Buying a Realistic Bugout Vehicle We have all seen those fantasy bugout vehicles with gun turrets and the like hanging off of them. They are heavily armored and look like something out a movie. Well the truth is for most of us a bugout vehicle like that is basically a fantasy. This article takes much …
Hiding Your Bugout Location Securing a bugout bag and location is a struggle in and of itself. Once you find that perfect place or that perfect property people have a tendency to make it look like home. When you think about what you are trying to achieve with a bugout location you may not want …
I’ve written about bugging out in the past, it’s a popular concept with many relevant ties to everyday life and unfortunately it’s also a concept rooted in many prepper fantasies. Realistic bugouts happen quite frequently due to localized natural disasters, folks have to leave their home with very little notice hoping that it will be there when they are allowed to return. Forest fires, flooding or even chemical spills come to mind when considering the need to get out and quickly. Many folks prepare for these scenarios and many do not, those who do not are usually the ones on television telling the news how all they could salvage was what they could grab in a few minutes.
I should dedicate at least one paragraph to the prepper bugout fantasy, the one where martial law is declared and the suburbanites pack up the pickup trucks and head to the woods to establish a community. Crops are gown, shelters are built and the resistance war is waged in a glorious effort, something something et al. It’s a good fantasy but not one grounded in reality, I’ll just leave it at that.
My Bugout Necessity
I’ve you’ve been following along recently you’ll know I’ve relocated to a pretty remote area of the country, one where fire is certainly the biggest threat to our existence. Fire can happen quickly and when it’s dry, as it is now, it is a huge consideration which must be taken very seriously. Evacuation (read: bugout) plans are standard in this part of the country and one must be ready to execute at a moment’s notice.
Time Sensitive Plans
In speaking with my wife we have determined that we should have layered plans in place which are all predicated on the amount of time available. Certainly if we have a day to leave there are actions we would take and also items we would pack which would far exceed those determined necessary if we only had 5 minutes to leave. The point is that we have gone through the home and identified those items and also the load plan (single or multiple vehicles) associated with taking various items. Generally we lean towards irreplaceable things (photo albums, heirlooms) and vital documents as top priority and work our way down from there. In a zero time available scenario its ourselves and the dogs, everything else can meet the fate of the flames.
Multiple Courses of Action
Our first choice would obviously be vehicle transport out of our location. However there is truly only one way in and one way out, so if that is blocked moving on foot has to be an option. We have scouted this possibiliy and included it in our plan and a second course of action should the road be blocked and impassable. It is important to consider the highly unlikely and plan for it, never assume that because something has always been….that it always will be.
Off Site Storage Redundancy
I suggest this for everyone reading this post. Have multiple sites away from your primary residence were you can store goods and supplies or vital docments. We have a backup storage facility as well as a safe deposit box where we keep vital documents, never keep all of your eggs in one basket so to speak. If we were away from the home and it all went up in flames we would have redundacy off site. This is a crucial capability which ties in to continutity of operations.
It should go without saying but there are some generalities that go with being prepared to bugout which transcend location. A list of these follows, this is off the top of my head so it is not complete.
– Vehicles never parked without a minimum of 1/2 tank of fuel
– All family members briefed on bugout strategy
– Rehersals of bugout strategy
– Predetermined linkup or destination points
– Items identified and staged for quick loading
– Load plan (how you will pack) rehearsed and understood
– Multiple Egress points identified and understood
– Communication plan understood and rehearsed
The Bottom Line
The necessity for bugouts is a very real one and should not be overlooked. Have a comprehensive bugout strategy which ties in more than one way to get it done. Speak with your loved ones about it and conduct rehearsals, it could save your life one day.
Escape plans and bugout bags are the latest fad for wealthy New Yorkers. Some Wall Street types even are paying $7,500 a month for an evacuation service to get them out of town fast during an emergency.
“It’s a marine evacuation service based in New York City,” co-owner Chris Dowhie said of Plan B Marine. “A boat is the fastest possible way out of Manhattan. A lot of people don’t wait in line to get on a ferry. They don’t want to worry about walking off of Manhattan as people had to do in the past. They know that a boat is the fastest way off.”
Evacuation for the Rich
Dowhie’s company, The New York Post reported, has a number of Coast Guard surplus Defender boats stashed around Manhattan Island. Wealthy customers pay between $4,500 and $7,500 per month for access to the boats, which would take them away from the city during, say, a terrorist attack.
The rich, though, would have to pilot the boats themselves.
“It’s a sealed hull, unsinkable, and it provides rollover protection,” Dowhie said of the boats. “As long as your doors are shut, if the boat rolls over, the boat will right itself. So it’s about the safest boat you can find right now.”
“We plan out your evacuation route,” Dowhie told the newspaper, “and we plan for every customer differently depending on your needs.”
Getting out of Manhattan in an emergency can be nearly impossible. If the subways stop running, the only way to get off is by boat or walking over one of the bridges. Cars clog the bridges.
Dowhie and his time will train the customers to sail the craft themselves.
Survival Bunkers on Park Avenue?
But escape boats are not the only precaution that hedge fund managers, investment bankers and executives are taking. At least 25 New Yorkers spent between $25,000 and $30,000 to install bunkers with air-filtration systems in their homes to protect them from dirty bombs, Tom Gaffney told The Post.
Gaffney is CEO of Gaffco Ballistics, a company that installs bunkers and air-filtration systems for wealthy New Yorkers. Business has boomed since a bombing last year in Manhattan.
Another company, called Preppi, is selling $5,000 72-hour monogrammed bugout bags to the rich. Customers include Steven Spielberg and Modern Family star Julie Bowen. The bag contains night-vision scopes and a GPS satellite communicator.
What is your reaction? Share it in the section below:
I was updating my bug out bag this weekend. I like to do this in winter every year since there are times we can be iced in. I had the toughest time picking which flashlight I wanted to put into my bug out bag this year though! There are so many great flashlights to pick […]
Todd’s Note: I recently received the article below in an email from Michael R. He didn’t intend to send it to me as a potential article. He instead was passing along information that he had been thinking about, analyzing and trying to problem solve. I thought that his information was important to pass along, being that I haven’t seen the effort (actual numbers) put into explaining why freeways and roads will become impassible if major cities tried to bug out in an emergency situation. Michael makes a lot of sense. After thinking through his information, I believe it is even more important to be aware of what is going on and either move now or choose to bug-in. I don’t know if getting a jump start on bugging out will be possible. If you have to think about it, you might be too late!
The simple common definition of “Bug Out” is traveling… and more specifically, traveling from a densely populated area to a less densely populated area.
Have you ever thought about the minimum amount of time that the perfectly prepared family who has a Plan and has practiced evacuation would need to evacuate to a predetermined bug-out location? Yes, there are a lot of qualifiers in this sentence but work with me here.
Let’s start by setting up the parameters as a challenge.
First, the only criteria for our perfect family, who are all at home in their metropolitan suburb, is they will only need to grab the most urgent essentials like medicine, then depart their home and arrive at their bug-out location within 12 hours to beat the challenge.
Well, that’s an easy challenge to win. The fastest transportation is our fully-fueled vehicle, since we have pre-deployed our resources in advance, so we’ll simply jump in our vehicle and be there in a few hours.
But since we’re cautious people, we’ll do some risk assessments using the tried and true, “What ifs.”
What if our metropolitan city, in our case, Dallas, attempted to evacuate?
There are a lot of people in Dallas, but “a lot” is kinda’ vague. And only a few keystrokes reveals there are 451,000 houses in Dallas County.
A few more keystrokes reveals that each household has 1.8 cars, but it is reasonable to believe that an evacuation will cause families to travel as a unit in a single vehicle. So, let’s think that at most 451,000 cars will hit the streets. However, it is safe to assume that not all residents will evacuate, so I’ll reduce the amount by 20%, leaving the potential for 360,800 cars on the road.
OK, now some fairly uncomplicated criteria: a car is 16 to 17 feet long, plus you might add a foot or two to compensate for sharing the road with an unknown quantity of 73-foot long tractor-trailer rigs and the 50-foot long travel trailers that those “almost prepared” will attempt to escape in.
All of which equals about 6+ million feet of vehicles, add to that 1 million feet of trailers and another 1 million feet of bumper space (1.5-feet between vehicles) divided by the number of feet in a mile – 5,280 equals 1,500 miles of vehicles.
OK – where could those 1,500 miles of vehicles go? A safe answer is anywhere out of Dallas, but let’s stick to major, high speed, traffic arteries like Interstate Highways. Dallas has 3 Interstates, meaning 16 lanes of outbound roadways available for use in a mass evacuation of Dallas.
One additional fact: Studies of actual highway traffic have measured vehicle flow rates as high as 2,000 vehicles per lane, per hour, at a speed of 60 miles per hour.
In a perfect scenario, 360,800 vehicles at 60 MPH will take 200 hours to evacuate Dallas – the math is 2,000 vehicles per hour times 2-seconds per vehicle divided 60 will equal hours – you might want to leave early.
Here is the Total Breakdown
It ends up that you have 2,784 miles of vehicles wanting to occupy 956 miles of Interstate.
An omission that dawned on me as I was rethinking my premise – houses are not households – houses are houses – apartment are not included!!!
The Dallas Apparent Assn. says there are 201,599 apartments in Dallas county – but there is no average number of cars per apartment – the safest guess may be 1 car per apartment – add 40% to miles – so, 3,894 miles of cars wanting to occupy 239 miles.
Now if you think that everyone had a place to go – Mom & Dad’s house, a 2nd home, a farm or a camping place – and that they were evenly spread across the 6 major arteries out of Dallas, there would still not be enough road space
Figure it this way – 6 arteries times 4 lanes per artery times “X” miles – it doesn’t matter what “X” equals, the first bottleneck stops all traffic.
In an attempt to keep things simple, these thoughts were based on only Dallas County being evacuated and not any other city or town – not Plano, Frisco, Allen, McKinney, Garland, Arlington or Ft Worth. The compounding factor is simply beyond my simple premise. if you apply a simple advancement algorithm to the 11 counties that are 900 square miles each around Dallas county, the result is a multiplier of about 8 – instead of 3,000 miles of cars you have 30,000 miles of cars – my mind hit tilt way long ago.
Some cautious conclusions come to mind. It seems reasonable that in only 1 hour, cars leaving Dallas will be bumper-to-bumper or stopped on all paved roadways for 250 miles? Yep, total stop! Highways will become parking lots. The majority of people will be poorly prepared for returning home and unprepared to walk to continue their journey to a place of refuge, Add to that the idea that no relief vehicle could travel past the first creek because every bridge would be impassible from the people clustering around it for water, for family caregivers who won’t abandon the infirm or young.
Personally, I have come to the conclusion that it is mathematically impossible for a family evacuation to a bug-out location located within 300 miles of home without a head start of 12-hours.
FYI: The equations had no allowances for lane stoppages, accidents or breakdowns. (Care to make a side bet on the probability of no accidents from a panicked mob? Me neither.)
To me this says hunker down or leave early…
A Short List of Recent Evacuations in the U.S.
The following is a partial list of some of the larger emergency event population movements in the past 10 years. I did not include population movements for genocide, epidemics, famine, or armed conflicts/civil wars.
August 2005 – 484,000 evacuated due to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana. September 2005 – 3 million evacuated in Texas and Louisiana, including 2.4 million from Houston, Texas, due to Hurricane Rita. October 2007 – California wildfires forced more than 900,000 people in Southern California to evacuate. August 2008 – 1.9 million people evacuate coastal Louisiana, including New Orleans, for Hurricane Gustav. August 2011 – A mass evacuation stretching from North Carolina to New York is ordered because of Hurricane Irene and its size.
Current Situations. Bugging Out on Foot. More Questions than Answers
I am also perplexed at the current migration in Europe. How are so many people feeding themselves on a 2,600 mile journey? How are they traveling? Who is underwriting the costs associated with this migration? We know there is food for the migrants because there is no outcry about starvation. But where is the food coming from? On a daily basis, a million people consume an enormous amount of food. We know that ramping up food production takes months. Where is all this food coming from? Will the consumption of these food reserves cause a rise in food costs as producer stocks are depleted?
Todd’s Note: Michael gives us a lot to think about. What do you think? Feel free to leave your comment below. Click the links for more info. on bugging out, bugout vehicles or bugout bags. Also checkout these links – BOL and BOB.
I recently spent a few days out in the backcountry wilderness living out of my bag, miles away from the nearest town and long out of cell phone range. It was myself and my dog hiking a few miles a day at over 10,000 feet in elevation, getting in touch with nature and evaluating some gear. When out in that sort of environment one figures out really quickly what is essential and what is fluff with respect to gear, what works and what doesn’t. Since the bugout / survival bag is what we rely on to hold all of our essential equipment it stands to reason that this piece of kit should be near the top of the list with respect to how well it is taken care of. Unfortunately that isn’t the case in many instances, so here are 4 things that might be wrong with your bugout / survival bag.
1- It hasn’t been unpacked in 6 months
Cooler temps are approaching so does the gear in your bag reflect that? How long has it been since you completely emptied your bag, took and inventory and re-packed it? Far too often gear is packed and then allowed to sit which means folks forget what is where and items often expire.
2- It doesn’t have hydration bladder pockets
Water is everything out in the wilderness and you must have a good way to not only carry it but access it while on the move. Many good packs have built in hydration bladder pockets on the sides allowing for a 2 or 3 liter hydration bladder to be stuffed down in them. Run the hose down over the shoulder and drink while on the move, hook up a mini sawyer in line water filter for drinking river/lake water. The days of strapping canteens to a belt or the back of the pack are long gone for most, as there are much improved methods for carrying water.
3- The gear inside it has been chosen based on theory, not practical application.
Folks tend to buy gear based on other people’s opinions and there is nothing wrong with that, but has that gear been tested out in the field? Has the tent actually been set up, fire starting material tested, stove been used to cook food? Maybe there is a hatchet or other cool looking tool in there that is completely unnecessary, only way to find out is to get out there and test the gear.
4- It was purchased wholesale for $25 online.
It’s true, you get what you pay for. To build a quality pack you need quality materials and folks who know what they are doing. Time for design, R&D, manufacturing and advertising. All of these things are built into the cost of the product (a good bag in this case) so that the company can remain profitable. I know this seems like basic information but it stands to reason that a bag that runs $25 on the rack cannot possibly hold a candle to a pack that runs $350 or more. The type of materials in the more expensive pack will be more durable, the zippers and fasteners will be better, the internal frame and shoulder straps will be much more comfortable and on it goes. There are some good compromises out there which folks on a budget can look into but one must be careful when choosing a good bag. Go cheap and by the time mile 5 arrives you’ll be sorry you did.
NOTE: This is a guest post by Chris Hampton, author of Edge Walker. Chris has graciously provided a free copy of his book in PDF. You can find the link to download your copy below. – TS
Go-Bags are a popular, and very important, topic of discussion among preppers and anyone wanting to be prepared for all contingencies at all times, anywhere. It’s interesting and exciting to scan over someone else’s Go-Bag content list, but ultimately it’s a personal choice, what we put in our bags. Yet, what happens if we lose our Go-Bag?
In my just-released book, Edge Walker, the main character is taught by a mysterious grandfather how to survive in the wilderness. At the beginning of the book, the boy has no experience in the wild, but as a desperate society rapidly deteriorates around him, the old man teaches the boy how to make shelter and fire, find water in the desert, and hunt meat without modern weapons.
Just before the boy flees a city thrown into chaos, his dying grandfather tosses him a small backpack. It’s his Go-Bag, put together by the old man before succumbing to a deadly virus. In the pack are essentials for his survival. However, when originally penciling out the plot, I looked at the very real possibility that, at some point, the boy will lose his pack. What then? Out in the wilderness, without all the essentials of a Go-Bag, life becomes precious and tenuous, very fast.
I wanted Edge Walker’s story line to be true-to-life regarding survival skills to be utilized in the wilderness. The outcome was interspersing chapters where Grandfather teaches the boy four fundamental wilderness survival skills: how to make simple shelters with the materials at hand, carve a bow drill and make fire, find sources of water in the desert, and hunt using the most basic of primitive weapons – the throwing stick. In the chapter where I introduced the bow drill and fire making, my aim was to write in such a way that the emotion of the story line was maintained while sequentially describing the method for making a fire kit:
“Once, after relocating west, the old man taught the boy about fire. They walked into the desert . . . Grandfather stopped at a three-foot-tall bushy plant and looked down at it. Kneeling, he broke off a dead portion, unsheathed his knife, and started carving.
The boy watched. The sun baked.
“This plant will make fire for you. Warm you. Heal you.”
Grandfather’s knife worked the soft wood. A flat piece, two inches wide and ten inches long with a squared edge, emerged. Another piece of a branch, six inches long, became pointed at both ends: a spindle.
He cut a third piece of wood to fit the palm of his hand. Putting these pieces down, Grandfather cut a longer branch, about two feet, and tied some paracord to it. The boy thought it looked like a small bow to shoot arrows.
Using the spindle, handhold, and bow, the old man quickly burned a small indent into the flat piece of wood. Then he carved a slice-of-pie cut, the wide part of the slice at the edge of the board, the apex touching the middle of the burned indent.
Next, he again twisted the six-inch spindle stick into the string of the bow with one end of the spindle fitted into the notched hole. The palm-sized handhold he put on top of the other end of the now-vertical spindle and pressed down.
Grandfather began scraping the bow back and forth, like playing a cello. The flat board smoked, the smoke curling up around the spindle. Fine dust filled the slice-of-pie notch, with smoke billowing out from where the spindle met the board. Suddenly, he stopped and tapped a glowing ball of dust onto a baseball-size bunch of fluffy tinder and deftly handed the fire kit to the boy.
Grandfather did not rush. He gently, quietly talked to the glowing coal.
“Always ask the coal to visit. And thank it when it does,” he said.
The boy watched. Said nothing.
Grandfather, with two hands, held the smoking ball up above his face and blew into it. Soon, smoke turned to flame. He gently put the flaming ball on the ground and, from what the boy saw in the old man’s eyes, lovingly stared at it.
The boy looked up at Grandfather, then back at the little ball of flame, and echoed Grandfather’s word: “Life.”
As he is taught primitive skills, the boy is reminded to keep his knife on his body and not in his Go-Bag. In this way, if the Go-Bag is lost, the boy still has what he needs to live safely and even lavishly in the wilderness – – a knife.
Later in the book, the ancient skills are enhanced with modern paraphernalia to illustrate the benefits of utilizing whatever’s available. After the boy is rescued from man-hunters by two strangers, he observes how his rescuers effectively combine primitive knowledge with modern effects to subsist and move across the landscape. One example is how the strangers serve food in a gourd, but cook in a metal pot:
“A small fire dances in the cave. Dinner is stewed rabbit with wild onions foraged when Jure did the perimeter check. Bae, once again, marvels at the ingenuity of these two. The meal simmers in a metal pot with walls that collapse each inside the other to compress down for easier packing. To use it, the sections of walls are pulled up to form the pot. Handy.”
And later, in Chapter 50, worn out Converse sneakers are replaced with Huarache sandals:
“Your footwear needs mending,” G says.
“Yes,” Bae answers. “My left sole came apart.”
The shredded shoes embarrass the boy. He glances down at his clothes and does a quick check, as he’s learned to do before traveling . . .
“Any ideas for your footwear?” G asks.
“There’s the town,” Ever says. “They might have a dump or store we can raid.”
“No way on the store. Too dangerous. Supplies to these outlying towns have stopped. Whatever they have in town will be closely guarded.” G pauses. “But a dump. Good chance old tires will be in a dump. We can make sandals for Bae.”
“What about straps?” Ever asks. “Strapping leather is hard to find.”
“Of course!” Ever blurts. “I forgot about that.”
“I’ve got paracord,” Bae offers. He can’t picture sandals made out of tires or how to make them. But he knows paracord and has a roll in his pack.”
If you have a foundation of proven, ancient, skills and a willingness to combine them with whatever modern paraphernalia is found on the landscape, chances increase dramatically for survival. But the most basic necessity for a successful experience in survival is, like the characters in Edge Walker, to always keep a knife somewhere on your body, in case everything is lost, especially your Go-Bag.
To download a FREE COPY of Edge Walker in PDF – CLICK HERE!
– Chris Hampton
The Bugout! James Walton “I Am Liberty” This show may turn into a two or three part series on the Bugout! An in depth look at the bug out from start to finish. Its much more than just the bag that should be considered. For starters the most important decision you make will have nothing … Continue reading The Bugout!
When choosing a location to “bug out” to, there are three very common mistakes people make, each of which could seriously compromise your survival plan, or even worse.
Don’t make these mistakes, and you’ll stand a much better chance of pulling through.
Mistake 1: Head for the hills!
Sure, we’ve all said it, either seriously or in jest. Things go south, we’ll fall back to the mountains and regroup. Especially for those in the western US, the mountains are this near-mythical stronghold full of resources and assets ripe for the picking, and somehow nearly perfectly secured against government intrusion. The reality is much more brutal. Unless you are already intimately familiar with where you want to go, are prepared to not be able to live off the land, and have supplies in place or can bring the bulk of your gear with you, this is a terrible choice.
Not only will every other like-minded person head that way, but in a disaster, roads already will be clogged, and you may not even be able to make it to your location. This one should be saved for the very well-prepared or for those who already live close to the hills and know exactly where they are going and how to survive in the wild for the long term.
Mistake 2: Hunker in the bunker
Close behind heading for the hills, many survivalists and preppers imagine a fortified position they can withdraw to, and either hide while the world falls apart, or even hold off determined gangs of marauders. Raise your hands: How many here have a real fort, or super-secret hidden bunker? Didn’t think so. You might hold off the odd band of criminals, but otherwise your bunker might become your own personal Alamo. Think wisely before committing yourself to the safety of your homemade fortification. You are better off having a few rural acres with a water source, cabin and supplies.
Mistake 3: The stay-at-home survivalist
OK, this one isn’t always a mistake, but a lot of the time it can be. For me, that’s my usual plan. Where I live, the biggest worry is an earthquake. If I’m still alive when things go bad, then I’m good. I keep an earthquake kit stored away from the house, and I can eat and live decent, and probably can help my neighbors some. However, if serious civil unrest happens, I’m screwed, as I live smack in the middle of an urban area.
At that point, staying at home could be the worst mistake I ever made. Take an honest assessment of the risks you face where you live. In some cases, you can almost always stay put. In other cases, you’ll have to be ready to leave. From wildfires, to neighborhood-destroying riots, the risks to the stay-at-home prepper are legion. If you can’t leave, then at least be extra well-prepared. Store gear outside the home, possibly even lightly buried if building loss is a concern. Have a place you can hide in if at all possible. Either way, have a fallback plan, even if it’s just hooking up with your buddy two miles away.
Mistake 4: The isolated homesteader
For some of us, this one may be a dream come true. A simple home, off-the-grid power and communication, a big garden that feeds us and gives a surplus to can, maybe some livestock, good hunting, trees for fuel, and a stream to fish in. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? I know it does to me. At least until something happens that would push me out. One benefit of cities and populated areas is that there are more people and more resources to combat an emergency. An earthquake, fire or flood could destroy all your hard work, and leave you with nothing. If you are one of the fortunate rural homesteaders, you must take extra precautions, because you may be one of the last to get any help in a disaster, and if civil society breaks down along with a grid collapse, you may be in trouble.
Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the section below:
We all know that survival kits and bug-out bags need to be as lightweight as possible. Unless you’re comfortable carrying 40 or 50 pounds on your back, you don’t know how long you’ll last with one on your back. This is why adding survival items that serve more than one purpose is a fantastic idea.
Let me share a few of them below…
1. An emergency radio
Well, not just any radio. There are plenty of emergency radios on Amazon that, in addition to their AM/FM functions, also have the emergency band, an incorporated flashlight, solar panels for easy charging and even a hand crank. What more could you ask?
2. A multi-tool
This one is obvious. Since you can’t take all your tools with you, you need something compact, lightweight and durable. Leatherman makes pretty good multi-tools, and the Wingman is my personal favorite.
3. A tarp
Tarps are not only lightweight, but serve a variety of purposes. From gathering wood to making a lean-to shelter to butchering an animal to collecting rainwater, you’ll find it extremely versatile for a variety of outdoor tasks.
Just make sure you choose the right one from the start, to avoid fixing your mistake by buying a second one.
4. Aluminum foil
Use it to cook on coals (such as potatoes), to reflect heat, to protect your campfire from wind or even to make a solar cooker from cardboard, aluminum foil and a piece of glass. You also can use it to wrap things that you want to be kept waterproof, or even to wrap leftover campfire food that you don’t want to get cold.
5. Your survival knife, of course
Another obvious item with an infinite number of uses. Use it to cut things, defend yourself and even to dig dirt. For the tasks that could damage your knife, I would use a back-up. If you’re looking for something cheap, the Morakniv Companion is a fantastic choice.
6. Toilet paper
TP is great for wiping your hands, insulating holes in your shelter and, of course, as tinder to quickly start a fire. Of course, you don’t HAVE to have toilet paper in your kit or bag, as it might be too bulky for some people’s taste, and there are always alternatives for when nature calls when you’re outdoors, as well as to do the other tasks I just mentioned.
The only thing to remember when you pack it is to make sure you keep it dry, preferably in a zipper bag. Speaking of which …
7. Zipper bags
Zipper or Ziploc bags are great not just for waterproofing your items, but also for foraging, icing an injury or gathering water. If need be, you can also use them as socks to keep your feet dry, though you will need paracord or duct tape to tie them.
Though some people think money will be worthless if society collapses, I happen to think it will be extremely important the first few days after it hits. You will need money to pay for a variety of things in the initial stages of a disaster, from transportation to get home or evacuate, or even to get rioters to leave you alone. It doesn’t hurt to have a few hundred bucks on hand.
Last but definitely not least, mil-spec paracord is indispensable when bugging out. From securing a lean-to shelter to tying anything you can think of, there are probably hundreds of uses for it. Let me give you a few more: use it as a string to dry your laundry, use the inner threads as floss, use it as a belt to keep your pants up, use it as a lasso to rescue someone from a body of water, and use it to climb a tree, as a tourniquet and even to tie someone up.
Can you think of even more multi-purpose items to use? Have any of them saved your life at some point? Share in a comment below.
What would you respond to a simple question, “What’s the single most useful weapon or tool we have in a bug out situation?”
Sure, it’s fun getting compliments on the new blade and trying out the new illuminated scope you just paid a small fortune for.
But would it be as fun if your hands were trembling and you could barely keep your eyes open?
Our tools and weapons are only as useful as the person wielding them.
That’s what this guide is all about – one of the essentials for any smart prepper – SLEEP.
To be more precise, it’s about finding the best air mattress for our shelters and best sleeping pads for our BOBs.
It might not be as “glamorous” as talking about tac gear, but when SHTF we need our best selves to handle the gear and protect what we love.
If you’re think you can go days with little sleep and maintain your shape, you’ve been duped into believing a myth, my friend.
As recent studies show, ONLY ONE NIGHT of bad sleep sets in motion a cascade of cognitive impairments that compromises your ability to defend your own when the moment comes.
So, let’s get to the “meat” of things and make sure we stay sharp in the face of calamity.
Sorting the basics out – an air mattress and a sleeping pad
An air mattress is only an option for your trunk or the shelf of your shelter.
After we’ve dealt with sleeping pads, we’ll go over a few rules to keep in mind when choosing the best high-rise air mattress.
Sleeping pads we’ll be talking about are the kind you’re using on your hiking/camping trips (if you’re into that). We’ll put our prepper glasses on and look at the products from a different angle.
Some of the questions we’ll address:
How is the choice of a sleeping pad for a bug out bag different?
How to plan for different scenarios and get the most versatile sleeping gear while “sacrificing” minimum space?
Choosing a sleeping pad for your bug out bag
OK, so every inch counts and every ounce counts. Let’s dig into our options and what to look for when choosing a sleeping pad.
There’s a lot of vague and confusing information out there, so we’ll debunk some myths along the way and try to make things as precise as possible without getting into the nitty-gritty.
Types of sleeping pads
There are two main types of sleeping pads. Well, three really, but one of those is a sub-type.
Anyway, you have your foam mats and inflatable pads (classic or self-inflating…more on the difference between the two in a minute).
Closed cell foam mats
The lightest and the cheapest option – these don’t inflate so you can’t puncture them, they’re practically indestructible.
The insulation offered in the better ones is pretty good, but on their own, they provide very little comfort (it’s a thin piece of foam after all).
Having said that, the mats make one hell of a combo with light pads and/or sleeping bags.
- There’s no air in it so you can’t deflate and pack it. You roll or fold it and strap it to the side or under your backpack.
- Not comfortable on its own. If you’re sleeping outside, a foam mat alone will do very little for you.
Best use: Combined with a sleeping pad and/or bag.
Versatility comes in layers!
These have come a long way from the inflatables you’d see on beaches, and that goes for all quality aspects that matter: materials, packing size, weight, size options…
Strip it off the fancy terms you’ll see in the company specs, and it’s still a piece of material, most of the time some sort of PVC with some plasticizers added to soften it and make it more comfortable.
It’s light and packs small (the best of these pack as small as a sneaker or a beer can).
Main issues: Fragile and easily punctured, so placing it directly on the ground is never a good idea. Because it’s only material and air, if it’s damaged beyond repair it becomes just a piece of plastic.
You inflate these manually (mouth-to-valve or by pressing an integrated pump).
Best use: Combined with a foam mat.
It’s been over 4 decades since John Boroughs, an engineer who was let go from Boeing in the infamous layoffs of the early 70s, changed the landscape of the industry of air pads by introducing a self-inflating pad.
You might think these work much like a battery-operated air mattress but you’d be wrong.
The inside of these pads is filled with open-cell foam, which tends to return to its natural shape after being deformed. Plainly speaking – you push the air out as you fold the pad and the foam sucks it back in as you unfold it and open the valve.
Unlike with a classic air pad, if you puncture the material of a self-inflatable, you’re not left with a useless piece of plastic. Even if you can’t repair it, the foam itself offers some comfort and insulation.
Main downsides: Although the technology and the materials evolved, making these easier to pack and carry, there’s still foam inside and they don’t pack as small as a regular air pad.
Another thing worth mentioning is that, over-time, the open-cell foam loses some of its “rebounding” ability and the pad doesn’t inflate as well as it used to.
The enigma of the R-value
There’s way too much fuss about the R-value of a sleeping pad, so let us cut through the clutter of vague statements out there and make it really simple.
Let’s get to it…
R-value is a number that represents Thermal Resistance (hence the R). The higher the number, the more insulation your pad will offer.
Some of the info we’re about to present is approximative and is meant to be used as reference.
How R-value relates to temperatures
This is where the information gap is and where most people get confused.
Some brands do offer what they call temperature ratings, so we compared the relationship across a few dozen of brands and products to come up with the table below:
Can I compare R-values across brands?
Here’s a dirty little secret of the industry – R-value of a pad is a standard and it has a unique formula. However, there’s no standard when it comes to how it’s measured.
This means that comparing it across brands is, to put it mildly, imprecise and can only be used as a reference.
That’s why choosing a good brand of inflatables (both air mattresses and pads), and sticking with it, is a good idea.
How do I add up the values of two pieces of gear?
This is a crucial piece of information because it allows you to mix and match looking for the combo that covers most of your scenarios.
Adding up the R-value of two items is approximately linear, meaning that if you combine a foam mat with an R-value of 2.5 and a pad with an R-value of 3, the total R-value is close to 5.5.
We say “close” because there is some energy loss, but it’s nothing you should lose sleep over (pun intended).
This raises the question of…
How to combine the two pieces?
The short answer to this would be – aim for the most comfortable setting.
This shifts the focus from R-values to the thickness of the items. In plain terms, go with the thicker item on top.
Although it’s true that this setting is slightly less efficient in heat retention, it’s far superior in comfort and more than makes up for the small energy loss.
Bottom line – if you have two pads and you want to double-up, go with the thicker pad on top.
The sweet spot
The range between 3.5 and 4.5 is where you’ll find the most versatile pads.
These are the pads that you would call “four-season”, which means they cover most scenarios, especially combined with a foam mat.
If you go below 3, you are entering a zone of pads designed for warm climates and if you go above 5, the pads become too bulky and heavy for a backpack.
Weight and size of a pad
For the needs of a prepper, the pads designed to be ultra light and pack extra small are rarely a good choice.
Yes, you will save a couple of ounces in weight but you sacrifice too much of the pad’s versatility. The little weight and room you save rarely justifies it.
Rule of thumb – don’t go for anything that can’t comfortably fit your shoulders and the full length of your body.
Women and side-sleepers
A tapered or a “mummy” design (semi-rectangular, broader at the hips) is best-suited for women since they are, generally speaking, colder sleepers and require more insulation at the hips and feet.
The design also provides extra comfort for side-sleepers.
That pretty much covers all the main INs and OUTs of choosing a good mat, pad or a combo of the two for your BOB.
So, as we promised, let’s go over a few rules for choosing a good airbed.
Best air mattress for your shelter
Whether you have a spacious off-the-grid shelter or you need to set up one elsewhere, there are a number of realistic scenarios that will call for a sturdy and durable air bed:
- If your shelter in tightly packed, the fact that you can pack up and store your bed during the day and set it up for the night is a substantial advantage
- An air mattress can be sealed and kept at your shelter without bacteria or bed bugs spreading as opposed to a regular mattress that will sit there and collect dust
- With most people being unprepared as they are, there’s a high chance you’ll have to accommodate a few extra souls when SHTF
So, whatever your given scenario, having a good air mattress on-hand is simply smart.
Now, let’s make sure that we know what to look for when choosing.
Cutting through the clutter of information
In a jungle of a market that we have today, the word “quality” is freely thrown around, which strips it of its very meaning.
If everything is “high-quality”, how can you tell the difference between brands and products just using the word and those genuinely superior?
You do it by educating yourself to look past the marketing blabber and into specifics that actually mean something.
Most of the airbeds are made of PVC and claims like “high-quality PVC” and “puncture-resistant” mean very little.
One of the crucial factors that determine the durability of the air mattress is the thickness of the PVC. So, instead of scanning through the specs filled with dazzling terms, look for actual information on the thickness of the material.
To be specific, don’t go for anything lower than 0.4 mm. Ideally, a thickness of 0.6 is right up our alley.
Structural design, air retention and chambers
Another crucial factor is the internal structure.
Let’s make it simple – the “internal structure” are the air cells of the mattress. The number and shape of these determine how well the weight is distributed across the sleeping surface.
This impacts the comfort and the durability.
Generally, the airbeds with a chambered-design beat the ones with end-to-end air beams.
Make it a rule to go with 30+ chambers and you’re set.
Fumes and safety
There’s a notion that, because of the PVC used, airbeds are somehow a health hazard.
It’s a remnant of days long gone.
Unless you are picking from the bottom of the barrel, modern airbeds have the lower fumes-involved (off-gassing) health risks than any other type of mattress.
Take a moment with the following graph:
Note: If safety and fumes are still a concern for you, you can always take the extra precaution of choosing an air mattress that’s phthalates and BP-free (those are the chemicals that created the concerns in the first place) or even go with an airbed that’s completely PVC-free (only textile used).
General rules of what makes a good pump in an air mattress are somewhat different for a prepper.
Besides choosing a pump that’s reliable and doesn’t leak air, a prepper has to think about possible power outages and choosing an airbed that features a pump that can be both battery and manually-operated.
Speed of the pump is only a secondary factor at best.
Know how to read user reviews of the air mattresses
So, you’ve got your eyes on a specific model, you go to one of the e-commerce websites that carries the beds and you read the raging reviews it’s getting.
Take your time and don’t jump to conclusions, the reviews can be deceiving.
Here are a few common “traps” and quick fixes:
- Problem: The reviews might not be real. Not all the websites have a system in place that ensures that all reviews are from verified buyers.
- Solution: Make the websites that have the verification system in place your go-to sources for user reviews.
- Problem: The sample is not big enough. Think of it like this – even if the website has a system in place that verifies the reviews, a company that brings a new product to the market can easily organize buying 10 or 15 of it and leaving full 5-star reviews. This is an attempt to artificially push the air mattress towards the top-rated ones.
- Solution: Make it a rule not to go with any product that has fewer than 50 reviews. These are the ones that stood the test of time.
- Problem: The quality of the product has changed and the positive (or negative) reviews you are reading might not be relevant anymore.
- Solution: Sort the review by “most recent” and analyze them starting from the top – these are the most relevant.
Wrapping it up
There’s an abundance of information out there on other basics, like water filtration systems, nutritional value of energy bars…but there seems to be a gap in addressing what simply has to be a part of any well-crafted preparedness plan – sleeping arrangements.
If this guide at least starts to bridge that gap, we’ll sleep tight tonight.
Stay safe, stay smart
Editor-in-chief of 3beds.com
This is a guest post.
“We put them up in London,” architect Alex Shirley-Smith claimed as he tightened the ropes around a sturdy tree. He spoke with a reporter about his latest invention, Tentsiles, which is basically a portable tree house that can be assembled in any environment, whether it be city or country.
Inspired by the natural structure of spider webs, Tentsiles is a brilliant invention that relies on the physical element of tension, or tensile design. The goal, as Smith says, is to use as few materials as possible, making for a simple design as well as an eco-friendly experience for campers.
The tent also has a slue of other benefits that normal ground tents don’t have, including the comfort of a hammock as opposed to backbreaking sleep one gets from sleeping in the dirt. Tentsiles also lessen the chance of suffering from any nasty bug bites or animal intrusions by keeping its residents floating comfortably and safely in the air.
The triangularly shaped tents are so easy to set-up, they only take ten minutes, which is perfect for those looking to travel far and light.
“It’s soft on all sides and it’s warm,” one of the reporters said as he hopped inside, lounging with two other adults. “You get sort of that peacefulness,” he added. At one point, one of the individuals in the tent stated that the tent felt like a hammock, but without the unstoppable swaying.
“It took several prototypes to get to this shape,” Alex said at the end of the interview, the reporter stating that the invention recently brought on the idea of small villages that can be made up of sky tents, one stacked above the other. Like the invention of Tentsiles, this thought is idyllic and dreamy, one that fits as perfect as your body does with the tent’s design.
Watch This Video of Tentsile Tree Tents By Kirsten Dirksen
(Click Here if video doesn’t display)This article first appeared on American Preppers Network and may be copied under the following creative commons license. All links and images including the CC logo must remain intact.
High above the Canterbury Plains, there’s a beautiful view; birds, trees, clouds, not to mention all the literary history floating about the dead air, but in the 21st century, you’re more likely to see the futuristic Martin Jetpack.
Before the Martin Jetpack set off for its iconic voyage into the sky, it had only practiced a handful of times, going up only a few feet as if it were a weak bird. Glenn Martin had many Americans excited during his first launch at the Oshkosh Air Show, but left many disappointed due to the fact that he couldn’t raise himself higher than a few dozen feet. Though many still found it exciting, it wasn’t nearly as exhilarating as what would occur just a few years later. Despite the lack of the Martin Jetpack’s success, the engineer stated that the schematics and updated math on the machine could now potentially launch a man not just a few hundred feet in the air, but thousands.
“You spend 29 years designing something you love,” Martin stated to a reporter, a hurtful look in his eye, “So it hurts very much to hear negative things about something I was so excited to present … It just makes you more determined.”
For the second time, Glenn decided to do many indoor practices beforehand, and after a few months of getting to know the machine, finally give the real test outside the Canterbury Plains. As he stepped outside and tried the futuristic looking suit on, his wife had only one piece of advice for him: “Don’t look down.” Before this test flight, no single man in a jetpack had ever flown higher than over a hundred feet, making the mission not only dangerous for the device, but Glenn as well. If the engine were to fail, it would drop like a rock, bringing Martin down with him, but when the moment of truth arrived, Glenn soared.
So how high can the Martin Jetpack go?
Not only did Glenn Martin exceed his own personal record of a few feet above the ground, he trumped beyond the height of the helicopter that was following him around. Flying over 5,000 feet above sea level, the Martin Jetpack became a huge inspiration for human air travel when it successfully launched, prompting several investors, but more importantly, inspiring the hearts and minds of inventors around the world.
I had to get a lead paint survey done for the roofing loan and the people that did the survey were very helpful suggesting cheap ways to mitigate any lead paint chips so my critters would not ingest lead. Casa de Chaos only has a a couple of potential bad spots and it will not affect the work I want to get done via the city loan. Getting bids and doing the research on good contractors takes a lot more effort than I had anticipated. Thank goodness for the internet and computers making emailing the “scope of work” from the city easy to copy and paste. Plus having client ratings for the electrical, plumbing and roofers I’m authorized to get bids on the jobs makes getting the first bids a bit easier to start. A $10 grand limit loan seems like a lot of money, but anyone who has contracted construction jobs knows that $10 grand won’t get a lot of work done using contractors.
All you construction pros please don’t take that in a bad way. Most of you are professionals and take a lot of pride in your work. Making/repairing homes is hard work and takes time, energy and knowledge I don’t have. You should be paid well for that, I just have to limit the jobs to that little bit of money I can afford to pay. One cool thing is I may help the city and a couple of local contractors “hook up” with the city doing this sort of repair jobs. The gal running the program and the building inspector are looking for good contractors for this program. Overall I think I got in with a good bunch at the City of Nampa as well as people that want work as well want to do a good-great job. This is a program that needs to work and so far the contractors I have contacted are more than willing to work with the city and give bids in order to get the work done. Hopefully everything will work out to everyone’s advantage. The city will get a list of good contractors, I get a low interest loan to take care of my older house’s structural/safety issues. While 100 years is not a lot of time. I like the idea of fixing up historical areas and using modern materials that reproduce an era.
From the water main fiasco I would recommend you ask to see all work permits from the city and refuse to pay the last bit of money to any contractor until the final inspection is done by the city code inspector. I have no problem giving a contractor 1/3-1/2 of the money on a contract for materials once they get the permit and then paying the rest on city inspector’s okie dokie. Sorry, construction guys the bad fly-by-night jerks make that a requirement for me. I can’t afford small claims court and the bad guys/ripoff artists will just set up business under a new name when sued. I have to say after getting job bids for my little project I have gained a lot of respect for general contractors. Getting bids and lining up workers on a time line is not easy.
I’m building up the Doggie’s BOBs. I’m feeding Pedigree soft canned dog food but I’m adding Pedigree soft/wet food pouches to the doggie BOBs to save weight. Changing any pet’s diet can cause stomach upset so it is best if you have at least a few days worth of their normal feed and a bit more to mix with the “new normal” feed if you have to bug out. I have added brushes, combs and nail clippers along with some basic bandages and OTC meds to help keep the pets happy and healthy. Leashes and backup collars so the animals will not run off along with enough small kennels/carry boxes that will give the critters a safe place if I need to bug out. I added a couple of metal water bottles, I want to get a small Sawyer water filter just for the critters bug out bag. I am still testing out a few ideas for water and food dishes. I’m looking for a compromise on weight, storage size and ease of cleaning.
Paul’s a local grocery store was just bought out by Albertson’s and I’m a little peeved. I try hard to support local business but I also know most grocery stores operate on razor thin profit margins. I can’t really blame people going for the cheapest price when money is tight. But Paul’s was sort of like a poor man’s whole foods for buying local. Some good news, I saw a cashier from Paul’s in Nampa get hired by Albertson’s. I know there will be some downsizing and consolidation but it is nice to know that Albertson’s is giving some of the workers from Paul’s a job.
Mom and and I must get out in the country and at best it will take the rest of 2016 just to get all the equipment and tools we need just to make the attempt of going country. This is not our first rodeo, we know making a go in Owhyee county will take a lot of work. We are trying to get all of the tools on hand as cheaply as possible before we move. But with Mom’s divorce dragging out I suspect we will need to hang out here in the city for another 10-12 months.
Don’t worry about us as the Casa de Chaos is getting a new roof and a few electrical and plumbing jobs done. Oh we may hate we that we are stuck here for a bit. But I got the new hard side green house and a soft side on hand and ready to set up. I’ll add a 300-500 gallon water tank next month. While Mom is a bit frustrated about the divorce going into it’s 15th month.
I am working to get Casa de Chaos fixed up and set up for a perma-culture/food forest and ready for the real estate market. Will it work? I don’t have a clue. but I know doing nothing, won’t work. If you are standing still, you are a target at best or tend to get run over at worse. As a wise person said ” Get busy living or get busy dying. Your choice!
I know this, because I’m also in such a situation. While I don’t necessarily live near any major cities per se, I do live in an area that’s going to swell with refugees if the unthinkable were to occur. Of course, the refugees themselves aren’t necessarily the issue. It’s the fact that these droves of refugees will be low on survival resources, coming to an area that will be low on law and order.
To further explain, a single high-altitude EMP – or a major solar storm – could take out the grid and effectively render all emergency service communications devices into high-tech paperweights from coast to coast. This alone is going to have most officers headed homebound to look after their loved ones (and I sure couldn’t blame them for doing so). But even the ones that stick around are going to have a tough time coordinating crime-fighting efforts without so much as a working walkie-talkie to throw in their cruiser’s passenger seat.
And that’s IF the cruiser’s electrical systems haven’t been fried by the energy wave.
Thus, the word “chaos” comes to mind if I were to describe the unfolding hypothetical scenario. Even if I could pop the clutch in ye olde Chevy to get her working, then how exactly am I going to weave my way to wilderness freedom with the countless road-blocking variables that could possibly be standing between me and my retreat?
If, in the 50/50 chance that I’m unlucky, and I don’t have access to a working set of wheels, then am I really going to attempt this trek on foot? I had to leave my home because it was too dangerous, and now I expect to take the next week, meandering through the same chaos that ousted me from my home in the first place?
There’s got to be a better way. So, here’s a quick list of what we need in a fast transportation option:
- Lightweight and low-profile
- All-terrain capability
- Carrying capacity for a bag
- Operator able to maintain or repair in the field
Well, my friends, I’ve come up with three that meet the above criteria … and these options will give you a little extra speed and agility to get you on your way … in a hurry.
No. 3: Multi-Passenger ATV
I’m not the only survivalist who believes ATVs are one of the most versatile forms of transportation.
Passenger and towing capacity has long been the crux of the ATV in this regard, but there is a market solution to this problem. Since the multi-passenger ATVs tend to have more power and additional space for boarding your gear and compadres, I feel like this would be the better option for families undergoing a forced, rapid evacuation.
However, if everyone in your company has access to their own transportation, or you’re traveling alone, then you might be better served with a two-wheeled option of some kind. With ATVs, they don’t exactly possess the optimally low mpgs, as the other options out there. But its three best strengths are readily identifiable:
- Terrain handling
- Multi-passenger/storage capable.
No. 2: Motorized 66/80cc Bicycle Kit
A good friend of mine who happens to be an outside-the-box-kind of thinker, showed me this absolutely intriguing concept … and I’ve been stuck on the idea ever since.
It’s especially handy for those of us who don’t exactly have a couple grand to dump on a mechanized bugout transport. But if you’ve already got an existing bike, and $150 to burn, this project might just get you by in a pinch.
These kits will actually allow you to slap a 66/80cc two-stroke engine on that bicycle that’s currently suspended in your garage. Apparently, they’ll do a whopping 55mph. (Not loaded down with gear, of course, but so long as you’re doing more than a human sprint, I’d still take it.)
If you want one, even for just a tinker project, just hop on eBay. Of course, it’s not necessarily the easiest install in the world, but you don’t need to have a certification from a mechanic school in order to figure out what you’re doing.
The cons for this system are going to be rather obvious, given its limited power. However, I’ve heard the two-liter tank’s mpgs can range anywhere from 100-150 (even 250, but that’s not without some highly sophisticated mods), and again … you just can’t beat $150 for a fun project. Just be careful with taking her on the road after you’ve put it together, because many-a-municipality hasn’t exactly accounted for them yet. I’ve heard of riders running into a tiff or two with local troopers over the required paperwork. And be smart with these kits, folks. Wear a good helmet while you’re riding.
No. 1: Kawasaki KLR 650
As I mentioned before, we’re going to need a way to weave through chaos, and depending upon the nature of the crisis at hand, the surrounding suburban countryside could look eerily similar to a warzone. But that’s why I couldn’t help but think of the Kawasaki KLR 650.
In fact, this particular “touring” motorcycle has been used by the Marine Corps for years, so it’s got a history of handling the unpredictability that’s inherently associated with warzones. Take a look at this diesel-powered variant that’s served us since 1999:
According to Popular Mechanics, the Kawasaki KLR 650 is essentially a mechanized pack-mule. And while I might disagree … they say it’s about as attractive as one, too. However, they also laud praises to the two-wheeled beastie, saying:
Its comparatively lightweight made it the easiest to wrestle through tight, rocky trails. It has just enough power to cruise at 80 mph, but don’t ask for more.
Hey, if the KLR 650 is the go-to bike for a long journey across the Australian Outback, then I don’t think it’s going to have issues handling the rigors of Appalachia — and at an average 53.3 mpg, I can’t exactly complain for doubling that of my current mode of transportation.
(I should also mention that it runs on a carburetor, which will naturally resist an EMP surge far better than its younger fuel-injecting cousin. Food for thought.)
What transportation options would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below:
Take a good look at your feet right now…
Now imagine darting through metropolitan labyrinth followed by a slow, long hike to your bug out shelter. We’re talking urban concrete, rugged rocky terrains, rural flatlands, maybe a swamp…
A smart prepper is always ready for anything (man-made or natural) and if your current footwear isn’t up to the task you’ll be the maker of your own “Achilles heel”.
Furthermore, people keep focusing on their BOB way too much, forgetting that our main tool for facing (and surviving) calamities is our body, especially feet. To put it into perspective, a rolled ankle is a far more devastating obstacle in a bug out situation than not packing enough ammo.
So, before I start handing out some essential tactical footwear tips, let’s take a moment to deal with an intricate mechanism that is our foot.
What lies “under the hood”?
Our feet are a perplexing mechanism consisting of 100+ assorted muscles, 26 bones and 33 joints. They’re a very delicate piece of machinery that acts as a shock buffer for our body as well as a propulsion enabler.
That being said, getting the best tactical boots for complementing them rather than tying two bricks to your feet might include more pondering and research than you’ve bargained for.
Tactical boots are no stranger to civilian feet due to their protective properties and comfort. They’re optimally designed for fitting the needs of soldiers, hunters, hikers, and, of course, smart preppers.
So, let’s cut to the chase and see how to choose the best tactical boots for a “bulletproof” bug out plan. You want a head start when things like “fair fight” jump out the window, right?
Different kinds of tactical boots
The first, pre-enumerating tip is, “Don’t confuse fancy parade tactical boot and “real” tactical boot made for the situation of war”.
The latter will help you hit the ground running “when it all hits the fan”, the former will just look festive and leave you twiddling your thumbs while an earthquake is tearing through your neighborhood. Enough said.
Before we move on to talk about the types of tactical boots for you to choose from depending on your potential scenarios, let’s make sure we know the basic terms I’ll be using – the “anatomy” of a hiking boot.
Now that we armed with the basic, let’s get to the “meat” of the article – types of tactical boots and how to choose the best for your needs.
They first appeared in the 1940s as a part of standard parachute unit’s outfit.
They’re officially known as “paratrooper boots”, and feature reinforced ankles for injury-prevention alongside tall shanks reaching the calf. Depending on the size, they have 11-13 eyelets followed by heels optimized for airborne units and rubber soles.
Modern versions also feature toe caps for extra protection. You might know them as “Corcorans” after the company first contracted to make them.
So, if your survival scenario involves a lot of jumping over nasty terrain (maybe even a parachute jump), these are your “weapon” of choice.
They were conceived after the establishment of US Tank Corps by (back then) Captain George S. Patton Jr. as a standard issue for members of the tank crew.
Their biggest advantage is using leather straps for fastening to the feet of the wearer, rather than ordinary laces. This nullified the potential danger of laces coming undone and then tangling in the many moving, exposed parts of the tank.
So, if you’re navigating a forest-filled area with branches and tree-roots impeding your every step, need I say more?
With tanker boots, canvas or nylon panels were never an option, simply because canvas and nylon are flammable, and that’s the last thing you’d want while trapped in a metal box. So, if extreme heat is a potential scenario in your bug out, these might be your best bet.
Furthermore, they’re all-leather, so in case of a toxic spill, they won’t absorb toxic chemicals and expose your feet.
The tongue is gusseted (sewn to the boot preventing debris from getting in). They also feature steel toe guards, plastic or steel guards (both in the heel and shank) and protective metal insets. As a result, sharp rocks won’t pierce/slice through your boot.
Extreme weather-“friendly” tactical boots
For a good prepper, war is a state of mind even before it gets real. Against nature, other people, the government, economy, odds…
War in the more conventional context, however, is all about location, and it doesn’t always choose the most hospitable ones.
That’s why combat boots for extreme weather circumstances merit a mention. Here are the most commonly used types:
Jungle boots – These tactical boots predate WW2 since they saw the light of day when a small band of Panama-stationed US soldiers was issued a canvas-upper, rubber-soled boot for testing purposes.
They weigh around 3 pounds and weren’t envisioned as boots for preventing water from coming in, but allowing for optimal drainage while keeping sand, mud and insects out.
Ventilating woven mesh insoles were later added for trapping air and “forcing” it to circulate within the boot by the very act of taking a step. The eyelets serve for both water-drainage and extra breathability.
They can also be used in cold weather since breathable insoles will insulate your feet from the ground. Soldiers used them successfully in Venezuela, Panama and many other countries (it was reported they also reduce the outburst of tropical ulcers and blisters).
Jungle boots witnessed the battlefields of WW2, First Indochina War, Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Operation Iraqi Freedom, so if you’re up against a jungle-like terrain and climate, these are the best boots to increase your chances of survival.
Combat boots for high temperatures (Desert boots)
The story of desert combat boots in the US begins with CENTCOM’s Commander Norman Schwarzkopf.
He added the following features to the original design from Saudi Arabia:
• A tan rough suede with nylon laces and siding
• 10 Speed-lace eyelets to enable faster tying
• Utilization of Panama-sole pattern of threads
• Steel protection plates were eliminated (these tend to retain heat)
• Drainage vents were also eliminated for preventing sand getting inside the boot
For US forces, these were a staple for battlefields such as Iraq or Afghanistan. They require far less maintenance than regular all-black tactical boots and will provide a comfortable mobility in high-temperature areas.
So, if you’re facing the ugly beast that is a bug out situation in dry, warm, or desert-filled areas, these boots are your ticket out.
Waterproof cold weather tactical boots
Inclement weather can affect the overall performance of your feet in more ways than one, all of them negative. The proper approach is a pair of insulated combat boots.
Their main difference compared to regular weather boots is a layer of GoreTex added. GTX is a special fabric that’s Teflon-coated, yet with millions of microscopic pores for air-exchange.
The main caveat here is getting the right pair for the job, meaning you can get a pair that’s simply waterproof, one that’s optimized for colder climates as well, or one that’s intended for ubercold weather (we’re talking down to -20 degrees F here).
You and you alone know what awaits in YOUR fight ahead, so these will be a perfect choice if the disaster scenario finds you in a rainy, cold or my-good-is-it-cold climate.
Nothing is set in stone – a tight fit in particular
Let me just rattle a few cages here: TIGHT FIT ISN’T ALL IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE!
Our feet swell up during the day, which is a perfectly normal occurrence. So, a pair of combat boots that was a tight fit in the morning becomes an absolute terror as the day progresses.
Just imagine trying to tug your BOB through a painful terrain (or ANY terrain) with your toes slowly becoming increasingly compressed as you go. Not a very good survival recipe from where I stand.
I made the same misstep once trying to hike the Angel Rock – Chena River trail and ended up regretting the day I was born. My main point is, do your combat boots shopping in the late afternoon and you’ll be comfortable from the get go.
Here are some other essentials regarding trying your new boots for size:
• Wear your favorite type of socks while you try them on. Their thickness can affect the overall fit like you wouldn’t believe
• See if the insole matches your foot once you’ve taken it out. It should fit your foot in both size and ergonomics
• The feeling your boots provide should be snug, not tight. Try walking around a bit and see if they rub some of the pressure points the wrong way. Take a look at the image below as a reference for pressure points
• Before lacing the boots, there should be enough room behind your heel to fit your index finger
• During the lacing, you should feel your heel slowly being pushed backwards, filling that gap
• There should be extra room in the front, so your toes don’t touch it
• When you’re all laced-up, your heel and the boot should move as one. Any rubbing in that area will bring on a blister-bonanza
I hope I’m crazy, but what if I’m not?
I’ll illustrate my thoughts on preparedness with a single quote from Abraham Lincoln: “If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend 6 sharpening the axe”.
Preparedness for as many disastrous scenarios possible is the key of smart prepping way. A right choice of footwear can make or break your success chances should any calamity strike, so spare no expense (money and time-wise) to turn the tables in your favor.
In a word, don’t wait for the rain to start building your ark.
I hope we never have to put this information to the ultimate test, but we’ll certainly have much better odds of survival should such times arrive.
James Menta @ SoleLabz.com
This is a guest post.
Most survival kits or bugout bags are just too heavy, and so the owners begin removing items.
But in an effort to keep everything ultra-light, many items are being completely missed.
Let’s look at things from a different perspective and talk about some of the most overlooked lightweight items that you can purchase today (for pennies on the dollar, I promise). Once you know what they are, you might also think about adding them to your get-home bag, your car’s bug-out bag and some of them even to your everyday carry kit.
Sounds tempting enough? Great, let’s get on with the list!
You should, in fact, have two pairs: a wool pair to keep you warm in case you’re bugging out during the winter and a pair of work gloves for various activities, including:
- getting tree branches and other plants out of the way as you’re moving through the forest.
- carrying heavy objects.
- working with sharp or rough materials.
- working with oils and other chemicals.
- climbing a rope (much easier when you’re wearing them).
2. A baseball cap
If you’ll be out under the hot sun for days on end, a baseball cap will not just protect your head from the heat but also will guard your eyes. This is one thing a bandana can’t do. Another thing you can do is wear sunglasses + the bandana.
Still, don’t completely disregard the baseball cap as it has many alternative survival uses. From filtering water to keeping various items such as the berries you forage, there are plenty of ways in which it can assist you if you have one in your kit.
3. Blast matches
There are many ways to start a fire in the wild, such as using the bow drill method, waterproof matches or using a magnesium fire-starter. However, the blast match tops them all because you can use it with only one hand.
You see, they were specifically designed this way to be used by soldiers who’ve been hurt and, guess what: that could be you. No one wants to conceive they could get shot or break an arm but these are the sorts of things that could happen when you’re out there, running for your life.
4. Wool socks
If you’ll be wearing hiking boots, you absolutely need a pair of thick socks. Wear a thinner pair and you’ll quickly develop blisters. I also suggest you keep a second one inside your backpack, preferably in a Ziploc bag to keep it dry.
5. Baby wipes
Baby wipes can be a great replacement for toilet paper. Not only are they smaller but you can also use them to clean various things, including giving yourself a shower or cleaning your glasses.
6. Copies of personal documents
Of course, in a real disaster scenario, you’ll want to grab the originals but what if you don’t have time? Much better to have a few copies inside a Ziploc bag that you can use.
Keeping the originals inside your bag may be impractical because you’ll keep getting them out and then putting them back in.
Even during the shortest bugout, you can expect blisters to cripple you down. If you didn’t break into your new boots or if you have to walk very long distances, you WILL get blisters. This is where a roll of moleskin helps.
8. Ziploc bags
You need more than the ones in which you’re storing items. Why? One, Ziplocs aren’t puncture proof, meaning they’re all going to become useless at some point.
Second, if you want to cross a river, you can fill the extra ones with air and put them inside your bag to help keep you afloat. Do the same if you’re stranded somewhere in the middle of a flash flood and you have less than a minute before the water sweeps you away.
Can you think of other items people forget to add to their bugout bags? Write them in a comment below.
“Here is a pretty informative article I read on thesurvivalcamp.net. It really gets you thinking about where to bugout to” ~ Urban Man
Southern Colorado is on the top of my list of bug out locations. A place at the base of the Rocky Mountains being ideal. Mountain ranges have great wildlife and water sources, but the nice thing about the Rockies is that there are no volcanoes. Staying to the south end of the state will hopefully limit exposure if Yellowstone erupts. Colorado’s population is fairly low and property prices are lower than average. The climate is fairly temperate with summers that don’t get too hot and winters that don’t get too cold. The cold will depend on how high up the mountain you go.
The northern New England area is ripe with wilderness and natural resources. The population density of Maine is just lower than Colorado and New Hampshire is higher but the population thins out up north. The chances of natural disaster are relatively low. Most likely there will be winter storms. Hurricanes can reach that far north but are only a hazard if you live close enough to the coast. There is a wide variety of hunting and fishing locations and even in the cold you can do your gardening in a greenhouse.
I was originally looking at eastern Tennessee but found there to be to many nuclear reactors in the area. Fortunately a short distance to the north takes you to eastern Kentucky where you can take advantage of the same environment without the messy nuclear fallout. The base of the Appalachian Mountains in this area would make a great bug out location to survive the end of days. The mountains have no active volcanoes, but the area is known for tornadoes. The deeper into the mountains you go, the less likely you are of experiencing a tornado as they tend to stay a bit west of the mountain range. Some might be concerned about the New Madrid Fault but since it is on the west end of the state, any eruption would be only barely felt in the Appalachians. You have plenty of food and water sources and people have been living off the land in Appalachia for centuries.
The area to the West of the Appalachian Mountains in Ohio is home to the largest community of Amish in the United States. This is a community of people who have been living off the land with no technology forever. If the area works well for them, who am I to argue? I wouldn’t try to inject myself into their community, but having them close by to get tips from wouldn’t be a bad thing as well as being able to barter with them. The population density of Ohio is fairly high, but most of that is in the cities. There is one nuclear power plant in western Pennsylvania that ranks low in safety that could affect the area. Ohio is on the top of the list of states that are least likely to be destroyed by a natural disaster. They have no flooding, no tornadoes, no earthquakes and no volcanoes. Good water and farming resources but winters are long and cold.
Alaska is always one of those locations that people either love or hate. It is a place that people have been living off the land in the wilderness for centuries despite the bitter cold. It has the lowest population density in the country at 1.2 people per square mile. Depending on your location you could experience earthquakes or feel the effects of a volcano, but the overall rate of natural disasters is relatively low and there are no nuclear power plants. Hunting and fishing are some of the best in the country and fresh water is plentiful. The warmer months will be spent preparing to survive the winter months but many people have had no problem surviving in Alaska long term.