Tactical gear vs skills for survival

Being able to fight and survive when SHTF means lot of things. Of course it means to be trained, well equip and ready to fight.

But there is some misunderstanding (just like with many other things when it comes to SHTF and survival in general) when it comes to what you suppose to have with you while you are moving through dangerous area in which you might have to fight in a survival situation.

There are countless discussions on forums about what to have, AR or AK, and what is better, with what weapon you have more chance to win, kill, survive, what kind of pistol, caliber etc.

For example I have used both rifles (AR years later after my time in war), and I prefer AK, but it is better option for ME, maybe not for you because of many reasons.

And of course most of those discussions do not make too much sense, actually people discuss wrong things there. It is a bit like mountaineer discusses every little bit of detail of climbing gear before going up his first mountain. After that he realizes more or less every harness works if it sits properly.

Everything today is about what other folks saying is good for you, not what is really good for you, what make sense for you.

So you can see well working business of selling weapons and gear for SHTF, with assurances that you will survive doomsday only with their gear and weapon.
Now do not get me wrong, you ll need good equipment and weapon, but thats it about this topic, nothing more. What is much more important you will need clear head and common sense to survive SHTF.

For example there are literally hundreds type of pistol holsters. For SHTF I prefer old style leather (Soviet) pistol holster. With all dirt, jumping, squatting, crawling, rain etc. It is just make sense to use it. It is nothing fancy, I dont look very tactical but it has time proven design that works. Like the AK bayonet that I talk about in my survival course that I used for many things.

Think about running for few miles while someone is shooting at you. It is something pretty hard on your body. And if you dragging lot of fancy stuff on you, you gonna end up dead probably.

What you wear when SHTF can easily put you in danger, so it makes sense to wear things that can help you when it comes to fighting but at the same time that does not give you look of special forces dude. Remember also that by having things that clearly look interesting (cool, good, new…) it makes you interesting, and thats bad.

There is much more sense to think about what kind of footwear you gonna have then to read about what is more deadly AK or AR. Both of those gonna kill in good hands, but if you are wearing wrong kind of boots you not gonna be able to operate with full capacity and that is bad.

And I always preferred idea of being more maneuverable than to have extra stuff with me while moving trough urban terrain in post collapse city.

Many people very easily forget fact that fight in urban environment is very dynamic thing, in other words lots of physical activity is involved, and while you are trying to shoot someone other folks try to shoot you too.

Two predictions from me here.

A lot of people have bug out bags they can not carry for solid 10 hours while escaping their city and lot of people do not pay enough attention to fitness and think good shooting only gives them big advantage in fire fight.

Some people can not improve fitness because they are older or handicapped but also these people they need to make up for lack of fitness with thinking.

They need to pay much more attention to proper information, so they can move on time, not in hurry. They have to be “more alarmed” and even if not necessary bug out before everyone else.

And they MUST have those stashes on the way, so they can have option of carrying nothing but “refueling” on those stops. I mean where other folks have 1 bug out route and two “back up routes and 5 stashes or none, they (older folks) need to have 1 bug out route and 5 back up routes and like 15 small stashes on the way.

I have seen many times how people throw away precious stuff in the middle of the fight just because they are too slow, too restrained while maneuvering.

Having the TT pistol and AK worked great for me in that period, maybe it is gonna work good for me again, but important thing is that I am ready to adopt new things, ideas, equipment and weapon at any time if I see that it is gonna work better for me. I practice my skills now and do not get obsessed about gear.

Do not get killed because you stick to something stubborn just because someone told you it is great for you.

And of course think about that „small“ things that gonna make big difference.

Things like proper boots, socks, pants, simple bandana (can be used for many things) can make big difference. Or rain coat can mean a lot if you forced to use it as a temporary shelter in some destroyed house without roof, while raining.

Whenever I come across discussions about „tactical equipment – what is better?“ I remember things like my neighbor home made „sling“ holster system for his Scorpion gun made from his daughter rubber jumping game, or holsters for kitchen knives made from book covers and similar things.

It is not about that we need to go back to stone age with equipment and be mean. It is about fact that people with ability to adapt have more chances to survive. It is not about that it is wrong to go for cool equipment. It is about possibility that grandpa with 70 years old rifle can kill you, no matter your cool equipment.

So basically just reminder to spend more time on learning skills or refining skills instead of researching and buying gear.

My favorite quote is latin:

“Omnia mea mecum porto”
“All that’s mine I carry with me”

66 responses to “Tactical gear vs skills for survival”

  1. Chris says:

    I agree completely.

    What you carry should be functional, for you, and not attract attention from others. The key to survival in an environment populated by others, is looking like the others. Have what they have. Look how they look. If some starving, desperate guy sees you, and you look different from him, he’s going to think in his mind.. “This guy might have some food. He doesn’t look like he’s from around here. He’s not starving like us.”

    This is even more true if you’re surviving in a place where the ‘others’ know you. Neighbors who see you looking well-fed, while they go hungry. They see your fancy gun, while they have a baseball bat. The more ‘bling’ you show people, the more likely someone’s going to try to take it.

  2. johnny says:

    Here were a live, we say “what’s matter is the indian, no the arrow”

  3. Aussie Mick says:

    If I had to rely on only what i can carry…I would ‘bug in’..not out. I think the best chance of survival is the right destination..and having it ready in advance…food, water, shelter, alternative power…the right mix of skills in the ‘group’…and many different people watching for the first signs of collapse….G.O.O.D. before the crowd..with all of your supplies. It will not be a short term bug out…will probably be for a minimum of many years..and possibly for good. Long term thinking will change the way you prepare. I have downloaded video of every skill I can think of..stored it on a hard drive…together with movies…music…entertainment. I have a small solar set up so that the info can be accessed on a lap top in the event of loss of power. Life will be different with no internet to use as a reference library…store it all now..while you still can. Your articles are a part of my reference library. Nobody can know everything…but the info is out there for free….but for how long??? Aussie Mick.

    • John R says:

      Hey “Aussie Mick”. Does this name mean you are from “down under”? I worry and the US and Europe, but I never worried about you folks. Are you all worried about SHTF? What are you worried about the most? If this site allows it, my email is janey1113 at att.net. Thanks.

      • Aussie Mick says:

        G’day Janey…no, we are not all worried….95% of the population ‘down under’ are doing the same as the other 95%ers in every country…watching reality TV…drinking…drugging…playing games…watching sport…the other 5%…not so much worried….but prepared….to know…and to not prepare…that would be a worry. When the economic crash hits top gear….the effect will ripple around the globe…it will know no boundaries. The key to long term survival will be ‘timing’…knowing when to hold’em..and when to fold’em (read..bug out).

    • Christopher de Vidal says:

      Aussie, I’ve been storing all the downloads I can, too. Paper copies of the most important stuff, and practice, practice, practice in case for some reason your computer and books are stolen.

      Here’s my link library. There’s about one terabyte of free and legal downloads here. No pirated anything, to my knowledge. And yes, this website is also on there 🙂

      Please feel free to share your sources and I’ll add them to my list.

      • Aussie Mick says:

        Thanks Christopher…a great way of helping others…I will put it to good use…and share it…thanks from ‘down under’.

  4. Tim says:

    People see what soldiers carry and think they should do the same. Most of those guys are 20-30, super fit and well fed. In a SHTF situation you will be hungry, tired and stressed. Carrying a rifle and ammo will be weight enough. Throw on a small backpack with 5 – 10kg in it and then try and run 400m then shoot accurately. Most BOB will weigh far more.

  5. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    As always, great advice and information to think about. Thanks Selco.

    • j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

      Also forgot to add above – that flap holster you mentioned is a great way to protect your handgun when outdoors. We sometimes forget that we will be so pre-occupied with watching out and carrying other items, that our sidearm will be taking some abuse without our knowledge. Pulling it out to fire and finding that the magazine was accidentally released and ejected – could be more than embarrassing. Some even have lanyards attached to them to make sure they aren’t lost or dropped.

      The same for your magazines – they should be enclosed and not allowed to flop around get lost. WWI and WWII bolt rifle cartridge belts and bandoliers had TIGHT closed flaps because trench warfare was really dirty. Slow but sure.

  6. “What you wear when SHTF can easily put you in danger… Remember also that by having things that clearly look interesting (cool, good, new…) it makes you interesting, and thats bad.” A good lesson that bears repeating. The Japanese have a saying- “deru kugi ha utareru” (the nail that sticks out gets hammered down).

  7. Selco, you are dead-on right; travel light and think. A rifle (any sort of long gun is better than none), a low-maintenance handgun ( I carry a revolver), ammo, a poncho, spare socks and underwear, the best footwear you can afford, a bandana, first-aide kit and water (or a survival straw), and 3 days worth of food (power bars, dried dates& figs). Your most immediate concern is your continued survival. During those first few days on the run I would not even think about starting a fire or drinking coffee. Worry about luxuries only when things have stabilized.

  8. gunplumber says:

    You open your eyes to the darkness, feel the cold rain pouring down upon you. You are naked and in a ditch. You don’t remember how you got here. Last thing you remember was government security goons putting a sandbag over your head and loading you on a truck.

    Anyway. Whatcha-gonna do now?

    This is why I always emphasis training. It is the one thing that cannot be confiscated, lost, burned, stolen, etc.

    • Mall Ninja says:

      When I wake up in a ditch, cold and naked, the last thing I usually remember was shots of tequila at the bar and some girl that looked better as the night went on. It is what it is.

      That’s why training is required. One must be able to escape and evade while hungover, trying to piece together a story to tell the wife/girlfriend. These are true survival skills my friends.

  9. chuck b says:

    “I have seen many times how people throw away precious stuff in the middle of the fight just because they are too slow, too restrained while maneuvering….”
    An age-old issue – there were clothes, armor pieces, spare weapons strewn along the roads to the Crusades as people got exhausted carrying the excess.
    There were furniture, clothing, wood-stoves, even pianos and organs found along along the trails heading West as the pioneers and settlers also had to lighten the wagons for the trip.
    Still happens on a daily basis; any time people move from one house to another they realize that they have (yet again) become pack-rats and must pare down the excess.
    I prefer to keep a basic pack, not too big, and have empty space in it rather than have it completely full and carefully packed/arranged. This allows me to rummage for what I need without having to empty it out, add stuff (find some MREs or canned food, where do you put them?) easily, and also allows me to put stuff back in after use – even that little Mylar Space Blanket that was 1/2″x3″x4″ will never again be folded that tight, especially in the wind and rain and you’re in a rush.
    And thank you, Selco. I always look forward to your next post, I never know what to expect other than plain language and common sense.

    Chuck B.

  10. Desert Fox says:

    Wow, it seems all these survivalists (the teachers and students) are all single with nothing but themselves to save! All seem to carry a few personal rations, a bandana; of course, a gun and a small tarp for their night stay…..Poor are those who have families, and others to care for! Or….am I wrong and these are all heroes, going out into the wilderness to clear out the bad guys to protect us all!

    • chuck b says:

      I can’t argue your point, some seem to be trekking to Siberia and back – alone. For myself, I’m not voluntarily leaving my house unless it catches fire. I do have some experience outdoors, though, and even though I personally haven’t yet gotten lost in the wilderness I still learn and prepare in case. What I see for a “grab-and-go” Bug-out Bag is essentially the same that I would take on a hike if there were a chance I could get lost for a week or so and have to be self-reliant, so my comments and advice are predicated on that principle.
      My actual “Bug-out Bag” in case of emergency/forced evacuation of the house is my full-size 8-passenger Ford van with full towing package, 37-gallon tank, big truck tires, and an attitude that once had to pull a 5000-lb trailer through ankle-deep mud during a flood in Mississippi (quite a family vacation!!) and did it without a problem. But I’ll still have my 20-lb backpack between the front seats (next to my AK and ammo can).

      Chuck B.

    • thejustavenger says:

      You have a very good point, I have four daughters, seven granddaughters, five grandsons, three son in laws, plus a brother and sister with families, not to mention extended family. I would hate to lose these people. Fact is their ends will be brutal and very miserable. I dare not think of the pain and suffering. There is not enough time in the future to teach these people all the skills they will need to survive. There is no amount of faith to smooth over the possibilities. Life is full of scattered heroes dead from the mental pain of loss. My hope is the goodness in people will stop the worst from happening, but I know this is unrealistic. It breaks my heart to understand the heartlessness of the human condition. There is hope in numbers, shared skills, group security, and working as a team together for the good of the group. Skills are great but also remember to surround yourself with those who share your love for survival and being ready when the SHTF.

    • Tim Gray says:

      The noisy ones are.

      The rest of us have 2-3 bug out locations already chosen and we will DRIVE the family and gear there. I’m bugging out at a hair trigger notice. If I bug out for no reason for a couple of days, it’s a vacation!

      Those of us with families know that you need to set up a location to go to that is easy to defend and away from people.

    • Selco says:

      It is simple, i do not prefer Rambo attitude, one guy with knife doing some crazy s..t. But also having lot of equipment does not mean too much without some hard job of getting know how to use it.
      And to know what you need is knowledge alone. Too much stuff in wrong moment can kill you just like too little.

  11. PATHFINDER says:

    Great comment. Most of us are not alone.

    The love of my life finds a Hampton Inn merely tolerable.

    Bugging-in is my preference, by far.

    It is nice to have two Former Marines as neighbors, both of whom grow good veggies.

    Two blocks from the ocean for fish and shrimp.

    Too accessible for undesirables across the Intra Coastal Waterway, but the 4 bridges can be blocked off.

    Lots of blasters and a PVS-14, which outlanders will never see.

  12. Daniel says:

    Nice ending quote! A little fun fact… It is actually “Omnia mecum porto mea,” and comes from Cicero’s, Paradoxa Stoicorum. See

  13. BadWolf says:

    Great post, thank you sir.

  14. Malgus says:

    I learned a long time ago to forgo the high speed, low drag gear that the mall ninjas wear.

    Like boots- for me, best all time boots are the old US Army issue jungle boots. The ones with the green canvas uppers and leather lowers. But, this can apply to any jungle boot, I suppose.


    1st- Take the insoles out of the boots and throw them away. They suck. You will replace these later.

    2nd- Take the laces out of both boots. Set aside for later.

    3rd- Roll the uppers downwards as far as you can get them to go. You’re trying to get at the leather inside sole.

    4th- Taking your Leatherman or Diesel folding tool, select the knife blade.

    5th- Using the point of the knife, very carefully cut the threads holding the leather inner sole to the rest of the boot. Cut all the way around the heel, up both sides and into the boot as far as you can reach. This is important.

    6th- Close the knife blade and select the pliers of your Leatherman or Diesel tool.

    7th- Grab the leather insole as tightly as you can and pull upwards. The ripping sound is normal. It is also glued down, so this will be tough. Yank it up as far as you can.

    8th- Still using the pliers, grab the steel plate under the leather insole. Yank that out and throw it away. It’s useless, adds weight and makes your feet cold in winter. Plus, eventually they crack and make clicking noises when you walk.

    9th- Once you have discarded the crappy steel inserts (hopefully without cutting yourself), use a bottle of Shoe Goo to glue down the leather insole. Might even want to put your foot in the boot to smush it down properly. Wait till the Shoe Goo dries and cures.

    10th- Buy a couple pair of really good running shoe inserts with proper arch support. Put a pair of these in your boots. Make sure they fit properly. Trim them if they need it.

    11th- Take your laces and find the center of each lace. Tie one knot in the center of the right lace, two knots in the center of the left one (two knots next to each other, not on top of each other). Reason? You never have to worry about finding the center when you relace the boot ever again and you can tell the difference between left and right boots in complete darkness if you have to put them on suddenly.

    By modifying the boots in the above manner, you can literally run in them for long distances. I know. I’ve done it. It’s like wearing tennis shoes and the US Army jungle boot is hell-for-strong. The pair I have, I have had since 1989- they’re on their 3rd set of soles and the leather wears like iron.

    MUCH better than any of the mall ninja crap sold online. And you don’t stand out wearing them.

    • j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

      Thanks for the tips sir. Your feet are very important – immobilized, you are no good.

    • Tim Gray says:

      you forgot the most beneficial part. Those boots will eliminate ankle sprains or breaks. Laced correctly you can not break your ankle unless you fall from 30 feet and land on them or someone takes a hammer to you.

    • Mall Ninja says:

      That’s why all the guys humping in Afghanistan all wear jungle boots from the 1960’s, because everyone knows they are FAR superior!


      I’ll stick with a pair of Oakley’s or Blackhawks. Boots which hold up to extreme conditions and still feel great on your feet. It’s ok to use equipment from the modern age, which is often times far superior to stuff that was developed decades ago. I broke in a brand new pair of Blackhawks on a roadmarch, can your jungle boots do that when brand new? No knife work required…

      • Malgus says:

        Mall Ninja,

        All respect, I will stick with what I know works.

        And, just a FYI, I was taught to break in a new pair of boots before a road march. Couple buckets of hot water poured into the boots, then you put them on and walk around for a few hours. Every once in awhile, you add more hot water.

        Take them off, pull out the inserts and stuff them with wadded up newspaper. Let them dry. Now they are molded to the shape of your feet and you don’t have to worry about huge blisters when you’re miles from anywhere.

        Tell me, did your Drills (or anyone) ever teach you about stacking socks? First cotton, then chopped-off pantyhose feet, then wool socks? Plenty of powder. 20 years of service, never a blister on a road march.

        And to get back to Selco’s original point- don’t wear shit that stands out. Nice shiny pair of Blackhawks or Oakley’s or a battered old pair of 60’s-era jungle boots?

        And I’m genuinely curious- can you resole a pair of Blackhawks or Oakley’s? Or do you just throw them away when they get worn? I’ve never worn them. They were pretty much verboten during my tenure.


      • Malgus says:

        Hey Mall Ninja…

        Not trying to say I know everything… I know there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

        Like they say around here “Y’all run what ya brung”…

        And no hard feelings. Here’s a gift for y’all.



  15. Grog says:


    I will admit, Knowledge is Number 1. Simple Proof, Know how to treat for shock and treat it. Just one example,Gear/Stuff, Having say Space blankets or even a jacket to provide for the above, would be an example. The Knowledge of How to treat for shock and looking around for improvised items, like oh Blocks or material to Elevate extermities, Purify and if there are No Abdmonal wounds, Provide clean water for hydration, being a clean/potable source, or obtaining same, is an example of Knowledge/Skill.

    I am sure others would tend to agree, Knowledge is power, Knowledge with preps, just maybe, maybe make things easier.

    Yeah, I got my “Combat Soldier /Combat Lifesaver Mode on for a moment.” aka Skills/Knowledge. Great Post, good topic, Keep it up.


  16. willy says:

    Thank you so much. Mall Ninja’s hahaah, and for $ 1000’s will teach you how to clean your air soft toy.
    The lesson on saturday was 15 mile R.T. with 5000′ elevation change.+ 35 lbs of (gear) Oh boy fat boy, Is there a steam engine in these woods ? Only 18 hrs to recoup. Boot’s That was my down fall,going up ok, but down hill in rock and dirt and horse poop made me stay on my feet. These were EE width, needed EEEE by the time the swelling and smashed toes took its toll. No blisters but the toes were gone. I carried 1.5 gallons of water, needed not too if I carried a filtering device,. Lesson learned, lighten up,keep arms and hands free of rings and watches, everything in the front pockets wore a spot on the meat of the leg. Like to have suspenders instead of a belt, even with a pack on.
    Train , try , remember

    Thanks again from Selco and all you others in the reply world your thoughts and ideas help sort out the wheat from the tares.


    • j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

      When going down steep inclines, take the time to lace up your boots / shoes TIGHT. Your feet slide forward, mashing your toenails into your feet.

      My wife found out this the hard way – she had to have one of her toe nails permanently removed because of this. We live where it is very flat and had no knowledge of this. Climbing down a steep incline which took about 15 minutes – that was all it took.

      I really need to take out my rucksack and hike with it, it has been over a year since I last carried it. Probably gain some strange looks from passersby and may even get stopped by the local PD (what do you have in there son?) but the results are worth it. Just tell them I’m training – its always easy speaking the truth.

  17. walt willis says:

    Thanks for the reminder of how to plan ahead and not to get caught up in the better toy thing.
    Our mind is our most important tool for survival and not what brand gun or gear we carry.
    Listen and learn from others that have been there and done that.
    There are some great books written on the subject of civil war from many countries.
    The time is short to start reading but today we are still at peace and the books can still be found online.

  18. john says:

    I like everything super light weight.

    My legs are still nearly as strong as they ever were. I just got back from a 5 hour walk. But my back is no where near as tough as it used to be. I could not carry a pack for long if it weighs much. I also develop serious tendonitis if I try to run too far. I sunburn easier than I used to. I get winded easier than I used to. I can’t walk out my door in the morning wearing only shoes and swim trunks and run 25 miles anymore. 5 miles is my limit now and not in the hottest part of the day.

    I have one of those fancy carbon fiber Bushmasters. I like fixed blade knives with super lightweight construction(this means NOT a full tang). I like light weight footwear. I like scandium alloy and polymer handguns.

    • Tim Gray says:

      You do know that most of the time you will not be ruthlessly hunted, being able to only hike for an hour is not a problem. Hike for 1 hour rest for 15-30 minutes, repeat…. Just get better at hiding yourself. It is a lot easier to hide from someone that it is to run from them, if you know how to. In fact if you think you are being followed, you should learn how to double back on yourself to come up behind who may be following you.

      • john says:

        If you can’t run, you can’t fight.

        • Tim Gray says:

          I dare you to run non stop for 3 hours while being chased, 90% of the people here cant, most marathon runners cant. Even the best Soldiers on duty right now cant run more than 30 minutes.

          If you are not seen you are not a target, Your brain is the most dangerous weapon you have.

          • john says:

            You cant stay hid unless you are staying out of the fight. Once you shoot, you have to move, or you’re dead.

  19. Spaniard says:

    For any term I would go for workwear (both clothing and shoeing): Heavy duty, wide choice of models, materials and colours, lots of storage pockets, keeps low profile in nearly all scenarios and tends to be much more afordable than tactical stuff.

    I´ll avoid most stuff of cheap european sport shop chains, despite it could work great in short term won´t cope with many abuse. I should say that reviews of some trekking boots of that shops are great.

    PS_what do you notice in these photos?:

  20. Tim Gray says:

    Amen on the holster, ONLY if you know how to use one. Most people will shoot themselves if they use a holster because their “training” is shooting cans in the back yard and have very poor pistol discipline.

    PLEASE PLEASE get used to your pistol and understand how to holster and unholster it properly and safely.

  21. Isabel says:

    I like the idea of a small solar array + a laptop full of good stuff—thanks! Perhaps a couple of rechargeable walkie-talkies too? What about rechargeable ANYTHING (flashlight, tools, etc.)? Selco, did you have access to solar panels, or rechargeable batteries?

    • Selco says:

      No, not really. Rechargeable batteries rarely in form of car batteries. But it was pretty rare because recharge problem.

  22. Spud says:

    Think I’d rather have my 10/22 with 500 rnds, than to have an AR/AK and only 100 rnds.

    • Tim Gray says:

      But you need to fire 10+ rounds to do the same damage as 1 7.62 round does. so even inf you were carrying 1000 rounds it would be the same as the AK.

      Instead of relaying on “spray and pray” learn to sharpshoot under pressure. Running and shooting above your head behind you Samali style is just wasting bullets and will only make your enemy laugh themselves silly.

      at 100 yards a 7.62 round will drop someone. at 100 yards a 22LR is a bb gun round.

  23. Steve says:

    What an awesome quote! “All that’s mine I carry with me” So true!

    Your note about people throwing away precious stuff because they are too slow often occurs with epic climbers early in their expeditions. They shed gear weight like crazy to lighten their load. They realize very quickly what really matters and what the power of improvisation can do for you.

  24. Scoutness says:

    How to cover your family.

    Do your best to train together. I know from experience that children love to learn outdoorsy stuff. I can keep a group of ten year olds entertained for hours learning and trying to use knots.

    I teach my wife the latest scams that folks in bigger cities are falling for and make her a get a home bag (low cost) just like mine.

    I know it’s small, but it’s where we start when we don’t have much to work with.

  25. Tolik says:

    This is the best site out there . Real life experiences shared honestly . Thank you .

    “Sweat saves blood, blood saves lives, but brains saves both”
    Erwin Rommel
    “Mortal danger is an effective antidote for fixed ideas. ”
    Erwin Rommel

  26. PrepperDude says:

    Awesome article. Right now I am working on a ghillie suit currently. While working on it, I can’t help but notice how heavy it is getting. I am starting to wonder, in an shtf event, would it even be work packing as part of my gear. The obvious answer is no.

    For the moment, it’s something fun to work on.

    Thanks Selco!

  27. scott says:

    This is a great article. Dont forget to break in your boots ahead of time. It sucks getting blisters when you are on the move. If you have a bug out location stocked up and ready to go, dont forget you will have to clear the location before you can occupy it. There may be somebody else there when you get to it. I would suggest that you travel in a group, safety in numbers. The number one thing is having the mind set that if you pull a weapon on somebody you will use it on them. A gun is not that great if you cant pull the trigger because you are not mentally into it. Train with your gear so you know how it works and the best way to carry it.

  28. Lonne Ranger says:

    The mental aspect will be the downfall of plenty of preppers. When a loved one is killed in front of the other loved ones there is a mental shutdown that occurs and can incapacitate even the physically strongest person. Running the most brutal scenarios in your mind is a hard thing to do but it is essential to your mental preparations. How will mom react when dad is killed in front of the family, can she muster the strength to clear the family to safety? This may sound bizarre but believe me when I say a mentally prepared person is stronger than someone that has done their skills studies to the enth degree but falls short on emotional preparedness. Both aspects are important in their own right. Start think of the unthinkable and you will get through the proverbial s–t storm.
    Thanks for this site. Much appreciated.

  29. nunurfuckinbiznes says:

    selco, i agree that being in shape is important, and that blending in with the people around you is equally important.

    but as a direct question to you

    what do you think is the perfect balance between being physically fit, and carrying easily carried calories (body fat).

    ive had personal experiences losing 10 pounds in a week digging ditches while practicing a ration regiment.

    currently i classify myself as “fat” as i am 250 pounds on the nose, and i worked for over a year to put those 50 pounds on in preparation, some will snub their nose at this no doubt… but i live in an area that if the trucks stopped running, there is very very little fat to be had in the area… especially with every red neck out looking for fatty moose (very few left…) or fatty beaver (also not so many).

    in my mind i am giving myself an extra month or two of rationing (dieting haha) but i am willing to lose some weight to increase my endurance levels (currently all time resting low).

    what is your opinion?

    • Selco says:

      Usually stress “melt” away everything. I am not sure did I understand question, but I can answer from personal experience, i was “skinny” in that time, and i found it useful in many situation, but on longer run being without enough “fat” gave me lot of trouble later, after everything ended. It was like I pushed myself to many time to the limit without too much “fuel”.
      Now I am much bigger and heavier comparing to those days, maybe i will be just little bit less maneuverable, but I will be stronger. On longer run it is better.

      • Xabier says:

        The standard build of the mountain-men of Spain is very light and ‘wiry’: they were hired by the Romans as bodyguards, and were among the most famous and dangerous mercenaries of the Middle Ages. They beat everyone.

        They wore the light simple sandals that I flop around the house in, and carried just a big knife and a spear and usually no armour.

        But they were hard, clever, fast, knew how to hide when necessary, and terrifying to met.

        It’s easy to get hung up on equipment and weight.

        Just enough equipment, but lots of brains seems the right balance to me. And luck……

  30. JX says:

    A lot of preppers seem to have these weird fantasies of turning into Rambo or Clint Eastwood, so they buy all of these high tech weapons and paramilitary gear instead of improving their skill set. Knowledge weighs nothing, somebody once said. It seems like with survival gear there are a lot of ripoff artists selling stuff that you don’t have to have.

  31. Xabier says:

    During WW1 it was found by the British Army that men of 40 or more were, on the whole, totally past it in terms of endurance: there was just no point in putting them in the front line.

    Worth bearing in mind how the body ages whatever you do to keep fit: but then, a man of 40 knows, or should know, a hell of a lot and see trouble coming a mile off. Cunning old fox beating the young lion, that sort of thing….

    • john says:

      Here are some factoids for you to chew on:

      A man’s body reaches maximum bone mass at about age 30

      A man’s body reaches maximum muscle mass between age 40 and age 50(lots of variablity here)

      A man’s income (adjusted for inflation) reaches a max, on average, sometime in his 40s…this implies his functional intelligence peaks around the same time…on average. Again, lots of variability on this one.

      Some rare individuals continue increasing their income and their intelligence well into their 80s but this is not the norm. Most men’s health begins to deteriorate in their 40s or before and their mental capacity begins to decline not too long after their health does.

      A man’s cardio endurance peaks somewhere around age 28(long distance running for example)

      however, the physical ability thing is a difficult issue to quantify. Older guys are not so good and running marathons but they are still pretty damn good at other kinds of physical exertion. Take for example, my great grandfather who died 30 years ago or so. In his seventies he could do manual labor that no one in their 20s could come close to doing. I mean he could work you to death if you tried to keep up with him. Swinging a hammer, operating powertools, swinging and axe, etc…he could do these kinds of tasks indefinitely and without a break.

  32. iksnilol says:

    How do you make yourself look less desirable? As in how do you make your clothing and equipment look battered and broken? I heard about bleaching wood to “weather” it and read about somebody painting their car to look rusty. Could you please write something about this?

  33. shadowfaxhound says:

    just a generic question. what did you do for drinkable water & edible food during your year (or more) occupation by armed force’s?

  34. stevenr.f. says:

    Selco, I appreciate your “gray-man” take on things, and that borne out of the worst of experiences. In the US we are too ready to go “loud and proud”.

    I think you alluded to this as part of your preps–community. You intend to be where you know everyone, or many at least, and in a more rural setting. I think one valuable thing for many of us is to know our neighbors and to build relationships. It’s not a guarantee, but in times that are not complete loss of rule-of-law could be very valuable. Being able to organize your neighbors, your street, your block–just keeping people working and focused on the needs at hand–that alone can keep hope alive when lights are on the next town, county, or state over.

    In terms of gear I’ve swung both directions. I’ve got some camo gear and black guns, but also a “redneck AK”, the venerable .30-30 lever action carbine. 🙂 My drag bag has mostly rudimentary stuff borne out of hours of listening to Dave Canterbury. I can’t afford to try to pack a 20 lb four-layer sleep system when I can keep myself warm enough to keep going with a woobie, tarps, trash bags and paracord. I’m just not that young to be humpin’ a hundred pound ruck.

    Speaking of exercise, I want to recommend “You Are Your Own Gym” by Mark Lauren. I’d suggest getting his dvd and then the book, rather than try to do it just out of the book. Take a look at his clips on youtube. It’s all body-weight exercises, you can get your workouts done in well under a half-hour with no additional equipment. I’m nearly 48 and have been on a totally sedentary job for over three years when I started this workout; I’ve got great results in the first three months. Not magic like P90X promises, but not injured out either, which at my age would likely have happened on a more aggressive program. And I still have two more of the three-dvd set to progess with as well as the book. I like Mark’s level-headed, no-nonsense approach.

    Knowledge doesn’t weigh anything! I like that. What you know will go a long way.

    • Sid Viscous says:

      You touch on a very important point. I am in a small city that has a very tight community feel to it. There are tons of service groups, collectives and mutual interests. It would be pointless for me to leave all this and try to make it somewhere isolated where I wasn’t known…ain’t gonna happen. I’m bugging in.

      The point that I think Selco has made in his excellent online course (outstanding, thanks Selco!) is that there is a brief window after a collapse where it is still somewhat safe to be out on the street, if you are watchful. That is the time to make the rounds to make sure everyone on your block or neighborhood understands that it will be safer to hunker down soon and to make any last minute arrangements.

      I personally strongly favor bugging in and organizing a neighborhood over leaving. You will have to overcome the urge to take care of only yourself–especially if your are well prepared–but in the long run, I think being able to offer people some way to hang on even if they aren’t ready will give you a safety advantage in short order. I would rather figure out a way to get everyone working together even if it means sharing than having to fight them off day in and day out just to have it all to myself.

      Selco has mentioned in his course that both the good and the bad types show themselves pretty quickly when it goes south. If you are prepared, with good information, useful knowledge, supplies that can keep a group viable, you will be supplying HOPE and will probably have influence. Use that influence to organize, mobilize and prepare for worse conditions down the road. Selco, correct me if I’m wrong here but I just feel that the advantage a group has is worth making initial sacrifices of personal advantage just to get the group momentum rolling.

  35. stevenr.f. says:

    Like to also remind folks, try to pack gear that can do multiple things rather than things so tailored to one particular function that they can’t do much else for you. Low-tech (NOT low-quality) often offers that flexibility. Just something to consider.

  36. Mike Charles says:

    I lived on the street in California for a year. To make your gear look less desirable you need to add unecessary patches, dirt, sew extra straps onto it, have a couple of crappy plastic bags hanging out of assorted pockets, etc. Think about your Tac Vest. If you took all the straps and buckles and Velcro and had it all undone and going the wrong direction nobody would want it. If it’s all sleek and good looking and LOOKS like it functions great it will be desirable. If it looks homemade it will, at least at the beginning, not be desirable. Most folks today in America base their decisions on looks, not function. I have a sh***y tarp to throw over me (to hide my pack and to keep me dry), a pair of cargo shorts to wear over my pants to make me look crazy (for extra warmth and pockets) and a dirty stuffed bear to carry with me. People leave crazy people alone generally; and if they don’t it’s to bad for them. It’s a concealed carry bear. I didn’t carry the bear in CA because the police WILL shake you down if you live outside. But if there’s no cops you want to look like you’ve already been robbed and don’t care if it happens again. On another note from that time the three best things I had were Heavy Duty sewing needles (dental floss makes great thread), clean SYNTHETIC socks, and a large fanny pack for day to day stuff. Make sure the fanny pack fits into the back pack when the fanny pack is full, so that you can stuff it in there and put your head on it when you sleep. A medium size drawstring “bucket” style pack is best. Replace the drawstring with one piece of braided para cord with a carabiner on it and clip it to you when you sleep. That way you can feel when somebody tries to take it. Generally, if your fanny pack and sleeping bag are the same size you have an easy “swap” when it’s bed time. I was a “gutter punk”, but it taught me a lot. Number ONE: take care of your feet, always. If you can’t move you are F**KED, period. Also a leather “butt flap” will help you to look homeless, keep your ass dry, and provides good extra material for repair of gear.

  37. Mike Charles says:

    Also, I’d just like to say to all the folks who are focussing on the model of gun/rounds/caliber you carry; you’re missing the point. The idea is NOT to get in a shooting situation. You need to have a plan more than you need a gun. If you go out in the morning and look around to see what you can find, carrying your AR like some sort of totem that will protect you just because the NRA says it will, you will get killed. If you need diesel fuel to get your family out of the city and you sleep until dusk in a spider hole, adjust your eyes, then take your c wrench and empty milk jug and crossbow, and go out and drain the transmission fluid out of an broken down vehicle then go quietly home by a different route, you may still get killed. But the odds are a lot lower, and you’ll know why you’re doing it. It’s good to consider getting in a shooting encounter. It’s good to have great gear, top quality ammo, and have it in spades. But it’s more important to know what you’re trying to accomplish, why, and if it’s worth it.

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