UPDATE: With the mild winter coming to a close, you need to be getting out with your pack and putting some miles under you. Don’t waste the advantage of early warmer temperatures!
A reasonable question, especially if you are thinking, “Well, no matter what happens, we can walk out of here….”
Maybe. Maybe not. It really depends on what you’re doing now, today, in relation to the following thoughts. But let’s set this up for the sake of discussion. Remember, this is not to discourage you, but to give you something to consider and measure what you can do now, today, versus what you might have in your mind that could be considered unrealistic.
If S were to HTF right now, let’s say you sheltered in place for several weeks to get yourself ready (let’s say for a minute you have what you need to take off for your ‘hidey hole’ and your SIP time was used doing ‘dress rehearsals’ with the family on doing with less and changing habits), how far are you going to be able to walk a day with very little sleep (someone’s got to stay awake at all times to make sure your family doesn’t fall prey to marauders when you’re sleeping, you know….) and diminishing calorie intake (comprised of protein, fat, and carbs)? What about water? Have those covered, do you? You know the water sources along your route and have a quality filter/purifier so you can replenish your water containers along the way? Do you know how much water you personally require when carrying a heavy load for a long distance? How much of your space is taken up by toilet paper (if you have more than one female in your family, you understand how much of this stuff they use in comparison to males)? While nice, TP is bulky, unless (another smart move) you buy a metric ton of compressed toilet paper wipes (100 pieces for less than $13!!) that you sprinkle water on. Even those take up some room.
They’re worth it, though. 2 packs weigh about 12 ounces and take up small room for the 100 individual pieces (100 times wiping one’s butt, male or female) which is one less thing that will be a major irritant, especially the first time you tell your wife, daughter or son that they need to wipe their butt with grass or leaves (let alone if they don’t know what poison ivy/oak/sumac leaves look like…don’t even want to GO there!), but I digress.
15 miles? 10? 5? 2? How far do you have to go to make it out of ‘hostile territory’? Live in a city? Have gangs? Remember, the S has HTF, and you can’t count on your local PD to keep the marauders at bay.
Some things you’re going to have to take into consideration if you think you can ‘just walk out’ without any forethought:
- The Season: I’m here to tell you that if you live anywhere, and I mean anywhere that significant snow falls, unless you have snow shoes and a sled you’re going to be A: taking more than you would, say, in a warmer southern environment that has typically mild 30 degree “cold” nights and B: not going very far each day, or at all (depending on snow fall), you can count on that. Now you’ve got the problem of wet clothing, getting it dry when you stop, setting up in very cold conditions and brother, let me tell you, you better know how to stay warm and keep the family warm! But beyond that, if you make it through the winter, you will have to cache your snow shoes, sled, winter clothing, and anything that’s too heavy or bulky to put in or on your ruck. Know how to cache? Did you carry enough waterproof heavy plastic bags to keep your cached heavy clothing from rotting or being eaten by critters? If it’s temperate, are you walking out of an area that will have a cold, snowy winter? How far are you going to get? Are you carrying your winter gear in addition to what you need during temperate weather?
- Your Footwear: Have to be sturdy and good quality, as well as well-broken in. Goretex helps, so does sno-sealing leather (not suede) boots for keeping you dry. That means wearing them…a lot…preferably doing ruck walks. You’ll find that during your ruck walks, the additional weight of up to half your body weight of defensive equipment, ruck, and water, you may well be attempting to carry 60% of your own weight. The additional weight takes quite a toll on your feet, no matter how good the footwear happens to be. Read that to mean blisters and more blisters. Got good socks, about 6 pair per person? ‘Darn Tough’ are about the best, but YMMV. Got a couple rolls of Leukotape and cover tape? A couple tubes of ‘body glide’? These items could make the difference between success and failure (meaning death). Got toe nail clippers (a couple pair)? Untrimmed toenails can cut sock fibers and depending on how your boots fit, cause you great discomfort.
- Your Fitness Level: You’re not going to walk far, let alone if you have a spouse and children, without you and they being very, very fit. Some folks will say they have packs for everyone in their family. Great! How much can they carry? It’s size, strength and fitness level dependent. You may find yourself pulling a wagon with a couple of kids in it along with carrying your pack. Or, putting your pack in the wagon and having the kids walk (which would be more efficient as you could put more in the wagon), but that assumes you’ll be on nice, level, paved (ever try pulling a wagon down a gravel road?) – with at least ashphalt or tarred dirt – road. If you’re serious about doing the ‘getting out on foot if we have to’ thing, you might want to start a serious PT regimen that includes strength, aerobic, and stamina exercises (meaning long walks with heavy packs for time (shoot for 17 minutes a mile) that eventually end up being 10 or more miles long. Medical limitations come into play here, big time. Do you have at least 3 to 6 months of prescription meds you or others in your family are on available? Do they need refrigeration? What’s the backup plan on that?
- Your ability to leave behind ‘snivel gear’. A tent? What for? All you need is a tarp shelter. This one works very well, and can sleep 2 people (in a pinch, 3, but the packs might be outside, depending) and their packs. It will keep the wind and rain off of you and the family. You’ll be fine. Tents are also very, very bad in regards to letting you see what’s around you. Once inside, you’re blind. Think about that in relation to ‘marauders’ happening on your nice tent that holds your wife and children. It’s not going to be big enough to put all your packs in, so they’ll be outside, ready to be loaded up by the marauders after they finish with you (that means you’re dead) and your family. You don’t need pots and pans; you need a canteen cup (and possibly a lid). One per two people is fine, especially in a family. Cuts down weight, and can be used to cook, eat, drink and heat water for hygiene (if you can’t use cold water that you find). You get the picture. You most likely won’t have room for a lot of clothing, either, because you’re going to go heavy on food (gotta eat, right?), and ammo (if you’re smart – someone’s got to protect the family), and light on extra clothing. Everything’s a compromise and a tradeoff, remember that. This is where multiple use items come in handy. A gas stove? Really? Pillows (even small camping pillows)? REALLY?
- Basic knowledge of security requirements for your night time or temporary, ‘lay up’. This means cover, concealment, site selection (where someone wouldn’t look), and finally, weapon use. Getting in and out without leaving sign that you’re there. Got a 10X monocular or small set of binoculars? They come in mighty handy when checking a potential site out.
- Navigation capability. Know how to read a map? Topographical or otherwise? Know how to follow a compass heading and account for local declination? GPS units are great; I have a couple. Don’t count on them if SHTF. They have this thing called, ‘random programmable error,’ because the satellites belong to the government. In some scenarios, the government will purposely program inaccuracy into them because they don’t want the enemy to be able to accurately navigate. So your back up is good old fashioned map and compass navigation. Take a class. Really. Have you selected at least 3 routes out of your present location and know how to change from one route to another if the one you’re taking is, for whatever reason, impassible?
This could go on….and on…but I think the point is made. Yes, walking out of a troubled area post SHTF is, in fact, an option that should be explored and planned for if at all possible. However, to do it successfully you’re going to have to do some serious pre-planning and training, starting off with getting yourself in a LOT better shape. You will have to brutally assess your family, if you have one, and take steps to make sure they can pull their weight (however small that may be) and teach them various concepts such as ‘silence’ while walking out. You can hear the sweet, melodious, high pitched voices of children for a long, long way…..there’s a reason Native Americans universally taught their children from birth not to cry or make much noise. The ability to remain quiet often meant the difference between life and death.
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