Budgeting for Supplies – The 60% Solution

Rourke: This post originally appeared HERE on ModernSurvivalOnline.com.


By Bernie Carr    http://apartmentprepper.com/

One of the issues to consider when preparing for a disaster is where to focus your spending:

  • Do you focus most of your money on buying supplies to prepare your house or apartment (Shelter in place)?


  • Do you spend money on gear so you can leave your area when disaster hits (Bugging Out)?

We’ve struggled with this question ourselves.  Naturally you want to cover both scenarios all at once, but resources are limited so there has to be some direction to your spending.

Your choices will depend on your own particular situation, and on what you feel is the most likely emergency you will be facing.

Here are some considerations:

  • Do you live in or close to a major city?   Think about what will is likely to happen in your surrounding area if a disaster were to hit today.
  • Can you defend your home or neighborhood if necessary?  If you live in a close- knit neighborhood near people you can rely on, then you can potentially band together and protect your neighborhood and homes.  This would allow you to be able to stay in your home a lot longer.
  • Do you have a place to go in the event of a major disaster such as a cabin retreat or relatives you can stay with?  You do not need a cabin or retreat out in the woods; you just need to have a plan.  Identify friends and relatives you can potentially stay with should your area become uninhabitable.  Or plan out a route to a hotel in another town.  In either case you will need cash for gas and a hotel stay.
  • Would your family be able to leave on foot if needed?  There is always a chance the roads become impassable and you have to walk out of your area.  Would your family be able to leave?  If you really cannot leave, then you will most likely need to shelter in place.

In our case, we live in an apartment, in the middle of a large city.  We know that the city can potentially degrade into an unruly, crime infested area when a major large-scale disaster occurs, as in Hurricane Katrina.  We would want to leave before a powerful hurricane directly hits our city.

On the other hand, it is not always necessary to leave when an emergency occurs.  In 1992, we experienced the Los Angeles Riots.  For six days, thousands of people rioted, looted and burned parts of the city.   We got sent home from work and drove for hours looking for a route around the rioting areas.  But once we got home, we stayed home until things calmed down.  Because the emergency occurred in another part of the city, and our utilities and infrastructure was not affected, it was a “shelter in place” type of situation.

At this point in time, we consider the highest risk to be economic in nature:  with high unemployment, rising fuel and food prices, and the country’s debt piling up.  So we concentrate 60% of our emergency preparation fund toward staying in our home.  We are purchasing food in bulk, storing water, having back up sanitation methods, communications, fuel, First Aid and other supplies that may be too expensive or hard to come by, should there be a financial emergency.  Our supplies are also a hedge against inflation, since we are buying at today’s prices and using them sometime in the future if prices go up.

We also know that there could be a chance we may have to leave our home, such as a Category 4-5 hurricane, fire, civil unrest, etc.  The other 40% of our budget for supplies is going toward gear that will be needed to leave the area, such as hiking shoes, backpacks, portable food, a portable water purification system, First Aid kit, fire starter, tent etc.  We are getting our gear as inexpensively as possible, by shopping sales and buying quality used items where available.

One thing to remember is, the two options do not have to be mutually exclusive:  many items such as “Meals Ready to Eat”, portable water purifier, First Aid kit and other light weight supplies can be brought along with you should you have to leave.  Just make sure you have all your supplies in one area that is easily accessible so you can grab them quickly.

You may feel differently and decide on a whole different set of threats to prepare for.   I would not recommend “putting all your eggs in one basket.”  Regardless of what area you focus on, the items that you buy now will be good insurance against whatever comes your way:  economic collapse, natural disasters or man made threats.


modern-shedFrom the Supply House: Here are a few popular survival & preparedness items available at deep discounts on Amazon. Many items are available with Free Shipping on orders over $35.

Gerber Compact Fire Starter: Be the hero when a fire needs to be started!

Mountain House “Just in Case” Classic Bucket: At under $60.00 with Free Shipping this a great deal if you are looking to add freeze dried food to your food storage system. Great way of buying and trying – or for storing.

SABRE Bear Attack Spray: Great for defense against multiple attacks and crowd control.

P-38 Can Openers – Pack of 15: Love using these can openers. Compact and portable – easily place a couple in your bug out bag.

Emergency Fishing Kit: Inexpensive and durable emergency fishing kit sealed in a compact can.

Cold Steel Recon Tanto: What an incredible knife. Super tough and super sharp.


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Grow your own food with the 4 Foot Gardening Blueprint!!


Gardening is a passion of mine and I have made plenty of mistakes and learned from them. No survival & preparedness system would be complete without not only seeds to grow vegetables with – but the knowledge and know-how as well.

The “4 Foot Gardening Blueprint” is a simple, easy to follow guide to growing the maximum amount of food in the smallest amount of space. If interested in this $7.00 ebook there are two ways you can buy it. The first is to click on THIS LINK and watch a video that preps you prior to buying. I don’t recommend it. If you want to go ahead and purchase it without sitting through a 6-7 minute video follow THIS LINK HERE and then scroll down to the bottom of the page.  

Happy Gardening!!


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3 Keys For Locating, Developing Bug-Out Destination

By Cherie

Those fortunate enough to have a bunker near their homes will be in good position to survive the storm. Everyone else should have a bug-out location already scouted and mapped out, but all places of refuge are not created equal. Keep the following three pieces of advice in mind when determining your SHTF location.


When choosing a location to bug out, there are two very important factors that cannot be ignored. The first is distance from cities. You want the spot to be a reasonable distance away from towns with a populations over 5,000. Desperate, hungry people left with nothing will come searching for food and water at some point. The longer they have to walk, the less likely they’ll survive the journey.

Second, you want the spot to be close enough for you to make it there at a moment’s notice and on a single tank of gas. A good rule of thumb is to purchase land at least 15 miles from the nearest major town. Make a few test trips there beforehand to ensure your vehicle can make it safely.

Terrain is also very important. Flat desert and plains give unsavory individuals a clear view of your sanctuary from as far away as their binoculars or telescopes can see. Mountainous and heavily-treed areas should be given top priority. Both provide a means to conceal your shelter, while also allowing you to look down upon everything for surveillance. The less ways in and out of the location, the better.


Humans can potentially survive up to 30 days without food. But after three days of no water, you’ll be knocking on death’s door. There’s no telling how long you might be at your bug-out location, so water must be readily available at all times or easily accessible in some way.

The ideal scenario is to buy an acre or two of land somewhere near a lake or river. Of course land with readily-available water will be expensive regardless of location. Another option is to harvest rain water. All you need is a few 55-gallon rain barrels and place them in an open area during downpours. Those who want to get creative can rent a scissorlift and attach a system of down spouts on tree tops.

A well is the second-most ideal scenario. But depending on how deep you have to drill, the cost can average between $5,000 and $7,000. A network of DIY solar stills provide an effective means of purifying urine and other dirty liquids to make them drinkable. All you need is a shovel, spade and plastic sheets to ensure you make these survival stills.

Food Sources

Assuming your bug out vehicle is a van or RV, you’ve taken care of the water and shelter aspects of post-Apocalypse survival. No matter how many cans of food and bags of dry rice you buy, it will ultimately run out and need to be replenished.

Property close to water will get a lot of deer and other foot traffic through the area. Snares and other traps can be set around the area to snag rabbits, raccoons and other small game. You can consider raising rabbits for meat, as they eat almost anything green and can produce upward of 14 babies per litter. Fishing hooks, line and bait should be well stocked in your vehicle long before evacuation is necessary.

Nobody knows exactly when or how the breakdown of civil society will happen. The sooner you start preparing for the inevitable, the better off you and the family will be.

Campers As A Bug Out Vehicle

This post originally appeared over at SeasonedCitizenPrepper.com. It can be seen HERE in its original format. – – Rourke


By the WE2’s

To us, having our travel trailer is a must.  Not only do we love to travel and camp,  it just sort of “feels good” to know we pretty much will always have a roof over our heads and the taxes are cheap since it’s taxed as personal property rather than real estate. 

We also believe it’s important to know the “how to” of off grid traveling/camping before you need to do it. We’ve seen a few travel trailers, 5th wheels etc., turned on their side because of rough terrain, winds, overloading, slick roads, and high speeds.  We try to never pull in those conditions nor at night but nevertheless, it may be necessary if it’s a bug out situation and knowing how to do it as safely as you can just might make the difference in whether you’re on your side along a highway or road or safely tucked into your bug out location.

We’re hoping this article isn’t “information overload” but again… we just want to share what we do and why.  Take what you need.

There’s sooooo much one can do to “live” outside very comfortably if needed.  It’s called “boondocking” or “dry camping” for those who may not know the terminology :-)

Boondocking or dry camping simply means you’re not “plugged in” at a campground etc.

One important thing to remember is the weight capacity of your travel trailer as well as the towing capacity of your truck/SUV etc.  Overloading can quickly wear out your tires and cause big problems with the transmission of your tow vehicle… not to mention your capability to STOP.  Which brings up your need for a “sway bar and weight distribution hitch” for your trailer and tow vehicle.

You’ll also want to have wheel chocks and leveling squares (all can be purchased at most camping/rv stores… we love Camping World) that are lightweight and will keep your travel trailer from rocking & rolling while you’re camped, as well as keeping it level, so your refrigerator won’t be harmed by not being level.  Nobody would want to watch their home on wheels rolling someplace it’s not supposed to go.

Make sure ALL the hoses that you intend to drink from are RV water safe white hoses! They’re manufactured for water.  You might want to keep an extra one that you can fill with water, plug off the ends and drape it across the top of your trailer or truck, in the sun to create some warm, if not hot, water.  You can also fill a “shower bag” water, lay them on the top of your vehicle or trailer, and create some pretty warm water. Keep the cheap garden hoses for flushing your black water tank. 

Now… for those who may be new to holding tanks… the biggest tank is your “fresh water” tank.  You fill it with your city water to be used for flushing your toilet, dishwashing and if you want for your drinking water. A preference for us is bottled water and our Berkey.  Remember… everything you run through your faucets goes into your grey or black water tanks! The “grey” water tank is the tank that contains the water from your shower & sinks.  The “black” water tank is where your toilet flushes to.  We also have invested in a large capacity auxiliary black water tank with a tongue that can be hitched to our truck and pulled to either a dump station or “somewhere” to relieve our travel trailer’s black tank from being full.  If you’re on your own land, you might want to tow it to a compost site.

MrWE2 also insulated our pass through compartment and put up peg board, custom cut, to hang tools and other necessary items within easy reach. We also keep a container of Clorox wipes to sanitize any faucets that we might hook up to as well as our fresh water hose connection when we disconnect it to be put back into it’s plastic zippy bag.  If you’ve ever noticed, sometimes at a campground dogs like to “mark” water connections.  We all know the importance of water and it’s safety; this doesn’t change just because you’re camping or having to bug out.

Having a small step ladder is also an item you’ll want to keep handy whether it’s in the back of your tow vehicle or somewhere in your travel trailer.  Accidents can happen & a roof can spring a leak causing you to have to tarp over your roof or “gorilla” caulk for short term, and you’d need to have a way to get up there… and don’t forget an emergency tarp somewhere in your gear. If you are tucked away someplace safe, there is the possibility that a tree limb might come down on the top of your travel trailer and cause some damages that may not show up immediately, but they “will” show up.  Keeping your travel trailer dry is just as important as keeping your stick home dry.

To some all these preparations may seem unnecessary, but it you’ve even been caught with your britches down you’ll learn really quick the importance of having what you need when you need it and being as comfortable as possible in your “home on wheels”.

We’ve added a lot of our own touches to our travel trailer to accommodate our needs both as a camping vehicle but also as a bugout vehicle.

Again, if we’re going to need it as a sanctuary, we need to have it functional for our needs when/if we need it.  Every family will have their own needs. 


More than once we’ve had to bail out tent campers when sudden thunderstorms rained their tents out.  It’s been quite an experience to see wet soggy tent campers huddled in our warm, dry travel trailer with a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate and watch a DVD (if we’re plugged into shore power) until things could be dried out.  Once we even moved our EZ UP (pic included and more explanation later) over the top of a family’s tent to keep them dry.

Telling a funny story… once we noticed a couple of “newbie” campers setting up and were horrified to see her climb on the back of her guy to reach up to grab an awning.  We knew them, so immediately went back to our campsite and fetched a small wooden ladder we had, took it back to them and felt they’d be safer.  Later, they shared with us that she was inside their camper and pulled open a cabinet door under their bed and noticed a ladder “just like WE2’s” in the cabinet.  She proudly announced to her guy “We don’t need WE2’s ladder, we have our own!”  When she pulled it out, he informed her that it was “WE2’s ladder”!  Apparently their pass through also had an entry door from inside their camper! LOL

Now, onto some other stuff: 

Under most travel trailer beds is a large platform (depending on size/type of bed) that you can put stock LOTS of canned foods.  Canned, so you don’t worry about breaking etc.

One new modification we’ll be doing shortly is running a propane gas hose from our outside propane grill to the inside of our travel trailer, so we can hook up a Big Buddy Heater and use 30# tanks (or one of our larger 100# tanks) which will set outside the travel trailer, instead of the small propane canisters.  It’s our plan to save our propane for heating and use other ways to cook…like our Solar Oven, Coleman Oven that can sit on top of an outside fire pit, charcoal and a single burner butane stove.

Under most dinette “benches” you’ll also find LOTS of storage for vacuum-sealed Mylar bags of foods which can be stashed in the plastic shoe boxes that we find at $Tree stores.  They can easily be pulled out without having to dig around, and can also be labeled on the ends for quick identification.  You can also have your fire safe bolted into the floor of your travel trailer to protect your valuables. Place it as far back into a cabinet as you can and then store your shoe boxes in front of it.  Yes, it difficult to get to the safe but that’s the purpose of it.

We keep all our “gear” as lightweight as possible.  Paper plates, paper bowls, paper cups etc. to spare the use of our water and as fodder for a fire if necessary.  We do have graniteware plates, cups, coffee pot & cookware…just in case.  It’s lightweight and can easily adapt to being used outside over a camp stove or fire pit.  

There was a large space between the closet & the drawers on both sides of our queen sized bed.  We found wire racks at Menards that fit perfectly under each of these closets and were able to turn that empty space into “drawers” that we just slide forward or backward to provide a lot of additional space.  There was also a clothes hamper lid that opened up to the pass through compartment that MrWE2 insulated & sealed up to block cold as well as to provide additional space in the pass through compartment.

Another added touch was to build a small spice rack over the top of the frig.  as well as a very nice “book shelf” at the head of the bed (no window by choice) that we keep our books, Big Ben clock  & DVD’s etc. on. It’s got a “cleat” across the front so nothing falls off. 

In our bath, we added a medicine chest on the wall to the side of the existing mirror, to clear up space in the cabinetry.  We also found a small space (about 12″) from the floor to the ceiling, between the wall and walk-in shower that we converted to a place to tuck rolls of toilet paper & paper towels.  If you squash the toilet paper rolls in half you can fit ALOT of them in a very small space.  Then just squish them back when you put them on your roller.

MrWE2  removed all those dumb “valance” thingies that wifey hated, and hung regular dowel-type curtain rods & used large heavy duty bath towels (with edges folded down & clipped with curtain rings) for curtains…eliminating the flimsy plastic shades and giving wifey curtains that can be quickly & easily taken down for washing etc., as well as a quick slide to let sunlight in.  Again, leaving us room over the top of the rods for a future small shelf to put condiments etc., on at our dinette.

Then MRWE2  built a nice “lift up” table/shelf at the end of a counter to give more workspace for toaster & coffee pot when needed.  When not needed, down it goes, appliances cleaned and put away.


Over the cabinet hooks.


Over EVERY cabinet door we put the stainless steel “hooks” (Available at all RV stores… we love Camping World!) so paper towels are off the counter, hand towels are off the counter, night clothes etc., are out of the way & not taking up interior closet space, and swimwear etc., can be hung inside the shower to dry etc.  We keep our clothes hamper in the shower until we need to use the shower.

For additional living space, we also purchased what is called an EZ-Up type canopy from WM, along with all the solid panels and the screened panels.  We’re able to put it up over a picnic table or at the end our RV canopy to provide our “outdoor” living room.  Screens for nice bug free weather & solid panels for cooler/wet weather.  It’s also a terrific place to hang wet clothing etc. to dry.

We also have a Wonder Wash that will do our laundry and a rolling pin on a picnic table or ??? to squish out excess water so hanging them where the wind can blow makes drying quicker.

When we purchased our home on wheels we planned for it to be both a recreational vehicle and a full-time home, and fully self-contained, so we had two “house batteries” installed (deep cycle/marine type) so we’re able to “hold a lot of juice”.  We also converted the lights to LED’s to save our battery-energy, and we’ve got a lot of “puck” lights (pic attached) that we can hang wherever we need them – LED’s last a lot longer than other bulbs.  We have the solar-type rope lights that charge during the day and can lay on the ground around our front door for light or roped around under our canopy at night for us.  We also have solar stick in lights, that charge during the day and we can take inside if we need to, or keep small batteries charging and ready for use.  Wifey has a project for MrWE2 to use a 2×4 about a foot or so long, with holes cut out for the stick in solar lights (taking off the stems) to rest in so she can place it on a picnic table for evening “ambience” LOL


As a fact, the concept for the “aquarium heater” wifey had was to have her own little “fireplace” sitting on the work counter in the evening, to provide both a bit of light and a bit of heat… she’s a romantic. After putting a DVD of a crackling fireplace into our TV on a chilly Thanksgiving camping trip, the idea surfaced. 


For the past five years we’ve camped out for an extended Thanksgiving holiday.  One year we actually ended up on the coast of Texas before we came on home to snow 10 days later!  So… we always keep a gallon of RV anti-freeze in our pass though compartment.  This is usually a storage area from one side of your travel trailer to the other and can be accessed by either side.

Thanksgiving turkey in the woods.

Thanksgiving turkey in the woods.

We’ve learned what types of clothing wear the best and longest if you’re out camping.  Which often means spending a little more, but we’ve found lots of really good stuff at upper-end thrift stores, consignment clothing stores, REI sales, BassPro sales, Cabela sales and lots of other places. We’ve also learned that it takes a lot longer for cotton to dry.

We try to bug out several times during the warmer months, and will have our first taste of 2014 probably around April or so.  If it’s very cold, we just keep our travel trailer winterized, take plenty of jugs of water that we put in our shower to keep them warm, and use it for sailor-baths, washing a few dishes (wifey stocks up on paper plates etc. to avoid using water & filling up our holding tanks anyway) etc.  We heat the water with our “hot pot” IF we’re plugged in to electricity, but if not we use our large graniteware coffee pot on the stove using propane (or over a camp fire or fire pit).

For a quick face wash etc., we simply wet our facecloth, tuck it into the microwave for a few seconds to get warm and we have a refreshing face wash etc.! We also own two gas powered generators that we could use if we wanted to.

Our refrigerator and water heater run on electricity or propane, and the furnace is propane as is most newer models of travel trailers.  However, your furnace will draw a lot of electricity so we have a “cube” ceramic heater that we place at the end of the hallway, and it heats our travel trailer perfectly… and if we’re paying for a campsite’s electricity why use our propane?  Another idea Wifey has in mind for MrWE2 is to build a couple of 3×3 square wood panels covered with silver reflective material that can be laid outside to set items on that need to be warmed up.

We also installed what’s called a “fantastic” fan over our bed, so that if we don’t want to use our air conditioning (which requires 110) we can open the vent in our bathroom, turn on the fantastic fan (which runs off our house batteries) and have quite a nice “draft” from one end of the travel trailer to the other.  Knowing that it’s running off our house batteries is important so we don’t drain them! We also intend to supplement our system with solar panels to enhance the capacities of our travel trailer.

We were blessed in that we were campers from day one (which is one of many things that drew us to one another as well as ballroom-type dancing) and were able to purchase our supplies while we were both employed part-time even though retired, and used that part-time money to prepare ourselves to live the life of RV’ers and to do it debt free.  We did without a lot of things sometimes to get our BOV ready for a lovely camping trip if needed or a sanctuary in a crisis situation.  The newer units are much better built, better insulated with heated “belly pans”, and are a lot easier to keep warm and comfy.


Ours is a 24′ AeroLite, which is plenty big enough for us, especially with our “outside living room” , so we’re able to pull it very easily and very quickly, and go where those “big guys” only dream of going.

We camp at a lot of the Corps of Engineer campgrounds, because if you’re 62 or over you can get a lifetime “pass” from the national park service (about $10?), and it only costs $10 a night to camp with electricity, pretty much throughout the USA plus you get free passes to many national parks & national museums etc. 

Nearly all Wal-Mart stores will let you spend a night in their parking lot if you just ask, and don’t “camp” by putting out all your gear outside etc., as well as Camping World, Cabelas, BassPro, and even some city parks etc.  For Moose members, there’s free or reduced camping also, if they have a parking lot big enough.  The Moose club here even has a pedestal for it’s visitors who may need or want electricity. We also keep our membership with Good Sam Club active by keeping our Camping World President’s Club active (it comes free with CWP) as well as Passport America (which gives you 50% off) for campgrounds that participate… which are many.

We believe it’s important to KNOW YOUR DESTINATION as well as how to safely get there.  We plan to locate a parcel of land away from the Roost and build a cabin there.  But until then, we have a location picked out to drag to … “guerilla camping” one might say? We’ve entertained the idea of a common location that could be established as a destination point for other like-minded campers to meet at, and establish a “sanctuary” of campers. 

Other possible places you might find sanctuary are not only Corps of Engineer campgrounds, national forest and state parks, but BLM (Bureau of Land Management), and if you aren’t afraid of the population and it’s an only choice… beaches.  But, the best place of all… will be your own private land.

We all know that during a crisis situation when we have to bug out for our own safety, we want to “disappear”.  That’s why another of our “future” purchases will be spray paints of various camouflage colors that we could (if need be) quickly camouflage paint our vehicles.  We also plan to browse around Army surplus stores for camouflage nets etc.  

We’ve also invested in three, 20 gallon blue water barrels that we’re going to “adapt” (including pressure relief mechanisms) so we can put them in the back of our tow vehicle, fill with gas, and go-go-go-go for a long ways, stopping only to put the “siphon” into our tow vehicle and never visit a gas station to refuel. We’ve been able to save back a valuable stash of both gasoline and propane for this reason.  We’ll fill red gasoline tanks, add stabilizer and then put them into the big blue tanks since stations won’t let you fill them there.  Plan, plan, plan!

Even if you don’t have to bug out, camping is a wonderful way to just get out of dodge and enjoy the world. It’s also a great way to meet some great people and see some of God’s wonderful earth… and not spend tons of money on over-priced motel/hotel rooms that wifey won’t sleep in unless she “previews” the room & inspects the bedding (which always pleases the motel clerks).  MrWE2 finally figured out that a travel trailer was best.  When Wifey’s happy MrWE2’s happy.  Now, the WE2’s “know who’s been sleeping in our bed” Camping isn’t always for everyone, but if you’re wanting to have “a place to shelter” away from a dangerous home… a travel trailer is (in our opinion) the way to go. 

We chose the travel trailer because it’s a “two piece unit” and if the tow vehicle has to be repaired etc., you’re not “stuck” without place to shelter etc.  We also believe that if we’d have to leave even our travel trailer, we’d need a separate vehicle.  It’s also less expensive to purchase a smaller travel trailer than the “mega units” with all the bells and whistles.  We also did not choose a 5th wheel type because we didn’t want to be climbing up to the bedroom area, even though it offers a lot of additional space.  We also chose a travel trailer “without” a slide out because we didn’t want to have to rely on our house batteries etc., to slide them in and out if we’re boondocking etc., as well as we didn’t want to have to hand crank them in or out if the mechanism should fail. We’re lazy too; we didn’t want to worry about clearing leaves etc., off the top before we had to haul them in

Just thought we’d share our love of the outdoors, how we do it, and some of the reasons why we use our travel trailer for pleasure, but also as a possible sanctuary in a bug out situation.


The WE2’s and their lab-brat.

Yes, there’s room for her too in a 24′ travel trailer.  She’s learned to “live little” too!

“If” someone has an RV, they can join the RVillage network.  We have our profile (The WE2’s) there along with a lot of photos. But, they do have to be “campers” and join the network to view not only our profile and photos, but others across the USA.  There’s lots of us! LOL  
Here’s the link [which has a great short video too]…

Infographic: Bug Out Bag Checklist

I enjoy looking at some of these “infographics”. Infographics can provoke thought  and educate – but there are some pretty ridiculous ones out there as well. Infographics can be seen on all kinds of things like container gardening, survival skills, food storage, firearms, first aid, camping, shooting, hiking, backpacking, household frugal ideas, etc. The one below on creating a bug out bag I thought was pretty good so I figured I would share.

Any thoughts on “Building Your Bug Out Bag”?




Getting Past the Basics: Retreats



I’ve been mulling an article of some sort about how things are changing so fast, and that the center can’t hold against pressure like this forever, but Remus surely beat me to it.

It doesn’t really matter, though; it’s not like you really needed to hear it from me (or him).  Take any number of recent headlines and tell me your thoughts:  Planes being shot down, planes disappearing altogether, a new cold war, BRICS reckoning they need their own central bank, Israel and Hamas deciding to give it a go, Turkey upping the ante with a flotilla, the largest Ebola outbreak ever, diseases of old reemerging, a full-blown border crisis, a stock market that is due a huge correction, rivers flowing freakin’ red in China, and… *exhales deeply* …I mean, I feel like this guy

So what’s a fella’ to do?  Of course, we all know the basics:  get your food, first-aid and firearms; get your family on board; and get out of the city.

But then what?

One consideration is establishing a retreat, or at the least, alternative/secondary housing.

I have a friend that, after his divorce, bought one of those sheds that seem to be in everybody’s back yards these days.  It’s a little nicer than most, but still just an unfinished shed on the interior.  He got it used (a repo – signs of the times), and hauled it himself to a spot deep on some family land.  He added a solar system and finished it out.  He’s completely off the grid.  The problem is, the world’s still spinning, and he’s out of cash reserves.  Now, he’s back working.

This is an example of someone that took the next step.  Very commendable.  He committed himself to checking out of the system.  But he’s still not really out.  This isn’t necessarily a cautionary tale; he did a lot of things right.  It may have been years before he was able to make a clean break without having to look back.  The time was as right as it was ever going to be, so he took the leap.  That’s more than most can say.  But it’s not without complications.

Know that – whatever the next steps are for you, they’re going to be complicated, because you’ll be swearing off some amount of society.  And society won’t understand that.  They’ll ridicule you, things will get uncomfortable, and you’ll probably regret some of your choices.

And yet, we’ve got to do it anyway.


Rules of the Game:


I want to talk about retreat options that we can have in place in case it starts getting real.  And “getting real” doesn’t have to be TEOTWAWKI.  It could be extended unemployment that results in a foreclosure, or a house fire.  I’m going to lay out a few ideas, but this is also a brainstorming session for all of you.  So here are the rules:

  1. Price.  It needs to be reasonably attainable by most people.
  2. DIY.  Bonus points for things you can build or buy used and fix-up on your own.
  3. Logical.  It might not be for everybody, but make the case for your suggestion.  Is it defensible?  Sustainable?  What are its weaknesses, and can they be overcome?
  4. Permanent or Contingency.  Either can be considered.  Options need not fulfill both criteria.

Feel free to apply these same rules to my suggestions to improve them or strike them from our list.

A note:  I’m not going to spend much time talking about bugging out to the family homestead.  There’s not much to say about this one (that hasn’t been said before), other than you need to have everyone’s expectations clearly expressed – and probably on paper.  Personally, housing a dozen folks at Momma’s doesn’t sound appealing, but after some consideration, that may be your only choice.


1)            The Prefab Shed:

(Picture:  Prefab Shed)

(Link:  Living in a Shed)

(Forum:  Shed Living)

I like the prefab shed option.  The exterior is already complete and you can work on finishing out the interior as time permits.  Cost is relatively low.  Adding on is as simple as a lean-to, or buying a second shed.  Its location is not permanent, and can be moved if need be.

There are some limitations to where a shed can go.  You’ll need some property, or family with property.  If the location is close enough to home so that you can use it as a weekend retreat, it’s probably fine by itself.  But if you won’t visit the place for months at a time, you’ll need a caretaker nearby.

In some areas, it’s going to be a little more difficult to get your shed on the grid – local ordinances and restrictions and whatnot.  You may have to have an approved septic system prior to power being turned on.  You may also have problems getting it approved for living quarters.  Check on this prior to buying.

Of course, if you’re doing it on the sly, then those issues fall by the way side.  But new problems arise.  For power, are you going to install a solar system and leave it?  How long before somebody jacks your equipment?  Will you transport your power system back and forth instead?  Will the trouble of hauling it back and forth discourage you from going up to your new weekend getaway?

If possible, I like a shed on the grid with a back-up solar system that can be taken with, if the need ever arises.


2)            The Floating Cabin:

(Picture:  Past it’s Prime)

(Picture:  The Floating Cabin)

(Link:  Floor Plans)

Depending on your locale, the floating cabin could be a viable option.  I know more than a couple folks with one of these.  Some are really nice, some are shacks, but they were all done on the cheap.  One guy bought his for $1800 (already in-place).

Just because you’re close to a river doesn’t mean you can make this work.  You need the right kind of conditions.  Preferably, you’ll want a river with a large drainage basin and numerous, winding tributaries (we call ‘em sloughs – pronounced, “sloos”).  Pull your floating cabin deep into the backwaters, as far away from the regular haunts as you can.  Tie it off to several nearby trees (leaving plenty of slack for the waters to rise and fall), and you’ve got a backwater retreat.

If SHTF, I’d down a tree across my approach slough.  Of course, you don’t want the tree to look like you felled it purposefully.  Snatch a dead one from bank to bank.  If someone had the foresight to bring a chainsaw with them, the sound would carry far and wide in your swamp.

Of all the folks I know with floating cabins, I’ve never heard one speak of anything being stolen.  I imagine that restricting the interaction to folks that are in bass boats reduces the risk.  Sportsmen tend to respect property a little more than the average, land-lubbing, backwoods meth broker.

Last weekend, I sat on the front porch of one of these rigs and talked about surviving on it full-time.  Fish would be plentiful, and water could be treated.  The gent’s defense lies in simply being difficult to reach – too far for someone to paddle, and plenty of time between first hearing an outboard and setting up his ambush.  One suggestion that came out of our roundtable was a floating, raised-bed garden.  The right vegetables would supplement your fish and wild edible diet quite nicely.


3)            The Sailboat:

(Video:  Liveaboard Life)

(Bracken:  Get Yourself a Thirty Footer and Go!)

(AS:  Reply to Bracken)

(Club Orlov:  The Sea Gypsy Startup Manual)

I’m no sailor, so I’ve linked to those who know more than me.  Life on the seas concerns me, because a threat can come from 360 degrees.  In the right place, however, you might be secluded enough for it to be worth considering.  A small fleet of sailboats would make for a resilient community.  This is also the most expensive option, I imagine.  Remember the old acronym for BOAT:  Break Out Another Thousand.


4)            The Houseboat:

(Video:  Living on a Houseboat)

(Bracken:  Houseboat)

The houseboat has all the benefits of the floating cabin, except that it’s much more mobile – until you’re out of fuel, that is.  I can see sufficient long-term fuel storage being an obstacle.  Also, the floating cabin has no moving parts, so it would be a more reliable choice (it is where it is and won’t strand you where you don’t want to be).  If this route suits you, however, find a used boat in need of some work, if you have the ability to do the repairs yourself.  Choose a diesel engine over gasoline – it’ll be more reliable and safer.


5)            The Stealth RV:

(Instructables:  Teardrop Trailer)

(Link:  Cargo Trailer to Camper Conversion)

(Link:  Stealth Camper)

(Link:  Living in a Converted Cargo Trailer)

I don’t really consider the stealth RV a permanent retreat option, but some of the people on the above links have done just that.  I chose the stealth RV over a traditional camper because you could build your own for half the cost.  On the other hand, if you scour the classifieds and Craig’s list, you may be able to find a traditional used camper for a reasonable price.

If you plan to relocate to a piece of property (that you own outright), I prefer a prefab shed over an RV.  However, if you need to bug out to friends or family, and they don’t want a permanent fixture on their property until then, an RV is a viable option.


Some Caveats:

Of course, the best retreat is one you live in full-time.  That presents a lot of challenges, though.  Like my friend, if you commit to your retreat, but don’t have a sustainable income stream, you may find yourself in a bind.

Conversely, not living at your retreat means that a lot of your infrastructure may not be established.  Shelter is only the first step.  You still need livestock pens, gardens, smokehouses, wells, root cellars, etc.  You better bring enough food with you to last at least a year (and depending on your specifics, maybe two years), without relying on any contributions from the retreat.


In Closing…

…these are but a few of my thoughts, meant to spur this discussion along.  I’m looking forward to hearing from all of you.


[Check out the Archer Garrett author page on Amazon – Rourke]