How to Be Ready for SHTF
You may be familiar with the term 'Shit Hitting The Fan' (SHTF), but what would you do if it did? Would you be prepared?
As a Man, you must be ready to protect yourself and those you love from horrific ends due to a cataclysmic event. It could be anything from a large natural disaster that creates chaos for a few weeks, or something as large as an economic/societal collapse, nuclear war, EMP (electromagnetic pulse), CME (coronal mass ejection), civil war, foreign invasion, eruption of a super volcano like Yellowstone etc.
Most men (particularly in western culture) have all but lost skills of self-reliance and survival.
That said, many people preparing (or 'Preppers') for a cataclysmic event are on some demented level looking forward to it. They think they will be Rambo-ing it up on the outskirts of their cities or forests, hunting deer and fishing. All while living in tents or slapping together houses of mud and sticks and lighting fires with a flint and steel. Realistically though, this is mostly fantasy.
As any avid hunter knows, as soon as opening week comes the game you hunt moves dozens (if not hundreds) of miles deeper into the forests. And if SHTF you will be one of thousands (or tens of thousands) with the same idea and competing for a limited amount of game in the same area.
Not to mention that there are only about 30 million deer in the contiguous U.S. and there are well over 300 million people. You do the math on how long you think the deer feasts will last.
Let's get down to the basics of what we here at Forge of Men suggest you need to have, and need to do. Let us reiterate, this is not everything you need or could use, just the basics:
What you should have
Whether you plan on bugging-in or bugging-out, you may be forced to move at some point, so have as many of your supplies in a bug-out-bag (or BOB) ready to go. Keep this in your car and this can also be your 'get-home-bag'.
Guns and ammo with extra mags
We've seen some survival sites suggesting these are not important, but they are so full of crap their eyes are brown.
Which guns? The dream 4 would be an AR15, a 9mm handgun, a larger caliber scoped rifle like .308 or 30-30 Winchester, and a .22LR rifle.
If you can only pick one, pick the AR15. It's versatile and magazines, parts and ammo are common. With the right ammo selections can take down small game, deer, and enemies.
Night Vision, FLIR or thermal imagery
Those who own these will own the night and will be able to move and operate supply runs in the stealth of night, or even be able to attack you without you ever knowing they are coming.
The days of night vision technology costing tens of thousands are gone. You can score basic night vision or infrared monoculars or binoculars for as little as a few hundred bucks.
If SHTF there will be no potable water for very long. Get yourself a few LifeStraws, Steripens, or any other number of water filtration systems available today.
Go to Costco and get several large bags/jugs of Whey Protein in whichever flavors you prefer. Whey protein powder will keep for many years if kept dry (despite their expiration dates), and makes it far easier to get your protein then scampering about the bush trying to nail wild game that you probably have no means to haul back or know how to quarter.
Steel cut oats. Oats are hugely versatile. They keep for a dozen years if stored properly and supply carbs, fiber and other nutrients.
Peanut butter! Good ol' peanut butter has ample amounts of protein and is high calorie. You'll need lots of energy when SHTF, and high calorie foods like peanut butter will save your ass.
Canned meats like tuna, salmon, pulled pork etc. These generally are safe to eat a couple years after the expiration date.
Rice, pastas, dried beans and other bulk and dried items. These all are insanely cheap and will last for many years if stored properly.
Obviously these are items you can trade with people for goods or services that you don't have.
The big ones are hard alcohol (with small jars/containers for portioning it out)
Cigarettes - this will be a popular one for a month or two
Toilet Paper - usually and afterthought, but people will trade big for it.
Condoms - people still want to get busy when SHTF.
Spices - most SHTF meals will taste like crap. Salt, pepper and other spices will be big. Modern foods are fortified with salt (usually lots) but back in the day salt was such an important commodity it was used a currency in many cultures.
Hygiene Items - Bulk liquid soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Medical/ First Aid items - Asthma inhalers, antibiotics (Google 'survival fish antibiotics'), painkillers etc.
Solar charger so you can charge peoples phones. Think about it. Most people only have photos of their loved ones on their phones. Being able to charge others phones so they can see said pics will win you friends and allies (which you will need).
A Good Fixed Blade Knife
(Shameless plug) - A good fixed blade knife like The Navigator Blade or any other quality fixed blade is a must.
A Good Folding Knife
We will suggest none other than Spyderco. Particularly the Delica or Endura in VG10 or ZDP189 if you're extra classy. They are insanely lightweight, durable, great steel and simple.
A Pair (or two) of Heavy Duty Gloves
You will be doing lots of hard, manual work if SHTF, and having cut-up, banged-up or broken hands will be a huge set-back.
A Quality Hand-Ax
A good hand-ax like an Estwing can be used to chop wood, bust down doors, kill animals like stray dogs (hey, eat what you must), deter human attacks etc.
Dozens of Lighters
Seriously, go to the dollar store and buy like 10 packs of lighters. Many preppers go straight to the flint and steel (which are great to have), but instead of flicking a flint into a wad of dry grass like Bear Grylls, how's about taking 1 second and sparking a lighter and igniting way more tinder options.
Duct Tape and Rope
I don't think we even need to go over the countless uses for duct tape and rope. You know you need them.
A Decent Compass
And learn to use it.
Quality Hiking Boots and Socks
Don't skimp on these.
A Water Storage Bag
If SHTF, immediately fill a bathtub with a 100 gallon water storage bag - ideally one for every bathtub you have. This is primarily if you are bugging in, but given your family size and number of bathtubs it can provide you water for a few weeks to a few months.
Tourniquets and QuikClot
These are often overlooked, but none of your supplies will matter if you bleed to death from a combat wound (or even accidental).
A Folding Lightweight Camping Pot
You will most likely be cooking over fires or on hot coals from fires. If your bug-in circumstances change you need to move, you'll need something light and portable to cook food and boil water over.
Baby Wipes or Wet-naps
Ideally small travel-packs. These are essentially your SHTF shower. You won't have access to hot showers, unless of course you get a solar shower or rig-up a bucket with small drain-holes hanging from a tree etc. so this is how you will stay clean, and is a great morale-booster.
What You Should Do
Bug-In vs Bug-Out
You will need to decide if your plan is to bug-in (stay at home) or bug-out (move to a new location. If you're in a city, you will probably want to choose the latter. If you're in a small town or sparsely populated area, then likely the former.
This does depend on how long the SHTF circumstance is likely to last and your particular situation.
Have Re-Supply Caches
This is especially important if you're a commuter. If SHTF and you can't get home via your usual vehicle or mass transit, you may be traveling a day or two to reach home.
You'll want to make sure you bury/conceal it in a place it won't be stumbled upon accidentally. It can have whatever you think you'll need in it. Water filtration, handgun, hiking shoes and socks, long-term food, knife, mylar blanket, map & compass, flashlight, vital medication, barter items etc.
Generally you'll want a water-tight plastic vault or heavy-duty container with your goods in a vacuum-sealed bag inside.
Make sure you know where to find your cache. Don't rely on GPS. Find good landmarks. It's also a good idea to keep an E-tool in your bug-out/get-home bag that you can use to dig up your cache. This is often overlooked, and you may resort to using sticks or your hands.
Decide Your Strategy
Are you going to lone-wolf it? Operate with just your immediate family? Extended family or friends? Develop a community within your neighborhood? You'd better think about it.
OPSEC (or Operations Security) means to not divulge any information about your supply, preparations or strategy to anyone who does not absolutely need to know. Running your mouth to people who aren't involved in your survival strategy will only make you a potential target.
If you are the guy your coworkers or acquaintances say "If the end of the world happens I'm going to your house lol" - you've failed.
Know the Right People
Is the guy down the street an ex green-beret? Know that. Is the guy two doors down a medical doctor? Know that. Is the lady across the street a trauma nurse? Know that. Is your buddy nearby a good mechanic? Know that. Is there a handy-man around that can fix almost anything? Know that. Do you have any skills or barter-items that you can trade these people for their skills? Know that.
Knowing who can help you in the areas you can't help yourself is imperative.
Grow Your Own Food
If you are fortunate to have your own house, ditch some of your back-yard lawn and grow some food. Know what grows in your area/climate and plant those. Fruit trees take many years to bear fruit, but you can start growing potatoes, berries, squash and many other foods in much shorter amounts of time.
Two is One - One is None
This is one of the iron rules of preppers. If you only have one method of water filtration and it breaks, gets lost or wears out, your are in trouble. The same rule goes for firearms, caches, flashlights etc. If it's important to have one, then you should have two.
Don't Sweat It Long-term
Despite what apocalyptic movies may tell you, SHTF won't last forever. Be it a week or a couple of years, human-kind always ends up rallying together to restore society, because at the end of the day, society really just wants to get back to watching Netflix, going out to eat and taking pictures of it.