Etiquette In Unknown Areas (How To Avoid Starting A Riot)

crowded street


This summer the team at SHTFSchool have been busy travelling and planning for a new range of courses. This is in addition to my routine and extensive travels for other work.  Today  I share a summary of some key things I’ve learnt in my travels on things to do (or not!) if you find yourself in a ‘new place’ or are unsure of what the social ‘norms’ of the area you are in may be. I hope it is of use and interest!

Remember, in these days of increasing ‘multiculturalism’ it is perfectly possible to get yourself into trouble breaking ‘cultural rules’ without travelling to a foreign country

The overarching consideration for this type of problem can easily be broken down into two categories. Deciding on a recommended course of action or displaying a behaviour can always be held up to this simple litmus test…

1) No harm can come from this… (Insert action)
2) No good can come from… (Insert action)

See how this applies in this list of top 10 things to consider below:

1. Be Observant

Breaking rules in other cultures can attract moderate to severe penalties. (Go to Deera Square in Saudi Arabia on a Friday afternoon to see a stark example). Due to the potential severity of punishment of what we may see as ‘slight’ or minor issues, the exquisite art of observation must come into play as early as possible. Scrutinize your surroundings and compare yourself to them and see in what ways you will/are ‘stand out’ and then take action to address those issues swiftly. No harm can come from being observant.

2. Keep Covered

This applies to men, but even more so to women. No harm can come from covering as much of the body as possible in an unknown area (See how the test works!?) If you feel you ever are realistically going to find yourself in such an ‘unknown’ situation we are illustrating, then make sure long sleeved trousers and tops are worn or are immediately available. Early observation should indicate if you need to cover your head. For shawls/scarves/head covers unless you KNOW the tribal identifiers (e.g. patterns and colour connotations on a shemagh) keep them as neutral and non-specific in style as possible. Your dapper blue cravat may look great at the cocktail bar in your tennis club but will probably cause you problems in South-Central LA.

3. Avoid Comments

Let’s face it, you are probably already ‘pinged’ by the locals or residents as being a stranger. Trying not to stand out will help, but an overheard comment (especially a negative or derogatory one), no matter how outstanding, strange, odd or degrading event you are commenting on is going to get you on people’s radar swiftly and not in a good way. No good can come from mentioning how ‘different’ these people are from you, or you are from these people.

4. Stick Within Your Gender

Do not attempt to engage, in any way, with members of the opposite sex. Full Stop (Period). Be as affronted at this advice as you want, but take it. No discussion is required. If you can’t follow it in this format you WILL be taught another way…

Also know this isn’t just about you. If you are introduced to a woman do not offer her your hand. Wait for her to offer. If you hold out your hand in simple politeness you may be forcing her to choose between insulting a guest (you) or touching a man she is not married to—either or both of which may be harshly punished for.

5. Steer Clear of Religious Buildings/Areas

In the absence of a professional guide, or clear acceptance of tourists, the odds of you breaking up a VERY significant rule are so off the scale it is not worth the risk.

6. Remain Clear Headed

Degenerating your ability to be observant, and cognitive ability to understand why you need to stick with these rules is a plan no good can come from… On this, please note, just because you see locals doing something doesn’t mean you can too…don’t get drunk or high in dangerous places. More strongly, NEVER alter your mental state except in a confirmed safe place.

7. Don’t Engage with ANY Solicitation

Do not give to beggars, do not feed the poor. From personal experience don’t stop the child running in to the road clearly in your line of sight (it’s bait for a trap you don’t want to be in). Don’t talk with prostitutes, even if you are ‘Just asking for directions’, avoid street vendors, touts, self declared taxi drivers… You get the idea.

If You Need Help, Ask Someone in a Public Facing Role or just ‘Back Up’ – Look for assistance from service staff, waiters, store owners etc. DO NOT stop random strangers in the street, and don’t stand in the street looking lost and/or bewildered. If you have ‘inadvertently’ found yourself in the wrong place, turn around and go back the way you came (Like if you ever accidentally take an express subway that doesn’t stop at 70th Street in New York City, but takes you straight to Harlem at 11pm at night, and you are translucent white, not American, and look like you just got a beating from Muay Thai class, get back on the Subway and head back the way you came…)

8. No Pictures

You’ve realized you may not be in tinsel town, so stop wandering around like a tourist. Unless you’re taking pictures of your teeth for dental record analysis later on, no good can come from getting in peoples way with a camera.

9. Don’t Display Wealth

If it’s shiny and possibly expensive looking stow it away or hide it. Dress down to the best of your ability.

Most important point last!

10. Be Polite

Not witty, engaging, entertaining, fascinated, shocked, pious, or committed to ‘educating people’, or any other way you may think I mean by ‘Polite’. Out and out, genuinely polite. You are the odd one out, you are under scrutiny, anything going wrong WILL be seen as potentially your fault, so try not to do anything ‘wrong’ (even though you don’t know yet what wrong is) so be sincere and respectful in your actions until you’ve figured out what is going on…

These 10 simple measures will hopefully ‘buy you time’ to figure out how to best act and proceed in an area previously unknown to you. Getting into trouble in an unknown area is fraught with additional risks. Inciting a mob is a situation you will very likely never escape from.

Do you have any ‘rules’ you follow when you are in ‘unknown areas’…? Please comment below and share your experiences…

Lessons Learnt

Recently we held a physical Urban Skills course in Croatia. I was exceptionally happy with how well the course went.

Students were there to learn various skills. Personally I found a lot of skills very important in preparing for SHTF, but what I want to highlight most, to them, and all others is that skills that they learned before and on this course need to be set ‘inside’ SHTF circumstances.

What do I mean by that?

One of the big mythbusting about SHTF is that your skills will work and solve problems in SHTF in the way that you imagined.

In reality it is clearly not like that.

As some of the students learned, when SHTF (and we tried on the course to bring conditions as close as possible to the real SHTF) every ‘learned skill’ worked different.

Just a few examples (from many):

Water Collection

Skills ‘says’ that you need to collect water in several ways, for example rain from the roofs using tarps and similar.


Then you need container to ‘transport’ that water, like bottles, flasks and similar.


Then you need to purify it with gauze, pills, boiling or whatever mean suit you…



You set up some dangerous trap in front of your home with this you can kill any approaching ‘enemy’…


You have items that someone else needs and vice versa, you go find the guy, exchange goods and all is fine…


You have most modern weapon and bunch of ammo and you feel safe…


This list can go on and on for every item stored or every skill learned, but in reality things can and often do work like this:

You cannot collect water because simply there is no rain for weeks. You cannot set up tarps because you are hiding inside an abandoned apartment for days while there are not so friendly folks outside on the street.

The amazing trap that set up for your scenario is simply trap that will ‘injure’ the enemy in a way that he thought was there by ‘chance’ or ‘mistake’. Let’s say he tripped on some shit that looks like it was there because building was destroyed weeks ago, not something that, on reflection, he realizes was smartly set up by you, therefore he has no idea you are actually there and are actively defending.

For trade, you end up waiting waiting for correct information for days, and then after you get there, finally to the right place, you get ‘played’ by someone who trades you packs of cigarettes with nothing inside, or in worst case who shot you in the back because you assume that he is honorable.


For weapons, you find out that on 15th day of SHTF you end up with club (bat) as your primary weapon because you assume that 1000 rounds can last for months, or simply when someone attacked your home you forget to take your rifle with you when you ran. (For all those saying ‘this can never happen, events from the course prove otherwise)

One student asked me if it was true that I drank water simply from the puddle of water.

I said yes, with my shirt as a filter only.

Now that does not look like some skill for sure, not some survivalist purifying water, but it is the truth. Even if you have the means to treat water, are you confident in it? Have you thought about the water you realistically will be sourcing…?


You need to understand that each and every skill you have will be ‘disrupted’ someway in real SHTF, so you will be forced simply to ‘shorten’ procedures.

Is it good?

No of course not, but it is much better than to be shot in head while you are setting up a tarp outside your home…

Skills yes, but mindset for knowing what skills to use and when, that is all what is about here.

If you do not get a sense when and how to implement each skill, there is no sense in knowing any of it.

I am promising you, that every one of your skills will be performed in a different way in real settings, when you do not eat well, do not sleep good, with a lot of fear from the known and unknown.

Our physical Urban Skills course is a truly unique training opportunity, and we are very happy to announce next years dates. For all the details click here.

In the meantime, stay safe, and make sure you are training for the realities, not the fantasies…


Orlando Nightclub Attack – Some Thoughts



I hate to write articles following terrorist attack, but here I am again. With how everything looks, I’m anticipating writing more articles increasingly based on the „newest terrorist attack“…

I wrote about terrorism and terrorist attack in some other terms, what I’d like to discuss with you here and now is more about the core of these events, What is happening inside them, and what to do, or how to survive it.

Let’s just cover some of the basics here, in terms of survival, if you find yourself in the middle of similar attack.

Where Are You?

One of the my favorite means of survival in any SHTF situation is not to be there. That goes for war and also for some terrorist attack inside some club.

Terrorism have as a goal to change our way of living, to install fear in us, so we could be in constant expecting of attack. For me,  they are succeeding in that.

Placing myself unarmed in confined space with whole bunch of unarmed people sounds like very bad idea to me. The probability that terrorist will attack whole bunch of folks in a gun convention, or at shooting range in Texas is very low, simply because their success there is very limited.

It is bad time to be unarmed together with whole bunch of another unarmed people, simply avoid that.

So that brings us to the next point:

Guns or No Guns?

All terrorist attacks ends when good guys with guns come and kill bad guys with guns. So one thing here is very clear: it is not about guns only, it is who has the guns.

Rory Quote
Clearly if other good guys (victims) had guns chances for them to finish that terrorist attack (to kill the terrorist) earlier would be much higher. Have a gun, be armed!

Terrorist by the nature do not expect to meet active resistance (firearms) from the victims, they are there to shoot as many people as possible, and even one good man with a pistol could make significant tactical change in everything.

Good people with guns brings us to the next point here:


I experienced and participated in shootings in closed (inside buildings) environment with more persons inside, and it is nothing like practicing on a shooting range, so it is something that you need to be prepared for.

Several gunshots from rifle in an indoor environment is something that could (and did) make people literally shit themselves, or to be paralyzed in shock for some time.

Add to that complete chaos, screams, panic and everything else and it is not sunset movie scene where there is attacker and you only.

You will act how you are trained, so train for that.

A few thoughts here to consider:


Know the buildings that you entering and where you are going to spend some time, especially if there is going to be a crowd. Entrances, exits, escape routes, obstacles, think where most of the folks will run, think where a possible attacker could come from and what is best position for him, for you…

Cover and Concealment:

Understand what is ‘cover’ and what is ‘concealment’.  You could read in some manual that concealment could be for example thick bush, you stand behind that and you are not visible, and for cover there is thick brick wall and behind it no bullet can kill you.

With that knowledge you find yourself in the middle of terrorist attack inside club and find out there is no bushes or thick walls and you suddenly have a flash of revelation that tells you did not learn enough about important things. There is a difference between knowledge and understanding.

Here I find movie industry very guilty for misinformation and lot of possible deaths. You know the movie scenes where people who were shot with a pistol, fly 10 meters through the air when they get hit, or, or guys who use wooden tables for cover in gunfights?

It is all wrong you know…?

Bullet from AK 47 (or any other similar characteristic rifle) can go through many things like doors, walls, shelves, cabinets, tables and kill you or even one more person. Even bullets from a pistol can go through a lot of stuff and kill you.

A good idea is to bring some stuff next time on your shooting range and test it, shoot through it so you have idea.

After that exercise on shooting range, whenever you go to your favorite places (malls, clubs, etc) together with entrances, exits, route considerations etc think, look for and identify real cover (can that big wooden bar take a rifle shot, or that big refrigerator?)

Who Survives?

Mostly guys who survived to tell story about similar events were those who use the opportunity to flee right on time, so I would not have any real deep thoughts about that, if you have chance to run, then run and survive.

If you are there, at the place, armed and have a chance to make the change (to eliminate attacker) to save yourself, then no deep thoughts again, eliminate the threat!

But again here is catch, it is not shooting range, with empty beer bottles. Attacker is shooting too, and most probably with deadlier weapon than yours…

Slight advantage here is that attacker is not expecting resistance in the form of a firearm. Again, a few suggestions. Forget any thoughts of ‘honorable fighting'(scream while everybody else is screaming in horror and then when he points in other direction shoot the asshole in back), and also do some tactical thinking about his position and your position, angles of movement, corners, types of his weapon (time to reload) and use every opportunity to win.


It is pretty dark conclusion, since I strongly believe that even when you entering mall you need to think about possible exits, how thick is that glass in front, covers and tactical movements in case of attack, but it is what it is, we are talking about survival anyway not about agriculture here.

Remember attacks are happening where people are not expecting it too much, that is also why are so many victims.

Be prepared!

Do events such as these change your preparedness plans or affect your training? Comment below, let us know how you would deal with a situation like this…?

Plans Without Preps



I got asked a great question recently, and thought I would answer it with an article. A reader asks:

„I read your posts for years, I did not find myself survivalist all that time, I have read it because what you wrote about war times and similar… My question is simple, can you give couple of simple advice’s what to do in case of SHTF, without going into „prep for years“ or „build your group for years and store pile of ammo“ advices,  what if SHTF tommorrow and I do not have anything like that“?

At the first it looks like simple question, something that any of us who are into prepping should answer easily, but again we are talking about man who is not into prepping at all.

So what to do?

Whole books are written about this answer, but let’s try to be short and just stick to the basics here.

What Is Going On?

You see that something is happening outside, something big, let’s say you notice that there is an emergency broadcasting on TV, and you see a huge number of law enforcement outside, and other that that you know nothing more.

Now, at this moment, you need to make some important decisions, and you’ll have to make it based on what you know, so clearly the more information you can get, the better you can make decisions.

Two important points here you need to understand are:

1.No matter what is the real reason for your particular SHTF event, there is some common  elements of every SHTF event no matter if it’s terrorist dirty bomb attack, solar EMP or Romulans attacking with spaceships.

Panic, disorder, rumors, looting, chaos. So just do not expect to collect all the info. you want in that moment.

Do not wait to find out what is really happening, or let’s say do not wait to find out why things (shit) are happening. At this moment forget the ‘why’ and act.

2. Collect info. based on your small circle of options. That means (continuing from point A) that you do not need (most probably) to find out why there is looting in street next to you, why there is police force in big number, why there is no TV signal, and why there is big black smoke visible from your office few kilometers away in the city.

What you need to know is how to avoid (and what way to take) looting mob, what kind of force police is using there and what way to travel to avoid that big black smoke.

Do not get me wrong, to know why things are happening is great, but to wait too long to find out is usually bad and it is often way better to solve things in small steps.

What Actually To Do?

Go back to the basics again.  Simply try to stay away from the trouble.

We said that you are not prepper, and you are in the city.

Assess your situation and act.

Your „luck“ probably in that moment is that people will probably look more how to take (steal) LCD TVs or laptops than things for shelter or defense.

Get yourself organized into simple categories, we typically have SEVEN Survival Priorities:

  1. Fire
  2. Shelter
  3. Water
  4. Food
  5. Communication
  6. Medical
  7. Defense

Try to cover each priority as much as you can.

Again, do not spend too much time in covering each one at the expense of finding yourself in a worse situation.

As you are not prepper, and you might find yourself in the middle of working day in the office when SHTF, look around yourself and see what you can use to cover each of the priorities.

For fire you can have only a lighter maybe, and, for now, you have that priority covered, for water you going to put several bottles of water in your bag.

For shelter you gonna steal a few more jackets, or emergency blanket or trash bags.

For food you’re going to take energy bars from the vending machine, for communications you’re going to take cellphone with you (and hope there is still a signal/network), for medical you are going to „borrow“ the first aid kit from the hallway in your office building, and for defense you will take a couple of knives from the kitchen or simply smash some chair and take a chair leg as an improvised baton.

So all priorities are covered.

Yes it looks poor, but you covered sections with what you got. Improvising and adapting is key here…

Where To Go?

Bug Out or Bug In?

Simply go away from the trouble, that’s it.

We are talking here about city, so huge possibility is that you are going to go outside of the city. More people means more problems.

But first thing to keep in mind is not to run from the city, it is to escape the trouble (think in small circles-steps). Rory Miller says it nicely ‘Don’t run away from danger, run towards safety’.

If that means that you need to hunker down in office building, or in rolled over school bus or wherever in the middle of the city for two days in order to safely leave the city then you are going to do that.

First and immediate task is to stay out of (and avoid) trouble in your goal to leave the city.

Maybe you going to have to spend week hiding somewhere in city, waiting for right moment to leave it. You do not know.

Point is to avoid trouble and adapt your plans accordingly to that.


Best advice for you is anticipate that there are simply no rules, but some common things for every situations are there, so:

-Stick to your plan up until to the moment when it is more dangerous to follow the plan, then improvise, adapt and modify your plan. Be ready that your plan can fall apart right at the beginning (example: if you plan to leave the city through several pre planned points and streets, and there is danger on the way, you might choose to ‘bend’ your plan and use a longer way instead)

-Violence. Avoid violence, simply like that. Violence means chance to get yourself killed, or injured. Killed means your survival story is ended, and injured means much more trouble than in normal times, remember small cut can kill you in SHTF world.

-Violence, again. When there is no other way then to use violence you have to use it in a quick and effective way, without hesitation, without rules. You’ll think about what you did later, if you have to.

-Things are (probably, or might not be) not what they look like. Police might not be police, law is not law anymore, stealing is not stealing, honor is not honor. Survival changes things.

-Prioritize things. Systemic collapse, especially first period of it, means lot of chaos, that means lot of distractions in your planned action. Always have in your mind what is your priority in the given moment. Getting from point A to point B might look easy today, but when SHTF you may find events problems and obstacles on that way that can fill one lifetime of average peaceful citizen.

Do not find yourself pulled in situations, like say going to the destroyed pharmacy seemed like a good chance to refill your medical kit, but also its a good chance to meet couple of high junkies inside who will stab you. Choose wisely what „distraction“ you will take as a good ‘chance’.


As you can conclude, for non prepper advice would be develop some plan and act. Also that does not mean that plan is to run like an idiot and get yourself killed.

Sometimes what you need is just will to survive, and based on that you will adapt and build your plan.

Have you ever had to deal with a serious situation with no time to prepare for it? Please share your stories and ‘lessons learnt’ in the comments below.

Every Day Carry (EDC) Foundation Concepts

Every Day Carry

We all routinely carry certain items with us, either out of necessity and/or habit. Even the shortest journey out of home or work place triggers an instinctive check of pockets and bags: do I have my phone? keys? wallet? By logical extension, those of us who analyze and assess external influences on our lifestyle, normally have additional items in our routine carry checklist, and it is these objects that tend to be classified as EDC items. We discuss EDC a lot in our in depth online survival course.

The concept is far from new and should not be intimidating, although some zealots of particular EDC items can come across a little strong in their discussions and guidance.

An identifiable generalized trend in Urban Preparedness, Wilderness Survival and even EDC, is the obsession with and reliance on ‘lists’. I get the distinct impression that for most people purchasing items from a recommended list of “things to carry”, is far easier and less time consuming and gives a quick ‘sense of peace’.

With this in mind, why would I have a concern over the ‘list trend’? My issue is this: if we look to the founding concepts of EDC, we realize that arbitrarily following a list does not necessarily give us the protection and peace of mind we desire, in fact, in some circumstances, it may put us at more risk depending on what and how we carry.

The aim of this article is to run through what I regard as the foundation concepts and therefore key considerations on items we carry.

There are three key category headers to consider:

  1. Stowage – Where/How are we carrying
  2. What items are we carrying
  3. What should be the demands and expectation of our equipment

Let’s expand on these:

1) Stowage

Whatever we decide to carry must be carried in a manner that does not excessively confine or restrict our movement, ensures the items are held securely, but allows them to be accessed as needed (and this may be exceptionally time sensitive, especially in regard to any defensive items).

Most militaries will define individual equipment scales (also known as ‘loadouts’) right from basic training. The concept is simple; there are 4 scale/load levels:

Level 1 – Items carried on your person AT ALL times. In the military these would be items carried in your pockets, affixed to your belt or worn on your person e.g morphine syrettes worn on a neck chain. This translates directly to civilian standards. Our level 1 items would be keys, phone, wallet, personal defensive items etc.

Level 2 – These are items that are always within arm’s reach, but maybe removed from the body. In military terms, this would be your weapons system and ‘fighting order’, (Body Armour, Assault Vest or equivalent). Fighting orders revolve around the necessity to carry ammunition, water, emergency medical equipment and some key survival items.

This again can be easily translated for civilian application with the exception being the method for carrying items, since a military style webbing system may not be an appropriate choice in most cases. More likely, essential items are going to be stowed in a fanny pack, small shoulder bag (e.g laptop bag) or purse/manbag. Consideration also needs to be given to the type of clothes we are wearing and what stowage options are afforded to us by these.

Level 3 – These are items needed for extended operations (>12hrs), but maybe stowed during attack/assault phases of operations. Normally this larger pack (Ruck or Bergen) will contain additional supplies (ammunition, batteries), food, sleeping system, field equipment (shelter, wash kit, stove, additional clothing items etc).

For those who have given consideration to larger scale preparedness, level 3 is the equivalent of a ‘Bug Out’ bag. The intention here is to carry the essential items to sustain the individual for a period of up to 72hrs. This bag is normally stowed in a vehicle or at home/in the office, as opposed to being constantly carried.

There is a lot written about what constitutes the ‘ultimate’ Bug Out Bag, but often, in my mind, there is WAY too much equipment advised to be carried at this level, and this is where the dangers of ‘the list’ really begin to manifest themselves. That doesn’t mean there aren’t advocates of burdensome carry at level 1 and 2 also! We will look to avoid the ‘over burden’ problem in the next section.

Level 4 – These are typically ‘on base’ level items, which can be kept in a trunk, locker, in barracks or equivalent.

In EDC terms, level 4 will be items we potentially have stored at home for replacement or supplementation of regular EDC items if needed.

2) What Items are We Carrying

Remember we are addressing at a conceptual level here, so what must be considered with regard to our item choices? I believe there are 4 essential considerations:

a) Individual – Who are you, what do you do, what’s your build, what’s your fitness level, are you carrying long term injuries or mobility problems, are you carrying for you individually or also on behalf of other family members? Answers to all these questions are going to significantly influence what you carry and how.

b) Competencies – What is your skill set, what is your level of training (especially in regard to any defensive items you are carrying), what is your experience in dealing with unexpected situations? The adage ‘the more you know the less you carry’ is often quite true. The greater your training, skill and experience level, the less likely you are going to carry equipment to ‘substitute’ your knowledge.

c) Concerns – This is one of the most critical, but also, in my mind, one of the most overlooked. What are you actually concerned in terms of personal safety? Or more pointedly, what are you preparing for? If we can’t specify our goal it is incredibly difficult to work back from that point to identify our equipment needs. Equally if we can clearly identify our goal(s) it is far easier to select our EDC items.

d) Environment – How is your physical environment (hot, cold, urban, rural), what potential threats or hazards are contained in your environment? Again clear assessment and identification of which hazards we want to avoid and/or mitigate is going to be influential on EDC selection.

3) Demands on our equipment

The final part of our Foundation Concepts is to address what demands we have from our equipment. I have identified 5 key considerations in this regard. Before I begin I just want to clarify, it is very rare you will find an item that fulfills all 5 of these considerations. Think of it as ‘ticking the boxes’, an item that scores 4 out of 5 of these points will have a greater chance of making it on to my EDC than carrying an item that scores say 2 out of 5:

a) Fulfills an Essential Function – It is VERY easy to get loaded down with superfluous or overly specialized gear. In the first instance, EDC is about carrying small items that make a BIG difference. Investigate every piece of equipment and make sure you are carrying it because it’s essential.

b) Difficult to Replicate In Your Environment – This is coming from my ‘wilderness rules’. Being in a town or city means, in theory, everything is available to us if we are willing to purchase it, but that is not always a financially viable or stable approach. What I mean here is be careful not to load yourself down with items that can easily be scavenged if you needed to. I expand on this more here:

c) Multifunctional – Some items may clearly have more than one use (e.g. Multitool), however with some creative thinking, we may come up with multiple uses for even the most banal items we carry. This is a great mental exercise and also a good way of really pairing down your gear if you feel you are currently carrying too much.

d) Legal – Given the increasing level of ‘stop and search’ powers afforded to the police throughout western nations, as well as enhanced security screening in many public locations, the chances of being ‘caught’ and prosecuted for carrying illegal items, plus the fact it’s erm, y’know illegal, means we should not be so foolish as to carry anything that is not legally allowed. Ignorance of the law is no excuse here. Get informed. Also understand, there are many, many, legal alternatives to items that maybe banned. This takes us back to our ‘training and competence’ development.

e) Discreet – I am a firm believer in the ‘Grey Man’ theory. You may want to walk around primed for imminent apocalyptic action, just don’t look like you are. Blending with your environment is something you want to and should be able to do. EDC item selection and carry methods can greatly help or hinder this process.

With a clear understanding and grasp of these foundation concepts, it should be easier to carry EDC items more suited to us and our situation, rather than carrying generic items from a different individual´s list. This makes us not only more prepared, but more informed and therefore confident in the equipment we are carrying.

In subsequent articles I will be going through some of my personal carry items and going into more detail on how these foundation concepts relate. All of this said, the final note is to know and understand EDC needs to be fluid and dynamic, making it easy for us to change, amend, add or remove items as we see necessary in changing circumstances. This will also be covered in more detail soon.

Does this article give you thought on things you may change about your EDC? If so, comment below on the what, why and how of your changes! If you are still unsure what to pack, you can always get more guidance in our Survival Boot Camp.

Best Way’s to Build Your Survival Group

urban survival

When we talk about how to start with preparing, for example how to talk to someone who is dear to you to get them started with preparing, it is easy to think that they will understand because it is obvious that world is going to hell right now.

You may try to convince someone to be with you in case of SHTF if that person is someone dear to you (family member for example) or if that person has cool skills that you will need when SHTF (some friend who does not know or share thoughts about SHTF, but his skills are great).

Of course best combination is if you have family members who have really cool skills necessary for SHTF (for example wilderness skills, martial arts, shooting, farming or similar) and you just need good conversation with that person over some time in order to be on same track with you and understand the importance of prepping.

Problem is in fact that combination is rare, and sometimes even if you have it, it can be possible that this person is useless simply because he (or she) is too shocked with SHTF and how hostile world suddenly is.

Anyway, there are activities to kinda „promote“ or simply „test“ your friends (or family members) if they are „candidates“ for your survival group.

It is slow process, you can not just go to someone and tell him that you strongly believe that world as we know it will end in next few years and that we all need to be prepared for that.
Usually they will think you are a weirdo.


There is nothing more simple and valuable in terms of learning and checking skills of someone (including yourself) like few days of camping in wilderness.

I am talking about camping in simple tents, with stuff and tools necessary for camping, without dragging truck full of things that will make your camping trip something like multiple day barbecue party in your backyard.

How to start fire, different kinds of wood, how to not kill yourself with axe while you collect wood, fishing, cleaning and preparing the food. Buying meat in your grocery shop is something completely different from killing live animals cleaning them and making them edible, for some people even catching (killing) fish is something new or big effort.

Man can get whole new perspective while lying inside tent during heavy rain, and it is getting colder and colder.

You can talk to him about how many people died last year because they were not aware of how everything is fragile, but he still gonna think that s..t is happening to someone else always and not him.

But he will always remember how cold it was because he did not have right socks, shoes or sleeping bag.

Or simply how hard it is to make your own food while it is freezing cold. Nothing like real experiences.

I was with friend camping on one mountain lake, and in the middle of the night he went out to look for the „toilet“.

He did not bring lamp, he went few steps too far into the woods, and of course after he finished his business he finds out that he does not have clue how to come back to the tents.

After 20 minutes of wondering he yelled and screamed and woke me up, he was actually close to the tents, so I brought him back. Grown up man, so helpless.

He said that he never felt scared like then, and that he did not have clue that „it is so dark in woods“.

Lesson learned.


It is simple. It happened before , and it will happen again. And probably it will be worse.

As a society we invented things and tools that allow us to make collapse events bigger, nastier, uglier.

We are living in a world where victims are numbers only, where there is thin line between those who will be protected and hidden when SHTF and those who will die in huge numbers when SHTF.

Do you still believe that goverment is there for your own good?

When SHTF, majority of folks will be left to take care for themselves and that s it.

It was like that many times before, and in the future it is gonna be even worse because we realy more and more on the system.

Suggest someone who is dear to you to read real life experiences.

Choose your books. For example general who was involved and wrote book about WW2 can teach you maybe something about tactics and numbers, but man who survived holocaust in camp can teach you way more about living and dying.

How armies were defeated is interesting, how man survived hiding like animal is more interesting in terms of survival.

Movies, documentaries ,TV shows, web and everything else are great sources of information and tools to give someone the right ideas but real experiences are always better.

If necessary, fake a longer power out to make people uncomfortable. This is not mean, this is to show them how much they depend on things and take things for granted. Survival is about getting normal skills back every human should have and needed for many thousands of years.

But like I mentioned many times before, there is danger of getting involved in preparing and getting things only instead getting the right mindset and knowledge. Learning common sense.

This is also what people will learn in our Survival Course in Croatia in few weeks. We still have spots available and you can train with me and Toby a few hundred miles from where I survived during Balkan war.

All details here.

Nothing beats real experience and investing in fancy knife might be fun, I understand, but real training and right mindset will make difference between those who live and those who die.

Survival’s first lesson: Staying out of trouble

survival lessonLooking for goods and usable items during the war often meant I got myself in some weird situations and scenarios. I knew lots of guys who risked their lives just to get to some destroyed places because they knew they could find some items that meant a lot for them personally but actually those items were useless in given situation around us at that time.

But people often act like fools and if you find yourself in a survival situation it is the perfect time to lose your life if you act like fool.

Like a friend who lost his eye just because he went to his house and searched trough a closet full of audio tapes in order to collect some of his favourite punk band titles. Not to mention that electricity in that time was something like faint memory, and he could not do anything with those tapes.

Anyway booby trap exploded, luckily he survived but he lost one of his eyes.

When you have young people or in general inexperienced people and fighting around you it is the perfect combination for some people to act like fools.

There is something in dangerous (and new) situations that makes you want to act like fool, and to do stupid things, young folks do that mostly, but it can happen to anyone, it happened to me too.

Good old „stay out of the trouble“ advice is one of the best survival lessons one can learn.

Whenever I read on survival forums threads about gangs and how during SHTF people should get organized and simply defeat them I remember how young and enthusiastic I was about that too, but luckily enthusiasm went away quickly and I survived.

The problem here is holding onto old concepts and not accepting change. One day you have law and order and you can call someone when you see trouble because it is not right, next day suddenly there is no one to call and you might feel you have to jump in to make things right.

You may find it cowardly that man wants to stay put when bad things happen around him but in reality in most of the situationz you can not do anything without huge organisation that helps you and big personal risk.

My relative was outside the country when war started, he was working for electrical company in middle east. Contract was good, and he had monthly salary there equal to 6 months salaries here at that time.

On first news about fighting and war he returned to the country to join the army and fight. Blockades and battles already started and his trip back to his town took lot of time and troubles.

He was 26 year old back then and he told me that when he entered country at a small city where he and few other guys wanted to join the fighting forces he saw that war is not like in books and movies the first time.

Military unit that welcomed them asked who they are and what they wanted, they said that they wanted to join the fighting forces. He said he expected some kind of questionary about their military experience or similar but instead of that the small unit commander asked them : „Do you want some women?“

They starred at him like idiots so he explained „We have some enemy women in prison close here, so go there if you want first“.

My relative was raised by his grandmother, he was nice kid, no cursing, no too much drinking, he said to me that shock was so big that he could not open his mouth to even say „No man!“

He told me that later he find out that fighting includes doing lots of things in order to win fight and stay alive. He went through lots of fighting, earned the reputation of a tough guy, and one day they got caught up in ambush and he was one of the few who survived.

Machine gun from close distance destroyed his legs and belly. He was removed from the country for rehabilitation, legs are still there, but only for „pictures“.

He is „glued“ to wheel chair forever, and no kids, no wife either.

He lives today in small apartment that looks at big chimney of for years closed factory, elevator is usually not working, and nobody cares to lift him up and down.

Nobody visits him too much, he is no hero, he fought for something that is now considered „ wrong and not needed war“ as they say.

Now and then I visit him in his city and that apartment, and every time I conclude two things:

First how lucky I am even with all my issues and traumas from the war compared to him, and second is that every time when I left him in his misery and bitterness I am expecting to see in few days in news something like „old war veteran in wheel chair went crazy and start to shoot from AK47 at people in street from his apartment at 6th floor.“

I asked him once why he returned to the country at the beggining of the war while at the same time thousands fled? I expected to hear something patriotic or similar, but he said „Man, at that time it was something so exciting and new!“

So just listen to first survival and most important survival lesson: Stay out of the trouble. Life is very real and it is easy to forget how brutal “real life” can be. With real life I mean life without our civilized society or just life without all support and help we take for granted.

I hope I will never have to use everything I trained for or any lesson I share with you here ever again.

Do you have examples when staying out of trouble was hard and about consequences of this? Share in comments below or forum.

Common mistakes while bugging out

trade post collapseBugging out is something that I once failed to do, because I did not even realize that it needed to be done, actually I saw what was happening but I did not „proccess“ the information in correct way, so I stay and had to go trough whole period of watching, doing, and getting hit by violence, together with being cold, hungry, sick and everything else.

Because bugging out is so important and survival done right is often not getting into survival situations in the first place I stress importance of bugging out (if you are not already live in great bug out location anyway)

Consider the following couple of mistakes that I witnessed (more than one time).

Right moment

Guy figured out that SHTF, something happening in the city, hears screams outside, shots, confusing news on TV, he rounds up his family, puts all bags in his car, they are armed and they go out in order to reach their bug out location in hills some 50 miles away.

After one mile of traveling angry mob who just plundering local mall stops the car, pull them out, and beat them, and then kill the guy, he managed to kill few of them before that, but they were hundreds.
He is dead. End of story.

If you woke up in the middle of the night, because something strange happens in your town, some event, maybe terrorist attack, or martial law put into effect or whatever, sit down and think for a moment.

Your mission is to leave the area and reach your bug out location, do not confuse that mission with any urge to panically run.
If you go into the panic you will make mistakes, and it is definetly not time for mistakes.

You would be surprised to know how many people are prone to panic, and how many of them end up dead because of that.

Try to gather some information, and act acordingly to that information, who, what, when, how long, where. Try to figure out what is happening before you start to bug out to your bug out location. What are problematic areas? Who is in control? You will never have perfect information but it is better than having no information at all. Speak to neighbors, listen to the radio and TV and look on Twitter and other social media.

Yes that often means you will need to postpone your trip, maybe for hours, or sometimes for even days. You need to choose the best moment to leave the area (if you already missed to leave the area before SHTF).

Right „way“

SHTF and family get in their pick up, with trailer full of good equipment for SHTF time.
They managed to go some 20 miles down the road, where few cars simply „get them“, block them and take everything from them. They manage to save their lives or maybe not. Who knows.

Real problem here is not having right and good equipment, and lots of it.
Real problem is that we are being constantly bombarded with information that we (preppers and survivalists) need to have right equipment (a lot) in order to survive. Because without it we are gonna end up dead.

We are being instructed that without „things“ we are lost, we are not even right survivalists.
So when SHTF we are becoming something like prisoners of our things.

Guess what? I am preparing myself to bug out in my sneakers, with pistol and plastic bag.
If I have to I will collect everything else what I need on my way to my bug out location.

Do not get me wrong, of course I have my bug out bag, my plans, and my useful stuff for trip to my bug out location, but the point is that I am really expecting that I will find myself in situation where I need to reach bug out location without all those things.

Do not accept philosophy that things will save your life. Things will help you to stay alive, but your (correct) mindset will mainly save your life.

Anyway, plan to have what you need at your bug out location (already prepared), do not rely too much on things while you are bugging out, you need to be able to get things done with minimal equipment that’s why skills are more important than equipment and in best case you have both.

Right mindset

One word-ADAPT.

If you are bug out plan plays out excatly like it should you are a very lucky man.
Consider the fact, that most of you are making plans to cover hypothetical SHTF scenarios, that you seen on TV shows, read about it somewhere, member of family went through somewhere, or simply you had couple of bad experiences. It is normal. We need to guess and it is best we can do.

You are building your plans based on that, nothing wrong with that. Except that everything may go wrong in one moment.

You have plan to go through the city from point A to point B then to point C etc, and then to reach safe point somewhere.

All good, but SHTF and your youngest son is still in school, your car is broken, and at point B in your plan something weird is happening, some kind of riot, let say with all chaos and confusion some trucks with money are rolled over right at your point B and now you need to find out a new way quickly, and your whole plan is gone, you do not know what to do.

Welcome to reality!

Reality usually likes to blow all your good plans to pieces.

But point of planning is to COVER as many problems as you can, so make sure you play through as many scenarios as possible.

For example if you have just one way out of the city it is bad plan, it needs backup and backup of the backup.

Prepare for the fact that your plan will be wrong right at the beginning, and that you need to make new plan very soon, (and couple of more new plans until you reach your bug out location.)
Do not end up dead because you wanted to stick to your plan because it looks good, while circumstances changed hourly around you. Survival is about quickly adapting to new situations. That is why it always helps to take a map and whatever else you need to have good sources of information to make new plans on the go.

These were just few of the most important things to consider when bugging out. How do you plan to bug out. Share in comments below or forum.

Essential for understanding survival is understanding reality of death and dying

Death and Survival

When I was young and under the influence of movies and books about fighting, war and dying somehow I adopted views that death and dying is something unavoidable and it is mostly noble and clean, and have some kind of cause and reason.

Soon I realized that truth is quite different, and mostly there is nothing clean about it.

People like to think that death in combat is something like they see on movies because it makes sense, it gives you some kind of comfort. I have seen death and dying many times, both in combat and in bed at peoples home when working in emergency services, and I can count on one hand when it looked clean and “noble”.

Buddy next to you who get few bullets in stomach will usually scream a lot, smell a lot, and you gonna catch yourself thinking „is he already dead? I can not stand this…“ and in the same time theres gonna be one more thought, prevailing, it is „thanks God it is him, not me, lying, screaming and dying…“ and later you might feel guilty for thinking this way…

Dying people will call their moms, sons, wives… will hold to you with their hands like death is trying to drag them, like you can save them, sometimes they will stare „through“ you, like they already see something that is not from this world…

Sometimes you gonna see something like blame in their eyes, this time they are aware that they are dying, and they want to switch places with you. Why can this guy stay and I have to go now? How unfair and cruel is this. This can not be real.

When SHTF be prepared that people will die around you, and it probably will look very different from picture that you have in your mind now. And also be prepared that looking at those deaths will change you on many levels, will affect you. I have seen people that were changed in bad ways, also I have seen people changed in good ways.

But it will change you.

As I said, I have seen many deaths, and most of those deaths were violent, I speak about this in my course. All that makes me more cynical, but every time when I caught myself being too cynical I remember my motto that „generalizing things is not good“ so I remember the man, my good friend who died some 5 years ago.

He died in hospital, throat cancer. It was bad, and it was very painful. And what was worse it was very slow. He was „melting“ in front of my eyes, for weeks, at the end all what was left were skin, bones and his eyes.

I remembered those eyes from the days of war and chaos, he was strong man, a lion, people had a picture of him that he is powerful and ruthless. He was inspiration for many to fight on. And they were right. He was dangerous and fearless. But what they did not know was fact that he hide and save whole bunch of people from different enemy „group“. He did not do that for money, gold or anything else.

He saved them from death and private prisons, and get them to the safety. In that time he could easily lost his life for doing that. Only condition was that those people keep their mouth shut about who helped them. And they did mostly. After everything rumors were there, but nobody believed them.

Anyway times changed, he lost his power after the war, and later his health too. Times came when he could use fact that he save those folks, in order to gain money or power or similar.
But he did not do that, I know him before war, during the war, and after the war, I helped him once in smuggling few those guys to safety.

He did not use that. He was very poor when they found his cancer, he died as a poor man. Only few people were with him when he died, including me.

And I think it is one of the rare occasions when I saw that some man is very aware that he is dying, and still he is very calm, very peaceful. He always believed in God, in Jesus Christ, so it gave him peace I guess, but I like to think that being good man gave him peace. He save those folks because he was man like that, good man. He also knew what to expect from death. We, survivors of this time, have seen it too often to live under any illusion.

As I said, my faith in people is not strong at all, but whenever I lost it too much I remember him and thought that come to my mind is that even in hardest times you can find good people, even in strangest places. It does not mean to trust people, you should not. But in big crowd of naive sheep there are few exceptions. Look closely how people deal with stressful situation around you. Look who believes in what Hollywood tells them is reality and avoid these people.

Reality of death and dying will change them and it is hard to guess to what. Reality and our idea of life and death is often very different and this can result in shock when you look at ugly side of death. Shock paralyzes and scars souls.

I know this message is lost on many people who like to flip open weapon magazine and shop for new toys instead of learning about ugly side of life. Getting comfortable with death and how ugly, smelly, dirty and not noble it is, is essential for survivalist to still make right decisions and actions when it matters.

What are your thoughts on death and dying? Any personal experiences that helped you to become peaceful with it? Please share in comments or on forum.

Rural vs Urban Survival

urban survival vs rural survival

It is discussion without end, and there will always be people who prefer one over the other choice. We have pretty interesting discussion about if survival in urban setting is even possible right now in the forum.

It is OK, we all have opinions, and there should be nothing wrong in discussing opposing opinions. It is good to do that, because we can spot some things that we did not think about and somebody else did.

I prefer to find myself in rural settings when SHTF. I am subjective with that opinion simply because I experienced urban survival in urban setting once and can not imagine that it can be worse on country side. In fact, relatives who survived in rural setting simply had much better time.

But we all need to consider the actual pros and cons of choosing between these two options and we need to be objective, it is hard but we can try.


What you have with you is what you gonna have for some time if you find yourself in urban survival scenario.

If you have stored food and water most probably you can count on that only for some time, before situation changes or you manage to find some more supplies.

There are ways to obtain resources at the beginning of SHTF in the chaos, but it is not like in the movies, and you can count on the fact that mostly you will be late for these events and more organized units such as local gangs control who gets what when looting. It is high risk, medium reward and most of us prepare to not have to risk anything in this chaos.

Some greedy prepper will still head out to get that bit of extra and if you know my story from my time in war, that we looted the alcohol factory was very helpful in the weeks and months after. But we were not prepared. Big difference.

Better organized groups will control looting so this is no real benefit for urban survival.

Count on the fact that being in a city when SHTF means too many folks and way too little resources, and when that happens you can expect bad things.

Being in rural settings gives you advantage of having some (if not all) resources, of course with some planning ahead.
Trees in forests close to you or some small creek will mean a lot to you when SHTF. Not to mention animals, and food production from land of course.


No matter in what kind of house or apartment or whatever you are living in urban area, sooner or later you will be forced to defend it.

It is hard job, simply because you will not be sure who is your enemy, or in other words, you gonna have too many possible enemies.

When you have too many hungry folks everyone is your possible enemy. Can you imagine how much effort and time will this fact cost you? You gonna need to be alerted and ready to fight-defend at every minute and after you see true nature of most people trying to survive (and doing whatever necessary) there will be very few friends left.

Being in rural settings does not mean that you do not need to be prepared do defend yourself, but it is gonna be much easier because as I said less (unknown) people mean less troubles and less very desperate people mean people stick together more.

If you planning ahead to be in rural setings when SHTF you should have your group of people that you can trust, family or friends and neighbours, together with plans how to defend yourself. This is big ideal for most of us and just having bug out location and plan to get there is not enough.

Common sense, again

Now please, you need to understand that I am not saying that in case of SHTF it is impossible to survive in the city. I survived. I am just saying that in most of the SHTF cases it is gonna be MUCH HARDER to survive in the city than in some small rural community.

Of course I am talking here about real SHTF event. I know there are opinions that in some cases of SHTF there is gonna be much safer to stay in the city where there is some kind of law, and where that law still can protect you.

There are opinions that in distant rural places most of the murders, robbing and rape will happen because law is gone first in more remote areas. All this still makes rural settings much better in my opinion.

If you compare it to the normal life that most of us have today of course my relatives who survived war on the countryside had some hard time. They lost electric energy, almost all ways to make money, people who worked in cities lost jobs, it was war and situation was hard.

But point is that they had RESOURCES all around them, land for growing food, woods for fuel, animals for hunting etc.

And as you can imagine some old skills were in use again. People started to make juice from fruits, older folks remembered what kind of wild fruits and berries were used in hard time of WW2.

Folks simply „re-invented“ for example very old style wooden press for making jams and syrups from different kinds of fruits. It looked funny, it used very long skinny trunk (timber) as a kind of leverage, from the distance it looked like someone want to launch something from old Roman catapult.

But it worked, and it was not nothing new, people used that thing for centuries maybe, just it was forgotten maybe because it is easier to buy jam, or to make it with electric devices.

Horses were put in use for plowing fields, tobacco was grown etc. But what was most important is fact that people stood together much much better in small rural communities, they were in many cases relatives, or simply people who know each other for years.

In cases like that security issues were easier to solve, people were better in any kind of organisation.

One of the guys I know started getting rich at that times. He simply grew potatoes in big amounts, and had good connections for smuggling them to places where price was many times higher.

In short, resources and security are much easier to have in rural settings than in urban settings. Urban survival matters a lot but do not forget that all our goal should be to just need it until we left urban areas.

It is not some hard rule, but there is gonna be much more fighting for small amount of resources in urban settings, while there are many more resources and probably less fighting for it in rural settings.

What is your take on this? Share in comments below or in our discussion in the forum.