Wandering in the New World- Part 2, by JMD

Yesterday, I began writing about the post-SHTF conditions that may make a wandering nomad type lifestyle much more practical and reasonable. We are talking about considerations for this and continuing with this further today.

Situational Awareness – You need to always be aware of your surroundings, where you are and where you can quickly get to for cover and concealment.


If a medical emergency occurs, you probably won’t have anyone to rely on but yourself and/or your group. You’ll need to learn how to handle common injuries and illnesses with what you have available.


Since you won’t have a house to live in, you’ll need to be able to survive in the wild. This includes shelter making, fire starting, et cryrts. If you’re traveling in a vehicle or RV, you can always sleep inside that.

Food Gathering

You won’t have access to a farm, garden, livestock, etcetera, so you’ll need to be able to forage, hunt, fish, and trap in order to keep yourself fed.


Because you won’t have access to the wonderfully accurate weather forecasts we enjoy today, you’ll need to be able to read your environment and understand how it affects you. Is there a storm coming? When will winter move in? Could a thunderstorm turn that gully you’re sleeping in into a raging river?


As with any survival situation, you’ll need an appropriate kit in order to survive as a wanderer.

Load Carrying

If you’re walking, this means having a good*backpack. For when you’re traveling by bicycles or horses, this can mean saddle bags or trailers/carts. When carrying a backpack, you’re going to want to be able to quickly drop your bag and still have access to extra magazines in combat situations, so you would probably want a chest rig or battle belt you can wear under your backpack. Even if you’re in a vehicle or on a horse, you may eventually lose your transportation at an inopportune time and need to quickly skedaddle, so having a packed backpack available even when using transport would make sense.


If you’ve ever been on a long hike or backcountry camping trip, you know that having the right clothes, especially boots, can make the difference between being comfortable and being miserable. I’d recommend against wearing just camo clothing; it probably won’t make the friendliest impression when you run into someone. Instead, carry a camouflage poncho or ghillie net for times when you need to fade into the brush.


Since you’re going to be limited in how much you can haul around, a lightweight and sturdy rifle or carbine in .223/5.56 caliber would probably make the most sense. You can hunt with it, fight with it, and carry a decent amount of ammo. Also, since it’s a very popular caliber, you can probably find or trade for ammo pretty easily.


As with the rifle, stick with something in a common caliber like 9mm. If you’re real paranoid, you may want to consider having a small single-stack pocket handgun in an ankle or crotch holster, in case you lose your other weapons.


How much ammo is enough? While the right answer is probably that you can never have enough, you’re going to have to carry it. I would think that having four filled 30-round magazines and the one in your rifle (150 rounds) should get you through most situations. And you can carry extra loose rounds in your backpack. Four filled 15-rounds magazines and the one in the gun should be enough for the handgun. Ammo is one item you should definitely plan on caching.


While you could make a shelter from logs and branches every night, sometimes having something waterproof, windproof, and comfortable can make life a lot more bearable. Using a camouflage USGI poncho would probably be a good idea, since it has multiple uses.


A staple of every cowboy ever to ride the West, a good wool blanket can be indispensable for a good night’s sleep, especially when it starts getting cold out.

Cooking Kit

You’ll want some basics, like a small pot, cup, and pan.

Lighters/Ferro Rods/Tinder

You’ll need some way to cook game and stay warm, so you’ll need fire starters.


You’ll want a good fixed-blade knife on your belt for heavy-duty tasks, and a folder in your pocket for smaller things.


Since you’re not going to be building houses, you can probably get by with a smaller hatchet and saw. Something like the Kershaw Siege Tomahawk makes a decent hatchet, and it can also be used for fighting, prying, et cetera. For a saw, something like the Bahco Laplander should be fine.

Medical Supplies

Having some basic supplies can help you address common injuries, and having the knowledge of how to supplement those with things you can find in the wild can help stretch them out.


You’ll want some way to carry and purify water. I’d recommend a stainless steel canteen. Plastic ones are lighter, but they tend to fail a lot sooner than quality metal ones. A metal canteen can also be used to boil water to purify it. You’ll also want some sort of water filter and water purification tablets.

Maps and Compass

Assuming you’ll be wandering in a certain area, having maps and a compass can help you figure out where you are, where you’re going, and where you’ve stored your caches.

Pencil and Paper

These are useful for supplementing your memory.


Unless you plan on staying in the woods your entire life, you’re probably going to eventually come across some remnant of civilization you’ll want to open up or take apart. It’s also useful for doing basic maintenance on your firearms and other gear.


At least 100’ of 550 paracord and some other lighter cordage are necessary for making shelters, repairing items, et cetera.

Food Acquisition

A slingshot and/or collapsible bow and arrow for hunting smaller game, fishing supplies, and wire for snares are good equipment for this purpose.

Flashlight and Batteries

A couple of good quality LED flashlights and headlamps plus rechargeable batteries and a small folding solar panel to charge them. Yes, you can use torches, but a flashlight is a lot faster and more focused.

Bases and Caches

If you plan on wandering around a given area, versus just heading in one direction forever, you’ll probably want to set up a few small, well-hidden bases and caches. A base can be nothing more than a semi-permanent shelter that you’ve built with a cache of stored supplies nearby. You could set some of these up with spare ammo, knives, clothing, et cetera before you begin wandering, or you can build and stock them with items you’ve scavenged or traded for during your travels. That way you can have access to replenishment and replacement supplies without having to carry everything with you. These could be especially useful for stashing seasonal clothing and gear like snowshoes so you don’t always have to carry it. I’d recommend against using existing structures, since someone will almost always find and search those. If your cache is buried, make sure you hide a shovel nearby so you can get to it.


While survival itself is a worthwhile goal, most people tend to have an innate desire to accomplish something more with their lives. Choosing a wandering lifestyle doesn’t have to mean you’ll never interact with other people. As you move around you’ll most likely encounter other established and organized groups in various locations, as well as fellow wanderers. Having goals to accomplish and helping other people in the process might make the difference between being happy and going insane. Being able to barter services or supplies for food and other supplies instead of having to gather it yourself can also make your life a lot more enjoyable. Some of your options for wanderer occupations include:


If you’re reasonably well-armed and tactically competent, you could hire yourself out as security for other travelers, convoys, et cetera. Since being successful at this requires people to trust you, this may not be an option until you’ve been in an area for a while and have managed to earn a trustworthy reputation.


If you have any medical skills and some supplies (or knowledge of natural medicines), you may be able to provide some basic medical services to other people. Think Green Beret medics in foreign countries.

Manual Labor

You can help people out who need an extra pair of hands or a strong back.

Skilled Labor

If you’re good at things like mechanical/electrical repair, farming/gardening, building, et cetera, you can barter those skills.


You could help spread the word of God in the new world.

Information Broker

You’ll probably pick up a lot of information about people, conditions, game, and other things while you’re wandering. Therefore, you could exchange some of that for a hot meal and a warm bed for a night.


If you end up wandering on a regular route between groups of people, you can offer to carry letters or messages (mail) between the groups.


You’ll probably be coming across the detritus of our current civilization for decades (if not centuries) while wandering after an event. People will continue to have a need to build and repair, and your knowledge of where they can find the parts and supplies they need can be extremely valuable.


Similar to scavenging, you can carry some of the more valuable stuff you find with you and serve as a trader. Items like solar panels, nails, tools, et cetera will always have value.


Some groups may need extra help keeping their people fed during lean times and need a hunter. If you know where game is and how to hunt it, you can leverage that for trade.


No matter how bad things get, people always want to be entertained. If you can sing, play an instrument, or tell a story, you can bring a little bit of joy into people’s lives. Note: Miming is not entertainment, and you’ll probably be shot if you try it.


As I mentioned earlier, wandering doesn’t have to be a solo activity; but that doesn’t just mean traveling with other people. If you have a dog, or can find and befriend one, you have yourself a perfect traveling companion. They can help you hunt, fight, track, stand guard, and do lots of other tasks (assuming you have the right dog), and talking to them doesn’t make you look quite as crazy as talking to trees.


As I mentioned in the beginning, this was just a thought exercise based on an idea I had while reading an article about travelers (a.k.a. gypsies). I’m not advocating this as a practical alternative to bugging in, or even suggesting it would be possible. You may not plan on being a wanderer after TEOTWAWKI hits, but circumstances may not give you any other option. So having at least thought about it beforehand could prove useful. If you have any other thoughts, ideas, or suggestions, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

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    1. David Mark, what organization or group puts on the free foraging classes in your area. I’d like to attend such a class in my area, but have never heard of any.

  1. Thanks, JMD for your articles on wandering. Interesting, that the first son of Moses was named Gershom, which means sojourner! For very useful information, I recommend the you-tube videos by Dave Canterbury. He teaches a lot about bushcrafting, trapping, foraging, etc.that expands nicely with the ideas you presented.

  2. Gypsy is a pejorative(slander) for the Roma people,who are religious refugees and have had to adopt a transient existence to survive persecution by jewish/christian/islam/mormon faiths.
    The most common example of what is described here is the long haul truck driver(especially the “owner operator”),historically Marco Polo is the best known “Silk Road” trader.

  3. I would include a small roll of plastic sheeting which could be used to collect rain water into a container, quick cover in wet conditions for yourself or anything you need to keep dry, or ground pad to block ground moisture. Wouldn’t weigh much and would come in handy.

  4. Story teller is a time honored trade that takes little in the way of space and can be combined with that of teacher, town crier, scribe and lay minister as well as postman. If you set up a month long route you might become an anticipated guest and a valued friend.

  5. Brings up some things worth considering. However I would caution that wandering, as Ricks group in the series “ The Walking Dead “ has many detrimental aspects as well. Even though the premise of the dead coming back to life is probably bogus, what this series has shown is that other survival groups can be nastier and deadlier than the disease or whatever SHTF disaster happened. And you as one individual or even a pair have far less ability to provide an adequate defense and avoid capture by a large well organized group, which could be led by a maniacal twisted pervert who would be happy to use you as a sex or labor slave.

  6. JMD

    Good article, however some items can be exchanged upwards so to speak for much better quality items for little cost, my experience comes from being a hunter and bushcrafter for over 30plus years.Not trying to be malicious, but these I would add.

    Bushcraft- you would be surprised the number of people who think sitting watching YT videos on bushcraft makes them experts, using a bow and drill method or flint and charcloth are novelty items, they work well under the right conditions, matches, magnesium LARGE ferrocium rod is a must.

    Tarp/ hammock/tent-
    my upgrade,Russian Plash-Palatka ( waterproof canvas, has been used by the Russians for over 100 years ) doubles as rain cape, hammock,gound sheet, shelter tarp. best of all cost less !.

    Finnish Skrama ( large knife ) Pukko 140 small knife, both cheaper than beckers, Esee etc, in both stainless and Carbon steel.


    Silky Gomboy/ Silky Ono, again, costs more, but far superior performance than the two above,the sikly saws are pull saws, minimal effort, less tiring and much stronger than the Bahco ( I have both, the silky cannot be beaten for speed and ease of use ).

    Foraging plant, edible plant courses are available also in England, Australia, New Zealand , Europe, many specie are common to both hemispheres. Also Bill Mollision books ( Permaculture)teach edible plant specie.

    Hunting- I learned to use a traditional Apache bow ( 50Lb).

    1. The Skrama is nice, but if your budget does not fit in, the kukri might be a suitable replacement. An old fiberglass bow would be very useful, but like all archery, requires regular practice to remain accurate.

  7. Red J,


    Eat the Weeds is a website with Greene Dean I recommend it since it deals with Floridian and more, edible plants. Plus Dean is worth visiting the site. Please note I mentioned Florida as most books and websites on plants are good but may not relate to your particular geographic area.


    Earth skills is a gathering in north central Florida and along the east coast. It goes on for days with various classes, read the schedule for skills. Earth Skills started with a few people and each year grows.

    Your local USDA County Extension Office usually has a wealth of free information. Universities also have Agricultural departments.


    Hamilton Books has discounted books on edible plants and more … a lot more. Even JWR books.

    It may seem obvious but for Florida study the drought resistant indigenous non-hybrid (as in plants whose seeds you can not propagate) edible plants. Florida geography being a huge sandbar in temperate, semi-temperate and sub-tropical hardiness zones is the opposite of anything you will find in the rest of the U.S.. It also has the one of the largest amount and range of plants around but with invasive species taken over who knows what will happen. Perhaps learn to eat the invasive species.

    There are three varies of Amaranth that are edible are nutrient rich, ie. calcium for women Make sure to boil off the oxalates. It is a hardy plant even in sandy soil. Heck, Amaranth was a staple food for the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans until the Invasive species Spaniards banned the plant.

    Two last comments, vitamin B12 is not available in plants to process proteins.
    For the SHTF store, carry and trade seeds just as you would metal. Hopefully there will still be microbial organisms in the soil to grow plants.

  8. JMD

    while musing your article last few days, I thought this is something very few think about, using ANY axe, tomahawk, hatchet in the forest can be heard a long,long way off, the THUNK,THUNK,THUNK will resonate easily for a miles and attract unwanted attention ( if are seeking stealth ) how do I know ?, its a good way of testing your skills !, if very large tree’s are felled, I use my truck saw ( silky Katana boy ). The poster commenting on a Kukri ?, buy the genuine Nepalese one, not the ones made for the Western market, vast weight and handling difference. FYI I have connections to Varusteleka. I use their kit only.

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