, on over-sized wheel wells and to the roofs. There is often space on the trailer’s tongue for sturdy containers, propane tanks for cooking fuel or battery banks to store power. The customization opportunities are extensive, limited only by your imagination, time and to some extent, your wallet.http://fpnws.wpengine

Trailers are really one of the most versatile, bug-out vehicle options able to carry all that’s needed for a survival situation – food, water, shelter and lots more – the essentials, all piled into a mobile home away from home.

As disaster prepping continues its precipitous rise in popularity it seems every conceivable gadget, defense rig or bit of advice has been done or handed out. Everything’s been thought of,

Do you have your bug out bag packed and waiting for you in the hall closet? Is your bug out bag tested and ready to go in a moment’s notice? Do you have a bug out bag at all or wonder, what is a bug out bag? Maybe you are just starting on the journey into preparedness and like a lot of other people, you are focusing on getting your bug out bag ready and have encountered the dilemma that so many of us have struggled with ourselves.

Bug Out Bags can be pretty expensive if you don’t know what you are doing and you may find yourself looking at all of the options and wondering, how much should a bug out bag cost? Do you need to go broke to provide a level of safety and security or is there a better way?

I am always looking for ways to improve my gear or readiness level and the subject of bug out bags is one that gets a lot of attention. There are millions of lists of items you “must have” in your bug out bag; even the prepper journal has our own bug out bag checklist and as you probably know, companies are already offering pre-built bug out bags for those who simply want to buy everything in one pack and forget about it.

Actually, this isn’t really a new phenomenon but I was out scouring the internet the other day and saw a company selling Bug Out bags with “everything you need” to be “ready for anything” for the low price of $2299.00.

I couldn’t believe the price they were asking people to pay so I went out and looked at the items that were included in their bug out bag and starting pricing them each out on Amazon. Aside from a lot of things I consider to be unnecessary (2 whole rolls of duct tape?), they had very expensive items in their bags when you could have easily substituted quality made, but cheaper equivalents. The bag weighed 44 pounds too which isn’t too shabby, but not the greatest either.

I started thinking that many people go about planning a bug out bag with the items they need, but neglect to look at the bigger picture and how I might be able to save someone from a potentially costly mistake. This article is my effort to demonstrate how you don’t need to spend $2200 or $1000 or even $700 to create a perfectly suitable bug out bag. Of course this assumes you have none of the items you need and would have to purchase everything.

What is a bug out bag?

Let’s start by defining what I mean by bug out bag and describing how I envision its use in a SHTF scenario. A bug out bag is what you grab when you are heading out the door and you don’t know when you will be coming home. It should contain all of the supplies you will need to live for at least 72 hours. That point is crucial in understanding the items I chose and by comparison what I think could be left out. It is not the bag that will make you “ready for anything” because that is an unobtainable goal. Properly configured though; a good bug out bag should help keep you alive.

What do you need in a good bug out bag?

Now that we know what a bug out bag is designed for, let’s go over the items I think you need to achieve that goal. I am leaving off firearms from this list.

  1. The bag itself – something to carry all of the stuff you need.
  2.  Water
  3.  Container
  4. Filter/Purification
  5. Food – Usually enough for 72 hours (2000 calories a day)
  6. Way to cook the food?
  7. Utensils
  8.  Shelter
  9. Change of clothing (appropriate to season)
  10. Rain protection
  11. Sleeping Bag or system
  12. Something to keep the elements off your head
  13. Tarp
  14.  Tent
  15.  Tools
  16.  Knife
  17.  Multi-tool
  18. Means to make fireFire starter/Lighter
  19.  Tinder
  20.  Light
  21. First Aid
  22. Optional items – Nice to have
  23.  Toiletries
  24. Wipes – For washing up
  25. Toilet paper
  26.  Gloves
  27. Cordage – 50 Feet
  28. Tarps or rain fly’s are lighter options than a tent and take up less space.

How can you save money on a bug out bag?

OK, so now I have a list of items that I think are pretty much the necessary minimums for keeping you alive and healthy for three days. Could I add more stuff in there? Sure, but it will cost you in weight and dollars. The bag contents I have below are under $500 (just barely) and weigh about 20 pounds. Weight is a very important consideration for your bug out bag for two main reasons. First, if your bug out bag weighs too much it will hurt you eventually. It might not hurt when you try it on around the house, but after walking 10 miles down the road with it, you will regret every single unnecessary ounce in there.

With too much weight comes limited mobility. The heavier the pack, the harder it is for you to move quickly. Moving quickly might be needed in a SHTF scenario. So, what items do I have chosen to create a bug out bag that is less than $500 (again assuming you have none of these supplies already) and weighs about 20 pounds?

Bug Out Bag

  • There are millions of options out there, but you could try the Mil-Tech Army Patrol Assault Pack for only $30 and 43.2 ounces.

Water

  • Container – I use the 32 ounce plastic Nalgene bottles for convenience. They run about $10 and weigh 8 ounces.
  • Filter/Purification – Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System. $19, no moving parts to break and only 6.4 ounces

Food

  • Simple Fuel – For the most calories in a compact space, try Mainstay emergency ration bars. Each has 3600 calories and two should last you 72 hours. $16 and 41.6 ounces for two (7200 calories)
  • Way to cook the food or at least heat water? – Solo stoves use small sticks that you should be able to find most anywhere. The Solo stove is $70 and weighs 12.8 ounces.
  • Utensils – Plastic Spoon, Fork, Knife – Grab a set the next time you are at the Fast food place, or a nice Lexan 3 piece Camping utensil $6 and 2.4 ounces.
  • Coffee/Tea – If you plan on this a nice titanium mug runs about $20 but only weighs 2.7 ounces

The bag itself can contribute significantly to cost and weight. Ask yourself if you need to spend $200 on a bag that will sit in your trunk.

Shelter

  • One change of clothing (appropriate to season). Remember you aren’t going on vacation here.
  • Rain protection – A poncho is the most versatile and cheap form of rain gear you can buy. Trash bags don’t count. You can purchase a camouflage Waterproof ripstop poncho for $15 and it weighs 17.6 ounces. Add a poncho liner for cold weather.
  • Sleeping Bag – Probably the most expensive item but the Elite Survival systems Recon 3 is $156 and 48 ounces. This also will take up the most room in your pack.
  • Something to keep the elements off your head
  • Tarp – A sturdy camouflage tarp is only $12 and weighs 32 ounces. Not too light, but still lighter and more compact than a tent.

Tools

  • Knife – Ka-Bar Knife – $59, 12.8 ounces and enough to do small and large chores.
  • Multi-tool – Leatherman Wingman Multi Tool – $29 and 10.4 ounces
  • Means to make fire
  • Fire starter/Lighter/Tinder – Grab 2 Bic lighters, some dryer lint and throw them in a Ziploc bag. $2 for the lighters and a couple ounces.
  • Light – Petzl Tikka 2 LED Headlamp – $29 and 3.5 ounces.
  • First Aid – Adventure Medical Kit – $25 and 9.6 ounces.

Optional Items

  • Toiletries
  • Toilet paper – You can easily grab a half roll from your home and put it in your pack. Low weight and no extra cost.
  • Wipes – For washing up – These are a little heavier at 19.2 ounces at $5.00
  • Gloves – Simple leather/cotton work gloves – $6.00 and only 3 ounces.
  • Cordage – 50 Feet of paracord should be more than enough – $5.00 and 2 ounces.

What additions or substitutions should I make to my bug out bag?

What about cost? You can save money there too. Instead of that $70 Solo Stove, you could make your own alcohol stove for practically nothing. Instead of the Nalgene you could simply use an old water bottle.But I can’t live without my kindle your say or I must have a two-man tent because I will need privacy. Of course everyone is different and this is only a guideline. I think the items I have here are a good place to start. Can you shave even more weight off this pack? Of course. You could start removing items like unnecessary Band-Aids in the first aid kit. You could forego the package of wipes and just use a washcloth; you could get a smaller knife, use a survival bivvy instead of the more expensive sleeping bag.

I am worried about the quality of some cheaper items. Will this bug out bag last?

Ah, that is the million dollar question isn’t it? What is this bag for? How do you envision using it? Could this be simply a ready to go bag in case there is a flood or hurricane coming? If so, will you be bugging out most likely to someone else’s house or a hotel in a safer area? If that is your plan, then you could forget items like tents and sleeping bags possibly. The bag itself doesn’t have to be military spec either if you are just planning for temporary displacement.

If on the other hand, you are planning for SHTF, Mad Max Road Warrior roaming the countryside, then maybe you should give a little more thought to gear selection and quality. All of these decisions have trade-offs and they almost always come down to weight and cost. Better quality usually will cost you more, but the question for you is ‘Is it necessary’?

I know there are a lot of data points in here. My list above worked out to a Bug Out Bag that you could buy right now. The total of the contents on that list, not counting clothes was $498.63. The weight came in at a total of 20.65 pounds if my math is right. It may not be the perfect bag for everyone, but it is a start.

Let me know what you think about your Bug Out Bag. Is there anything missing from this list that you have to have?


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I couldn’t believe the price they were asking people to pay so I went out and looked at the items that were included in their bug out bag and starting

In a SHTF situation where you can’t stay in your own home, and moving in with a friend or relative is not an option, what will you do? If bugging out to the wilderness suddenly becomes your only option, will you survive? Probably not for very long, if you believe the experts. Nevertheless, if your survival plan doesn’t include a bug out to the forest option, it should, but coming up with a good plan might be more difficult that you think.

For starters, do you have a reliable bug out vehicle? If your bug out plan has you escaping the city or suburbs in a modern vehicle, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. Most modern vehicles won’t survive a strong EMP event. You may find yourself traveling on foot, away from a major metropolitan area, in search of food and water. But at least you won’t be alone. When food and water run out, millions of others will be traveling, mostly on foot, away from large centers of population. Even if you have a working vehicle, it may be useless, due to the gridlock created by people and disabled vehicles, all on the same escape routes. You may avoid some of that if you get away quickly, but will you? How much time will pass before you’re packed, and ready to go? Will the roads already be jammed by the time you depart? As time passes, the situation will get worse. Can you imagine what starving, desperate, people are capable of doing? I’m thinking “zombie apocalypse”.

My Bug-out Plan

Understanding the predicament, I don’t have to look any farther than my garage for a solution. My bug out plan doesn’t depend on a full-size vehicle, but I won’t be bugging out on foot either. I suspect that I wouldn’t last very long, with just the items I can carry on my back. Instead, I’ve decided to use my garden tractor (riding lawn mower), pulling a small trailer. Don’t laugh, it’s more practical than it may seem.

  • It would probably survive an EMP event.
  • It can travel off-road, avoiding traffic jams and bypassing bottlenecks.
  • It can pull a small trailer, loaded with essential supplies.
  • I can avoid people who may want to harm me, or take what I have.
  • I’ll have a 360 degree view, helpful for situational awareness, and if I have to use a firearm.
  • I’ll be able to travel to places inaccessible by car, which in theory will make me more secure.
  • My getaway will be at a whopping 6 miles per hour, maximum, but it beats walking.

There are drawbacks, of course. I’ll have no shelter from the elements, as I would in a car or truck. My traveling companion will have to ride in the trailer, or walk along side. Perhaps the biggest drawback is that I won’t be able to outrun anyone. For that reason, it’s important to pack and leave quickly, before things get out of hand.

The bug out location I’ve selected is far from the densely populated area where I now live, and is an area that provides opportunities for hunting, fishing, growing crops, and is near a fresh water source. I know what some of you are thinking… A city boy, living in the wilderness, wouldn’t last long. You might be right, but what choice do I have? Since I don’t own a wilderness cabin, or even a camper, how can I best prepare for a situation that forces me to abandon my home? For starters, I’ve compiled a virtual library of information that will be helpful in such a situation. I’ve also purchased some basic survival equipment and supplies. I practice the skills I’ve learned, and I’m a pretty good gardener.

While living in the wild will be a challenge, I first have to arrive there safely. Traveling with a fully loaded trailer screams “Hey look at me! I have food, water, and survival gear!” How do I get to my destination without being robbed or killed? I see two main problems:

  1. Starving, thirsty, desperate people won’t hesitate to attack me and take what I have.
  2. Those already settled in, near my bug out location, won’t appreciate the competition for limited resources.

To make matters worse, the noise of the tractor will announce my presence. In either case, one bullet could ruin my day.

Bugging out is risky, but I’m thinking of a scenario where I have no choice. I’ll improve my odds somewhat by getting away quickly, before anarchy is commonplace. To do that, all of my things need to be organized, and ready to toss into the trailer. This includes items that are protected from EMP’s. The list that I’ve already prepared helps to make sure that I don’t forget anything.

As I travel, I expect to cross paths with others who are also bugging out. The majority of the people I encounter will be just like me, trying to survive. Many of them will be traveling on-foot, with very limited supplies. My survival odds will improve if I join a like-minded group of travelers, or convince others to travel with me. I’ll bring extra food to share. Travelling with a well-fed and motivated group should help to keep the criminal element away. I’m not trying to be a group leader, or a macho tough-guy, but just one of the many people fleeing an area that has become unsafe. Being armed, and avoiding likely trouble spots, will also help.

With luck, I’ll make it to my bug out spot, probably with a number of other people who’ll soon become my neighbors. As I settle in, I’ll begin to implement a plan that might be described as “Living in the Wilderness, but Not Wilderness Living”. After food and water, my top priority will be the construction of a substantial shelter. As Pat Henry put it “your tent offers zero protection from a sharp stick, much less bullets.” I’ll use modern tools and technology to deal with challenges that come with living in the wild. I’ll have lights when and where I need them, and I’ll use sensors to alert me to intruders, and garden pests. Some of the pests that would otherwise be a threat to my garden, will become food, if I can kill or capture them. My garden tractor-trailer combination will continue to be an asset, as long as gasoline is available. I’ll be able to haul whatever useful items I can find, including building materials, firewood, and water. It’s likely that some of my traveling companions will become the nucleus of a survival group, and the benefits of belonging to a group are many. One could be hunting or fishing, while another guards the supplies and equipment. One could be on the lookout for intruders, while another prepares food, or tends to a garden. One could sleep, while another stands guard. Portable two-way radio equipment, as well as low-tech devices, such as whistles, may be used to alert group members to emerging threats.

My trailer is approximately 48” by 30”. If stacked 30” high, I’ll have about 25 square feet of cargo space. My supplies will be covered with a tarp, protected from rain and wind.

I’m using 3 plastic containers. One is for food, another for shelter, and the third for cooking, cleaning, hygiene, health, and miscellaneous supplies. Those containers account for about 15 square feet, and mine will be similar, leaving me with at least 10 additional square feet. Because I’m thinking long-term survival, I’ll pack clothes and bedding for all weather conditions. I’ll use the additional space for items that will help me survive in the long-run. Included will be the components of a small solar electric system that can be easily reassembled at my destination. I’ll have lights, and a variety of electrical devices that can be powered by the solar electric system. Sensitive electrical items are pre-packed, wrapped in aluminum foil and insulated from each other, which is the equivalent of a Faraday Cage. The ability to use power tools will make construction of a shelter much easier.

Because of the trailer’s small size, I look for ways to conserve precious space. I won’t bring bulky items, like table lamps. Instead, I’ve assembled small and simple light fixtures. I won’t bring a pedestal fan, or even a tabletop fan. Instead, I’ll use small muffin fans, similar to those you find in computers. I’ll mount them on frames, made from pvc tubing, that can be disassembled, saving space when packing. I’ll make good use of paracord, rope, and plastic sheeting. I need not carry books, and volumes of survival literature, because all of those things have been scanned, and stored on a KindleFire. Likewise, carrying a large quantity of water is not practical. I don’t have space for large containers. Instead, I’ll pack several collapsible water containers. I won’t bring a propane stove, or even a charcoal grill, but I will bring a grill top. I’ll assemble a fire pit with stones that I’ll find at my bug out location, and finish it off with the grill top. I’ll pack my cast iron Dutch oven, overlooking my concern for weight, just this one time. Once settled in, my tractor-trailer’s ability to haul things contributes to my bartering opportunities.

The bug out location I’ve selected will be a 7 to 8 hour trip by garden tractor. I have to make sure I have enough gasoline, but my preliminary estimates indicate that I can make it with just the capacity of a full tank, and a full 2 ½ gallon container. I’ll also carry a tube for siphoning, in the event I’ll need to do that. I’ll be carrying a shovel and an axe, helpful if I get stuck or need to clear a path, and very useful when I’ve settled in at my bug out location.

I’ll have the ability to collect and store rainwater. I’ll be prepared to filter water, and boil it, making it safe for drinking. My bug out supplies will include heirloom and hybrid seeds for food crops. Traveling light is an important consideration, and for that reason I’ve created a separate list of items to acquire, once I’m settled in at my bug out location. For the most part, those additional items will make life more comfortable, but are not essential for survival.

Once I’ve settled in at my bug out destination, my first priority will be a sustainable source of food. I’ll start a garden of course, but I’ll need to have other food while I’m waiting for my crops to mature. My bug out supplies include a live trap for small animals, but it is safe to assume that others will quickly decimate local population of rabbits, squirrels, and other edible creatures. My bug out location is near a large lake, and I suspect that I’ll be able to catch fish.

In an effort to avoid bland meals, I’ll pack items such as olive oil, spices, sauces, flour, and corn meal. My list for shelter is similar to Pat’s, but I’ve added an air mattress for additional comfort. I’ll have construction tools, and plan to make tent-living a very temporary arrangement. My list for cooking, cleaning, and hygiene is different from Pat’s list, because I put more emphasis on long-term survival. While I will pack items such as soap and dish detergent, I’ll place a high priority on reusable items, such as wash cloths and towels. Instead of a propane stove, I’ll pack a rocket-stove, and reusable cooking supplies. I’ll have a solar-heated camp shower, wash basins, and collapsible containers for water. I’ll have a good first-aid kit, a variety of medicine, alcohol, bug spray, toilet paper, and other items for health and hygiene. One container, perhaps a backpack, will be for items that need to be easily and quickly accessible. Items in this container will include a flashlight, weapons, maps, a compass, binoculars, cash, a lighter, a KindleFire, snacks, a pocket knife, basic tools, and a rain parka.

My “electronics” box will include all of the components for a small solar electric system, except the solar panels and batteries. It will include test equipment, extension cords, power strips, lights and light fixtures, fans, portable alarms, an AM/FM radio, and a GPS device.

Items that will be packed separately include tools, solar panels (mounted on a hinged aluminum framework), batteries (for the solar electric system), weapons and ammo, live trap, gasoline container, tackle box with fishing supplies, shovel, ax, rake, grill top, and a jump starter (includes tire pump and light). I’ll have the tools and supplies needed to make repairs to the tractor and trailer tires.

After I’ve set up camp I’ll be on the lookout for anything that might be useful, such as a propane stove with a full propane tank, table and chairs, buckets, tools, food and water. If I can find them, I’ll increase my stockpile of disposable items, such as paper towels, zip-lock bags, trash bags, aluminum foil, toilet paper, soap, dish detergent, laundry detergent, insect repellent, toothpaste, shaving cream, alcohol, and other items for health and hygiene. I’ll also stock up on firewood and tinder.

Perhaps the most important item I hope to acquire after I’ve settled in, is an energy-efficient chest freezer. In the event that I have success hunting, fishing, trapping, or growing crops, the freezer will provide an easy way to preserve food. Not needing to find and process food everyday will give me opportunities to rest, and attend to other aspects of survival. The smallest of the chest freezers on the market today are very energy-efficient, meaning that they can be powered by a small off-grid solar electric system. According to the energy-guide tag, 600 watt-hours per day is required for a 5 cubic foot chest freezer. I can get that much power with just 2- 100 watt solar panels, and 2 – 100ah batteries. My system will be a little larger than that, to accommodate the other things needing power, and for extended periods of cloud cover.

Cold Weather Considerations:

Where I live, the months of December through February can include some very cold and nasty weather. Extreme weather may force me to deal with the danger, and postpone bugging out. I may instead choose to make my home as secure as possible, and prepare to defend it. Those traveling through my neighborhood would also be susceptible to extreme weather, perhaps giving me a bit of an advantage. If I’ve already bugged out, and set up camp in advance of cold weather, preparing to survive cold conditions will be a high priority. This includes the construction of a substantial shelter, and a way to provide heat.

The Long Run:

In the event that federal and state government no longer exist, law and order will be maintained at a local level, by an assembly of the people of that area. A protective force can be created, and guard duties shared. Efficiency can be realized in areas such as food production and cooking. Those with special skills will be highly revered, and will serve the entire community. Bartering will be commonplace.

I don’t expect my wilderness life to last more than a couple of years. In a serious SHTF situation, many people will die off from lack of food, or simply from the inability to survive without the conveniences we take for granted today. If that happens, there will be plenty of empty homes to move into. I would choose one with a fenced back yard, to help protect my food source. Most of my food will come from my garden, and perhaps some fish, chicken and rabbit.

Summary:

If I can’t safely stay in my own home, which is at the edge of a big city, or move in with someone else, far from a densely populated area, moving to the forest may be my only option. I need to be ready to bug out quickly and travel safely. I’ll need to bring the appropriate equipment and supplies. And finally, I need to be able to survive wilderness living. I’ll have to depend upon my hunting, trapping, fishing, and gardening skills. My prepping includes the equipment and knowledge to do those things. I don’t expect it to be easy. The competition for limited resources will be fierce, and not everyone will be honest and ethical. Still, I plan for a comfort level far exceeding that of tent camping. I applaud those who can live in the forest with only a knife and the clothes on their back, but I can’t do that.

Perhaps the best things I have are a list, and a plan. I don’t depend upon a modern vehicle, since impassable roads, or an EMP event, could stop me dead in my tracks. My pack-out list helps to ensure that I’ll bring the essentials, while not being overloaded with items I can do without. My extensive database of information will be useful in the event of a medical emergency, or other unexpected circumstances. Moving quickly, with a destination in mind, might prevent me from becoming a victim of the lawlessness that would likely follow a SHTF situation. Getting to my destination quickly means that I’ll also be able to “scavenge” more quickly than some, and acquire useful stuff before it’s all gone. Banding together with trust-worthy, like-minded others may offer the best odds for survival.

We thank John D for his contribution.


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Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)

The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)

The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

For starters, do you have a reliable bug out vehicle? If your bug out plan has you escaping the city or suburbs in a modern vehicle, you may be

In modern war, you would die like a dog, for no good reason.

Hemingway said it. And he was not far from today’s reality.

We are already at war. We are at constant war. If not with another nation, then we are at war with something else. Since we’re fighting in 7 different countries in this very moment, would you be surprised to find out that the number of fanatics hating us grows exponentially?  

So then it is logic that we will be hit when we least expect it. And where we least expect it. For we are too busy planting our seeds of democracy someplace else, while our own country turns into a demo-crazy.  

Fighting terrorism with real weapons begins to sound a little outdated right? It’s like we discovered solar power but we continue to dig for coal. We could maybe end terrorism online if we really paid attention to how things evolve outside the US. Instead of financing useless wars trying to change people that maybe don’t want to change, maybe we should invest in new technologies. Cyber terrorism is the real threat.

When we used the military, they used some planes. When we used drones, they used busses and trucks. When we close the borders they use the internet.

This is not about Putin. Or the dictator in Syria. This is about the rage of the common radicals. And you should fear people who have nothing else to lose.

We fight them abroad. But they are already here. Remember where the 9/11 hijackers trained? On US soil. Remember what airplanes they used? American. Who’s grid is going down if they succeed? Ours. We are not the only ones taking advantage of technology..

And with the help of our own technology, what they’re planning now is going to destroy our infrastructure, our power supply, and the quality of our water. Imagine how easy would be to kill an entire city if you get access to the grid. And it’s all online now.. So everything that is connected won’t start anymore. Because a blackout interrupts more than the grid.

[See: What to do when there are no doctors around.]

Hard to imagine? You better. For time is running out for all of us.

War is something people used to engage in back in the days, when they didn’t know better. When they were still burning people for not believing in God. Did anything change? How come we ask for maturity and understanding and empathy when we have none?

Do you at least care for yourself and your family?

The time has come! This is not a drill.

Want to stay alive? You need to make an effort.

[ See: How to survive a blackout on your own.]

Truth is, a blackout could happen anyways.

Our grid is older than all of us. Remember the March Venezuelan blackouts? It was like living in the Apocalypse.  And it all started because of the Guri hydroelectric plant, which serves 70% of the country. So you do the math. Three major blackouts in one month. Venezuela was crumbling.

For days and nights, unruly crowds sacked 523 stores in Maracaibo as residents stood on their porches wielding weapons to guard against looters. Dozens died in hospitals. Bodies decomposed in the morgue. And what little food remained in refrigerators rotted away as the nation went hungry.

Should we even dare to imagine what if it was us? Are you ready for such a scenario?

Prepping is not about running to the store in the day disaster starts. On the contrary. Prepping is making sure we have a Plan B, C, etc.

Learn here how to become the household healer when a simple blackout disrupts your life.

There are always solutions for the ones who chose life. 

What are you going to do about it? How prepared are you? Let me know in the comments. We can only do this thing together.

Prepping is not about running to the store in the day disaster starts. On the contrary. Prepping is making sure we have a Plan B, C, etc.

Welcome back. I hope you’ve enjoyed my first piece on wildfires safety and prevention. Without a doubt, it’s a force of nature you don’t want to reckon with; not that you can for that matter. One of the things I’ve been trying to say over these odd years was that preppers are neither gods nor immortals. Realizing that you’re knee-deep in trouble is the first step of your journey.

Try to deny it, and you’re dead as a doorknob. So, what’s the point of prepping and buying stuff if the end-point’s the same? Well, I’m not here to wax poetics or discuss philosophy, but I am going to say this – you need to keep it together, stay focused, and get into the game before the game becomes the death of you. Surviving’s not enough; you need to thrive and continue to live like a boss even though you’ve seen and experienced some nasty stuff. Some wildfire survivors cannot even look at an open flame, let alone use it for warmth or cooking. It’s essential you put everything away so that you can go on with your life.

Anyway, to broach today’s topic which deals in how to live through a wildfire and learn to tell the tale, I want to turn towards a twisty story I’ve heard several years after moving into my newly-furbished hunting cabin. So, there I was – new house, new emergency kit, lots of open space, a little garden; we even had a small white picket fence just like in the movies.

I was very well acquainted with the ranger. And the stories he told me; Geez, talk about human stupidity and carelessness. This one time, the entire regional fire brigade was called not too far away from my cabin because some kids decided to reenact some kind of chapter house initiation ritual. Long story short, several acres of forest went up in flames, leaving those poor idiots trapped inside.

As the ranger’s story went, the EMTs and firefighters couldn’t get to where they were, but they did manage to get them on the cell. As you know, the best way to escape a chocking death is to go low and slow. And that’s what they did. The trouble is, they had to crawl through 2 miles of heavy forest, with the fire on their tails. Miraculously enough, all of them made it through. Why? Because they used their noggins for once and paid close attention to what others had to say. That’s some great piece of advice, no matter the circumstance.

This inspired me to reach out to you guys to let you know that wildfires are out there and they are, as its name suggests, pretty wild. That’s why it’s always a good idea to know what do to if you get caught in the flames. Here’s what I had in mind.

Wildfire routine, as explained by the ranger.

  • Keep calm. Panicking won’t do you any good and, chances are, you will wind up in a ditch with a “smoking-hot” tag on your toes.
  • Forest shelter. If you’re in the forest during the wildfire, your best bet would be to find an area with little to no vegetation. A ditch, a dried-up river bank, an outcrop – anything that doesn’t have leaves, branches, twigs or fuel.
  • Duck and cover. Protect your head and hands by hitting the dirt and using your Go Bag for cover.
  • Wait. Don’t assume for a moment that the danger has passed just because you can’t see the flames. Wait around for a bit. In the meantime, try to get ahold of the authorities with you CB or cell.
  • Move only if necessary. If there’s danger nearby, leg it! Don’t run through as that will force your lungs to inhale more of those poisonous fumes. Steady your pace and keep your head down. If the smoke cloud’s too thick hit the deck and crawl to a safe spot.
  • House fight. If you have a little hunting cabin just like I have, stay indoors with all windows and doors locked and sealed. Before heading inside, don’t forget to turn on all your sprinklers and to aim them at the roof and outer walls. That should keep the masonry from reaching critical temperatures. If you have dust or hazard masks, use them. They’re not Halloween accessories, you know.
  • Cannonball! One nifty trick I’ve learned from the ranger is that you can seek shelter from wildfire by taking a skinny dip. Yup, if you happen to come across a body of water during a wildfire, jump in and stay there until it’s safe. Don’t forget to keep your head out of the water for as long as possible. If the flames extend over the water’s surface, take a quick look around for a safe place to get out, submerge, swim, and get away. Don’t take the skinny dip part too literally. Keep your clothes on.

Feels like I’m reliving a chapter from Emerson’s Self-Reliance. Well, when you’re a prepper, that’s what you basically do – become the character of your own survival book. I can’t say for sure what scares me the worst; the fact that wildfires exist and they cause a lot of damage, or that one of my peers is very likely to start one out of sheer stupidity. I’ll leave that one up to you, for the time being.

But think about this – what are the odds of a wildfire springing up in my neighborhood? Don’t go out there thinking that city folks are more protected from Mom Nature’s wrath just because they hide behind concrete and iron walls.

One more thing – have plenty of cash on hand. Doesn’t matter if it’s a wildfire or another natural disaster. Cash is king at any given time. That’s why I always like to put some money in my glove compartment and my Go Bag. See you around, guys, and stay safe.

Some wildfire survivors cannot even look at an open flame, let alone use it for warmth or cooking. It’s essential you put everything away and start prepping so that you

The plan seems simple doesn’t it?

All you need for the best chance of survival for your family is a well-stocked bug out bag, a keen attention to your surroundings and careful monitoring of what is happening in the news. With these bases covered you will be a very informed prepper and will be able to get the jump on all of the clueless sheeple if something bad happens. You will load your family up with your bags and hike off into the sunset way ahead of the approaching death and destruction. You have a plan to bug out.

It sounds perfect, but in this article I am going to try and convince you how that might not be the best and first option you should consider. There are many reasons and situations I can think of why you do not want to bug out from your home. You may be asking yourself, how can I even say those words on a prepper blog such as this without getting struck by lightning? It’s true that hunkering down is not the option that gets the most press, but in my opinion during most (but not all) scenarios, it is the better choice. That is unless you are a combat trained Navy Seal. If you are like me, just an average guy with a family and a giant subterranean monster unleashed by nuclear experiments is not headed your way, you might want to stay put. Here are a few reasons why:

You live where your stuff is.

I’ll be the first to admit that a lot of these reasons are going to seem incredibly simple and obvious, but I think sometimes that is the best way to approach a problem. As a prepper you have probably started collecting some supplies to help you get through short and long term emergencies. Some of you have stored a TON of supplies because you have been doing this for a long time or else you are independently wealthy and you just blew up the Black Friday sales.

Even if you only have a week’s worth of food and water, that is nothing to sneeze at. Everything you have is stored probably in nicely organized bins for easy retrieval. You don’t have to carry it and the supplies aren’t subject to the elements. Leaving your home will make you potentially have to leave most, or all of your survival supplies at home. You could put them all in your best bug out vehicle, the diesel Ford F-250 with the trailer, right? Sure you could, but are you sure that truck will always be in your possession? It’s just better to stay at your home base because there are tons of advantages like…

Even your kitchen floor is more comfortable than sleeping in the woods

Some parts of Mother Nature are best appreciated when you can leave.

Yes, I know that some people sleep perfectly well in the woods and I can too, once I am exhausted from hiking all day. Honestly, you would have to agree that your old lumpy Serta Posturpedic mattress would be preferable to sleeping in the woods or an abandoned building or even a hammock. Why is that important?

Getting plenty of good sleep has a huge impact on our health. It not only affects your moods, but alertness and even immune system. In a disaster you will be stressed in ways you haven’t even considered. You may be working like a dog and having a comfortable and relatively safe place to rest your head, even if that is the living room floor will be an advantage that the people who think they can just bug out into the woods won’t have.

Built in Community whether you know it or not

In times of crisis, you can almost guarantee that communities will band together in some ways. You probably don’t consider your small neighborhood or dead end street a community but let some disaster happen and you will see humans come together for support, safety and to help each-other out. Being around even just a few neighbors who know you can give you advantages if you need assistance for things like a neighborhood security plan.

Even neighbors you don’t get along with will probably overcome grudges if the disaster is severe enough. Of course there is the potential that your neighbors could turn on you for being the lone prepper but I think in most cases, things won’t go Mad Max for a little while. If it does you will have to adjust, but I believe that most people would benefit by banding with their neighbors for support. You could have an opportunity for leadership here or compassion by helping out others who haven’t prepared. It is much better to strive for this kind of relationship with people than head out the door and face the world with only what is on your back.

Being Cold Sucks and it can kill you

I bet that most of you like to keep the thermostat somewhere in the upper 60’s to low 70’s during the winter. There might be some play in that range, but there are no thermostats outside. Whatever the temperature is outdoors is what you are going to be living with. Can you start a fire or wear warm layers to regulate your body temperature? Of course, but the last place I want to be on a cold winter night is huddled up in my sleeping bag under a tarp even if I did have a nice roasting fire beside me.

There are some situations where you wouldn’t be able to start a fire. Maybe if it was raining and you couldn’t find any dry wood or tinder, or there were people that didn’t look so friendly following you. Staying in your home, even without power can give you advantages of shelter that you won’t easily find outdoors. You can seal off rooms and even your body heat will generate a little warmth. You can black out your curtains with heavy gauge plastic sheeting and even the heat from a lantern or a couple of candles can put out an amazing amount of heat.

You may put yourself in a worse situation

The problem with most bug out plans are that you don’t have a destination. Where are you bugging out to? Do you think the National Forest is going to be reserved solely for you and your family? Do you think you will just set up a tent and start hunting for small game? In a large regional disaster, there could be millions of people leaving the cities. The concept is called the Golden Horde and they will be competing with you for natural resources. With even a few dozen hunters in the same area game will be depleted in days if not sooner. Then you will be stuck near a bunch of other hungry people who blame you for catching the last squirrel.

Being on the road makes you an easier target

One of the advantages of staying put at home is the home field or defenders advantage. When you go out, you do not know what you are walking or driving into. The best you can do is recon very deliberately which will only slow you down more. By staying put in your home, you can set up a neighborhood watch with your fellow neighbors and monitor who is coming in. This gives you the opportunity to set up defensive positions and plans that anyone walking in with thoughts of taking advantage of you, won’t be aware of.

If nobody knows you, you are a stranger

If the people in the town do not know you, they will treat you as suspicious, maybe even hostile.

Have you ever been walking your dog and seen someone strange walking through your neighborhood? This was someone you didn’t know so obviously they fell under suspicion. Had they been one of your neighbors kids you would have recognized them, but this new person stuck out. That is what you will be faced with if you leave your home and go wandering through other towns and cities. In your home neighborhood you will be dealing with known people that you can grow a deeper relationship with. There is a built-in level of trust because they have lived near you for years. If you start walking into a strange town with your bug out bags and AR-15 slung over your bulletproof vest, you may not like the attention you receive.

Gear is heavy and a lot of gear is heavier.

Speaking of walking around in your bulletproof vest and gear, how many of you have walked for 3 days with your bug out bag? OK, now add a full complement of bullets and anything else you think you might need to defend yourself. It adds up quickly even when you try to reduce the weight of your bug out bag as much as possible. These weren’t meant to live for a long time out of. Your food will run out, possibly your ammo and that will help you with the weight, but in a disaster where you are walking out the door in full combat gear, do you think Walmart will be open when you run out of something?

In a grid down you won’t get to call AAA

Maybe you are one of the lucky ones that have a place to go up in the mountains. If you don’t get out before everyone else starts leaving, you could be stuck on the road. What if your old bug out vehicle breaks down? All those supplies you stored in the back of that trailer are either going to feed a lot of other people on the highway or you will most likely die defending them. If you aren’t already living at your retreat before the disaster happens, you will have to be incredibly fast to avoid getting stranded. Let’s say you are ready to go, do you know when you would actually leave? Do you know when the S has actually HTF and it’s time to leave or will you debate leaving with your wife and mother for two days because they think it will all blow over soon?

Leaving home may put you in a worst situation than staying put.

If you get hurt you want to be near a secure shelter not under a tarp

I have a decent first aid supply kit. I don’t have IV’s and a ton of medicine but I can take care of garden variety injuries pretty well. Imagine you somehow break your leg after the grid is down. Would you rather drag yourself into the house, or be stuck in the woods for weeks unable to move? Most hospitals don’t stick their patients out in the back yard for a reason so you will convalesce better with a good roof over your head that is hopefully providing some climate protections. If nothing else, it will be a relatively clean and safe place to get better that beats lying under a log.

So what does staying home mean?

I will write a post about reasons why you may have to bug out later, but staying home doesn’t guarantee you will be safe and secure either. I think each situation has to be taken into consideration as to what is the better option for you and your family. Naturally if there is a fire heading your way staying at home is stupid. It is something to think about that and that may help you begin to form different plans for different scenarios. What are your plans?

The plan seems simple doesn’t it? All you need for the best chance of survival for your family is a well-stocked bug out bag, a keen attention to your surroundings

Some preppers base the security of their retreat on hiding it so that it won’t be found.

They glow with pride about how carefully they’ve chosen their retreat location, and its remoteness from main roads and likely off-road flows of people too.  They mutter about ‘OPSEC’ meaningfully, and talk about keeping an ultra-low profile, and won’t even tell you what state it is located in.

This is all good stuff and great to talk about, but it won’t keep you hidden.

We don’t mean to discourage any of these things, but we do mean to alert you to the fact that it is not possible to keep your retreat 100% hidden, all the time, from everyone.  Maybe careful measures will extend the time it takes for the first adversary to stumble across your retreat, but maybe also your location will be discovered by chance rather than by careful searching.

Sooner or later, you will be found.  And once one person finds you, he will tell someone else, and before you know where you are, everyone in the area will know about your retreat and come visiting.

Some Location Giveaways

Here are some types of unavoidable give-aways that will draw attention to you and your retreat.  Your concern isn’t just the people who stumble across your location by chance, it is also the people who are drawn to it due to some sort of indicator that calls attention to it, even from some distance away.

For example, what will you do for heat?  As soon as you start burning anything, you’re giving off odors that in a de-industrialized rural area will travel a long way.  One more smell in the city means nothing.  But in the countryside, anything out-of-place that doesn’t blend into the natural smells – and particularly a burning smell, something we are instinctively taught to notice and fear, will be much more prominent and will be noticed from a reasonable distance.

You’re not only giving off smells, you might be giving off smoke too, providing a visible indicator pointing to your location and visible for many miles around.

Talking about smells we instinctively react to, what will you eat?  Even if you only cook ‘low odor’ foods (rice and beans, perhaps) those odors will travel a long distance, particularly if the person smelling them has his sense of smell sharpened by hunger.

Don’t worry, we’re not going to ask what you do about bodily waste, but let’s just say there’s a reasonable chance there may be some smells associated with that, too!

What about energy?  Will you have a wind turbine?  If so, won’t that be very obvious, especially when the blades are turning, indicating that it is still operating and being maintained?

Solar cells neatly lined in rows on your roof and kept clean of debris also indicate that rather than being an abandoned old shack, your retreat is a cared for location with added value sophisticated contents.

It is true that generators can run incredibly silently, but it is also true that the outdoors itself can be very silent on occasion, making even the slightest out-of-place sound, like a generator running, draw attention to itself.

Will you ever leave your house?  In the winter, you’ll be making footprints in the snow.   Will you grow any food in the summer – any type of cultivation or other landscaping will of course be obvious.  Will you ever go hunting – the sound of each rifle shot might be heard for miles.

Will you have 24 hour blackout curtains on all the windows – heck, why not just build your retreat with no windows at all, then!  If not, your retreat will be a beacon of light at night.

The Unavoidable Paper Trail that Leads to Your Retreat

Think about everything that has happened from the moment you bought the property.  Your purchase of the property has of course been recorded in the county records.  If there were any existing buildings on the property, those are probably already part of the county records.

Maybe you bought some unimproved land and built your own retreat structure.  Did you file building permits with the county?  Do you have utility connections (visible or not)?  Maybe even internet or telephone service?  Did you have any contractors do any work on your house?  Or building inspectors visit?  Did you get mail or courier deliveries at that address?  Do you have occasional deliveries of propane or firewood or diesel fuel?  Does a septic tank service company visit to pump out your tanks?

Even if you think you’ve done everything off the record, sooner or later, the county assessors will update their database and discover the improvements on your property.  Their staff know the areas they are responsible for very well, and if they find a new driveway that didn’t formerly exist, they’ll want to know where it goes.  If they happen to see a contractor’s truck going in or out of the driveway, they’ll doubly want to know what is going on.  Or maybe they’re just doing one of their two/five/ten year revaluations of all property in the county, and someone notices from an aerial photo the presence of buildings and clear indications of agricultural improvements on a block of land they had formerly categorized as unimproved forestry land.

Have a look at, for example, this impressive site that records all details of every property in the entire state of Montana.  Chances are there’s a similar database either for your state or at least the county within your state, whether it be publicly online or not.

Other Problems

What do you say if meeting locals in the nearby town in terms of where you live?  Someone, and probably several or even many people, know that you’re out there, even if not exactly where – you’ll be the guy who lives somewhere up back of (some other place).

What about your travels to and from your retreat?  Have other people seen vehicles they don’t recognize (ie, your vehicles) in out-of-the-way places and wondered who you are and what you are doing?  Have you left tire marks, or do you have a formal driveway or some other indicator of a house on the property?

And so on and so on.  Will anyone else for 50 miles around you know about your retreat?  Unavoidably, and of course.

There are countless ways your presence will be inadvertently revealed, and your life will be a misery if you try to hide it.

The preceding examples show some things you have done or will unavoidably do that draw attention to your retreat.  But that’s not all.  Your retreat could also be found accidentally.

Accidental Discovery Too

We know that in a Level 2/3 situation, there will be an exodus of people from the cities.  Remember that for every rural dweller at present, there are about five or six city dwellers.  In theory, this suggests that the countryside might become five or six times more crowded with people than before, so this by itself increases the chances of someone stumbling across your retreat unexpectedly.

In addition to that, think of everyone you know who confidently says they’ll hunt deer or other wild game for food in a Level 2/3 situation.  Deer will rapidly become an endangered species, that’s for sure!  The woods will be crawling with hunters all eagerly looking for game to shoot, so if your retreat is anywhere close to any sort of hunting, expect an influx of hunters in your area.  Ditto for fishing.  Ditto again for any food bearing plants in the vicinity.  Maybe even for people seeking to fell trees for building materials or to burn.

There’s another potential source of disclosure too.  Google Maps, Bing, and other mapping providers are increasing the frequency of aerial mapping surveys, and the quality/detail of the images they post online.  Many counties have aerial survey maps online too.

Your retreat might be miles from anywhere, but that won’t stop a plane from snapping a beautiful aerial shot of your retreat from the air as it flies over doing a photo-reconnaissance sweep.  Your dwelling will be online for everyone, everywhere in the world, to see next time they open up Google Maps.

Okay, so this presupposes that Google Maps or any of the other online mapping services is still available in a Level 2/3 scenario – a dubious scenario, for sure.  But if your information is/was online, it is probably also printed out somewhere, and a more resourceful looter will access good old-fashioned printed county records to identify tempting targets to go hit.  If you were a looter, wouldn’t you consider an obscured out-of-the-way retreat to be more tempting than one close to three or four neighbors?

It also means that from whenever your retreat first starts to appear on these documents and online records, there will be a small but growing level of awareness of your presence, prior to WTSHTF.

Summary

Figure on being found, sooner or later.  You can not rely on remaining hidden.  Once one person finds you, expect them to share that information with more and more people.

Unfortunately, the more unusual your location, and the more creative you’ve been at obscuring it, the more ‘interesting’ it will be for people to talk about it, and the more curious they will be about exactly who you are and what you have.

By all means do all you can to extend the time until you are found, and hopefully to minimize the frequency of times you are found, but sooner or later, you will have uninvited ‘guests’ arrive unexpectedly.  You need to have a plan for what to do once the veil of obscurity is lifted from your location.

Some preppers base the security of their retreat on hiding it so that it won’t be found. They glow with pride about how carefully they’ve chosen their retreat location, and its remoteness from

What Are Your Bug Out Triggers?

What conditions would have to exist for you to decide that you had to abandon your home; that remaining there had become more dangerous than bugging out into a world that has gone sideways (at least in the corner of it that you can observe)? Some natural events are pretty easy to visualize, such as hurricanes, tsunamis and out of control wildfires. But these are actually localized evacuations and not ‘bug-outs.’ In these events, you can reasonably expect that first responder will flow into your area quickly. They will be followed by state and federal agencies with varying degrees of timeliness and effectiveness. Disaster relief funding will be appropriated, insurance companies will write you a check to repair or rebuild and, eventually, you will be able to move back into your property.   In other words, the massive infrastructures of local, state and federal governments will have continued to function throughout the disaster. All’s well that ends well, right?

But, what if there weren’t going to be any first responders? What if state and federal governments were overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster, or if they effectively ceased to exist at the very moment of the event? In some SHTF scenarios, those conditions might prevail and you simply haven’t learned of it yet. So, here you are in your dark home, with no water. You’ve burned the last chair from your dining room set to keep warm and you haven’t seen any neighbors for more than two weeks. Maybe it’s time to go, but you aren’t really sure.

If you find it difficult to articulate the conditions under which you would be willing to bug out, you aren’t alone. That difficulty is compounded by generally vague SHTF/TEOTWAWKI scenarios and a lack of meaningful decision trigger points. What are the differences between an inconvenient, undesirable situation and one that has become intolerable and possibly life-threatening? Can you make such a decision with the full knowledge that no “mulligan” will be issued if you get it wrong, that once you step outside the door of your home, it may be for the last time?

For purposes of this discussion, I make the following important distinctions between evacuation and bugging out:

  • An evacuation is accompanied with the reasonable expectation that you will be able to return to your residence in the foreseeable future. It means not only that you are leaving a place under imminent threat, but that you are evacuating to a known place of safety where aid can be provided by a still-functioning government or the charity of others. An evacuation means that rule of law and its consequences continue to apply across the entire spectrum of society and that there has been no suspension of Constitutional rights. Your primary concern may be as simple as finding a motel that hasn’t turned on its “No Vacancy” sign.
  • Bugging out means that you have no reasonable expectation of returning. It means that sheltering in place in a post-SHTF environment has failed as a strategy and has become more dangerous to your survival than bugging out. Rule of law may no longer be respected or enforceable. It also means that no one can guarantee a safe route of passage or a safe destination. Finally, it means that you have no guarantee of receiving aid; that acquiring essential food, water, shelter, and security are entirely dependent upon your ability. In other words, you are on your own.

With two exceptions (#22 and #23), all of the questions that follow are independent of any specific type of SHTF event. Instead, they deal with conditions and information that will help determine whether or when you need to bug out. The list is by no means complete; you are welcome to add questions that pertain more directly to your own environment. Rather than treat them with simple yes or no answers, consider the degrees of risk that may develop as time progresses. As you work through the list it will become evident that answers to multiple questions can lead to a more complete understanding of your situation and the world around you. Having many data points is more reliable than basing a decision on a single piece of potentially flawed information.

RunningFromFire

The questions deal with specific aspects of public safety, public or government infrastructure, your own resources, or conditions in your immediate area or region. There are no redundant questions. For reasons that should be obvious, this article assumes that you have already made some level of preparation to bug out.

(1) Can you defend your home?

  • Understanding the defensive limitations of your home and property should be the prime factor in determining whether and when to bug out before it ever becomes necessary to do so. The stark reality is that the vast majority of residences are not designed or constructed for defense. Windows, sliding glass doors and wood or stucco exteriors will not stop a bullet or a determined intruder, and some calibers can penetrate cement block walls. In the typical suburban setting, with small property lots and walled in back yards, the defensive field of view is extremely limited. Without some form of perimeter security, you may face the prospect of repelling armed looters that have already entered your home.
  • Can you maintain a visual awareness of approaching threats around the clock? Can you maintain this level of awareness for days or weeks?
  • Is your concept of defense dependent upon distance? In other words, can you tolerate a potential threat that is 1 mile or only 200 yards away? What if there is an existential threat standing on the other side of your front door?
  • Objectively accessing your ability to stop looters outside your residence is a paramount consideration, regardless of how defensible you think the interior may be. Importantly, ask yourself if you would be able to prevent or defend against simultaneous entries from multiple points in your house. A low probability of success (intrusion prevention) is an obvious red flag. That doesn’t mean it will happen, but if you do not believe that you can prevent entry from multiple points without endangering your family or yourself, then you must conclude that your home is not defensible. If the answer is “no,” the issue now becomes whether you are willing to gamble on the outcome. Simply stated, if your home is not defensible and other factors (below) indicate an increased risk over time, you must at least consider bugging out for your own safety.

    Does your disaster preparation plan include security measures?

  • Another aspect of home defensibility pertains to fire. Are trees or native brush located near the structures on your property? Do you have a defensive (fuel-free) space that would prevent an uncontrolled fire from destroying your home? Could you suppress a fire without the aid of the fire department? Before you answer “yes” to this question, could you do it if there was no water?

(2) How long have you been bunkered in your residence?

  • The longer you remain in place the less likely you are to be factually aware of the situation unfolding around you. This is particularly true if you cannot obtain information from news networks, local radio stations, etc. Events and threats can develop rapidly. The absence of timely eye-witness or other authoritative information can mean that you are in the path of increasing danger and don’t know it.
  • The assurance of continued safety may require that you reconnoiter your area on a regular basis to assess current conditions. Speak with as many people as you can (safely), but you must also evaluate the other questions on this list.
  • If possible, set up a regular time each day to meet with neighbors to share information.
Makeshift barricades are a low-tech way of blocking or slowing access.
Makeshift barricades are a low-tech way of blocking or slowing access.

(3) Has your neighborhood been forced to erect barricades?

  • The erection of barricades across streets leading into your neighborhood may be a preemptory defensive measure to a perceived threat, or it could be in response to an active threat. You will need to determine which situation pertains.
  • If conditions are such that barricades are deemed necessary by local residents, you must at least consider that the risk to personal safety has increased to a level that warrants consideration of bugging out. In other words, if barricades are necessary, but become ineffective, your zone of safety will be greatly diminished,

(4) Are you counting on neighbors for your own security?

  • Is your strategy for sheltering in place dependent upon the cooperation of neighbors to maintain a degree of safety?
  • Do you consider that your neighbors are able (equipped, competent and physically capable) to contribute to your security?
  • Have you exchanged commitments (a mutual defense pact of sorts) regarding area security? Is it based upon a perceived threat level or the passage of time? In other words, does the pact hold as long as the threat is minimal? Have neighbors (or you) committed to remain in place for a limited time, such as one more week, or are you/they hanging in on a day-to-day or hour by hour basis?
  • Are you confident that you can patrol your neighborhood without being shot by a local resident? Think about that for a moment. How do you intend to reconnoiter your neighborhood if you have no means of communicating with each other?

(5) Have your neighbors abandoned their homes? Has your security situation improved or worsened since they left?

  • After the event that caused you to shelter in place, have you seen neighbors generally packing up to leave?
  • Have neighbors (that you were counting on for mutual defense) started leaving their homes?
  • Has your ability to protect your residence been degraded by the departure of others?
  • A sharp decline of residents in any neighborhood effectively isolates those who stay. Remaining residents are surrounded by unoccupied structures and will be unable to prevent looting and arson. In such a case it may be beneficial for remaining residents to relocate into adjacent houses where they can maintain close communication and concentrate their defenses.

(6) Are you willing and prepared to salvage supplies from residences in your area?

  • If you are determined to shelter in place for an extended period of time you will inevitably need something that you do not presently have or that you have run out of. The list of potential items is virtually endless, yet you may be surrounded by homes that were hastily abandoned – possessions whose owner/occupants will never reclaim. You are faced with a choice: You can inventory and salvage useful items, or you can sit back and wait for looters and scavengers to take them. Either way, it is merely a matter of time before your neighborhood will be cleaned out of anything that is useful, that may extend your life or improve your safety.
  • I am not advocating theft or looting. I’m talking about a world that has gone sideways; a world where rule of law has largely collapsed; where the government has ceased to function; where even the declaration of martial law has no effect on the behavior of people.
  • If you are unwilling to salvage abandoned material, you may be hastening the day when bugging out is the only course of action remaining to you. Importantly, you will still be without the items that you needed.
AbandonedCity
When is the last time you saw or spoke with anyone outside your own dwelling?

(7) When is the last time you saw or spoke with anyone outside your own dwelling?

  • Let’s look at an extreme hypothetical situation where you have been bunkered for two months in a typical suburban environment. There was an initial chaotic period where neighbors were fleeing their homes and large numbers of refugees were streaming through your area. Those numbers declined after a week but were replaced by looters and scavengers during the next four weeks. None of your neighbors have returned and no refugees have moved into vacant structures. You have now been in place for two months and you haven’t seen a single soul in the past three weeks.
  • Does this mean that you’ve weathered the worst of the post-SHTF event, that you are safe? Hardly. This scenario brings us squarely to the issues of situational awareness and your sense of timing. Your decision to shelter in place means that you were neither ahead of nor in the middle of the golden hoard. They left you behind a long time ago.
  • Except for what you have been able to salvage or scavenge for yourself, every business and dwelling place may have been picked clean for miles in every direction. There is still no potable water, gasoline, propane, packaged food, seeds, protein on the hoof or medicines that you can find.
  • At some point you have to confront the concept of what it would mean to be totally alone; without the possibility of immediate or future aid. Now what? Do you have an objective reason to think that your original bug out destination is still a viable option?

(8) Have you seen or been forced to repel looters?

  • Many major metropolitan areas provide information about the location of criminal activity via web sites. It is fairly easy to identify high crime zones, as well as the general nature of the activity (burglary, assault, homicide, etc.) by looking at an interactive map.
  • What distance is your home from these chronic hot spots? Are there convenient routes that would enable riots and looting to spread toward your residence if law enforcement was unable to control or contain it? How much time would it take for looters to reach your neighborhood?
  • In the absence of public communication, you may have no knowledge of the proximity of looters to your residence. Realistically, whatever that time frame is, you have far less time to decide whether to bunker down or bug out.
  • Once looters enter your neighborhood your margin of safety could shrink to near zero.
When is the last time you had access to water?
When is the last time you had access to water?

(9) How long has it been since the electrical grid went down?

  • Local weather events and even accidents can cause power outages lasting from a few minutes to a few days, but people still go to work and shop in areas where power is available. Utility crews show up with chain saws, electrical cable, poles, and transformers. Long duration outages (greater than three days) could indicate a problem that is far more widespread than your immediate locality.
  • From almost any high point you should be able to spot the sky glow from city lights reflecting off cloud cover at night. I can see the night glow from cities 70 miles south and 50 miles north of my location. If you are unable to see city lights in any direction, the event that caused your outage may be at least regional in scale.
  • The key to this issue is not the outage itself, but whether the resources (manpower and replacement gear) exist to recover from it in a time-frame that enables you to remain in your residence. Without electricity, the infrastructures that provide gasoline, natural gas, public communications, and water will be inoperable. At some point, you will begin to use and deplete irreplaceable emergency supplies that you have stored in your home.

(10) How long have you been without a source of water?

  • The delivery of urban water depends upon electric pumps, purification plants, and large capacity storage tanks to maintain pressure. Without electricity, water will cease to flow.
  • Here is a straightforward equation: SC=R. If you started this event with a five-day supply of water (S) and it has been five days since water stopped flowing from your tap, then you have consumed (C) all that you had stored at the end of the 5th You now have zero days of water remaining (R). Conservation of your dwindling supply is irrelevant if there are no prospects that water will begin to flow from the tap. Without the ability to replenish potable water stocks, continued occupation of your residence will become untenable. If you have no source of water, neither will anyone else in your immediate area.

(11) Are you running low on your bug out supplies of food and water?

  • When the taps went dry, how much potable water did you have on hand (measured in days of supply) for the number of people in your residence, including water needed for food preparation and toilets?
  • Including cooked or uncooked foods that were refrigerated or frozen before the power grid went down, how many meals do you have available for the number of people in your residence?
  • Assuming that you have a bug out plan, how much of that food and water will be needed to reach your destination once you abandon your residence? Once you begin depleting your bug out resources, you will effectively be reducing your range of travel; possibly without the ability to replenish supplies along the way.

(12) Are grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and banks in your area open for business?

  • Have you ever experienced panic buying situations where shoppers strip food aisles in the face of an oncoming winter storm? There is no reason to think that a SHTF situation would not produce the same or worse behaviors, but of a greater magnitude.
  • If the situation is accompanied by large-scale power outages of long duration, modern commerce will effectively cease.   To the extent that any purchases are possible, they will be strictly cash and carry; but the conventional sources of cash (banks) will be closed. It will not matter how much you have in your checking or savings account; you will not be able to access it or convert it to a usable form.
  • For anyone that is sheltering in place under such conditions, the cash and supplies that you have on hand are all that you are likely to have for the foreseeable future. Given those circumstances, you must determine when bugging out will become necessary. The key question is whether you intend to be in front of or behind the Golden Horde.

EmptyHighway

(13) Has home delivery ceased?

  • At minimum, there are three organizations that make regular deliveries to your home or neighborhood and they are ubiquitous throughout the country: USPS mail carriers, FedEx and UPS vans. And, unless you haul your own trash, the local sanitation department will make weekly or semi-weekly stops to empty the dumpsters that you place on the curb.
  • If all of these services have ceased it could be that your area is no longer considered safe for employees to enter. This could be a localized or temporary issue, in which case there will be other indicators to help with your assessment of risk.
  • The absence of mail and package delivery may also be caused by other factors, such as the collapse of regional or national logistics systems that rely on air and ground transportation, massive sorting centers and, of course, data processing and communications.
  • A build-up of trash at your residence (while other houses have none) will indicate that it is still occupied, that you are sheltering in place, and that you have some level of resources, such as food and water. Can you conceal or bury trash while sheltering place?

(14) Have you seen any long-haul freight carriers operating on highways?

  • Freight transporters cannot function without fuel, communications, and logistics. If tractor-trailer rigs aren’t moving in and out of depots, are piling up at truck stops or are sitting on the side of the road, there has been a major breakdown in the transport/supply system.
  • Many businesses rely on “just in time” delivery for merchandise, including food, by using real-time inventory control systems and automatic low order restocking points. If the order cannot be fulfilled, if the distribution center cannot load freight onto a truck, or if the truck cannot roll, the supply line will back up – but not at your merchant’s back door. The material will be stuck in distribution centers, at the producer’s plant, or may be rotting in a farm field. Consequently, supply chains will quickly fail.
  • Looting and other forms of civil disorder are likely to occur within hours and could quickly become widespread. Initial looting targets are almost always retail stores. The next likely targets would be distribution centers and other types of supply warehouses. Common sense suggests that freight haulers will not enter areas where civil disturbances are uncontrolled.

In Part 2, we will examine the remaining questions that you should evaluate when before making a decision to bug out.

What Are Your Bug Out Triggers? What conditions would have to exist for you to decide that you had to abandon your home; that remaining there had become more dangerous than

The bottom just dropped out all of your warning triggers are telling you that it’s time to pack everyone into the family bug out mobile and leave town before it gets worse. Much worse. You thought ahead which is fortunate for you and your family. You have a vehicle adequately equipped for the journey to your bug out location with essential gear, plenty of fuel with extra in reserve and everyone in the family has their bug out bags stowed safely away. Nervously, you pull out of your driveway in the middle of night to avoid most of the trouble already brewing. This may possibly be the last time you see your home and just like every trip before, you have that nagging sensation you forgot something.

Many disasters that preppers think and plan for could require you to leave the safety of your home, possibly forever. In a situation like this, your well stocked bug out bags and any other gear and supplies you are able to load and carry could be the sum total of all your worldly possessions. Some disaster scenarios assume the worst, a complete destruction through various means that leaves the civilization as we know it destroyed beyond repair for years. In a complete disaster like that, we make assumptions that normal commerce as we know it would effectively be over so the subject of bartering after SHTF comes to mind.

In other scenarios, which some might argue are many times more likely, the world won’t just stop spinning overnight. Every store won’t be closed and you will be able to buy supplies with whatever monetary instruments you have on hand that are still worth a commonly understood value. For most of the world, certainly here in the US we look to cash as the main fallback, but some people are saving precious metals as well to hedge against a currency collapse where that cash you are stowing away is worthless.

Assuming that money in the common forms we are talking about here (cash, precious metals) is able to be used to our benefit during a bug out scenario, have you ever thought about how much you need to put into your bug out bag?

A reader asked me about this subject today and after he pointed out that I hadn’t really addresses the subject on my site, I decided to write an article.

Question from Sam:

I have one question, how much money or other valuables (gold, silver, etc.)do you have in your bug out bag to buy/trade or barter with? I have looked on many prepper sites and have not found an answer to this. Can you please give me some guidance or advice for me?

First, let me thank Sam for this great question and I would encourage anyone else who has questions, or comments about anything you have seen or not seen addressed on Final Prepper to please contact us.

Back to Sam’s question, so how much money do you have in your bug out bag? That part is simple. I have as much “money” as I can carry but I will break this down into specifics with my reasoning why below.

What are some reasons to have money in your bug out bag?

Why have any money in your bug out bag in the first place? Well, there are many good reasons I can think of. Imagine a scenario where the power is out, possibly for weeks. You wouldn’t be able to use ATM machines because they rely on power. Stores couldn’t run credit/debit card transactions without power because they all go through the internet now which relies on power. If the electricity is out, the way we commonly get access to our money or conduct electronic transactions is gone until the power comes back.

You could just drive to the bank and pull out as much as you need, right? Not necessarily. You only have to look to the people of Greece who still can’t get more than roughly $50 out of the bank each day. Would you want to have your cash reserves limited by what the banks could or would allow you to take out? No, I wouldn’t either and that is the main reason why I advocate keeping as much money as logical for you personally out of the banking system.

So having a supply of cash makes sense for the simple fact that you might not be able to get it when you need it most, but what could you possibly need cash for if you were a good prepper and have your fully stocked bug out bag and your BOV with a full tank of gas? I can see situations where a cash bribe might get you past security or could buy your temporary safety. There could be checkpoint guards who could be swayed to let you past if you empty out your wallet and having some cash could facilitate your escape. What about being able to purchase a ticket on a train, plane or some other means of transportation out of a country that is collapsing? It happened all of the time in Germany back before WWII. There isn’t any reason to think we in the US would be immune from needing to migrate ourselves if it got bad enough.

Cash might still be able to be used to purchase supplies if you were out ahead of the panic or were prevented from leaving. If you needed to purchase additional fuel along the route for example and you found a gas station that was only accepting cash, you would be in luck. I think the majority of people might not realize the effects of a currency collapse or revaluation of the dollar, but if you were on top of your gain, you could find someone still accepting cash that could for all intents be worthless.

How much money do you keep in your bug out bags?

I try to keep as much cash as possible where I can access it relatively quickly without needing to go to the ATM or bank. If I had to bug out I would be taking all of the cash I had with me. I don’t have tens of thousands of dollars or anything like that so weight isn’t really a consideration. Money in smaller denominations will probably be better to take with you on one hand because people might be less likely to make change. I don’t imagine anyone is going to worry about getting change for a dollar back but if you needed something that cost $5 and you only had a $100 bill that might hurt a little more. $20, $10 bills seem to make the most sense for regular day-to-day transactions where in a society like Greece, the stores are open but capital controls are keeping you from freely accessing your cash. You could use these small bills at stores to purchase food, pay for meals etc.

In a total collapse though, $100 bills might be needed or could be used more appropriately for extreme inflationary prices. If gas went to $100 a gallon, and you could find someone selling, that $100 bill could spend nicely. Flashing a $100 bill to buy your way through a checkpoint is instantly recognized and might get you through faster than a stack of $20s. I keep a mix of both, but the overwhelming majority is smaller bills ($20). I think if I had $1000 in my bug out bags that would cover me for most conceivable disasters so that is what I plan for.

I would not keep all of your money in whatever form together. I would store some in a shirt pocket maybe. Some in one pants pocket, some in the wallet, maybe more in a fake wallet, maybe a shoe or elsewhere. You don’t want to get robbed of all of your cash in one instant. Diversifying where you have your money could allow you to act like you are giving a bad guy or even a someone driving a hard bargain that you have given them all you have.

Should you take silver coins in your bug out bag?

Is silver and gold a good idea for your bug out bag?

But the other part of Sam’s question had to do with Gold and Silver. Do precious metals make sense for your bug out bag? I think they could, but the situation would need to be pretty unique I think. Some advocate buying 1/10 ounce gold coins because they are worth less than a standard 1 oz coin and they rationalize that one of the biggest complaints about having gold would be reduced. Most people would have a hard time bartering a 1 oz gold coin because they are worth about $1200 each today. Can you imagine trying to get some groceries and giving the person at the register a gold coin? Even if they knew what it was and the worth of it, do you think their manager would allow them to take the coin in the first place, much less give you the accurate change for your transaction? I don’t see that happening.

The 1/10 oz. gold coins are worth about $130 now so the change factor might be lessened, but you would still likely not be able to purchase anything at a traditional store with Gold. What about Silver? The benefit of silver is the value is much smaller. The lesser value makes this precious metal easier to purchase for preppers with limited funds and would seem to be easier to trade with because the change factor wouldn’t seem to be as prominent. You go buy $100 worth of groceries and give the person at the register 5 Silver coins. However, I still think you would have the same problem using these after the grid goes down, at least for a very long time.

Do I keep precious metals set aside for bugging out? Yes I do but I am not counting on using them in the short-term. I probably wouldn’t take more than 10 coins per person with me for the reasons I mention above and their weight.

I know that some will say that Gold and Silver always have value so their worth after a collapse would only go up. I disagree with that from the standpoint that anything you are talking about only has value if the person you are trying to conduct business with agrees with you on the value. A gold coin might be worth $10,000 after an economic collapse, but what good is it if you can’t get anyone to give you something worth $10,000 for it?

If you are talking about taking a box with all of your precious metals to another country and finding someone to give you fair market value, then that does make sense, but getting back to the Bug Out Bag scenario, I think precious metals have a low potential for usability in the days and months after some calamity and that is why I am not taking too many along with me.

That’s what I think anyway. How much money do you have in your bug out bag?

The bottom just dropped out all of your warning triggers are telling you that it’s time to pack everyone into the family bug out mobile and leave town before it

As Preppers we take steps to plan for disasters that could force us out of the comfort and safety of our homes. These threats could range from regional weather incidents like Tornadoes, Earthquakes or Hurricanes to longer term disasters that might not be caused by Mother Nature. Even these relatively common regional weather events can cause massive damage in some places, but shelter and safety is usually within a short drive or walk from your home. To reach safety, it may be necessary to throw your Bug Out Bag into the car or on your back and get the hell out of dodge as quickly as possible before the roads are clogged or leaving is no longer possible. The hope is that you will be able to come back home as soon as the disaster has passed and conditions are safe for your return.

When you are preparing to Bug Out, there’s a lot of advice on various aspects of preparing like how to select the right bug out bag, or how to load your bug out bag. We can give you lists of supplies to actually pack in your bug out bag but in some cases, you simply won’t be able to carry everything you will ever need to in one pack.

The perfect bug out bag will give you basic supplies, food and shelter to live for at least 72 hours, hopefully longer without being so heavy that it will kill you. A bug out bag is designed to give you what you need to survive without the benefit of your home and all its supplies but it is only a short-term solution because it will be impossible to carry every single thing you would ever need for any potential scenario. What if the disaster is longer than 72 hours? What if you aren’t able to come back home ever again for some reason? What if the grid goes down and you can’t get to your money any more due to bank holidays, power outages or some currency crisis?

How can you protect your money?

There are a lot of things that we put in our bug out bag but a supply of money is one of those at the very top of the list when we start to consider what we might need in order to survive. I am not talking about lost in the woods survival here but surviving in a society that still operates in cash. Until we have some TEOTWAWKI event, money still has purchasing power so having some extra cash on hand is wise. You might not be able to access the money you have in the bank anymore like the people in Cyprus, so I recommend keeping a relatively large amount of cash hidden somewhere that nobody can find it outside of your bank. Having all of your money in the bank makes this a single point of failure so having a decent amount of cash on hand, as long as you take precautions could save your rear if the banks decide they can’t or don’t have to give it back. How much should you keep out of the bank? That’s up to you but I try to keep as much as possible outside those doors that can lock me out.

Zimbabwe Dollars ranging from 10 to 100 billion printed within a one year period. The magnitude of the currency scalars signifies the extent of the hyperinflation.

Maybe your money will still be accessible, but with inflation it simply won’t buy you anything at some point in the future. This isn’t without precedent as it has happened in the Weimar Republic after WWI and also in Zimbabwe. As a hedge against actions beyond our control; some people are storing precious metals for long-term protection against inflation. Holding physical gold and silver could be crucial to your family’s survival if the currency collapses so many preppers are acquiring silver and gold coins should the Dollar fail someday or the banks prevent you from accessing the money in your accounts.

While those beautiful shiny coins could save your life financially speaking if the fiat money you have ends up being worthless, they also have their disadvantages. When it comes to bugging out, you have to consider the weight. If you have been quietly purchasing precious metals for years in anticipation of an economic collapse, have you given thoughts to how you will take all of that with you?

There are a lot of options when it comes to precious metals. Some people like James Wesley Rawles advocate using pre-1965 US coins because of their silver content. Smaller denominations, in easy to understand measurements would be easier to barter with other individuals he reasons and I agree with that theory. Instead of spending my weekends sorting rolls of quarters from the bank though; I have settled on 1 ounce Silver coins as my precious metal of choice. I chose silver coins because they were more affordable than gold and I could see paying someone with a silver coin being much easier than chiseling off a piece of my gold coin. Gold coins because of their worth are easier to carry, but harder to make change for. I could carry one gold coin or 70 silver coins. When you are bugging out that weight will start to add up.

Let’s say it was the end of the world and you had to bug out with only the items in your bug out bag, your trusty AR15 or preferred end of the world firearm and all of the money you have. If you had one gold coin you could easily carry that around practically anywhere, but the problem comes in when you wanted to purchase something with it. You couldn’t go to a restaurant and pay for a meal with a fraction of your gold coin. You would want some smaller bills (coins) so to speak.

So, instead of gold you chose silver and now all of your silver is loaded in your bug out bag. Just 200 silver coins will weigh over 14 pounds. What if you had more silver? What if you had cashed in your 401K and have 1000 silver coins? That would be over 60 pounds and I don’t care who you are, adding that much weight to your bug out bag will hurt you sooner or later. Not to mention, if you lose your bag or someone steals it, all of your money is gone.

A bug out plan with Precious Metals

So what is a good prepper supposed to do? I still recommend having some precious metals because I don’t have faith the long term health of our monetary system. Does that mean I am right? You have to investigate that for yourself and make up your own mind. If you do plan to purchase some precious metals how can you plan to bug out on foot with all that coin?

You can’t.

What? Is that your great advice? Well, not exactly but you have to plan on this happening. I have some silver and this works for my me and my family, but I would not load it all into my Bug Out Bag. I also might not load it all in my vehicle if I was bugging out either. So what would I do?

I would bury it. Yes, I would bury my precious metals in containers I could dig up later. This poses a couple of problems too though. What if I can’t make it back to my buried treasure? What if I couldn’t find it after it was buried? These are the realities of storing all of your money outside of a central location but they can easily be mitigated. If I had a bug out location, I would bury some, probably most of my silver there. I probably wouldn’t bury much more than a handful of coins if any along the route. I would also bury a lot at my current location. If I was planning to bug out and had time I would dig it up and take it with me, but if the plan was to bug out on foot, I would only take a small amount with me in my BOB and leave the rest buried.

How much would I take? For a bug out scenario I would probably take 20 silver coins and several hundred dollars. All of this money would be divided into different hiding places and probably with different people. This way if one person gets robbed or lost you don’t lose all your money.

You may be asking what the point of buying silver is if it is going to be so hard to carry. You may be saying the same thing about bugging out. This article may be bringing up more problems than solutions but these are things to consider if you plan on bugging out. Having to bury your money in the ground isn’t ideal but neither is losing all of your money when the banks need a bail-in. Having to bug out isn’t ideal either and it helps to plan for how you are going to take your money with you or keep it safe until you can get back.

As Preppers we take steps to plan for disasters that could force us out of the comfort and safety of our homes. These threats could range from regional weather incidents

I wanted to address a few common misconceptions that I think some people have with how they plan to address a SHTF event in their lives. There are some that are more dangerous than others granted, but all of these prepping myths give us an opportunity to dissect various topics in the prepping community to better understand the risks and rewards of various approaches. In this article, I want to discuss the myth that some preppers have that if the SHTF they are simply going to don their brand new Bug Out Bags and quietly walk into the national forest. This is the bug out to the woods strategy that I read about often in comments or on forums.

This weekend I was walking with my dog on a new trail we had discovered and as often happens, I began to look around at the trees and water sources and soak in the apparent solitude. I think about how remote we are when we get into the woods and the sounds from roads, picnic areas or nearby neighborhoods falls away and you are left with the feeling that you are in the middle of nowhere. I think about this even though I know full well that I am just a short walk back to the parking lot where myself and dozens of others have pulled in temporarily to enjoy the outdoors and a relatively undisturbed spot of nature that our tax dollars are funding.

I was walking down trails, crossing small creeks and envisioning how someone could think that if a disaster happened how they could run out here and survive for a while at least. I was even thinking this myself for a while, but the idea that many people could survive a SHTF event simply by walking into the woods and making a shelter is foolhardy. If this is your plan, you might want to consider a few things first before you leave it all behind and step into the woods for what could be the last time.

Could other people have the same idea as you?

What do you think you are running to?

As with any conversation on topics common to the prepping community, it helps to set a framework for discussion. For the purposes of this article, we will assume that you and your family must leave your home. This could be for a whole host of reasons, but we will go on the assumption that you are running from a bad situation (riots, war, plague, and zombies) and your hope is to find peace, safety and perhaps a new life hidden in the woods of a nearby forest. This could be a large national forest or simply a few thousand acres in your town that hasn’t been developed.

It sounds logical at first doesn’t it? You have the gear you need in your bug out bag, you have been camping before so living in the woods on its face doesn’t seem like a bad idea. There is no place else to go and if you simply walk into the forest, you can find a place next to a stream or a lake, set up camp and begin hunting for wild game and frying some freshly caught fish. Maybe you even have a location that you have been to before that you know is perfect and you think that you will be safe in this remote space in the woods and that somehow you will be able to avoid whatever it was you were running from.

Now, I will admit that there are people who can walk into the wild and survive, even thrive. The number of people who can do this with only what they carry on their back is a miniscule number though and the people I have witnessed (usually on TV if I’m honest) have a tremendous amount of skills, experience and luck. Is this a group you consider yourself a member of?

Most of us, even the crustiest through-hiker on the Appalachian trail needs supplies to live. Can we go out for brief times and survive? Of course, but if you plan to walk into the forest for the rest of your life with nothing more than some snares you have never used, your trusty .22 rifle , and some dehydrated food I think you need to revisit your strategy.

What are the downsides?

The downsides to this approach are numerous but I think the main two are that most of us do not live in the middle of nowhere. If a societal collapse were to happen, there would be a lot of other people with bug out bags hiking into the woods right along with you. That wild game you are depending on catching just like they do on the survival shows, won’t stand up to an onslaught of weekend warriors with their expensive sleeping pads and high powered rifles. In this scenario, it isn’t like you can walk back to Walmart and get some groceries and go back to your tent in the woods.

Where I live we have a homeless population that disappears every night. I know that in warmer months, a good number of them live in a wooded area between two interstates, but my assumption is that area isn’t the safest place in the world. These homeless people have a stable society they can walk to for shelter or a handout on most days. What if the stable society collapsed and started moving in with them? What if nobody could eat and there were no shelters to go when the temperature gets cold? Maybe you could find a reasonably remote place to stay where you wouldn’t have other people around you, but you would still find the issues of acquiring food a major obstacle.

If that isn’t enough, safety would be a huge consideration in the woods. Your tent offers zero protection from a sharp stick, much less bullets. Additionally, have you tried to live in them for weeks at a time? Even the best tents start breaking down and hand-made shelters would need to be constantly worked on to maintain their weather proofing. If you are surrounded by forest, it will be harder to see people approaching you and it would be easy for them to spy on you from a distance without being seen. If the SHTF and times are desperate, anything you have could become something that unscrupulous people want to take from you. What about if you wanted to leave camp? You couldn’t lock anything up could you so it could easily be stolen while you were away. Leave someone behind and they could be overwhelmed by larger numbers. Would you leave a woman alone in this situation?

Is there a better plan?

I have said numerous times that my first plan is to bug in at almost all costs. Does that mean I will never leave my house regardless of the reason? No, but I would have to be under extreme pressure before I would take my family into the woods. If I was making my way somewhere and only needed to stop in the woods for the night – that would be one thing. I would not plan on packing all our stuff on our backs and hiking into the forest though and expect to survive for very long.

What if you know how to forage off the land and you can eat nuts and berries? That’s great but all the other issues are still there. Other people are going to be with you in the forest, and you can’t defend a tent as well as you can your house. If you believe that your bug out plan is to hike into the National Forest that connects to your property and you haven’t considered some of these points, maybe it’s worth a second thought. I myself will know when it’s time to retreat and run away, but I will be very slow to leave my home and although I love walking, hiking and even backpacking in the woods I don’t think it is a valid plan to try and live there if the grid-goes down. Give me my home and zero electricity or water over the nakedness of the forest any day.

I wanted to address a few common misconceptions that I think some people have with how they plan to address a SHTF event in their lives. There are some that

 

One only has to watch the news during a holiday weekend or a severe storm event to image the difficulty bugging out using the interstate highway system. Even secondary country roads, while perhaps more practical, may either be less than ideal or could present even a more hazardous situation for a number of reasons.

But, making the decision then to hoof it with your gear and your family might be a death warrant, just waiting to be issued-(especially if your living in the desert southwest with triple digit temps).

However, there is another highway to consider: The Watery highway.

You could conceivably bug out by boat if you live within a short drive from the coast, lake, large river or even stream. Before you throw in with Gilligan and the Skipper though, here are some things to consider.

Geographical Location and Destination

Where you live or perhaps what body of water is closest to your location that you can get to quickly and safely reach will be a key factor in determining what kind of boat to consider.

You also need to consider your destination or if you plan to keep moving from location to location. Are there islands especially isolated ones with perhaps a cover where you can retreat to? You would need to select one with good protection from storms; you will need one that offers concealment and also good visibility in case of unwelcome visitors. Finding one that has a fresh water supply and small game is ideal. And don’t forget, streams, rivers, lakes and oceans are usually abundant with food.

Maybe we don’t get our own stick of Special Forces operators, but a boat could be a great option for many preppers.

Yet, another thing to consider is the watery highway you plan on using. For example, I live near the Colorado River. I might consider a sailboat as my main bug out vehicle. But I would not be able to navigate the entire river in such a craft. A rubber raft or kayak would be more practical if I had to traverse the entire length.

That is why it is best to plan for many different type of bug out scenarios. But remember, you must practice your plan, refine it as required and remember all your prepping plans must be flexible so you can adjust to any current situation.

Reconnoiter before you Bug Out by Boat

No matter what body of water you are considering, you need to take the time to scout the land and get to know the land on either side of it. It is vital to know where there are places you can hide; places where you can bring a boat close to shore-so you can gather water, hunt wild game, dig up supplies that you buried earlier or tend to a prepper garden or even camp. Location landmarks, or build some that you can spot from the water. Have a nautical map with you so you can transfer the information to it. Remember that landmarks can look different from the water especially at night or bad water conditions. Create or convert a get home bag to a going ashore bag.

Depending on the intended use-you only would need a limited amount of supplies and tools unless you are planning or forced to hunker down on land for an extended period of time.

What will the costs be?

Some may dismiss the idea of using a boat for a bug out vehicle because of costs. In this day and age, especially in this economy, you can purchase a sail boat with a shallow draft with trailer in reasonable condition for about the same price of a used car or perhaps a bit more. Plus remember that a boat can also be used and should be used for vacations. Why not combine a weekend get a way with prepper training. The more training your crew has the easier it will be when that SHTF HAPPENS.

Something like this 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump could give you a bug out advantage if you live near a waterway.

Still one has to be careful not to purchase something that will become a money pit. There are numerous videos on you tube and books available to guide you in the purchase process. There are tax advantages to consider and many banks offer boat financing.
In addition, depending on your situation, you should also consider purchasing a rubber raft or kayak. Both are perfect for fishing, scouting and going places where you main craft are unable to go.

Maintenance for your boat

Boats like recreational vehicles can be costly if not properly maintained. Yet, with a little knowledge and foresight, you can carry spare parts, fiberglass patch kits and make many repairs while on the run. Look at it this way, if you are considering buying some land in a remote area, building a cabin, hauling in water and supplies-the idea of a boat that already has a cabin, can carry your supplies and fresh water. It is also mobile which means you have a chance to sail away to another area if your current location becomes too dangerous- the cost factor might start to become more attractive.

What Equipment do you need for your boat?

OFFGRID by Recoil SUMMER 2014 Bug out boat/Urban Survival issue

Boats are self sufficient or can be for longer periods of time. While this statement is factually true. It depends on the boat you have. A kayak or small fishing boat would not be equipped with all the bells and whistles. The larger boats such as a sail boat can be equipped with a full kitchen, redundant power systems to include generators, solar power and wind turbines. Showers, sewage systems, radar, GPS, marine and ham radios, televisions, freezers, ice makers as well as a water maker which turns salt water into fresh water. It can also filter fresh water. A huge bank of batteries could also be installed and used to provide power without depending on the boats main engines and fuel supply.

However no matter what type of craft you decide on. You should also make sure you have the following.

Life Jackets: While required by law, these are essential for all passengers in a boat. Your attention will be focused on moving from point A to Point B. A child could easily fall overboard. Expect the unexpected and think safety.

Water tight containers: Used to carry your food, fresh water supplies, extra clothing, prepaid cell phones, weapons, ammo, tools- everything you need to protect from the water or bad weather. You should also have a supply of plastic trash bags, zippered sandwich or freezer bags for dry storage.

You also need to carry rope, first aid kit, pocket knife, insect repellent, spare parts and even a spare paddle.

Plastic Bail out buckets, beach towels or large sponges: Besides bailing or mopping up water, these items have many uses both on and off the boat.

Portable toilet, some type of reusable system along with toilet paper, small paper bags, a normal size coffee can and a separate container with a toilet chemical. Being on the move may require you to wait until a later time to get rid of such waste. Therefore, you can use the paper and or plastic bags to hold the human waste and used toilet paper and seal it up in the coffee can (s) until such time you can dispose of it properly. Remember, in proper disposal can be a clue to others that you are in an area or point out what direction you are traveling. Be sure to take the time to dispose waste properly.

One might think that preppers should not consider such luxury. But, I disagree. Your job is not only to survive and keep your family safe. If you have to bug out for a long period of time and can provide your family with a normal sense of life’s conveniences psychologically you are increasing your chances of survival, reducing fear, anxiety, and the breakdown of the family unit. Ask yourself this, if you build a cabin, what basic conveniences would you spouse demand that it come with. Ask yourself, How long would it be before the kids start to rebel. The right boat purchase, if practical for your area and bug out plan, would have many if not all of these options and may help convince your spouse to agree to the purchase.

Security on your boat

There are pros and cons to strongly consider before buying a boat. Your geographical location, the waterway you plan to navigate. Is the boat primary for transportation or are you going to live on it. You and your crew would need to stay vigilant. A watch program and or a drone scout would be practical requirements to keep marauders, pirates, or others away from you, your family and your boat.

A larger amount and a larger variety of weapons and ammo can be carried on a boat. However, again being out on a boat, you could be exposed. Watchers on shore, in buildings, on other boats could spring a trap and track you to your final location..

Weather and other dangers

Boating can dangerous. Your exposure to heat, humidity, adverse weather conditions, bugs, mosquitoes, snakes, water lice, leeches can quickly cause illness or even death. Objects in the water, logs, reefs, junk, could damage or even sink your boat. Proper training and education, practice trips, proper first aid kits and training would help minimize the threat level. Anytime and especially during a bug out situation, boats and boaters will most likely face some unique hazards that one may have experienced in the past during normal outings.

Exposure: Being out on the open water, you and your craft will be highly noticeable. There will an ever threat from marauders, pirates, or others. You could find yourself in a sudden fight or flee situation. It will be important to gauge your travels based on many of the concerns listed above.

Hidden dangers: If you have the opportunity, make trial runs to become familiar with your planned and un-planned routes. Mark known or potential hazards on your map and be sure to have a back up map. In addition assign a member of your crew as a spotter. Have them watch for V-shaped patterns on the surface of the water. This could be an early warning of stumps, sandbars, branches or other objects that are under the surface and could damage your boat or cause an accident that might cause injury to a crew member.

Where ever possible, scout the shoreline as part of trial runs. Know where someone could hide a boat and set up an ambush or fasten a chain or heavy cable across a river or narrow opening.

Noise discipline

Sound travels over water. You and your spotter need to not only watch for hazards, you need to listen for them too. In addition, you, your boat and your crew need to practice noise discipline. It must become second nature.
This also applies anytime you leave your craft to make excursions on land. Being a gray man out on the water or in a boat is much harder than in an urban or rural setting. But, it can be done with practice and being aware of your surroundings at all times.

There is no law that states that being prepared cannot also be a way of bonding and creating wonderful memories for you and your family. Boating is a great way to get your family accustom to outdoor activities, living off the land, and having prepping become second nature.

  One only has to watch the news during a holiday weekend or a severe storm event to image the difficulty bugging out using the interstate highway system. Even secondary country