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Buying stuff for your SHTF storage is good off course, and buying it on smart way so you can save some money is always welcome since most of us are not multimillionaires.
But have you ever thought about buying the things for SHTF scenario on some not so „regular“ ways? It will save you money too but maybe even more important is that it will prepared you and show you how finding and buying stuff will probably look when SHTF for real.
I am not advising you to do anything that might be against the law, I am simply gonna give you examples how I find some things. It is up to you how you or if you gonna use anything of it.
Have it when you do not need it (have it before you need it)
One of the most basic rules in preparing and acquiring things for SHTF is that you need to have it before you need it. You may think „oh, but it is so obvious“ yea and no. Sometimes it is not. When SHTF you may find out that it is very important to have for example tetanus shots updated, but then it can be too late. You need to fix that before SHTF.
Simply if you gonna look for the tetanus shots when SHTF price can be high. In every SHTF scenario anywhere in the world there is gonna be people who are gonna make fortune and power by having the stuff that most of the other folks do not have, because it was not so obvious that it is gonna be needed.
Ways to obtain things
Things can be bought in many ways. Some of them are illegal more or less so no advice, just examples.
I buy my fuel from guys who sell it not from the gas station, I buy it always from the same guys so in that way they do not find it useful to cross me with adding strange stuff inside in order to make more money. Repeat customer is good customer.
Where do they get it? I do not know, and I do not want to know. But some examples would be that they are just dealers for the big guy who want to „go across“ some taxes expenses, or they buying it as a „agricultural“ fuel etc. I do not ask. Is it illegal? Yes. Am I seen and did worst things then that? Yea, sure. Survival.
Ways to buy things does not necessary needs to be illegal, it can be just strange and other than you use to. In that way you are just preparing yourself for finding things when SHTF.
Some its like practice for getting things directly from people. Why not start now and tell neighbours what you can get for them cheaply and ask them if they have connection to some stuff too?
I know people in different areas of life. So I know guys from local politics and guys from local small gangs. I like to keep my ear on ground as apart of preparation for coming SHTF. Money is short here and during war people got used to get stuff through other people so the same system still works.
I also often trade for something when it makes sense. I use my preps and trade two pairs of police boots for new jacket for example.
What things do I need?
Do not think only about „ what things do I need?“ feel free to think about „what things people need?“ because you are gonna trade it.
Look around you and keep in mind when SHTF the term „useful thing“ gets whole new meaning. So you ll see ( I saw that ) that for some people it is priority to loot mall and take TV set, stereo or something similar.
I saw few guys in first days of chaos were rolling 4 new car tires from looted mall, they were laughing, very happy because they thought they made good „deal“ with that. I guess pretty soon they realized that those 4 tires are worth like one pocket knife or something similar.
Smarter folks, or you can say people with „vision“ look for the weapons, food or similar useful stuff.
Important thing is that everyone took everything, it was like storm. As the time passed by and when everything „more useful“ was gone people took everything else, like pieces of shelves where stuff was kept. People find use for that too.
For example when SHTF I expect people to smash parking machine for the money inside, I am not gonna care for the worthless coins inside, but those machines work thanks to small solar panels installed on pole above it. I would go for the panels that most of the folks not gonna notice at all.
Small things were always useful to trade. Also some bigger „invented“ things had good price, like small wood stoves made from cans or pressure cookers. Pretty soon people who were skilled made good trade with handmade portable wood stoves.
Maybe you can find something to build with empty cans or other waste products?
People tried to trade everything so you could see some funny stuff too, like I wrote in other post the old FM radio taped to some huge batteries handmade from other sized batteries and taped together. Or homemade teas guaranteed to cure something mixed from different kind of plants.
Of course scams were everywhere and you needed to be very cautious.
It was always better to have more small things to trade then bigger bulkier stuff. Easier to carry and easier to sell. Candles, batteries, lighters, canned food, spices, small tools, pocket knives…
What more you can do today
Of course that preppers look for discounts and wholesale, yard sales and similar chances to save money. But also you need to think about practicing bargaining.
I am buying lot of things on local flea market or through people I know. You can find lot of things on flea markets, and if you look hard you can find stuff that are not usually belong there.
Few rules :
- Never act like you really need the thing you want to buy (let it be your second choice for example)
- Split money in more pockets when you bargaining (do not bargaining with hand full of money)
- Many times seller will set the price basing on how hesees you in that moment. So of course do not show off any symbol of wealth.
Also remember that buying things at the flea market (in your case maybe yardsale or similar) is very good practice for trade in SHTF condition simple because there is a few things similar.
Prices not fixed (they are more thing of oportunity and skills), way how you look act and talk sometimes can be more important than how much money (value) you have in pocket.
Remember that when SHTF lot of things can be valuable, things that you usually would not even notice in normal life.
For example when SHTF batteries and candles had big value, reasons are of course because people are still used to commodity of light at night, using it in every room etc.
But very soon folks realized that candles are something like luxury so for example if you wanted to read book you would read it by daylight, or people in house simple gathered in one room under the light of one candle in order to spare the others.
So value of candles went high up in beginning and then got down.
So if you planned to make some big success with something for trade it can be said that you need to choose correct time. Some things have same high value almost all the time, like coffee, or cigarettes.
Other things gain value over the time, multiple times value. Stuff like some seeds, plants and knowledge about plants like teas, and herbs for healing etc.
Point is if you offered at the beginning stage of SHTF homemade teas as a remedies for something you would not have big success, because people did not believe that SHTF gonna last too long, or in other cases people still had some stash of antibiotics, painkillers etc.
When few month passed and people realized it is gonna SHTF gonna last for longer period, and no doctors, no hospitals, diseases spreading of course that home made remedies become suddenly popular and in the same time much more expensive.
I have more examples about trading in my survival course.
So small things that are kinda ridiculous cheap in normal time and normal life become important equal expensive. One more example would be flints for lighters.
Things like these are very important if you stash many things in order to do much trading to make life easier when SHTF.
Point is to carefully observe what things have what kind of value and more important what thing have chance to multiple value in few weeks or months.
I even knew guy who make small necklaces for luck, you know kinda of small metal on rope and if you carry that all the time you can be sure that bullet gonna miss you, he was something like monk, he trade that for food and it worked. When times are desperate people do and trust in lot of things.
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In today’s world it is easy to get fooled and think that all media is there for us, to help us, to keep us updated, to make life easier or whatever.
Some 20 years ago, I was lying in improvised shelter on side of the street, behind big iron garbage truck that was rolled over and full of holes. I waited for dark so I can move on.
I was not alone, me and my friend shared that small piece of cover from open view and snipers with three guys. I know one of them from before, but that did not actually meant anything.
When shooting started we all jumped there almost at the same time. After few minutes we agreed that we gonna share it until the night.
Some half hour later one of them pull out from his bag small fm radio, kinda that we called “pensioner radio”, for walking and listening sports events in normal world.
Actually it looked like he pulled from his bag some brown package and on it was radio taped. That brown package was some kind of homemade battery pack, made I guess from different batteries, 2 times bigger than radio.
Anyway it was important thing in that time, I speak about how important information was in my course.
We all looked at that “machine” like bunch of cavemen would. It was ticket to get more information, real information, not just rumors and reports of crazy killings, that was our hope.
He turned that on, and all that he could find was radio station in other country, pretty close by distance, but light years away at same time. We were listening to some music very quietly, then news came.
We were listening how speaker talked about events in our region, he was something like: “and battles continued …” and that was it.
After that there were long talks about some songs contest, and some dude was interviewed. He talked about his terrible problems in finding correct clothes for movie scene, then about his stage fright… And then radio stops to work.
Big dude who owns it says comically “screw it, it looks like batteries needs some break.”
Rest of us were quiet. But I am sure that we were thinking pretty much same. Here we are, couple of guys in rags, one has some kind of uniform made from 3-4 different uniforms, some have weapon, one has kind of fishing hat on his head, like in some parody.
One guy chewed something, I do not think it was food, he just chewed it for too long. Like he was trying to chew piece of shoe.
Other had two different snickers on his legs, probably result of looting some mall in starting days. Probably all of us together in last 24 hours had like one meal shared among us.
We all hiding behind destroyed dumpster truck, waiting for the night, while some other dude on other side waiting for our heads to come up so he can shoot us. He probably was hungry and weird looking like we are.
And at same time few hours driving distance from there, main problems were how some probably funny looking guy is afraid to go to movie scene, and end of the world problems about choosing correct clothes for that same scene and musical performance.
I had moment much more dangerous before and after that event, but somehow in that moment, I emotionally touched the bottom.
Simply nobody cares for us, we were no news anymore. Left alone. “Battle continues…”
Few months before that same media were screaming about “problems in regions, fear of people getting armed, we need to defend, we need to fight, freedom does not have price, we will prevail, democratic changes, we have the right…”
Leaders from all sides were frantically announcing new age of democracy while in background they prepared to flee. Media helps folks to form opinions, to do things, to start things to happen. And then when all is set in motion you are simply not news anymore.
Same radio host screamed about need “to protect our rights” and “do not fear”. Then same guy told us that it is impossible that war happens because “we have leaders that will find solution” while at same time leaders were leaving area, or piling stuff for tomorrows black market.
We figured later that same leaders own the media actually.
Then when S. hit the fan, pretty soon when every day becomes same in meaning that every day is killing, starving, violence etc. It is not news anymore. Media just covers exciting stuff, because its their business. This is same for all media, also media that keeps saying collapse happens tomorrow and then the week later and then month later.
Mainstream media says everything is good, politicians take care of you and some alternative media keeps promoting news that everything is bad, collapse happens even before it happens. They also need to keep people interested. They all play news theater to keep people interested.
The lesson I learned is dont trust and care about any media much. Be prepared but not scared whole time that collapse happens tomorrow. That is why you are prepared, no need to worry too much. Just monitor events but forget about “opinion pieces”. Look at history of reporter if you plan to trust someone. He uncovered “big scandal” already 3 times but it was only big scandal for him? Forget about him, he or his media company just wants attention or save your time and realize most reporter wants big story and attention and just a few want to really inform people.
Few days ago I was checking one internet page about “world events by years”. I checked the year that I was writing about here, and there were many “important events” in that year.
I found two events very loosely linked to my region, out of the many. One was about some politic demonstration, other was about some agreement. Both of them were in my wider region, but not even close to my city.
Nothing about people in rags fighting for their lives, eating grass boiled in water, catching rain, drinking mud sometimes.
Media showed us in a way. Then media forgot us, we were not usable anymore, we simply did not exist. I understand that, same guys still fighting in same city and so on. It is just important that news show what is new and not really what is going on.
For years I very rarely watched TV, or listened to radio. Not following famous shows, my opinions are not formed by actors, singers, sport stars, or idiots who are famous for one season.
If I find something specific that I want to check I will check it, but I do not want to be pulled in media grinding machine of opinion forming. I read different news articles from different networks and try to find people on twitter who are on the ground of event.
As survivalist and prepper you need most accurate information to make decisions and that is why knowing what is really going on in neighborhood or city is often more important than some shooting of single guy hundreds of miles away. But media always needs drama and presents it in way that its interesting for most people.
Every time when I hear somewhere on radio or TV “shocking news” or “battle started” I imagine few guys in few months laying somewhere in dirt, while nobody cares for them because there is a new star with huge butt, and everyone knows her, in biggest city or in smallest village, even somewhere where electric energy is still new thing. Keep the stupid masses entertained.
Point of everything again is that when SHTF you are alone with what you have prepared and learned. Do not expect media to paint real picture of situation. They are there for news. After initial news and maybe even help from outside because your area is in spotlight you are left alone. Don’t be surprised when you are forgotten.
That’s why we learn to take care of ourselves.
Some call it 72 hour bag, Get Out Of Dodge Bag, Get Back Home Bag or however. Making the perfect bug out bag definitely can mean difference between life and death, and there are many philosophies about what should be in it and what not. This is my take on it. It is a budget / cheap bug out bag and makes sense for me. I have some different products but tried to find most similar I could on Amazon because this is what most people have access to.
First lets start with some considerations before assembling it.
Do you need a bug out bag or survival bag?
A bug out bag is for bugging out and not living forever in woods. Survival bag is more for long term living outdoors. A bug out bag is smaller and light, a survival bag is big and has more stuff in it of course.
My philosophy for bug out bags is, you need to have things with you that gonna bring you to your desired location. Nothing less and nothing more. Traveling light is key here, not traveling comfortable. If you can do both – great, but if you need to choose then choose to travel light, fast and maneuverable. You are maybe gonna be forced to run, jump, duck, use weapon with that bag on your back.
I see long lists of things from people who seem to go on camping trip with their bug out bags. Makes no sense to me. You have survival bag or camping bag if you have no bug out location and plan to live in the woods. But before you head for the hills “to live off land” you better know what you do. Otherwise bugging in is better. Anyway, that is something for another article. But if you have a bug out location, getting there fast is most important.
Choosing the right backpack is matter of what you like, your items you carry and of course it must always matter that you keep low profile. So if you are bugging out from city you do not want to look like you are SWAT team member. Nobody survives because of style as well. If you have bug out bag at office then choose a bag that looks like laptop backpack. If you have bug out bag at home, choose a casual sports backpack in darker colors (and without any reflector).
How long are you bugging out?
You are making your bug out bag for bugging out to a safe location your bug out location and it takes you X days to get there. Depending how many days you gonna be there you gonna carry that many items.
It is great thing to have lot of useful things with you on your way to bug out location, but even better thing is to have some useful things and be able to move fast and efficiently.
Just take your perfect bug out bag and do some testing in real life, in some hard conditions, with bad weather.
Here is what I recommend for basic bug out bags.
I carry trash bags that you can also use inside your backpack to keep things dry and three emergency blankets. Here is higher quality emergency blanket but watch out that it is not too heavy or takes too much space.
I also sleep in shelter in form of a poncho. This is cheap poncho, you look unprepared with it and that is great if you are in city.
Alternative could be to use a tarp of course.
Perfect way to keep yourself clean or take care of small cuts in quick way. Some soap is good to have too. Not brushing teeth for few days, bad breath is least of problems.
Do not think about your way to bug out location as a picnic, or nature trip. It is gonna look more like dangerous escape from war zone, so you need to act like that. Most probably you are going to eat very fast and you need something simple or you are too tired to cook anyway.
You are maybe not gonna be in position to start fire, maybe you are not gonna need it, or maybe it is gonna be too dangerous to start it, but once when you needed you need to be absolutely positive that you can start it safe and quick. A small fire does much for your body and in many situations maybe even more for your mind.
I want to have more ways to start fire because I still remember how important it is.
One night I was stranded out in one ruined building while outside was raining like waterfalls. It was unsafe to travel so I spent night there, hidden behind pile of rubble in something that was months before living room.
I choose only 5-6 square meters where was relatively hidden and start fire. I start it with lighter and some remains of curtain, then I used wood junk from the rooms and apartments to keep it going. It was stinky, my eyes were burning from wet wood and my attempts to “cover” light of the fire with some steel plate without extinguishing it.
I was wet, tired, hungry, and without too many plans for future.
It was spooky and weird to have fire in complete darkness of ruined and half burned apartment where still on wall were pieces of some tiles with different flowers. I did not cook anything on that fire, or boil water for coffee, tea or whatever, I did not have anything.
Only “material” use of that fire was that I dried my socks on it, but it was not too important at that moment, I survived many days with wet socks.
Real use of that fire was that I felt that my strength and will was coming back to me. After some time I felt much better, I had my will again.
Everything is different when you have fire with you. It not only helps your body…
Canteen cup kit, water treatment solution, filter and a hydration reservoir. I also have water bottle to fill up hydration reservoir quickly next to it on shelf. Do not carry too much water but make sure you have everything to make clean water yourself.
6. Tools and more
It’s nice to have smartphone with GPS but also carry a map of the area, compass and make sure you know how to use them.
I carry three lights. A torchlight, nano light and a headlamp. Sometimes it make sense to use strong torchlight, but in other circumstances it make more sense to use small light, without making yourself visible from great distances.
Try to carry FM radio to get some information. If you have space there are good hand crank radios available. To have information in moments of bugging out can be very important. Listen to radio with headphones to conserve energy.
When it comes to types of carrying all of this and how to organize it you must always have things that are very important close to you and in a way separated from your backpack.
That means that you will keep your weapons on your belt or under the jacket, your small survival box, some ammo, flask, means to start fire and some power bars in some small bag on your hip, around your neck or similar.
We all probably carry our pistol as every day carry (EDC). In my case EDC is just gonna be small addition to bug out bag. It usually consists of pistol, extra magazine, lighter, flashlight, folding knife, keys, cell phone, heavy duty scissors and wallet. But keep in mind that how many things you have in your EDC depends on your “moving” distances. Or how far you are from more stuff (in your car, job, home) so I have not much with me all the time.
Clothes in layers makes easy to you to take off something if you feeling too hot, or to take peace of clothes on if getting too cold. Do not forget that by making mistakes in this area can lead to hypothermia or in other cases in heat exhaustion if you losing too much water by sweating without controlling it.
Check for clothes that repel wind, dry quickly, clothes that stay warm even when wet etc. Try polyester (military style pants, shirts etc) wool underwear and some insulation layers with fleece. Have one set of extra clothes in your bug out bag.
Clothes that blend in
You do not want to look different remember that so also when it comes to clothes try to have usual stuff on you, or if you want and have something special just try to cover it with something usual. Remember that looking too different draws attention and that is bad.
If your clothes looks too good or too “new” it makes sense to make it look dirty before you move on. Even today when I buy new sneakers for example I first make them dirty but that is because I live in high crime area.
Your footwear needs to be chosen completely based on nature of your trip, not on other folks ratings. So it make sense to wear for example sneakers in city because of speed and mobility, and when you move to woods to change to something else. Pair of gators in combination with boots make sense.
Remember that you need to wear your new footwear before emergency scenario. Do not make mistake and put your new boots on for the first time when bugging out. Blisters can cripple you and I saw people losing feet because of infected blisters.
Your compass and map you are keeping in your pocket or small waist pack. In that way if you find yourself in situation that you need to loose your backpack you are still gonna be able (hopefully) to finish your trip.
My shelf system
Having your bug out bag always ready somewhere on some shelf makes much sense, but having the things ready for bugging out on shelves and way of quickly assembling your bug out bag is much better idea in my opinion.
Point is to have all things that you gonna need for your three or more day trip to your bug out location ready and sorted on one shelf, so you can easily check it every day.
Another reason is that there is no perfect bug out bag for every situation, so it makes sense to have some stuff available for your BOB so you can quickly choose something and leave something else.
Remember that you can not take everything.
In some situation it is gonna make sense to take gas mask with you maybe and leave something else.
Making bug out bag, and putting it on shelf and then waiting for SHTF can be problem, you have to check stuff that is in your bug out bag, you have to know each item very good, and check it often. It is easy to forget about what you have in your bag when you have assembled it and put aside for some time.
Choosing correct bag type is important too, so it is good to have few different type bags ready for quick packing.
Some more thoughts
Your bug out bag must have things that you KNOW how to use, so it is much better to have butterfly closures that you know how to use than full wound sewing kit without real knowledge about it (and without real need).
If this concept of bug out bag sounds like you are missing lot of things, please consider again the fact that your task with this bag is to reach your bug out location on quickest and safest way, not most comfortable way. Do you want to be slowed down for a bit more comfortable night? I don’t. I also speak in detail about reasons why mobility mattered so much during my time in war in my survival course. Sneakers beat big boots back then.
If you still think to add more things to your bag to make your way easier then think about possibility of hiding some stuff on your way to your bug out location.
It has many benefits. You get to know your way to your bug out location in detail when you search for good hiding places for example.
In setting those secret places with stuff on your way to your bug out location follow few rules:
1. Always use three possible ways to bug out location, and hide stuff there because you never know what way you are gonna use.
2. Hide small stashes at many places, instead more stuff at few places. Reason is again fact that you do not know what circumstances gonna be during bugging out, and what kind of obstacles you gonna have. Just have more choices.
3. Have some system in tracking correct places where you hid the things, it is much easier to forget places than most people think.
It can be GPS device, or simply some photos taken, or some coded message describing correct place. Remember that you may give that info to someone (friend, family member). Get creative, maybe some place only you and your wife know as a starting point.
What you gonna hide depends how long your trip is, and what kind of situation is gonna be but every small thing gonna help in those times.
Canned food, MREs, fuel, aluminum foil, ammo, first aid kits, duct tape…
You can have best equipment available but if YOU did not test it, it does not mean too much. After you assemble everything go on hiking trip and test all, test equipment in rain, in forest during the night time, try to make yourself shelter from trash bag with insulating it with leafs, or whatever else you have for shelter.
Try to find a stash at night or to read compass at night… You may say here “OK what about mosquito repellent, sun lotion, survival manual, tent, solar charger … and lot of other things.”
If you want those, my suggestion would be that you buy ALL things that you like to have with you, assemble it in bug out bag and have two day trip that includes sleeping in woods, running (from someone) trying to hide, trying to get to the bug out location on time etc.
Speed counts more than comfort.
After that take all equipment and sort it again to make it lighter, you will see that suddenly you are going to find some stuff you do not want to have actually (or you find something you missed, but practice is important).
More about bugging out and weapons in next article. Please share some ideas about your bug out bag in comments.