Home > The Zombie Survival Guide(12)

The Zombie Survival Guide(12)
Author: Max Brooks


Traveling light is essential to your journey. Before packing anything, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” Once you’ve compiled your gear, go down the list and ask that question again. Once you’ve done that, do it again. Of course, traveling light does not mean just holstering a .45, grabbing some beef jerky and a water bottle, and heading down the road. Equipment will be vital, more so than in any other scenario where you are holed up in a place—a prison, a school, your own home—where supplies are in abundance. The equipment you take with you may be all you have. You will carry your hospital, storeroom, and armory on your back. The following is a list of standard equipment you will need for a successful journey. Specific gear such as alpine skis, sunblock, or mosquito netting should be added according to your environment.

* Backpack

* Dependable hiking boots (already broken in)

* Two pairs of socks

* Wide-mouthed, quart-sized water bottle

* Water-purification tablets*

* Wind– and waterproof matches

* Bandanna

* Map**

* Compass**

* Small flashlight (AAA battery) with coated lens

* Poncho

* Small signaling mirror

* Bedrollor sleeping bag (both will be too cumbersome)

* Sunglasses (polarized lenses)

* Palm-sized first-aid kit*

* Swiss Army knife or multi-tool

* Hand-held radio with earpiece**

* Knife

* Binoculars**

* Primary firearm (preferably, a semiautomatic carbine)

* Fifty rounds (if in a group, thirty per person)

* Cleaning kit**

* Secondary firearm (preferably a .22 rimfire pistol)*

* Twenty-five rounds*

* Hand weapon (preferably, a machete)

* Signal flares**

* not necessary in groups

** need be carried by only one person if in a group

In addition, all groups should carry:

* Silent ballistic weapon (preferably a silenced firearm or crossbow)

* Extra ammunition for fifteen kills (if weapon differs from standard firearm)

* Telescopic sight

* Medium-sized medical kit

* Two-way radio with headphones

* Crowbar (in lieu of hand weapon)

* Water-purification pump

Once you have chosen your gear, make sure everything works. Try it all, over and over again. Wear your backpack for an entire day. If the weight is too much in the comfort of your fortress, imagine how it will feel after a daylong hike. Some of these problems can be solved by choosing objects that combine various tools (some portable radios come equipped with flashlights, survival knives carry compasses, etc.). Apply this space-saving philosophy when choosing weapons as well. A silencer for an existing weapon requires less space than a whole new weapon, such as a crossbow and extra bolts. Wearing your pack for a day will also give you an idea where the chafe points are, where the harness needs adjusting, and how best to secure the gear.


Why walk when you could ride? Americans have always been obsessed with the idea of labor-saving machinery. In all walks of life, industry struggles in an endless race to invent and perfect machines that make the chores of everyday life faster, easier, and more efficient. And what could be a greater deity of American techno-religion than the

automobile? No matter what our age, gender, race, economic status, or geographic location, we are taught that this omnipotent machine, in all of its wondrous forms, is the answer to our prayers. Why wouldn’t this be true during a zombie outbreak? Wouldn’t it make sense to just race across hostile ground? Travel time would be reduced from days to mere hours. Equipment storage would no longer be a problem. And what danger would zombies present when you could simply run them over? These are powerful advantages, to be sure, but with them come a host of equally powerful problems.

Consider fuel consumption. Gas stations may be few and far between. Chances are those you do find will have been drained long ago. Determining the exact mileage of your vehicle, packing it with extra fuel, even planning the exact route may get you only so far.

How will you know which path will lead to safety? Post-infestation studies, particularly in North America, have shown that most roads quickly become blocked by abandoned vehicles. Additional obstacles may include destroyed bridges, piles of debris, and barricades abandoned by last-ditch defenders. Off-roading presents an equal if not greater challenge. (See “Terrain Types”) Driving through the countryside, searching for an open path to freedom, is the best way to run out of gas. More than one vehicle has been found alone in the wilderness, tank dry, blood-smeared cabin empty.

Imagine a breakdown. Most Westerners transporting their vehicles to Third World countries usually pack a full set of replacement parts. The reasoning behind this is simple: The automobile is one of the most complicated machines on earth. On bad roads, without the convenient auto garage, this machine can quickly become a pile of useless junk.

And then there is noise. Roaring through an infestation may seem attractive when things are going well. But any powered engine, no matter how good the muffler, generates more noise than the loudest human footstep. If you find yourself in a vehicle that for whatever reason cannot go another foot, grab your gear and run! Until this moment, you have been announcing your presence to every ghoul in the area. Now, with your mechanized mobility gone, good luck in avoiding them.

Despite these warnings, the lure of motorized transport can seem irresistible. The following is a short list of typical vehicles and their advantages and disadvantages.

1. The Sedan

What is otherwise known as your basic “car” has thousands of variations. This makes it difficult to generalize about their advantages and disadvantages. When choosing, look for gas mileage, equipment storage space, and durability. If sedans have one major drawback, it is their lack of all-terrain capability. As stated before, most roads will be blocked, jammed, or destroyed. If you own a sedan, imagine how it would perform crossing a field. Now add snow, mud, rocks, tree stumps, ditches, streambeds, and a

variety of rusting, forgotten junk. Chances are that your sedan would not get very far. Too often, the land around an infested area has been littered with broken-down and/or stuck sedans.

2. The SUV

With a booming economy coupled with an abundance of cheap gasoline, the 1990s saw an explosion of these types of vehicles—road monsters harkening back to the automotive golden age of the 1950s, when bigger was always better. At first glance, they appear to be the ideal means of escape. With the off-road capability of a military vehicle and the comfort and reliability of a sedan, what could be better for fleeing the undead? The answer is: a lot. Despite their appearance, not all SUVs are equipped for all-terrain driving. Many were produced for a consumer who never even contemplated taking his SUV beyond his own neighborhood. But what about safety? Shouldn’t the sheer mass of such large vehicles offer more protection? The answer is, again, no. Repeated consumer studies have shown that many SUVs possess safety standards well below that of many mid-sized sedans. That said, some of these vehicles are truly what they appear to be: rugged, dependable workhorses that can handle unforgiving conditions. Research your options carefully so you can tell these genuine models from the gas-guzzling, aesthetically engineered, irresponsibly marketed vanity pieces.

3. The Truck

This class refers to any mid-sized cargo vehicles, from vans to delivery trucks to recreational vehicles. With poor gas mileage, limited off-road capability (depending on the model), and massive, ungainly bulk, these vehicles could be considered the worst choice in transportation. In many cases, trucks have become stuck in both urban and wilderness settings, transforming their occupants into canned food.

4. The Bus

As with the previous class, these large road monsters can present as much a danger to their drivers as to the living dead. Forget speed, forget maneuverability, forget fuel efficiency, off-road capability, stealth, or any other feature you will need to escape an infested area. A bus has none of these. Ironically, if a bus has any “advantage,” it is as a means not of escape but of defense. Twice, hunting groups have driven police buses into

infested areas and used their vehicles as mobile fortresses. Unless you plan to use a bus in this way, steer clear of them.

5. The Armored Car

These civilian tanks are rare, to say the least. Unless you work for a private security company or have a vast personal fortune, it is unlikely you will have access to one. Despite their poor mileage and lack of all-terrain capability, armored cars present a number of advantages for people on the run. Their massive armor gives the driver virtual invulnerability. Even in a breakdown, those inside could survive as long as their provisions held out. A zombie horde of any size and strength would be incapable of penetrating the reinforced steel.

6. The Motorcycle

Definitely the best choice for fleeing an infested area. The motorcycle—specifically the dirt bike—can reach places inaccessible to four-wheeled vehicles. Their speed and maneuverability allows them to be ridden right through a crowd of zombies. Their light weight allows them to be pushed for miles. Of course, there are drawbacks. Motorcycles have small gas tanks, and offer no protection whatsoever. The statistics show, however, that these are small disadvantages. When compared to other motorists attempting to escape a zombie outbreak, dirt-bike riders have a 23-to-1 survival rate. Sadly, 31 percent of motorcycle fatalities come from ordinary accidents. Reckless and/or arrogant riders could find themselves killed just as easily by a crash as by the jaws of walking dead.

7. Additional Motor-Vehicle Equipment

* Tire-patching gear

* Pump

* Extra fuel (as much as can be carried and stored outside of the cabin)

* Extra parts (within size limits)

* C.B. radio

* Instruction manual

* Repair kit (jumper cables, jack, etc.)

8. Alternate Road Transportation

A. The Horse

No one can dispute the obvious advantage of an escape on horseback. Fueling from a gas station becomes irrelevant. Extra supplies are reduced to feed, blanket, and some additional medicine. Terrain options increase, as four hooves don’t need a road. Before the luxury of automobiles, people traveled quite efficiently on these fast, sturdy animals. Before saddling up and hitting the trail, however, keep in mind these simple warnings. As anyone who’s even ridden a pony as a child will agree, horseback riding requires skill. Forget how easy it looks in Westerns. The skills needed to ride and care for horses are difficult to master. Unless you already know how, don’t think you can learn on the go. Another drawback, specific to dealing with zombies, is that horses are notoriously spooked by the undead. Even the scent of a zombie, carried by the wind and maybe miles from the source, will be enough to send most horses into hysterics. This could be an advantageous early-warning system to an extremely experienced rider, one who knows how to control his animal. For most, however, the end result could be a catapult toss to the ground, injuries and all. The horse, at that moment, would not only leave its hapless rider stranded, but its frantic neighing would also serve to alert nearby zombies.

B. The Bicycle

In a class by itself, this vehicle offers the best of both worlds. The common bicycle is fast, quiet, muscle-powered, and easy to maintain. Add to this the additional advantage that it is the only vehicle you can pick up and carry if the terrain gets too rough. People using bicycles to escape from infested areas have almost always fared better than those on foot. For optimum performance, use a mountain bike, as opposed to the racing or recreational model. Don’t let your speed and mobility go to your head, however. Wear standard safety gear, and choose caution over speed. The last thing you want is to end up in a ditch, legs broken, bike trashed, with the shuffling of undead feet growing louder with each step.

Terrain Types

Much of our species’ evolution has been a struggle to master our environment. Some would say we’ve gone too far. This may or may not be true. What cannot be argued, especially in the case of industrialized, First World countries, is that it is possible to assert complete control over the forces of nature. In the comforts of your own home, you control the elements. You decide when it should be hot or cold, wet or dry. You decide to erase the day by pulling the shades, or purge the night by simply turning on a lamp. Even the smells and, in some cases, the sounds of the outside world can be expunged by the walls and closed windows of the artificial bubble you call home. In that bubble, the environment takes orders from you; out in the world, on the run from a mob of ferocious zombies, the exact opposite is true. You will be at nature’s mercy, unable to change even the slightest aspect of the environment that you previously took for granted. Here, adaptation will be the key to survival, and the first step to that adaptation is to know your terrain. Every environment you encounter will have its own set of rules. These rules must be studied and respected at all times. This respect will determine whether that terrain becomes your ally or enemy.

1. Forest(temperate/tropical)

The density of many high trees enhances concealment. Animal noises, or lack thereof, can provide warning of approaching danger. Soft earth will serve to muffle your footsteps. Occasional sources of natural food (nuts, berries, fish, game, etc.) will supplement and extend your packed rations. Sleeping in the branches of a large tree may permit you a safe night’s rest. One irritating disadvantage comes from the canopy above. If you hear a helicopter overhead, you will not be able to signal it quickly. Even if the crew does spot you, they’d need a large clearing to land. This may be frustrating as you hear but are unable to see possible salvation flying right above your head.

2. Plains

Wide open spaces allow zombies to spot you at great distances. If possible, avoid them. If not, keep a sharp lookout for the undead. Make sure you see them before they see you.

Drop to the ground immediately. Wait for them to pass. If motion is necessary, crawl. Stay down until you’ve cleared the danger zone.

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