The year is 2014. Sarah Palin is the president and she has somehow managed to accidentally bring about a zombie apocalypse. Don’t ask how it happened – it just did, and it’s actually a best-case scenario if you ask me. Living corpses are roaming the world and you see the once familiar faces of your friends and family, now semblances of their former selves. Except Uncle George, he actually looks better now. Anyways, the streets are lined with shambling ghouls and they are on a constant search for brains. Every day is a scramble to find shelter as you keep an eye out for dangers and your own source of food with equal vigor.
You are absolutely alone and one of the last remaining human survivors on an Earth covered with quiet chaos. Sometimes you wonder if you would be better off as one of the countless millions killed in the initial frenzied wave of the attack. But you know you have to survive and...you also love camping, right, so here’s a guide of cool survival gear for rough-terrain campers that if need be, could also serve you well after the zombie apocalypse.
Before you start panicking and running for the nearest house you can 'secure' wait a moment and think about what else you might do. Firstly you aren't just going to pick the first house you come to and go in and just lock it up. There might be other inhabitants, human or zombie, for you to contend with. Securing a house against the undead isn't easy at the best of times, you'd need nails and boards and many other things that might not be readily available. There might be the partial remains of the undead in the house hiding in the most unlikely places, rotting remains that might carry pestilence. Better to throw the idea out entirely and think of more reasonable options.
"But Abby, we don't know any better options!" You weenies, it's not like I'm not going to tell you some other choices you can make. Just keep reading. There are actually a lot of options from the simple to the complex. We'll cover some of the best and worst choices in this article. Let's begin with simple choices.
Zombies aren't normally known for their cognitive abilities, rotting brains you know, so climbing is something they're not really good at. Ladders and stairs notwithstanding. Naturally a higher area is a good choice. You could go simple and tie yourself to a tree trunk up in the branches. It would keep you out of zombie hands but not warm, secure, or dry. If you happen across someone’s abandoned tree house that could make a good temporary shelter. But you’re hardly going to find those everywhere you go or on any kind of regular basis.
A better choice are tree tents. I know, sounds weird, but totally practical. A tree tent looks like a large balloon that you hang in a tree from a good thick branch, the inside has a 9 foot wooden floor and sleeps up to two children and three adults. Or one adult with plenty of space.
There is a version called a tree-pee as well, very much like a small triangular tent but this also hangs in a tree and is usually pegged to the ground at each corner, though it's not required. Both varieties (shown here) can be hung quite high up in a good thick tree for the safest sleep when you're surrounded by zombies. Keep in mind that the branch you choose to support your tree-pee must be strong enough to hold the weight of the tent, you, your supplies, and anyone you might have with you.
Another good and easy option if you return to any given area again and again is to hang a large PVC pipe, the diameter of the pipe should be large enough to hold a person on hands and knees, from a good sturdy tree and drop a rope ladder from one end. It’s still secure and weather resistant but you would need to make sure the rope ladder is capable of being tucked away so no zed-heads can get inside and lie in wait for you.
If you’re feeling more ‘ground based’, AKA brave and stupid, then we have some ideas there too. You could build a lean-to which is a shelter using a fallen tree, the side of a building, or other solid object as one side of your temporary shelter and stretching a tarp or piece of waterproof canvas over the top and one side and securing it with rope. The downside to a lean-to is that it obscures your vision on the side covered by the canvas, making your survival chances slimmer and turning you into the equivalent of a jackass in the box for the horde.
Alternatively you could build a ‘brush shelter’ or ‘debris hut’. The debris hut is an example of a good outdoor survival shelter. A debris hut is just a pile of dead leaves, branches and whatever else is around. If done correctly, there is enough space under it for you to lie under the pile comfortably - and still breathe. It should take about 1-2 hours to build a hut, so don't wait until it gets dark to start building.
Find yourself a long sturdy pole of a length about 1.5-2 times your height. This will be the main beam of your hut. Another option is to find a fallen tree that will fit to build this hut. Look for something to hold the main beam of the hut off the ground. A rock, stump, tree with a forked branch, or anything strong enough can be used for this support. The height should be a little taller than you are when you are sitting.
Make your shelter just large enough to accommodate you, especially in cold climates, because you are going to have to heat it with your own body heat.
Lean smaller poles against both sides of your main beam at about a 45 degree angle to make a framework. Place them close together and fill in around them with smaller branches. Cover this framework with materials at hand such as dead leaves, dry fern, evergreen branches, or grass. Use whatever you can find. Once you have sufficient debris in place, at least 3 feet (1 m) thick, you will need to place a layer of small, light branches over the outside of the hut to keep all your insulation from blowing away. Depending on how thick your insulating layer is, and that your debris is reasonably dry, a debris hut can keep people dry and warm in frigid temperatures. Place a 1 foot (30 cm) layer of debris inside the shelter. Try to choose stuff that you would like to sleep on. Your body heat can be lost very quickly lying on the bare ground.
At the entrance, pile insulating material that you can drag there once inside the shelter to close the entrance, or build a door. Try to place the entrance away from the wind. Wind and rain blowing towards or into the entrance will take the heat away from your shelter. You can make a door by gathering finger size dead wood and lashing it into a grid pattern. Make two grids and place debris between the two grids. Lash the grids together and you have an insulated door.
If you haven’t got the time to build such a shelter and you haven’t got access to a hanging tent (and you’re not smart enough to figure out how to build one) then you’ll need a mummy bag. It’s a sleeping bag that’s meant to fit your body like a second skin, including covering everything but your face, and keeping you warm and dry while you sleep. You might also consider a small pup tent that you can pack up and carry with you. Now, neither of these options is ideal especially on the ground. So if you’re using one of these try to find a nice flat rooftop to camp out on, that way at least you’re out of arms reach while rolled up like an egg roll, nom nom.
Important to remember: if you have a choice between sleeping out in the open with no protection and sleeping inside a questionable temporary habitation (ex: a car, truck, bus, or trailer), choose the outdoors. The vehicle or other option might give you a few seconds warning when the hungry dead show up but they can quickly become death traps if you get caught napping by a horde.
In the open you have a better chance of getting away in case of attack. In that desperate situation try and choose a large open field with at least one good solid tree nearby in case you need to make a dash for it. Sleep lightly, be aware of every sound because it just might save your life. It’s important to remember, there aren’t going to be any street signs advertising zombie infestation so don’t think that just because you don’t see them that the undead aren’t around. No city that I know of has a street department who puts of zombie caution signs, let alone after things go to Hell without their hand basket.
And above all....if you’re looking online for zombie shelter ideas DON’T listen to ideas that are patently stupid like the following:
“Go to a gas station, you can use the propane tanks as grenades while you eat Krispy Kremes.”
“Head for a military base, they’ll be quick to help you and they’ve got lots of weapons so you’ll be safe.”
“Use firewood to spell out HELP on your roof and set it alight, someone will come take you somewhere safe.”
Yes, these are real suggestions from real websites made by real idiots. The good news is, chances are they’ll be among the first ones eaten on Z-Day. So, turns out those veggie eating, barefooted, tree hugging, hippy liberals were right, go live in a tent dude!
Remember you heard it here first, now....Survive This!