Comedian and screenwriter James Whittingham wrote these words: “The upside of camping is that it prepares you for the apocalypse.” He was making a joke (he is, after all, a comedian), but as a camper I know that there is a certain truth to his words. If you become an expert camper, you will be much closer to being prepared should the you-know-what hit the fan and you actually have to bug out.
Let’s get one thing straight: we are not talking about the infamous “glamping” here. If society goes to hell in a handbasket, you probably won’t be able to find a spot at a KOA campground to hook your big RV up to the electricity and water. You won’t have an internet connection. You might even, gasp, not have a working toilet or shower! Can you imagine? Actually, you can indeed imagine this if you learn to become a decent tent camper.
Let’s look at a couple of scenarios where camping skills can come in handy. First, it is possible that if you have to leave your home, you will still be able to use your vehicle. Obviously, if that is the case it would be helpful to have an all-wheel drive vehicle. You will most likely be driving off road. Keeping that in mind, do some practice camping using your car or truck. You’ll need a decent tent, some sleeping bags, camp chairs, lanterns that can be recharged or use batteries, and (optional) a pad of some kind or a blow-up mattress and a small stove. I use a butane stove and a foam pad and love them both. I also have a small gadget, about the size of a cell phone, which can absorb solar energy and charge my other devices. A small shovel is handy for when you hear the call of nature.
Now let’s look at scenario number two, which would be learning to camp at primitive, walk-in sites for which you will only bring what you can carry on your back. If it is ever necessary to bug out and you can’t take your vehicle, this skill will be invaluable. Obviously, you will want to lighten your load if you are primitive camping. Small tents will be necessary, and you won’t want to haul any camp chairs or air mattresses. Since you probably won’t want to carry a stove, it is helpful to have knowledge on how to start a campfire.
No matter which type of camping (drive-up or hike-in) you choose, there are some things that don’t change. You want to have a small first-aid kit and a rudimentary knowledge of addressing health and safety challenges in the wilderness. A good knife and some bear spray are helpful. One of the always-present challenges is having enough water. There are water bottles available online and at most camping supply stores that have their own built-in filters so you can use available water in streams and lakes for drinking.
The point here is that if there ever comes a time when you have to leave your home for any length of time, it is fine to be prepared in theory but camping helps you to be prepared in reality. Pick up some camping supplies and start with short trips close to home. Keep notes as to what you need but don’t have as well as what you have but can get rid of because it doesn’t work for you. You will eventually find that you’ve become an expert at camping, and this will also make you much more prepared for bug-out scenarios. The upside is that, like me, you may find that you truly love camping. There is a reason for the term “happy camper”!