“When the system breaks down, we all break down.” – Sgt. Barnes – Platoon
Tactical camping is a great way to develop and sharpen many essential survival skills. But, beyond these skills there is a particular discipline that needs to be practiced; one that will improve your ability to travel through unfamiliar or potentially unfriendly territory during dangerous times if circumstances should require it. Most people don’t think about evading detection because their day to day lives don’t depend on it.
To my way of thinking, there are three issues that risk the safety and obscurity of a group in camp. These are visibility, noise and odor. I will leave it to you to visualize the circumstances under which these risks might apply, but the general scenario is that you are on the move between points A and B of indeterminate distance. Whether you are alone or traveling in a group, on foot or caravanning with several vehicles, the issues are the same.
Importantly, I am excluding urban or other densely populated areas from this discussion. They are not in my field of expertise and frankly, I don’t spend much time thinking about cities. My presumption is that you have successfully evacuated from an urban/suburban location and are traveling through rural, less populated country.
As a Prepper, you either already have a plan or you are working on one. It should mean you have a rally point where your group will assemble, that you and everyone else know the route to the destination, and that you have pre-established way-point locations where you will lay up while en route to that chosen destination. It will mean that you have taken congestion and potential roadblocks into consideration. Finally, it will mean that you have evaluated fall-back sites and alternate routes that may be needed to reach your objective.
The thrust of the title is that you need to be a ‘hole in the dark’ for all three issues. In other words, an apparently dark camp can still be exposed by excessive noise, the odor of drifting smoke or food preparation. What techniques can you employ to establish and maintain a profile that is ‘dark’ to all aspects of the human senses?
But first, what is the best time of day to be on the move with a group? The answer will most likely be based upon the group’s overall capabilities, the tools and resources at your disposal. If you opt to travel only at night, but you have no night vision goggles, then your rate of travel may be exceedingly slow. It will be further hampered in rough terrain where you are required to distinguish safe from unsafe trails. My general bias is to move in daylight and camp at night, but there are conditions, such as familiar terrain, ample moonlight and an experienced team that I’m working with, where I would flip the preference.
The discussion that follows reflects my bias for laying up at night. I have practiced these disciplines under a variety of weather and terrain conditions, both singly and in groups ranging up to a dozen people.
Establishing a ‘dark’ camp:
- Seek locations that are as secluded as possible. This means that you are consciously separating your group from the Golden Horde. Circumstances created by a SHTF situation dictate that you avoid Interstate highways and all other major routes that lead to your chosen destination.
- Seek locations that provide the best possible concealment for the entire group, whether natural or man made. In the case of structures, think of a vacant barn, warehouse or a walled compound. For outdoor settings, think of places where concealment is provided by terrain, dense vegetation, or structures that will obfuscate. One such example might be on the back side of an abandoned corral. Open air camp sites need to be located beyond the range of approaching headlights.
- Strive to set your camp well before sundown so that you have enough light and time to prepare a dark camp. This means that you are establishing lay up sites that are close enough to reach in the time you have allotted for each day’s travel. It implies that these are preselected locations that you have already evaluated to some degree. The time required to set a secure camp may vary at each location along the route.
- Have time to deploy or create necessary obfuscation, such as camouflage. The absence of sunlight is not a guarantee that your camp is safe from detection. Although there may be a low probability, consumer grade thermal/infra-red cameras can spot exposed camps and vehicles at distances greater than one mile. If thieves are on the hunt for vulnerable groups, an exposed camp site becomes an easy target.
Continue reading at A Hole in the Dark: Techniques for Maintaining a Dark Camp: This information has been made available by The Prepper Journal