In Part I, here, we began to build the foundation for a SHTF kit at its cornerstone, good boots, and moved on to the pack itself, some pros and cons, and then to personal protection. One thing we didn’t mention, and should have, was socks. Good, quality socks, and at least 6 pair per person. We like a merino wool blend, over the calf style, that wicks and is good for a minimum of 3 seasons. 3 season socks aren’t too heavy, and in winter, so long as you’re walking, your feet will stay comfortable. It’s when you stop that you need the heavier type. That said, we are HUGE ‘Vermont Darn Tough’ fans. The particular model we like is the USMC “Darn Tough” over the calf, extra cushion type (model 1501). They’re getting harder to find, and are expensive, but they’re well worth the cost. YMMV. They have another one, too, for much warmer climates. It’s their ‘tactical’ (everything seems to be ‘tactical’ these days…sigh) mid calf full cushion sock, that’s somewhat light weight. Definitely not a cold weather sock. As with other items we talk about, there definitely are other good brands, this is simply the one we find to be best suited to our particular needs.
As the picture above is meant to illustrate, over-packing is a dangerous habit that many in the preparedness/liberty community seem to be burdened with (pun intended), especially with the demonstrated lack of fitness one can witness at any gun show or preparedness exposition. Thousands of people buying enough junk (literally, because the quality is generally suspect) to fill several large rucks, and having to get a hand cart to take their purchases to their vehicles, building up a sweat loading it in the trunk. These folks can be viewed as ‘resupply points of opportunity’ because when you find them, dead on the road or in the woods, you might be able to recover something of use. Yes, it’s harsh, but the point is that physical fitness is your friend; High Fructose Corn Syrup, processed foods, a couch, and your flat screen are not. Together, those things conspire to rob you of your strength, stamina, and set you up to die of a heart attack within the first half mile of your ‘bug out’ trek. Ignore this at your own peril.
Now, the next category we need to cover is water. You can live longer without food than you can with water, as the body has an amazing ability to convert stored fat into energy when food intake becomes extremely low. Sure, you can’t go on forever, but you can go on, so long as you have water. Water weighs 8 lbs per gallon. That 8 lbs doesn’t take into account the water carrier, either. Depending on what you decide to have, each gallon might weigh 9 lbs; take for example if you have a couple of two quart canteens. These were ‘all the rage’ back in my day, as typically we had a couple of 1 quart hard plastic canteens balancing out our web belts to the outside and a couple more on the ruck sack (if we were lucky). These nice thing about these is they’re flexible, and you can easily nullify any sloshing that you can’t do with a hard canteen or container.
This is also why we’re fans of a hydration bladder except in deep cold (which we mitigate by the way we wear it). The one we’re partial to is by Camelbak, and again, it comes from their military line. It’s the USMC FILBE bladder. Not trying to sound like a surplus store commercial, but many items we use are acquired more
Simply put, this one has baffles, holds 100 ounces, and can have a mini-filter, like the one here by Sawyer, attached, so in worse case scenarios, you can fill your bladder with questionable water and still drink it. We get ours from Great Lake Survival Products, here. You’ll also notice other Sawyer products that would fill the water purification niche. We’ve used and own all them, including the Zero Two Bucket System for our ‘shelter in place’ purification needs, but I digress.
Back to the bladder: Why are baffles important? In a typical hydration bladder, as the water is consumed, it stays at the bottom – the baffles keep the hydration bladder flatter by helping to keep the water distributed throughout. This item also falls into the rare case where two is better than one. One is kept in the ruck, and used first. The other, if you have two, is on the self-defense harness/vest, and is reserved for when you may be leaving your pack in a small over night location and doing some sort of task that you need to be able to move much more quickly than you would carrying your ruck.
So, now we’ve got our locomotion (feet) and hydration taken care of, and we can move on to food. Let’s make it simple: You’re going to be using a lot of carbs and protein while losing fat if you’re going a good long ways on foot carrying your SHTF pack or even a small child on your back. So, you need some high-octane fuel. You don’t know if you can heat your food, you don’t know if you’ll be able to rehydrate it (freeze dried), and you need some easily ingested food that will do the trick. Here’s something to think about: Diversify what you are putting in your pack. Example:
- Six Meal Replacement bars (30/35 gr protein) – These come in all sorts of flavors, and are great for those times you can’t heat food up, stop, or otherwise take the time to prepare a meal. Six of these are basically 3 days worth of food at two of them a day.
- Four ‘mountain house type’ freeze dried entree’s (serves 2) – Of whatever you like. Comfort food. Very light. All it needs is hot water, right? Here’s the reason for the larger ‘serves 2’ sizes: They typically run 200 – 250 calories per serving, have lots of carbs, and some fat, with protein being the lowest major component. You need the carbs and fat, and having, “Beef Stroganoff” or “Chicken and Rice” or “Beef Stew” as a morale builder helps.
- Four ‘field stripped’ MRE type meals – That means just the spoon, entree, side dish, and desert. No excess cardboard, packing, etc.
Now you’ve got food for 7 days in your SHTF kit for yourself. You need to do the same (portion dependent, of course) for the others in your family, depending on their size and strength.
Morale items: Some candy, coffee, tea, cider mix, anything that can make water seem like it’s more than it is. Personally, if they had a powdered IPA mix, I’d have some of that with me….alas, but they haven’t invented that yet.
Right along side food in importance, is hygeine, because what goes in, must come out, right? Ok, you can do the roll of toilet paper in a zip lock bag if you want, just remember that in a ‘normal situation’ in a non-SHTF environment, a woman will use a roll of toilet paper in 5 to 7 days, depending on the roll. So, if you think you’ll take about 2 to 3 weeks to get to your fall back (believe me, it’s going to take you a LOT longer to get there than you think), you need to have that amount of toilet paper for the ladies. Men are different…we use about a roll every 2 to 3 weeks. Different plumbing – different needs. If you’re worried about room, because toilet paper is bulky, here’s an alternative.
There really neat. You put a few drops of water on one of them (which is about the size of a US nickel) and wait a bit. It expands and unfolds, is soft, because it’s barely damp, and is strong enough for cleansing one’s body after voiding waste. Not too awfully expensive, but remember, you get what you pay for. You’re paying for compressed TP. That means ‘room’ and less weight. So, it’s about $12 for 2 packs of 50. 100 butt wipes, if you use one towelette for each ‘incident’. That’s not bad. If you had 3 ‘incidents’ a day, it’d last one person over a month. Putting 2 of those packs in my pack makes me basically self-sufficient regarding hygiene for a good long time. But I’m a man, so YMMV. Check it out, here. Your call, though. Just have enough of whatever you choose to get you to your ‘hidey hole.’ You do NOT want to have to learn the hard way on what grass or leaves you should have wiped your ass with…or not.
Next time, we’ll talk about shelter and associated equipment.