I have always believed that when it comes to bugging out, (click the link to learn about when it’s time to bug out) speed is your friend. I have written articles in the past stressing the need to keep your Bug out bag/Get home bag, light weight. The faster you get to your destination, the safer you will be.
When it comes to bags, you may have heard of the old adage, ounces = pounds, pounds = pain. Because of this, I tell folks to strip away a lot of the unnecessary accessories they have packed in their BOB. This includes bulk ammunition. Sometimes this notion has be met with a little opposition.
Many preppers out there believe that being prepared also means being able to adequately defend themselves. They argue that it stands to reason that they may find themselves in a situation where they need to be armed with the ability to adequately fight back. Hence they need plenty of ammo. And in some cases, I certainly agree.
But I also believe that bugging out with an ammo stockpile could, in many situations, cause you more harm than good.
Let me explain.
The main purpose of your bag, be it a Go bag, Get Home bag, Bug Out Bag, etc is to be able to move safely and efficiently out of a danger zone. In a SHTF situation, you are most vulnerable while on the move. And I’m not talking about roving bands of marauders that so many people envision. I’m talking about being susceptible to the elements, to fatigue, to stress; being vulnerable to the unknown. Those will most likely be your enemies early on.
At home (or bug out location) you are not as exposed. You will hopefully feel safer and more secure in familiar surroundings. The more rapidly you can get there, the better off (and safer) you will be. And the less you are packing around, the faster and further you can move. (On foot.) Hence carrying less ammo makes for much easier travel.
A bullet by itself does not weigh much. But the more you carry, the heavier and bulkier it becomes. Below is a chart giving you an idea of how much bulk ammo weighs. As you can see, carrying 300 plus rounds of 12 gauge or 5.56 ammo could easily add 10-28 pounds of weight to your bag. (Magazines add weight too!) Carrying bulk ammo isn’t exactly quiet, isn’t always easy to transport, and is going to slow you down. In my opinion, it is totally unnecessary.
I receive emails quite often from people who are new to prepping. A few says they have thought about it for a while, but haven’t really got started. I’m sure it can feel like a daunting and overwhelming process to the beginner. But it does not have to be.
Being prepared is really not hard if you approach it the right way. If you are brand new to prepping, or just aren’t sure where to begin, here are 5 easy steps to help get you started.
There are plenty of links throughout this article dealing with many various prepper topics. These are a great source of information, so please be sure to check them out.
#1 Begin with a Plan
Start off by sitting down and figuring out what your plans would be if you have an emergency or disaster. Making plans now will help you to not feel lost or overwhelmed should a catastrophe strike. Failing to plan is planning to fail. And hope is not a plan!
In the beginning, I would not plan for worst case scenario. Instead, start off with the more realistic and probable scenarios. (The more extreme the event, the less likely it is to occur.) These scenarios should be based upon your location, situation, and the conditions you are in or could realistically be in.
For example, if you live along the Gulf Coast, hurricanes are a realistic possibility. So having hurricane plans makes sense. I know states like Montana and Idaho are subject to winter storms. I live in “tornado alley”, and have planned accordingly. Many large metropolitan cities are seeing an increase of violence, and riots are now something (click the link for more details) that urban city dwellers might consider planning for.
Most emergencies don’t have to be regional or even local. Job loss, medical emergencies, house fire, car wrecks, etc are all things you should be prepared for that are specific to you and your family.
I see A LOT of prepper videos and articles out there talking about bartering in a post TEOTWAWKI scenario. They encourage you to get gold, silver, cigarettes, ammo, etc. so that you can trade it after everything goes to hell. But I wonder if that is really a good idea? Is it a good use of your current resources to buy items solely for barter after SHTF?
I tend to think the belief and use of barter gets over-played in people’s’ SHTF scenarios in their minds. That’s not to say that barter might not happen on occasion. Barter has been around since the dawn of man. The zombie apocalypse won’t stop that. But I think in a true grid down situation, folks will be more worried about security and survival than they are trading things like gold and silver coins.
God forbid that if the grid goes down for good, there will be a time when the focus will be on merely surviving. Food, water, shelter, etc will be what is important. Having the tools and abilities to survive will be king. Those times will be the most taxing, the most trying.
Not until society has had time to “reset itself” and stabilize will barter actually come into play. Without a decent social environment and a somewhat stable economy, barter is not going to be likely. And in the rare chance it happens, it will not be without tremendous risks and peril.
Even when things may eventually begin to normalize, barter will not be as frequent or as common as many people want to believe. I think there are way too many variables that would make barter a rather rare occurrence.
With no more “Grid” there is no more Craigslist or Ebay. So finding other groups of people in your area that might actually want to trade with you may not be all that easy. I mean, I guess you could go wandering the country side looking for those groups, but that obviously comes with risks. And even if you find another group, chances are very high that they may not trust you or even want to trade with you.
For example, during a WROL (Without Rule Of Law) situation, if a group of strangers shows up at your place and says “Hi, let’s see what you have for trade.” chances are you are not going to trust them. Why would they be any different?
Next, these other groups (once you find them and decide you should trust them) would have to have items that you need, and you would have to have items that they need. There is certainly no guarantee that both groups have items they are willing to barter. With resources being scarce, I tend to think this will be a major factor should we lose the grid long-term.
For many preppers on a budget, the ability to stockpile goods and supplies might be limited. They may have to stock just a little at a time. And in that case, I hope that they are not stockpiling items which maybe they shouldn’t.
I wanted to take a look at some items that you may NOT want to stock pile long-term and the reasons why. I also try to have some alternatives available as well.
Many of the items listed below are items you SHOULD have in a disaster, so do NOT think I’m saying not to have these items. Instead, I’m saying that in your long-term planning (i.e. the grid goes down for an extended time) these are items you should think about having alternative plans and options for.
Now hear me out. NO ONE out there understands the importance of good, quality toilet paper more than I do. I always have several weeks’ supply on hand. But there is a big draw back to trying to hoard toilet paper long-term.
The problem is that large amounts of toilet paper are bulky and take up a lot of room. For me, in an urban setting, I have trouble storing more than a month’s supply for my family. So if a true long-term disaster struck, beyond 3 to 4 weeks I’ll be in a crappy situation.
The average person uses over 100 rolls of TP per year. Now multiple that times the number of your family members/group. That’s a lot of room for a hoard of TP! And yes, my family goes through AT LEAST that much TP.
Hopefully, as a prepper, you will have some food set back and stocked in case of a disaster. You will have water stored, as well as a few purification methods. You might have a weapon or two stored, and some extra ammunition. (Click the links to find out about water storage, weapons for SHTF, and storing ammo long-term). You might have extra gear and supplies on hand. But could there be items out there you haven’t thought about stockpiling for a long-term, grid down scenario?
In this article, I want to cover some items that you might not realize you should have plenty of in case of a long-term disaster, and some reasons why it might be a good idea.
So let’s jump in.
Being clean (or at least feeling clean) is a great boost to morale during a SHTF situation. And during a grid down scenario, you might not have enough water (or fuel to heat the water) for a hot shower. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep yourself clean. So having some extra hygiene items is probably a good idea.
Things like toothpaste and shampoo have a shelf life of about 2 years from the date of manufacture once they are opened. (They can last around 3 years if unopened.) Things like soap, mouthwash, and deodorant have a 3 year or so shelf life.
Keep in mind that the shelf life listed is for items stored at room temperature. Things like temperature extremes and direct sun light can degrade these products much more quickly.
If you cure your store-bought bars of soap (by removing the wrappers and letting them sit in the air for about 6 weeks) they will harden and last much longer.
When the proverbial “poop” hits the fan, should you ride out the SHTF event at home? Or should you hit the open road for safer areas? This question has perplexed preppers for years, and understandably so. Many preppers prefer the safety and comfort of home, and make their plans accordingly. Others have a sense of adventure and excitement, and yearn for the day that SHTF so they can take off and leave civilization (or what remains of it) behind!
In reality, both have merits that we will cover here. Let’s take a look…
For most emergency and disaster scenarios, bugging in should be the preferable way to go. The vast majority of emergencies are localized, and you can ride out these events by simply being prepared at home. FEMA recommends having a 3 day supply of food and water, though most preppers will have much more than that. With enough supplies and equipment on hand, staying home during a disaster is typically the smart thing to do.
Bugging in during a disaster has numerous advantages to bugging out:
- Familiar resources – you know the layout of your home, and the areas where your gear and supplies are located. Storing supplies and gear is WAY easier than trying to move it! You should also know about local sources of water (lakes and streams), grocery stores, etc that are close by
- Familiar location – you should have detailed knowledge of the area around your home and neighborhood. Where is the closest grocery store? Hospital? Police station? Are there side streets you can use to avoid heavily congested main roads?
- Familiar People – you should at least have working knowledge of your neighbors and people living in close proximity to you. Neighbors you can trust and/or have useful skills. You should also keep in mind about neighbors or people who could be potential problems in larger, more dangerous emergencies.
- Safety and security – During times of disaster, movement is not without perils. And I’m not just talking about roving bands of marauders. Things such as torn up roads and buildings can present dangers and unseen hazards. So to can the outside elements. Freezing rain is a lot easier to deal with when you are inside! And it is should be easier to defend yourself inside your own home as opposed to being out on the open road.
If you do not have a bug in plan, start developing one now. As I stated, a vast majority of emergencies can be ridden out safely by simply being prepared at home. If a tornado hits your area (but misses you house) and you are without power for a few days, staying home with your preps would seem like the logical thing to do. A sudden snow storm leaves you home bound and without power…now you put your bug in plans into place.