Transportation: Based on historical evacuation statistics, when it comes to the use of major and secondary roadways, especially around metropolitan areas of medium to large cities, if you stay in place any longer than 24 hours once a regional or national “state of emergency” has been declared, you’re most likely going to be stuck there for at least a few weeks unless you have an alternate mode of transportation other than your car, truck, SUV or mini-van. The roads will most likely be impassable.
But, for the sake of discussion, let’s say you decide if this scenario happens, you’re jumping in whatever you have and hitting the open road. Great! First, though, don’t count on too many gas stations being open, or if they are, expect very, very high prices. A good “rule of thumb” is to quadruple the prices you see today and expect to pay that amount, in cash, per gallon! With prices hovering within range of $2.85 a gallon today (let’s call it 3 bucks), and projected to climb, figure $12 to $18 a gallon or more and for a 20 gallon tank, you need to have $360 (to be on the safe side) or more in cash on you to fill your tank once! (An aside: Have small bills, because the likely hood of getting change back isn’t really high at all in an emergency.) If the gas station is still taking plastic, all the better! (Survival Tip: When paying, don’t pull your cash wad out where others can see it. Nothing might happen immediately, but you may be followed from the gas station.) The bottom line is that you need to expect that gas will be very expensive and not on every street corner. It will most likely be ‘rationed’ as well, as the unprepared howl about ‘hoarding’ and ‘price gouging.’ You can mitigate your fuel needs by doing a couple things: First, never, and I mean never, allow your tank to get below half full! This gives you a 200 mile buffer (most vehicles get 400 miles on an average tank of gas) so that if you couldn’t refuel at all, you can at least get to a more survivable area. Keeping your tank half full also decreases the amount of cash you need to expend just for fuel by 50% or more depending on how far you’re going or how expensive the gas happens to be at the time. The rest of your cash can be used for barter or purchasing necessities you find along the way (like more ammo or food). Second, consider the purchase of at least three 5 gallon gas cans (make sure the nozzle fits an unleaded gas coupling in modern vehicles), fill them up, and treat them with ‘Sta-bil’ gas stabilizer (the blue stuff). This will make sure the gas stays “fresh” for quite some time. Then, if nothing bad happens, cycle the gas through your lawn mower or other small engine that always seem to be in need of fuel!
Some folks have opted for the All-American ATV or “Four Wheeler” that can take one to two passengers and all your gear as their SHTF transport. A major advantage to these little transports is that they do not need roads. They can also ford many streams and rivers of 3 feet or less in depth. The problem with these machines, while fun as well as useful in certain applications, is that they are terrible on gas mileage, and you can hear them coming for a long, long way unless the owners have spent the money necessary on buying certain after-market mufflers that reduce their signature to almost that of a car. Additionally, you have to have cash for refueling and plan to carry one five gallon fuel can on the machine as well to give you twice the range. Add to that, security for the vehicles if you happen to find a motel/hotel to spend the night in, and your general security requirements if you’re doing the camping thing (a whole ‘nother subject – we used to call these little spots, “patrol bases”….)
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Lastly, map out a route that doesn’t take major roads like the interstate out of your area. Secondary and surface streets are the way to go. After you map it, drive it. A few times. Find out what areas are good, what are bad, and make route adjustments so you’ll have the most trouble free route out of your location to your “hidey hole”.
So, what happens if you can’t get out in your vehicle or you run out of gas? That ever present old stand-by, ‘shanks mare’, comes into play. You’ll have to walk and pack your goods. This eventuality means that you’ll need to be fit enough to walk for some miles with about 50 or more pounds on your back! Walking just five miles with 50 pounds (A good pack to start with is the large ALICE frame pack, that can be found on eBay. Don’t get the Chinese knock off! The frame is famous for breaking. A good example will cost about $80 or so before shipping; so figure $100. Be picky. Sure, there are other more modern packs available. Whatever you decide on for your pack, make sure it’s in an earthtone color and fits. Our staff here uses the newer USMC FILBE, but it’s somewhat expensive, as other more ‘tacticool’ packs. Function is key here. I used a large ALICE for 18 years and didn’t have any major problems.) Impossible you say?? Nope. Not at all. Start your fitness upgrade today. After you read this, go out and walk around the block. Do one sit up. Do one push up. There. Not so hard. Tomorrow do the same thing and the day after, walk a little further and do two sit ups and two push ups. Repeat until you’re doing a couple sets of sit ups and push ups with 25 repetitions and walking 3 miles fast! This goal can easily be accomplished in 10 weeks! Most likely, if you’re “average”, you can do it in 5 weeks, and then have the bonus of getting in even better shape by Inauguration day! Walking in the cold, by the way, is good for you! Remember, PT is God’s gift to those who wish to extend their lives.
If you have to go on foot, you need to make sure you have very good boots or shoes (do not skimp on your footwear!), maps, and a compass (and know how to use it). There are “how to” sites all over the internet on this subject – a five minute search will bring up a nice variety. There are also schools for those who like having someone show them personally. Here’s one: https://defensivetraininggroup.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/essential-skills-land-navigation-1-2-2425-april-2015/
I do not recommend a GPS because it can be used to fix your position by an aggressor and the satellites all GPS units use will, in our little scenario, have an error margin of up to 100 meters programmed into them for civilians to make them useless. You’ll also need batteries (lots of them and the weight adds up and the supply is finite!). You see, an aggressive government like the fictional one in our scenario will not want you to have the same accuracy in navigating as it does. The best compass in my experience is the USGI compass, now made by Cammenga. It’s about $80 on average, but it’s worth every penny! You can get yours here: http://www.greatlakesurvival.com/navigation-products.html
If you can only afford one, fine. Just take care of it. If you have a chance to get two, do it! There’s an only rule you need to try to follow: “Two is one and one is none”. Sure, redundancy is repetitive (pun intended), but it’s better to have a spare and not need it than need a spare really bad and not have it. Having a couple people trained on the compass makes sense, too, because the two can check each other when making determinations.
You can also get a base plate compass with a Declination adjustment built right in that will help you a lot! The one we use is a Suunto MC3. The MC2 is just as good; I have switched to the MC3 because it’s even easier for me to use. The idea is to have a couple handy for validation/cross check and in case one breaks. Ebay and Amazon has them for about $50 or so. We use and teach both at DTG. Redundancy is a goodness thing.
The one advantaged the Suunto has over the USGI Lensatic is that the declination adjustment allows you to measure azimuths on a grid map and skip the conversion process from grid to magnetic and magnetic to grid when performing plots (more on that when you take ours or Chris Dodge’s Land Nav course). An example of something else you can do is to use a map similar to the one below as a guide. It’s not a road map. It’s the Rand McNally rail road map of Michigan. All those tracks are still out there. Some have been made into “rails to trails” venues, but the track beds are still there and can be used for our purposes. You can parallel these routes while staying off main roads and out of sight and still get to where you’re going. Your object in the next ten weeks is to choose a primary and an alternate route and go for a ride or two to get a mental picture of the area you might have to traverse on foot. While you’re at it, choose some spots you could ‘hole up’ for a night or two that wouldn’t be readily noticed or attractive to others. Make sure they’re concealed and far enough away from the major commercial route (tracks or highways) so that your noise can’t be heard your movement won’t be picked up by casual observance. Mark them down on your map with just a ‘tick’ mark or two. These spots could be your temporary shelter in storms or when you needed to stay still and rest.
Shelter & Field Gear: You’re going to need some things here. And not a tent, either. Tents are not so hot because they blind you to what’s outside, they keep condensation inside them, and they’re not super-fast to take down. From experience in all seasons, to include deep cold winter, I recommend a simple tarp/poncho shelter. There are many types out there from the surplus USMC ‘field tarp’, which is great for one or two people without their packs, or the ‘Noah’s Tarp’ that has all sorts of loops sewn in that can take 3 people with their packs and keep them out of the rain and wind. Again, you get what you pay for, so don’t fall prey to shrewd salesmanship. ‘General Purpose’ is key, and that’s another reason I recommend the tarp system. You’ll need some 550 cord and you’ll have to learn a few knots, like the bowline and the trucker’s hitch, but it’ll be well worth it.
Now that you’ve got something to keep the wind off of you, to stay warm, you need insulation. And, in that light, the best insulation you can get is to make sure you get a “30 below” sleeping bag for each person that will keep you warm in the winter and in summer, you can lay on top of it. You can spend as much as you want on a sleeping bag or sleeping bag system. Just remember “Caveat Emptor” – Buyer Beware! You get what you pay for! A good, well-priced bag is from Wiggy’s. It’s their “Superlight” bag and costs as little as $130 when on sale. You may also want to get a FTRSS overbag for an additional $130 and have a -40 below bag system. Add a poncho liner and poncho for hot summer days or cool fall evenings. This will cost about $45 for a set. So, for about $300 per person, you’ve got all 4 seasons covered, and can stay warm in the coldest places. Wiggy’s bags, by the way, are used exclusively by my instructor staff when participating or teaching survival classes. We’ve learned from experience how good they are. Wiggy’s can be found here: www.wiggys.com You can also get your Wiggy’s bag from http://www.greatlakesurvival.com while you’re getting your water purification equipment.
Speaking of “surviving and thriving”, there’s one written source you need to have to read for the 10 week period. It’s called, “Six Ways in and Twelve Ways Out” It’s a compilation of US Ranger knowledge on how to make it in all sorts of scenarios. You can get it for $15 from http://www.usrsog.org/manu.htm post paid. Best book you can get on the subject! It’s also cargo pocket sized, and is written in plain language with many hand drawn illustrations.
Buy it. Read it. Apply it. You’ll be glad you did. Other field gear you’re going to need is a good knife. A plain old USMC KaBar with a 7 inch blade is about the best you can get for the money. Sure, you can get a good Cold Steel knife or something else that you spend lots of money on, but the problem is if they’re more expensive than the KaBar and don’t have that many advantages over the KaBar for the price, why spend the money, especially with only 10 weeks to prepare? Remember to stick to the basics! KaBar knives can be had all over the internet from between $40 to $50. It will not let you down.
Remember this about a large bladed knife: It can do everything a smaller knife can do reasonably well, but a smaller knife can’t do a lot of the things a larger blade can do. Like when you need to hack branches when building shelters, or need to butcher a deer, prepare a meal, etc. The other edged weapon/tool you’re going to want and need is a tomahawk. It’s a great tool to make your life more bearable and a formidable weapon (provided you have taken the time to learn to use it, which can only be done effectively by being taught), both physically and psychologically. You’ll want your hawk to have a hardened hammer and blade which is superb for making cooking tools, stakes, etc.
The one I recommend is the Cold Steel “Pipe Hawk” which you can get for less that $50 if you look. It’s light, strong, and takes an edge very well. If you decide you want to add one to your gear, it’s one of those ‘got everything else, so I can get this now’ and if you do, get yours here: http://www.greatlakesurvival.com/survival-tomahawks.html
If you find you have a few extra bucks, you may want to also get a multi-tool as shown in the picture above. That one is a Gerber brand; there are many good ones out there. Leatherman and Gerber are at the top of the heap. You can also find these used on ebay in very good shape for pennies on the dollar.
Well, let’s pause and see how much we’ve committed financially here:
At the most, getting all high-end gear, you’ve committed about $5,000 and at the least, about $2,500 on the low end for a weapon, ammo, water purification and storage, fuel costs, food, shelter, and a very small amount of field gear.
Between $250 and $500 a week for 10 weeks to spend on making sure you survive and thrive. I know that seems like a lot, but when you consider people spend more than that on junk food, cable and beer these days a week. $500 is one major league sporting event for a family of four with tickets, parking, food, etc. Learning to take care of yourself and your loved ones is not expensive or difficult – all it takes is discipline. Only you can provide that.
So….get started today!