Tips for setting up a survival retreat



This guest post is by Biff Brannon and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .

There is some good literature out there regarding setting up a survival retreat location. In fact if you were not aware, MD Creekmore, the owner of this blog site has a book out called “Dirt-cheap Survival Retreat: One Man’s Solution” that goes into some detail regarding setting up a survival retreat location for very little cost. I do go into some of that in this particular blog post as well, but mostly this article is about the importance of having a retreat location to fall back to. Especially for those who live near cities.

We should consider ourselves lucky that large-scale disaster events are few and far between. Most survival situations run for a short duration with many lasting less than ten days, and are what I refer to as ‘green’ events (a disaster lasting 1-10 days). Most green events can be handled by hunkering down at home with an ample supply of survival food and water and some alternative cooking means such as a camp-stove or even your back yard gas grill.

Throw in some other basic survival gear that can be easily found at any outdoor camping store, some common sense thinking regarding prepping, and you will be set to face a green event. However, larger disaster threats are out there, and such events that fall into the ‘yellow’ and ‘red’ event category (yellow event 10-90 days, red event 90+ days into years) typically spell bad news for entire regions and sometimes entire countries.

You can pretty much count on a yellow or red event having a complete breakdown of society at some point. Water service might not be operating, electrical power may not be available, stores will not be getting resupplied from distribution centers, people will start to starve and panic, looting and rioting will take place, people will die, people will get sick from poor hygiene, some will contract otherwise controlled diseases, the government will not be able to keep control… it will be basically everybody fending for themselves. And the worse place you will want to be is anywhere near a city or large town.

Hunkering down at your apartment or home is not always going to be a good idea in the case of yellow or red events, as bands of looters will eventually end up going from house to house or apartment to apartment. This is where the survival retreat location comes into play for people who are serious about being preppers. Some of us are lucky enough to already live far away from cities, however most of us are not. Those of us who are not that lucky will need and want to have a retreat location.

When it comes to retreat locations, like any other piece of realistate, the mantra is location, location, location. A thirty minute drive from the outskirts of a city to a friend’s farm is not going to be a good retreat location, but nor is it necessary to buy a place in rural Idaho where the population is as low as two people per square mile. When looking to set up a retreat site you want to try and be at least one full tank of gas plus a minimum of another fifty miles away from any major city/suburb center. That comes out to about 300-350 or more miles. And you certainly want to also be at least fifty miles away from any major highway or interstate.

The reason for this is because when things really start to go bad in the cities people are going to start to leave them in a massive exodus. Once people notice other people loading up their cars to leave town there is going to be a domino affect. When exactly that will happen is hard to say. Some people will have enough smarts to see were things are headed and get out ahead of everybody else. That is the kind of person you need to be. Others will keep on thinking things will get better and try to ride it out, only deciding it may be better to leave the city once they are down to having hardly any food or water and no way to get more. By then it may be too late to safely leave.

Those roads and various other travel routes such as railways and river-ways are called ‘channelized areas’. You can expect these channelized areas to be jam-packed with people fleeing the cities. The highway in particular will be a very bad situation as people stop to try to get supplies along their route. Eventually gas stations, other retail centers and even small communities along the major roadways will run dry of gas and supplies.

Cars will run out of gas or just breakdown along these channelized areas. This will clog the highways and bring travel to a stop. People who fled the cities will get out of their cars at that point and load up as much of their belongings as they can carry and start walking on foot. At that point they may stop following the highway and just spread out from their location in all directions. People are either going to have what they need to survive for a few days or they are not. The people who don’t have what they need and do not have skills to find food and water in rural zones are going to prey on those that do have food and water. It will be a very dangerous situation.

People leaving in the mass exodus will probably think to go as far away as possible hoping that things will be better in another part of their state or region in the country. However, in a red level event that affects the entire country or the world, things are going to be bad everywhere, and probably for some time. Some will try to head to a relative’s home far away. Others may think they should head towards where there is lots of water. Some will want to head to farm country. Other may decide they will head to the wooded and forest regions to try to lay low by camping.

It is safe to assume that people spreading out from the cities will not get very far without food, water and survival gear and skills. That is the reason why you want your retreat location to be as far away from cities and their channelized areas as possible because the refugee situation will be devastating. Anything within sight of a group of desperate refugees, be it a house, store, landmark, barn…anything, will be traveled to and searched for supplies.

The more desperate the refugees, the more dangerous they will become. Starvation and thirst will make people do things they would not normally do, not only for themselves but especially for a loved one. So you need to be far away from such threats as possible. The further away you are from channelized locations the less interaction you will have with desperate people. But still count on having such interactions, and be prepared for when they do occur.

So when looking for a retreat location what kind of place do you want to search for? Some people will look for real estate such as a cabin on a lake or a secluded hunting cabin in the woods, others will look to purchase property in farm country and perhaps buy a small hobby farm, others may think to load up their camping gear and head into the backwoods where they have gone camping before. And there are others that will look for an in-town retreat, meaning a small community of less than a few thousand people. All are viable options, and some may be better suited for certain regions of the country. Of course it also depends on what you can afford.

Of the few options I mentioned above lets take a look at the two defining differences: Secluded survival retreats and in-town survival retreats. Both have their own pros and khans.

Survival Retreat – In Town: Pros

  • You will be part of a community, hopefully where people help people.
  • You will benefit from having lots of community people you can barter with.
  • You may benefit from the security precautions the community takes, especially if law enforcement remains intact.
  • You may benefit from any local hospitals or clinics.
  • You will benefit from a greater skill pool off all the people in the community.

Cons

  • Greater risk of being burglarized.
  • Increased risk of communicable diseases.
  • Greater risk of your prepping lifestyle being noticed and your supplies confiscated for the “good of the community”.
  • Limited privacy.

Survival Retreat – Isolated: Pros

  • You will have better privacy.
  • Easier to hunt from right outside your door.
  • More room for gardening.
  • More control over your own supplies.
  • Better control of overall sanitation.
  • Batter able to keep livestock close and easier to feed.
  • Much lower risk of communicable disease.
  • Lower land and house prices.

Cons

  • The more isolated you are the less opportunities you will have to barter for needed items.
  • Probably will require more than one family unit to provide adequate security.
  • You should not depend on much help from neighbors or whatever law enforcement may be left if attached by looters.
  • Personally for my own retreat planning I have two locations; a primary location and a secondary location that is about a 2 day walk from the first. Both I would classify as isolated, though they are located less than a day’s walk from small communities of 400 or fewer people where I and my family are well-known.

A few other things to think about when choosing a retreat location:

  • It should be 350+ miles from major cities.
  • It should be located 50+ miles from major interstate freeways and other channelized areas.
  • Good local resources for wood, wild game, crop growing, and of course water.
  • Good source of surface water (saying this again a different way because water is important) and year round precipitation.
  • No risk of flooding, major earthquakes, hurricanes, forest fires that would burn your retreat home, etc…
  • Some natural defenses like hills or berms that make prepping for defenses would be preferable.
  • Low population, as fewer people around will mean less problems.

Now that we have broken down the isolated retreat against the in town retreat, lets take a look at the preppers who want to head off into the wilds all alone and survive on bugs, chipmunks, deer, and living in man-made stick shelters under a blown down tree versus a prepper who plans to hold up with family or friends.

As for the lone prepper, personally, I do not think that is a very good idea. I have the utmost respect for people like Bear Grylls and Les Stroud. The skills of such men are amazing, and while such skills will keep you alive for a few weeks and possibly a month, surviving in the wilds like that long-term can have devastating affects on a person. Trying to survive on such skills as demonstrated by the TV show survivalists for many months to a year or more is going to be very difficult.

Even if you know how to build a log cabin and sustain yourself with food and water and scrounging wild roots and veggies, you are taking a big risk just by being alone if you get hurt. If you get hurt or even sick bad enough to keep you from maintaining your food and water stores you are going to die. If you break your tools that you brought with you and have no way of fixing them or bartering for new tools you are going to die.

If your hunting rifle breaks or you run out of wire or thread suitable for snaring or hunting game, you are going to get very hungry and could die. For me, going out alone into a survival situation for extended periods like a yellow or red event is just asking for trouble. You need to know how to do everything for yourself, you need to know how to do it well, and you need to make sure you are always healthy enough to maintain camp and supplies to be able to keep alive.

Being part of a family unit or a group of like-minded friends, or a combination of the both is a safer way to prepare when planning a survival retreat location. For example, I am part of a small group of like-minded family and friends. Some of us have paramedic and nursing work experience, some of us are former military including military police, combat medic, and a force recon marine.

Some are avid outdoors-men who can hunt and are familiar with woodland survival techniques, others know how to plant and grow food and how to preserve food for storage… the knowledge and skills spread out over ten different people is not only diverse but amazing. Also think about all the knowledge that can be cross-trained from members of your survival retreat group. If somebody takes a class on soap making or maybe animal trapping and all you need to do is hold a class for the group and cross-train that new knowledge.

Another good thing about being part of a group of preppers is that it can really help bring costs down. Think of a retreat location more like a vacation spot out of the hustle and bustle of city life, and maybe go a step further and look at the retreat as a time share property or a membership managed LLC that owns a lodge open to use by members only. Of course it may be easier if just one person owns the property and is open to work and tools contributions from the group.

Either way if you setup a prepper group you need to know you can absolutely trust the people you are forming up with. This may be less important when dealing with just family members. Either way there will be arguments over things. Be prepared for that as well. But remember the ultimate end goal you are trying to achieve.

The fact is that if you are facing a yellow or red event than you can almost certainly expect the power grids to be down and then eventually everything else that society provides is going to fail as well. You retreat will need to be ready for the kind of living our forefathers experienced before electricity and motorized equipment. You need to be ready to get back to the basics such as growing your food in a garden, using an outhouse, digging a well, patching threadbare clothing, making your own soap, tending to livestock, sharpening axes and saw blades, canning preserves, making candles, smoking and salting meat for storage, etc…

Not only does a retreat location require money for equipment and tools you may need, but it will also require to you to be prepared with a whole new set of skills to be able to live comfortably, or at least as comfortably as you can. Depending on the climate your retreat is located in will largely depends on some of the tools and skills you will need to have, but mostly I think you will find that most skills and tools will apply in most regions.

Of course your retreat is going to need to be stocked with the usual items such as eating utensils, plates, glasses, furniture – it is a second home after all, assuming you are not able to relocate and live at your retreat location year round, so you will want to make things as comfortable as possible and get enjoyment out of it even if it never needs to serve it purpose as a survival retreat. But lets take a look at some suggested things in the list below that you may want to consider having or planning for.

Survival Retreat Prepper List: Above and Beyond the Usual

Water: You will need to know how you will be able to get water for survival at your retreat. There are a many different ways to secure water. Once you have it, you will need to be able to store it safely for short periods of time until consumed.

Food: Store more canned foods, MREs, bulk rice, bulk wheat, bulk beans, bulk salt. Learn to can and preserve your own foods that you grow or harvest from wild plants. Your canned and stored foods may not last as long as the disaster event does, so be prepared to learn some skills such as farming, hunting, fishing, and foraging for wild foods.

Fitness/health: Before a major survival event strikes you should seriously think about getting done any elective surgery procedures you have been putting off. Take care of any dentistry work. Stay in shape. If you are not in shape, get in shape or at least better shape.

Personal Items: You should make a separate list for each member of your family or person who is expected to stay at your retreat during survival event. Things to think about; spare glasses, prescription medications, birth control, and feminine products all come to mind right away.

Chemical and Nuke Defense: Geiger counter, HEPA filters, potassium iodate, means to shower outside your retreat.

Pandemic Defense: Hand sanitizer, disinfectants, antibiotic and antiviral medications, N95 masks, expectorant.

First Aid: It would be a good idea to get advanced first aid training, possibly EMT or Paramedic level if possible. Have a first aid kit on hand equal to or greater than your level of medical aid ability, and have extra supplies of everything.

Hygiene: Soap – lots of it. It would be a good idea to learn how to make it. Suggest that you have bottles lye on hand to help you make soap. Toothpaste or powder, floss, toilet paper, sunscreen, alternate toilet paper for when the good stuff runs out.

Gardening: Learn to garden and look into buying and storing non-hybrid seeds. There are so many numerous gardening tools out on the market that to list them all here would take up too much space. Start out by keeping it simple and buy the basic rakes, hoes, shovels, tillers and hand garden tools. If you don’t know a thing about gardening you better find out right away and start learning. Being able to plant your own garden and raise your own crops could mean the difference between starvation and living. Aside from learning how to grow food to eat, you should also look into growing your own medicinal herbs.

Livestock: It wouldn’t hurt to have a dozen chickens, a couple cows, and some goats. Being able to have some fresh eggs, milk, and make your own butter would be a great benefit to any survival retreat. Of course having such animals will take some work and possible new skills. How far you want to go with keeping livestock is up to you.

Hunting and Fishing: Being able to hunt and fish could help greatly towards keeping you well fed. Look into what wild game is located in your region and learn how to hunt and trap it. Learning to smoke meat can help in long preservation in any large game animals you harvest.

Fuel: Buy plenty of extra fuel. Gasoline, kerosene, propane, diesel…whatever. If you have something that runs on fuel, make sure you have extra of it and don’t let your primary tank fall below half full. Gasoline does not keep for a long time, but diesel stores better than gasoline – either way, keep some additives such as STABIL that will help extend the life of gasoline and diesel fuels. Rotate out any old fuel you have stored when you buy new fuel.

Security: Fences, locking gates, locking road cables, reinforced doors, night vision gear, guns and ammunition, razor wire, black plastic to cover windows (keeps light from inside being seen outside at night), security patrols.

Firefighting: In a green, yellow or red event the fire department may not be able to respond. So be ready to fight your own fires as best as you can. Keep fire extinguishers inside your retreat, replace your roof with a fireproof metal roof, keep trees, hedges and brush at least fifty yards away from your retreat house. Maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors inside, and have fresh batteries on hand to make sure they are always working.

General Tools: For gardening, gun-smithing, auto-mechanical, woodworking.

Communication: Having a handful of two way radios is a great way to stay in contact with people who are out working in the yard or field with those that stay behind at the retreat house. Communication is actually a part of your security list as well.

Don’t have the means for a hardcore survival retreat location?

Now, not having a good retreat location can be a problem depending on the type of event you are facing. A green event is probably not going to be a problem where you need a retreat location, but then again it may be easier on your life and that of your family to still leave home for a while. Depending on the type of yellow event; perhaps a tornado, earthquake, massive flood, or thermal nuclear terrorist event to name a few possibilities that affect only your immediate area, you may be able to go live with extended family 500 miles away for a few months.

A red event is truly the worse case scenario, and more than likely it is going to involve something on a grand scale that not only affects the country but could affect the world and certain to involve a total collapse of society. As mentioned before cities are going to be something to avoid, and the suburbs would be overrun with looting and scavengers as people flee the cities. Having a good retreat location is going to help any prepper survive that normally lives near or around a city.

So what can a prepper do if they do not have the means for a secluded hobby farm, hunting cabin, or even just a second piece of vacant property out in the middle of nowhere away from channelized areas? My first suggestion is to possibly try to meet like-minded people with the prepper mentality. There is certainly better security to be found with good people and forming a ‘prepper group’. Perhaps somebody in the group has a retreat location that everybody can use.

It may mean helping out with chores around the property to help keep it at a the ‘ready’. It may mean helping secure provisions and cross training skills with the rest of the group. Maybe it even means helping pay taxes or insurance on the property. The key thing to remember is to be very selective with any such group you may look to join or form on your own. Make sure you are 100% comfortable with the people and your interactions before getting involved too fast.

Another suggestion is to find a remote campground run by private mom & pop owners. These campgrounds tend to be off the beaten path, so to speak, and are more than likely used by ‘regulars’ throughout the year. Avoid the larger campgrounds like State Parks and KOA campgrounds, as these are at the foremost of people’s minds and are more commonly known and thought of, and are more than likely to be flooded with refugees from nearby cities and suburbs.

Possibly get familiar with a couple smaller campgrounds and find one that is a good fit for you and the family by going there to camp a few times or more a year, preferably one that has good pit toilets already in place and has water sources close at hand. Get to know the people in the community around the campground. You can be sure that other people will show up at a campground during a yellow or red event.

But the odds that the people who do show up are going to be people who are regulars at the campground and there will possibly already be a sense of community at such a location. Now, if deciding to use a small remote campground as a retreat, the key to survival will be learning a variety of camping skills, having extra camping gear that is made of good quality materials and possibly even having extra backups of things like tents and clothing.

You also want to be able to organize with the other people who show up at the campground. Organization means getting the group of campers together to work towards the greater good of the larger group by forming a solid community. That means taking care of sanitation requirements for a large group, managing water sources for a large group, finding food either by hunting, foraging or maybe battering with nearby farms, growing food, and generally the sharing of some resources.

As for growing food, it would be a good idea to have a wide variety of seed bank seeds available, not only to meet your family’s needs, but also extra to help provide for the larger needs of an entire campground.

An extremely negative reason to retreat to a campground is if the event that is forcing you away from the city is a deadly pandemic. In the case of a pandemic you will want to try to limit the amount of contact you have with people until the pandemic burns itself out, which the CDC (Center for Disease Control) says could take 90 to 120 days during the first outbreak. By limiting contact with people outside your family or prepping unit, you will also want to keep anybody you come across at least several yards away from you just in case they are carrying whatever pandemic bug is out there. Of course, limiting yourself and your group from people would be hard to do if retreating to a campground.

Of course, don’t forget to read the book “Dirt-cheap survival retreat: One Man’s Solution” written by the host of this web blog page.

This contest will end on October 10 2012 – prizes include:

  • First Place : $100 Cash.
  • Second Place : $50 Cash.
  • Third Place : $25 Cash.

Contest ends on October 10 2012.

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Comments

  1. Good article. You articulate what the DW and I have been talking about in choosing our next home. We plan to “Bug-in” and will probably have 10-12 others who will be going us, plus a couple of others who will have to be “shown the door”. We want to be a little dependent upon the grid for survival, but close enough to take advantage of it while it is still around and affordable.

    Thanks again.

  2. SurvivorDan says:

    Well thought out Biff. Very succinct, considering the depth of the subject. I can tell that you could have expounded at length on many of the sub-sections. Very nice overview of what folks need to consider about retreat locations.

    From time to time, I teach wilderness survival and concur wholeheartedly about your speculation as to the real difficulty of surviving for a lengthy stay in the wilds. Very bad choice for most folks.
    Even with my training and experience, if I stayed healthy and had few injuries I would still be in sad, sad shape after 6-12 months in the wilds. I don’t like my chances for long term survival in the wilds let alone city folk with a survival manual. Good advice Biff.

    “There is certainly better security to be found with good people and forming a ‘prepper group’.”

    While I agree there is strength and security in numbers, I have made several attempts to form a local prepper group. First with family members and close friends. Later with fellow sportsmen and such. Both attempts failed miserably and I and my prepper partner ruined our Opsec to the point that if we hunker down in place we will be busy repelling boarders who already know what we have. I’m not saying don’t make the attempt to form a group. I am just emphasizing the risks involved in the trying.

    Nice article.

    • Biff Brannon says:

      I have been very lucky in regards to my own prepper group. Most of them that are members have been life-long friends I had kept from childhood and college. Oddly enough, almost all of the members in my group never eluded or showed signs of being preppers at all, and I have known them for many years. They maintained their personal OpSec for years and years…but after a while because we were all friends you start to get the sense for a person who is a prepper even if they never let on to that fact. My group has been formed now for a more than a few years, but it also took about 5-6 years to build and took a lot of gentle probing and even more trust. OpSec is so important. You have to know the people in your group and trust them soundly. And a good solid group can take years to form. Sadly it is not something that can be rushed, in my opinion.

    • very good article indeed! Thank you very much!

  3. i cant think of a place east of the mississippi that not 350 miles from a large city.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      I like the 350 miles but as Lee notes, it may be difficult to adhere to that. I think 100 miles or more importantly 10 – 25 miles of dirt track (difficult access) would be appropriate and more achievable.

      • I agree with Lee that you likely won’t find a major city or population center on the east coast that is 350 miles from another major pop center, and with likely a large number of small to medium sized communities in between. I think the key to east coast survival is accessibility and concealment. I don’t think you need 10-25 miles of dirt road as SurvivorDan suggests, but there are means you can use to deter vehicular and foot traffic from the road to your retreat. Obviously, someone determined enough will always find a way, but if you make your place as difficult to reach as possible, 99% of looters or other undesirables (in-laws, etc.) will not expend the energy or effort to breach your defense and will seek an easier target. Case in point: I recently scouted some junk land overlooking a major highway. The highway was cut through the hillside leaving a 60′ mostly sheer cliff on one side of the road. The other side of the road is a railroad track and then a river. It is a total bottleneck. The property sits atop the cliff overlooking the road and provides a great vantage point for viewing anyone coming or going. The road to the property is long, rough, and well hidden from the road. Visitors to this property would face a long road heavily defended with your preps or a tough 60′ climb. As I said, both routes could be breached, but personally I’d take a pass.

        • Shawn,
          Have you read this post The East Coast Retreat Dilemma?

          • Yes, and I agree with Skousen completely, but he may have overlooked the area I intend to retreat to, the Appalachian mts of WV. I live in the DC metro area, and I want to remain close enough to work and to my retreat that I can split my time between both as needed, and that safety isn’t too far away to reach if all hell breaks loose. I’m originally from WV, and I am very familiar with the geography and the people, flora and fauna. I’m comfortable there, which is more than I can say for the many many snobs I work with that feel superior to anyone from WV. Trust me, the fear they have of West Virginians is downright offensive, but it is also to my advantage. I can’t imagine many of them making the trek up into those high hills, with the woods crowding the dirt track so tight that it’s nearly dark as midnight. Especially the first time they step into my tangle wire and I call down from the hilltop, “you sure have a purty

            • Purty mouth!”

            • village idiot says:

              ROTFL!

            • Shawn, I just watched the movie Deliverance the other night…your post is too funny…cheers.

            • Put a tear in my eye for the area from Mt Airy NC to Charleston WV. How I miss your winding roads to nowhere. OK actually I don’t miss humping that big green tick around, but WV is good country and if you aren’t as hard as those mountains you won’t make it there. Which means that most of those in the metro area are going to have a really bad day. Y’all ain’t from ’round here are ya boy?

    • I would have to be 700 hundred mile, 350 from each large city. That’s rare even west of the Mississippi. Denver to SLC is less than 700 miles. Denver to KC is less than 700 miles, SLC to Sacrament is less that 700 miles.

  4. An interesting point about how dangerous it was to leave late. I’ve considered there to be a “second window” if you wait until the exodus has turned into a zombie march.

    My plan is still to be among zombies in an orange event. I don’t have a retreat location, basically stuck here in suburbia and my relatives have gone un-paranoid enough that I probably couldn’t do better than asking them to store a shipping-box full of MRE for me. With luck, my high-functioning autistic act will let me get close enough to ask a group if I can be their plow-mule.

  5. I have been spending more time thinking about my preps and I want to challenge this a little bit as my thinking has evolved some. Currently I live in a condo in a city of about 90k which is a suburb of Portland. Now I really want to move out and I am looking for a semi-rural home that is within 30 minutes of the city since that is where I work. To address some of the issues here.

    First is a matter of aid. The undisputed fact is in a disaster any aid will first be delivered to the cities. Therefore people will stay there because that is where they think they will get help from the government. If you look at previous natural disasters and even normal functions (snow plowing) the cities are primary and the suburban and rural areas are secondary. This will limit the people leaving the city initially.

    The majority of people I encounter in the city or clueless. They don’t have cars (this doesn’t make them clueless) and have no real skills for surviving without a credit card, electricity and grocery stores. I don’t think enough people truly understand survival enough to move to the areas where the resources are. Since in a disaster they will most likely be walking a home 30 minutes from the city is realistically a 2-3 day walk with little water. Then there is the issue of navigation. I see people driving around with their GPS all the time. They have no sense of direction and in a disaster situation I believe they would mainly travel on the freeway/highway and would spread off in the major artery streets around.

    My situation is not ideal by any standards but I think it is manageable. If there is some disaster before I move or get some additional land then I plan to bug in and wait out the hordes. Bugging out is a last resort and one I would not take lightly since it would mean leaving behind a lot of my supplies and leaving the safety of home with two kids under the age of four.

    • Interesting Richard about the GPS thing. Hubby bought us a GPS before I caught the “paranoia disease” that led me to at least absorb what is here. I can’t use the device properly and so should prep for the 70′s model of using paper maps.

      (I do have a highway route to family memorized, and my walking attention to direction is uncanny enough I hope.)

    • SurvivorDan says:

      I believe the author was expressing his opinion that it would be best to get out of the large urban areas and that is sound advice if practicable and affordable for you.
      In lieu of having a retreat and receiving enough advance warning to get there, bugging in usually best indeed. IMHO

      • I am thinking that when you live in a bunch of apartments, that looters are more likely to go to homes that stand alone, due to the closeness of the apartments. The looters will also more then likely think apartment dwellers didnt store food etc. I my self would be more concerned with personal safety in being out side at all. Keep a low profile, do your shopping at night etc.

    • Biff Brannon says:

      I to have thought about the need to bug-in instead of heading to my retreat location. My main concern in bugging in at my primary residence is looters. With that in mind I think one important aspect to think about if bugging in is going to be making your home ‘appear’ like it has already been picked through by looters. And if you see the looters coming and have enough advanced warning then having a real good place to hide while they ‘walk through’ your home before deciding to leave. Hiding your supplies would be just as important as keeping yourself hidden away.

  6. Far too much to read. Lost interest quickly. Think the author might have forgotten about those who do not have the economic resources to do this, I sure as hell don’t. Live or die I ain’t got not choices.

    • Tom,

      That is what my book (linked in the article) is a about, that is setting up a retreat with little cash.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Also, the author mentioned retreat to a relative living in a better survival zone or a campground. Definitely little cash required in both scenarios. In Louisiana, after Katrina and Rita, many campgrounds were wide open (no charge) for an extended period to help those in need. If you can’t figure out how to get and transport a few tarps, food staples, your own household cooking utensils, bedding and clothing to a campground then you are in trouble.
      If you live in a major metropolitan area and have no personal transportation, perhaps you need to give serious thought to relocating to a more rural area. Good luck.

      • I would argue that the carless have one advantage of being used to being carless. Though that still relies on being able to walk the distance or being able to hitch despite the dominant generation’s paranoia against it.

        But you do have an argument about being able to live with tarps and miscellanea. I’m sure I’m not the only one whose bug-out plan involves a few space-age blankets and lots of suffering if strangers have no kindness. Kind strangers mean that I can add a pound of beans to their shoe soup.

        • Biff Brannon says:

          Hope for the best, plan for the worse.

          My hope is that if there is a need to fall back to my retreat that I will be able to do a quick vehicle load of my pre-packed storage boxes I keep at my main residence. If not, then I always have my bug out bag ready to grab and go, in which I face about a 3-4 day walk to my retreat location.

    • Tom, a backpack (BOB) that you are able to carry for most of the day, with 10 minute rest stops every 40-60 minutes, with some water filters, canteens, dehydrated foodstuffs, first aid kit, fish kit, sew kit, fire-starting kit, small mess kit, tent/tarp, closed cell mat and mosquito net, sturdy clothes and boots.

      Surely you can plan a journey to friends or relatives houses on a map now…(and you provide the same shelter for your friends/relatives/neighbors, just in case there is a yellow or red event in your/their geographical area). Mobility can be either on foot or a bicycle…are any of these options/ideas viable for you?

      Can cache bulk of your preps – if manage to return, these will be available to you again. Hope this helps…cheers.

    • Tom,
      I think if you had read further the author did cover that in the KOA type camping. We are also budget preppers and I felt that tip alone was worth it’s weight in gold. Also I think the author hits on the fact that paper money won’t be worth spit. Not to mention most people live by plastic now. If you had some spare salmon colored flash lights, well those just might be worth something and may get you noticed by the right people. In a suburban environment if you plan to bug in it may be worth knowing a local rabbit breeder. That’s our plan for sustainable protein. We have neither the means nor the land for “livestock”. Water will be what people live an die for here.

    • Biff Brannon says:

      Tom – continue reading the article. While I initially discuss retreat location such as remote owned properties, I do go on to mention alternatives that cost very little; such as mom and pop campgrounds that are remotely located off the beaten path.

  7. Keep in mind the following:

    Many of the small communities are just big enough to have city services like water & sewage which can be impacted by these events. Having a community small enough where people still have wells and septic systems may be an advantage here, or at least something to consider.

    Unless you can find property with natural gas wells (there are actually quite a few here in Ohio, propane will keep essentially forever. Along with some 16oz bottles, and 20 pound cylinders, we have several 1000 gallon (800 gallon capacity) tanks on hand, and we filled our tanks this year for 1.029 per gallon which is the least expensive we’ve seen propane in many years.

    Use rechargeable batteries with solar or hand crank genset for night vision gear, lasers and other gun sights, and communications.

    Keep a supply of Lithium batteries for smoke & CO detectors. Lithium has a shelf life of 10+ years when stored properly. Smoke and CO detectors also have about a 10 year useful life, and if the event is that bad you’ll likely not be replacing them with new ones.

  8. BamaBecca says:

    Great post! You pointed out some things a lot of people wouldn’t consider, but as someone else said…I can’t think of a single place thats 350 miles from the nearest city.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Can’t think of too many places that fit the criteria.
      Being from Hawaii I always thought that Kaui would be a good place in the event of TEOTWAWKI. Low population and separated from Oahu by a wide and deep channel. Very lush with coconuts, breadfruit, fruits and lots of fish. The weather is as close to Paradise as you’ll get whilst still breathing. 2500 miles from the mainland.

      Later I realized that food supplies would be rapidly diminished in short order and I would be trapped on an island of cannibals looking to put ol’ (stringy and chewy) SurvivorDan in the stew pot. Taking a number of them with me just puts more meat in the pot for the survivors.

      I guess I’m saying there is no set criteria. When I finally purchase my own retreat (very soon) I will scout out several areas and get the WolfPack and MD’s input on placement.

      • Survivor Dan, funny stuff on the stew pot! Great article Biff. I went through this process last winter. Although not 350 miles from the nearest large pop area, the property I bought is outside of a small mountain community. All homes have wells and propane. Many homes have big solar set ups as well. There is a stream I have access to. Plenty of trees, flora and fauna. Minimum of 5 acres per home in the gulch so you could run to a neighbor if needed but otherwise they won’t hear you. Also what was key was to have a defensible location with a military crest. I can see them coming before they see me. Charging up a hill to get my stores will not be advisable! Make sure you have plenty of southern exposure in the event you go with a solar off grid set up.

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

    If a group of folks have little cash, maybe a small rural pasture or acreage could be shared (yeah, I know – Good Luck with That!) and purchased collectively. Say four individual families, each taking a quarter of the land. A pond at inside corners so that all could share in that bounty. A shop building, owned and stocked with tools by all for common use (saves money there as well.) All of taxes, all of the upkeep, all of the defenses, all of the gardening and ranching, taken collectively. Saves a ton of money. Probably have to stick to trailer home type for this, many states have limits on what a ‘residence’ is and how many can be land before subdivision occurs.

    A pipe dream, but for some, a possibility how to get an affordable rural retreat. Many families find themselves with family members moving in (both parents who need some temporary care or young graduated youngsters with few job prospects), this might work for them.

    Just throwing that out there.

  10. Interesting read.

    I have a couple of choices – go north to a friends hunting camp but have to skirt or go through the most densely populated areas in Canada – or hope everyone goes north and I’ll head west to some farmland.

    I think I have some serious thinking to do.

    • Biff Brannon says:

      Just be aware of those ‘channelized areas’ I mentioned. Get some maps and plan ahead with various travel route alternatives.

      I’ve even gone so far as to practice bugging out (and bugging in for that matter).

  11. Tactical G-Ma says:

    Biff, very informative. Of course, some of your points are in an ideal situation and I for one will need to compromise somewhere. I do believe in my little community there will be clans. Symbiotic relationships will develop by family, friendships, church affiliations, maybe even by which roads we live on. But in this simple little community, for generatins, prepping has meant surviving. And to Kelekona, there will be communes where making soap, hoeing gardens, rocking babies, etc. Will be needed. Learn as much as you can and you will find people who need you. Oh, and M.D., your books are on my list.

  12. Great Info my friend. Once you learn things you still need review. I call it topping the tank off. In the defense area can anyone recommend a firearms training course for women in the Michigan, Ohio or Indiana area? My sister in Dearborn has woken up and is prepping and needs firearms training. She hopes to move to a retreat with 1/2 acre or bigger soon away from deathtrap Detroit. First she need to be able to use the gun and I live too far west (New Mexico) to teach her. We are bugging out tomorrow at 16:30 for a weekend in the Santa Fe National Forrest, wish us well we think we got it all correct this time. Funny thing is if you were bugging out of Albuquerque you would want to come to our house, were liven on the edge. I don’t expect there will be much to hunt 30 days after SHTF. Keep that in mind.

    • The NRA would be your best resource for finding a local gun range or gun club with certified instructors. Good luck!

      • Biff Brannon says:

        Agree – any local gun club worth their salt should be able to provide introduction training for rifle, shotgun, and pistol.

        Anybody thinking of adding firearms to their prepping activities should seriously plan on getting the correct training.

    • Cao’m…have fun with your weekend away…every time I read posts about people going off camping, I want to go camping too…and yes, agree that there will be lots of tweaking the stuff you take, to ‘get it right this time’…so good to see you are practicing…cheers.

  13. M.D.C.

    If you are old..er (over fifty) and have little or no money with all the accompanying health issues that people in that demographic have, then I suggest you “Bug In” and have a minium of thirty days worth of food and water (Not a big deal), a shotgun (Against looters), a bible (To give you spiritual strength) and come to terms with the realization that life may become short and brutal and you may very well become a casualty quickly on in the ordeal.

    Take comfort in the fact that you have lived many good years in a world that our Great-grandparents would have thought miraculous and rich beyond imagination.

    If tomorrow is promised to no one, then under such harsh conditions, neither is today. Keep a positive attitude that the crisis will pass and all will be good again but develvope what I call the ‘Alamo mindset’ if things get really ugly. “I may go down in a fire-fight but by God I’ll take the SOB’s with me.”

    Even the worlds best prepared prepper is only one bullet/mishap away from ending up just like the unprepared and careless victim he ridicules.

    Just do the very best you can. Keep the faith. Fate will do the rest.

    • Watchdog,

      For most folks their retreat is their home so they are “bugging in” see my post Bugging Out vs. Hunkering Down.

    • Watchdog… you’re responce was like listening to the Anvil Chorus. You have put down the essence of what we can all expect in a SHingTF world. No matter where we might set down and put in roots … mountain retreat or inner city apartment .. it will be the Alamo for us all. We can’t simply delude ourselves in thinking we can always run away to better places if the one we’re in goes to hell. I only wonder if there might be a better set of discriptive terms than “Alamo”. Your last line is … good.

    • Biff Brannon says:

      Your post hits home for me. Most of my skills and knowledge in regards to prepping was taught to me by my father. He gave me a fantastic foundation to further learn more on the subject of prepping survival. However, he is now 65, and it was just a few years ago that he told me if the SHTF then he would be staying put and bugging in with my mother.

      • Tactical G-Ma says:

        Biff, like your parents, DH and I will hunker down. We couldn’t survive a trek on foot and our meds and supplies are many. We hope to last and go silently in our sleep. But we will not be the ones building the tomorrows. And we have prepared for others and we will hold our ground, if needed, at least for a while. We will do the best we can do.

  14. Biff thanks for a well thought out article. You touched on many subjects that I have bounced around in my mind for some time. I have friends and family that are preppers and many that talk about it but are woefully unprepared. A recurring thought is what do you when friends and family come begging to your door cold and hungry and without? Youknow you cant jeopardize your own opsec for everyone else…. People we are associated with that are unprepared whether by choice or economic disadvantage will become a factor we all will have to deal with at some point.

    • Biff Brannon says:

      Very good point. I know without a doubt that family members who are not at all prepared will show up at my retreat location. While they do not know me or my group are hard-core preppers, they do know that my second home is isolated, has nearby clean water, and wild food to hunt and harvest. Anybody who has a brain and who knows me, and who has a means to get to my second home (retreat) may show up.

      Charity is important, especially to family members. To that end my prepper group is prepared to dole out some charity. And for family who do show that are looking to stay, well, they better be prepared to work and contribute.

  15. Great article. It covered so many different things related to the “what ifs” of relocating. We have a Retreat location, fully furnished, in a very rural area with plenty of land for garden and livestock, as well as being surrounded by land that is owned by other family members. What it lacks, is the 350 mile distance from major cities, and isn’t 50 miles from a major highway. It’s only about 150 miles from major cities, and 25 miles from major highways. But, we still feel like we will be in much better shape there, than in the city location we are currently in, for “yellow” and “red” events. Thanks for all of your work on this article!

    • Biff Brannon says:

      While I like the idea of 300-350 miles away from major cities as being ideal, it is certainly not practical or attainable for 90% of the people who plan a retreat location.

      Finding a location that is away from the channelized areas, and offer a buffer from people spreading out along the country side when fleeing larger cities, is hopefully something people will be able to work into their preps. Again, even that is not ideal for many people.

      Again, for preppers who have yet to make a plan for getting out and away from the cities, just looking at a couple maps and using some common sense will show you what channelized areas are likely to be used for people escaping the cities. Most people will try to drive out of the city, and most people don’t have full tanks of gas in their car, and if things are that bad in the cities that people want to leave, they are not going to be able to fill up their tank before they leave. People are like mice, they travel along routes of least resistance.

  16. Wow , I agree that the 350 mile range puts 80% of the lower 48 out of play..
    My plans involve three different versions.
    #1 is if I win the lottery and have millions to spend , then I will get 500-1000 acres somewhere and build a hardend house that would take a bulldozer to get into when sealed up , with an underground bunker that is totally self sufficient and can support life for a min of one year and possibly more. If you are going to dream , dream big.
    Go to http://www.hardenedstructures.com to see some of my dream preps!!
    #2 is to get my house sold and get a spot of about 20-60 acres, with small house and become as self sufficient as I can, planning on ne ar or sw mo for this for personal and proffessional reasons. Plan on being at least 15-30 miles from any major city and there is really only a couple major ones in that area. Plan to be off grid as much as I can and try to raise as large a % of food as posssible and stockpile long term storage for the rest.

    #3 is if number 2 does not work out to basically follow MD’s advice and do the dirt cheap retreat on a smaller scale.

    Okay there is plan 4 which would be to stay in place. I live a few miles outside a smaller town (3-7000 people) on a golf course. Not an ideal location but has quite a few amenites around, lots of water, can fortify brick and stone home with metal roof so is virtually fire proof, can heat with gas and wood. Have neighbors that I know well and are as well armed as myself and there are really only two or three accsess points that could be blocked and guarded from vehicle traffic , would have to worry about foot traffic though. Not what I want but doable for long term yellow event. If it comes to a long term red event then it will be a long or short fight for a lot of people. Just hope I have time to get number 2 done and in place before any shtf scenarios, other than that will just do the best with what I have, even with what what I have I am still in better shape than 95% of the poplulation.

    • Stock up on seeds and turn the back nine into your garden!

      • Biff Brannon says:

        You said it… survival seeds: a staple for most preppers. And even if you can’t use them, they are highly valuable in trade if the economy fails.

  17. Bar Lye Soap can be bought now and last 100+ years. I have 120 year old homemade lye soap from an old homestead and it may be wrinkled, but still puts out the lather. Over a 100 years ago they washed clothes, hair, body, and dishes with the same soap. Making soap takes a lot of ime, better to buy it in quanities that will out last you so you so you can do other things more resourceful.

    I found gov’t wilderness land in certain areas are available to camp free. Plenty of hunting/fishing land off walking/fire trails. Gov’t land is public land, although rules must be followed now. In a SHTF senario, no officer will be seeking you out for camping more than 2 weeks in the same spot.

    I have my home as a hold out in the forest, and my 1st bugout place is a family cabin in the forest on a great pristine lake, and my 3rd bugout place is my cousins cabin in the forest on another pristine lake, and my 3rd, 4th and 5th bugout places are campsites I discovered on gov’t land.

    • Donna, wow, you do have good back-up BOL’s set up…so in awe.

      Agree on the soap issue…have all the raw materials stored in case I do need to make soap in the future, however, have been able to buy 8 cakes of Lux soap for $2.98 from the store…these are all stored for later.

      Also, one cake of soap makes one liter of bath/hand wash…have been storing these in assorted 1 and 2 liter juice bottles, and boxing them back up for future use.

      Also, used vegetable oil from the takeaways stores makes great soap…I drop off a metal 20liter drum, they pour the hot oil in, it thickens as it cools, and then I decant that into a plastic 20 liter bucket, and then drop my metal bucket off at the store again…
      cheers.

  18. ace riley says:

    The 350 mile rule is stupid- first: have you done a map recon and determined that there are not many places in the US that meets that criteria? So have you taken into account how much fuel you will use treaveling at 20 MPH do to heavy traffic? So that requires carrying an extra 10 gallons of fuel- some what dangerous cargo.

    Second: How do you define a ‘big city”? 50,000, 100,000, 250,000? Sort of critical when looking for that safe haven.

    Third: If you and everyone else is on the road at the same time- you will be stuck in traffic jams/road blocks. Then what?

    • Geez Ace… I feel the flames. One my define “stupid” as any opinion contrary to one’s own. May I use ‘collective’ terms here, No where in the lower 48 is beyond reaching with the fuel and a good vehicle. Most of the lower 48 is reachable with a tank load of gas and a beater. Question… what part of remoteness USA do you live in? Me .. I’m a city boy and I like WatchDog’s point of view and MD’s advice.

      • Biff Brannon says:

        Just a little warm – not too bad! :-)

        It’s one of the things I like about these survival/prep pages. Everybody has ideas and opinions. You can learn a lot from other people, even the ones who think you stupid…

    • Biff Brannon says:

      The 300-350 miles is ideal. Is is practical? As I mentioned in another response above it is not for most people and I did not initially write it in my article to be a ‘golden rule’. The idea it so try and find a good retreat location that works best for you in whatever area you are in. Such a place is going to be different for everybody.

      Being aware that the people who are first to leave the city are going to be traveling faster and going further than the others that follow. Eventually as the horde leaves the city traffic will slow, people will get less far with the gas in their tank when dealing with slow and stop and go traffic situations. Major roads will eventually become unusable for a car between the city and 300 miles out.

      When people can no longer travel in their cars they are going to get out of them and carry whatever they can carry and either keep walking down that major highway or spread out along the country side, or follow other county roads that they come across that branch away from the highway.

      Like another poster responded, finding a place off the beaten path away from the easily traveled routes is practical.

      • Rob Crawford says:

        Instead of distance, look at the number of road changes needed. Rate it a bit higher if there’s a geographical obstacle in the way — river, impassible ravine, whatever will turn people aside. Look out for power line right-of-ways. Even better if your retreat isn’t visible from the main road — and even better if your sole road frontage is a long lane you could make look abandoned.

        And everyone should remember to not make the perfect the enemy of the good. Any place you’ve prepared puts you ahead of 99% of the rest of the population.

  19. jr from ar says:

    Nice lengthy informative article…lots of details for consideration. I do, however, agree with some others on the 350 mile getaway avenue. I cant go in any direction without running into town after town, city after city…That said I do have my 2 cents to add on location. I suggest looking for a place like the following: A lengthy ways down a less traveled paved road perhaps, then down some less traveled gravel road. Then maybe a turnoff down a dirt lane and the an acre or so that is hard to see from the lane….Wow, I just turned up in M.D.’s yard!!

    • jr from ar,

      Hello there… Come on in – fresh coffee is in the pot… Just watch out for my 9 pound in the house guard dog, she is small but she’ll bite your ankles and snap your fingers…

      • jr from ar says:

        lol M.D. I understand…I once had a rat terrier. I told her when she was a puppy that she wa a pitt bull and she never got over it

    • SurvivorDan says:

      With a house tucked back from view and on the high ground? And a new chicken coop?
      Watch out jr! I hear there’s a guy living there with extendable batons and worse. Much worse.

  20. recoveringidiot says:

    I still believe things will slowly fall apart. Sure there could the nuclear war, a yellowstone eruption or any number of large scale events but I can’t really plan for those other than keeping my wits about me and doing the best I can with what I have. I do think the big cities will turn in to nightmares (I know, some already are) but I don’t see it happening fast other than something like Katrina. I live in a rural area but there is a interstate 20 miles away and a big one at that. I don’t worry too much about it because I just don’t see the country wide disaster that would drive millions out of the cities. Even if one does happen I think a huge percentage of city folks would stay where they are until its too late do anything but die, they don’t know anything else and most people will stay in familiar surroundings.
    All that said, I have been known to be wrong on occasion. So I do spend time thinking about finding a place just west of the Appalachians like Mr MD has. Then I think about all the people I know here and how many I could trust to help me and the opposite as well. Clan and tribe is a good thing.

    • Recovering Idiot…I so agree with you re huge percentage of people will stay in place till too late, as people are just not used to living any other way than how they live right now. And the more stress, the more many will think their house will grant them safety…expanding the danger.

      There was a situation just over a year ago, where, after heavy flooding further South, a major highway collapsed, and the apartment buildings closest were in real danger of collapsing as well, as the ground structure was severely compromised.

      Authorities had a hard time getting people to vacate the apartment buildings, and to stay out of them – even though the apartment occupants could see more of the road, sidewalks etc getting swept away, and more road surface collapsing.

      Always have back-up plans, even if you don’t use them for now, best to have it written down, with the route marked on the map, with phone numbers of people/family/friends you can call to assist if possible…cheers.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      “I think a huge percentage of city folks would stay where they are until its too late do anything but die, they don’t know anything else and most people will stay in familiar surroundings.” RI

      I think you are right RI. That is far more likely than marauding mobs getting very far into the countryside.

      The only clan I have here is my one hunting buddy and my very ancient parents (who I have to look out for) and TFMrs.SurvivorDan’s clan – 80% drug addicts and repeat felons.
      If I hunker down I will probably be forced to ‘discourage’ many of them who know about my lifestyle.
      I’m on the outer edge of it, but I gotta get out of this urban sprawl……

      • SurvivorDan says:

        To RI’s point about the city folk:
        Many folks in New Orleans, who could have been evacuated, chose to stay and counted on the Gov’t for aid.

      • Biff Brannon says:

        I agree, I think many people will still put until it is too late and then try to leave. It all depends on just how bad of a situation there is that causes a collapse of society. Hope for the best, prepare for the worse.

        Of city of a couple million people including the surrounding suburbs there will be a percentage that will stay and try and ride things out, and those that will flee. Those that do decide to flee will not all flee at once, but I think there will be an initial exodus followed by stragglers, only to leave behind the people who have no plans to ever leave.

  21. Southern Belle says:

    I really enjoyed your article. It definitely gave me more to think about. Financially, we are unable to purchase a bug out location right now but we are saving for that one day. For right now, we are building our preps at home and learning new skills that should prove useful somewhere down the line. I have found both of MD’s book very helpful as well as the comments from the other WolfPack members. Keep breathing and keep prepping.
    SB

    • Biff Brannon says:

      Well said!

      So much to learn and do and plan for. Lots of great information on this board from people with incredible ideas.

  22. jr from ar says:

    RecoveringIdiot : I agree that a clan or tribe is a good thing but my concern is who in my family or friend circle is gonna fold under the stress and pressure…there is no way to know for sure…I think many a nice person is gonna turn into Cujo when it hits the fan

    • Biff Brannon says:

      When people are starving and thirsty, and if those people have have family and kids that are suffering – there is no telling what a person in such a predicament might do to try and secure food and water for their family. It is scary to think about, but I agree that many people will do whatever it takes to keep their family and themselves fed.

      Things could get ugly.

  23. I do think that with a large shtf event that in larger cities(over 500,000) lets say 10-25% of the people may be ready and have some idea of what to do and be able to get on the road and bug out. Another 25% will just have no way to get out at all(poor, public housing food stampers). The other 25-50% will probably just stay put and hope that help will come, they will include elderly, families with elderly, people that are sick, or physically not able to walk to the corner let alone even a mile or two down the road. So that leaves in our city of say half a million, maybe 125,000 that may be leaving and that depends on the roads not being clogged or other obstacles in their way. That leaves 375k in the city killing each other, dying of disease, starvation , bad water or ailments no longer being able to be treated(just look how many diabetics there are now days ) after their meds run out after a month.
    I think recoveringidiot has a good point, if you have a good location 20-50 miles out from a larger city with a few turns, and long country roads you may be in good shape and the few that get to your location may be tougher than nails and a welcome addition to your crew or someone to be alert to, but there probably will not be hoards. Just think what it would take you to walk 20-50 miles in really good shape , there is no way 75% of the population could do it NOW let alone after a couple weeks or a month of shtf.

  24. offshore day says:

    some good things to think about in the article. Living here in southern socal makes the 350 mile zone tough. Also, I have my elderly parents to take care of, although it’s helpful that they are also in on the prepping. My choices to B. O. are down into baja, have spent a lot of time down there or am looking into a basic retreat in Cali that I could reach in one day. As for many others, cost and distance is an issue when you include obtaining the place, and preparing it for a major event.

  25. Cao’m, hope your camping trip goes well. We will be heading your way from alabama in mid october to elk hunt. We will stay one night in waterflow before heading up to dolores and rico,co. We hunt unit 71. Theres plenty of bug out opportunities there but sadly 1500 miles from north bama….

  26. 350 miles puts people here in Mexico. I wonder how accepting the Mexican government is going to be of a bunch of gringos crashing border fences, entering the country illegally, marrying for citizenship, applying for assistance, depleting the local food bank and voting in the Mexican elections?

  27. Biff
    A very well written article. I especially liked your definition and timespan of green, yellow and red events… Helpful in putting things into perspective and quickly deciding what actions to take. Thanks.

    • Biff Brannon says:

      Thanks for the kind words, and everybody else who has replied with input.

      I can’t take credit for the color code system I used in the article. It came from one of the members of my prep group and I believe he said he adapted it from somewhere else. It does help put some disaster situations into perspective, and helps people plan their prepping in phases… build up your skills and supplies needed for the green event first, then work towards being better prepared for the yellow, and so on to the red level event.

  28. FemaleUrbanPrepper says:

    This is a great article and really got me thinking. While I would love to bug in…I live in a very populated county of a large city (think 300,000). Our metropolitan area is the largest in the state. I have spoken to my in-laws about retreating or bugging out to their house in a SHTF situation and it was well-received. While not 350 miles away, it is 100 miles away, off a dirt road and up a hill. My concern comes from the fact that to get there…we have to cross the Mississippi River. If we bug out too late…we are screwed. So with this in mind…I have thought of different scenarios:

    1. Ideal: Pack 2 cars (with people and gear) and a small pull behind camper and get out before the streets are clogged.

    2. If the masses are already starting to leave…Pack 1 car and hope to beat the majority out

    3. Purchase scooters (good gas mileage) and stock them as much as possible and learn to drive them while carrying a fully stocked bug out bag. And get out before people start fighting and attacking people for goods. I am hoping this would allow us to travel between the cars that are backed up on the highway.

    4. Bug in and form a group of people who will come to my place with preps and form a defense against looters.

    Issues for all the above…my mother is in her late sixties and while spry I am not certain riding a scooter is going to be the best thing (though doable). I want to prep for my sister and her 3 small children (all are 5 years old and my sister is widowed) who live 30 min away in a direction that is away from where I wish to bug out. She is far from prepared for anything and I would be hard pressed to bug out and leave them behind.

    All this considered I honestly don’t know what the heck I am going to do. I live across the street from the local PD which could be a really good thing or a really bad thing depending on the situation. I live in a brick home with a good size backyard (that needs to be fenced) but we have rabid squirrels so trying to learn to grow anything there now is not doable. The squirrels have eaten through the SIDE of our trash cans so I doubt any type of garden will survive.

    Bottom line…I hope to store enough food for 3 months and create 72 hours BOBs for every member of my local extended family (4 adults and 3 children). I try to convince everyone to keep the gas tank full or over half a tank at all times. I would also like to make my vehicle a BOV if only by stocking my trunk with extra supplies.

    I read all these articles on here from people who seemed to have well-defined preps and plans and I sometimes feel I am flailing around. However at least I know there is a possibility I may drown…most people around me are just sinking to the bottom with an oxygen tank this is almost empty and are oblivious.

    • FUP…all my well defined plans may just come to naught…so, don’t worry about what others are doing…just walk your prep journey with the information you have and already know.

      I don’t know what is going to happen 5 minutes from now, however, I have flooding and cyclones, flu pandemic and financial collapse plans…and then, I just wait..

      And if possible, when time comes, I put my plans into action…and if things change, and my plans are a bust, then I go to other plans…

      So, stay flexible…and yes, do learn to ride those scooters, and bicycles also, if you already have these to hand…can load up the p/bike with your bags, to take the stress off your joints – because after a day of carrying an extra 30 lbs of weight – your body will feel it…

      If major roads blocked, and you have a tank of fuel in those scooters…it will be far easier on your mother than walking…and also, no heavy high backpacks on the scooter…I have low waist bags – the width of a normal backpack, yet only half the height…if can’t take my car.

      Also your post had a few plans outlined…flesh these out…do a pro/con scenario…look at it again in a few days…add/delete items…and just progress from there…

      1st…can you drive the 100 mile trip now, and take written notes of all streams, water areas, any public water faucets, schools, cemeteries, railroad areas, public camping grounds etc…not to stay at, but near enough that if safe to do so, can access faucets at all these places to top up water canteens, or use water filters in streams, or a place to quietly boil up some water…

      then, get out your phone book, and mark the relevant pages…work out how many miles/kms your family can travel in a stealth mode…i.e., look, listen for cars, birds, people etc…then move to your next stop – marked on the map, perhaps 40 minutes away, away from view of any roads or tracks etc…then repeat…until at your destination…

      Also, can you determine if you should commence your journey early morning, mid day or early evening…look at the maps again, with each of these departure times – see what is possible…is the 100 mile journey a 3 hour car trip for you – do you know how long it takes you to cover 1 mile now, on foot, by scooter, by bicycle…if it comes to that worst case scenario…

      also, your first day’s journey on foot may seem hard, however, by the 3rd day, the stiffness will really set in…so, need to take this into account also, and may need to factor that in, as, after the first day – will have to mentally push the body to just keep walking – as the day will pass, and won’t have covered much ground.

      There are a lot of variables to consider…and the perfect time to start on these is now…

      Also, if you can, have someone show you how to use a compass with a map…I had to be taught too…and then, if have to stay off main roads, can still find your way…

      Best is to take those different roads now, with the whole family, play the ‘I Spy’ game, only you are now looking for tree’d areas, streams, faucets, etc…you get the picture…have the children draw their own journey, in their own little notebooks, and fill in the things that they ‘spy’…add the time of day, season, wind direction, the time of arriving at the rest stop, and the departure time…etc…

      when you all get back home, and want to do it all again a week later…see who has the most info in their notebook…and this also imprints on their mind that it is a fun family thing to do…and then if you do need to bug out…you can keep your panic under control, or will transfer this to the children and other members of the group…as this is just another road trip on familiar (by this time) territory….

      also, another thing to do, is see if you/your family can see other people, before they see you/your children or group…and note this – and in the subsequent trips practicing this bug-out, see how this number changes…

      also, different children have different strengths…some are just natural in the outdoors, others aren’t, some can stay quiet, others just can’t sit still…plan for this…with some favorite items that you have in your pockets for just the right time…

      make it fun, and have fun yourself…this is a positive thing you can do right now for you and your family……hope this helps…cheers.

    • Also, no shiny new backpacks, have all the women/girls in your group wear unisex or male clothing on the foot/scooter/car/bike journey. Disguise the females to look like boys/men…bulk them up on top – make it look like they have broad shoulders…break up the female body shape…men’s belts, broad brim hats etc…disguise is important.

      Try to look like you have nothing of importance on your person that someone may want to take off you…also, have a good look at what someone with mumps or other contagious diseases look like…be ready to paint the face, neck, hands etc to mimic this…a sharpie can come in useful for this purpose.

      Start coughing when it looks like unwelcome people come close or look at your group, if unable to avoid their presence…wouldn’t hurt to start choking, spitting out saliva, while grabbing your stomach…and looking like you or one/more of the kids are going to have an unexpected bowel movement…use deception to save your and your families lives, till you all reach safety.

      If, heaven forbid, something happens to you and you can’t continue walking and need to stay put till someone can come back for you, as least you know the children and other members of the group know the way to the in-laws place…have practiced, and, because of their I Spy notebooks will know how to get back to you…

      Because, if it is truly SHTF time, and you are bugging out to get to a safer place because your home is compromised…as a parent do all that you can to get yourself and children to safety…trust your instincts and do what you can from this day forward…hope this helps…cheers.

      • FemaleUrbanPrepper says:

        Thanks Chloe! Great suggestions regarding the kids…I had not really thought about the fact that they don’t know my in-laws let alone anything about where they live (since they are my sisters kids). I am going to have to start taking them on a few mini road trips with Aunt Me and get them a little more mentally prepared.

      • Biff Brannon says:

        Wow Chloe you really nailed that response perfectly and with awesome suggestions!

        • Encourager says:

          Agree! Chloe you are one amazin’ lady!

          • thanks Encourager…you are amazing too…and so are the rest of the brave pack, and probably many lurkers…we know we don’t have all the answers, yet are willing to learn and share and support each other through this journey we are all walking together…cheers.

        • thanks biff…glad to be able to contribute in my own way…cheers.

      • Cloe, wonderful ideas about appearing unisex. One of my fears when my children were young that someone would hurt my daughter. She’s not really a girlie girl but she is a woman and very clearly that. I am an old woman with silver hair who has a hard time walking very far. When I am outside with my animals I wear a ball cap or cowboy hat.
        Girls need to cover up, cut their hair etc what ever it takes to be safe from predators. I truly believe all children be taught hand to hand fighting. Teach them to box, kick, what ever it takes to fight back. Little girls are afraid to fight back because they have been taught to be nice. Forget that crap, teach them to save themselves.

  29. SurvivorDan says:

    That’s right, at least you are aware there is a problem coming FUP and doing what you can. Good for you. Keep plugging away. Every little prep and piece of gear is a step in the right direction.

    • FemaleUrbanPrepper says:

      Thanks SD! I just have to keep reminding myself that every step I take gets me closer to my goal.

  30. Imagine being in S NJ. Bugging out would be a major almost-impossibility. Plus the ole man, with head mostly in the sand, flat out refuses to budge and goes ballistic over anything that looks like prepping. We’re too close to town, which is way too populous anyway and which has drive-by shootings at least once or twice a week.

    I’m as discrete as can be about supplies, but unfortunately don’t have the time due to work and mother-in-law issues to get everything organized the way I know I should. A few broken bones hasn’t helped either. Best I can do is complain about higher prices and some items disappearing from the shelves as some incentive for other half to understand why I do what I do. Having a 5-day power outage, which affected his creature comforts, did force him to quickly get a small generator. What he doesn’t get is that he’d better drain the gas out of it or add some stabilizer. And, by the way, those freaking five 5-gallon buckets of water in the basement stashed for toilet flushing really need to be dumped, cleaned, refilled and some chlorine bleach added, and for pete’s sake put a lid on them before everything in the basement rots away.

    I would dearly love to get up to a few acres tucked away closer to bone-you-know-what nowhere. Having a few like-minded folks along would certainly contribute to all the food-growing and security chores.

    I’ve always said people can go a few days w/o their comforts, but once they start running out of hope, look out for what they do when they start gettin desperate.

    • Encourager says:

      Mari, my heart goes out to you. How hard it must be to constantly think of a way to cover your butt when picking up a few supplies. Do you have family/friends that you could bug out to? Someone who is like-minded? If so, you could stock up supplies there. If push came to shove, send them money from time to time to buy supplies for you. If not, could you rent a small storage locker to use to put your supplies? Where there is a will there is a way. I’m praying for you!

    • Mari…just do what you can..and pray for guidance…

      small steps and remember – you are awake…that awareness may just save your and your family’s life one day…what with the drive-by shootings etc…if SHTF and you need to hunker down or bug out…

      your current awareness and presence of mind is important…will stand you in good stead…cheers.

  31. Hunter Joe says:

    Good post, but please fix some blatant errors so that I can share this post with others without it appearing like the author is uneducated. Two really poor errors that should be fixed are as follows…

    1. When it comes to retreat locations, like any other piece of realistate. “realistate”???

    2. Pros and khans. “khans”???

    • H’Joe…are you serious…

      I haven’t noticed any spelling police on this site for many months…

      it’s the message that is important, and how we all come together to share and exchange info…and not focus on the spelling – that’s how I look at it…cheers.

  32. Checking to see if comments are still open.

  33. I love reading everything I can find on prepping and survival. My husband just nods his head when I talk to him but he has emphysema pretty bad so he isn’t a lot of help. We are both seniors and I normally use a walker, you would be surprised at my skill levels in many things.We have an acre of land that we will be bugging in and heaven help those that try and take away from us.
    I am a COW for a reason (crazy old woman) I have no problem shooting any thing, be it 2 legged or 4 legged animals. This is my home, where my heart is.
    I’ve taught my children to survive from the time they could understand what I meant about gathering wood etc. I have a mini stud that I am training to carry a pack and to plow with. I have dogs that are trained, lil yappers for company. We are well armed, well skilled in many things from, survival to sewing, building using our hands, mechanics, first aide, canning,
    vet’ aide for my horse and animals. I am a problem solver and just that comes in handy. We have 4 wheel drives, we both drive big rigs or did before he got so sick but still can if needed. My son is a gunsmith, I do all my own farrier work. I can wring the neck of a chicken like I was still a youngin and I happen to be the best shot in our family and they are pretty dang good. I can throw a hawk, knife and stick it 9 times out of ten. I can tan a hide, build what I need. I may be old and half gimped up but don’t ever let that make you think this old COW is helpless~S~
    My one problem is, I can’t stand to see someone hungry, but I will get over that.
    Thank you for such a wonderful article, good luck to everyone and always remember one thing. Knowledge is power and with knowledge you can live through almost any thing!

    • Encourager says:

      COW? Wontcha be my neighbor??? Wow, I am so impressed with your skill level! You ROCK!

      • Thank you Encourager and Cloe. I try my best not to be one of those old broads who is so helpless she can’t open a jar of pickles. I grew up with 3 brothers, I was there sparring partner in boxing and kickin butt.
        Their all gone now, lost the last two with in 4 months apart. I am the only one left of the family and by gizzards my expiration date is 2043. Not leavin this place until then!
        Cloe, youngins have better things to do then to build chicken coops, dig trenches for water, rake horses pens, chop wood etc. Or at least thats what they tell me.

    • Holy cows COW (no pun intended)…amazing…can see you aren’t going to go quietly into the night…

      have you given any thought to having some trusted younger people/relatives etc live with you guys now to do all the heavy work…that is required right now, and in the future…

      You go girl…no doubt in my mind that you will surely surprise anyone that tries to take advantage of you…and welcome on board…cheers.

  34. Texanadian says:

    When hurricane Rita caused an evacuation of Houston it was almost laughable. Sitting out in the country watching the road as all these vehicles went by. Each one had only one person in it. The lead car would stop and three others would stop right behind. Dad in the lead, mom, Tommy and then little Suzie. They couldn’t leave their precious vehicles behind. Four times the fuel, four times the clutter on the roads and four times the hazard of being separated. People trying to take shortcuts around the traffic jams ended up hopelessly lost. My place never saw a soul. It’s isolated and the road says dead end. The next day you could travel easily if you had a car or bike. There were numerous cars abandoned without fuel or people sleeping in their vehicles waiting for help. My advise, bug out early or let the crowds disipate.

  35. justgettingstarted says:

    We have two horses, two goats, two dogs, three cats, and 9 hens. We do live outside of a small town but are not counting on our animals to be safe when looters come. Am looking for suggestions on how to keep grazing animals safe. They are all loved as pets and would hate to see them killed or stolen.

    • Justgettingstarted, the very first thing you need to do is keep your animals healthy and up to date on all their vaccines. Rabies, West Nile etc for the horses, rabies for the dogs and cats. Keep your chickens dusted. Make sure you hand trim the goats feet, if overgrown they get tender. Make sure the horses, goats, and dogs will stay on a high-line if needed right outside your back door. Also, if hobbled the horses will be harder to be led off by a looter. So a high line and hobbles will help a bit for the horses. The dogs will bark I hope and can be kept on a high line as well or in the house with you. Goats, depending on what breed can also be hobbled. They will more then likely just fall down, making their selves dead weight for any one wanting to steal them. Horses like to be on a regular feeding schedule, so when you feed in the morning, make a point of checking them even if it is just to look out the window etc. You will do just fine. ~S~

  36. Justgettingstarted, how is your fencing? The more difficult you can make it for thieves to get to your animals the better. Lock them up in the barn at night, with a motion detector light or two. Have a schedule set up for whomever is living with you to check on the animals often during the day. If you can pasture them far away from roads, do it. Have many fences between the roads and your animals, including barbed-wire topped fences. I have seen double fencing, two fences about three feet apart, that prevents deer from jumping over them. If you kept your dogs in the run between the fences, they would alert you to trespassers. Ditches between you and the road could work to keep vehicles out. All these suggestions cost time and money and lots of work. And ditto to everything COW said above!

    • Encourager. very well said ~S~ My place is not on THE main road but a side rood. I have 6 ft cyclone fence all the way around my property. I have a few signs on the gate because I don’t like people to much ~S~ I prefer my animals. Ditches are a lot of hard work and with every one driving 4×4′s now a days shallow ditches may not keep any one out. Although it is a good idea, it is easy to throw down a couple of planks to drive over.
      Also, you might want to change your feeding routine, if you feel comfortable, feed their large meal at night, then just give them a bit in the morning early so no one will see you doing it. They need a routine and once established they will remember and will let you know in some way they want to be fed. If you feed them well at night, they wont make a ruckus unless someone is creeping around, they might call to you and let you know, well by gum it aint MY human out there!!