How to be ready for whatever SHTF: The ultimate survival gear guide

The Survival Instinct is the most powerful drive known to man. Whether surrounded by MZBS (mutant zombie bikers) or caught in a fury of nature scenario such as a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, plague, flood or fire storm, you need to be ready.

When confronted with an unexpected situation, its way too late to be looking around for the survival gear that you need. The time to get emergency supplies is now, while things are relatively calm. There is nothing like the peace of mind that comes from being prepared. This site is dedicated to getting you what you need now, before the skyrocketing price of gasoline and the rapidly declining economy make shipping over long distances impractical.

This site is determined to become both a resource and a catalog. When supplies become scarce, you will know that this site has brought you the best survival gear on the planet. While those around you are caught up in terror and pure zombie panic you will be positioned to wait things out with the confidence that comes from planning ahead.

The world is a dangerous place. The action hero plans ahead. This is why he is both a survivor and a capable person.

The supplies selected for this site have been carefully selected for utility, portability, and raw utility. Some items are listed simply because they are valuable commodities when supplies run low, as they have in numerous places around the world at various times. Lessons learned by those who lived through the economic collapses of the Soviet Union and Argentina, or the constant warfare in Sarejevo and other world hotspots are applied in these equipment choices.

When times get tough whether through calamity or events as simple as a power outage, a truckers strike or other supply line interruption there are things you want to have. These are things that actually matter.

Most people are completely oblivious, since you are checking out survival gear, it is clear that you are not one of them.

When Katrina struck New Orleans, looters grabbed everything in site, completely mis-reading what was valuable. Their conditioning failed them. A 42 inch plasma TV screen is a nice and comfortable thing to have in your living room, if the power is on. It has trade value. If you are getting cable, electricity and water. If you are in the middle of an emergency, that plasma TV is worthless except for any tools you might be able to fashion from it. Its not the sort of thing you would see Survivor Man packing through the wilderness.

When it comes down to it, its all about utility. Things that have utility have value. Ultimately, things without utility are less than useless. They are a burden and of no real value. Social status becomes about what you are capable of and what is real.


  1. Tools
  2. Food
  3. Shelter
  4. Water
  5. Quality Clothing
  6. Knowledge
  7. Medicine
  8. Hygeine
  9. Heat
  10. Light
  11. Power

With these things you are prepared. With many things that once had value, such as a box of baseball cards, you simply have trash. An emergency situation can occur at any time. When it happens you are simply either ready and prepared or caught off guard.

When the Soviet Union collapsed economically, many people died simply because they were unable to handle the transition. The impact on the elderly was particularly significant. Shortages of heating fuel and food have that effect. Things of value simply were unavailable. The United States is on the brink of severe economic instability. Banks have begun to fail and the stock market is plummeting as prices of oil and food skyrocket. This happened in the 1929 as well. Historical precedent shows that those who were prepared fared far better than those who were not ready.

The time to act is today. I am taking the time to prepare a list, based on considerable amounts of research to compile a one stop resource and checklist for the things you will need.

Bivouac Sack

This is one of the most important pieces of equipment you can own. It is designed to encase a sleeping bag and make it completely waterproof. It is a standard piece of field gear for military operations.

The bivvy sack provides an extra layer of insulation and is extremely light weight. This model weighs in with a shipping weight of under one pound.

Emergency Usage
In an emergency situation, a bivvy sack can be used as a tarp, a waterproof supply container, or even as a water container. Even without a sleeping bag it provides a certain degree of protection from the elements, although a sleeping bag is highly recommended.

In a pinch other uses can be found as well, as it can be for example, knotted and turned into a makeshift line or rope. While this is not necessarily the wisest use of the item, in an emergency it is always best to keep a versatile approach to any situation.

Another potential use is to use it in the way that sheet plastic may be used to collect condensation. This is done by propping up the corners with sticks or spikes and placing a heavy object such as a rock in the middle.

Definitely a useful piece of equipment, you’ll be glad you purchased it.
Another model of bivvy sack is shown to the right. This one is lighter and contains a thermal reflective (space blanket) style lining. While not as sturdy, it is less expensive as the other model.

Regardless, the bivi sack is a piece of quality gear that is used on expeditions into rugged territory, such as that faced by mountain climbing teams. The extra layer provides a significant increase in wind chill protection and is a lightweight method of adding a few degrees of thermal insulation to a standard sleeping bag.

Fire Axe

When you need to get into or out of a building that is on fire, surrounded by mutant zombie bikers or both. There is no substitute for the powerful truckman fire axe.

This tool can smash its way through obstacles, gouge, tear, lever and cut like a true battle axe. It has over 10,000 pounds of breaking strength which makes it ideal for removing or cutting through walls, doors, windows, roofing, siding and other structural obstacles. Designed for firefighters, but available to anybody.

Featuring a 16.5″ handle with a savage 9 1/2″ head made of high carbon steel. The design is also features a special head designed with gas shut off capabilities in mind. Compact, powerful and efficient. Weighing in at an amazingly lightweight 3.8 lbs due to the specialized materials it is constructed from, this tool will get you out of a jam when you need it to perform.

Magnesium Strip (fire starter)

An absolutely essential piece of equipment. Magnesium burns hot. It will start a fire. The strip lasts a long time, is portable. While magnesium is highly combustible when shaved from the strip, as a bulk solid it is stable and safe as long as reasonable caution is applied. It will require a spark to ignite, but once burning it will catch even wet wood on fire.

Whether camping, lighting a signal fire or turning into makeshift pyrotechnics, this beautiful and lightweight tool will get the job done. It is lightweight and can easily fit onto a belt-loop, long narrow pocket or even a keychain. Remember, this is a combustable metal so consider what you are storing it with and where you are placing it.

This is also a great piece for any mobile kit.


The most basic utility clothing

Lightweight and waterproof. It is very important to stay as dry as possible when faced with inclement elements.

Like all pieces of equipment they come in different classes.

Emergency Poncho

At the minimum you should have an emergency poncho. Extremely cheap, if not entirely durable. This type of poncho has the advantage of being very compact, since its made of only thin plastic.

Having one might get you through a jam and maybe last a few days if you are careful with it. Regardless, minimizing the effects of even one rainstorm makes it worth having.

Like all sheet plastic, it can be used to harvest water if necessary. Another use for this is to throw it in your glovebox. It can keep your suit dry in case you get caught without a coat or an umbrella.

NRA Poncho

The NRA poncho is a good pick for a poncho. At 8 ounces its lightweight and yet reasonably strong. It has a sealed interior pocket and comes in your choice of three colors (red, blue and high visibility orange). The design is versatile enough for a variety of physical activities.

This is a solid utility poncho, and a reasonable mid cost option.


If you have a large pack, and feel the need to be able to conceal yourself while remaining dry and comfortable, then the Ghillie poncho has its uses. Weighs 7.5 lbs, but capable of blending in perfectly with almost any environment due to its flexible design.

This suit is perfect for maintaining surveillance or observing for ravaging zombies while minimizing the risks of being spotted. This poncho has the added advantage of being particularly useful while hunting, although with the low visibility factors you should not use this if you are in an area where high visibility is required.

Sea to Summit

If you want to spend a few bucks and get a killer poncho which weighs in at 10 ounces and can double as a tarp, when hiking without a tent then this is what you need. If you need to hunker down, but keep moving, this is a great piece of gear.

The Sea to Summit poncho. Compact, comes with a drawstring bag and good for moving in the fog.

Poncho Liner

The poncho liner is an extremely versatile piece of equipment.

It can be worn by itself or secured to a poncho by use of grommets.

If you are on the move and don’t have a sleeping bag, this will give you a measure of protection against the elements.

The government issue poncho liner has a nylon shell and comes with ties. This is one of the most important pieces of equipment you can have. Lightweight and rugged, and usable for an emergency shelter if you have a bit of rope or vine handy.

If you find yourself in need of a sudden move, and need a key piece of gear. This liner is the one you want.

Sleeping Bag

The sleeping bag is a simple piece of survival gear. It is also critical. It should be at the top of your list if you don’t have one yet.

The sleeping bag provides insulation which can literally mean the difference between life and death in a wilderness situation.

It is strongly recommended that you augment this piece of equipment with a bivvy sack, for additional insulation and waterproofing. A good backpack has a place to strap a sleeping bag, so that the container space may be used for other supplies.

Aside from significantly increasing the comfort of your sleep by keeping a layer between you and the ground, the sleeping bag is also useful for auxilliary storage of food items (presuming you don’t intend to sleep in the bag)… you don’t want your sleeping bag to smell like a tasty snack.

You should have a sleeping bag for each member of your family. The type you want depends heavily on the climate in which you live in or are traveling through.

When in doubt, opt for a heavier bag as it is much better to be a bit too warm, which can be adjusted for by zipping down the bag, than to be too cold and risk hypothermia. Weight is a consideration, but ultimately a bag which utilizes high quality materials can provide a great amount of insulation while also being waterproof and lightweight.

The sleeping bag is not a piece of equipment you should skimp on. This may ultimately be the most important piece of survival gear that you can acquire.

The Teton Sports model shown on the right is large enough to hold two adults, although the tradeoff is in significantly more weight. This is a good choice for some situations, but in general I recommend a lighter weight bag.

In less demanding situations, and even in non-emergency situations, a sleeping bag is a useful item. It can be unzipped and used as an extra blanket on a cold night, or for handling an unanticipated guest.

Remember that, first and foremost, sleeping bags are survival equipment and should be purchased with that in mind. It is important that zippers on bags should be kept in good condition and the bag should be repaired or replaced if the zipper becomes damaged.

What is inconsequential one day, may mean the difference in surviving on the next. At any rate, should you go camping, you want to make sure you have one available and in good condition.

It is suggested that you purchase sleeping bags in matched sets. The advantage of having two of the same model bag is that they can usually be zipped together which can be advantageous when huddling together for warmth.

This is definitely something couples should consider when purchasing. Most mummy bags (a style designed for a single sleeper) are not inter-lockable. The trade-off for this style of bag is that they tend to retain heat better as there is not as much airspace available.


In dealing with hypothermia, such as that caused by exposure to the elements (typically falling in a body of water or caught in a rainstorm) the best method of keeping the other party both warm and alive is to dry them off and place them in a sleeping bag with another person.

This should be done with clothes off, for both parties. The reason is to maximize heat transfer and can mean the difference between life and death when medical care is not immediately available. This is, yet another advantage of having a slightly large bag or interlocking set. In a mild emergency, it can work simply as an excuse to become a little bit closer.

Here are a couple of very high end sleeping bags. These are expensive and generally geared towards the serious outdoorsman or mountaineer.

For people with a lower budget, I would suggest one of the other bags due simply to the fact that a considerable amount of equipment could be purchased for the price difference. Both of these bags are lightweight, goose down lined bags which can handle sub-zero temperatures.

However for a person that can afford one of these models and wants the best equipment available, I am presenting these options. Pound for pound, these are serious pieces of gear.

This presents a fairly wide range of alternatives, depending on your needs. Every bag shown is selected for insulation first. With the exception of the extra-large bag mentioned previously, each is lightweight and can compact considerably.

While there are less expensive models available, those generally suffer from issues with construction quality, durability or are simply too light weight to be practical in all but the warmest climates.

Most regions of the earth get cold at night, and it is always possible that you could end up in a region outside of your normal territory. It is a good idea to keep a sleeping bag attached to a pack and another in your vehicle. If you are traveling and have mechanical issues in a remote area such as the mountains or the desert, or just somewhere off the well-traveled road in the middle of winter you will be thankful that you had the common sense to think ahead. At the minimum you should carry a blanket in your car, but a sleeping bag is a superior solution and doesn’t take up much space in your trunk.


If you’ve ever been camping, you know how useful a tarp can be.

This is truly a multi-use piece of survival equipment.

Two models of tarp are shown here. The first is a very high quality tarp which comes in a convenient carrying case. The second is a smaller tarp, suitable for placing in a backpack or other compact space.

Tarps are used for several purposes. They can be used as a makeshift shelter, or to augment a shelter such as a lean-to. If you have access to better equipment, it can be used to simply keep rain off of your tent. Additionally tarps are useful for giving supplies some protection against the elements. When the rain comes down, you are going to be extremely pleased at your foresight in picking up this simple item.

Other uses for tarps include usage as a condensation collector, the process for which is explained in the bivvy sack section. A tarp can also be used to reduce visibility or as a temporary replacement for a window or damaged wall if you are inside a structure. Naturally, a tarp is useful when securing a transported load, as well.

In an emergency event that involves certain biological or chemical hazards, such as during a terrorist attack or disease outbreak, it can fulfill the practical functions of plastic sheeting. Plastic sheeting is a low cost alternative to tarps, although it will cover more area and is adapatable for many of the same purpouses, it tends to be bulkier and therefore less portable. Plastic sheeting also tends to tear much easier, although it is useful if you have a large area to cover or are taping the interior of a structure.

This is definitely a piece of survival gear that you should have in your arsenal. The tarps shown here do not have fancy carrying cases, but are quite suitable to packing with a tent or in a backpack in situations where emergency mobility is needed.

In a wilderness situation, tarps and plastic sheeting are also useful for such situations as reducing the number of insects on game animals that have been hunted, and for creating a dry layer between the ground and where you are sleeping or storing food.

In an emergency medical situation or when carrying game, tarps can be improvised into makeshift sleds by tying the metal loops to poles. This allows reasonably large loads to be dragged over many types of terrain.


A tent is the ultimate in portable shelter.

It is lightweight, can be carried by one person along with other gear and can house several people. It can be used in any outdoor environment where other shelter may not be practical. It does not require fuel to move, can be set up almost anywhere and is fairly easy to camouflage.

When acquiring a tent it is important to consider the conditions you will be likely to face and how many people that are likely to be housed there. For that reason I am providing links to several varieties of tents, suitable for different purposes.

The first of these tents is a Taurus model. A good solid tent suitable for four people. Relatively compact at a little over 9 lbs. This one is tall enough to stand up in, which is an advantage for some people. There is a fair amount of space if you have a smaller group that you are traveling with.

It is a good idea to practice pitching your tent and re-assembling it so that you can set it up quickly if needed due to incoming weather or sudden nightfall. The first couple of times you pitch (set up) a tent it seems fairly complicated and you will probably need to follow instructions. After you do it a few times it will become second nature and you will be able to assemble it very quickly.

The next tent is the Eureka Assault Outfitter tent. This is a good all environment tent, whether in the mountains, forest, sand or snow. The green color makes it easier to blend in to forest or jungle environments. The design for this tent has military origins.
It is also a good idea to place a piece of sheeted plastic or a tarp underneath a tent, this will help in the event that the ground gets wet. You should look for a place that is sheltered by trees, if possible. In siting your tent you should look for a reasonably soft piece of ground and remove any rocks or other uncomfortable ground cover if possible. The most important thing is to make sure that it is not situated in a place where water will collect if it happens to rain.

A tent can be improvised using a tarp and rope or poles, however it is generally considered to be more comfortable to have an actual tent.

There are several varieties of tents available. This one is a Polaris mountaineering tent, suitable for two people in rugged conditions. This is a high end tent, but is lightweight at a little over two kilos and is designed to exacting specifications. This tent is high visibility yellow, which can be an advantage if you are in a remote area and desire to be spotted by aircraft. The polaris is a good choice for a tent to keep in your personal vehicle while you travel through areas such as mountain passes or the desert. It is designed to be resistant to wind shear and has rugged construction suitable for mountaineering or other similarly harsh environs. It can be snapped together in seconds, due to its engineering level and can be put almost anywhere. This tent is the sort of thing you take when mountain climbing, which means its good anywhere and everyhwere

If you are moving through the wilderness alone and need a lightweight tent that will help you maintain a very low profile, then this tent is a good solution. Designed with camouflage and creating a minimal silhouette in mind, this bivouac shelter will do the job. When the hills are crawling with mutant zombies and you have a lot of ground to cover then this is the perfect choice.

This last tent is truly a monster and the sort of thing you want if you have a ton of gear or a huge clan you are traveling with. Suitable for eight people (there are other even larger tents, but most of them have problems with wind shear or water accumulation). This is a good choice for a large expedition or if you have a large family.

Each of these models has advantages and disadvantages. Selection of a tent is highly situation dependent. It is always a good idea to pick up some extra tent stakes and rope to keep with your kit. It is definitely important to secure your tent properly. High winds can wreak havoc on a poorly secured tent. You should be careful to examine your setup and anticipate any place where water may pool either on top of or near your tent. You do not want to be caught in a sudden downpour and wake up in the middle of a lake with all of your clothing and supplies wet.

Regardless of which model you feel is best for you and your family, a tent is a must have piece of gear. When times are good, its nice to get out and enjoy the wilderness and re-attune to nature. It is an amazing mental reset and can bring a great deal of perspective to your life. If you are fortunate to live in an area where you can camp away from crowded campgrounds, even better. It is an enjoyable experience. When times are tough, those skills gained while camping will pay off.

If you are unfortunate enough to ever become caught up in a mega scale disaster and don’t want to find yourself in a refugee camp, or housed in a stadium with thousands of crazed people, you will be extremely pleased at this purchase.

A camping tent is an essential part of any contingency program. Think like a boy scout. Be prepared. Remember it is always better to be ready than to be caught flat footed and unprepared.

Water Filter

Water is more important than food. Without a clean and reliable water source you are not going to make it very far in the wilderness. You can live for an extended period of time without food, your life expectancy without water is only a few days.

It is strongly advised that one of the first things you acquire is a manually powered system to filter water, such as this one (sponsored link) Hyperflow Microsystem. The utility of this item exceeds almost any other item you can own.

Your body needs an intake of almost a half gallon of water a day to maintain maximum efficiency. Most people are accustomed to getting their intake from drinks such as coffee, milk and orange juice. In a survival situation you may have only the choice of a river, lake, pond, swamps or even mud-puddles to drink from. Many areas have extremely limited water sources.

In an urban environment, where there has been a general collapse, availability of water may be extremely limited. Large scale projects such as urban sewage and water distribution systems are likely to become non-functioning within a short period of time, following any significant catastrophe.

About the water purifier

Like all useful items, this has a very high TRADE VALUE. It can literally make the difference in life or death. It is capable of providing a gallon of potable drinking water from almost any source in a little over a minute. The filters are usable for 265 gallons. Thats enough water to supply one person for about 16 months. Additional filters can be used to supply more people or provide backups. This particular filter has many quality features and has won awards. It is capable of fitting directly on water bottles from the same supplier, or can be used to pour purified water into any container.

It is a compact 7.4 ounces so it is well worth the carrying weight.

How to Make a 72-Hour Survival Kit

72 hour bug out bag

FEMA recommends that each household prepare a disaster supplies kit that is ready to “grab and go” in case of an evacuation or an emergency such as a terrorist attack, a nuclear incident, a flood, or a chemical spill.

They recommend that this kit (bug out bag) have enough food, water, first aid supplies, tools and emergency supplies to last for three days or more.

Introducing the bug out bag

This bag is also known as a “bug out bag” or a G.O.O.D. bag (Get Out Of Dodge).

This emergency preparedness survival bag is important because if you have to evacuate during a disaster, it may be the only thing you have time to grab as you are leaving.

It may be the only source of food, water, and essentials that you have for a several days. The bag could save you a lot of anguish.

Since you may have to pull up and leave at a moment’s notice, having an emergency preparedness kit already together means you don’t have to think of everything on the spot as you are walking out the door.

It also means that you can be miles down the road while other people are still trying to figure out what to gather up. Sometimes in an emergency, seconds count.

While there are many things that would be nice to have, you must keep the contents of this emergency preparedness kit to a minimum.

You may want to have a bug-out kit for each member of the family to carry. That may increase how much stuff you can take, so make sure that your bug out vehicle will carry it all.

The hall closet, if you have one, is a good place to keep your emergency preparedness bag so that you can grab it as you head out the door.

Pre-packaged bug out bags for sale

Like with pre-packaged survival food, pre-packaged commercial 72 hour bags are less than ideal.

They have always have things in them that you do not need and will never use in an emergency, the quality of the goods may be substandard, and they don’t usually include items that suit your particular disaster preparations.

Instead, put your own emergency preparedness kit together. It is cheaper and will better suit your specific needs in a disaster.

You can use a duffel bag or any large canvas bag to hold the contents of your emergency kit, or you can use a five gallon plastic bucket with a good handle and a sealable lid.

A bucket with a lid can be an invaluable and irreplaceable tool in a disaster. You can use it to carry water or a hundred other things after you reach your destination.

You can also use it with a trash bag spread inside the bucket as a make-shift potty in a disaster.

This is one reason to make sure that your buckets have lids. Lids also keep the emergency preparedness kit together and intact, as well as making the bucket weather-resistant.

Prioritizing your 72-hours grab and go bag

Make a list of all the things you will need to take in your 72-hour kit. Then gather these items and lay them out in the floor, along with the number of buckets or packs that your family will be carrying, one per person.

Now is the time to see if you will be able to haul all the survival gear that you have selected in the emergency containers you have selected.

If not, you will have to make some choices. Be sure and put the lighter items in the buckets or packs which will be carried by the younger members of the family.

One of the first items you must plan for in an emergency is water. Water is heavy, weighing 8.34 pounds per gallon, but you must have it with you in any disaster.

Since the average person drinks two quarts of water per day, pack your emergency preparedness kit with bottled water accordingly and include a water purification filter and water purification tablets (read about water purification here).

A small container of unscented chlorine bleach would be good to have in your 72-hour kit for treating drinking water that you may find along the way.

MRE’S, canned chili, and canned stews are great for the best bug out bags because they require no refrigeration, are easy to heat up, and can be eaten without cooking in an emergency.

They are packed with protein and carbohydrates which you may need in a crisis. Other good choices for your 72-hour kit are peanut butter, granola bars, canned meats such as tuna, and dehydrated soup mixes.

Thirst-inducing supplies

The down side to packing items such as tuna in an emergency kit is that they make you thirsty, and water may be in short supply on your journey.

You could include a small backpacking stove in your 72-hour kit; the space and weight are negligible, and you might be amazed at what a hot meal will do for morale during a disaster.

Canned fruits and juices are good choices for emergency kits because they provide quick energy and, again, will do wonders for a person’s spirits in a crisis.

Just remember that these juices will also make you thirsty if water is in short supply, as often happens during a disaster.

Other good choices for emergency food include chocolate bars and candy.

Don’t forget to pack your disaster kit with a few salt tablets, some forks and spoons, one metal drinking cup per person, and baby food and diapers if applicable.

Above all, do not forget the can opener. In fact, pack a can opener in each emergency preparedness bucket or pack.

Staying warm

Pack some warm clothes, a stocking cap, extra underwear and socks, and good shoes in your disaster kit for each person.

If you have room in your bug out pack, take a sleeping bag or blanket for each person. If not, pack metallic emergency blankets or space blankets.

A set of rain gear for each person would be nice, if there is room in your emergency kit.

Rain ponchos are even better because a small candle held in your lap with your legs crossed can provide a lot of personal warmth under a poncho. Just be careful and don’t melt your poncho!

Include a bar of hand soap, a roll of toilet paper, wet towelettes, and feminine hygiene items in your 72-hour kit.

Bugging Out: The ultimate bug out shelter guide

choosing the best bug out location

People who have been raised in the city tend to fare better by staying in town during disasters.

However, if you are convinced that your dwelling will be untenable during a long term disaster such as an economic collapse, then maybe you should set up a remote bug out shelter.

Here are your options

Option #1: Old farmhouse

One option is to buy an old farmhouse out in the country to use as your emergency bug out location.

It might be a fun hobby to fix it up, and it might be the perfect place to wait out periods of rioting or economic collapse.

One of the best justifications for a retreat is that it can double as a weekend get-away that you can take the family to for memories that will last a lifetime. It can also be an excellent investment opportunity too.

Option #2: Mobile homes and campers

Another consideration for a survival shelter idea would be a mobile home.

As a bug out shelter, a mobile home has several advantages:

  1. It is already electrically wired
  2. Already plumbed
  3. Compactly organized
  4. And has all the conveniences of home.

You can move it in tomorrow, without having to build it yourself or wait for a contractor.

A mobile home also has some emergency preparedness disadvantages: maintenance can be high, quality is questionable, most are energy inefficient, and special care must be taken to prevent frozen/burst water pipes since it may not be used for extended periods during the winter.

New mobile homes are costly considering re-sale value, while pre-owned mobile homes are sometimes affordable.

Option #3: A motor home

bugout motorhome
Bug out motor home

A more versatile survival shelter plan is to have a motor home or camper that you use recreationally and that could also be taken to your shelter location in the event of an emergency.

Your bug out location could have such improvements as a septic tank, a cleared level spot for your motor home/camper, and parking space.

You could just pull in and hook up.

Both the mobile home and the camper have several advantages over building a new structure as a disaster shelter. They are much more affordable than a new house.

There are no building contractors to deal with. There are no building codes to worry about, and no bizarre appraisal hassles that usually accompany bank financing of new homes.

And installation is easy and immediate.

The camper has a few advantages over the mobile home when it comes to emergency preparedness. While mobile homes are usually roomier, it can be difficult to get service personnel to make house calls to remote locations when (not if) repairs or maintenance is needed later on.

With a camper, you can hook up to it with your vehicle and pull your camper to town for service. You can also pull your camper out and sell it when you are finished with it or want to upgrade, whereas a mobile home is more difficult to move and much more difficult to resell.

While a camper or mobile home would not provide much protection from a nuclear threat, they might provide a nice place to take your family in the event of widespread economic collapse and violence.

They would also provide some good family bonding time on the weekends, or a temporary emergency shelter while you work on a more permanent one.

Option #3 What if you are on a tight budget?

If money is tight, consider buying 4-5 acres of remote hunting land. Later you can build a 12×24 building for an affordable price, and a plain shell building gives you a place to stay while you are building more suitable emergency bug out house.

It also makes a nice place to spend the weekends away from the city. You could consider using a hunting lease as a temporary bug out home, but that would be a last resort.

If money is really tight, you might contact friends or family who live out in the country. If they have room for you and your family, you could make arrangements to store emergency food and other essentials at their home for use in a crisis.

You are much more likely to be welcomed if you are furnishing your own emergency supplies and making a contribution to the household, rather than being a burden.

Factors to consider when choosing a bug out location

good bug out locationThere are many considerations when choosing a shelter location. A primary consideration is accessible water, like a spring, creek, or well.

One of your first priorities when choosing such an emergency preparedness location is the availability of water.

A well, pond, or spring-fed stream should be near-by and readily accessible. If not, perhaps you could devise a catch system if you live in an area with sufficient rainfall.

You will certainly want redundant sources of water.

Water can be carried from a pond or stream, collected from rainfall, or siphoned from a well. Any surface water that is collected will obviously need to be purified before drinking.

The shelter should also have accessible firewood and soil capable of growing a garden.

You might consider a remotely located area with the least amount of traffic possible, preferably on a rough old dirt county road. A disadvantage to this remoteness is the increased vulnerability to thieves and vandals when you are not there.

Keep it secret

secret bug out location
Secrecy is key in constructing the perfect bug out shelter

Your shelter should definitely not be visible from the road. Perhaps trees, a winding driveway, or a small hill would be enough hide for your ‘vacation home,’ but it needs to be far enough off the road so that it isn’t worth the trouble to trespassers to walk to it.

Thieves and vandals will quickly figure out that you are not around very often if they can leisurely drive by and see the absence of activity.

Your driveway should be gated and locked. Another important reason to be invisible from the road is secrecy. The key to avoiding trouble during social unrest is to remain unseen.

The less people that know about your bug out spot, the less likely you are to get in a confrontation if conditions deteriorate.

Never forget that the same people who thought it was silly to prepare for disaster will kill you for what you have when they get desperate.

You cannot defend a shelter from a determined group of people, no matter how brilliant your defense plans are or how ‘defendable’ you think your spot is.

Attackers will find your shelter’s weak spot, and every shelter has at least one.

The only way to successfully defend a shelter is to prevent its discovery.

The best way to go about this is to pick an unnoticed parcel of woods, unobtrusively build a shelter, quietly stock it with a few provisions, and keep your mouth shut about it.

The keys to having the ultimate survival shelter are to be quiet and be unseen.

Otherwise, you may fight the traffic and road obstacles only to arrive at your well-stocked shelter and find it already occupied by determined squatters.

Some people feel that instead of being secretive about disaster preparation, you should encourage your neighbors to prepare with you.

That usually does not work. Instead, people choose not to prepare and will then count on you to feed them when the shortages start.

In some remote areas, the local residents will create obstacles on the dirt roads in the event of a temporary breakdown of law and order. Their intent will be to limit access to their area by vandals and roving gangs of looters by cutting trees across the roads and dynamiting key bridges.

The idea is to discourage random trouble-makers by creating a situation where they will have to walk.

Most people, especially thieves, will avoid walking very far and will simply drive elsewhere. Residents in the area of your shelter may have similar plans, so it would be wise to get there with some haste while the roads are unblocked.

Time and distance

Distance and travel routes between your shelter and your home must be carefully evaluated.

A shelter that you can’t reach will do you no good.

Too much distance, and therefore time, makes it proportionately less likely that you will be able to reach your shelter as the situation deteriorates. If the distance to your retreat is too great, it is also less likely that you will visit it on a regular basis for repairs and enjoyable weekend stays.

Some experts say that two to three hours travel time by vehicle should be the absolute maximum that you consider for your evacuation plan.

According to this theory, you should be able to get there on one tank of gas, because in a crisis there may be none available on the road.

Other experts say that your retreat needs to be more than one tank of gas away from a major metropolitan area. This is because the fleeing masses will leave town with at most one full tank of gas, and as the vehicles run dry the people will be on foot, desperate, and knocking on your door.

Ultimately, you will have to find the balance in time and distance that is right for you.


Another consideration for your shelter is how to heat it. The building should have a good wood stove.

Whatever the circumstances that you intend to retreat from, one common factor that you should plan on is being without electricity.

Old farm houses make good shelters because they are less expensive to purchase and tend to be built with at least some self–sufficiency in mind, i.e. water wells, root cellars, etc.

It is worth repeating that one of your first priorities when choosing a location is the availability of water. A well, pond, or spring-fed stream should be near-by and readily accessible.

Root cellars themselves make excellent shelters because the temperature is fairly constant, making it ideal for storing food. They are also easy to heat, and are usually cool in hot weather.

You can modify an existing root cellar or build your own, but make sure and pick a well-drained area. A root cellar is one of the cheapest options yet makes one of the best shelters.


family bug out shelterYour rural shelter should have enough room to comfortably lodge the number of people you intend to stay there, as well as food, water, and supplies, extra clothes, etc.

Keep in mind that you may have to take in and support a number of people that you are not presently counting on, especially if you have been proudly telling your preparation plans to your friends and neighbors.

Close friends and relatives, perhaps with young children, may show up and insist on being allowed to enter, so you had better be prepared to either turn them away by force or make room for them.

In the meantime

It is a bad idea to leave valuable supplies in an unoccupied building because of thieves.

ou might consider renting storage space in the nearest town for items which are not affected by heat such as cooking and lighting equipment, etc.

The problem is that a remote bug out home seldom has conveniently located storage businesses nearby, and over time rental fees can get expensive.

You may also run out of time to retrieve these items.

Here are a few storage tips for your SHTF stockpile.

Survival cache containers

Many people today have cache containers buried near their weekend getaways to solve this problem.

Guns, ammunition, coins, and other such items are among the most popular items for these buried caches.

survival cache containerAs containers, PVC pipe and metal army surplus ammo cans are hard to beat.

The biggest problem with both of these containers is heavy condensation inside the container while underground.

If you intend to cache any supplies, do a trial run first with desiccants and various methods of packing.

Guns and tools should be packed in cosmoline or grease, and ammo should be packed in waterproof plastic bags with desiccants.

Food vacuum sealers would be great for preparing ammo for storage, because the bags are airtight and waterproof. The vacuum sealed bags of ammo with desiccants could then be stored in the PVC or ammo cans and buried.

People who bury caches usually prefer to have several small ones scattered about instead of one big one. That way if one of them is found, all is not lost.

It would be wise to make a map of precisely where your caches are, since there is the possibility that several years from now you may not be able to find the precise spot where they are buried. This would also allow your family to find your caches if you are incapacitated or dead.

Early casualties

Amazingly, there are people who plan to leave their homes in a crisis and live in the public forest on whatever supplies they can take with them.

These people are doomed from the start. The woods are going to be full of other displaced individuals or gangs, and some of these people will not be very nice.

In the unlikely event that you survive the run-ins with other desperate refugees, it is unrealistic to believe that you can survive in the woods like Jeremiah Johnson for any length of time, especially in the winter.

Others believe that a nomadic traveling method is better.

They intend to constantly stay on the move in a van, camper, pick-up, etc. until things settle down.

These people have even less hope than the aforementioned forest people for several reasons.

In any national crisis, fuel will be one of the first and harshest shortages, severely constraining these would-be wanderers.

Additionally, there is no way a person can carry everything he will need in a vehicle. This will probably not be a problem, because in a situation of social anarchy, looters and wandering thugs will relieve this traveler of his vehicle, possessions, and probably his life ;-(

If you think this scenario is unlikely, consider the manner in which travelers and commuters were dragged from their vehicles and mercilessly beaten during the 1992 L.A. riots.

Transportation (Bug out route)

If your plan is to evacuate to a rural shelter, you had better anticipate the crisis deterioration and leave early enough to avoid the traffic problems.

ultimate bug out shelter
There is a possibility that your bug out route will be marred by chaos and pandemonium.

There is the possibility that your route will be blocked by traffic, riots, or the ramifications of the disaster you are escaping from. You should plan alternate routes for such scenarios.

The streets may be clogged with traffic to the point that walking may be the best alternative.

Bicycles also deal well with clogged streets, but they are slow and they can’t carry much gear.

Motorcycles can get through traffic, are faster, but still can’t carry much equipment or provisions. They also don’t require much fuel at a time when fuel may be in short supply.

None of this compensates for the danger posed by irrational vehicle drivers in a crisis who may have very little regard for the safety of motorcycle riders.

You also can’t haul a very big family on a motorcycle.

Try to keep your alternate bug out routes as short as possible.

You must have dependable transportation that will get you through difficult terrain and bad weather conditions.

You will need a vehicle that can carry the number of people in your family and the amount of gear that you are taking with you.

With this in mind, you should have a four-wheel drive heavy duty pickup or SUV, with good ground clearance.

You might consider an older model versus a new one.

Older bug out vehicles tend to be easier to service and maintain because they are less computerized and generally have simpler designs. They are also less likely to be affected by electromagnetic pulse in the wake of a nuclear explosion.

Diesel models have advantages and disadvantages.
  1. Diesel fuel may be more difficult to find in a crisis.
  2. Diesel fuel tends to gel when it gets really cold, requiring a chemical additive.
  3. Diesel engines are also more difficult to start in really cold temperatures.

However, diesel fuel has the advantage of containing more energy than gasoline, so diesel motors provide more power.

They also require less maintenance. But most importantly, Diesel fuel has the huge advantage of storing better and longer than gasoline. That may turn out to be a critical factor in a prolonged crisis where fuel is hard to find.

Keep all-terrain tires that are in good shape on your vehicle at all times, and always have at least a half tank of fuel.

Grab your 72-hour kit on the way out the door.

Bugging out vs staying home: What suits you the most

bugging out

If you live in an urban or even suburban area, one of the first and most important decisions you will face in a disaster is whether to relocate to an emergency retreat or stay at home.

If your family is not at risk from exposure to biological, chemical, or nuclear agents, you may be better off staying at home.

Urban people tend to fare better by staying in town during emergencies, on their own turf where street sense matters. Additionally, manufactured goods are more readily available in town, even in a crisis.

Contrariwise, people who are used to living in the country tend to have a better knowledge of farmland and woods and how to use these resources, including hunting, raising livestock, agriculture, gardening, etc.

If you have been raised in the city, it is a dangerous illusion to believe that you can suddenly flee the city during an emergency and thrive in a farming community.

Staying at a suburban home during a disaster has several advantages.

One advantage is the convenient access to grocery stores, hardware stores, gas pumps, etc.

Though these businesses will be of little use once the shortages are in full swing after the disaster, this access can be very convenient when building an emergency supply of food, water, and supplies beforehand.

For example, you can keep empty gas cans at home and go fill them at the first sign of disaster, instead of storing gasoline at your home. That way there is no messing with gas treatment chemicals and no rotating old containers full of gasoline.

Staying at home means you don’t have to worry about taking all those supplies with you in an emergency, and it means that you will be there to protect your property from looters.

It means you will have access to your own bed, blankets, tools, and all the comforts that make it a home during the crisis.

Staying close to your close friends

By staying put you also have the advantage of having friends and neighbors available in case you need help.

Staying in your home during an emergency can also be an advantage if urban distribution centers receive the first government relief shipments of food and medicines.

A huge advantage to stocking up your home with emergency supplies and staying put is that you will be at or near home when the balloon goes up.

The man going to a retreat may not be able to reach his destination while you are comfortable at home.

If you decide to attempt to travel in the period of chaos following a large-scale disaster, you may get trapped in the gridlock which will occur on the highways heading out of the cities.

You run the inherent risk of becoming another refugee on the road, stranded and separated from both your home and your rural shelter.

You may then find yourself at the mercy of the throngs of frightened and angry people that are sure to clog the highways.

For these reasons, staying at home may be the prudent thing to do in the event of a short-lived, localized emergency.

But what if there is a chemical or biological attack which puts your family at risk of exposure?

What if an economic collapse brings rioting and looting on a massive scale?

We have seen what happens in the aftermath of hurricanes such as Katrina.

We have seen the violent riots that ensue in larger cities when the home town basketball team wins a game.

The violent aftermath of an economic collapse or pandemic will be unprecedented.

Long term disruption of the food distribution system will result in empty shelves at the grocery store. When that happens, people will have no choice but to evacuate the cities as supplies run out.

bug out vs staying at homeRefugees will swamp the residential areas in an ever-widening circle as the crisis expands.

Suburban neighborhoods will be overwhelmed and swallowed up as the waves of scavengers spread from the inner city outward, essentially stripping the countryside as they go.

They are going to be looking for food, and they are going to be looking for drugs.

The veneer of civilization is thin.

If you are prepared with an emergency stock of food and supplies in your suburban home, you have to face the fact that in a crisis people will kill you for what you have.

Don’t wait until it is too late and then decide to become part of the fleeing masses who are hopelessly trapped on the interstate with an empty tank of gas.