Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It's The Zombie Apocalypse, What Are You Doing?

If you're anything like me, you've spent many an hour sitting in your room, taking stock of the items and wondering how well that Microecon textbook would smash a zombie skull. Obviously, prospects aren't promising, and being unprepared for the zombie apocalypse is like being caught at a preschool with a raging boner and a pair of binoculars. Seeing as most people would like to avoid being gnawed upon or be seen on the next episode of To Catch a Predator, let's go over what one might need during an undead Chris Hansen attack. First of all, wipe your hard drive, and make sure that you wipe it clean. We don't want them finding 500gb of... um...stuff. Second, let's take stock of your gear. Hold on, wait a minute, I know what you're thinking, "TIME TO LOCK AND LOAD! GOT MY GUNZ AND 'NADES, GONNA KEEL ME SOME ZEDS!" Let me tell you right now that that isn't what I mean by "gear." Think for a moment. A zombie apocalypse is an epidemic, a natural (or unnatural) disaster, and the if the first item on your emergency list is a shotgun, I don't think you're going to be very popular among your peers.

Now, you may ask, "What's the best gear I can have?" And the best response I could give you is that it depends. Are your survival needs short term or long term? Are you planning to escape or bunker down and wait it out? What kind of zombies do you have to deal with? Obviously, one of the biggest considerations is whether your survival needs are long term or short term. If you plan on escaping within a fortnight, you're not going to need 3 months worth of food and water.  Let's assume that we're traveling light and staying on the move.  This is my personal zed apocalypse plan/load out, and by no means is it the end all be all of zombie survival gear.  The items listed below simply fit my preference and travel itinerary.  So let's get to it, shall we?

First of all, let's go over our bug-out bag.  The initial choice of what we're going to be carrying items with will determine how we move and what we're actually able to carry.  My preference is to travel light and stay mobile, so we'll stick with a small pack.  I'd avoid anything slung over one shoulder and those terrible bags that use shoelaces to hang off of your shoulders.  These packs are just going to cause you grief unless you're carrying a negligible amount of weight.  If that's the case, don't wear a bag at all.  If you're carrying more than 20-30 lbs, however, make sure that you pick a bag that allows your back to breathe and distributes the weight well around the waist.  Most lightweight hiking backpacks should fit this criteria, and some may even come with extra features such as a camelbak hydration system.  This is a bonus item for some serious consideration.  Getting caught by a hoard of zombies while you're stuck rummaging through your backpack for a drink could mean the end of your adventures in the land of the dead, and a camelbak could be an easy way to avoid a thirsty death.  In my experience, the water bladder found in many hydration packs have a tendency to burst, and I'm not a big fan of having all my precious gear moistened by 2 liters of water.  That rules out camelbaks for me, but if you've had better experience with a better brand, by all means go ahead.

So now that we've determined what kind of bag we're carrying, let's fill it up with goodies.  Let's start at the bottom.  Most of the gear at the bottom of your pack are your long term supplies and equipment (relative to your other gear).  This may include extra clothing, dried food, recreational items, etc.  Basically, if you don't need it in 1 minute, it's not that important.  Items that should be packed at the top are: spare ammunition, signaling tools, medical kits, water, fire starting tools, etc.  Since I've decided to travel light, my gear space is limited.  But that doesn't mean I'm any less prepared.  Let's list a few items I'd carry with me: 

1) Extra clothing: This includes socks, underwear and shirts.  Living in California, the need for warm clothing is fairly limited.  I'd take a thermal hoodie and a waterproof windbreaker just in case.  These are generally fairly thin and breathe well, but keep me pretty warm.
2) Water:  I have a preference for wide-mouthed polycarbonate bottles.  They're tough, hold a fairly large volume of water and are generally pretty cool.
3) Metal Pot: The easiest way to purify water is to boil it.  Being able to cook things is nice too.  Depending on how severe the outbreak is, the need for a pot varies.  Noise can become an issue.
4) Multi-tool: Allen wrenches, Screw drivers, knives, files, bottle openers, can openers, etc.  You're probably going to need at least one of these at some point, make sure you have it.
5) Rope:  Try to carry varying thicknesses and lengths.  Be careful not to carry too much.
6) First Aid Kit: I'm no surgeon, but having a well stocked first aid kit can save lives.  Don't travel without one.
7) Flares: These can be used to signal other survivors, light up an area (limited), or light flammable materials.  It pays to keep at least a couple on your person.
8) Food: I'd go for dried, it's lighter.  You're going to need to take in more fluid.  Boil before you drink.
9) Dedicated Survival Knife: If something needs to be cut or stabbed, this is what you're going to grab.  Make sure it's tough, sharp and functional.  Avoid folding knives, they usually don't lend themselves to extended use.

So there you go, nine items to carry during the zombie apocalypse.  As far as pack placement is concerned, I'd surround the pot with my spare clothes and put the food inside of it.  The first aid kit would be placed at the top of the pot for easy access.  My polycarb bottle would be placed in a side pocket, again for easy access.  Multi-tool would be kept in a pocket and the dedicated survival knife would stay within arms reach.  Probably on a belt or on the chest.  Flares would be placed in another side pocket, and rope would be wrapped around the pack itself.  I'm omitting any type of chest rig for the moment so I can avoid complication.  Most people aren't going to have some type of military chest rig anyway, so it's better to assume that you're not going to have much.  Remember that while gear aids in survival, it doesn't ensure that you're going to make it.  Always expect the worst.  If you have any gear set ups, post a comment below.  I'd like to know what you'd carry during the zed apocalypse.  (Don't include weapons, that'll be a post for a different day.)


  1. Good stuff. The multi-tool should be one of those hammer ones that they are making now that still has all that stuff not to mention it'd probably be able to pry a door open in a pinch.

  2. Nice. I like the part about the lightweight camping backpack-- that has also been my choice of pack.
    I'd also want a mode of transportation. Red flags go up in my mind at the thought of anything powered by electricity or gas. Those would be alright for the short-term, but eventually gas and electricity will not be accessible, so relying on them seems like a bad idea to me. So I would be on a mountain bike, most likely.