How to survive the zombie apocalypse

So the zombies are here. Luckily, you’ve prepared. You’ve spent hours slaying the undead in video games, watched seasons of the Walking Dead and read entire novels on these foul creatures, perhaps even worn few unoriginal Halloween costumes. It’s almost like you’ve already lived through it. But just in case, here is The Outdoor Student’s Practical Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.

I. How to Prepare

A common emergency preparedness concept is that of “bugging out.” Bugging out is essentially  when an emergency arises, whether it’s a natural disaster, terrorist attack or in this case, an apocalypse, you get yourself to a predetermined bugout location safely. The location should be remote, well stocked, and near available resources. More on bugout locations later. To get to this location, you’ll need to have a designated vehicle or go on foot. In regards to an apocalypse, roads will most likely be closed and blocked. Going on foot is your best option.

A bugout bag is a backpack containing everything you need to survive the trip to the bugout location. It should be light enough for you to quickly travel, yet have enough gear to deal with situations that might arise… When making our Zombie Survival bag, we’ll keep in mind survivalist Dave Canterbury’s Five C’s of Survival:

  1. Cutting tool
  2. Combustion
  3. Cover
  4. Container
  5. Cordage

The Five C’s of survival is a list of necessary items to survive in the wild. Here’s a brief rundown of how to pack and use each one. An expanded list of the 5 C’s can be found here.

The first C is cutting tool. Now, a normal flip knife is recommended because of its versatility in survival situations. It can help you cook, start fires, make shelter and much more. We’ll also want to carry a hatchet  for chopping wood for fires and making shelter. It also doubles as a weapon in case any zombies get a little too close for comfort.

Unless you want to die of the cold or starve, combustion is a must. Anything from matches and dryer lint to lighters and twine can be your ticket to warm meals and avoiding frostbite.

Your cover will protect you from the elements. A tarp can help you build a shelter or stay out of the rain, and can keep your gear clean. A raincoat or poncho is also good, for when you’re on the move in the rain.

Fourth is container. The primary use of your container is to hold water. Camelbaks, water bottles, and even bags allow you to store clean water until later use.

When we say cordage, we’re talking about rope. Paracord is a lightweight but strong option. Cordage is an essential in your bugout bag because you can: build shelters, set traps, start fires, clothesline, repair bags, create slings, makeshift handcuffs and more.

Those were the essentials, but a proper sleeping system (sleeping bag, hammock), food, first aid, weapons and water purification are very good ideas. The Bugout Channel on YouTube made a great list that could act as a basis for your bag, if you are so inclined.

In theory, it should only take you a few days at most to get to your bugout location, so you’ll need enough supplies to get you there. Pack light, because covering ground is your priority. A survival cache can be planted on the way to your location to give you a boost in supplies.

The last step in being prepared is to stock your bugout location with supplies. Make sure it has plenty of food, methods of getting food, medical supplies, water/water purification an ammunition (if it is legal for you to do so).

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II. How to Survive

No matter how much you prepare and how many supplies you have, it won’t matter unless you know how to properly use those things and how to survive in a wilderness environment. Despite what you’ve seen on Pinterest, your “Zombie Apocalypse Outfit” should feature fewer combat boots and more warmth. In case you get in hand-to-hand combat with a zombie, you don’t want to have any exposed skin for them to bite, so having clothing to cover your entire body is essential. The key to dressing yourself in the Zombie Apocalypse lies in layering.

Your under layer should be Dri-Fit, or some other wicking material to keep the sweat away from your body, and everything else should be put on over it. For summer, put on a dark tee shirt and a pair of straight legged jeans, skinny jeans restrict movement too much. As a rule of thumb, always wear darker and neutral colors so that you will be harder to spot by hostile zombies, or other, much more violent, survivor groups, and so that you can move around at night and be somewhat camouflaged.

You’ll want some sort of waterproof jacket, which should be dark-colored as well. You should also have a thicker, heavier jacket for winter, which could be waterproof as well, instead of having two separate jackets. It should have many pockets, to store items you need quick access to, as well. A warm hat is also a must-have, so that your ears won’t be exposed to the sun or to the cold, but you must still be able to see and hear, otherwise any benefit the hat gives you is negated.

In terms of shoes, steel-toed boots are the best option. Sneakers aren’t preferred simply because they aren’t thick, so they would wear out sooner and would be easier to bite through if a zombie grabs hold of your foot.

There are some other things which you should wear, but aren’t necessary, and won’t impact you as much as this other stuff. A digital watch and gloves would be beneficial but not necessary.

Once you dress yourself, you’re going to want to establish a shelter of some sort. Staying in your neighborhood really isn’t the best idea, because of all of your prowling neighborhood zombies. The most important, and probably hardest, part of the apocalypse will be surviving the first few days, and if you don’t establish shelter very quickly, YOU WILL DIE. Your first shelter doesn’t need to be incredibly sturdy or incredibly well constructed, it just has to last you through the night.

Use your tarp and or hammock to prepare a temporary shelter when in transit to your bugout location. The tarp will keep the rain off of you and the hammock keeps you off the ground and keeps the whole system lightweight for travel. You can find basic hammock set ups here.

Besides shelter, you’ll also need food and water, and fast. Without food, you could die in a few weeks, while without water you’ll die in a matter of days. In your bugout bag, you packed a metal pot of some sort, which you’ll use to purify any and all water that you need, as boiling kills all of the harmful bacteria that could be lurking in your local river. As a rule, get the water to a rolling boil, then it is safe to drink. Don’t waste time boiling your water for longer than necessary, as soon as it really gets boiling you can remove it from heat.

In terms of finding food, you should and will rely on that edible plants guide you packed in your bugout bag. Since there are so many different kinds of plants and fungi, it’s impossible to know what’s safe to eat and what could kill you without a guide. Even in the apocalypse, you need to try to keep a fairly balanced diet to keep yourself healthy, so hunting and fishing will be important to supplement your protein intake.

When you hunt, try to kill animals with shots to the eye, rather than the chest, so that you don’t rupture any organs and get harmful pathogens like E. Coli or Salmonella spreading into your meat. For dressing the animals, or preparing them to be eaten, you must be extremely careful in where you cut and the tools you use so that you do not contaminate your food, so carrying a guide for this is recommended as well. You can’t afford to be laying around with food poisoning while zombies want to make food out of you.

Now, armed with your newfound knowledge and 112 ounces of chocolate pudding, you have a shot at surviving the apocalypse.

III. In case you didn’t prepare…

Good. Luck.