Prepping: Post-Collapse Transportation (1. Walking)

Regardless of whether the stock market goes up for another year, or two, the economic reality of what congress has done to this once Great Nation financially will have to come home to roost.

For today, we still have time to prepare for (whatever) and it’s a useful exercise to think through your personal transportation requirements in advance.

For one, you won’t be traveling as much.  So, with car insurance for most of us running in the $500 to $1,000 per year range, the idea of taking money from your scant food and shelter budget in a Depression and using it to underwrite big insurance companies is less than appetizing.

In a real Depression – something 3 to 7 times greater in pain than the little Housing bubble blow-down of 2009 – we will be looking at the same kind of America that grandparents and great-grandparents endured.  A near total lack of jobs, hard to find food, and all the rest of it.

With no where in particular to “go to work” and with scammers and hoaxers trying to rip people off at every turn, we see the outline of a world where the working population will be ready to pack up and move anywhere in the country where there’s so much as a rumor of jobs being available.

What are the choices?  You’re not paying attention if that’s the first question,  The CORRECT thing to be asking is “What’s the cost per mile involved of each option?”  Far better question to be asked.

Feet: The things holding up your legs are likely out of shape.  Even if you put in half a mile a day on a treadmill, that’s not really walking.  When we get off the treadmill here at the ranch and begin to hike around the property, a lot of things come into focus while walking the property line (6,200 feet around the perimeter).

For one, real ground is irregular.  If you have never walked “wild land” you;’d be surprised how many things are out there that can cause you to trip and stumble.  Hell on ankles if you aren’t used to it.

Shoes:  Then there is the matter of shoes and socks.  The average “dress socks” are terrible.  I’ve gone to a good quality diabetic sock because they are much easier on the legs.  The tight-top dress crew socks aren’t very good and don’t offer much padding.  After this, inspect any sock for seams around the toe.  Most socks have them, being easier to make on a machine, but there is nothing worse than a blister at the end of the day on your toes from a seam that has been rubbing.

Now to the shoe itself:  The best walking shoes are likely the thickest “work book” that you can break-in without too much efforts.  Doc Martens are good. But, so are steel-toed lace-up boots like you can find places like Tractor Supply.  No, it ain’t Nordies, but they work and quite well.  Thick-sole tennis or walking/hiking shoes are good, too, but remember the objective from the prepping standpoint is “How many miles can I realistically put on these things before they’re no good?”

If you can’t find a shoe that you could walk the length of the country in – in the event of an actual emergency – then you likely don’t have a good shoe.  If you can put on your heavier than sports-weight walking shoes and make it from one coast to the other, then you’re onto something.

Destinations and Guidance:  Most preppers are wildly under-prepared for overland navigation in a “lights out” condition.  Sure, color hiking GPS is really nice and we all love them.  But, it is not until you can bit off a section, or two, of something like the Cascade Crest trail that you begin to see the risks of electronic navigation.

Let’s imagine that you have walked from Snoqualmie Pass and you’re going to the Stevens Pass area.  Beautiful trail.  But, there are lots of forks, divisions, and ways to take a wrong turn.  As a result, a single GPS is NOT a safe way to attack the problem.  Consider how well the GPS will work if you fall into a small river while crossing it.  Is the GPS waterproof?  And, should you be carrying an extra LifeStraw or more batteries?

In the Pacific Northwest, you’d be hard-put to find anything near Green Trail Maps, but that’s a regional.  For a little more national perspective, hit  Here, you can put in a state and find trails that might be good “warm-ups” for you.  One near us, the Tyler State Park Trail over here, looks like one will will have to put on our hiking list.

If you hit the link, you’ll see that this one is a 12-mile kick-ass bike trail in addition to all the other options.  I like the idea of walking a bike trail because not only can you hike, but you can also work on “E&E” (escape and evasion) while you’re at it.  You take to the bike trail, just like it was any other, but your goal is to circuit the trail without being seen, or at least having an evasion plan when you are.

See:  If the crap ever really hit the fan, there will be lots of reasons not to encounter “unknowns” and one of the best ways to do this is actually practicing walking without being detected.  Not recommended in big cities:  This is a rural thing.

Learn to read a “topo map” because when you are overlanding, the straightest line between two places may needlessly tire you out if you made a dumb choice with lots of elevation changes.

Distances of travel:  My wife and brother-in-law grew up in the Mormon high country of upland Arizona around Snowflake.  They knew people who could RUN from Snowflake to Holbrook, Arizona – a distance of just under 50-miles.  To give yourself a reality check some weekend (and I did it last weekend) get on a treadmill and walk at a leisurely pace (2.25 miles per hour, say) and stay on the beast for 2 complete hours.  At the end, you will have walked a lousy 4-1/2 miles.

If this isn’t too bad, and if you get up to where you can walk 3-miles an hour for 2 hours, then it’s time to put on a backpack and carry some water with you.  Remember, the reality of having to walk is that you will need to carrying capacity.

If you can’t carry 40-pounds for several hours of walking, start to make a personal inventory of things around the home that could be useful in a walk-out emergency.  Something like this, for example…

This is actually quite useful for carrying a load.  But, how many miles do you thick you could push or pull a heavy lawn cart?

If you don’t relish balancing a load across the wilds, something like the $120 Timber Ridge Folding Camping Wagon Cart Collapsible Sturdy Steel Frame Garden Beach Large Size is worth considering, but change hands often and don’t plan on lots of vertical change on your route.

This “carrying problem” doesn’t get enough play in the “wannabe prepper” sites, as we see it.  More details and mindset if useful.

In the airplane flying business, there’s a concept called “useful load.”  Take the total weight of the plane, then add oil, fuel, and then see what’s left.  Suddenly, an airplane that can a theoretical 1,200 pounds of capacity turns into 832 pounds of capacity at full fuel and oil…and it gets worse depending on density altitude. Toss in a slightly overweight 200-pounder at the controls and 120 pounds of luggage an laptops…and what do you have?  Hopefully, three light-weight friends doing keto.

This may seem a bit obtuse, but it is directly applicable to the “walking equation.”  Just like the airplane needs to carry fuel and oil, you need to carry some snacks and a lot of water.  Same as the plane has a carrying capacity, how much can you toss into a backpack and spin up on a treadmill and for how long?  Every try 40-pounds for four hours without a drill sergeant?

Even the density altitude analogy to flying holds.  Remember that Snowflake to Holbrook running story?  This whole area is around 5,000 feet elevation.

So if your “hike out” or “move to fallback” prepping plans involve elevation change, factor several more items into your survival equation:

First, when you move from low altitude (coastal) to high altitude (inland) your blood pressure is likely to go up.  If your prepping plans involve moving to a higher elevation, say more than 1,000 feet higher than present, you’ll want to visit the High Altitude Medicine website for an overview not only of spikes in Blood Pressure, but also impact on coronary artery disease and such.  Adjustment time to the elevation change can be a couple of weeks, or longer.  And if you’re hiking?  Density altitude is a real deal danger.  Sea level training is great, but working UP to mountains is best.

In our next episode, we’ll look at other ways of getting around, but in this “opener” I wanted you to get serious about about your personal readiness to walk in avoidance of trouble.  Five to 10 miles on a treadmill with a 30-40 pound pack may not seem like “prepping” but in a worst-case?  It’s a woefully inadequate warm-up.  But you may survive and thrive while other dive.

Write when you get rich,

author avatar
George Ure
Amazon Author Page: UrbanSurvival Bio:

15 thoughts on “Prepping: Post-Collapse Transportation (1. Walking)”

  1. Don’t forget about crossing creeks and rivers. How deep, wide and swift? How wet are you gunna get which will certainly affect you and your well being! Good dry spare socks are a necessity.

    • My kids followed my teaching on this one: Two pairs of underwear and socks in a sealed bag (‘cuz it’s really difficult to dry out undies on the trail, and really difficult to get warm if yer wearing wet undies.) Daughter actually seals all clothes & snacks, even the ones that’re sealed…

      • Are you familiar with the concept of the “atomizer?” A tube is blown into, and a second tube, the “draw tube,” placed at right angles to the first and at its end, will draw perfume, lacquer, or anything else of low viscosity into the blow-tube or “atomizer” exhaust, where it’s finely-disbursed.

        Since the draw tube draws via a vacuum created by air across its top, a portable vacuum device may be constructed with two straws.

        All one needs to seal any number of vac bags in the “field” is to make a political comment in any crowd, and funnel the result through the “atomizer” straw.

        Warning: The resulting vacuum in the draw tube may swallow pets, small children, and all common sense within earshot…

  2. Another good one George. Self care is an often missed topic for the prepping types, especially as we become wiser.”Note I didn’t say older.”

    You hit on the the subject well when you mentioned how easy it was to get tripped up on uneven ground. Finding well fitting footwear with the proper support is not an easy task. Then throw in special needs like arch and ankle supports. Chain shoe stores won’t get it most of the time.

    Bottom line. Take care of your feet. They carry you and your stuff.


    • I definitely have to concur. Buying anything in a 6E width is about buying what’s available, not necessarily what you want. Having non-conforming feet can get expensive.

      It’s even worse with sports gear, such as ice skates.

  3. LOL! I never used GPS voluntarily and never trusted it. It’s an unreliable luxury. If my life depends on XC trekking, a map and compass is my friend, along with knowing the territory. I semi-regularly go hiking in the mountains with just a compass or two(mandatory) for navigation. The compass is unnecessary on a clear day most of the time, but clouds, night, fog or precipitation will leave anyone disoriented. Maps are helpful, but less so when you know and can feel the area.

    The problem in the west is that we haven’t yet invented dehydrated water. A 40+ lb pack in the Grand Canyon will include 16 lbs of water, along with a good filter or two and salt/electrolyte supplements. That’s if you’re assured of finding good water at the end of the day. Carrying much in the way of non-essentials is a non-starter. Don’t forget a weapon – most animals don’t follow the law.

    A mountain bike in good condition seems to be a viable option for the longer haul. Even if you had to abandon it, you’ve made progress. I’ve walked 60 miles in 21 hours when I was a teenager, but doubt I could do that now. Running is out of the question unless required for survival. I have a friend who runs marathons for fun. I can’t even imagine that.

    A straight line from the city to home would require crossing a military base and technical climbing. It’s definitely not an option.

    The real question not addressed is: “Where are you going?”.

    • I learned woodcraft from the time I could walk. The easiest (but never “shortest”) way to go from “point A” to “point B” is always a game or indian trail. Critters learned, through generations of trial & error, the easiest path through a woods or thicket. Indians, not being fools, adopted some of these game trails, and deviated only when they needed to end up at a specific destination. I have walked Chippewa, Huron, Miami, Shawnee, Seneca, and Pottawatomie trails, whose makers’ descendants have probably never walked. For one who actually sees (as opposed to just “looking” at stuff), many of these trails, unfollowed for more than a century, are still plainly visible, and still viable. They indicate the easiest terrain with the best cover, the best river crossings, and wet campspots every 20-30 miles (YMMV considerably on the Plains or West Texas to the San Gabriels, but the trails are no longer there, either.) Nothing lasts long in the desert, or where topsoil depth is measured in millimeters…

      Around here, or from Eureka (CA) north, I’d not be concerned, packing a half-gallon of water and a Lifestraw (AAMOF that’s what’s in my GO-Bag.) Traveling most places either side of a line drawn from western Minnesota to SoCal, I’d want 5 gallons, and probably carry 10+ in my car for DSW travel. It is a SERIOUS concern, and can not be strongly-enough emphasized. DSW on foot or bicycle — not gonna happen, at least not by me.

      Neither’s a 40# pack.

      I honestly don’t know what kind of ballast one would put in a backpack to get it up to forty pounds — 5 gallons of water, a hundred extra rounds for the Glock? Mine’s about 23, and here in forest country, I _should_ be able to live out of it for a couple months, even in winter…

  4. If you are prepping for The-End-Of-The-World-As-We-Know-It (TEOTWAWKI), and planning travel routes, you might want to consider the location and typical wind direction from known nuclear power plants. They (nuclear power plants) don’t respond well to having power cut off and people running away. I.e., Fukushima.

    Part of such planning might be found here:

    Quoting the first 3 paragraphs, it says in part:

    “(OMNS, Feb 1, 2012) Workers with severe radiation exposure at the Fukushima nuclear plant had major reduction in cancer risk when supplemented with vitamin C and other anti-oxidative nutrients. Sixteen men aged between 32 and 59 years worked 5 to 6 weeks in a radiation contaminated area, collecting contaminated water, measuring radiation levels, operating heavy machinery, and removing debris. Blood samples were obtained to measure whole blood counts and blood chemistry, plasma levels of free DNA, and 47 cancer related gene expressions.

    Four workers who took intravenous vitamin C (25,000 mg) therapy before they went in, and continuously took anti-oxidative supplements during the working period, had no significant change in both free DNA and overall cancer risk.

    Three workers that did not have preventive intravenous vitamin C had an increase in calculated cancer risk. After 2 months of intervention with intravenous vitamin C and oral anti-oxidative nutritional supplements, free DNA returned to normal level and cancer risk score was significantly decreased.”

    Continuous dosing with oral vitamin C (ascorbic acid) to near bowel tolerance can approach the serum levels achieved by IV. This is important to know as a person walking across country is unlikely to be able to stop and get a daily IV.

    I normally approach bowel tolerance at 14 to 15 grams per day of oral C. Recently I woke up with a sore throat, congestion, cough, etc. I took 2 grams of C every 15 minutes for 5 hours and tapered off the rest of the day for a total of >50 grams, all without reaching bowel tolerance. All signs of the infection was gone after just under 4 hours.

  5. You are so right about footwear. Thankfully I discovered this many years ago. Go to a podiatrist, get your feet measured, get orthotics if necessary, buy good quality shoes with good support and consider it a wise investment.

    I have friends that will spend $800 on a smart phone or $200 on a nice dinner out but look for shoes on sale for $39.99, then complain that their feet hurt all the time.

    And no, I am not a foot doctor or shoe salesman. Just a guy that learned the hard way!

    • Exactly right, people refuse to realize the value of good shoes. And most don’t recognize that as we age our foot size changes, getting larger. And don’t forget to include clippers, files, and other goods for taking care of your toenails.

      You only have two feet…

      JW / North Alabama

  6. If my mode of travel has to be on foot I Would prefer to have at least one good pack animal with me. Large dog or horse… Make good company, can carry the load, and alert you to danger…

  7. First off…in my opinion we take everything for granted..
    During the late seventies I had a car blow up..shove a rod through the block.. I was on winter coat.. No winter boots no gloves ..just a pea coat and stocking cap..12.5 mile hike to the plant..take off at 1 am and just barely be in time for work..double my jeans stuff newspapers in between..the same with my coat. Still froze my fingers and feet.
    Then they closed the plant for the orders..of course no food stamps during those dark days..the gas and electricity was shut off.. We would open the door to an unheated hall to warm the apartment up..two babies.. Hollidays on the way..I did do day labor..scrape the fat off of road kill etc. Anyway hunger like you never can imagine. See up until that time I like everyone else thought there’s plenty.. n the cupboard was a few cans of soup vegetables a gallon of milk maybe a weeks worth. That vanished like a dart in the wind..the reality that there wasn’t going to be anyone to come to my in a rural setting I would scrape the grain that would fall from the back of farmers wagons.. I’d beat that into a crude gruel in an old iron pan with a rock. I had an old Coleman camp stove (I still have it) and we would soak the grain in water acquired from melted snow. Since we didn’t have water our tools ring was at the local gas station and baby diapers were my t-shirts..our Christmas tree a branch from a pine tree in a can filled with have no idea..
    Then a farmer asked me if I wanted to make a dollar an hour catching the male chickens in his hen house..five hours. Then he asked which would you rather have the five dollars or the chickens and some eggs.. Good lord knows I took the chickens and eggs. Honey we are going to eat tonight..
    When I got home..the door to the apartment was closed..I opened it.warm air came out. There was a receipt on the counter for rent paid up and forward the utilities the same the fridge full of delicious food all the cupboards were full..under that pine branch was a coat for each of the kids. In the corner was cases of food enough to last till spring where I could walk twentymiles to find work..
    I dropped to my knees and praised God..I never did find out who helped out..but swore from that point forward I would find someone in the same boat I was and sit bought them knowing who do the same thing for them. A hand up..
    They are everywhere.I could tell you stories all day long you can’t even imagine. The vast majority of us don’t see it. We are wrapped up in our own lives as we should be but fail at humanity.
    Its very easy to say oh I will walk..
    Or I bought a book saying I’ll survive a catastrophic event. Then walk the rubble of the slums or an area that’s been devastated by a hurricane.
    I actually had someone comment on my set up saying I’ve never seen anything like this..they’ve never been scared hungry and cold. They grew up in the age of plenty.many won’t even consider walking a few blocks..or how do you survive if everything is gone. That’s where those living on the streets will be the ones to survive ..paper and metal doesn’t mean a thing if your starving

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