Getting Home in a Crisis Will Require Gear and Fitness, by Vin F.

My family is the most important thing in my life. I sometimes ask myself, what will I do if there is some event that will leave me stranded away from home? Maybe the event is minimal and my vehicle works, I just drive home. What if it is something more serious like an EMP disables my vehicle and I have to walk home, would I be able to make it home to take care of my family. This is why I have a Get Home Bag (GHB) and I try to keep myself physically fit. My main concern is the gear, the route selection home and more importantly the physical fitness that would get me home in one piece with energy to spare.

Gear

The things that are always on me when I am at work are a good pocket knife, a quality multitool, flashlight, money and a good pair of boots. What I have in the vehicle that I always drive to work is my get home bag, 1 gallon of distilled water changed out monthly, a blanket and a good pair of running/ walking shoes.  The gallon of water goes in my canteens; I drink the rest to get me hydrated before the journey. The running/walking shoes and the blanket go into the GHB in case I need to change shoes as a result of hot spots on my feet and the blanket is to keep me warm. My get home bag is a backpack that blends in well with a population that may be migrating home, not one that is camouflaged or tactical looking. I want to blend in with the sheeple so that an opportunistic predator will not give me a second look but one that is subdued so that if I need to hide someplace dark to avoid people, I will not stick out. The clothes that I wear at work are ones that are a dark color, durable and that you can work in without them causing too much discomfort. The gear I carry is in my GHB is very basic, the idea is to get home as quickly and down and dirty as possible, without too much weight but that still will still keep me alive if I have to hole up for a few hours up to a day.

  • 1 dark earth tone or camouflage-pattern 8×10 tarp
  • 75’ roll of cordage(the inexpensive kind that you can get for less than $5),
  •  Hank of 550 paracord (?25’)
  •  Shemagh,
  • Butane lighter(goes in pocket when I start moving)
  •  Magnesium fire starter,
  • Rubbing alcohol,
  • Penny stove,
  •  Small roll of duct tape,
  •  1 qt military canteen with cup, stove support and cover,
  •  Military grade chemical lightsticks (2),
  • Small first aid kit in a 1qt Ziploc type bag
  • Two 1gal Ziploc type bags and a 55gal trashcan liner,
  • Fire resistant aviator gloves,
  • 2% tincture of iodine,
  • A sack that used to hold drums of linked 5.56 ammo for the M249 SAW that will conveniently hold a 1 qt canteen with cover
  • 2qt canteen with cover and carrying strap
  •  Some granola bars, peanut butter and crackers packets, cliff bars or power bars
  •  Map of the area
  • Some seasonally appropriate clothing( Jacket, gloves, hat, extra pair of socks, etc)

I know that some of these items are tactical or military based but those items stay in the bag until needed and what can I say, you go with what you know and the military items are all high quality, durable items that are inexpensive and that you can get nearly anywhere. All of this including water weighs approx 15 lbs. This is a good weight because I know for a fact that depending on where I work I may have to travel between 15 and 25 miles to get home. For me that could take as little as 4 hours at an uninterrupted pace to days if I have to hole up or take the long way around to avoid trouble. That is why gear selection is so important but so is physical fitness.  You can have all the best gear in the world but if you cannot carry it two miles then it is doing you no good in getting you home. This is not a 72 hour BOB, this is an ultra light no nonsense pack that is to get you home in one piece. The items that I pack into the bag are intended to be a onetime use and inexpensive, (purchased at stores like Harbor Freight with coupons clipped from magazines or newspapers) so that if I lose them or have to ditch en route, it would not be a big loss. The other thing to consider when you are thinking about spending a lot of money on the kit that if you are in a foot race with someone who wants to hurt you, if you drop your gear as a diversion you might make a clean get away.  If it is inexpensive, you can laugh at how mad they will be when they find out that they only got a canteen of water and a pack of crackers. It is important to remember to keep your most valuable items on you or in your pockets.

Preparing to get home starts days, weeks or even years ahead of time. This comes in planning the route or routes home. How the roads are laid out?, do you anticipate many people on the roads?, where are there creeks or rivers in case you need to refill your water supply?, are the creeks or rivers crossable if bridges are out or blocked?, what are my alternates if any of your roads are blocked?, can you go cross country if needs be?, will I need to pass through bad neighborhoods?, what are some hole up areas if I do need to hunker down? What are some resources that I can utilize at work? Am I physically able to make the trip and will I be able to fight or think clearly when I get to my destination?

Fitness

There are four components of physical fitness with relation to getting home in a SHTF scenario. Endurance, speed, agility and strength. All of these can be accomplished with family in one way or another. This helps to build strong bonds and gives everyone an idea of the physical capabilities of the others in the family. Now the legal disclaimer: Your should not start an exercise program without consulting a doctor and you should discontinue if you feel faint or short of breath. You should also start an exercise regimen slow and gradually build up to where you want to be. If you try and do too much you increase the possibility of injury and then you are no good to anyone WTSHTF.

ENDURANCE. Being able to travel long distances over varying terrain with or without gear and with the possibility of little to no water or food. This is one of the things that will occupy the most training time because it is not something that you can build up twenty minutes a day, three days a week. This requires you to dedicate some real time, hours sometimes. One good way to incorporate a long walk or run a week is to involve your kids. Get them on a bike and let them ride while you walk. I recommend when you get to a decent fitness level that you start bearing weight and workout with more than you would carry in your get home bag. If your get home bag weights 15 lbs, carry 20-25 lbs, because if you can carry 20-25 lbs over long distances, you can carry 15 lbs over the same distance with less effort. If you intend to carry a sidearm while getting home but you may not want to draw attention to yourself while training, take a 2.5 lb weight plate and run your belt through the center home to simulate the weight of a sidearm. You can also take another plate and put it on the opposite side of the simulated sidearm to simulate magazines. Walk for time or distance, if you have an hour to spend, see how far you can go. If you only want to go 2 miles, see how fast you can do it. Build up until you get to a point where you can walk 75-80% of the distance hat you would walk if you have to walk home. If you require a 2 day walk to get home, cut the distance from work to home in half and use that as your goal.

SPEED
. Being able to get to top running speed quickly when the need arises. This is a lot more fun to work on with your kids. Try having foot races with them; give them a head start if you are faster or start even if they are faster than you. It can also be incorporated into your endurance training, in the middle of your long runs or walks, pick a point in the distance and break into a dead run until you get to that point then resume your walking. It simulates getting away from a human predator, family dog or angry bull if you decide to cross the wrong pasture. Speed training is one of the most taxing forms of exercise; it requires a lot of energy and makes you work with more intensity. The good thing about this is that it gets easier as you build up your lactate threshold. Lactate threshold is that limit where your bodies can no longer remove the lactic acid as fast as it is producing it. This is the stiffness you feel in your legs when you are doing wind sprints. Speed training is an important factor in getting home because you may have to evade a human predator while on your journey. The quicker you can get to full speed and the longer you can sustain it, the better your chances of getting away. This type of exercise should be done no more that 2-3 days a week because of the toll it takes on the body.

AGILITY
. It is being able to start, stop, turn and jump quickly. This is an important aspect of getting home because you may have to dodge a human predator, jump over a wall or log and move in and out of tree lines or around obstacles. The way to incorporate this fitness aspect with your family is play tag or a similar game with them. This is a great way to keep you and your kids quick and nimble. Other ways to get more agile is the exercises that you did in middle school gym class, suicides, run sideways, run backwards, box jumps or jumping rope. Agility training is also very hard on the body so you need to do this in moderation and like I said before, start off slow and build up.

STRENGTH
. This is being able to lift or carry heavy objects possibly over long distances. This is the one thing love doing with my kids. I do pushups with the smaller ones on my back. Do squats with the kids on your shoulders or carrying them piggy back. Teach them to do a proper pushup. Core strength is very important and can be worked on in front of the television. Assume a modified pushup position but stay on your elbows and hold your body in a plank position. These can also be done on each side so your work your oblique’s. Another great place to go with your kids and get a workout is at the local park. Although these are usually designed for children, they can be used creatively to get some exercise. Monkey bars are great for pull-ups, varying types of pushups can be done on the apparatus, and reverse pushups can be done on a low bar; climb up and over rock climbing walls. Your kids will love doing this with you and you will have fun doing it. Once again start off slow. If you cannot do pull ups start off with negative pull ups, meaning, step on a box to get you to the high point of the pull up and lower yourself slowly. Also you can use a friend to hold your feet to assist you in doing regular pull ups. Over time you will be able to do pull ups without assistance. Another good way to gain strength is frontier skills. Cutting, splitting and stacking wood by hand will make you strong in a hurry. The feeling of strength or power you get when you can split an oak log with one shot cannot be beat. There is no gym out there that will get you in shape like digging post holes, splitting wood, and carrying odd shaped objects, or hoeing the ground by hand. These last few exercises are not just for getting home but being able to work for an extended period of time doing manual labor in a TEOTWAWKI situation.

The last thing to address is being able to think under pressure and when you are tired. When you finish a physical task how is your thinking? Is it clouded from the effort or can you put the physical exhaustion aside and think clearly? I have come up with ways to train yourself to think under pressure. The physiology of adrenaline pumping through your body and the after effects of exercise are similar. What I try to do when I have done something exhausting like exercise is to do something that requires a higher level of thought, and I do not mean philosophy. What I mean is after exercising do an easy crossword puzzle, field strip your weapons or do simple arithmetic. These activities will help train you to keep your thinking clear when you are tired, during a high pressure situation or when the fog of war sets in.

The question that you need to ask yourself when judging when you are physically fit enough to get home is, will I have the energy to fight when I get home? Will I be able to chase someone or a group of people away when you get home or if you get home and there are roving bands of looters in the area, will you be able to pull an all night guard duty after traveling from work a great distance? The crux of determining whether or not you are where you should be in your physical fitness quest, are you able to go to the limits of your mental strength and fitness for 24, 48 or 72 hours?

The last thing I want so mention about getting home is that there are going to be a lot of people on the road trying to get home, help those that you can, but if there are people that mean you harm and you cannot get away, then strike first and with violence of action.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave or forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6

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