We’ve all got a tent, and a sleeping bag, and the supplies we think we need to live in the field, should we need to. Some people plan on living a permanent mobile existence in a WROL situation, which isn’t actually realistic, and some are planning on bugging in.
No matter what you envision, are you really prepared for WROL living? This what the Ultimate Tactical Handbook says will happen:
Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains.
Sure, from a theoretical standpoint, we’ll all say we are. But, are you really? When was the last time you lived in the field for 3 weeks straight? When was the last time, even for deployed veterans who did live in the field, that you went 3 weeks without any electricity at all? How about running water?
Even when military forces are in the field, eventually a field shower truck and a field laundry unit arrives. What if they aren’t coming? Are you prepared for that? When was the last time you TRAINED that way. Be honest, the last time you trained, you checked your phone several times in the middle of it, didn’t you?
These ideas and skills are all found in the Tactical Wisdom Series Volume 2 – Fieldcraft.
First, how will you handle personal hygiene? In a WROL situation, hygiene will be a killer. Being clean also keeps you safe, because let’s be honest, dirty bodies STINK. To help with this, baby wipes or wet wipes of some variety are your friend in the short term. Using bio-degradable products, like flushable wipes, to clean the parts of the body that sweat gathers (I’ll let you figure that out) can stave off illness and odor. Hand sanitizer and wipes before meals are vital.
For a longer-term solution, a camp shower is a good idea, as long as you can find a source of water. Essentially, you fill it with water and hang it in the sun while you do other tasks. This heats the water. When you turn it on, warm water comes out and you can take a quick shower.
For a more permanent solution, you can build a “gravity shower”, as long as you have a way to get water into the system (buckets). Basically, the water is carried up and poured into a black container of some type (plastic or metal). Once the water warms up from the sun, turn on the shower head and take a shower. You could build an outdoor enclosure around it.
All field soldiers know about freshening clothes in the field. Crush them up, then shake them out a few times, and let them sit in the sun for a couple of hours. This could be done by attaching them to your pack while moving, or hanging them up in camp.
That gets you through a short field operation, but eventually you’ll need to actually wash your clothes. Having a washing board is a good idea, and has worked for hundreds of years. Another option is Fels-Naptha. This is a solid bar of laundry soap. You can treat stains by wetting the cloth and rubbing the bar on it. You could also put your dirty clothes in a mesh laundry bag with shaved off pieces of Fels-Naptha inside and vigorously agitate the bag in water (that’s the same way your washing machine works). As a side note, Fels-Naptha can also treat poison ivy/poison oak.
The next issue to consider is water. Forget the idea of storing enough water. You need to develop the ability to procure & purify water. The good news is that humans have been doing that for all of history. If you are at some type of permanent site, having an outdoor fire pit with a grate/grill and a large pot will enable you to be boiling water almost continuously. Despite our advanced technologies, boiling water at rolling boil for at least one minute remains the very best way to treat water and make it safe to drink in a primitive setting.
Filters and chemical treatment options should be considered as tools for temporary use or for use while on the move. There are plenty of options here, so pick what works best for you. My personal option is a Sawyer Mini, because it can placed directly on my Camelback tube, so that if I am in a hurry, I can filter as I drink, rather than stopping and taking a long time to filter as I fill the Camelback. I also carry chemical tabs, which can be tossed into either canteens or a Camelback (the exact dosage is in Fieldcraft). You need the ability to be able to fill up all of you water containers and be treating or filtering on the move, because movement is life and staying near a water source means other people will eventually show up.
Honestly evaluate your comfort level with life in the field. When was the last time you camped for more than 2 nights? Start getting comfortable with this now by training for it.
These problems aren’t only for people bugging out. If you are bugging in, when was the last time you went a week without using the water, electricity, or gas? How acclimated are you to the heat and cold? We live most of our lives in an artificially maintained climate. Can you tolerate the heat in the summer and the cold in the winter? Do you have a plan to heat your house that doesn’t rely on the outside world?
If you are planning on bugging in, try to train by spending a week without using any of the outside services. Doing this will give you some ideas on what you need to work on to improve your preparations and your post-event quality of life.
Remember that in all of your training, you need make security a priority. In a true WROL, your security is going to be AT RISK. As I’m writing this, video is emerging of “Rooftop Arabs” defending their stores from looters in New Orleans. You’ll need that level of security. Here’s a tip from the Son of Man himself:
When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe.
As you prepare, don’t just be a collector. Get out and train and see what your life will actually be like. Just collecting gear is NOT preparedness.
I hope this helps spur your thinking leads to you taking some training action.
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