Discussions of what gear and equipment to include in a survival kit or bug-out bag are common among survival enthusiasts and preppers, and this topic is often seen in books, articles, blog posts and discussion forums. It’s natural for those interested in this subject to become fixated on the gear that they imagine will enable them to prevail in a difficult situation, and it’s true that the right equipment can go a long way in making certain tasks easier. Today’s technology can offer many advantages our primitive ancestors could not have imagined. But what our ancestors lacked in tools, they made up for in skills that were put into practice on a day-to-day basis. Unfortunately, many people today assume they can simply buy things to make up for these skills, and in doing so create for themselves an illusion of preparedness that they have never tested in the field.
Survival skills cannot be bought, but they can be learned and honed over time. The best way to do this is by participating in outdoor activities related to survival as often as possible. A weekend or week spent camping in adverse conditions will provide more information about what works and what doesn’t than any amount of reading in books or on the Internet. Throughout my own books, I have tried to reinforce this idea and have always recommended to my readers that they should not necessarily go by the gear list that I use for my specific purposes, but instead should test and fine-tune their own checklists for their particular environment and needs. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be suddenly thrust into an all-out survival situation without first becoming comfortable with roughing it in the wild in situations where life and death are not in the balance.
In my newest book, Bug Out Vehicles and Shelters, scheduled to be released in October, I point out that readers who are interested in preparing a bug-out vehicle — whether it be a 4WD SUV, motorcycle, boat, ATV, RV or mountain bike — should use these vehicles for recreation and fun regardless of if they are ever needed for bug-out purposes. One of the benefits of writing such a book was all the research I’ve done in the field testing and using such vehicles. By using the gear you buy, whether it is as expensive as a motor home or as cheap as a pair of sturdy hiking boots, you can justify what you spend on your preps and get the benefits of a healthy outdoor lifestyle whether some major breakdown or disaster ever occurs that forces you to use it. So shut down the computer, put away the books and plan your next adventure. I guarantee that the time you spend afield will be worth it and that you will learn something you could not have learned from any other source.