I recently went camping with a neighbor who had previously boasted about his wilderness skills. When we arrived at base camp, I got a good laugh at some of the gear he brought out: a solar charge for his phone, a pressure shower, a handpress espresso machine…
Now, these are all really cool gadgets and I was happy to have a good coffee while at 6000 feet high in the wilderness. But these sorts of high-tech gadgets are NOT what I’m going to be relying on for my survival plan (or even for a weekend camping).
Why Go Low-Tech?
Let’s start with the reasons why you should go low-tech is you care about prep and survival. I could ramble on for days here, but I’ll stick to the big reasons.
1. Your Gadgets Aren’t Going to Survive an EMP Blast
One of the most pressing threats to our survival is an EMP blast. The blast could come from a nuclear attack, or a natural event like a solar flare.
In any event, the EMP blast would fry electrical devices, especially those small microprocessors that so many gadgets depend on.
Now, we don’t know 100% for sure that all of our gadgets will be destroyed by an EMP blast – there are too many variables to consider, like the size of the blast, our distance from it, and the sensitivity of the gadget. But I am going to play it safe and assume that I won’t have any tech gadgets when the SHTF.
Here are just some examples of how your high-tech gadgets will fail you during an EMP disaster:
- You find yourself unable to contact your family because their cell phones aren’t working.
- You are unable to flee (aka Bug Out) because your car’s processors have been fried
- You are unable to get news about the disaster because your emergency radio has been fried (read about emergency radios here)
You can take steps to protect vital electronics from an EMP blast, but I’d also focus on going low tech for survival!
2. You Won’t Have Room In Your Bug Out Bag for All Those Gadgets
I’ve written a lot about packing Bug Out Bags for those SHTF situations where you’ve got to flee. Unlike my camping buddy’s pack, there aren’t any espresso machines or pressure showers in those packs!
Again, there is nothing wrong with bringing along a few high-tech gadgets when you are camping. But if you don’t know how to stay clean in nature without a special camping shower, you are in for some trouble in a real wilderness survival situation!
3. It Will Do Wonders for Your Stress Levels
Technology is supposed to make our lives easier. Sure, I am definitely glad I’ve got a cell phone so I can contact people in emergencies and love the information I’ve learned online. But all the studies and polls show that technology makes our lives more stressful.
I was shocked when my neighbor brought the solar charger for his cell phone on our camping trip.
Why the heck does he need to check his email while in the wilderness??? (luckily we didn’t have a signal, so that solar charger was useless anyway 🙂
When you start going low tech, you will find that your stress levels remarkably decrease.
You don’t think about work so much.
You sleep better (tech gadgets actually affect your melatonin levels).
You will find you have more time to spend with your family…
How to Go Low Tech
No, you don’t have to throw out all of your electronic and tech devices just so you can be prepared for survival when SHTF (though sometimes I am tempted to do just that!).
The reason that tech gadgets are threatening our survival is because people don’t know how to do things themselves anymore.
People don’t bother learning how to read a map when they’ve got an app on their phone to give them directions. People don’t bother learning to grow food when they’ve got stores on every corner.
Going low tech is about learning the basics so you will be able to fend for yourself when SHTF.
Here are some of the most important skills you need to learn in order to go low tech.
1) Learn How to Find and Sterilize Water
I have a great water filter for backpacking (read more about my favorite portable water filter) and it is in my Bug Out Bag.
But I acknowledge the fact that I could easily be found in a survival situation without a water filter. Then what?
Do you just drink water that is likely contaminated with sewage, chemicals, viruses, or worms that can get into your intestines.
You learn to sterilize water, such as by making your own sediment water filter or boiling water.
Read how to find water in the wilderness then read how to purify water.
2. Learn How to Find Shelter
Shelter is another survival necessity. Hopefully you will have a tent if you ever need to bug out, but what if you don’t? Here is a post about how to make survival shelters in the wilderness.
3. Learn How to Find Food
When disaster strikes, the supermarkets are quickly going to run out of food. Then what do you do? Trust me, the pizza delivery app on your phone isn’t going to be working!
There are a lot of ways to address this problem, like by learning about wild edible plants, learning how to trap and hunt, learning how to grow your own food (I like an aquaponic system), and how to preserve the food you produce such as through home canning.
4. Learn How to Read a Map and Navigate
It depresses me how many people are absolutely clueless on how to read a map. They can’t even figure out how to read a basic road map, nevertheless a contour map.
How do they expect to get away from the chaos following a disaster?
I go orienteering with my family to keep us up on our map reading skills.
Basically, you run through the woods with a map and a compass and find spots on a map in the fastest amount of time.
Also see: How to navigate without a compass
5. Learn Hygiene
You probably don’t think of your indoor toilet as a piece of technology, but it is actually one of the most important technical inventions of the past 200 years.
In a disaster situation, it is very possible that the city plumbing system will stop working – so how do you plan on getting rid of all that waste? (this gives the phrase SHTF a new meaning!)
Some options for off-the-grid toilets include compost toilets and a DIY outhouse. Read how to make an emergency toilet.
Also learn some other low-tech hygiene skills, like how to make your own cleaning products, how to do your own laundry, and how to sterilize cooking equipment.
6. Learn Off-Grid Lighting Methods
Few of us have ever experienced true darkness. When the grid goes down, it will be a very scary world.
Lighting might not seem like a big priority, but it is actually very important for survival. For example, what if you have to flee somewhere in night? You will need light so you don’t trip and break your leg, which would ruin your chances of survival.
For starters, you will want to learn to make a fire (yeah, it surprises me how many people don’t even know this one!). Make sure you know how to make a fire in the rain too, and how to make a torch out of that fire.
You can also learn things like how to make your own candles and how to turn used cooking oil into oil lamps.
Survivalism is all about knowledge and preparedness. Learn how to do things for yourself instead of having your tech gadgets do them for you and you will be ready when SHTF!