We’ve always said that survival is a team sport. Whether it’s your family, neighbors, coworkers, or the fated group of strangers you wind up alongside, humans are pack animals and there’s indeed strength in numbers. But modern life, particularly in a post-COVID world, has many of us working remotely and socially distanced. While there’s certainly something nice about a little bit of privacy, the complications of survival are compounded without anyone else to rely on for assistance. If a crisis shows up on your doorstep when you’re home (or away from home) alone, what you have in your bag and in your brain will be all you have to rely on. Combine that with increased risk of exposure that is part-and-parcel of the colder holiday weather, and the severity of an isolated survival scenario grows exponentially — whether you’re a lifelong resident of blizzard country or have to add a layer or two against the cooler nighttime temps of the southern sunbelt.

So, we’re looking at how to cope with the perils of finding yourself stranded, either alone or in a small group. Our What If feature examines how to make the most of limited supplies and no communication in the context of a hunting trip or cabin vacation gone wrong. Scott Finazzo gives us the lowdown on flares and signaling devices. Just because help isn’t there when you get in trouble doesn’t mean that you can’t get help to come to you. Our Pocket Preps column examines a variety of tinder and fire-starting tools that can be stashed in a pocket or pack. Patrick Diedrich interviews survival instructor Jerry Saunders, whose new home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula puts him on the frontlines of both rural separation and cold weather.

We also look at two different survival rifle projects: a sub-$2,000 economy bolt-action rifle for precision shooting and game-getting, as well as a pair of modified and customized AK-pattern rifles tricked out for emergency use. Finally, we pay tribute to the passing of staple RECOIL OFFGRID contributor Chad McBroom. Any of you who are regular readers have surely come across one or two of his articles, which were always engaging and informative.

Regardless of your location, lifestyle, or likely risk factors, there’s always a possibility of facing the odds with nobody there to back you up. This is why we so strongly stress thorough research, informed gear choices, and a broad skillset to call on in the face of danger. Survival is hard. Work harder now and stack your deck.

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