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.
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.
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.
You’ll want some basics, like a small pot, cup, and pan.
You’ll need some way to cook game and stay warm, so you’ll need fire starters.
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.
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.
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.
You can help people out who need an extra pair of hands or a strong back.
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.
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.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 73 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A custom made Sage Grouse model utility/field knife from custom knife-maker Jon Kelly Designs, of Eureka, Montana,
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value), and
Round 73 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.