I was having a lovely conversation with a fellow blogger the other week, and we were discussing the classic problem of having bunches of stuff and having to suddenly beat feet and run. What happens to your gear, what do you take, where do you put it, etc, etc.
Everyone talks about stashing gear at a secondary (or tertiary [or greater]) location and how the idea is that if they get chased out of their main base they can have what they need stashed elsewhere. I agree with the principle, but one of the biggest problems is expense. You can wind up sinking a lot of money into a stash of gear that, by design, is meant to either be never used or abandoned.
Example: you want to keep a stash of gear at Dad’s Old Hunting Cabin. You drive out there one weekend and stash a couple big 40mm ammo cans of gear in the corner of the root cellar, pull the rug over the trapdoor, and pat yourself on the back and figure you’re good to go. But…what do most people put in these stashes? Honestly, most people put ‘second rate’ gear. At home you’ve got a nice AR, solid outdoor clothing, Jetboil, Eberlestock pack, etc, etc….all the top-notch gear for the possibility of having to run out the door. So, thats whats in those ammo cans, right? Well, no… it seems like when folks put these stashes together its like some sort of armed Goodwill donation box. A Mosin Nagant, some old work clothes, last hunting seasons boots, cans of Beefaroni, $2 flashlights, surplus East German backpacks, alcohol stoves, surplus wool blankets and a couple changes of clothes that you haven’t worn in three years.
So..here’s the scenario. You left work and headed straight to the cabin, a’la Red Dawn, and its dark, cold, snowing, you havent eaten since last night, and you’re wearing your work shoes and work clothes. No problem, you think, because you planned ahead. You fumble your way through the dark, since the power is out, and find your stash of goodies and thats right about the point you start to wonder why if this gear was good enough for this eventuality why isn’t it the stuff that you normally had at home?
Well, it isn’t. If it was, it would be your first-choice, right? I mean, if you think that when you are desperate, cold, hungry and scared, a surplus wool blanket and a pair of paint spattered overalls from last years garage remodel are just the solution then why aren’t those your primary choices when things aren’t desperate?
I’ll tell you why: expense. The odds are pretty high that when you stuff a a footlocker of cached gear in a hole or attic somewhere you probably (you hope) will never need it…or you may wind up using cache #1 and #’s 2 and 3 wind up being ‘lost’ or rendered inaccessible. And if the odds are good that its just going to sit there for 20 years undisturbed and unneeded, why put a $1300 rifle, $200 pair of boots, $200 in freeze drieds, and hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars worth of top-line expensive gear into what is statistically going to be, basically, a time capsule?
Actually, theres a very good reason – the time when you need to dip into your Secret Stash O’ Goodies is the time when you will need the best, top of the line gear you can get and not a bunch of second-rate, just-as-good, will-work-in-a-pinch, leftovers. Is that elitist? I dunno…I just know that if I were dropped naked and freezing into a cold, rainy, parking lot in the middle of the apocalypse and all I had to gear up with was what was in one of the Hardigg cases, I think I’d feel much better about my situation if the gear available was first-choice stuff. Sure, given the situation a pair of worn deck shoes is better than no shoes, but between the deck shoes or a pair of insulated broken-in boots…no contest.
The trouble, is, of course, the expense involved. This is one of those times when ‘good enough’ becomes a false economy. When its a choice between ‘safe, warm, comfortable, free’ vs. ‘cold, hungry, dark, scared’ I would like to have every piece of gear that will give me as much advantage as possible.
But, oy!, the expense! Fortunately, on a long enough timeline anything is affordable. I’ve been at this game for a couple decades now so I’ve had the opportunity over the years to acquire a certain level of redundancy. If I were trying to do it all at once, as if I had just gotten into preparedness last week, yeah it would be pretty darn expensive. But, I’ve been doing this for years. I have enough spares that I could stick an AR, an 870, a G17, and a 10/22 into a Pelican case and stick it somewhere and if I never see them again it wouldnt put a hole in my logistics. Id be awesomely pissed at the expensive loss, but it wouldn’t otherwise hinder my readiness. And, were the zombie apocalypse to occur and all I had available to me was what was stashed away, I would not feel the least bit undergeared.
Yeah, I could go through the LA Riots or Hurricane Katrina with a Mosin Nagant, a Makarov pistol and a handful of PowerBars but, good grief, that wouldn’t be my Plan A if I could avoid it.