When was the last time you grabbed your bug-out bag and set out on foot for an overnight trip? What about for a week, a month, or even longer on the road? Most of us are prepared for the idea of short-term survival — 48 to 72 hours away from home. But during an actual emergency, you may be forced to remain on the road far beyond this time frame, so it's important to consider how you'd face these long-term survival situations.


Brandon Barton of Last Man Projects had an opportunity to speak with someone who has made a permanent lifestyle of surviving on the road. The man, known as Charles, considers himself a road tramp — this is defined as “a long-term homeless person who travels from place to place as a vagrant, traditionally walking all year round.” This may sound strange to those of us who've settled down, but by opting in to this lifestyle, Charles has some interesting insights for any survival-minded individual.

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Charles calls his dog, Roxy, his “first line of defense” and prioritizes her health and training.

We've shared an excerpt of Brandon's post below. A link to the complete list of tips can be found at the end of this article.


Today I had the chance to speak with a man who's spent the last 8 years of his life living out of a backpack. For Charles, being a Road Tramp is a lifestyle choice; and every day is about adapting and improvising to survive to the next. Here's a few tips and lessons Charles gave me about living his way of life:

1) Stay out of shelters and homeless camps. Charles camps nearly every night. On his own and with his dog Roxy, he and his gear are safer. [Editor's note: this logic is especially relevant to overcrowded community centers and emergency shelters during a disaster.]

2) Leave room in your pack. Stuffing your pack full is a rookie mistake. You never know when you might come across extra canned goods or water. You need room to carry what you're fortunate to find.

3) Always keep your gear with you. Stashing it somewhere is risking losing everything.

4) Charles uses a gallon of water a day between him and Roxy, and she gets most of that. Wash days use up about 3 gallons when he has it, and that is usually twice monthly.

5) Take care of your feet and change your socks often. He carries 2 changes of clothes but lots of socks and underwear.

6) Tarps are quicker and easier than tents, and he considers his sleeping bag his most valuable item. He used to carry a short shovel, but doesn't anymore saying it wasn't worth the weight.

7) Out of sight is out of mind. He camps in remote or out of the way places, uses natural material to camouflage his camp, and usually eats things from a can cold to avoid having a fire.

Click here to read the rest of the article from Last Man Projects, including 9 more of Charles' tips.

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