From DTG: So….How Far CAN You Carry Your SHTF Pack?

SHTF pack1

A reasonable question, especially if you are thinking, “Well, no matter what happens, we can walk out of here….”

Maybe. Maybe not. It really depends on what you’re doing now, today, in relation to the following thoughts. But let’s set this up for the sake of discussion. Remember, this is not to discourage you, but to give you something to consider and measure what you can do now, today, versus what you might have in your mind that could be considered unrealistic.

If S were to HTF right now, let’s say you sheltered in place for several weeks to get yourself ready (let’s say for a minute you have what you need to take off for your ‘hidey hole’ and your SIP time was used doing ‘dress rehearsals’ with the family on doing with less and changing habits), how far are you going to be able to walk a day with very little sleep (someone’s got to stay awake at all times to make sure your family doesn’t fall prey to marauders when you’re sleeping, you know….) and diminishing calorie intake (comprised of protein, fat, and carbs)? What about water? Have those covered, do you? You know the water sources along your route and have a quality filter/purifier so you can replenish your water containers along the way? Do you know how much water you personally require when carrying a heavy load for a long distance? How much of your space is taken up by toilet paper (if you have more than one female in your family, you understand how much of this stuff they use in comparison to males)? While nice, TP is bulky, unless (another smart move) you buy a metric ton of compressed toilet paper wipes that you sprinkle water on. Even those take up some room. They’re worth it, though. 4 packs weigh about 1.5 pounds and take up small room for the 200 individual pieces (200 times wiping one’s butt, male or female) which is one less thing that will be a major irritant, especially the first time you tell your wife, daughter or son that they need to wipe their butt with grass or leaves (let alone if they don’t know what poison ivy/oak/sumac leaves look like…don’t even want to GO there!), but I digress.

SHTF city

15 miles? 10? 5? 2? How far do you have to make it to be out of ‘hostile territory’? Live in a city? Have gangs? Remember, the S has HTF, and you can’t count on your local PD to keep the marauders at bay.

Some things you’re going to have to take into consideration if you think you can ‘just walk out’ without any forethought:

  • The Season: I’m here to tell you that if you live anywhere, and I mean anywhere that significant snow falls, unless you have snow shoes and a sled you’re going to be A:  taking more than you would, say, in a warmer southern environment that has typically mild 30 degree “cold” nights and B: not going very far each day, or at all (depending on snow fall), you can count on that.   Now you’ve got the problem of wet clothing, getting it dry when you stop, setting up in very cold conditions and brother, let me tell you, you better know how to stay warm and keep the family warm!  But beyond that, if you make it through the winter, you will have to cache your snow shoes, sled, winter clothing, and anything that’s too heavy or bulky to put in or on your ruck. Know how to cache? Did you carry enough waterproof heavy plastic bags to keep your cached heavy clothing from rotting or being eaten by critters? If it’s temperate, are you walking out of an area that will have a cold, snowy winter? How far are you going to get? Are you carrying your winter gear in addition to what you need during temperate weather?

Deep Freeze 2

  • Your Footwear: Have to be sturdy and good quality, as well as well-broken in. Goretex helps, so does sno-sealing leather (not suede) boots for keeping you dry. That means wearing them…a lot…preferably doing ruck walks. You’ll find that during your ruck walks, the additional weight of up to half your body weight of defensive equipment, ruck, and water, you may well be attempting to carry 60% of your own weight. The additional weight takes quite a toll on your feet, no matter how good the footwear happens to be. Read that to mean blisters and more blisters. Got good socks, about 6 pair per person? ‘Darn Tough’ are about the best, but YMMV. Got a couple rolls of Leuko and cover tape? A couple tubes of ‘body glide’? Could make the difference between success and failure (meaning death). Got toe nail clippers (a couple pair)?

danner hikers2

  • Your Fitness Level: You’re not going to walk far, let alone if you have a spouse and children, without you and they being very, very fit. Some folks will say they have packs for everyone in their family. Great! How much can they carry? It’s size, strength and fitness level dependent.  You may find yourself pulling a wagon with a couple of kids in it along with carrying your pack. Or, putting your pack in the wagon and having the kids walk (which would be more efficient as you could put more in the wagon), but that assumes you’ll be on nice, level, paved (ever try pulling a wagon down a gravel road?) – with at least ashphalt or tarred dirt – road. If you’re serious about doing the ‘getting out on foot if we have to’ thing, you might want to start a serious PT regimen that includes strength, aerobic, and stamina exercises (meaning long walks with heavy packs for time (shoot for 17 minutes a mile) that eventually end up being 10 or more miles long. Medical limitations come into play here, big time. Do you have at least 3 to 6 months of prescription meds you or others in your family are on available? Do they need refrigeration? What’s the backup plan on that?


  • Your ability to leave behind ‘snivel gear’. A tent? What for? All you need is a tarp shelter.   Keep the wind and rain off of you and the family. You’ll be fine. Tents are also very, very bad in regards to letting you see what’s around you. Once inside, you’re blind. Think about that in relation to ‘marauders’ happening on your nice tent that holds your wife and children. It’s not going to be big enough to put all your packs in, so they’ll be outside, ready to be loaded up by the marauders after they finish with you (that means you’re dead) and your family. You don’t need pots and pans; you need a canteen cup (and possibly a lid). One per two people is fine, especially in a family. Cuts down weight, and can be used to cook, eat, drink and heat water for hygiene (if you can’t use cold water that you find). You get the picture. You most likely won’t have room for a lot of clothing, either, because you’re going to go heavy on food (gotta eat, right?), and ammo (if you’re smart – someone’s got to protect the family), and light on extra clothing. Everything’s a compromise and a tradeoff, remember that. This is where multiple use items come in handy. A gas stove? Really? Pillows (even small camping pillows)? REALLY?


  • Basic knowledge of security requirements for your night time or temporary, ‘lay up’. This means cover, concealment, site selection (where someone wouldn’t look), and finally, weapon use. Getting in and out without leaving sign that you’re there. Got a 10X monocular or small set of binoculars? They come in mighty handy when checking a potential site out.

concealed PB1

  • Navigation capability. Know how to read a map? Topographical or otherwise? Know how to follow a compass heading and account for local declination? GPS units are great; I have a couple. Don’t count on them if SHTF. They have this thing called, ‘random programmable error,’ because the satellites belong to the government. In some scenarios, the government will purposely program inaccuracy into them because they don’t want the enemy to be able to accurately navigate. So your back up is good old fashioned map and compass navigation. Take a class. Really. Have you selected at least 3 routes out of your present location and know how to change from one route to another if the one you’re taking is, for whatever reason, impassible?

topographic map

This could go on….and on…but I think the point is made. Yes, walking out of a troubled area post SHTF is, in fact, an option that should be explored and planned for if at all possible. However, to do it successfully you’re going to have to do some serious pre-planning and training, starting off with getting yourself in a LOT better shape. You will have to brutally assess your family, if you have one, and take steps to make sure they can pull their weight (however small that may be) and teach them various concepts such as ‘silence’ while walking out. You can hear the sweet, melodious, high pitched voices of children for a long, long way…..there’s a reason Native Americans universally taught their children from birth not to cry or make much noise. The ability to remain quiet often meant the difference between life and death.




American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE


7 thoughts on “From DTG: So….How Far CAN You Carry Your SHTF Pack?

  1. Good article and as always think what I NEED as opposed to what I want in pack,(sucks mowing lawn with heavy pack of un needed gear!).My dilemma is to a degree on the road a bit,have water in vehicle,my day hunter pack/has basic bars for food/med ect. along with one item of defense,it hits while on road going to or from jobs am a bit rat screwed,am working on a more medium pack but small vehicle unless truck truly needed due to gas.Any trip over a day do not have a large load of tools and thus full molle and rifle along with ammo,but hits hard and fast when loaded with to day gig a distance,well,long walk but do at least know my routes and the state in general,will try and hoof to home base,longer trips,am covered and visiting like minded folks and welcome as they are if they visit me,tis the in between that can be rough,eh,the blood moon was fantastic viewing last night,the little treats like that keep me spirits up in interesting times.

  2. The purpose of this is to clarify my assumptions and my thinking on “bugging out”. It is not to denigrate anyone or to denigrate their assumptions or thinking on “bugging out.” Constructive criticism is encouraged and appreciated.

    Non of what is mentioned below is meant to give a pass on PT, marksmanship or survivalist based training.

    1. My knees and back are a mess from my teen years doing residential concrete demolition and construction, with a contractor step father using his “red headed stepsons” like jackhammers and burros. My brother Mark was “jack”, I was ‘hammer”, It wasn’t until my brother took over the business that the usefulness of gasoline and diesel powered tools was discovered! Who knew!? Later in college, it was room based racquet sports. My biggest solo high was a backhand down the line squash return, the ball hitting with enough energy just above the telltale and die in the corner. After ten years, my knees ended up so bad that I hot wrapped them while driving to the courts and iced them down after the match to manage the swelling. Ended up having to crawl up and down the stairs to our bedroom. After another ten years of “farming”, jumping off a pickup loaded with 50 small hay bales I ripped my left ACL. Before heading off to the Docs, I still had to offload the bales as the truck was my only vehicle and it was way overloaded. It was a stick too. So, heavy rucking, especially shuffling downhill to make time, is just a waiting game for me. Knees or back, but I don’t get to pick: neither. But, I might be just a tad lazy too.

    2. We are not talking about just getting lost in the forest just after the sun set below the surrounding ridge lines, and trying to just get back to the car, right? Shit, at least locally ~25+ miles (nearest small town), has gone big time sideways, for us to consider leaving our small farm. And where, exactly are we to go to that is better? What is our information on the route(s) we could take? Are they safe? Will the routes still be safe by the time we ruck there? Are our preplaced caches still intact? Will our intended safe harbour still be safe by the time we ruck there?

    3. In addition to how far, how LONG, can we maintain ourselves while rucking through an area we believe to be unsafe? We are not bugging out because Trader Joe’s just ran out of the chocolate covered ginger cookies, right? Are we thinking … a month? A couple of months? Years? Once the caches are gone, where and how will we resupply food and ammo? We are planning on returning home, right? Will our home have been ransacked by people more desperate because they were less informed and prepared than us? Is it worth going home? When we eventually get back home, will we face armed squatters, in our house with our left behind shit?

    4. There are at least a couple hundred more “known unknowns” that I could develop. But what would be the point?

    5. We have decided that only environmental catastrophes, events that we can not survive in place, will cause us to leave, permanently. Man made issues will be addressed in situ as best we can, until we can not. No bravado. No “Whistling past the graveyard.” We are just trying to minimize the “known unknowns” and the possibility of becoming landless refugees without the option of saying: “NO. Thank you.”

    FWIW and YMMV


    • Hi Joe,
      Good post.
      I’m 54 and while not old, health issues are something I have to think about. I have a replacement knee brought on from years in the Infantry and it being broken. I have high blood pressure and a stint form years of high level stress. I fixed the stress issue by leaving a dead end job with horrible bosses.
      Well the knee replacement was a step in the right direction. I no longer have the pain but carrying a heavy load for long distance is a no-no. After quitting the bad job I started to lose weight and am still doing so.
      My solution to carrying heavy loads are getting as healthy as I can, keep losing weight and I’m in the process of evaluating hiking trailers so we can travel from where we need to.
      I got the idea from seeing a YouTube video on the Monowalker Fatemate and the Dixon Roller.
      Watching the video from the Canadian Prepper for using the Monowalker sold me. Yes its expensive. But I’m converting a game cart to a setup like the Monowalker soon to see if it works for me. If it does the Monowalker may be in my future.

      My wife is six years younger than me and has back trouble. My 13 year is in good health but not for traveling 22 miles with a pack to get home from the city if something happens and our vehicles are down.
      I plan for survival in general with a heavy dose of bushcraft. I still hunt and shoot and practice some of my old skills but in a modified way allowing for my knee. I plan on the core survival and bushcraft skills and adapt to the situation as it comes.
      I’m well acquainted with Murphy Laws. Everything is subject to change.
      I don’t know if the hiking trailer concept will work for you or anyone else but its worth a look.
      Check out the Monowalker Fatemate and view it as a concept. Do a Google search on Bugout Hiking Trailers. There are others who are making their own hiking trailers for a number of reasons.
      Hope this helps.

  3. Joe,the known lands/people ect. agree if doable the best option,having some “gotta leave “plan do believe also good.As I said earlier,my big thing is working many different areas just getting to home base if natural/man made disaster hits and am on road.On a side note,a good poncho can be also used as a temp tent/shelter,have one in me car but not usually a tarp unless job related and if day tripping usually no room for full pack.

    The best value I see in this article is it gets us thinking/reorganizing different possibilities and yes,to a degree they are endless.

    • Hi James,

      On “getting home”: that is a real problem as my wife works a couple of hours away from the farm. This constantly hangs over my head. Now “speed is security.” Once decided, we both travel to known rally points with established delays from contact, then onto the next rally point until we meetup. Then distribute any necessary safety gear and tightly convoy home, 2-3 sec separation, no speeding or stopping, low to no profile. Home Patrol II scanner monitoring is a vital part of insuring the route home is clear, if comms are up. If comms are down it is probably pretty fugly, crossdeck and one car gets abandoned.

      • Joe,you have thought this thru to best of ability,as I kinda work in a big circle at times I need to keep always a eye out for alternatives(while enjoying life and the ride).I saw that as the best point in the article like most of this nature,just getting you to think and consider ones options,hope we don’t have to exercise our options but sleep a little better having em thought out.I also see the going out with pack just something I enjoy anyhow and keeping eye on roads I travel ect. has led me to a few fishing spots/dead wood on side of road which if I have truck a little extra firewood ect.,may our travels be fun and uneventful in the negative.

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