Grand backpacking (camping) plans.

Grand backpacking (camping) plans.

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I got this urge to practice surviving in the woods with only what I could carry. Seems like a decent hobby.

I ordered a military Modular Sleep System (used, for $150) which includes a bivy sack so I don't need a tent, and the total system is rated down to -40F.

I plan to test it in my back yard as soon as it arrives, and then go backpacking in the White Mountains, in the direction of a designated Wilderness, the following weekend or so. Starting on a Saturday morning, walking away from civilization for a day, curling up in my bivy sack for the night, then walking back. My current plan for food is MREs because they're easy - hot food without the need to build a fire. Easy, right?

Then I hope to make a habit of this. Then start bringing a rifle with me, maybe do some target shooting. Or coyote hunting (always in season). Then get some other people to join me. I'm really out of shape, so this is going to be starting off slow.

If you're wondering how long a drive it would be, look up Conway, NH.

I found a website of people with very overlapping interests: http://www.zombiehunters.org/forum/
The closest group is in NY. They're camping in the Adirondacks in February:
But they're camping a short walking distance from a parking lot, with an outhouse. Wusses. From previous experiences they're recommending sleeping bags rated for -30F.

The still unformatted equipment list I've been working on is here: http://www.chaosreigns.com/shtf.html

It's funny that using a bivy sack now seems like cheating. Apparently camping with just a sleeping bag with a tarp wrapped around it is common.

I got info on MREs from http://www.mreinfo.com/ and based on that ended up buying Menu C civilian MREs. $102.42 per case of 12.

I recently ordered a gun for the first time in 6 years. It's a DSArms STG58STD FAL. They're back-ordered for 6 months due to everybody buying weapons they're afraid Obama will ban. The FAL was supposed to be selected as the standard US issue main battle rifle instead of the M14 (the one before the M16). Bigger bullets and longer range than the M16, with a 20 round detachable magazine.

Does this sound fun to you? (Happy to sell you several MREs for simplicity.)
  • Conway is beautiful. I spent a weekend there once during leaf season.

    MREs are a good starting point but they have three big downfalls - they are heavy, they don't taste very good and they generate a lot of packaging waste you have to pack out. Eventually you will want to get a lightweight stove and cook your own food.

    You also may want to reconsider the lack of fire. You may not need the warmth but the light could be useful and it's a very effective deterrent for bears and wolves.

    Sound like a great time though, wish I could go!
    • Yeah, I suspected I'd eventually do something other than MREs.

      And I didn't say I wouldn't start a fire, just that it's nice that eating warm meals doesn't require it.

      I keep forgetting I'll need to hoist my food to keep it away from bears. Need to stop that.
  • I have done a fair bit of backpacking. I love it! Especially the winter and survival camping. I'm out of shape enough that I expect backpacking would be painful now, and I look forward to my next opportunity to find out. :)

    My attitude on tarps and bivies: I have done it, I can do it again in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Although admittedly, there is an ascetic sort of appeal to ultralight hiking.

    I will NOT go out without a stove. Mine only weighs ounces. I think hot beverages and cooked food are necessary to life.
  • sounds fun.

    you'll want some good sharp things too :) knives, hatchets, axes. i'm all into that.

    for sleeping, regardless of season, i like the hennessey hammocks. they make a winter model too. much more comfy than a bivy, for about the same bulk. i HIGHLY recommend you give them a looksee.

    there's a boatload of excellent books out there as well for the primitive arts, not just survival/SHTF stuff. in fact, i just bought 4-6 more recently. it's a hobby after all.

    here's a rifle for you :) http://www.henryrepeating.com/h002_survival.cfm

    got to get a new contract soon. i need to buy a splufty 7.62 next :) and a 12 gauge...

    and outhouses are great, when you are say, camping in semi-protected wilderness. we don't want just anyone pooping in the woods ;)

  • dude! sounds totally cool.

    it sounds gear-wise a little like the not-quite-all-the-way thru-hiking i did on the appalachian trail; which is to say appalachian trail hiking resources might be a fine place to mine for gear ideas (though thru-hikers don't tend to carry guns...)

    the thru-hiking mindset is heavy on the "you seriously have to carry everything you're going to live on all summer with you," at least. otoh at thru-hikers don't have to navigate really, or hunt/fish or dig pits. if you plan to work up to living off food you kill yourself, i'm impressed and that sounds very cool and fun to me.

    but looking at your list with that eye, a lot of your stuff sounds heavy. military gear leans towards heavy but tough, i think. which is fine if "never able to restock" is part of your assumptions; but i'm not sure you need that for the zombie scenario. i found i couldn't even bring myself to carry the omnipresent hikers' nalgene bottle because they were annoyingly heavy; i used wide-mouth 1-liter soda bottles, which weigh basically nothing, and replaced them for $.89 in the next town whenever they looked about to wear out. does your zombie apocalypse scenario assume some scrounging in towns?

    thru-hikers can be a little crazy about weight, but it's amazing how much cutting out 10 lbs can make life suck less.

    anyway, i think just about every item on your list will a) have some interesting tradeoffs in it, and b) have a whole lot of stuff written on the net somewhere about them. :)

    an msr whisperlite stove weighs only a few lbs and some models can burn just about any liquid fuel, which i always figured would be cool for end-of-the-world stuff, but i was hiking in a world where campfires weren't allowed, and if it's the end of the world surely nobody's going to stop you from building a fire. :) but the stove can also be set up in places where it'd be inconvenient to have a campfire, and faster, and is probably easier to cook over. so there's a tradeoff.

    thru-hikers carry water filtering systems rather than iodine tablets because you can't take iodine tablets for 6 months in a row due to health concerns. mind you, iodine tablets are awesome because they're easy to use and weigh nothing. and of course water filtration systems rely on filters that need to be replaced. i seem to remember the health tradeoffs might be different for chlorine, but i haven't looked 'em up. (maybe you have and that's why you have the huge water jug listed?)

    sleeping bag and tarp (and hammock! in the summer) camping is fun because of the low gear weight, but you have to be a lot cooler than me to do it in the winter.

    what's the entrenching tool for? it's probably overkill for burying poop.

    in addition to setting up your tent in the backyard as a dry run, which is a brilliant plan, if you're together enough to do this (i never have been) i'd recommend puttting all your gear in your pack and hiking a ways up the street and back with it.

    this all sounds awesome. :)
    • I did a google search for "through-hiking food", and it started off by saying people don't think much about their food. Hah. Yeah I need to look into that style of preparation more. Especially the food. How do you carry a summer's worth of food?

      Yes I hope to work up to living off of stuff I hunt / trap / gather. The Army Survival manual has great info on that.

      Yeah, "never able to restock" is part of my assumptions.

      Thanks for the info on iodine. I saw brief mention of it somewhere, but nothing as specific as using it for 6 onths in a row is unhealthy. I wonder if my body could be adapted to un-purified/filtered water :P I guess it would be more realistic to find water that was already pure.

      The big water jug is just to reduce trips to water and increase likelihood of drinking enough. I ended up getting a sealable 2 gallon plastic bag with a handle.

      Further discussion with the guy who has done sleeping bag / tarp camping has revealed that he would not do it in the winter.

      The entrenching tool has a question mark by it because I agree it might not be worth the weight. Maybe long term shelters involving lots of dirt?
      • google "debris hut" for a quickie shelter idea that might redefine "survival" :)

        my first assumption for this survival thing is "a big knife, a little knife, and another knife" just for starters. i'd add a good hatchet. axes are for longer term camps... a bow saw. now you have tools :)

        find an online copy of the nessmuk camping book; pre 1900 lore, but useful for a comparison; one guy, by himself, for months at a time, in the primitive adirondacks with a VERY modest selection of tools - he basically is the father of ultra-light backpacking. pretty cool. instead of "roughing it", he prefers "smoothing it".

        the "2 oz backpacker" is also an interesting book.

        oh, yeah, and "gun cleaning/repair kit/tools" if you're planning on actual survival. practice field stripping and complete teardown of you gun of choice. spare parts too.


        Edited at 2008-12-18 01:33 am (UTC)
        • That debris hut is in the Army Survival manual - the most interesting shelter in it. But the pics in the google hits are much better.

          That nessmuk camping book sounds cool.
          • a further oh yeah: http://www.countycomm.com/

            i have a rather large survival, bushcraft, etc reading list. a quickie:

            some good ones are:
            o wilderness skills series by mcpherson
            o primitive technology series by wescott
            o traditional bowhunters bible series
            o nessmuk: http://www.zianet.com/jgray/
            o bushcraft - kochanski

            and still shopping myself for a 7.62/.308 ... and a place to shoot it :) i take it you didn't like the hunter version of that FAL? i like that one :> steyr makes some fine stuff, but i think i might prefer the ease of care/field-stripping of a semi-standard military carbine style (milled, not stamped).

            also: holographic sights :)

            • What I wanted was exactly the basic FAL. I didn't feel like spending more for any of the variations. I have nothing against the hunter version. But I already have a scoped rifle, I got the FAL for its improved shorter range capabilities (higher magazine capacity).

              You got a little confusing there. The FAL is a standard military rifle with ease of care/field stripping. And a carbine model is available. And it's milled. This was the rifle the US was supposed to ad... didn't I just go into this? Yes. Nevermind :P
              What else would you get?

              I was planning to put a EOTech holo site on my FAL, but I currently feel a need to re-evaluate non-battery powered close quarters (1x-~4x) scopes. Maybe I'll get both, and use the EOTech until batteries run out (of existence). Also, EOTech + 4x flip-to-side magnification kit = very sexy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZaeuUha-Lg
              • ah, yes. see, the Remington is exactly the rifle i was thinking against, with the FAL being the type i was agreeing with you on :> low blood sugar == confusing language on my part. i'm very fond of the SIG 556 in the 5.56/.223 in that regard, and wish they offered *right now* a 7.62/.308 model... but the DSARMS is something to consider (you've considered, i'm still looking - could be what i want).

                too bad you have to wait 6 months. have you tried gunbroker.com or a local shop? i had forgotten you now live in the Free state, so evil black guns are okay :) which is another potential plus for a OD gun setup - supposedly harder to see on NV. i'm told the black stands right out.

                barring zombies, and a few larger animals, a smaller caliber would be VERY useful for hunting. something like the GSG-5, or 10-22 or mini-14 even.

                it also occurs to me that having a rifle that shot the same stuff as a carried pistol would be very useful. limited opportunities there.

                an EOTECH with a mount that allows still using the iron sights for 25 yds would be sweet. i've got the bushness holosight clone. if one were to get the models using AAA or cr123 rechargeables, that could be a good thing for extended zombie attacks... solar rechargeable that is. in the end, iron sights and plain optics (waterproof, nitrogen filled, etc, etc). or both.

                and yes, the flip to side kit, very sweet.

                also: night vision :) again, rechargeables... or some models have the "click" charge (for gen 1)... i'd love an excuse to buy a gen 3-4+ NV system.

                • In regard to checking gunbroker.com and local shops - you haven't actually tried to buy an evil black gun lately have you? They're... out. Or extremely expensive. It was, in fact, a local shop I ordered the FAL through. And yes, I've been through gunbroker.com.

                  Edited at 2008-12-18 04:55 pm (UTC)
                  • actually, i've bought several :) one was stupid expensive, but i'm considering that an investment for now :) if i find a range, i'll probably shoot it up though.

                    depends where you look, if you luck out on prices, and ... stuff.

                    also ammo. .223 is stupid expensive right now, .308 is a bit cheaper, but nothing like 6-9 months ago.

                    mmm, might be fun to drive around to some of the most northern shops, and see what they have in stock. in particular, Riley's - haven't been there in ages. MFL has a good selection - prices are sometimes better than elsewhere to be sure. Al's in Derry has an interesting selection, and sometimes his prices are good, and sometimes they are silly (esp on accessories). Dick's in Concord supposedly has good prices (to great prices if sales), but has a limited stock, and well, it's in Concord :)

                    in the meantime, i'm hunting for a new contract, and then i'll consider shopping again.

      • How do you carry a summer's worth of food?

        well... you can't, especially not a summer's worth of hiking-in-the-mountains-with-a-heavy-pack food. thru-hikers resupply in towns (or through some sort of system of caches) every 1/2 to 2 weeks. still, food is a large component of pack weight. that might be different for you-- maybe very different; your food will have a completely different cycle, if you're killing live animals and preparing them. do you figure on setting up a base camp somewhere and pretty much staying there while you hunt the areas nearby? (it seems to me that spending all day hunting is probably very different from spending all day hiking; i don't know how much they can be mixed.) is there some way you can smoke or dry some meat to carry with you, if you move camp? i've always wondered how that would work, and how well...

        there's probably a whole set of techniques related to how you handle your kills so that bears (and raccoons, and...) don't wander into your camp and steal all your food, but i don't know much about that. i know about bear-bagging, but i'm sure dealing with a carcass, and parts of it that you throw away, is less simple than that-- some hikers say never to prepare food where you're going to sleep at all, for instance, but if you're setting up a base camp that seems impractical. i'm curious to hear how that works, though...

        if you're setting up a base camp and staying for a while, your calorie requirements might fluctuate more than thru-hikers' do, also. everybody needs more calories in the winter, but a thru-hiker would really like to be eating continually every minute of the day-- carrying a heavy pack through mountains all day is hard-- and that might not be as true for you. which means that although your life is still going to be a lot happier if you've always got some sort of fast calories like a candybar on you, :) you might not need piles of 'em as much. dunno.

        one of the problems thru-hikers have is eating the same thing every day all summer. it turns out a summer is long enough to get serious vitamin deficiencies. like scurvy. a lot of thru-hikers figure the chances of forgetting something are too high to mess with and just take a daily multivitamin in case. for all i know eating game might spare one a lot of these problems, but for variety's sake if nothing else you probably want to make a serious study of edible north american wild plants. :)

        I wonder if my body could be adapted to un-purified/filtered water :P I guess it would be more realistic to find water that was already pure.

        no. and, no. in the u.s. the main thing people filter or purify their water against is giardia, which will ruin your whole week and which is apparently pretty widespread in u.s. water supplies. i haven't heard anybody say they'd acquired an immunity by getting it a lot. :) water's kind of a pain in this way. on the bright side, here on the east coast at least it's also plentiful... also, afaik boiling will do just fine too; maybe you can work out a camp routine that makes it ok to just boil all your drinking water, or something. i think i would totally go with iodine tablets for initial test runs, though. :)
        • google "rabbit starvation" - basically rabbits don't have enough fat, and unless you eat the organs, well, you need other things. like plants.

          vitamin C is curiously abundant in new england. pine trees and relatives :) make tea or chew it.

          and a special treat, at least on some trails: rat-fevers. including stuff that looks like ebola. they hang out in the lean-tos and huts. if you get something seriously flu-like while hiking those trails, well, get help... or die. yay! (hanta virus i think)

          there are some really good water filters that one can get. one should. esp for a bug out bag, but in general, survival camping... long term, boiling, as you say, and a simple filter for particulates will go far, unless you can find a pure spring - which is wonderful.

        • I don't know how much I would be staying around a base camp vs. traveling. I guess it depends very much on how remote a location I can get to before gas runs out, and what percentage of the population does off (affecting how remote any given area becomes) :P
          "Safe is anywhere a hungry person can't walk in three days." - John Titor
          John Titor was the name used by a person impersonating somebody who came back from the future. On the internet. Based entirely on some post-apocalypse book. However, the statement continues to amuse me.

          I believe you would enjoy reading the Army Survival manual: http://www.ar15.com/content/manuals/FM21-76_SurvivalManual.pdf
          It does cover smoking and drying meat (on pages 97 and 98).

          Also, snaring sounds like a far more efficient means of acquiring protein than hunting.

          Thanks for the info on water.
          • that PDF should convert well to my Kindle :) holds a lot of books. could be more rugged, should be easy to charge by solar :)

            paper would be better, but there's a good thought for SHTF... what book or books would you bring?

            also: what skills will one pick up NOW, that you can keep in your head, that will be useful later.

  • a new futures market!

    They're back-ordered for 6 months due to everybody buying weapons they're afraid Obama will ban.
    do they trade futures in these? ;-)

  • reviews of MREs

    see reviews of MREs. maybe we ought to ask Zagat to cover?

    there are these, but i bet it's not too hard to put together a good set of cold meals from creatively thought up ingredients that would travel well. i should think about it some. i bet there are delicious whole wheat pasta-based things with a lot of good oil that would satisfy and be compact. i'll have to check into my book or two on Greek military history. i wonder what they brought when on campaign. they may have purchased food along the way, but they didn't forage much. i know they brought wine, and you'd think that they might have gotten that along the way.

    also, limiter on weight in my experience is carrying water, which y'need a lot of, especially when consuming MREs.

    • Re: reviews of MREs

      According to their website, those MREs contain 60.8% of the calories of military MREs. The stuff I ordered actually has more calories than the military (maybe the only one). Maybe at some point I'll check the cost per calorie, but I don't think these guys will come out well. Any reason you're recommending them?

      I'm planning to do a lot of water purification, not hauling. 2qt canteen while moving, and a 2 gallon bag for camp.
      • Re: reviews of MREs

        Any reason you're recommending them?
        i found them, that's all. i have not used them personally. wouldn't touch MREs these days, although have used similar things in the long past.
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