Timely re-post, installment 2.
Using the building block concept, we laid the foundation of the, ‘Get Home’ kit with clothing necessarily kept in your vehicle against the time you may have to get home in SHTF circumstances. You can read that here. It’s essential to understand that the clothes you wear to work or to a gathering for function might not be suited to a long walk or being in the elements overnight, and, being such a liability, could, in fact, be the factor that defeats you in your attempt to get home to your ‘precious cargo’.
The next item to consider is your personal protection. Your choices in today’s market are limitless; your choices when compared against the scenario you’re preparing for are not. The environment you’re going to operate in has a great deal to do with what you will carry.
First, understand the entire purpose is defensive in nature; not offensive. Do not make the error of engaging in any ‘wargaming’ that includes you being fired on and ‘taking it to them’ from whatever ‘walking dead’ or other show you may have seen. Your primary mission is to get from wherever you are when SHTF happens to your home with no hostile engagement whatsoever if you can help it. Add to that the weight factor. Whatever you choose can’t be so heavy that it becomes a burden to you because your fitness level is not what it should be, and unless you have a regular PT routine that includes strength and stamina exercises as well as long walks with heavy packs, you’re not in the shape you should be. You may want to get started on that……today.
Now that we know we are going to carry a defensive weapon, it will most likely be a pistol. The ‘why’ is simple: AR’s, AK’s, shotguns, or whatever don’t fit the bill because of their typical alarm raising capability when seen by people in their residential areas. They possess this capability because they’re not very concealable and when someone sees you peacefully walking toward where they are and identifies that you have one of these visible (especially if you’re carrying it in a ‘patrol carry’ position), they will raise an alarm, and if S has HTF, some neighbor or mutant biker zombie might engage you with their AR, AK, or shotgun, which will most likely significantly delay or defeat you in your primary mission to get home, as there will most likely be only one of you and unknown numbers of them. Maybe not, but in any event, you’re stacking tolerances against getting home if you’re carrying it openly. “Ah,” but you say, “I can break it down in my back pack!” Absolutely – if you choose to do that, it could come in handy in certain emergency conditions where you have no way to avoid a really bad situation. You’re still going to have a pistol, though, for ‘immediate needs’, right? Getting to your broken down AR, AK, or shotgun will require you to put it together and load it, which can take precious seconds if you’re being attacked, and if you haven’t sought and obtained a secured, covered position in this scenario. Remember, the bottom line here is that your primary and best defensive weapon for a Get Home Bag will be a pistol. If you have a carbine or shotgun in your pack, it’s going to have to be, by necessity, broken down and undelployable for immediate needs. Your pistol can be on you and concealed, ready to deploy in a second. Carry as many loaded mags as you deem prudent. Depending on what you carry, 5 to 9 is more than enough, especially if you select a double stack capable pistol that has 13 to 17 rounds in each mag. Make sure you have a good holster for the pistol, too. Make sure that you wear and practice with your pistol and holster regularly (goes without saying, right?).
Next up, as it is not total societal break down….today….and we are still subjected to laws we may not agree with, ensure that you get appropriate licensing to carry your chosen pistol. (NOTE: This post is not about the constitutionality of such laws; so don’t go off on a tangent.) It is prudent to get this done. Many law enforcement types may help you in one way or another or minimally let you pass in any semi-SHTF scenario if you are a CPL (Concealed Pistol License) holder. They know you’ve had a background check and are most likely not a criminal type. Circling back to the AR, AK, and Shotgun paragraph, what reaction do you think ‘Officer Friendly’ is going to have in the same scenario with you walking down the street with what most consider an offensive weapon displayed (open carry laws notwithstanding; we’re talking about SHTF scenarios here)? Probably not the same as your contact when you politely inform him or her (if that is legally required) that you are licensed and carrying and trying to get home. Always keep in mind the primary objective: Get home to your precious cargo intact.
Recommendations? Glock 17 or 19 and 5 mags with 2 mags on your belt and 2 mags in your pack. Your mileage may vary. Also, this is not an argument for or against a particular caliber or pistol. Carry what you will. Personally, I’m a 1911 guy. Been shooting one for half my life. However, understanding that under stress I will not rise to the occassion but sink to the level of my current training and physical abilities, I chose the Glock because it’s idiot proof, accurate, can reacquire a target more quickly (for me), and with 124gr JHP’s, provides enough ‘fire power’ to meet or exceed my expectations of performance. Mag wise you may carry more or less; remember it’s your pack and you will determine what you do.
Knives are next. You’ll want omething that can take a beating and keep an edge. It will be your primary tool for helping you weather a storm or setting up a place to rest (unless you find a structure that is somewhat safe to stay in) by making a shelter. The most useful folder for this kind of kit is a multi-tool. Typically, they have two blades and an assortment of tools. You might also want a simple folding knife as a back up. Recommendations? Either a Gerber or Leatherman Wave or similar. Look on eBay. You can find used ones for very reasonable prices. You’re after function, not looks on this. For the folder, the CRKT spring-assisted are very nice; your local laws (again, we’re not debating which laws are good here) will govern what you can carry with you. We like any knife that can open with one hand for emergency use (say, helping cut someone out of a seat belt after a car crash or something similar). As always, whatever you choose, get the best you can afford balanced against the robustness of the product.
First Aid naturally follows the subject of defensive tools. An Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) focused on cuts, sprains, blister management, and minor pain relief (aspirin/tylenol) with a tourniquet thrown in for severe emergencies is essential. If you’ve got small packets of Celox, great. You can certainly take your S has REALLY HTF IFAK with chest seals, et al, just make sure you’ve got what you will most likely need on your trek home. Again, your mission is to get home in one piece, not engage barbarian hordes.
Next is navigation. You’ll need a couple tools. First up is a road map. The most recent road map of the area you may be traversing either on vehicle or on foot. In some states, you can write the Department of Transportation and get one free, like in my state, Michigan. Here’s the link if you’re interested. If absolutely necessary, you could follow the roads by ‘hand railing’ (not walking on them but paralleling them) if you didn’t have a compass or a sense of direction. This is much easier if you’re trained in land navigation and terrain association (we’ve got a class on that coming up in the March/April time frame, stay tuned for details.) In addition to the map, a compass can certainly help you determine direction if you become disoriented due to inclement weather or darkness if you’re traveling at night (which is not a bad idea, but more on that later). The compass doesn’t have to be a top of the line instrument, either. Something that will give you general directions will suffice, like the Suunto wrist compass or something similar. Just make sure it’s in your pack right next to your map. An additional ‘nice to have’ item would be a mechanical pencil (if it’s really cold out, the ink pen you choose might not work) with a small note pad.
Shelter is next on the hit list. A light tarp and 50 feet of 550 cord ought to be included, along with an ’emergency blanket’ (we like the ‘casualty’ blankets that are OD on side and silver on the other due to their more robust construction) to keep warm if you have to stay over night or dry out from a wet or cold storm (snow, freezing rain, rain).
Fire Starters. A ‘fire steel’ or ferro rod with a striker and some easily lit tinder (cotton balls soaked in vaseline, drier lint, etc). You could, if you didn’t mind the weight, add in a 120 hour emergency candle (I and my wife keep one in each of our vehicles in case we end up in a snow bank somewhere). It’s not that heavy, but as a friend of mine is want to say, “Ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain…” when it comes to carrying a load. We like the ‘Fire Steel’ brand itself because of their construction and ease of use when hands are cold.
Food. 30 to 35 gram protein meal replacement bars. At least 4. That’s a couple days. Light, no muss, no fuss, done.
Water. This can be tricky in the winter time, as freezing becomes an issue. I keep 4 bottles near a heating vent in the vehicle so that whenever I’m on the road, they’re at least liquid while I wait for help or start out on my trek home. I change the water out every 6 months at the latest.
Toilet paper. Have a roll. ‘Nuff said.
The pack it all goes in. First, don’t use a ‘tactical’ camouflaged, MOLLE with a lot of different pouches hanging from it. You don’t want to draw attention or look like anyone special that might have something worth taking. Go buy a used, serviceable, ugly pack that’s not too big. Maybe what we call a 3 day or ‘assault’ style pack. In any event, get an earth tone or a grey or something. Garage sales or flea markets are a great source for a pack that you’re not going to carry much, and will spend most of the time in your vehicle waiting to be used. Right now I’m using a sling bag that I received as a present. It has too many MOLLE straps on it for my taste, but it’s black and I have nothing on the outside of the pack. It also looks like a small overnight bag when in my vehicle, so it doesn’t draw a lot of attention.
Lastly, remember weight considerations. You’re going to carry this all the way home. A good idea is to pack it up and take some practice walks in the clothes you would wear for varying distances. You’ll have a much better idea of what you need to do with your pack and contents and will get in better physical condition at the same time. Win-Win!