The Big Igloo and You!

Bugging out, or bugging in, these four things are essential

I will preface this article by saying that I personally don’t believe there will be any kind of civil war; some mass happening that will tear the country apart by it’s very social fabric that would cause this kind of advice to be warranted. Yellowstone going off? Sure. Back-to-back Katrina level events prompting localized breakdown of government services? Absolutely. Personal survival is key, and that’s what we’re here to cover!

When we suddenly lose the stability of our every-day utilities and commodities, it can be an upsetting and difficult adjustment. Sometimes we have an expected time frame of when things will be restored, and other times we do not. Living in the mid-west, I’ve survived through several major ice storms which left us without power for multiple days, and virtually no form of transportation. I’ve also assisted with the flooding we see during the heavy rain seasons in spring, and witnessed the devastation and interruption that can be caused to peoples homes (and lives).

There are four basic concepts that have to be covered, whether you’re staying in a disaster zone long-term or leaving the area to seek relative safety. These are common concepts, but often forgotten in the panic or during the hassle of packing your things and leaving. Even during the rush to board up windows and store vehicles in the garage. The acronym that fits these scenarios best is: WSFD – Water, Shelter, Food, Defense. I cannot stress enough that maintaining a supply bag that contains essentials is key in every home, for any event – Not just big igloo level happenings. If you don’t have a bugout\bug-in bag, you should – I’ll include a list and relevant links at the end of the article for what I feel is a basic kit.

The four main requirements follow below, but we’re going to kick off with the single most important one that people tend to forget. Whether it’s surviving an ice-out without power, a major flood that ruins the drinkable supply, or desert conditions where it’s scarce, your biggest concern is going to be WATER. The human body can go two weeks without food, but only three days before dehydration becomes a deadly problem. In high temperatures it can be a matter of hours for dehydration to take root. I personally have a 24-hour pack in the truck and some gallon jugs ready to go in the house at any given time, just in the off-chance it’s lost for a while. Preparedness is the best method, but if you find yourself out and supply is short, there are a few good methods to recover some of that sweet sweet hydration.

A diagram of a solar still, one of the best methods for gathering water in arid climates.

This first method can be used in dry or arid climates to pull moisture down along the underside of a plastic sheet, and in to any kind of containment device to give you some drinking water. This method can also be adjusted for use in a wooded area by placing foliage along the slant of the hole, creating additional moisture as the foliage dries and temperatures change. These are often best set up during the morning, and left for a day or so while checking intermittently to make sure you’re not wasting water by letting the cup run over.

The second proven method is to quite simply find a stream in an area likely to have one, and boil the water from it. Alternatively there are commercially available methods such as the Life Straw and iodine tablets or drops should boiling not be an easily available method for you. In dry areas such as deserts, or heavily rocky areas it’s often best to find the lowest visible spot, and dig down in to the ground from there. You’re likely to hit water, and can then begin any of your purifying methods once it’s located.

The next major thing to cover is FOOD – Now, this one seems obvious. There’s food everywhere, food in your pantry, food in your fridge, pop down to the store and get some food. And that’s accurate in a scenario where things are still okay, short-term. However, in the event of a long-term power outage food in a fridge will go bad after 24 hours. Perishables do exactly that, and suddenly your meat and vegetables that relied on being cold have a much much shorter shelf life.

Now if you’re “bugging in” for example, for a major snow storm and you’ve lost power, the loss of refrigeration isn’t such a big deal. It’s freezing outside after all! You can store meat and related items out in the cold if you’re willing to deal with some heat loss and having to warm back up for getting food.

Civilian-purchase MRE’s are widely available at many retailers, including places like Costco and Sams Club.

This is decent advice for the northern regions where I reside, but if you’re further south and happen to be living in a dry, arid or hot climate that won’t work. If you don’t have a cooler you can fill with ice, or there’s no more ice available, the best method is to return to digging. After two or three feet, the ground temperature can be anywhere from six to ten degrees cooler, and can maintain your meats and perishables much longer than being exposed to open air.

Now – Assuming government services aren’t coming back, the powers out, and there’s no possibility of just “going to the store” or waiting it out, the next best answer again is: be prepared. Several major companies produce civilian MRE-style meals that can be bought in bulk either in-store or online. These often store for years and can be cooked with relative ease, or simply eaten out of their package cold. Some canned goods also fall under this category, as well as things that have been pickled for preservation. Dry beans, dry rice and peanut butter are my go-to packing items for a possible bug-out scenario, as they boil easy and are nutrient rich. Nutrient bars are also a good choice to keep a few boxes of, as you can grab them quick and head out if you have to.

In the event that services are down and not coming back for the foreseeable future, it pays to hunt. Trapping and hunting are obviously how food was secured for a long period of time, and even having a glancing knowledge of how to skin and cut meat can be helpful (Best tip: don’t cut in to the stomach or intestines, be careful when skinning near those areas) – Sometimes your personal survival takes immediate precedence over a deer or rabbit. You can also forage for food, however knowing what berries and mushrooms are food and which are poisonous can be tough. While a bit of a dated concept, I would suggest having a copy of the Boy Scout’s hand guide in an easily accessible location, as it covers a lot of the common ones, as well as what plants to watch out for in the wild.

Tarp shelters are an easy way to get out of the elements as needed, or to duck away while watching the local wildlife.

The next thing to cover is SHELTER – This one also feels a bit obvious, but exposure is a serious threat depending on your climate, the season, and what the event is that has caused this scenario in the first place. Exposure is more deadly in a desert than say, a rolling meadow sprinkled with trees – Now, if you’ve “bugged-in” so to speak, shelter is obviously covered to some extent. In the event of hurricanes, it’s best to get to your second floor if you have one, and board up all windows and doors to prevent them from smashing open\shattering and causing hazards. Maintain some kind of roof access if at all possible to prevent becoming trapped by the water with no access to the outside world – This leaves you a method to signal for help if needed.


If you’re opting to “bug out” or something is forcing you out of home and civilization, there are many natural methods of shelter one can opt for. The most common type of non-house shelter is going to be a tent. Any tent will work if set up properly, and will get you out of the weather, in a dry environment, and preferably in some shade out of direct sunlight. The next closest thing is a tarp, which can easily be bundled to go with you in a hurry, and has multiple purposes. Tarps can be easily configured to act as tents, shelters, rain or wind blocks, or even put on the ground before setting up a tent to act as a moisture barrier. In the opinion of the author, a tarp is one of the most versatile and useful items a person can carry in their pack.

With shelter comes things associated with it: Heat, protection from the elements, a place to store your gear or pack, and somewhere to sleep for the night. A small camping stove can heat a tent quickly, and a fire built into the open side of a tarp can keep you warm at night. Staying warm, dry and getting a good sleep is something valuable out in the woods.

The last major thing to touch on is DEFENSE – This is exactly as it implies, for whatever you may need to defend yourself from. Wild animals, enemy foot mobiles, bad actors encountered in the wild or trying to get into your home during a rough situation. This specific topic can go a lot of different directions, so I’d like to keep it down to two things: Protecting yourself and securing food. Defending yourself and preserving your life\the life of your loved ones is paramount.

During previous events such as Katrina or even the rioting in Saint Louis, we’ve seen an increase in home invasions and burglaries as a result, as well as general looting and disregard for the law. This kind of event is dangerous for you, your community, and your loved ones. It’s best to be able to protect yourself should that happen. If you’re on this site reading this article, I’ve got a suspicion you probably enjoy firearms & firearm related activities, so you know what you’d do.

A PDW or Personal Defense Weapon is exactly what it sounds like – Compact, light weight with an ammo cost that’s typically low.

As for having to “bug out” again, I would suggest a light bolt action rifle, or a small cartridge semi-automatic. Something in .223\5.56 or 9mm would be optimal for small and medium sized game, as well as needed defensive maneuvering. Personal defense weapons like an MP5, Vector or Scorpion are ideal in these situations, and can pack easily. If it can break down and fit in a pack, all the better. Remember that having to carry ammo gets exhausting, and the smaller and lighter the round, the easier it will be to hike and move in the open. Ounces turn to pounds when you’re having to move your own gear.

Now for the list I mentioned earlier, I’m a big believer in being prepared and being ready to go when you have to go. No one wants an event like this to happen, society’s pretty happy with their conveniences and comforts – But when those disappear, it’s going to be rough for a while. As a disclaimer, none of these brands pay me or the site, and it’s what I’ve personally used:

The bag: https://amzn.to/2Yz2tbb
The water purification: https://amzn.to/2KzIgZR & https://amzn.to/33arxok
The shelter: https://amzn.to/2YBDP5G
The tarp: https://amzn.to/31bTGcK
The cord: https://amzn.to/2Kdipry
The food: https://amzn.to/2YFbyej & https://amzn.to/2T2vJ4A
The light: https://amzn.to/33aq5lB
The thermal blanket: https://amzn.to/31jpyMJ
The medic kit: https://amzn.to/2YOkG4I
The fire starter: https://amzn.to/2GKcE2x
The heat: https://amzn.to/2YE1XEO

By no means is this comprehensive, and you’re likely going to find more options (or better prices) at your local stores like Sportsman’s Outdoors, Cabelas, or Academy Sports. But this is a good starting point for most people. Good luck during the big igloo fellow gunners!

Horus H.

Horus H.

Horus lives in Missouri, with work often taking him to Florida, Texas and North Carolina. With a background in Law Enforcement and IT, camping and survivalist work is an escape from the prison of paperwork.

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