“This is a guest post by Frank B and entry in our non-fiction writing contest – where you could win $100 cash. (This contest ends on June 5 2011 so get busy)”
My sister called me last year concerned about getting to our retreat. She was one of the many motorists who got caught out in a snow storm and had to overnight in her car. Fortunately, she had put her BOB (bug out bag) in the car just a day earlier.
It had been sitting in the ready near her front door for months. She had water, a blanket, and food enough to be comfortable throughout the ordeal, but she realized this was just a one-night stand out in the world and the real event was most likely going to be much worse.
Our retreat is 360 miles from her home/work in the city but she has other options that are closer to her location, just in a different direction. I have always put pen to paper to figure out the facts and did so for her as well.
After reviewing all of her options, we determined that she needed to be better prepared. My wife took this a step further and pointed out that we needed to be better prepped for a similar event. We travel cross-country a great deal and could very easily be caught on the road when the SHTF. So, our BOBs just got heavier.
For debate, let’s consider that we got stuck in a traffic jam 360 miles from our retreat. Here is the method I would use to figure out our steps to get home.
We might choose to sit tight for a while, allowing for the possibility the traffic flow might continue, but at some point we’d realize that the jig was up. Some cars may break down or run out of fuel and be abandoned in the roadway (just what happened to my sister in the snow storm). This would be a clue that a foot trip may be in our future.
A map would be a must have item. A good map would be even better. A tritium compass would be a must as well (earlier post). As our truck’s GPS would not last long without a power source, we’d leave it behind rather than add more weight to our packs, but several routes could be explored and written down before we lost its use.
Determining how many miles you can walk a day can be difficult at best, and perhaps nearly impossible, given the endless variations in conditions. This being said we need to start off somewhere. It has been said that an average walking speed on level ground is 3/mph. Having a 60lb pack and being off the straight and level will also slow you down.
Again, for debating this example, let’s say we can travel an average of 2 mile per hour. We might do better on some days and maybe even worse on other days, but on average let’s go with 2/mph.
Before we have left the truck, we have determined that we must travel 360 miles and that we feel good about traveling at 2 miles per hour. We are also going to set a goal of traveling at least 8 hours a day for the days we travel.
At face value this could translate into a 23-day trip (360 miles divided by 2mph=180 hours of travel divided by 8 hours a day equals 22.5 days) if we didn’t take any time off; but since we do not have food enough for two people for 23 days, we know we will be stopping. Plus, neither of us are Superman so a break or two might be in order as well.
Heck, even Superman took a break now and then. Seeing these numbers would tell me right off that the walk home is going to be, at best, one month or so but you can see that bad terrain, foul weather, a twisted ankle, or any number of other issues could make this journey last much longer.
Based on what we have in our packs right now, we can plan this out. Renee and I carry two loaded packs everywhere we go. They don’t take up a lot of room in the back of the truck and are ready for what we hope would be the worst case we would encounter. Let’s see.
Getting an inventory of food on hand would be one of the first things to do. This would allow us to start out with a ration plan to allow what we had to go the farthest. Combining the food from both packs we come up with the items listed here.
8 packs of Mainstay 3600 Food Rations 6×3 (1200 cal/day)=10 days for two.
12 Millennium Bars 400 cal 3×400=1200cal = 2 days for two
8 packs Honey Stingers used as needed
6 MRE entrees = 3 days for two
4 MRE (complete) = 2 days for two
30 bullion cubes = 15 days for two
6 12-packs NUUN (72 16oz drinks) = 36 days for two.
38ct of Folgers instant coffee packets = 19 days for two
Seeing this list has me a bit worried. To be safe, we shouldn’t travel more than 17 days walk from home. As it has happened though (in our example) we are at least 23 nonstop walking days from home and have only 17 days of full rations. This is a bit better than I had expected to find but we still fall short.
We could cut rations by half and go 32 days with stops, hoping to supplement with what we hunt, fish, beg or find along the way. This might be the best idea. We do have electrolyte drinks in full rations, and bullion and coffee for alternate days. In my opinion, this would be a bold move to do.
It would take finding lakes or rivers to fish as we go as well as foraging from the flora along the way, but I think it could be done if the weather held for us. A good day of fishing would afford us a day off from walking.
Rationing for 32 days would get us the 23 with food to spare. We could also chose to go with straight rations of 875cal/day (73% of the full 1200 cal/day) to walk the 23 days straight. Without going into the other ways we could cut our rations, I think either of these would be a good plan given that good weather was with us.
If the SHTF in the winter, the calorie requirements could be twice what the plan uses in just staying warm. Winter would certainly put an interesting spin on this example. It might mean setting up camp somewhere so we could fish and hunt. We may need to find like-minded folks that would allow us to work for our winter keep. We may choose to make our way through the season anyhow.
If we choose to continue in the winter, our 17-day rations would last only about 9 days. We would still be hunting, fishing, foraging and begging along the way and only God could say how long the trip would take.
Clearly, having the ability to consider these issues before it happens can help with the happy outcome of such an event. Looks like I’ll be adding more lightweight food rations to the BOB. What do you think??:-)